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Saturday Night Special 4: The Mires of Mourning (PF)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2013 06:07:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's check it out!

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

All right, still here?

Morninghaven sanatorium, constructed in the heart of the Creeping Mire, founded by the church of Mitra and headed by the prestigious Osterklieg family had for some time had its reputation decline, even as a place to lock up the criminally insane. When Baronet Wilbane Osterklieg fell from favor, his presumed sizable fortune was never found. Now, for 30 years, the sanatorium has languished in the mire, sinking slowly closer towards the unfathomable depths of the swamp. The PCs are hired to escort one Haden Ward (an incognito provided by the state) to the sanatorium and the escort mission is anything but simple - from collapsed paths to giant mosquitoes and an assault by warriors from the swamp's bugbear-tribe, there are 3 planned encounters in addition to the random encounters-list included for the way to Mourninghaven.

At the sanatorium, the Curator Xavier Drusus and the bloodstained, masked orderlies are not particularly confidence-invoking. Unfortunately, a storm sees the PCs stranded at the sanatorium for the night (which is btw. fully mapped and described) and the night is interrupted by escaped madmen escaping from the cells and an assault from more bugbears and even a black dragon - in the chaos, the orderlies may even turn upon the PCs (they are not nice persons...). The badly wounded Drusus, with his dying breath, confesses that he was after the Osterklieg Legacy and that the catatonic madman they escorted was in fact Osterklieg's former lieutenant, a sadistic mercenary named Harden Crestingdrake. And he's gone.

The trail leads the PCs into the heart of the swamp, where in an old stockade the PCs get a chance to destroy the remnants of the bugbears and find out that there's a potion to let Haden regain his memory - as well as the location of the secret stash, which is in the Black Ward - now abandoned, it's where Osterklieg stashed incurable psychopaths. It is here that the module becomes full-blown horror in style, with Haden bugging the PCs with whispered rumors in a psychological war of attrition as they explore the partially sunk ward and battle twisted ghasts, an almost indestructible fungal creature that has evolved from Vidas Osterklieg, basidronds, a cool haunt and an allip. You get sample lines for the encounters and finally, the PCs will have to face off against Crestingdrake, now suffused by the darkness of the ward and turned into a bleeding horror.

The players may also find out about Osterklieg killing Mitran pilgrims as they find his stash and the bloodstorm spell sees an upgrade from the honorable Relics and Rituals-book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column b/w-standard and the pieces of original b/w-artwork are awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The cartography per se is nice, but we don't get ANY key-less player-friendly maps, which is just not up to standard when compared to similar publications.

Author-duo Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright has created an interesting module - the locations are iconic to the extreme and rather disturbing, conveying a profound sense of dread. By all accounts, I should love this module - "The Death of Dr. Rudolph Van Richten" is still my favorite module of all time and the locations are great. However, this module ahs major issues regarding pacing - essentially, it is very obvious in its railroading and hands the relevant information needed to progress to the players on a silver platter, without much required initiative on behalf of the players beyond "Kill X" - no research, no moodbuilding...and worse: No consequences.

The main location of the module is an unabashedly evil place that should have paladins etc. disgusted - so what if they DO want to do something about it? Not covered. Alternate ways of handling the whole thing? Not covered. The stockade feels completely cut-down and is perhaps one of the most useless locales I've seen in a given module for quite some time - its space should have been used to properly depict and flesh out another part of the story.

This is a sad module to review, since it DOES have all the makings of a great module and a DM with some work can make this work VERY well - as written, though, this somewhat falls behind and simply feels too short. At 19 pages, the module does not devote enough time to any of its locations to make them properly shine - instead, the PCs are shunted from location to location, stumble across hint (Go there!) upon hint (Now go there!)and end the module with a climactic encounter that is cool - but ultimately just the end of a very railroady sequence of events that lacks the gravitas the background story and exciting locales should have provided this module.

In the end, this module suffers greatly from its unnecessary brevity and its endeavor to cram too much content into the scarce few pages the module has - if it had developed one of the locations, any one really, better and cut another location or if it had 10+ more pages to develop its iconic locales, then this could have been 5 stars + seal of approval. As written, it falls painfully short of its own potential and hence, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Saturday Night Special 4: The Mires of Mourning (PF)
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Saturday Night Special 4: The Mires of Mourning (Swords and Wizardry)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/20/2013 06:05:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's check it out!

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

All right, still here?

Morninghaven sanatorium, constructed in the heart of the Creeping Mire, founded by the church of Mitra and headed by the prestigious Osterklieg family had for some time had its reputation decline, even as a place to lock up the criminally insane. When Baronet Wilbane Osterklieg fell from favor, his presumed sizable fortune was never found. Now, for 30 years, the sanatorium has languished in the mire, sinking slowly closer towards the unfathomable depths of the swamp. The PCs are hired to escort one Haden Ward (an incognito provided by the state) to the sanatorium and the escort mission is anything but simple - from collapsed paths to giant mosquitoes and an assault by warriors from the swamp's bugbear-tribe, there are 3 planned encounters in addition to the random encounters-list included for the way to Mourninghaven.

