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SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (PDF)
by Jeff J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/11/2018 23:08:51

I bought the print copy of the game system and I love it. I really like the simplified, low magic feel of the game. The art in it rivals any of the high end gaming systems as well. Highly recommended!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (PDF)
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SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (PDF)
by Conrad H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/10/2018 16:56:13

After a long time away from tabletop games, Sagaborn has the refreshing feel of the 3.5 and before, I am use to but bring back the storytelling aspects that I enjoyed. With a great setting and options rules to help infuse the relm of fantasy and a bit of horror.

Game system: Streamlined and putting focus in the storytelling more so than rules and math in dice rolls. Also giving the GM more leniency to make the world their own, then hard fast rules defining everything. Layout: Very easy to find information need, and information easy for those with or without knowledge of D20 system.
Artwork: Give a very good reference to the landscape and atmosphere in the world.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (PDF)
by Wes S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2018 15:45:11

We got a chance to play with the creator at Chattacon. My group fell in love with the system. We've played another game as a one-shot and I'm slowly working with them to play more often. If you're familiar with d20 rules, this game systsem will be quick to pick up. Try out the Heroic Actions, they are one of the best core mechanics we've come across...and it's simple.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (PDF)
by Sam F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/09/2018 12:01:41

I love the Sagaborn system! I've been playing for a few months now and I really enjoy the simplified streamlined d20 system. I'm a sucker for low magic gritty campaigns and Sagaborn delivers!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook (PDF)
by Ethan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2018 14:00:24

I bought the print edition of this rulebook as soon as it came out, and have been GM-ing a Sagaborn campaign for a few months now. The rules system is fantastic, and we focus so much more on storytelling, players choosing their actions, and dice-rolling to determine success than under any other system I've played. There's no arguing over whether you can do something; it just happens or it doesn't as the players, GM, and dice determine.

If you've been looking for a fun RPG setting, that has lots of the classic D&D elements but cuts down on the arguing and focuses on gameplay, characters, and a rich and brilliant (and malleable) world, this is the ultimate place to start!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Elves of Uteria
by Ethan S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/18/2018 13:55:22

If you haven't heard of the world of Uteria, and/or want an introduction to the world that the Sagaborn RPG takes place in, this book gives a rich history background and helps set up what the role of elves in this world is. It's a spectacular introduction to a new twist on a classic race.

Also, included in the back is a whole slew of interesting creatures that are completely compatible with the Sagaborn RPG game; if you need ideas or examples of creatures/monsters for your world, this is a great place to get started!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Elves of Uteria
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The Ferryport Adventures - The Dead Gulch
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/20/2016 11:06:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This is the second part of the "Return of the Fey"-AP set in the world of Dark Return (previously known by the elven name, Uteria) and clocks in at 99 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 94 pages of content, so let's take a look!

It should be noted, though, that not all parts of this book are module-material; the final 26 pages are devoted to the "Tome of the Arts" - a guide to magic in the setting. If you are not interesting in that, please skip below to the review.

Since this aspect is pretty much bereft of spoilers, I will begin here: After several well-written in character letters, we are introduced to different groups of casters and a general history. Magic has only recently returned to the lands, and as such, it is considered to be rare. Spells are not cast via a vancian method; instead, spellcasters have a mana pool that increases at every level, depending on the spellcaster's caster level. The system also assumes that you can choose the respective spellcasting attribute. You take a look at the second table, which codifies bonus mana by governing attribute and add that to the caster level base. Simple, right? Nope. Unfortunately, the pdf fails to talk, in any way, about how feats and abilities that influence CL interact with this subsystem. It also fails to take multiclassing into account. There are plenty of options to gain full CL when multiclassing; in the instance where you take away the spell slot mechanics, this full upgrade suddenly nets you a ton of mana. At least RAW, there is nothing to prevent that.

Spells do not need to be prepared in advance and mana is regained after resting. The Dark Return is an E8, gritty world and as such, spell levels cap at level 4, character advancement at level 8. Spell levels have a base mana cost: Cantrips cost 0 mana, 1st level spells 1; every additional spell level increases this cost by +2. However, the system behaves somewhat like psionics in that it rewires spells to behave only at minimum efficiency if they are dealing some sort of damage. (The wording here is awkward.) Damage-dealing spells can be powered by spending additional mana: Each point spent increases the CL, but only for the purpose of dealing damage, not other parameters. Unfortunate wording issue: The rules-language notes "increase" and "damage dice" in the same sentence to refer to such escalations; unfortunately, this usually refers to e.g. d6s becoming d8s, rendering this aspect of the book a bit obtuse. Your level doubles as the cap of the maximum amount of mana you can pump into a spell.

The pdf covers metamagic and also basically takes a cue from Dark Sun by having the "focusing and ravaging" - mechanic: If you run out of mana, you have these two options. Focusing requires that you succeed a concentration check versus DC 15 + spell cost; on a failure, you take Mental fatigue damage. On a 1, you accidentally ravage instead - which should account for ample of mistrust towards basically any caster. It should be noted than 10 ranks in Spellcraft supposedly help and end the chance, but the rules seem to not be presented in too concise a manner here.

