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Operation Unfathomable
by Grahame H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/29/2018 00:01:49

A fantastic, weird gonzo exploration into the deeps. This module is an imaginative romp through a mysterious and evocative underworld setting filled with giant chaos godlings and remnants of advanced beetle civilizations. This module will tick all the right boxes for those who love a humurous gonzo themed adventure, but may not appeal so much to those who prefer a grittier, more 'serious' style of play. The only issues with this module are the layout and presentation of information which at times is not logical or helpful for the GM when running at the table. Information should be provided in a logical manner that assists with quick scanning during play, this module at times fails on this point. Other than this, this is a solid module and should not be missed by any lover of OSR systems. 4 out of 5.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Unfathomable
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Operation Unfathomable
by Carter R. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/16/2018 17:20:33

This is a great dungeon crawl into the depths. It has the weird sci-fantasy gonzoness that hits just the right spot. Info is given on the factions players will encounter. The monsters are great, as is a lot of the artwork.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
What Ho, Frog Demons - HC04
by Christian H. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/03/2018 03:41:56

The adventures and setting elements presented in What Ho, Frog Demons (WHFD) are fun and intereting in their rarely seen comical, almost grotesque approach to adventure design. The adventures themselves are well structured. NPCs, locations and plots are presented individually in neat lists, easy to cross-reference to create an adventure that works at the table.

The content itself is very weird and wild, with inspiration form tons of different sources mixing into a decidedely surreal whole. This is a great part of the charm of the Hill Cantons setting. Still, other books in the series (Slumbering Ursine Dunes, Fever Dreaming Marlinko, Misty Isles of the Eld) are more unified in a particular theme, where WHFD comes across as more eclectic. This might be a function of the scope - WHFD describes a larger area, with a more diverse range of possible adventures. The result is the tone of WHFD ends up being harder to pin-point.

If you are in for a wild ride and do not mind a few bumps on the road, WHFD does provide a large and interesting world to explore. There is much to use out of box, take inspiration from or simply salvage into whatever shape you want to use. I might perosanlly tone some of the deliberately silly elements down in some places, while cutting out some of the more gory elements to find a middle way that suits my group's style of play. Thankfully, the module makes this easy by presenting everything in a format that allows for maximum mixing and matching.

The art is also excellent, reminding me of old black and white pages from old issues of Heavy Metal magazine. I am eagerly waiting for a print version of the book for easier use at the table.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
What Ho, Frog Demons - HC04
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What Ho, Frog Demons - HC04
by Gus L. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/26/2018 22:36:47

Another journey into the perverse humor and manifest strangeness of the Hill Cantons. While it contains two excellent adventures - the demonic beet plague slowly turning a bucolic village into a porcine and tuber nightmare is especially fun looking - What Ho may serve best as the glue that holds the other three publish Hill Canton's adventures (Slumbering Ursine Dunes, Fever Dreaming Marilinko & Misty Isles of the Eld) together with its regional hex crawl.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchburner: Burner Edition
by Luke M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/26/2018 09:54:18

The in-depth descriptions of the people in the town are not only well-done, but also seem easy to work with at the table. Ditto the day-by-day description of events in the town. The use of watches and alcohol makes it all work more smoothly than what I would have run by my own devices.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchburner: Burner Edition
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Witchburner: Burner Edition
by Sigve S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/26/2018 04:33:25

Luka Rejec's Witchburner is a joy to just flip through, with several beautiful ink-style illustrations to feast your eyes on. The content itself is very usable and helps the GM set the scene for a village that is about to undergo a lot of trouble, some involving witches. It holds an extensive list of personas from the village, as well as an oversightful list of events that carry on from day one. It is written in a style that enables you to use the content in most OSR games, ranging from Lamentations of the Flame Princess to Knave, which again makes it broadly suitable for many game groups. If you like what you see in the Burner Edition, I strongly recommend going for the paid version, which holds even more content!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchburner: Burner Edition
by Matthew B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/26/2018 00:43:49