At the sanatorium, the Curator Xavier Drusus and the bloodstained, masked orderlies are not particularly confidence-invoking. Unfortunately, a storm sees the PCs stranded at the sanatorium for the night (which is btw. fully mapped and described) and the night is interrupted by escaped madmen escaping from the cells and an assault from more bugbears and even a black dragon - in the chaos, the orderlies may even turn upon the PCs (they are not nice persons...). The badly wounded Drusus, with his dying breath, confesses that he was after the Osterklieg Legacy and that the catatonic madman they escorted was in fact Osterklieg's former lieutenant, a sadistic mercenary named Harden Crestingdrake. And he's gone.

The trail leads the PCs into the heart of the swamp, where in an old stockade the PCs get a chance to destroy the remnants of the bugbears and find out that there's a potion to let Haden regain his memory - as well as the location of the secret stash, which is in the Black Ward - now abandoned, it's where Osterklieg stashed incurable psychopaths. It is here that the module becomes full-blown horror in style, with Haden bugging the PCs with whispered rumors in a psychological war of attrition as they explore the partially sunk ward and battle twisted ghasts, an almost indestructible fungal creature that has evolved from Vidas Osterklieg, basidronds, a cool haunt and an allip. You get sample lines for the encounters and finally, the PCs will have to face off against Crestingdrake, now suffused by the darkness of the ward and turned into a bleeding horror.

The players may also find out about Osterklieg killing Mitran pilgrims as they find his stash and the bloodstorm spell sees an upgrade from the honorable Relics and Rituals-book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column b/w-standard and the pieces of original b/w-artwork are awesome. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. The cartography per se is nice, but we don't get ANY key-less player-friendly maps, which is just not up to standard when compared to similar publications.

Author-duo Greg A. Vaughan and Kevin Wright has created an interesting module - the locations are iconic to the extreme and rather disturbing, conveying a profound sense of dread. By all accounts, I should love this module - "The Death of Dr. Rudolph Van Richten" is still my favorite module of all time and the locations are great. However, this module ahs major issues regarding pacing - essentially, it is very obvious in its railroading and hands the relevant information needed to progress to the players on a silver platter, without much required initiative on behalf of the players beyond "Kill X" - no research, no moodbuilding...and worse: No consequences.

The main location of the module is an unabashedly evil place that should have paladins etc. disgusted - so what if they DO want to do something about it? Not covered. Alternate ways of handling the whole thing? Not covered. The stockade feels completely cut-down and is perhaps one of the most useless locales I've seen in a given module for quite some time - its space should have been used to properly depict and flesh out another part of the story.

This is a sad module to review, since it DOES have all the makings of a great module and a DM with some work can make this work VERY well - as written, though, this somewhat falls behind and simply feels too short. At 19 pages, the module does not devote enough time to any of its locations to make them properly shine - instead, the PCs are shunted from location to location, stumble across hint (Go there!) upon hint (Now go there!)and end the module with a climactic encounter that is cool - but ultimately just the end of a very railroady sequence of events that lacks the gravitas the background story and exciting locales should have provided this module.

In the end, this module suffers greatly from its unnecessary brevity and its endeavor to cram too much content into the scarce few pages the module has - if it had developed one of the locations, any one really, better and cut another location or if it had 10+ more pages to develop its iconic locales, then this could have been 5 stars + seal of approval. As written, it falls painfully short of its own potential and hence, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Saturday Night Special 4: The Mires of Mourning (Swords and Wizardry)
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Tome of Adventure Design
by James P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/01/2013 02:04:59

It is very use book to organize my game with, I just wish get a printed copy to read.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Adventure Design
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Saturday Night Special 3: Ice Tower of the Salka (PF)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2013 05:53:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 3 pages of advertisements, leaving us with a total of 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

Still here? All right! This module depicts a crawl into an uncommon locale - when the Zemeth ice-flow swallowed the tower of the notorious sorceress known as the Salka 60 years ago, her riches (and twisted experiments) were deemed lost - unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the perspective), a crack has been found that makes journeying into the tower from its top a possibility again - and exactly that is what the PCs are planning to do.

Now after the obligatory rumors, the very first room already pulls no punches - unless uttering an obscure passphrase, the PCs will be trapped by walls of force and peppered with fireballs - the Salka's defenses are still active and in order to pass, the PCs will have to dismantle some VERY tough pillars. This module pulls no punches and doors out of phase with reality that make the demons invading from them, especially with teleport-supplemented hit and run tactics - DMs can be VERY nasty here.