Mental Fatigue behaves pretty much like nonlethal damage, with the notable exception that it cannot be healed by magical means. For as long as you have at least one point of Mental fatigue, you're fatigued. Resting eliminates all Mental Fatigue, but, alas the precise way in which this works still is too opaque and pretty clunky: Are separate totals tracked for regular nonlethal damage and Mental Fatigue? No idea. If not, how do they interact? Is Mental Fatigue permanent or does it regenerate like regular nonlethal damage? What if you already are fatigued? Do you become exhausted? So yeah, unfortunately, that aspect, as far as I'm concerned, is non-operational.

Ravagers, much like Dark Sun's defilers, instead draw magical energy from living beings in the vicinity. When they cast a spell via ravaging, either a) all living creatures within 10 feet take the spell's mana cost as "physical damage". (Does that mean bludgeoning? Piercing? Slashing?) or b) all creatures with spell's cost times 10 feet take 1 "damage" - again, not properly typed. If said damage is supposed to be "physical", does it count as magic for the purpose of overcoming DR? Ravaging does not require concentration, but you still roll a d20: On a 1, you cause damage to yourself equal to the mana-cost of "the failed spell" - which seems to indicate that a 1 means failure here. Again, from a didactic point of view, that needs to be clearer. Ravaging is an evil act and, as an optional rule, you start suffering from some nasty physical changes of a cosmetic nature when engaging in the practice. It should be noted that RAW, the ravager takes damage when ravaging - clearly not intentional, but that would open another bag of worms regarding spellcasting. Again, alas, the ravaging system's not operational.

The pdf recognizes two spellcasting classes: Wylders and Luminars. Wylders receive 3/4 BAB-progression, d8 HD, good Fort- and Will-saves as well as proficiency with simple weapons, light armor, medium armor and shields, except tower shields. They still suffer from spell failure chance when wearing armor and shield, though. Odd: The description noted dropping shields to avoid spell failure, which implies that the act of dropping the shield can end it for armor as well: RAI is clear, but RAW...not so much. Interesting: They have no spell book and instead learn spells by committing them to their memory, allowing for the learning of spells on sight. They also get the option to generate wild bursts of magic. The rules-language here, alas, violates pretty much all tenets and conventions: "You must succeed a ranged touch attack +2. It causes 1d4+1 points of damage, doubling in power every 2 levels. It is a force effect." That is part of the ability's "Rules"-language. All right, I'll play. Ranged touch attack +2 - is that fixed? Does it substitute the ranged attack's attack bonus with +2? What type of bonus? What does "doubling in power" mean? Is the progression 1d4 +1 -> 2d4+2 -> 4d4+4 or does "doubling" here follow PFRPG's usual rules for doubling, which only ever comes up in threat ranges? Broken mess. The damage, for a force effect, is supposed to be force damage, not untyped. Have I mentioned the other ability that suddenly talks about ice, water and wind damage, none of which exist in PFRPG? Does not work as written.

The Luminar gets 1/2 BAB-progression, a non-standard Fort-progression, good Will-saves and proficiency with club, dagger, heavy + light crossbow as well as quarterstaff. Their HD are based on a training path - and guess what? The training paths fail to specify that. The class is supposed to e a catch-all for wizards, druids and clerics, but frankly, I am not going to dignify it with a full taking apart of the mechanics. They are not up to par.

Speaking of which: Advancement for legacy weapons, armor, etc. is provided...and there is frankly NO REASON to screw up that aspect. Both Purple Duck Games and Rite Publishing have fully functional systems for such weapons that exceed in precision and usability the sloppy basics we get here, which fail to articulate what type the respective benefits supposedly are and just presents a linear, boring conglomerate of brief tables that provide no variance or versatility. The chapter concludes with a list of spells available in Uteria.

Alack and alas, the spellcasting system is pretty much STILL a total and unmitigated mess.

All right, let's take a look if the adventure-section of the book fares better, shall we? The following is the adventure-review part, so from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! The PCs have been doing some odd jobs in the aftermath of module #1 (which also depicts Ferryport -without access to said module, the backdrop of this one is a bit more opaque) and we begin with the PCs taking a couple of bandits in custody - preferably alive. After this, we immediately kick off with a job offer: The PC's contact Garamond has recommended them to a druid-ally, who asks them to ascertain the whereabouts of the missing Lord Resly, last seen in the vicinity of the circus that has come to town. Investigating the manor of Resly can yield some hints, as can further inquiring in town, but sooner or later, the PCs are expected to check out the circus. A nice note: Traveling to and fro from the circus can yield an easy encounter on the road, which GMs can use to steer the PCs towards the next phase of the module.

