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Earl Grey, Hot
by Ron L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/18/2020 19:24:17

I ran "Earl Grey, Hot" for my kids today and we had a great time playing it. I'm fairly new to Starfinder but have been playing RPGs since I was 14 years old... so for thirty-mumble years. We loved the variety of play, from swashbuckling ship boarding to planetary jungle tromps to ship battles. The adventure gave us a real overview of many rules we hadn't yet explored. I was delighted that the publisher quickly answered a question I had about the product. The appendices gave a great deal of depth about the Frentellis system which is a nice backdrop for further adventures. The only missing item seemed to be a write up of the Pruo race which is apparently an aquatic race that inhabits Fretellis 4. We are quite curious about them as a race and how spacefaring works for them and would love to see them as a playable race. (We're thinking Abe Sapien of Hellboy fame!). This is a great adventure, with lots of extras... I mean there's a whole star system included and Clarkson star beasts! Thanks for the fun. Oh and we just love anagrams. :-)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Earl Grey, Hot
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Future's Past: Infinity Incursion (4 of 5)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/26/2020 05:18:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth part of the Future’s Past AP clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As before with the series, please do not be fooled by the page-count – there is more (and better) gaming in Future’s Past installments than in many books of more than thrice that size. Edge station’s map is included in a player-friendly, full-color map. This module needs to be played as a sequel to part III of the AP, due to the unique nature of this series; unlike many APs, this really doesn’t work as a stand-alone module. That being said, no other AP has genuinely made me feel shudders running down my spine from excitement as often as this one has so far, so let’s see if part IV can maintain this ridiculously high standard.

Please do note that, in my review of this adventure, I necessarily have to use SPOILERS, some of which pertain to previous installments of the series. I STRONGLY suggest that, if you’re a Starfinder-player (or one for another rules-system who loves intelligent stories!), you skip ahead to the conclusion.

Again, this is the huge SPOILER-warning. You have been warned!

… .. .

Only GMs around? Great! Central has won. The AI is a deity that transcends timelines, a perfect overlord, a thing that has broken free will and society throughout most of the cosmos. Some survivors and resistances still struggle with the Druune to beat it – but ultimately, it’s not enough. Time and time again, the time-travelers lose to Central in infinite iterations. Throughout infinite timelines, there was but a single instance where the unbeatable machine god lost, was reduced to base improvisation. Edge Station.

The PCs are trapped on Edge Station in a time loop, still occupying the possessed bodies of scientists and soldiers; they know Central comes to destroy them, as it has for countless times; at the end of First Contact, a strange message arrives from Queen Deshekh, a cybernetic formian – a change in the loop.

According to historical records, Edge Station blew up due to a freak malfunction in the fusion reactor; the Druune could not understand Central AI and how important Edge Station was to it – and thus, the 4 time travelers that arrive pursue desperate and wide-ranging plans. All of these plans are doomed to fail without the PCs. They are, though, a perfect example of fantastic NPC-writing. All of the NPCs come btw. with their own original full-color artworks of absolutely superb quality.

So, let’s talk about the NPCs: Queen Deshekh is no queen. To quote her text: “Central considered the elimination of the formian species the model of efficiency.” Central eliminated all queens simultaneously, which pretty much drove the entire species insane; Deshekh then transformed some of her dead hive-brethren into cybernetic zombies, to help keep her sane in the absence of her species’ telepathic chattering. Since then, her ailing body becomes more and more like a cyber-zombie herself. Deshekh is supposed to take control of the security systems and analyze any traps or tricks left by Central – she also is desperate to warn her people, seeking to boost her cybernetics to issue a warning scream. She is not aware of Central’s in-bound fleet, and spread too thin.

Vincent Sharsone was a programming prodigy working on Central – and he realized its danger…but when he did, it was too late. Central wrecked his life, and in the future, none of the nodes can truly be accessed – so it’s here that Vincent acts. He wants to overwrite a node with a copy of his mind, which will destroy his brain, but it might create an AI that can potentially go toe to toe with Central.

Oroseen the changer is a mystic of maraquoi stock, bonded symbiotically with the Druune, made a changer, a being capable of switching between the species’ numerous sexes. Oroseen is torn between the host and Druune personality, and seeks to share knowledge with the Druune by mind linking with the dimensional gates. Sure, this’ll cause worsening rift flares, but well…

Finally, there is Timetech Gamble, the fellow on the cover (and yes: cover-art quality = interior art quality!) – you see, when Central took control it was the space goblins that kept the Federation alive – and who managed to perfect time travel! Gamble is the sole traveler who has no ulterior motive: The space goblin prodigy lady has one task: Build a time-machine. In only a day or two.

This is also a GREAT point to note that the module explains not only the time travel employed by Central, but also this distinctly…goblin-like approach of timetechs to time travel. Okay, so far for the cast of illustrious characters – now, let’s talk about the rules!