Speaking of nasty: I haven't yet mentioned the fact that the whole tower of the Salka is suffused by necromantic energy and hence, her former retainers and guests have been turned undead since the flow swallowed her tower: Undead scorpion familiars, undead green hags, retainers, ghostly butlers and maids, vampiric monks and even soulspinners . In order to prevent their allies from reviving as undead and purge the necromantic taint, the PCs will have to destroy the Salka's enchanted chandelier.

Beyond the 3 levels of her tower, the complex also hides a dungeon-level, guarded by a pi-headed non-standard iron golem and allowing the PCs to fight 3 unique creatures of elemental air and finally hiding a hint as to what truly happened to the Salka. The pdf also contains an rather awesome new spell of the Salka's device and two new magical items.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: One particularly problematic one being part of the warshadow-creature - the statblock mentions 1d6 Str damage, the quality at the bottom 1d6 points of Dex-damage and the non-statblock text mentions damage and 1 point of Dex-drain - so which of the 3 is it supposed to be? Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks in b/w are ok, though the military jacket of the golem looks rather ridiculous. The maps are nice, but we don't get player-friendly versions, which is an additional downside. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Author James Carl Boney has created per se a deadly, cool locations/dungeon for the PCs to explore that should challenge even experienced groups. That being said, the lack of printer-friendly maps is a first strike against the module - and there's a second one: This is a tower inside a huge ice-flow - so why does the module do nothing with? No claustrophobia, no tons of ice grinding the tower, no potential collapses, parts of the ceiling falling - and even if the necromantic energy suffuses the complex - why not make it rejuvenate all undead inside the complex, requiring the PCs to barricade doors etc.? There's potential galore here that is left mostly untapped.

While the dungeon per se is great, I can't help but feel that this could have been so much more. As written, due to the lack of player-friendly maps and said discrepancy between potential and execution, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars - a nice dungeon crawl that an experienced DM can easily expand and make it live up to its potential.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Saturday Night Special 3: Ice Tower of the Salka (PF)
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Saturday Night Special 3: Ice Tower of the Salka (Swords and Wizardry)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/28/2013 05:53:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 3 pages of advertisements, leaving us with a total of 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

Still here? All right! This module depicts a crawl into an uncommon locale - when the Zemeth ice-flow swallowed the tower of the notorious sorceress known as the Salka 60 years ago, her riches (and twisted experiments) were deemed lost - unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on the perspective), a crack has been found that makes journeying into the tower from its top a possibility again - and exactly that is what the PCs are planning to do.

Now after the obligatory rumors, the very first room already pulls no punches - unless uttering an obscure passphrase, the PCs will be trapped by walls of force and peppered with fireballs - the Salka's defenses are still active and in order to pass, the PCs will have to dismantle some VERY tough pillars. This module pulls no punches and doors out of phase with reality that make the demons invading from them, especially with teleport-supplemented hit and run tactics - DMs can be VERY nasty here.

Speaking of nasty: I haven't yet mentioned the fact that the whole tower of the Salka is suffused by necromantic energy and hence, her former retainers and guests have been turned undead since the flow swallowed her tower: Undead scorpion familiars, undead green hags, retainers, ghostly butlers and maids, vampiric monks and even soulspinners . In order to prevent their allies from reviving as undead and purge the necromantic taint, the PCs will have to destroy the Salka's enchanted chandelier.

Beyond the 3 levels of her tower, the complex also hides a dungeon-level, guarded by a pi-headed non-standard iron golem and allowing the PCs to fight 3 unique creatures of elemental air and finally hiding a hint as to what truly happened to the Salka. The pdf also contains an rather awesome new spell of the Salka's device and two new magical items.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect: One particularly problematic one being part of the warshadow-creature - the statblock mentions 1d6 Str damage, the quality at the bottom 1d6 points of Dex-damage and the non-statblock text mentions damage and 1 point of Dex-drain - so which of the 3 is it supposed to be? Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks in b/w are ok, though the military jacket of the golem looks rather ridiculous. The maps are nice, but we don't get player-friendly versions, which is an additional downside. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Author James Carl Boney has created per se a deadly, cool locations/dungeon for the PCs to explore that should challenge even experienced groups. That being said, the lack of printer-friendly maps is a first strike against the module - and there's a second one: This is a tower inside a huge ice-flow - so why does the module do nothing with? No claustrophobia, no tons of ice grinding the tower, no potential collapses, parts of the ceiling falling - and even if the necromantic energy suffuses the complex - why not make it rejuvenate all undead inside the complex, requiring the PCs to barricade doors etc.? There's potential galore here that is left mostly untapped.