The circus itself, however, is pretty much the star here: In the hands of a capable GM, this whole section's NPCs can pretty much present a great panorama of interactions in this free-form section of the module. Some fixed encounters and some optional ones provide a structure, but it is the cadre of NPCs, with excessive background information, adventure hooks, hang-outs, rumors and clues they can divulge that render this part of the module interesting to play. The NPCs are certainly the stars here, for while they do not come with stats of the like (which will make Sense Motive etc. awkward), their ample characterizations go above and beyond what you can usually find in a d20-based module and certainly represent one of the highlights of the book. Indeed, one could argue that they ultimately make for great dressing-scavenging. That being said, this may be as good a place as any to note that, annoyingly, skill-references generally are not properly capitalized herein.

Ultimately, the hints gathered should point the PCs toward the local cemetery and the eponymous dead gulch, where the tomb of the Resly family sports a simple trap-puzzle (with a visual representation) and a brief dungeon, wherein boggards await as well as Resly - who has brought a siren (or sirin? the book's inconsistent there) back, while unsuccessfully trying to resurrect his wife. Maddened by grief, his devotion is absolute - but no matter how the PCs deal with the subject at hand, his fate is sealed - he seems to have had an accomplice among the folk of the circus and indeed, Rosaga similarly seems to have wanted to bring back her love...foiling her plans and ritual will be a challenging task as well...

...and frankly, with the storm and tensions rising, the PCs may have to calm down a mob. However, the spirit form of sirin is nigh-indestructible and to defeat her, the PCs will have to encircle her body with salt and then pierce her heart with a silver weapon. Which is an amazing type of potential encounter and frankly something I've been using, a lot, in various games of mine. To get to her, the PCs will have to brave a challenging dungeon that includes several disturbing vermin-things, boggards and worse, rendering them pretty spent when they encounter the dread entity. That being said, the lack of rules for actually generating the circle of salt and the like, while feasible in a home-brew, make for a less compelling case in a published module. A GM basically has to take note on how to handle that specific aspect.

The pdf also provides 7 pregens for levels 2 and 3 each, all of which come with notes on background, etc. as well as ideas for further adventuring. Finally, we do get a nice glossary.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-level, they are unsatisfactory. Layout adheres to a nice, two-column full-color standard. The artworks deserve special mention here: They are gorgeous, often coming with full-page, hand-out-style drawings that really make them shine. Cartography is pretty CGI-y and is the one detracting factor from an aesthetic point of view: While the remainder of the book adheres to this lavish, old-school vibe with its gorgeous art, copious read-aloud texts and visual elements, these feel a bit off. That wouldn't be an issue per se, but the lack of player-friendly, key-less versions is a comfort detriment as far as I'm concerned. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Users of electronic devices should note that this is a pretty big file, at over 90 MBs.

The Dead Gulch, Michael Bielaczyc, Shonn Everett and Cameron Tomele's investigation with circus-theme, is ultimately one of the modules that does not make my job easy. You see, this book, for me as a person, hits pretty much all the right notes: A ton of lovingly crafted multi-facetted characters you want to interact with, some nice, seriously free-form interaction/investigation, a bit of puzzles, a challenging dungeon - this hits all the right notes and pretty much feels like a module I'd craft/run in my main campaign. In short, it hits all my personal preferences and aesthetics dead center. I like the module depicted here and for the low price point, it IS a steal, even if you only scavenge the dressing.

That being said, while this book gets the artistry of adventure crafting down, it fails in the craftsmanship aspect. The statblocks of even CR 1/2 and similar simple critters sport glitches. We don't get stats for those amazingly detailed characters, formatting-conventions are flaunted left and right and the less said about the spellcasting system in the back, the better.

In short: This desperately needed an editor or developer who knows the system and its semantic and syntax. Time and again, the wonky rules get in the way; time and again even the most basic of rules-language components are mishandled. This against the backdrop of what otherwise would be a most compelling, evocative and artful investigation, to me is jarring. This is, in short, an excellent module that could have made the 5 stars + seal easily, but it is hamstrung by its own, wholly avoidable shortcomings. As per the writing of this review, this module is ridiculously inexpensive and as such, definitely worth checking out, particularly if you're a semi-experienced GM who knows how to run an investigative sandbox. Let me reiterate: I can literally fix this module's issues while playing it...but I can't rate it based on what I can do. I have to rate this as presented, and as presented, it is, unfortunately found wanting from the craftsmanship perspective. Even when ignoring the horrid spellcasting-system-appendix, the module still fails to realize its potential for excellence. I like it. As a person.

As a person, I value and cherish the complex cadre of circus-characters, the art and the ideas herein.

But as a reviewer, I cannot turn a blind eye towards the pronounced flaws this has. If mechanical perfection and copious crunch or precise and correct builds are what you expect, I'd steer clear here; the mechanical aspects of this module are in the 1 - 2-star-range.

At the same time, the non-mechanical aspects of the module very much are evocative and enticing and the extremely fair price point also makes this a valid scavenging ground. hence, ultimately, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Ferryport Adventures - The Dead Gulch
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SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Beta
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/03/2016 12:23:07

Being a long time gamer, this is the first time I've played a roleplaying game at its beta. I can tell you from experience, I can not wait for the final product. Sagaborn is awesome. It takes the role playing game to its simpliest form. Creating a character is fairly easy and the stats are easily determined. You no longer have to worry about learning tables. The gameplay is more on the story and the players.