Nothing in this neat little module is anything short of excellent, however, the things that stand out for me with Witchburner are the scenario and the town. The scenario is a definite twist on gaming conventions. It is a great example of putting players in a painful moral quandary without railroading them in the slightest. As for the town, it is clear that Luka has a very deep dual understanding of people and tragedy; how they can be petty and painful and noble and fearful all at the same time. Witchburner takes all these facets of humanity and crams them together into a little town until they become a powder keg... and then the players arrive, carrying a lit match.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchburner
by Zedeck S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/25/2018 22:41:27

Been following the development of this since Luka started posting about it, on his Patreon / Google Plus. The art is bomb (as is usual for Luka), and it's got neat ideas (I love the way the town mob is handled). But the standout in Witchburner for me is the writing. Each of the town's 30 NPCs comes with a short piece of prose, as an introduction. Players won't really get to see these anecdotes in play, I don't think -- but they are great as mood- and character-setting for GMs. And they are legit great pieces of prose writing, generally. (My favourite, so far: the butcher, who gives her young daughter a pet piglet, remembering how her mother gave her a piglet too -- then forced her to slaughter it for festival pies.)



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchburner
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Witchburner: Burner Edition
by pat e. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/25/2018 21:15:39

I grabbed this to read. I knew it would be too dark from my regular gaming group, but I wanted to see a good Halloween adventure. Witchburner didn't disappoint. The setting is loaded with detail to enhance the mood, and the ethical quandary at the heart of the adventure is going to be something for adventuring groups to grapple with. I enjoyed the PCs and the 'day at a time' developments in the adventure. Given the right group, I think this would be a blast to run or play. The writer was also careful to give enough detail, while staying away from hard and fast mechanics, that this can be dropped into most FRPG game systems very easily.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Witchburner: Burner Edition
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Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/01/2018 04:58:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second big Hill Cantons-book clocks in at 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 66 pages of content, laid out in the classic digest (A5-ish) standard, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience. I do own the print version of this booklet and my review is primarily based on the print version. I did also consult the pdf.

Content-wise, I probably should state that if you’re a super-devout Christian, one particular aspect of the supplement may potentially offend you; it also contains profanity. I found it hilarious, but yeah. Warning disclaimer and such.

Now, I assume familiarity with the concepts of the Hill Cantons in this review, so please bear that in mind. I have reviewed the Cosmology pdf and the second compendium of rules-material – this is relevant, since the Mountebank and the Robo-dwarf race class have been presented in the second compendium. The pdf does contain 30 female and 31 male names, a brief page on nicknames and a short pronunciation guide for the Slavic nomenclature employed in Marlinko. Note that I am no specialist in Slavic languages and have a hard time determining authenticity here, with Czech being the only Slavic language I am rudimentarily familiar with – though my proficiency, so far, is unfortunately atrocious, which is a pity, considering how much I loved Ajvaz’s and Topol’s writing – I need to read them in the original one day. But I digress.

The pdf does include 3 monsters, with robo-dwarves being one; the second is a wobbly giant, and we get a vampire variant. A tiger wrestling mini-game is also includes in the deal – it’s fun, rules-lite and a nice diversion. Speaking of rules: As before, labyrinth Lord is the default rules-system assumed here, though conversion to other OSR-games, as always, is dead simple.

Now, this city is in pretty close proximity to the Weird, and as such takes on the cast that the “fever-dreaming” indeed so successfully implies: This city could make for a great place to splice e.g. Narcosa-content into the game, and it is weird. And gonzo. And genuinely funny.

You see, this supplement/book focuses on making a super-gameable city: Not one that drowns in details, but neither one that just remains a sketch. The city section as such straddles that ephemeral line between the two extremes with panache aplomb, and is utterly HILARIOUS while doing so. This is one of the very few honestly FUNNY gaming books that actually manages to blend humor with excitement. There are few gaming books that made me laugh out loud. This has succeeded doing just that. The city supplement component does present a lot of things to generate and to work with – if you do want a go-play city, then this will not provide what you’re looking for: This is a place to work with, a hazy inspiration that comes together by the hand of the GM taking the ideas presented and developing them.