While the dungeon per se is great, I can't help but feel that this could have been so much more. As written, due to the lack of player-friendly maps and said discrepancy between potential and execution, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3 stars - a nice dungeon crawl that an experienced DM can easily expand and make it live up to its potential.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Saturday Night Special 3: Ice Tower of the Salka (Swords and Wizardry)
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Swords and Wizardry Complete Rulebook
by Arnold L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/24/2013 14:04:25

A very good, clean and simple implementation of rules we love. It would be the perfect gift for someone you want to initiate.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Swords and Wizardry Complete Rulebook
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One Night Stands 6: Curse of Shadowhold (PF)
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/16/2013 15:25:20

One Night Stand - Curse of Shadowhold is a Pathfinder RPG adventure for 10th level characters. In this adventure the PCs are requested to assist an elven village in breaking an ancient curse that holds sway in the forest surrounding their village. In doing so, the PCs get to uncover an even more sinister secret, that will change the lives of the elves forever. This very neatly presented adventure is set in a generic frontier wilderness, and should be adaptable to any campaign setting.

Frog God Games have long been one of my favourite adventure publishers, and the reasons are quite simple - they present professional products, with excellent attention to detail, and good background stories with solid adventure material. If there's a sidetrek that the PCs can go on, it's mentioned, for example, or if there is a contingency in the adventure that can come about, they provide advice on how to deal with it. Sometimes this comes across as forcing the PCs on a given path, but the illusion of flexibility can be quite powerful for the players.

Curse of the Shadowhold is a good, strong adventure. The players get involved in danger and terror right from the start, and get a good opportunity to explore wondrous locations in the Haunted Forest, even so much as to cross the veils between planes. There is quite a haunting element to the game, and GMs can easily turn this into quite a terrifying affair that's not for the faint hearted; wandering through a haunted forest, fighting shadow creatures from other planes, and being witness to secrets unfolding that are quite terrifying.

The adventure is quite a challenge, both from a combat perspective and a roleplaying one, where NPCs have their own agendas and plans on how to deal with matters. PCs will need to keep their wits about them, as they uncover secrets only to find the unexpected. It's not the most dynamic adventure in the world, with a rather stationary dungeon crawl, but the terror elements can liven that up if PCs don't know what to expect.

Overall, this is as good an adventure as one would expect from Frog God Games. Solid story, elements of terror, good dungeon crawl, strong combat encounters, and realistic NPCs. Throw in a few secrets to uncover, and you have one good night's game play.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
One Night Stands 6: Curse of Shadowhold (PF)
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(2012) Rappan Athuk Bestiary (PF)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2013 14:56:17

For under the price of a large latte you can get the Pathfinder version of the monsters from Rappan Athuk. There are some overlap here with other Fog God Games books, but this is still a solid collection of monsters. 26+ monsters ready to use in any Pathfinder game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
(2012) Rappan Athuk Bestiary (PF)
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Rappan Athuk Bestiary (Swords and Wizardry)
by Timothy B. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/13/2013 14:47:56

For under the price of a large latte you can get the S&W version of the monsters from Rappan Athuk. There are some overlap here with other Fog God Games books, but this is still a solid collection of monsters. 26 monsters ready to use in any S&W game.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Rappan Athuk Bestiary (Swords and Wizardry)
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Saturday Night Special 2: Castle Baldemar's Dungeon (Swords and Wizardry)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/02/2013 09:06:19

This module is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

All right, still here? This module, as the introduction tells us, is loosely based on Gen Con IX Dungeons by Bob Blake and thus can be considered a blast from the past - story-wise, the PCs are coerced into venturing into the eponymous dungeon by an old grumpy wizard named Framnagle to retrieve a family heirloom staff stolen from him by a former apprentice whom the wizard transformed into a dragon in a night of drunken escapades, only to have the apprentice turn to his arch-nemesis, Grwn Gruenwald.

The first two levels of the dungeon are not detailed in the module and it kicks off in the third and relevant level of the dungeon of Castle Baldemar after a short basic glossary on the town of Corvusrook. The dungeon per se is a relatively straight-forward dungeon-crawl, opening with minotaurs and going on to feature multiple undead, an enslaved stone giant, a rakshasa etc. The strength of the dungeon, though, would be its design-philosophy and emphasis on deadly traps which often require more than just a simple roll to get the gist of and which oftentimes feature a way to bypass them altogether. That being said, e.g. a tiled room would require that the two pages of maps be printed out to the players - problematic since the maps come only with all DM-info included - no player-friendly maps here.

When run for people familiar with the original module, the overall complex will have some nice variation and include, among others, classic tropes like demonic urgings to sacrifice comrades. That being said, the climax versus the final boss, the apprentice turned dragon, allows for smart PCs to bluff the menace, which is a nice touch and an interesting end to a straight-forward crawl.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are not bad per se, but have some mayor issues - there e.g. is a room that lacks a means of ingress on the map and try as I might with my none too bad command of the English language, I honestly didn't get, either from map or text, how a particular room's trap is supposed to work, which I ascribe to simply bad writing - A trap's description shouldn't be more obscure than the references in a Joyce-novel. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard, the pdf comes fully bookmarked and the b/w-artworks are nice, though nothing to write home about.