Every player can experience an adventure despite their level of play. It is actual a lot of fun with a mixed group. It is really just you versus the game. The best part is the ability to adapt the game to different settings whether it is fantasy, sci-fi, or an urban fantasy setting.

The artwork is phenomenal, among the best I've seen in a roleplaying manual.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Beta
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SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Beta
by Paolo P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/13/2016 06:43:02

I read this beta version of the rules and I have to say it's a really nice take on the well known OGL basis. I like a lot pretty all aspects and declinations of the rules, but the character classes. I'll try to explain why, in my opinion, less is more in the context of a game like SagaBorn.

I'll stick to the claim that the game enforces storytelling and epic actions over crunch and numbers. That's really my way of gaming, actually. I always felt that classes are a burden when it comes to tell a character story. Sure, they are great to help newbies and casual gamers to quickly grasp the character archetype and drive the character development on rails, so there's "less crunch" during advancement.

On the other side, though, very vertical and specialized classes may hinder the idea of a character you have. Luminars and wylders are a good example (as was wizards and sorcerers in you know what): imaginee a game where wild magic is dangerous (thus opposed by the common folks), and schooled wizards are seen as the only ones with the right moral height to control the mystic powers. Sounds like a great setting to push players through moral choices, sheer action, a goood bunch of troubles... great!

OK, now let's try to play a character that in the middle of her advancement decide to pass from the wild side to the most accepted ones, understanding the trouble that wild magic can cause. In SagaBorn this (broadly speaking) means to switch a character from wylder to luminar. And if I don't mistake this is covered by the option to convert all preceding levels of wylder to luminar levels (can't remember if I can do the opposite, it would sound like a sensible option to me).

The question is: why the burden? Why not just having a mage class and decide what the reasons and dilemmas of the character drive his advancement and use of the power? I guess the main reason would be the different mechanics the classes convey. That's OK but I can easly imagine scenarios where this is detrimental to the story (wild magic is innate in gifted people: someone decides to learn how to control her talent... then why should she lose the mechanic of the spontaneous spellcast?).

Aside from all example, I always felt that classes inform too much the setting of the game. That's ok for (er) games with settings, but when the system is rendered in a more generic way, specialized classes is like making assumptions on what the players and GMs will choose to rule out about their game world.

I think a set of more archetypal classes like the ones in Behind the Wall or True20 (just to mention a couple of examples) would have better fit a game which I feel has great potential to respect its claim on each and every table. :)

Sorry for be so verbose, I wanted to provide feedback, since this is a beta. Please read all as a personal opinion and taste, not as a judge virdict! :) I can just say if classes remain that specialized, I will probably lose interest in buying the final product. I may be the sole to have this feeling though.

Keep up the great work!



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thanks Paolo! The rulebook is set up with classes reflecting characters in the Dark Return setting. We plan on releasing another version of SagaBorn named SagaBorn Basic which will have 3 class archetypes and a simpler spell system. Magic will still be mana based, but instead of so many spells, it will have a formula for three basic spell types - damage, healing, and utilitarian. Thanks for the honest review, it is much appreciated! -Mike
Elflings of the Vale
by Ben S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/12/2016 17:41:37

This was my introduction to the SagaBorn world and made me interested in picking up more products based in this world. Get it and see for yourself. You won't be disappointed.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Elflings of the Vale
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SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Beta
by Chris E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2016 13:17:47

I'm fairly new to tabletop rpgs and this book is a blessing. Compared to other rule books that are hundreds of pages, this book is consice but also very informative. The simplified magic system is very easy to understand and easily adaptable to your own home brew. Loved this book!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
SagaBorn Roleplaying Game Beta
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The Rangers of Uteria
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/28/2016 03:39:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE little supplement clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page (gorgeous) front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so the first thing you'll notice is...well, as Uteria is an E8-setting, the ranger class depicted herein sports 8 levels. The second thing you'll notice is a modified list of ranger favored enemies...and one crucial change: Spellcasting works differently in Uteria and hence, the class gains no spellcasting progression - instead, it gains mana - based on Dexterity. Ranger with Dex<=14 get the first mana point at 5th level and can reach up to 4, while those with more than Dexterity 14 get the first mana point at 4th level, +1 every level thereafter, with 8th level providing a bump, increasing mana by +2 instead.

The spellcasting of these rangers is explained as natural talents. These require a Dex-score of 10 + talent tier to perform and save DC, if applicable, is 10 + tier level + Dex-mod. They are treated as spell-like and are used spontaneously. To regain mana, a ranger has to meditate for 1 hour and Cl is equal to ranger level -3.