Now, beyond the city supplement aspects, this also has two fully-detailed adventure-sites. Both are super-challenging for the level-range suggested (levels 2 – 6; total party levels 12 – 18); if you’re looking to actually kill the opposition/murder hobo through these sites, you’ll die horribly. These adventure-sites, as well as the city itself, are provided in gorgeous isometric versions provided by the talented Luka Rejec. They also are available as their own free map-pack – a direct link is at the bottom of the review on my homepage. Now, unfortunately, neither map-pack nor the book provide redacted player-friendly versions of these maps, which is a bit of a bummer here.

As mentioned before, I do own the PoD softcover – it’s a nice little book with interior b/w-art, and the city map is on the back cover in the PoD-version. If you do get this, get print.

The pdf has no bookmarks.

Yep, you heard right. I actually delayed my review for months, hoping that they’d be added, but so far, no dice. The pdf thus is a huge pain to navigate.

Not cool. Get print.

Now, it is in the nature of this supplement that the ideas and notes presented in the setting supplement sections will gel together with campaigns and the adventure-locations; as such, this constitutes my big SPOILER-WARNING. I will talk in detail about quite a few of these aspects. Potential players of this one should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Seriously, players – jump ahead! Okay, final question: Truly only GMs around? Great!

So, the book begins with a brief in-character vignettes that PERFECTLY encapsulates the themes and tone of the city. The scene depicts a trip to the Serene Guild of Seers, just to provide context:

From the darkness above, a booming, hollow voice demands, “WHAT DO YOU SEEEEEK?”

Ba Chim replies: “Where is the tip of the sword Fauxbringer located, and what must be done

to restore the sword to its full powers?”

The oracle begins to sway side to side melodramatically, shouting: “VIAKHANA Xitchol!

Serpadon! Cuccagna! NATAS!” and then breaks in with a monotone, “What is a stick that is

not a stick? When is a rock not...”

The attendant hurriedly interrupts her. Ba Chim can make out over the attendant’s stage

whisper that he is urgently saying “full rate.” The oracle abruptly stops and says in a perfectly

clear, normal-toned voice: “Oh, well, you can find the sword in the underground level under

the Tower of the Master in the Slumbering Ursine Dunes. Cirl the Petulant left it sitting on a

worktable right next to the magical forge that can repair it. Cirl was slain for reneging on a

gambling debt by a blue-skinned giant apparently before he could complete his task.”

“Next!”

If you’re like me, then that made you at least smile. The humor is truly amazing and suffuses the whole book in an unobtrusive and fun way.

So yeah, that is the type of humor you can find within; but there is more. So much more. Marlinko, as a city, is divided into 4 contradas, with central roads separating these quarters; all but one of these central thoroughfares lead to a gate. As the map notes “Lacking Gate of Cracked Skulls” – things are weird here, after all! In the center of the city, at the nexus, there is a black square block, the tomb of the city gods, with 4 of the 5 gods each associated their own contrada. These include a literally razor-tongued town god rumored to be an idiot and a vaguely bee-shaped bringer of both affluence and anxiety. Think about the latter for a second – beyond the outré nature of the concept, it is actually CLEVER.

Now, the contradas each get their own, small section: These sections provide an overview, a couple of sights to see around the contrada, as well as a selection of random encounters, with stats provided. These include e.g. Borko, Collector of Pollen (to be found in the richest Contrada, the one devoted to the bee god-thing…), asking for a “voluntary donation”…or Maus. (German for “mouse.”) That guy is convinced that the secret postal and matchmaking service “Axis of Tindrthurn” has it in for him….he’s obviously paranoid and delusional. Well, kinda. You see, he may be right.

What does that mean? Well, the amazing Chaos Index to simulate fluctuations of weirdness and magic from Slumbering Ursine Dunes? It makes a return here. And at a sufficiently high level, he is actually right! I still absolutely adore the Chaos Index and its implementation here is inspired – the write-up does mention a couple REALLY weird happenstances and customs taking place in the city of the weird’s rising. I actually found myself wishing we’d get more. This also btw. interacts with the brief news of the day generator, which basically doubles as 20 adventure hooks.