You see, the PCs had infinite iterations atop Edge Station – they are adjusted to their bodies, and each PC has a FLAWLESS understanding of every nook and cranny of Edge Station. This includes being able to maneuver through it blindly with only very minor penalties. The PCs also know where to gain equipment. The module takes place, structurally, in 4 steps, and after each step, the PC can gain equipment of an item level of 4 or less; 5 or 6 item level takes 2 such encounters, and item level 7 takes until all are completed. The PCs also know perfectly how the other people aboard Edge Station tick, which gives them a huge edge (haha) in social interactions. From computer familiarity to researched topics, etc. In short: The PCs get to be the blasé loopers that know all the stuff, which can be a fantastic roleplaying experience. Best of all: They will NEED this type edge. None of the time travelers are per se necessarily cooperative, and after encountering one, the timeline progresses in 4 steps – without help, the individuals will greatly worsen the situation: From hostile security systems to failing life support and rift radiation flares, PCs will have a HARD time dealing with these fellows…which is why the extensive troubleshooting provided is super helpful!

Did your PCs manage to eliminate the node? Module accounts for that. Do they split the party? The module actually encourages that, and while tough, it is a valid scenario! Successfully aiding the time travelers will bring serious boons to the PCs, like a functional node, and they’ll need them in the finale!

You see, Central never had to excessively use time travel, as a single projection was already the definition of overkill. Lacking the curiosity of organic life, it never tested time travel’s limitations, and the copying of consciousnesses is not an error-free process – and an AI suffers from such errors compounding…and there is a small, but non-zero chance that projections into this time might cause catastrophic malfunctions. Such a risk is unacceptable; plans would need to be altered, perhaps for the first time. The God-AI is vulnerable – perhaps for the first and last time. All that now remains, is to triumph against impossible odds.

BAM, and that is how you tease an AP-finale! I paraphrased it, but boy, the writing. It’s just so AWESOME.

Conclusion: Editing is very good on a rules-language level; on a formal level, I noticed a few minor typos and a couple of formatting snafus, such as missed italics for spell-references, a “P” missing from[Progression] and the like – but nothing that would have impeded the functionality of the module. Thomas Baumbach’s 2-column layout for the series is perfect and feels appropriate, and makes information easy to parse. The full-color original artworks by Leonard O’Grady are top-tier and frickin’ GORGEOUS – the interior art in on par with the cover! Cartography is full-color as well, and player-friendly maps are included. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. I own the softcover version, because, frankly, if you even remotely like Starfinder or any roleplaying game in space, then you owe to yourself to get this.

Stephen Rowe is ridiculously talented; not just as a designer, but also as a writer. The Future’s Past AP began strong, and has since only ramped up the tension, the stakes. I have never before seen either time travel, or dealing with a godlike adversary, done so intelligently, so well.

After part II, I was waiting with baited breath, hoping that the AP would live up to my, at this point, ridiculously high expectations, that it would manage to retain its internal logic, its persistent class. Well, part III exceeded my expectations, throwing a HUGE curve-ball of jamais-vu and awesomeness at the players and GM, and part IV further builds on this, once more delivering something you haven’t ever played in a module before.

Future’s Past’s fourth installment stands alongside its predecessors as a singularly-compelling, phenomenal achievement of adventure-writing, and if the finale doesn’t drop the ball big time, this will enter my roleplaying game collection as one of the singularly best adventure-series I own. If you have been hesitant so far, stop reading and get this series now. If you wanted your scifi/science-fantasy to be intelligent, high-stakes and awesome, if you want to experience something new at the table – Future’s Past delivers. I consider this series to be good enough to warrant converting to Traveller, Stars Without Numbers, Mothership, or similar games. It’s that good.

The fourth part gets 5 stars + my seal of approval, and, like ALL three installments before it, gets the nomination for my Top Ten, here of 2019. If Part V holds up, this series will be a hot contender for my number 1 spot.

See you at Tomorrow’s End, the furious finale!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future's Past: Infinity Incursion (4 of 5)
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BASIC01: A Learning Time
by Sean H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/17/2020 02:33:50

A simple, yet outstanding introduction to tabletop games! I've used this as a jumping point for a longer campaign with my regular party, and the light hearted energy keeps things jovial and adventurous- exactly how DND should be.

Have fun'



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
BASIC01: A Learning Time
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Future's Past: First Contact (3 of 5)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/28/2019 08:52:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the Future’s Past AP clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content. It should be noted that, as in the first two installments, the module has more content inside than the page-count would lead you to believe.

This module is intended for 4-6 3rd level characters, and I highly recommend playing Future’s Past I and II – they are both phenomenal adventures.

Okay, so HUGE WARNING: In order to discuss this review, I will need to go into SPOILERS not only for the module, but also for its predecessors. If you want to play this (and you do, trust me!), then you should stop reading RIGHT NOW.

SERIOUS SPOILER WARNING! Players, skip to the conclusion.

… .. .

