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Gostor: Nymph (5e)
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/26/2018 14:33:41

Gostor - Nymphs: Minor Goddesses, a new race for D&D 5E, by Jean-Philipe ‘JP’ Chapleau provides exactly what it promises, the race of nymphs, nature spirits or the most minor of goddess, inspired by Greek Mythology in a playable form.

A short background of the place of nymphs is followed by the types of nymphs. A few paragraphs on using nymphs and four paragraph length adventure seeds

Nymphs, as presented here, have three playable subtypes: underworld, forest and waterway, while wild nymph and hags are noted for story reasons, and sky nymphs appear as monsters. They seem balanced though all, naturally, have some magical abilities.They are supported by two backgrounds, whose features need clearer definition of how they should be used, and one new feat, which really seems more aimed at NPC nymphs as it makes the character an ally of hags.

Two new "monsters" round out the product, sky nymphs (which oddly, cannot fly) and wild nymphs, both which have a very minimal descriptions outside their statblocks.

While this product achieves its aims, there is so much more it could have done. It only allows for female nymphs, for example, while males would have another name there is no reason for nature spirits to be confined to one sex. Some tables for suggested characteristics to go with the backgrounds and a magic item or two would have really solidified the usefulness of this product. As it is, it seems of more use to a DM than players, but even then it would have been nice to have had more support material.

3.5 rounded up to 4.

Note: Read more reviews and other gaming articles at my journal https://seaofstarsrpg.wordpress.com/



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Gostor: Nymph (5e)
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Legacies: ToS1-05 Path To Ambition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/06/2018 11:11:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover,1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page record sheet, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreons as a prioritized review.

Now, this is an adventure for characters level 3 – 8, intended for use with the Tyrants of Saggakar living campaign, and as such, the pdf comes with 2 pages of patron notes, depicting briefings for factions. A pretty big plus: The module also features a wealth of different handouts – no less than 7 player handouts are presented, and while they are laid out like a regular page of the module, with the big “Tyrants of Saggakar”-header at the top and no parchment for letters etc., we do get, for example, a “Wanted”-picture, which is a nice touch.

The module sports two GM maps, but no player-friendly versions of the surroundings. Location-wise, this module takes place in Onero, the City of Sin, an interesting location, where, in contrast to the rest of the setting, folks are enslaved by a metaphysical concept, rather than potent beings of social strata – it is a sin defined by its vices, its greed and apathy, a place of decadent, ruthless splendor, if you will; for more detail, you can refer to the sourcebook depicting the city and its vicinity, though this supplement is not required to run the module. The settlement statblock is btw. included.

Now, on the formal level, the pdf is actually surprisingly detailed: We get copious amounts of read-aloud text, as well as a finely-grained degrees of success/failure: DC-checks regarding lore etc. oftn have plenty of different lines for different values, which is a rather nice touch and something I’d very much enjoy seeing more often.

Rules-wise, the pdf presents minion and mob-rules, as well as the relevant NPC statblocks for APL 3, 5 and 7.

Now, in order to discuss this module, I need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great. So, Onero is a free city state in a world of tyrannical houses – and so far, it has managed to evade the notice of the Great Houses, but this has changed when an agent of House Faremhi managed to intercept a letter between rebels and Onero’s council – worse, this news leaked, and now, the great houses sense easy slaves for the taking. As is wont in such cases, assassins were deployed, with one of these professionals, a man named Argoth, being quite successful indeed – two of the 6 senators of Onero have already fallen to his blade and the powers of his dark folk allies. Once again, as a professional, he does not leave loose ends…which makes a certain dark stalker and his kin a good scapegoat…and if a proper Patsy can be added, even better…

As hinted at before, the pdf comes with a remarkable amount of lore, like word on the street, etc., which can make for a nice reward for PCs doing their legwork. We join the intrepid adventurers, as they visit The Cage on the aptly-named Bloodsport Street. Yeah, told you the place was decadent, right? It is testament to the module’s details that PCs can actually challenge the champion – they have to remain just 5 rounds standing. Yes, this will not be easy…

Anyways, they are contacted by none other than Mayor Bani Mito, who hires the PCs to bring her the head of the assassin that has killed two members of the High Council so far – the City Watch’s stumped (and/or corrupt), so the PCs will have an investigation on their hands that will influence the course of Onero’s destiny. The details regarding word on the street and evidence retained remains and the pdf does provide guidance for the GM regarding questions that can be expected to be asked.

The investigation, as such…is remarkably interesting: There is a somewhat dark and interesting item that can help, the blood compass, but it is not strictly required to solve the module; during the course of the adventure, we visit the House of the Autumn Moon, a brothel with geisha-house aspirations, and the PCs may well get the item noted…or, well not. This sequence may be brief, but it is an interesting and atmosphere-wise nice section that reminded me of e.g. The Alienist, From Hell, etc. – urban, grimy and fun.