Next up would be the lists of 1st tier (mana cost 1) and 2nd tier (mana cost 3) natural talents, both of which sport a new talent: the tier one ability Dazing Strike can daze foes of 4 HD or less. The talent also, oddly enough, explains the difference between being dazed and stunned, which could be considered to be somewhat confusing. The tier 2 talent, Stag's Reflexes increases AC and Perception by +2. Here, the explanation is downright incorrect, stating "...+2 Armor bonus (as a Dexterity bonus, though it does not raise the ranger's actual Dexterity)." You see, there is no "Dexterity bonus" unless you're talking about a bonus to Dexterity - there is a Dexterity modifier, which is applied to AC...and a metric ton of bonus types that could have been used here instead of this wonky wording.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, though the rules-language sports some hiccups. Layout adheres to a solid full-color two-column standard and the artwork, both the cover and the interior art, are phenomenal. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Michael Bielaczyc's take on the E8-ranger is per se interesting, if not too remarkable. I consider the Dex-based casting interesting, but rules language is ultimately not as tight as it ought to be - still, this is a FREE book and as such, it gets a bit of a leeway...and the nice artworks may make this worth for you. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 due to being FREE.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Rangers of Uteria
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The Elves of Uteria
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2016 05:05:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book clocks in at 74 pages, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC & Ks-thanks, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 71 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a honest and critical review. The review is based on the hardcover and I do not have the pdf, so unfortunately, I can't speak of the virtues or lack thereof of that format, so please take that into account!

This book is called "The Elves of Uteria", so we should perhaps recapitulate what exactly the setting of Uteria is: Uteria is a low-magic campaign world not unlike our own - you see, for hundreds of years, the fantastic and magical was gone from the world, only to suddenly return. How and why this happened can be partially gleaned in the narratives and metaplots, but ultimately, it remains a mystery for now. Rules-wise, Uteria is assumed to be an E8 setting, though the rules herein provide options beyond that.

Suffice to say, the return of magic has also brought back the more uncommon races, namely the sub-species of elf, to which this book is devoted. Now, if you're like me and have read too many racial supplements, this may still be interesting - why? Because it is dauntingly old-school in a rather refreshing way. 3rd edition sported many great design decisions, but also many sucky ones. If you've been following my reviews for a while, you'll know about my seething hatred for environmental races that basically invalidate the harsh climates, for races that are nothing but a lame accumulation of stats intended for power-gamers. In order to illustrate what this book is about, I have to tell you where this loathing comes from.

Back when I started gaming, I scrounged together the hard-earned bucks I got from paper delivery and masked lawn-mowing (thanks to my allergy, a rather unpleasant task) and invested them in books - and when I read, I was taken away to other places: I read about elven mourning songs so beautiful, they could literally break a man's heart; of dwarven ale that sends any human snoring to the floor; of gnomish inventions and halfling community. Not as part of a setting, but as general racial write-ups. These books sported details - a lot of them, and by virtue of these details, the values, the small pieces, the races came alive. It's the reason I enjoy Alexander Augunas' current takes on races - the books make them feel alive.

We begin this book with a solid map...and then letters - these letters, written in captivating prose, tell of the journey of Jarin Plainswalker, agent of arch-druid Erlwyn, who set out to collect data on the cultures of the elven people. His correspondence and replies, detailed in gorgeous graphics, provides what can work as either handouts or simply as a means of depicting the journey the reader undertakes while reading these pages.

From the get-go, once that premise is out of the way, we begin with perhaps the most uncommon elven race, the Alfiren, or elfling - 3-4 feet high, thin and goat-eyed with antlers, these children of chaos exist on a whim, heeding the calling of the chaos instilled in their very hearts. And no, this is not about the stats - unlike most racial supplements, this one is about culture, about the uncommon. The captivating prose introduces us to the creation myth and the deities of the elves - and yes, the book manages to actually weave a creation myth that resounds with central themes sans being a carbon copy of a real world myth - and yes, the narrative is depicted herein.

From this basic set-up, Jarin and the reader embark on their journey to the more conventional elven people, the first of which would be the nomadic Anarvari, the steppe-dwelling wilde elves that live in concert with their harsh environments, with the Kyzk, a new creature introduced herein, providing an analogue of native Americans/buffalo, though through a lens wholly fantastic. From the wild steppes, the journey of Jarin took him to the reclusive Kaelvari - which are most akin to what we think when we hear "elf" - they are reclusive champions that retreated to their forested domain after the dread Great War, with a legend of the love between Orum and Kala and the star of lost love lending a sense of deep-seated melancholy to the chapter.

When the elves were still enslaved by the eldar, the Alostrovari, the lorekeepers and seafarers of the elves, were the chroniclers - and while their forest-dwelling cousins may be less magically potent, they also are not subject to the harsh world as much - the massive changes of the world and the constant battle between waves and earth have instilled a somewhat bleak sense of memento mori and an expectation of betrayal among them.

The Evantari, the high elves, secluded on their plateau in the midst of a titanic forest, these people are perhaps the most aesthetically unique: The one-page full-color artwork depicts them as wearing red and golden armor with demonic-looking masks, haughty looks and the severed heads of mortals on sticks, a grim promise for trespassers. The Evantari may well be considered the elitist and dangerous component of elven culture...but they are not the only one.