All right, so this is thematically a WTF-moment; after the dark fantasy/horror/System Shock-esque first two adventures, this is where the series kicks into conceptual ultra-high-gear: The PCs, at this point, probably realize that the Druune are dangerous, alien and downright strange, and they have realized that Central AI is an issue. The druune realize the threat of Central AI reaching a kind of dues ex machina super-singularity. The PCs have hijacked the experimental druune prototype time machine, and send their minds back to the eponymous First Contact with the druune. To avoid issues with the time-stream, the PC’s minds are what’s sent back into time – and as such, the module begins with a surprisingly mighty possession-engine of sorts: The blending of memories means that the PCs get to choose one or two options from various lists: Military officers could get a theme knowledge, 6 + Int skills among physical skills, or a bonus feat – those taking two benefits have a harder time accessing the host body’s memories. That is…fantastic. A talented GM can use this framework to potentially expand upon it and even use it to run an entire campaign of ghosts in living shells. Oh, and yes, this does address balance concerns, explains how e.g. mechanic tools interact with that, and there is an option for players to play a new character of sorts due to a glitch in the process.

The GM then proceeds to generate 1-2 characters per PC, which are tied to the host of the PC’s psyche. These are categorized in groups, and from lovers to enemies to those infected by the druune, can add lots of complications for them. Whether you need stats for them or not depends on your playstyle – flavor-only might well suffice.

Most personnel on board of the station is either a scientist or military – oh, and the players get to meet the key players of the station, who come with GORGEOUS mugshots and flavor-centric write-ups. And no, these artworks are not the only ones of this quality herein. Indeed, from characters to location, edge station is a stark contrast to the horrible timeline from which the PCs hail, with future memories intruding, reminding the players and characters alike of the horrid fates to come.

The PCs arrive at Edge Station at 13:00. The timeline of events has happened, to a degree, an innumerable number of times. It is up to the PCs to change them. Culture helps recall them, and points flux – options to [delay] and [avert] key steps on the way to First Contact – and the ultimate goal is to prevent it…which isn’t too easy, considering the smart tactics of the adversary. Oh, and the module has seriously amazing advice on how to troubleshoot the adventure, if required – the players do have a chance to engage in a limited groundhog day, but one that might require the players to engage in a loop, at least if you are as strict as I am. I LOVE this.

This module, in short, is about PLAYER SKILL.

Almost exclusively, dauntingly so. I LOVE IT. Yes, dice will be rolled – this is Starfinder, after all! Yes, there is a villain to be thwarted in combat. But know what? This module can only be solved by being CLEVER and by roleplaying well.

And no, I am not giving away the finale, how this module ends. Why? Because preventing First Contact shall not suffice to stop Central. And because the final paragraphs of this adventure sent bonafide shivers of excitement down my spine!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, excellent on a rules-language level. There is one header not closed (missing [/h2]), and I noticed a few references to spells in purely descriptive text not italicized correctly. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with A LOT of full-color, high-quality artwork on par with cover, NPC mugshots, etc. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, but personally, I’d suggest getting the entire AP in print. It’s worth having on your shelf.

Stephen Rowe’s Future’s Past AP had two phenomenal modules so far; First Contact, while formally slightly less refined, imho mops the floor with even those. If you are a rules-savvy SFRPG-GM, then the possession-engine can open entire new campaign concepts for you. And if you’re not, you actually get an INTELLIGENT time-travel scenario that makes sense, that helps you troubleshoot if required, and that focuses boldly on the abilities of your players. This is all about roleplaying, and from the Groundhog-Day-potential to the stakes, this is a legendary adventure indeed. This module gets 5 stars, seal of approval, and is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2019. Future’s Past, so far, has been a truly epic achievement.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future's Past: First Contact (3 of 5)
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Future's Past: Edge Station (1 of 5)
by Callum M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/12/2019 14:25:29

I don't often write reviews, but there were criminally few for this amazing product.

I was hesitant about buying this while searching for quirky and interesting third-party Starfinder compatible modules, despite Endzeitgeist's review and some recommendations online, because of the lack of information about it and the fact the other three modules in the series haven't been reviewed. I can honestly say it was well worth it, and on the strength of this first module I immediately purchased the other three currently available and am eagerly awaiting the release of the fifth. My recommendation here is for the entire campaign as a whole (so far anyway, the last episode hasn't been released), see Endzeitgeist's review for more specifics on this particular installment.

Non-spoilery recommendation: While it starts as a pure body horror adventure in this module, the later episodes open up into other rarely (satisfyingly) explored sci-themes. And it does them incredibly well.

That's it for non-spoilers, if there's any chance you'll ever play in this campaign you'll hate yourself and me if you read further.

... still here?

This campaign features time travel done superbly well, as the centrepiece of an epic space opera campaign. A great deal of thought has clearly been put into time travel as the primary underlying mechanic of the campaign, it's not just a gimmick. As an example, the first four modules (designed to take your players from levels 1-5) take place entirely on the same space station. And you most certainly will not get anyone complaining about repetitive gameplay. The early horror themes are almost a bait and switch for later modules that tone down the shock horror for more cerebral and social puzzles (how do you avert the disaster that left the station in the horrific circumstances you first found it in?! is somebody on the station aware you're trying to prevent the disaster and acting against you?! how is that even possible?!) with hints that the final module might have overtones of Mass Effect or Star Trek as you finally find a way to strike back at the overwhelming foe that's been acting behind the scenes.