But let’s return to the contradas: Each of them also sports a brief table of sample buildings, though one is mislabeled as “random encounters.” It should also be noted that the pdf includes a few choice sample sentences from the mouths of the illustrious NPCs found within the city, to give you a feeling for how to portray them. Speaking of the NPCs – in a city, where cons are pretty much a way of life (the book even explains popular cons, both long and short!), the freakishly honest Fraža makes for a great sample NPC: This guy is a fair curio dealer, but due to a curse, he has no filter whatsoever regarding his thoughts, explaining to non-humans in detail why he secretly hates and fears them. There is a former anti-cleric of the Anti-World-Turtle. And don’t cross the suave and immaculately-dressed František, the checkered mage and basically what constitutes the city’s foremost magic-user. Speaking of which: The book does come with a MASSIVE marketplace section, noting spells for sale by aforementioned mage, hirelings, mundane items, the prices demanded by the seer’s guild…and the cost of killing people.

You see, Marlinko is chaotic and weird, as such, there is sanctioned and unsanctioned crime, and yes, there is an official guild that nominally requires a proof of wronging and operates only for citizens…but unsurprisingly, that is no hard guideline whatsoever…Now, one of my favorite concepts presented by Jeff Rients would obviously be the carousing rules, and I’m certainly not the only one. In a city as weird and in flux as Marlinko, I very much welcomed the inclusion of a dedicated carousing section, with different sections for the contradas and adventuring potential galore. So yes, the whole city section is pretty much amazing.

Now, as mentioned before, the book also presents two brief adventure locales/mini-dungeons if you will. Together, these, including their maps, take up slightly more than 10 pages of the supplement. The first would be the abode of a strigoi, who is also a major mover and shaker in the city. While zombie maids and a Mr. Mxyzptlk-reference made me smile, the location simply doesn’t have the room to live up to its potential. This is further exacerbated in the second adventure locale, which depicts the Catacombs of the Blood Jesus. The latter made me really sad, for the premise is amazing: Picture a drunkard priest from our world stranding in Marlinko, proselytizing and unwittingly getting a cult going, one that emphasis divine cannibalism and blood-drinking. Do nun-maenads sound cool? Yeah, they are. However, much like the first locale, the dungeon, while interesting and neat, doesn’t really live up to the amazing and bonkers potential its premise deserves. There is so much weirdness you could get going here…

Don’t get me wrong, these two locations aren’t bad per se; but they simply don’t live up to how great the actual city supplement section is. Even after all of the things I mentioned, I have only given you a taste of the creativity within this book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good; I noticed a few minor hiccups in both formal and rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a no-frills 1-column b/w-standard, and the supplement sports a couple of really nice original b/w-artworks by Jeremy Duncan and Jason Sholtis. The isometric b/w-cartography for the locales and color for the city by Luka Rejec is fantastic, but the lack of player-friendly versions is a strike against them. Similarly, the dungeon-maps lack a scale, which makes judging distance problematic. They are thus beautiful, but not particularly useful. The print version has a white spine without its name on it. More annoyingly, the pdf version, as mentioned, has no bookmarks, which, particularly for a book like this that requires page-flipping and quick navigation, a huge no-go. Detract a whole star from my final verdict for the pdf version.

Chris Kutalik’s Marlinko is indeed a fever-dream, and an amazing one; I’ve had enough of them as a child to recognize the aesthetic and tone, and it is BRILLIANT. The city section, the contradas, the NPCs – everything is quirky, and the hilarious and audacious blend with the odd and horrific in a most inspiring of ways. Marlinko is a city like no other and manages to evoke a surprising sense of consistency. I really wished this supplement had been longer and it left me wanting more! The writing, in short, is excellent. However, the rules-relevant components are less impressive when e.g. compared to what Necrotic Gnome Productions brings to the table for Labyrinth Lord. The adventure locations, while both nice, fell flat in direct comparison, at least for me. Both have promising concepts and notions, but both, perhaps due to a lack of space, can’t properly develop their cool concepts. They would have been better served as stand-alone modules. Particularly since Marlinko could have very much used the space they take up to elaborate further on the intoxicating and captivating atmosphere of weirdness it evokes.