All journeys must end, after all - and Jarin's ended when he met the Orovari, the dark elves that have been exiled to the frozen north, exiled to these harsh environs after both the defeat of Kaldrath and the warlock king - proud warriors and dangerous adversaries, they face winters growing ever longer and will be forced, sooner or later, to test the mettle they acquired by bleeding for the elven peoples against any that dare stand in their way.

Beyond these write-ups, the book also sports several excerpts from the well-written journals of Jarin. While certainly a rules-light book, the pdf does sport 4 pages that explain spellcasting in Uteria: Every spellcaster has spell points per day based on class level and attribute. Full casters start with 2 spell points as a base, while bards get their first at 3rd level, with bonus spell points being governed by maximum spell level available and ability score. Spellcasters may regain 1/4 spell points (no minimum) for 1 hour rest, 1/2 for 2 hours rest - but that's it. Beyond that, 8 hours of rest are required. Spells cost a fixed amount of points. An interesting rules-variant. Spells dealing damage based on dice-number deal the minimum dice-number damage - to use the full potency of the spell, you need to expend +1 point per die. Metamagic follows a similar way. Magic in Uteria takes a cue from Dark Sun - there are two base ways of spellcasting: Warding and Ravaging. Casters using their own lifeforce are warders. You see, you can cast spells even when you don't have enough spellpoints, but it eats at your life. Upon casting such a spell, you must make a concentration check versus DC 20 + spell level. If you fail, you take mental fatigue damage, which is treated as nonlethal damage. When it exceeds hit points, you drop unconscious. Mental Fatigue cannot be healed via healing magic. It should also be noted that, unlike nonlethal damage, it doesn't heal on its own - instead, brief rests can heal 1/4 and 1/2 of mental fatigue, respectively. Once you are suffering from mental fatigue, resting does not regain spell points unless you're taking a full 8 hours of rest.

Ravagers draw on the life-force of the lands and others: When casting ravager-spells, all creatures within 10 feet take spell level damage or all creature within 10 x spell level feet take 1 point of damage. Ravaging is an evil act. Warders can also suffer from this: If a warden rolls a natural 1 on his Concentration check and has "a skill less than 10" he will accidentally ravage. sigh Concentration is no skill in PFRPG. Does this mean "below 10th level?" Rolled below 10? No idea.

The book continues to provide several nice sketches of artwork before providing some help regarding the playing of alfiren and elves, a glossary, calendar and a pretty extensive bestiary, which covers creatures from CR 1/4 to CR 11 - the bestiary is pretty interesting in that its creatures are uncommon - filthy armadillo-people, herd-animal lizards, a goblin variant proficient in climbing, massive slugs, armored mammals - the creatures herein do not universally have unique abilities (though many do) - but they add an interesting dimension to the proceedings, they enhance the world with a sense of quasi-realism. There would also be a fungal infection that kills the host, turning head and hands into claws and forcing the victim to shamble onwards, propagating the infection. The creatures herein may not always be mechanically interesting, but they do feel realistic to some extent - which fits perfectly for the focus of this book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch - no significant glitches impeded my enjoyment of this book. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard and the massive hardcover's thick covers and thick, matte paper are high-quality and certainly make the book excel regarding the formal qualities. The art-direction of this book is phenomenal - the artworks hearken to a classic, slightly Elmore-ish style, but add a twist to the aesthetics - from whole-page full-color illustrations to just as superb b/w-artworks, this book is absolutely gorgeous -if you like classic art-styles of fantasy and superb pencil-drawings, this will work for you. E.g. the sketchbook highlights stages in the disturbing infection of aforementioned fungi and the artwork here actually manages to convey a lot of intriguing details, conveys and enhances the text.

Michael Bielaczyc and Dane Clark Collins have written a racial supplement I enjoyed far, far more than I ever would have imagined: "So we get a book on elves? And it has the ole' wild/wood/grey/high/dark-guys covered? How exciting." Imagine me thinking this, with my mind dripping with maximum cynicism. Well, I'm happy to report that I was wrong.

Now, one note: If you're looking for even more elven crunch. age, height and weight and the like - then this book probably won't do it for you. Then again - there are already a gazillion of books covering those bases out there, right? Right.

So, to be frank, I shouldn't like this book. The crunch is, at best, a 3.5 to 4 and there frnkaly could be more room for each race. The point-based casting system, while relatively functional, isn't as concisely presented as it could and should be. The monsters contained will win, for the most part, no originality prize regarding their abilities (or lack thereof). I should be much harsher on this book. But I can't.

The fact is, you see - I enjoyed myself thoroughly while reading this. The legends, myths and cultures and yes, even the bland, ability-less herd animals touched something inside my cold and cynical reviewer's heart. This book resonates with me on an almost overwhelming emotional level - like playing "Out of this World" for the first time when I was a little child, like reading the race books of old, this book managed to send my mind wandering to this other world and I could see it - I could see the armored orillots carrying their masters in caravans across the world; I could see the lone, thirsty wanderer fighting the fungal infection, I could see the spider-y goblins tumbling around, the hourglass-eyed elflings frolicking. It's odd, really, but each and every chapter, each letter of the journey documented herein. I found myself longing for more, wanting to read more about this strange world and its cultures, a world familiar in some tropes, but still, inexplicably, novel to me. This book instilled in me a sense of wanderlust, a deep-seated longing for information about this fantastical world I haven't experienced in a long, long time.