The first two modules are very heavy on body horror, which might prove too steep an entry price for some groups without heavy modification - but the overall pathway as outlined is an incredible read. Any suitably machiavelian DM is going to be rubbing their hands together in glee when they consider how their players will be feeling experiencing the twists and turns of the campaign as they painstakingly piece together theories of what's happening, only to have them dashed upon the rocks of reality again and again.

And the production values are easily comparable with Paizo Starfinder products, with obvious affection for Starfinder lore and incredible art to boot (despite not being set in the official canon Starfinder universe it takes its queues from it and can easily be fitted into a canon starfinder universe by just replacing the Galactic Coalition with the Pact Worlds or a Pact Worlds/Veskarium Alliance)! Nuar administrators, Space-Goblin junk-savants, Maraquoi symbiotes, Formian techno-zombie-hives, so many great ideas throughout the campaign. Well worth your time and money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Future's Past: Edge Station (1 of 5)
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Rise of the Drow Prologue: The Darkness Arrives
by Iain T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/28/2019 09:14:02

I ran this as a prelude to Rise of the Drow and I thought it worked pretty well. Our group was only three players and I handled this by putting them on the fast XP pathway. The setting is linear enough to be manageable but flexible enough to allow for player choices to take them in unexpected directions. Problems I met were that mage items were scarce and the plotline is just a little uncertain at times. Nothing to sweat about. We went on to Rise of the Drow and all players were level 6



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Rise of the Drow Prologue: The Darkness Arrives
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Mini-Dungeon Tome (Pathfinder RPG)
by Weller W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2019 15:38:55

Awesome Content, Great tools, well put together. Keep up the great work !



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon Tome (Pathfinder RPG)
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5E Mini-Dungeon #038: The Spinner's Hole
by Ralph K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/19/2019 14:24:52

A short and simple dungeon with an interesting challenge for the players that you can run with minimal GM preparation.

My full review can be found at https://rpgames.be/mini-dungeon-38-the-spinners-hole-review/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #038: The Spinner's Hole
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5E Mini-Dungeon #012: Nekh-ta-Nebi's Tomb
by D.W. D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/18/2019 09:22:11

A straight-forward great little mini-dungeon. I ran this as a one-shot and Chultified it to fit in with the setting. Great prompts for the rooms allowed me to throw in extra flavour and the dungeon layout led to some fun player-crafted scenarios. All in all, this mini-dungeon did exactly as advertised and we had a great time. 10/10, would giant scorpion sting again.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #012: Nekh-ta-Nebi's Tomb
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5E Mini-Dungeon #002: Hobgoblin Lair
by Robert N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/05/2019 14:45:18

This is a fun, simple adventure that you can attach to an existing adventure or encounter to add a side-quest or lair. It's not particularly earth-shattering in terms of dungeon design, but why would you expect that from a "mini-dungeon." The shrine at the end raises some interesting possibilities for a DM to improvise.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #002: Hobgoblin Lair
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5E Holiday Mini-Dungeon (bundle)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/20/2018 12:11:39

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, so I’m going to deviate slightly from my usual approach, since this is a collection of Mini-Dungeons, and I’ll be extracting the relevant sections for the individual adventure reviews. At this point, I think you’re all familiar with how mini-dungeons work, but for completion’s sake:

They are basically cards of two pages (in rare cases more) that depict a scenario on a single sheet of paper, and the respective adventure features a full-color map. Rules-relevant aspects generally are hyperlinked to, and these, for the most part, have no room for read-aloud text. An important deviation from standard mini-dungeons would be that the holiday mini-dungeons are all super-sized, i.e. they cover 4 pages instead of the usual two pages.

Functionally, these modules basically represent small sidetreks or semi-spontaneous modules you can just whip out and run, be it as a quick convention game, as an interlude in your home-game, as a sidetrek – you get the idea. It wouldn’t be fair to expect epic storylines of the like from these mini-dungeons, so I’ll rate them for what they are.

The mini-dungeons contained within this bundle have NOT been included in the Mini-Dungeon Tome, just fyi. They have all been penned by Justin Andrew Mason. I have previously reviewed “The Horror of Ochre Grove”, the designated Halloween adventure of the collection, which is btw. also one of the extra-long mini-dungeons, sporting a total of 4 pages. I considered that one to be a good little sidetrek, worthy of 4 stars. There are, however, 5 more adventures within this bundle, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that I will THOROUGHLY SPOIL all of the adventures contained within this bundle, so potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only GMs around? Great!

The Thanksgiving-related mini-dungeon adventure would be “A Feast of Fury”, intended for levels 5 - 7. This one is pretty intriguing: It takes place in a small and rather lavish castle, and has the PCs overseeing peace-negotiations, as the goblins have united under one king – who, surprisingly, seeks peace with the humans. The PCs thus basically represent guardians for the diplomatic relationships – and, of course, a cadre of goblin dissidents and ogre allies crash the party, requiring some good ole’ enemy smashing – preferably without having the important folks die. The module also features a nice little random encounter sequence for the assault of goblin dissidents, and in a cool twist, the default stats used add custom features – I actually like the 5e-version a little bit more! All in all, a fun little sidetrek. 4 stars.