The trail, ultimately, will lead the PCs to the former keep of Tar Silfdar, five miles out of town, where a campsite speaks of occupants, where poisoned tapestries, traps and undead await. Cool: The Dark Folk can actually be communicated with, and the module sports quite a few, detailed lines, analogue in detail to the previously-noted investigation aspects. The leader of the dark folk, Moncius, may be negotiated with if defeated…did I mention the fungus farm? Oh, and the pdf ends with a great cutscene, wherein the killer has eliminated the Mayor…to be continued!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a pretty printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard, with the Tyrants of Saggakar and FOE Entertainment logos as touches of color. Artworks are public-domain/stock pieces, but are pretty well chosen. As an unnecessary comfort detriment, the pdf lacks bookmarks.

Onero, as a city supplement, did show potential and was interesting, but did not manage to transition to awesome. This module, however, is different. The read-aloud text is an example of well-crafted prose, and it, in conjunction with the EXCESSIVE amount of lore information that capable players can unearth, make the atmosphere, the city, come to life. To the point where I really wanted to see more! As far as I’m concerned, the investigation through Onero could have been much longer, but yeah. Author Randy price delivers a creative, cool and atmospheric module here: This is grimy, glorious dark fantasy that feels almost Lankhmar-esque. As far as I’m concerned, this module’s prose is to be commended. However, the brevity of the investigation is somewhat lamentable, and the exploration of the dungeon-locale is imho slightly less compelling, though once more, the read-aloud text manages to convey more atmosphere than many comparable modules.

Now, this is only the first part of the Price of Ambition-series, but even if you’re not interested in running a series, it makes for a great adventure that can be run in a decadent city. As far as I’m concerned, it managed to make me excited for the series! The only downsides here would be the brevity (when the investigation could have carried so much more!) and the lack of bookmarks. Still, even with these detriments, I consider this to still be an inexpensive, well-crafted module – for the low asking price, you certainly get your buck’s worth! My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Legacies: ToS1-05 Path To Ambition
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Tyrants of Saggakar: Onero: City of Sins
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/03/2018 06:26:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons.

Now, this supplement is situated in the Tyrants of Saggakar setting, which is intended as a vehicle for a “living” campaign. The setting has evolved out of the concept of LPJ Design’s NeoExodus, but has its very own theme and atmosphere. That being said, you don’t have to participate in the living campaign to make use of this supplement – what we have here is, in essence, a city, or rather, town backdrop of sorts. The city also serves as the backdrop for the “Paths to Ambition”-sequence of adventures, but for the purpose of this review, I will focus on taking a look at the general usefulness of the town. It should be noted that slavery and servitude and the massive control exerted by the First Ones serves as a central focus of the setting, as a sort of leitmotif – Onero, contrasted with that notion, is a city sans master, one that, in the tradition of many a den of vice, is shackled by the vices and freedom, by the decadence it breathes and requires to sustain itself.

Onero, obviously, is name-wise, smart as a choice, evoking both Nero and onereic connotations, and indeed, this dream-like haze constitutes a central leitmotif of sorts for this den of sin. We begin the supplement proper with a breakdown of the city, commenting on details like currency, imports, military, etc., and also sporting a settlement statblock. With the populace rather self-absorbed and uncaring, the alignment of the town is stated as CE, though its not the demon-worshipping type, but rather the uncaring “everyone for him/herself”-attitude that makes this den of sin a tough place to live in.

We also get a brief history of the city, which contextualizes Onero within the context of the setting, but as noted before, adaption is pretty simple. The vicinity of the town is also described, mentioning peaks where erstwhile prisons may now languish without master, Cinder Valley, eternally warm, where fabled Saggakar ostensibly came to the world, burning eternally. A sinkhole and a canyon faced by strange fortresses, dubbed the “unblinking sentinels,” complement a rather fantastic and interesting environment to situate the city.

Onero has three main gates and is dissected by the massive Markhem River, which also lends the name to 4 of the 7 districts of the town: North- East-, West- and Southbank are 4 of them, with food court, park and lecher’s ward being the others. The city comes with a rudimentary map, with districts color-coded, but remains, in that component, rather focused on broad strokes. There is no player-friendly extra version of the map per se. Each of the districts then proceeds to get its own write-up, with rulers noted and sites of interest briefly mentioned. These have not been noted on the map provided, so you’ll have to place them yourself. From fabled smiths to freak shows and gambling halls, the city sports all the illicit entertainment you could desire. Personally, I enjoyed that the most wealthy district, Northbank, sports gaslight, implying a level of progress more akin to the Victorian era than to the default medieval standards, something mirrored in points of interest like the museum of vanities The fact that there is a whole district devoted to the vices of the flesh also underlines a latent fin de siècle feeling, something I very much like – ruined abbeys now turned to drug dens and the like add further to the leitmotif of decay and decadence.