Perhaps, this is just me. But I loved this book. The prose is captivating and compelling and I find myself often checking back to the respective vendor pages, looking for more material. I certainly hope to learn more of this world. To me, this book resonated with a sense of denied homecoming, a feeling of magical realism that made the cultures depicted come alive. I wished this was longer. I hope we'll see more.

Now as for a final verdict - well, my readers. I'm usually the bastard that complains, picks apart. I quite frankly don't want to do this here. I thought long and hard - and ultimately, our beloved games, when we take the math out of the equation for a second, boils down to the story, to what those words we weave in the hearts and minds of readers and players and GMs do. And surprisingly, this book proved to be excellent exercise in the power of the right words, the right artworks, the right presentation - it weaves images and a picture of a world that transcends the rough numbers and minor shortcomings that exist in the addition of bonuses and multipliers, in the dry language of the rules. Ultimately, to me, Elves of Uteria weaves a wondrous, captivating narrative - the craftsmanship may not be perfect...but the artistry, to me, is. For me, this book is worthy of 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform, + my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Elves of Uteria
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The Ferryport Adventures - The Goblins of Kaelnor Forest
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/29/2015 02:18:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module/sourcebook-combo clocks in at 73 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement,1 page back cover, leaving us with 67 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now this can be very much considered to be a combo module/sourcebook and as such, the following review will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the designated end of the SPOILERS, where I will begin commenting on the sourcebook-section.

The pdf begins with a general introduction to the world of Uteria, with a map also depicting a part of the continent. The unique component here would be one that is indebted to low/rare-magic games - magic has only recently returned to the gritty world of Uteria and as such, is greeted with mistrust and some trepidation and prejudice. However, much like most good solutions to the mechanical repercussions, the pdf acknowledges the option to explain "magic" weapon abilities as a kind of superior craftmanship. Furthermore, magic works akin to in Dark Sun - i.e., one's magic can drain the land akin to the concept of defilers or via slow increases. While the Mana-point-based casting is explained in the Elves of Uteria sourcebook, I do believe that this pdf ought to have provided at least an abbreviated section on this spellcasting system, mainly due to one of the pregens being a caster.

Each character also has a legacy item, a signature possession which will increase in power over the levels. Among the additional rules provided, there would be so-called horde-rules, which, alas, are not good: Intended to represent overwhelming numbers, I applaud the general notion, though, alas, the rules-language that is employed to convey its limitations falls behind the notion by being more opaque than it ought to be: The base idea is to reward successive attacks versus one target. Alas, the pdf fails to specify when such a bonus actually decreases, if at all. As a nice alternative, I'd suggest using 13th Age's Escalation Die AGAINST the PCs at all times they are outnumbered for a similar, more elegant way of depicting the threat of being overwhelmed.

So, from here on out, there be SPOILERS!

...

..

.

Still here? All right! The PCs begin this module in a tavern...yeah...bear with me, and find a note that promises rewards for investigating stolen goods and reporting to a nearby guard-tower. A quick investigation with an irritating local farmer later, the PCs will be off towards the forests, where, sooner or later, they will encounter the first adversary - a spider-riding goblin accompanied by a horde of spiderlings. Besting said foe, the PCs will have a chance to participate in a non-combat encounter with the wood's elves, before being pointed towards the main locale of the module:

A dilapidated tower in the midst of the forest has been made the fortress of some of these odd goblins. The presentation here does some things right and some wrong - I do love that e.g. the combat-relevant stats for e.g. dire rats are provided in an abbreviated form, thus not requiring you to skip books. On the downside, e.g. some traps do not adhere to the proper presentation-standard - while functional, e.g. an easily spotted tripwire does not sport a DC to disable. This does not extend to all traps, mind you, but such instances can be found. Map-wise, both the tower and the caves below it are covered via solid full-color maps, though I wished player-friendly versions had been included in the deal. Speaking of which - the presentation of statblocks also deviated from the established standard in minor ways, so if that type of choice annoys you, that's something to be aware of. The exploration of the small complex is pretty solid, with acid spitting slugs and the like being interesting creatures to be encountered. The read-aloud text is also rather nice, though ultimately, I was a bit annoyed by the lack of consequence that entails regarding the enemy status: While the first goblin can escape, resulting in a complex that is "alarmed", there is not really any relevant consequence for the goblin getting away. A slightly more organic set-up could have helped here.

On the plus-side, the pregens provided come with advice on how to play them as intended - advice you can easily ignore, should you choose to. Still, nice!

Thus end the SPOILERS.