The Christmas mini-dungeon scenario would be “Disaster on Bluegale Glacier”, intended for PCs of level 9 -10. In this adventure, the beloved priest of Bluegale Glacier, a Santa Clause-like figure usually blesses the villages, brings gifts – you get the idea. The kind priest, however, doesn’t show this time – not in the usual way. His reindeer crash into the crowds, fiendish monsters, and the corpse of the priest, dragged by one of the reindeer, pronounces a dire warning – rather traumatic indeed! You see, the temple of bluegale glacier is a containment of sorts, keeping far darrig ice fey at bay – but the imprisonment of said fey has tainted them and transformed one into the Winter Terror, who is represented by the sand hag stats, substituting snow for sand, in 5e. Visiting the nearby villages will have the PCs ambushed by the freed ice fey, but ultimately, the PCs will have to brave the brave the complex of the temple and the no longer sealed complex beyond, ending the threat of the hag. Solid, if a bit grim – 4.5 stars, rounded down.

The Easter module would be “The Grand Basilisk Hunt”, intended for level 7 – 8. The mythological Grand Basilisk is said to lair among its lesser brethren, and ostensibly, every 200 years, this specimen creates an egg, which hatches to replace the Grand Basilisk. The PCs are hired by an eccentric collector to get exactly that egg from Upsilos mountain. Ascending the mountain is covered, and a random encounter chart is presented for the basilisk infested caverns. There are plenty of basilisks breeding in the caverns, and finding the rather potent grand basilisk, much less surviving to secure an egg, will be a challenge. The grand basilisk has pretty brutal custom bite stats in 5e – nice touch. Oh, and guess what? The module does offer quite a few mechanically-relevant components. All in all, a fun, unconventional module, and the rewards and mechanical components have been properly adjusted to reflect 5e’s aesthetics. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

The New Year’s Eve themed mini-dungeon would be “The Temporal Clock Tower”, for levels 8 – 9. A mysterious obsidian obelisk has manifested at the border of the kingdom, and its emergence is accompanied by pockets of accelerated time. An artifact inside (fully statted!), the Eye of Philochronorastaris would be the culprit here. The artifact stats in 5e are smoother than in the PFRPG iteration. That being said, this little dungeon does contain a couple of different and rather interesting components: The temporal flux effect within adds an uncommon tactical dimension here, and the inside both features delightfully weird foes and a simple puzzle of sorts to ascend, reminding me of one of the more current Red Sonja comics. All in all, a fun offering that can have serious repercussions, should you choose to have it. It’s the mechanically most interesting one, and the concept could (and probably should) have carried a full-length module. All in all, an interesting little adventure that works better in 5e. Hence, 5 stars for this version.

The mini-dungeon intended for use as a birthday-module would be “The Shard of Accountability” can be run for every level. The module does require a bit of prep-work, in that it is tied to some questions that the player must answer for the PC. The birthday PC does get an artifact, the eponymous shard of accountability, which will send the PCs into the Halls of Contemplation, a psychic dimension – and here, the questions are represented by a variety of different tests – and the better they fare, the more pronounced the rewards will be. The codification of the mechanics is slightly tighter in the 5e-version, and there is a template to apply to creatures contained in this version. All in all, I consider the 5e-version to be superior to the PFRPG iteration.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting as a whole, are good, bordering on very good – the 5e-iteration of this collection is tighter than the PFRPG-version. Layout adheres to the standard established by the Mini-Dungeon Tome, with color-coded text and borders, allowing for seamless integration. The respective mini-dungeons are not bookmarked, but don’t need bookmarks at their length. The cartography provided is rather cool, but we don’t get player-friendly versions of the maps.

Justin Andrew Mason’s holiday-mini-dungeons highlight the author’s talent and creativity. Not one of these mini-dungeons is boring, and all of them have an enjoyable angle to them. If you need a couple of neat sidetreks/brief modules themed around the holidays, this’ll be a neat one-stop shop. The 5e-version of this bundle is superior to the PFRPG-iteration as far as I’m concerned. Editing is a tad bit tighter, and so is rules-language. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Holiday Mini-Dungeon (bundle)
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PF Holiday Mini-Dungeon (bundle)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/20/2018 12:10:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, so I’m going to deviate slightly from my usual approach, since this is a collection of Mini-Dungeons, and I’ll be extracting the relevant sections for the individual adventure reviews. At this point, I think you’re all familiar with how mini-dungeons work, but for completion’s sake:

They are basically cards of two pages (in rare cases more) that depict a scenario on a single sheet of paper, and the respective adventure features a full-color map. Rules-relevant aspects generally are hyperlinked to, and these, for the most part, have no room for read-aloud text. An important deviation from standard mini-dungeons would be that the holiday mini-dungeons are all super-sized, i.e. they cover 4 pages instead of the usual two pages.

Functionally, these modules basically represent small sidetreks or semi-spontaneous modules you can just whip out and run, be it as a quick convention game, as an interlude in your home-game, as a sidetrek – you get the idea. It wouldn’t be fair to expect epic storylines of the like from these mini-dungeons, so I’ll rate them for what they are.