Which is exactly what sums up my thoughts about this dungeon. It has nothing truly going for it beyond nostalgia. The rooms are disjointed and make not that much sense in their array. The inhabitants are mostly not that smart and the fact that a CL 20 alarm-style spell makes stealth not an option when dealing with the final adversary feels like an attempt of shoehorning the party into a particular way of dealing with the module's challenges. The fact that XP are awarded for not exploring rooms can be considered either positive or negative, but personally, I'm not keen on them. And then there are the issues with the map, the lack of player-friendly maps and one fact: This module, to me, might be nostalgic. But not only in a good way. Whereas Rappan Athuk, the Hollow Mountain or many other Frog God/Necro-products scratch that old-school itch, this module feels like an uninspired pandering that does not update a classic, but just modifies it without adjusting its content and providing a face-lift. In this day and age, where we have modules like Rappan Athuk, it should be clear that atmosphere and tension are not anathema to old-school-style crawls.

This dungeon, in contrast, feels woefully sterile, generic and jumbled together - uninspired even, for there was not a single idea in here that I haven't see done better somewhere else. Unless you specifically want to play this as an homage to its inspiration, I wouldn't recommend you checking it out and even then, it falls a bit on the short side and could have used at least a slight narrative face-lift and a more unified and concise dungeon. For me, this module represents 5 bucks burnt, spent on a module that panders in an uncomfortable degree to my nostalgia and makes me recall what, pardon my words, sucked in the good ol' days of modules, hence deconstructing the one component it has going for itself. I can't for the life of me recommend this and instead urge you to get any other offering by FGG (or 4 Dollar Dungeon) instead.

Failing on a content-level, at least for me, harder than any other module I've read in quite a while combined with the map-glitch and writing-issues, I will make a controversial decision here that some of you are bound to not share- in this day and age, even with nostalgia-goggles, this, to me, is a 1.5 star-module, rounded down to 1 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Saturday Night Special 2: Castle Baldemar's Dungeon (Swords and Wizardry)
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Ursined, Sealed and Delivered (Swords and Wizardry)
by Jonas M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2013 12:48:51

Absolutely marvelous adventure. I liked the adventures whole setup and folktale logic of talking seals and magical fish. There is interesting situations and new monsters. Maps are top notch and informative.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ursined, Sealed and Delivered (Swords and Wizardry)
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Saturday Night Special 1: The Hollow Mountain (Swords and Wizardry)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2013 09:20:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf is 48 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 41 pages of content for this adventure, so let’s check it out!

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right!

The Elves around the Hollow Mountain just aren’t what they used to be – in more than one sense. The once peaceful nomadic wood elves have started raiding and killing humans and other humanoid creatures to convert them to the true nature – something that should give druids nightmares indeed: The elves have resurrected a strange cult that has them growing plant-like mutations like deadly spores and briars. It is these strange elves that now inhabit a forest of petrified mushrooms inside a hollow mountain and that make up the major opposition of the PCs.

Their fortress is inside one gigantic petrified mushroom and thus makes for a rather creepy backdrop for the dungeon crawl. The fortress of the elves is well-defended by their tainted nature, their massive capabilities and rather deadly allies (which includes a dragon as well as an awakened tiger who thinks he is a dragon). Have I mentioned the deadly war flowers?

Hopefully, the PCs manage to free the erstwhile druid of the tribe (now utterly mad) and finally reach the hidden temple of the dread cult to reach a highly mutable plane where a deadly, aberrant nature provides terrible hindrances in the PCs final fight: The end the threat of the constant corruption of the nature, they will have to destroy a thing left behind from an aborted version of creation, an utterly disturbing tree-like monstrosity whose mere proximity mutates his foes.

The pdf closes by providing the complex reborn-template as well as a player handout.

Conclusion:

Editing is top-notch, however, I noticed a major formatting glitch on the first map, starting room 20 to 26 there seems to be a discrepancy between the map numbers and room numbers, which is a bummer. Layout adheres to the b/w-2-column standard and the pdf is extensively bookmarked. We get 3 maps and the original b/w-artworks belong to the best you can imagine – especially the one-page picture of the final adversary is just plain awesome in its creepiness.

Indeed, an almost cthulhoid sense of wrongness pervades the whole module – author Uri Kurlianchik did an awesome job creating a truly disturbing dungeon crawl with interesting locations, smart foes, social interaction thrown in and an overall feeling of being unwelcome in this dark new world order. In fact, I consider this adventure to be quite deeply-entrenched in the horror-genre – if not for its narrative structure, then for the increasingly disturbing foes the PCs face and the furios final fight that truly deserves the name. However, a warning to players participating in this adventure – you probably will come out of this…changed. And some changes are hard to reverse… My final verdict will be 4 stars, as the map/room-discrepancy makes running a section of this adventure slightly more complicated than necessary.