The pdf then proceeds to talk about the social strata of the city; the differences to the rather oppressive truths of the setting are noted here. The pdf then proceeds to introduce us to 15 movers and shakers in the city, with gender, race and class, if any, noted. However, neither class levels to gage relative power, nor stats are provided for these beings. We also learn briefly of outside influences that tamper with the city and proceed to discuss adventure locales: There is a cavern that spirits folks into the Mists (cue obligatory Ravenloft reference); a fortress that acted as a gargoyle nest, and now, with the gargoyles purged, houses a potent oracle. The cemetery of the city is maintained by the church of Sanlys, requiring gold to prevent the selling of corpses as undead. We also receive a whole page of various adventure hooks for you to develop, and the final page of the supplement is devoted to a new creature, the prickle, also known as the porcupine-rat, a rather dangerous form of vermin that is rather common in the sewers of the city.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, with the company’s logo in the background, the colored header at the top of each page. Interior artwork is a blending of public domain artwork and stock art – personally, I preferred the public domain pieces. The cartography is okay, but the lack of points of interest noted makes it less useful than it should be. The lack of a player-friendly version is also a bit of a pity. The pdf sports a pretty big downside, comfort-wise: The pdf has no bookmarks, making navigation less comfortable than it should be.

Randy Price and JP Chapleau present a city that I consider, per se, really cool. – the city has a strong leitmotif, and while I would have loved to see a tighter focus on adventures within the city, rather than in the vicinity, the material provided is per se intriguing. I enjoy the premise, and the writing is well-crafted, managing to evoke and eclectic and concise atmosphere. At the same time, the formal criteria like cartography and the puzzling lack of bookmarks drag down the rating of this supplement.

Onero, in spite of its per se concise atmosphere, also feels a bit less alive due to the broad strokes approach: While I know a lot about the power-structures and key locales of the city, I have a harder time picturing how the experience of actually walking down one of its streets would feel. Here, e.g. Raging Swan Press’s supplements, with their abundance of notes on sample events, local color and the like, offer the more compelling and immediately useful material. Similarly, neither local nomenclature or, dressing habits, street names, etc…. you know, the small bits that make a place come truly alive, are really discussed, and the prominence of the river intersecting the town could have been developed further. On the other hand, the city as a whole comes at a very low price point and offers captivating prose and cool ideas for the price point. How to rate this, then? Well, for me, this city represents a captivating location, though one that doesn’t manage to realize its full potential. While I’d usually round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars, the comfort detriments, in particularly the lack of bookmarks, force me to round down instead.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Tyrants of Saggakar: Onero: City of Sins
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Legacies: ToS1-01 In the ArchDespot's service
by Joshua B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/21/2015 12:21:25

I love the setting for this campaign. This is another well thought out and well played out mod for it.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legacies: ToS1-01 In the ArchDespot's service
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Gostor: Skill Encounters
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/25/2013 08:39:41

OK, so what is a skill encounter anyway? Basically one occurs any time you want to use a skill (other than that of waving a sword around or casting spells) with a desired outcome in mind... and others who might prefer that you do not accomplish it. Easy, you say, check my skill list, roll a d20 and apply appropriate modifiers... but do you really want to reduce all the effort that, in the alternate reality of the game, your character is putting into using that skill down to a single die roll which may not work in your favour anyway?

A skill encounter can work like combat, if you use these rules. Instead of a single die roll, several are made - just as most combats last several rounds and involve a whole bunch of die rolls. Several people can be involved too, just as most brawls involve more than two combatants. Whilst it sounds mechanical talking about lots of die rolls, this approach can also enhance role-playing, weaving player descriptions of what their characters are doing with the aforementioned reaching for the dice.

It is a good way of involving everyone in what is going on, as a skill encounter works best as a collaborative effort. Players need to be aware of what sort of things they need to do, and the GM has to be flexible and responsive to whatever ideas they come up with.

From the game mechanics point of view, to succeed in a skill encounter the party must achieve a set number of successes, the number being derived from the Encounter Level set for the skill encounter and the number of player-characters involved. Moreover, each round the party must gain more successes than failures.

Once the basic details of how a skill encounter works have been described, the discussion moves on to detail a format for laying out a skill encounter in your notes. Three examples - besieging a castle, a compacting room trap and a night at court where the aim is to determine which nobles are on the side of good and which are evil - are given to demonstrate how it is done.

This rules addition is nicely presented, clearly explained with good examples - and the illustrations and overall presentation are pleasing to the eye as well, an added bonus. If you want to promote role-playing and all-party involvement, but prefer a solid structure over a looser 'winging it' way of running non-combat encounters, this is well worth a read!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gostor: Skill Encounters
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