The mini-dungeons contained within this bundle have NOT been included in the Mini-Dungeon Tome, just fyi. They have all been penned by Justin Andrew Mason. I have previously reviewed “The Horror of Ochre Grove”, the designated Halloween adventure of the collection, which is btw. also one of the extra-long mini-dungeons, sporting a total of 4 pages. I considered that one to be a good little sidetrek, worthy of 4 stars. There are, however, 5 more adventures within this bundle, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that I will THOROUGHLY SPOIL all of the adventures contained within this bundle, so potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only GMs around? Great!

The Thanksgiving-related mini-dungeon adventure would be “A Feast of Fury”, intended for levels 5 - 7. This one is pretty intriguing: It takes place in a small and rather lavish castle, and has the PCs overseeing peace-negotiations, as the goblins have united under one king – who, surprisingly, seeks peace with the humans. The PCs thus basically represent guardians for the diplomatic relationships – and, of course, a cadre of goblin dissidents and ogre allies crash the party, requiring some good ole’ enemy smashing – preferably without having the important folks die. The module also features a nice little random encounter sequence for the assault of goblin dissidents. All in all, a fun little sidetrek. 4 stars.

The Christmas mini-dungeon scenario would be “Disaster on Bluegale Glacier”, intended for PCs of level 9 -10. In this adventure, the beloved priest of Bluegale Glacier, a Santa Clause-like figure usually blesses the villages, brings gifts – you get the idea. The kind priest, however, doesn’t show this time – not in the usual way. His reindeer crash into the crowds, fiendish monsters, and the corpse of the priest, dragged by one of the reindeer, pronounces a dire warning – rather traumatic indeed! You see, the temple of bluegale glacier is a containment of sorts, keeping ijiraq ice fey at bay – but the imprisonment of said fey has tainted them and transformed one into the Winter Terror, an ice devil. Visiting the nearby villages will have the PCs ambushed by the freed ice fey, but ultimately, the PCs will have to brave the brave the complex of the temple and the no longer sealed complex beyond, ending the threat of the devil. Solid, if a bit grim – 4.5 stars, rounded down.

The Easter module would be “The Grand Basilisk Hunt”, intended for level 7 – 8. The mythological Grand Basilisk is said to lair among its lesser brethren, and ostensibly, every 200 years, this specimen creates an egg, which hatches to replace the Grand Basilisk. The PCs are hired by an eccentric collector to get exactly that egg from Upsilos mountain. Ascending the mountain is covered, and a random encounter chart is presented for the basilisk infested caverns. There are plenty of basilisks breeding in the caverns, and finding the rather potent grand basilisk, much less urviving to secure an egg, will be a challenge. Oh, and guess what? The module does offer quite a few mechanically-relevant components. Minor nitpick: there’s an instance where damage type is missing, but it’s clear that piercing is intended here. All in all, a fun, unconventional module. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

The New Year’s Eve themed mini-dungeon would be “The Temporal Clock Tower”, for levels 8 – 9. A mysterious obsidian obelisk has manifested at the border of the kingdom, and its emergence is accompanied by pockets of accelerated time. An artifact inside (fully statted!), the Eye of Philochronorastaris would be the culprit here. (Minor complaint: Spell-reference not italicized.) That being said, this little dungeon does contain a couple of different and rather interesting components: The temporal flux effect within adds an uncommon tactical dimension here, and the inside both features delightfully weird foes and a simple puzzle of sorts to ascend, reminding me of one of the more current Red Sonja comics. All in all, a fun offering that can have serious repercussions, should you choose to have it. It’s the mechanically most interesting one, and the concept could (and probably should) have carried a full-length module. All in all, an interesting little adventure: 4.5 stars, rounded down.

The mini-dungeon intended for use as a birthday-module would be “The Shard of Accountability” can be run for every level. The module does require a bit of prep-work, in that it is tied to some questions that the player must answer for the PC. The birthday PC does get an artifact, the eponymous shard of accountability, which will send the PCs into the Halls of Contemplation, a psychic dimension – and here, the questions are represented by a variety of different tests – and the better they fare, the more pronounced the rewards will be. I really enjoyed this one, though a couple of its mechanical aspects could be a tiny bit tighter. Still, a creative one. 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting as a whole, are good. There are a few rules-relevant minor hiccups and a glitches à la “them the”, but these are the exception. Layout adheres to the standard established by the Mini-Dungeon Tome, with color-coded text and borders, allowing for seamless integration. The respective mini-dungeons are not bookmarked, but don’t need bookmarks at their length. The cartography provided is rather cool, but we don’t get player-friendly versions of the maps.

Justin Andrew Mason’s holiday-mini-dungeons highlight the author’s talent and creativity. Not one of these mini-dungeons is boring, and all of them have an enjoyable angle to them. If you need a couple of neat sidetreks/brief modules themed around the holidays, this’ll be a neat one-stop shop. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
PF Holiday Mini-Dungeon (bundle)
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Secret Weapons Project
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/30/2018 05:25:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This humble pdf clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page of which is devoted to the front cover, leaving us with 4 pages of content, designed by James Sutter with Jonathan Weisnewski and Jonathan G. Nelson. Wait…yep, the same James Sutter who happens to be Starfinder’s creative lead!