Check this neat module out here!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Saturday Night Special 1: The Hollow Mountain (Swords and Wizardry)
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The Black Monastery (PF)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2013 07:35:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf from Frog God Games is 89 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 83 pages of content, so let's check this one out!

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

All right, still here? Then let's check this one out! What is the "Black Monastery"? Mechanically, it's an old-school, sandbox style dungeon/haunted house-crawl. Where enemy placement does not have to make sense etc. - you know, primal, creepy and deadly with CRs far below and also potentially quite above the PC's capabilities. But that's not the true appeal, at least for me. What made me interested in this module is its story: While the slow ascend to wealth and power of a monastic order and its subsequent descent into evil and debauchery has been done before, the consequence of the tale is what matters: When their evil became to apparent, to blatant, the king attacked and it turned out that the Hill of Mornay, where their monastery stood, wasn't chosen by chance - enveloped in green flames, the monastery vanished before it could be taken. Ever since, when the stars are right, the complex seems to return with its riches, but only for a limited time. Like an architectonic old one, its arrival is accompanied by madness, disease, lycanthropy and similar apocalyptic events. The dark edifice to corruption has once again entered our world, from gods-beware it has been. Evil looms, madness stirs and treasure waits and the PCs will enter a place that may well take them to another plane or world. If you want to change setting, the Black Monastery is definitely an awesome way to do so. As you can probably glean from this story, inserting it into a setting is also rather simple.

Of course, an old-school module like this would not be complete without random monster tables and this is among the first things you'll get to see. More importantly, we also get a d20-table for strange noises and hauntings as well as discussions on the special magical effects in the monastery - you can't e.g. buff yourself before entering, since it exists in multiple places at once. "Multiple" is a good cue - 10 sample entrances into the compound are presented.

If the PCs e.g. enter the garden first, they'll have fun with 7 (!!!) Mohrgs and the "Gate of Fear" that provide access to the place make it immediately clear that the enemies are not playing softball - in the center of the monastery-yard is for example a huge stone golem that reacts differently depending on the moon's phase. They can also e.g. be caught by a mural, battle painted duelists. Mind you, not all adversaries are that powerful - there of course also are stranded orcs, goblins etc. and that's one of things I really like about this module: While the 1st edition feeling of the module is intact, the world/plane-switching elements to the monastery's background let these jumbled together humanoids actually make sense.

What truly makes the Black Monastery shine, though, at least for me, is its gothic convolutedness and its attention to detail: The crazed cook, and inscriptions upon inscriptions that hide hints and grant insight into the demented logic of the madmen and otherworldly forces that call this place home. Cursed nobles, mutated fighters, flesh-eating treants, ghoulish alchemists, Troblins (troll-goblin hybrids) and the unholy echoes of the brotherhood, the cimota roam these halls alongside other strange creatures - and indeed, none of the beings herein feel like filler, as they all make some kind of internal sense or feature a peculiarity in their encounter/ descriptions that in the end serves to take away any sense of familiarity and further enhance the horror of the place.

And then, there are the monastery's two towers: Kran, Dungeon master of the compound, guarded by iron golems and a greater shadow in his own right and Sacavious, mad and deranged failed lich make for two of the possible "bosses" of the module. Of course, the monastery also hides the piece of rock that transports it and in the depths of its dungeon, not only do terrible creatures roam, an evil artifact also awaits discovery. While 3 purple worms await adventurers to fill their gluttonous maws.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: I only noticed some very minor inconsistencies with the otherwise neat maps. A pity, though, that no player-friendly maps are provided as well. Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. Oh boy, the artworks. This pdf features some of the coolest, most disturbing, gothic-horror-style artworks I've seen in a long, long while - absolute awesomeness! With one exception: A demon's crotch is marred by a censor-bar and ruins the artwork for me. I'm an opponent of censorship in any form, so that somewhat jarred me. Oh well. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks. A quick glance at the price tag shows that this one belongs to the rather expensive category of modules and that's also the reason this review took me so long. I fought rather hard with myself whether I should give it a try.

Reviewing this module feels rather strange to me - almost as if it wants to defy being reviewed: Much like reading e.g. Poe, Howard or Lovecraft, reading this module shows you a lot of things that have, by now, become a staple of adventuring. But much like these classics, the Black Monastery has an eerie appeal of originality evoked by a combination of details, clever wordings and mysticism. Much like in the beginning, one's first campaign for example, the foes and things that happen herein defy our expectations in subtle ways that remove the players from their comfort zone and recapture the dread of not knowing what to expect from foes, how to handle situations and what might happen. By depicting this whole complex as a gothic mansion that is almost anthropomorphized by its vileness and ancient dread, its derivations from standard-expectations adding rather than detracting from the appeal of the module and its believability.