Beyond the pages of the module-section, we begin with the main-meat of this book, namely the massive gazetteer-like section of this book that depicts Ferryport (fully mapped) and its surrounding area - between pieces of in-character prose, information on backgrounds and motivations of most movers and shakers (who also come with beautiful b/w-artworks) and the like, we receive a significant array of interesting information. More importantly, the write-ups are truly captivating - with colorful personalities and descriptions drawing you right in, the array of interesting motivations and backdrops providing a LOT of fodder for a DM to use. Speaking of DM - herein, the DM or GM is called SG - story guide. Personally, it irritated me. I won't hold that against the pdf, but it's pretty much as annoying as having a cthulhu keeper being referred to as DM. Then again, I might just be overly nitpicky and no, this does not influence my final verdict.

If the personalities alone were not enough inspiration for you, then the guilds themselves, also detailed in fluff-only, but captivating prose. Now this pdf does go a step beyond, with some lavishly-rendered locations receiving hand-drawn, functional maps - though I wished the maps had been collated on one page in the end of the pdf - as provided, you'll have to print out the page and cut out the map. It should be noted that multiple level taverns, inns etc. Alas, you will not see any settlement statblocks or the like herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting can be considered good, though not perfect, mainly due to some deviations from established formatting standards and some minor hiccups regarding formatting. Layout adheres to a nice full-color 2-column standard. The artwork deserves special mention - there are quite a few GORGEOUS full-color pieces herein, one of which reaches the awesomeness of the cover. Others adhere to different styles (all btw. crediting the artists - nice!), some recalling old-school style. The pdf also sports some of the most beautiful b/w-artworks I've seen in ages - a couple of them are downright evocative. At the same time, though, there are some artworks that look less refined, thus not really providing a unified style - personally, I didn't mind, though your mileage may vary. Cartography is generally functional, though once again, you will not see a unified style. Unlike the artworks, the maps remain mainly on a functional/okay-level and do not sport player-friendly versions sans keys etc.. Annoyingly, this pdf comes sans bookmarks, thus making navigation more of a hassle than it should be.

Michael Bielaczyc, Dane Clark Collins, Shonn Everett - you have generally created a solid first level module with an evocative gazetteer. As written, you may indeed consider me intrigued by Uteria, mainly since it draws upon plenty of concepts near and dear to my heart, with a flair that feels very much down-to-earth and akin to some Ravenloft/Dark Sun-ideas. This seems to have the potential for being a pretty much awesome dark fantasy world and especially the gazetteer-component of this book did captivate me and made me want to read more about the world. The module itself does suffer a bit from the traditional "1st level -vs. goblin-syndrome" in which it simply does not provide a too compelling narrative or theme. That being said, as far as the theme is concerned, this module actually manages to provide a somewhat different spin on the concept - the vermin-association and general presentation help rendering the module component valid.

Ultimately, I would have loved more gazetteer - this section is very much fun and compelling, to the point where I wasn't even galled by the absence of stats for settlements and NPCs. Conversely, I do think the module would have greatly benefited from +10 pages: Further hazards, traps, a less linear set-up ad generally more player-agenda would have made the beginning in particular more interesting. While it plays as a sufficiently fun module, the set-up in the beginning until the PCs hit the adventure-site very much can be considered too railroady and could have used some more things for the PCs to actively do in order to emphasize an illusion of more choice.

How to rate this, then? I'm torn. This is a compelling sourcebook and provides some tantalizing glimpses at a world I am excited to learn more about. At the same time, the module itself did not blow me out of the water with its rather conservative make-up and fell quite flat for me. And then, there are the minor hiccups - no bookmarks, problematic wording here and there - one can find quite a few minor deviations from the established rules-language standards. All of this, though, does not detract from the compelling prose.

In the end, this module/sourcebook does a lot of things right and has great production values - but it does suffer from quite a few problems and glitches one can see in the work of less experienced publishers and authors. This, however, is not the first offering in the world of Uteria, so alas, no freshman-offering bonus. After much deliberation, I will settle on a final verdict of 3 stars - whether you consider this better ultimately depends what you want: If a fluff-only sourcebook that has some cool food for thought is what you're going for, this may well be worth it. If you primarily would get this for the module, you probably won't be that blown away.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Ferryport Adventures - The Goblins of Kaelnor Forest
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The Elves of Uteria
by Michael B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/05/2014 23:19:53

I found this book to be a very informative and engrossing introduction to the world of Uteria and its elven inhabitants. The various types of elves are very well described, from their differing views on the outside world to the histories and lore that give added depth to their culture. The letters from "Jarin Planeswalker", and the book being written from his viewpoint give us insight into the world of the elves from an outsiders vantage point, but delve deeply into their daily lives to give us a complete understanding of their world. The sketches and drawings serve to add to the abundance of information given, as do the creatures compiled at the end. All together, the book allows you to fully immerse yourself into the world of Uteria, and to find your place in it, or, at least, your characters, and prepare to venture out into that world to find adventure.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Elves of Uteria
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Creator Reply:
Thanks Michael!
Thanks Michael! (also posting here to let people know that you are a different michael b than me :) - Sam Flegal asked me today why i reviewed my own product - hah!)
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