An Endzeitgeist.com review
This module clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay, so, this does not subscribe to a single OSR-system per se; instead, when ability scores are required for an NPC, the pdf suggests just rolling 1d6 – 3d6 to spontaneously determine ability scores for saves. HD of monsters are randomized: d4HD@d6, for example, means that the creature rolls a d4. Then you take that result times the die indicated after the “@” to determine HP. Each HD = +1 to attack/hit. The pdf assumes ascending AC. “Testing “ e.g. “WIS” is not explained, but it is evident that rolling under the ability score is the way to go. No default movement rate or morale is given. In short: This assumes ability score-based saves akin to 5e, as well as ascending AC, and a direct 1:1-correlation between number of HD and to hit values.
Once you’ve understood that, conversion to most customary OSR-games should be simple. The pdf bolds rules-relevant components, which makes parsing the module rather simple. Two hand-drawn artworks of specific individuals are provided. Each NPC/monster has a motivation noted (NICE!) under “Wants:” Unfortunately, AoE-attacks, such as a cloud of sleeping dust, has no range/area noted.
The module comes with a hand-drawn, colored map that uses color to differentiate between e.g. closed and open doors, and we get them all on one page, as well as in larger versions for the respective levels. The maps are functional, but nokey-less version is provided, and the maps sport no grid, which can make getting a grasp on the dimensions of the compound a bit tougher than necessary.
The respective levels actually have entries for individual doors – you roll e.g. a d4 and get a brief description – awesome! Not so awesome – some doors are trapped without a means to discern that beforehand...which is usually one of my pet-peeves. That being said, for the genre, this kinda makes sense. Presentation of individual rooms is handled via bullet points, with underlined segments providing the details at one glance. Random encounters are provided
Beyond the module, the pdf also includes a fully mapped suburb of Infinigrad (same complaints regarding the map); what is Infinigrad? I’m glad you asked! Picture a ginormous planar metropolis, an infinite sprawl, less Sigil or City of 7 Seraphs, and more of a Bas-Lag-like moloch of a city. The genre here is definitely fantasy-punk, and I mean that in the best of ways. Indeed, if you enjoy the weird and the notion of a planar metropolis, Infinigrad is a great recommendation – I’ve been using the material the author provides to expand e.g. the City of 7 Seraphs and make it more grimy/gritty and strange. How cool is Infinigrad? Let me give you two examples of stores you can find on Leoptera Shores:
“Vac Maz, Oily stone golem, offering the hire of a semi reliable flying device he stole from his ex master.”
“Cecckz, creamy white beetle man preacher, clicks and clacks and causes congregation to sway in ecstatic stupor”
Come on, that’s awesome! There are more ideas in these brief descriptions than in many comparable chapters of other supplements!
Genre-wise, this is a low-level module of a genre we almost never get to see – it’s essentially a Shadowrun/infiltration in a fantastic context. The PCs are assumed to be Guild Dogs (In my City of 7 Seraphs version, guilds serve the parities, just as an aside), i.e. semi-legal troubleshooters.
And this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.
All right, only referees around? Great! So, the PCs are hired by Ovos Pool on behalf of a wealthy merchant names Equis Jud, with Ovo being an eyman. What’s an eyman? Picture a humanoid whose head is a ginormous eye, with an amulet of lips hanging from his neck, doing the talking. Ovos wants the PCs to infiltrate the compound of the elfs and taint their memory water.
Wait, what? Oh, yeah, should have mentioned that: Elfs here? They are brainchest elfs! Blank-faced and bare-chested, with rippling, brain-like timorous growths on the chest. They live forever, but forget everything every 100 years or so to maintain their sanity – memory water is used to “reset” them and produce memory spheres to prevent the loss of the accumulated knowledge. This process btw. involves weird worms that are fed with meat…these are not nice elfs…
The compound of the elves is organic, almost like a biotech greenhouse, with strange plants, moths and their weird tech; fumes can intoxicate nonelfs, and the strange creatures do not take kindly to the presence of non-elfs in their compound. The 3-storey-tall building comes with a note on patrols and a TON of things to interact with and screw up – the compound rewards casing the joint, but it also is obviously assuming that the PCs, at one point, will have to escape. The main adversary and commander of the facility is super-deadly, and attempting to murder-hobo through this module is not something I’d recommend.
To give you an example of a room:
- Moss carpet room. Stone pipes snake from east wall to west wall. D6 Nightmare Moths lurk on ceiling.
• Stone pipes curve up in the center of the room and are crested by a round, grated misting device. Green mist puffs from the device.
• All non elfs must test CON when entering green mist or fall asleep for d6 hours (at which point ceiling dwelling Nightmare Moths will feast their prone bodies).
• Pale roots dangle from ceiling.
• Stairs down.
This is all information you need to know; it provides weird stuff to interact with, danger, and a unique atmosphere.
Editing is good for an indie-offering; I noticed a few typo-level glitches, but nothing that impeded my ability to run this. Layout adheres to a one-column no-frills b/w-standard, with some nice hand-drawn drawings and public domain artwork used. The cartography is full-color, but lacks scale and player-friendly versions. EDIT: The pdf now comes fully bookmarked! Yeah!
I should not be half as excited about Michael Raston’s Guild Dogs adventure as I actually am. The complaints about the lack of player-friendly maps alone would usually suffice to sour me somewhat on it.
But I absolutely ADORE this module. The eymen, the weird elfs, the strange compound with its even stranger plant/fauna-tech-things, the strange plants – this module elicits something I rarely encounter, a jamais-vu. It is exciting, fun, and oozes creativity. Its focus on a Shadowrun/Cyberpunk-ish action-infiltration is amazing. I want MORE of this. I want so much more of Infinigrad, and I’d pay serious bucks for a full book or campaign of this quality and imaginative wealth. I genuinely love this!
Now, I can’t bestow my highest accolades on this module, courtesy of the few formal shortcomings, but guess what? This is PWYW to boot! That makes this easily one of the most unique, awesome little PWYW-scenarios you’re bound to find out there. Seriously, get this, leave a tip. The author frickin’ deserves it for the amazing material and vistas here. My final verdict, considering that this gem is offered for PWYW, will hence be 4.5 stars, and this gets my seal of approval. Can we PLEASE have more? Pretty please?