While the dungeon below the monastery can't completely hold up to the quality of the rest of the place, the love and passion that went into the crafting of this place in all its disturbing details are readily apparent- this module can easily be seen in a tradition with the two classic original Ravenloft modules and in fact make me wish Frog God Games had more of these (rather) horror-themed adventures. Mechanically, there was one thing I was missing (probably omitted due to being declared "old-school"): Haunts. Haunts rock and make places like this one even creepier. On the other hand, this module is not perfect: There are minor map inconsistencies, the dungeon doesn't live completely up to the level of awesomeness of the monastery itself and I would have loved to see some complex puzzles or more little storylines taking place in the monastery as well as more passages on the outside - perhaps a park, a glass-house, a chapel. And player-friendly maps. Seriously, these should be standard by now. That being said, my first impulse was to give this one a four stars, but frankly, it's better than that. The unity of descriptions, attention to detail and awesome artworks serve to evoke something scarcely seen in nowadays modules: Dread. If foreshadowed correctly, the players will be jumping like crazy all the time and I am absolutely positive that you'll have a great time running this. And I actually regret that this is not a 300+page monster with even larger grounds and aforementioned additions like a chapel etc. The potential is vast and I really hope to see a sequel to this one, in one form or another. Thus, in spite of the points of criticism I have, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars, but no seal of approval, though I so want to award one. If you want to scare your players with a haunted house, there's no way around this one. (And if you're like me and want haunts, but Rite's #30-haunt-pdfs and cackle with glee...)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Monastery (PF)
Click to show product description

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The Black Monastery (Swords and Wizardry)
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2013 07:34:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf from Frog God Games is 89 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 83 pages of content, so let's check this one out!

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

All right, still here? Then let's check this one out! What is the "Black Monastery"? Mechanically, it's an old-school, sandbox style dungeon/haunted house-crawl. Where enemy placement does not have to make sense etc. - you know, primal, creepy and deadly with CRs far below and also potentially quite above the PC's capabilities. But that's not the true appeal, at least for me. What made me interested in this module is its story: While the slow ascend to wealth and power of a monastic order and its subsequent descent into evil and debauchery has been done before, the consequence of the tale is what matters: When their evil became to apparent, to blatant, the king attacked and it turned out that the Hill of Mornay, where their monastery stood, wasn't chosen by chance - enveloped in green flames, the monastery vanished before it could be taken. Ever since, when the stars are right, the complex seems to return with its riches, but only for a limited time. Like an architectonic old one, its arrival is accompanied by madness, disease, lycanthropy and similar apocalyptic events. The dark edifice to corruption has once again entered our world, from gods-beware it has been. Evil looms, madness stirs and treasure waits and the PCs will enter a place that may well take them to another plane or world. If you want to change setting, the Black Monastery is definitely an awesome way to do so. As you can probably glean from this story, inserting it into a setting is also rather simple.

Of course, an old-school module like this would not be complete without random monster tables and this is among the first things you'll get to see. More importantly, we also get a d20-table for strange noises and hauntings as well as discussions on the special magical effects in the monastery - you can't e.g. buff yourself before entering, since it exists in multiple places at once. "Multiple" is a good cue - 10 sample entrances into the compound are presented.

If the PCs e.g. enter the garden first, they'll have fun with 7 (!!!) Mohrgs and the "Gate of Fear" that provide access to the place make it immediately clear that the enemies are not playing softball - in the center of the monastery-yard is for example a huge stone golem that reacts differently depending on the moon's phase. They can also e.g. be caught by a mural, battle painted duelists. Mind you, not all adversaries are that powerful - there of course also are stranded orcs, goblins etc. and that's one of things I really like about this module: While the 1st edition feeling of the module is intact, the world/plane-switching elements to the monastery's background let these jumbled together humanoids actually make sense.

What truly makes the Black Monastery shine, though, at least for me, is its gothic convolutedness and its attention to detail: The crazed cook, and inscriptions upon inscriptions that hide hints and grant insight into the demented logic of the madmen and otherworldly forces that call this place home. Cursed nobles, mutated fighters, flesh-eating treants, ghoulish alchemists, Troblins (troll-goblin hybrids) and the unholy echoes of the brotherhood, the cimota roam these halls alongside other strange creatures - and indeed, none of the beings herein feel like filler, as they all make some kind of internal sense or feature a peculiarity in their encounter/ descriptions that in the end serves to take away any sense of familiarity and further enhance the horror of the place.