The first item (with full and proper artwork, btw.) presented would be the combustion lance – and yes, we do get a cool, in-character prose section that contextualizes the weapon in the game. 4 different versions of combustion-lances are provided: At item level 2, we have the ignition class, while the most potent version would be the level 11 megaton class. These are advanced, two-handed, powered weapons with reach. They are unwieldy and on a successful attack, all creatures adjacent to the target must make a Ref-save or take damage equal to that dealt to the original target. To balance this, the base damage output is less than what you’d expect. (The DC is standardized as per the core rules pg 181, just in case you were wondering.)

The second weapon similarly gets a nice prose section that helps make it stand out – this time around, that would be the RD implosion grenade, which comes in 5 different versions: The basic one is a level 1 grenade for 120 credits, while the fifth version is a level 18 grenade, lovingly known as “Black Hole”: These explode in a blast radius, and then such targets towards the grid intersection where it detonated. A save negates this, and distance depends on the item’s version. Really cool!

An overheard conversation introduces us to the grapnel harpoon, which comes in 4 different versions, ranging from item level 2 to 14, with damage ranging from 1d6 P to 5d4 P. When you successfully damage a target, you have established a connection to the being, and then may activate the harpoon as a move action. You make an opposed Strength check with a +4 bonus. (Shouldn’t that be an insight bonus?) On a success, the creature is roped towards the closest unoccupied square adjacent to your, being drawn to you in a straight line. If you fail by 5 or more, you can end up being disarmed or be moved towards the creature. The weapon can only harpoon one target at a given time.

Reactive panels come in three Mks, (level 6, 8 and 10), occupy 2 slots and may be installed in heavy and powered armor. These grant you a number of temporary Hit Points that apply only to the three physical damage types (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing). Additionally, all creatures adjacent to you, must make a Reflex saving throw or take the same amount of damage as that prevent by these temporary hit points. Once the panels are depleted, they require 1 minute to recharge, taking up one of the charges. The temporary hit points budget ranges from 5 Hit Points to 15. Usage is 5, though, so yeah, these are battery guzzlers… Plates have 1 Bulk.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports one amazing, original full-color artwork for every weapon – kudos! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Fun piece of trivia: All of the folks involved are musicians as well! Jonathan Weisnewski is the gunsmith for the Destiny franchise and is responsible for vocals and guitar for the band Sandrider. (Pretty kickass, imho!); Jonathan G. Nelson’s band is “A Different Breed of Men”, where he is responsible for drums and vocals, and James Sutter plays guitar and sings for “Brides of the Lizard God.” And yes, these are well worth checking out!

But I digress! This humble pdf’s weapons have in common that the well-crafted prose renders them more than just a collection of stats – and that each and every one of them does something unique that no other weapon does! Combined with the amazing artworks, we get a sweet little pdf of all killer, no filler weaponry. Totally worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Secret Weapons Project
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Star System Set: Salutian (FULL SET)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2018 10:27:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, I’m going to deviate slightly from my usual formula, due to the unique structure of this series. The Star System series by AAW Games is customer-friendly, in that you can get the whole star system, or just the component that interests you: Just want a new race? You can get just the race and ignore the rest. This is made possible by a card-like presentation akin to what we know from the company’s super-popular mini-dungeons series. You can just get one card, or the whole set.

Each star system consists of 6 different such cards, meaning you’ll get a page-count of 12 pages. In order to facilitate posting the reviews for these component pdfs without having to rewrite my review time and again and losing time to cut-copy-pasting etc., I’m going to structure this review of the complete set accordingly.

Since I will base my reviews on the collected sets, I will provide an overall conclusion etc. at the bottom. This star system was written in its entirety by Michael O. Holland.

The star system components are:

Planet:

As always, we get a neat artwork that shows all planets and their relative location in the sun system, with the star in question f this system being a yellow dwarf. The planet closest to the sun is super hot, and the one farthest from the sun has a poisonous atmosphere. The Main seat of life here, though, would be Mien, the world of the Lamertans. The surface and jungles of this world are surprisingly deadly, and the lamertans haven’t yet learned the importance of keeping data close to your chest. 4 brief sample fluff NPC-write ups and 2 hooks complement this one. I like the notion of a race recently “abandoned” by their masters, but I can’t really picture Lamerta settlements and the like – they don’t seem to be on the surface, but a bit more detail here would have been nice.

Solid, if not super-exciting. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Race:

The new race presented within this star system set would be the Lamerta, who are Small, 4-armed humanoids with low light vision and a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics, Computers and Engineering. They also can move unimpeded through nonmagical difficult terrain in jungles and forests, and if they have two free hands, they get their land speed as climb speed. The comparative power-increase the latter represents over e.g. the kasathas is offset by them getting only 2 HP. Ability-score modifier-wise, we have +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con. The race seems to have been engineered by the mysterious Saltu, and the write-up per se is solid. They come with a solid artwork and all sections you’d expect, minus the “Playing a Lamerta”-sidebar that core rules races would have offered.