How to rate this, then? Well, the city supplement sections as such deserve 5 stars + seal of approval; the adventure locales come in at a 4 stars; and then there would be the bookmarks/maps/etc. issues I mentioned. As a person, I love Marlinko. I really do. For me, this is a 5 star + seal of approval settlement; however, as a reviewer, I have to take the shortcomings this does have into account – and as such, I can’t go higher than 4 stars for it. However, since I really enjoyed the city as such, this does receive my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fever-Dreaming Marlinko
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Operation Unfathomable
by Maxwell P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/26/2018 15:25:38

I loved running this adventure. A lot of interesting characters and ton of awesome material. Such a breath of fresh air from most adventures. Strongly recommend the players guide as well.

Book has a ton of art with wacky flavour that made the adventure very memorable. I cannot recommend this enough.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Unfathomable
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Ruins & Ronin
by David D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/10/2018 17:51:19

Just a bit too 'bare bones' for my liking. Only 3 classes and 2 of them are spellcasters. I wish there were a skill-based class such as a thief, spy, or ninja.

Other than that oversight a well executed OSR product with a very strong bestiary.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ruins & Ronin
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Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak
by Chris S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/23/2018 10:00:55

I've been a fan of Trey Causey's RPG writing since his work on Weird Adventures, but this one is easily one of my favorite 5th edition adventures ever. It's written with a great sense of fun, and Jeff Call's art adds some beautiful touches like the board game/"tour map" in the center. At the same time, it never stops being a compelling and dangerous adventure full of daunting monsters and great twists and turns. Everything about it is well thought-out in a way that makes it fun to read, let alone to play.

It's well worth picking up (especially at this truly ridiculous sale price), whether you want to kick off a new campaign in a setting that feels like the Rankin-Bass D&D cartoon that never happened, or — the thing I'm planning — whisking your regular players off into a truly bizarre side trip. Definitely grab it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mortzengersturm, The Mad Manticore of the Prismatic Peak
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Operation Unfathomable
by Bret G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/12/2018 13:37:15

Loved this. Absolutely worth the softcover for the graphics alone. Even if you never run the adventure with the characters provided, it is filled with ideas which can be adapted to any game system. Worth the money.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Operation Unfathomable
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By this Poleaxe
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/15/2018 04:26:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This little FREE pdf clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 3 pages of content.

This supplemental pdf basically provides a small-scale battle-rules variant of the mass combat system presented in “By this Axe.”

Each squad is made up of up to 5 combatants and is represented by a single figure.

Squads have 5 attributes: AV (attack value), DV (defense value), MV (morale value), HTK (hits to kill), M (movement).

Attack value is a squad’s ability to hit on a d10; total HD and divide by 5. A table of modifiers and AV by HD is provided. DV is calculated by averaging the AC of the squad and is used as a saving throw – I also assume that we use a d10 here, but I’m not 100% sure. Cover and defensive abilities modify this. Morale represents the value that you need to roll under to avoid breaking and running. Morale is checked when the squad takes a hit, when attacked from rear, flank or surprise or when friendlies are routed in line of sight. Footmen receiving a mounted charge must also check.

HtK is based on members of the squad and HD of the participants. A squad at 0 HtK is obviously out of the fight, and must roll on the table to determine how many are killed, with priests and druids helping the chances of surviving.

Movement is categorized in abstract move spaces, with common base move rates translated. Starting distance is an abstract 2d6 move spaces at the start of combat and missile/ranged weapon ranges are codified by move spaces as well.

Combat works as follows: Both sides declare movements/charges, then move half the distance. Missile fire and spells are next and then, both sides finish movement and melee is resolved last.

Nice: Spells and their effect on the squad are codified in a brief table, which is good to see.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious formal hiccups, though the rules of e.g. what to roll for DV could have been cleaner. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports public domain art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Chris Kutalik’s skirmishing expansion for “By this Axe” makes for an intriguing little pdf – I actually liked this pdf more than its parent – mainly because I either want a hyper-detailed war-resolution OR a free-form mind’s eye solution. This pdf manages to be abstract, but actually doesn’t need minis, representing a synthesis of sorts of the two systems introduced in By this Axe. Speaking of which – this is intended, but it really pays off to read the parent pdf – without it, the system presented herein may seem a bit confusing.

That being said, the parent pdf is really inexpensive and this pdf is FREE. That’s a price that is hard to beat and allows you to check this pdf out without any risk whatsoever. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
By this Poleaxe
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