And then, there are the monastery's two towers: Kran, Dungeon master of the compound, guarded by iron golems and a greater shadow in his own right and Sacavious, mad and deranged failed lich make for two of the possible "bosses" of the module. Of course, the monastery also hides the piece of rock that transports it and in the depths of its dungeon, not only do terrible creatures roam, an evil artifact also awaits discovery. While 3 purple worms await adventurers to fill their gluttonous maws.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good: I only noticed some very minor inconsistencies with the otherwise neat maps. A pity, though, that no player-friendly maps are provided as well. Layout adheres to FGG's 2-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. Oh boy, the artworks. This pdf features some of the coolest, most disturbing, gothic-horror-style artworks I've seen in a long, long while - absolute awesomeness! With one exception: A demon's crotch is marred by a censor-bar and ruins the artwork for me. I'm an opponent of censorship in any form, so that somewhat jarred me. Oh well. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks. A quick glance at the price tag shows that this one belongs to the rather expensive category of modules and that's also the reason this review took me so long. I fought rather hard with myself whether I should give it a try.

Reviewing this module feels rather strange to me - almost as if it wants to defy being reviewed: Much like reading e.g. Poe, Howard or Lovecraft, reading this module shows you a lot of things that have, by now, become a staple of adventuring. But much like these classics, the Black Monastery has an eerie appeal of originality evoked by a combination of details, clever wordings and mysticism. Much like in the beginning, one's first campaign for example, the foes and things that happen herein defy our expectations in subtle ways that remove the players from their comfort zone and recapture the dread of not knowing what to expect from foes, how to handle situations and what might happen. By depicting this whole complex as a gothic mansion that is almost anthropomorphized by its vileness and ancient dread, its derivations from standard-expectations adding rather than detracting from the appeal of the module and its believability.

While the dungeon below the monastery can't completely hold up to the quality of the rest of the place, the love and passion that went into the crafting of this place in all its disturbing details are readily apparent- this module can easily be seen in a tradition with the two classic original Ravenloft modules and in fact make me wish Frog God Games had more of these (rather) horror-themed adventures. Mechanically, there was one thing I was missing (probably omitted due to being declared "old-school"): Haunts. Haunts rock and make places like this one even creepier. On the other hand, this module is not perfect: There are minor map inconsistencies, the dungeon doesn't live completely up to the level of awesomeness of the monastery itself and I would have loved to see some complex puzzles or more little storylines taking place in the monastery as well as more passages on the outside - perhaps a park, a glass-house, a chapel. And player-friendly maps. Seriously, these should be standard by now. That being said, my first impulse was to give this one a four stars, but frankly, it's better than that. The unity of descriptions, attention to detail and awesome artworks serve to evoke something scarcely seen in nowadays modules: Dread. If foreshadowed correctly, the players will be jumping like crazy all the time and I am absolutely positive that you'll have a great time running this. And I actually regret that this is not a 300+page monster with even larger grounds and aforementioned additions like a chapel etc. The potential is vast and I really hope to see a sequel to this one, in one form or another. Thus, in spite of the points of criticism I have, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars, but no seal of approval, though I so want to award one. If you want to scare your players with a haunted house, there's no way around this one. (And if you're like me and want haunts, but Rite's #30-haunt-pdfs and cackle with glee...)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Black Monastery (Swords and Wizardry)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Unusual Suspects (PF)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2013 12:30:52

Each player can lavish care and attention on their character, making him a rounded and believeable individual within the context of the shared alternate reality the whole group inhabits during game sessions... the poor GM has to cope with what can be a 'cast of thousands' and however much time he has to devote to the game, he's never going to have time to develop all the NPCs to the same level. So, here's something to help!

A full EIGHTY characters, all with name, stat block, backstory, description, tactics if involved in (or instigating) a brawl, notes on using the character and a neat sketch... all conveniently filling a page apiece (or on 2 pages but kept separate from other characters) so that you can print individuals out as needed to tuck in your game-night file.

They come in three sections: town, travel and tunnel. The Town ones are of various levels and occupations, all people you might encounter in a built-up area, or folks you might seek out if you have a specific need for a service, an item or some information. The Travel section consists of people you might encounter on the road. Other travellers, people whose occupation or location means that they'll meet travellers and so on. Again, they come in an assortment of levels.

Finally, the Tunnel section is a little different. Some are the sort of folks you might encounter by chance during a delve - the fellow who's farming mushrooms perhaps, or a big lad who offers his services as 'pack mule' for a party - but others are designed as 'Boss' characters, the ones who might be the whole reason (whether or not the party knows it!) that you're going delving at all.

A fabulous resource that any GM should find useful whether they need a chance one-off encounter or a recurring NPC but want a character as developed as any player-character. And just reading through, many of them are replete with ideas that could spawn side-adventures or whole scenarios of their own. Recommended.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unusual Suspects (PF)
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