All in all, a decent race, if not one that really intrigued me. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Character Options:

Here, we have a new theme, the lawman, which nets +1 to Con, reduces the DC of Culture checks to recall law enforcement/judicial facts by 5 and lets the characters choose Diplomacy or Intimidate as class skill. 6th level nets +2 to Perception checks as part of a criminal investigation, as well as +2 to skill checks of skills in which you have no ranks, provided you undertake the check as part of an investigation. This explicitly does not allow for trained-only skill-use. 12th level lets you 1/week call in a favor for one item or expert service, of up to an item level of your character level +1, and you’re expected to return the goods/reciprocate. Nice one! 18th level lets you 2/day mull over the details or clues of an investigation to regain 1 Resolve Point; this takes 10 minutes and doesn’t qualify for regaining Stamina. One of the cooler themes out there

The second page of this card contains new spells: bio-blast is a level 1 mystic spell that nets a 2d6 acid cone, which leaves a short-lived residue of acidic sludge. Leap is available as a 1st level mystic and technomancer spell, which lets you execute horizontal or vertical leaps up to twice your size sans running start or Athletics-requirements. Technomancers can cast the 2nd level plasma whip spell, which nets you a burning monowhip that you’re treated as proficient with, inflicting scaling fire damage. At 3rd spell level, technomancers can cast energy aegis, which nets +6 to EAC, later upgrading to +8 and +10, at 9th and 18th CL, respectively. Phase shift is available as both a 3rd level mystic and technomancer spell nets a +10 bonus to Stealth and concealment, making this a kind of cross between invisibility and displacement, but at a lesser degree. On a design-perspective, I think that phase shift’s bonus should be tied to the four states of awareness mechanic. Not the biggest fan here.

Verdict: 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the theme. The spells alone would have been closer to 3.

Equipment:

We have three new ships here: We get the Seria tier 1 Tiny fighter, a tier 7 explorer and a tier 9 bulk freighter. Liked these. The section also comes with the wingsuit, which is basically a base-jumping suit, at mk 2 with thrusters (neat!) and defoliant grenades in 4 levels make sense in the jungles of the system. The card also provides a neatly-illustrated hybrid item, the stealth cloak, which does what it says on the tin.

Solid selection. 4 stars.

Monsters:

We get two new monsters here: At Cr 3, the Large , green and delightfully-illustrated grunk worm, who sports acidic bile…oh, and hitting it with kinetic damage may splatter slimy blood full of larvae on targets. The worms also get grab. Nice critter, like it! The second critter, also beautifully illustrated, would be the CR 5 Axarak plant. It is superb at camouflage, but emits a telltale methane scent. The plant can roll its own, dead leaves in bizarre leaf-bombs and may root/uproot itself. Damn cool critter!!

Neat array! 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Mini-Adventure:

This mini-adventure is intended for 4 level 3 PCs, and comes with a nice full-color map. No player-friendly version is included. Really cool: We get two variant/unique-y creatures that are NOT featured on the monster-card! Kudos for going the extra mile here.

This being the review of the adventure section, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, a shuttle has actually crashed on Mien, and it’ll be up to the PCs to mount the rescue! As the PCs scan the region and zoom over the jungle, they’ll soon note the wreck – and that the survivors have fled. And the PCs will be in a place to meet the fine specimen that caused the survivors to run…to a temple of the Saltu, where the PCs can find ancient tech, deadly enemies, and finally free the missing crew members. The terrain/temple per se is a bit less remarkable and the final encounter is a bit out of left field, but the bonus critters rock.

Solid mini-adventure. 4 stars.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, at least for the most part. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the collection sports quite a few rather nice artworks – particularly the monsters get neat art. The pdf version of the collected set has, unlike Querritix, no bookmarks for each card.

Michael O. Holland’s Star System is interesting regarding a lot of its premises, though it probably does suffer a bit from the race’s culture not coming across as that interesting. This is somewhat mitigated by the cool critters, but as a whole, I consider this to be slightly weaker than Querritix. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Salutian (FULL SET)
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Star System Set: Salutian -- Welcome to the Jungle (Mini-Adventure)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/16/2018 10:26:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Mini-Adventure:

This mini-adventure is intended for 4 level 3 PCs, and comes with a nice full-color map. No player-friendly version is included. Really cool: We get two variant/unique-y creatures that are NOT featured on the monster-card! Kudos for going the extra mile here.

This being the review of the adventure section, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, a shuttle has actually crashed on Mien, and it’ll be up to the PCs to mount the rescue! As the PCs scan the region and zoom over the jungle, they’ll soon note the wreck – and that the survivors have fled. And the PCs will be in a place to meet the fine specimen that caused the survivors to run…to a temple of the Saltu, where the PCs can find ancient tech, deadly enemies, and finally free the missing crew members. The terrain/temple per se is a bit less remarkable and the final encounter is a bit out of left field, but the bonus critters rock.

Solid mini-adventure. 4 stars.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Star System Set: Salutian -- Welcome to the Jungle (Mini-Adventure)
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