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Legendary Cavaliers
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2019 06:27:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Legendary Games‘ class rewrites clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We start this supplement with the break-down of the cavalier rewrite, and oh boy, does the class need one, so what does the Legendary Cavalier bring to the table? Well, chassis-wise, the class gets d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per modifier, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and all types or armor as well as shields, minus tower shields, and full BAB plus good Fort- and Will-saves. The class begins play with mount, which gets Light Armor Proficiency – but in an important caveat, it does treat Light Armor Proficiency as share spells, which will allow for plenty of companion modifications. It’s a small line, but an excellent one. Another small, but important caveat: The legendary cavalier’s mount, should the old one die, does gain the full ability array and is not basically nigh-useless until the next level attained, so yeah, the base mount ability has been improved. Additionally, the cavalier gets noble steed at first level, which translates to a +1 morale bonus on attack rolls with natural attacks at 1st level, which improves by another +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. I like the higher level improvements, but I don’t think the 1st level bonus was required, considering how deadly the mount can already be at first level, but I digress. At 4th level, the mount may ignore difficult terrain while charging and being ridden and 10th level makes this always on while being ridden, not just when charging.

At 6th level, we get the means to treat the mount as smaller, making it more dungeon exploration-friendly (though ladders etc. still remain a problem). Still, kudos! 7th level nets DR 2/- to the mount while riding, which increases by 1 at 11th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Also at this level, we get a crucial ability: “Risky Lunge” – this allows for a move action to only be 5 ft. and count as a charge, but at -2 AC for cavalier and mount. This allows for some seriously wicked reach trickery and unlocks a whole new array of tactical builds that don’t require straight charging into the fray. 13th level makes the mount count as one size category larger for the purpose of natural weapon attacks, and this increase thankfully doesn’t scale with others. At 9th level, as long as the legendary cavalier is within 60 ft. of it and the mount is above 0 hit points, the cavalier gets Diehard and Deathless Initiate, regardless of prerequisites, which upgrades at 17th level to apply even if the cavalier would be dead! And yes, this allows for healing back up. Pretty awesome. Cavalier’s charge, mighty charge and supreme charge are retained, though the latter is moved down one level to 19th level.

12th level nets steed’s parry, which allows the cavalier to expend 2 rounds of commander’s aura as an immediate action to make a Ride check against the incoming attack roll, halving damage and applying it to the mount instead on a success. I usually cringe whenever I read “parry” in class abilities, as most mechanics are plain broken – this one works really well. What is the commander’s aura? I’m glad you asked!

The most obvious change of pace would be the commander’s aura, which may be maintained for 4 + Charisma modifier rounds per day, activated as a move action and maintained as a free action. Every level beyond 1st adds +2 rounds to the aura’s daily allotment. It has 9 different benefits, extends 60 feet (+20 feet at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter) and is correctly codified regarding the types of effect it is treated as. The effects include scaling DR, fast healing, temporary hit points, AC and weapon damage boosts, energy resistance (sonic is an option!), CMB, movement and save bonuses. I LOVE this. Meaningful tactics and round-by-round agenda every single time. Plus, the cavalier is rewarded for not dumpstatting Charisma. (Oh and yeah, benefits may be switched as a swift action, starting at 7th as an immediate action.) This improvement alone makes the Legendary Cavalier already infinitely better than its regular iteration. This is further enhanced at 4th level, where the cavalier gets commander’s shout – this ability allows the cavalier to spend 4 rounds of the ability to grant an ally an additional move action on their turn, but an ally may only benefit from the like once per day, even from different legendary cavaliers (VERY important catch! Kudos!). 10th level nets the option to grant an additional standard action instead, though this can’t be used for spellcasting or SPs – until 16th level. 20th level nets a move and standard action that may be combined into a full-round action. Love it!

That’s not all! At 8th level, the cavalier gets chivalry’s call – a swift action shout that costs 3 rounds of the aura and affects a target in its range, allowing said target to reroll their Will-save, using the cavalier’s Will-save bonus if it’s higher. 10th level unlocks two of the aura benefits at once (no additional cost in rounds). 15th level allows the cavalier to select an ally to move up to their speed or make an attack when they reduce a target to 0 hp or below. And yes, this is bag of kittens proofed. At 18th level, the cavalier may spend 4 rounds of the aura while making an attack to prompt the target to require to save or be stunned for 1 round; additionally, thereafter, for Charisma modifier rounds, the target needs to save to continue attacking the cavalier.

Ähem, where was I? 1st level also nets order, but the engine has been revamped there as well – I’ll get to orders below. Banner is gained at 2nd level, and its improvements have been tweaked to apply on 10th and 18th level instead. Greater banner, at 14th level, has been tweaked – its primary save boost is retained, but instead of a reroll, we have Diehard for allies in range, which fits imho better. At 2nd level, the cavalier gets +1/2 class level to Diplomacy, and 5th level nets the skill unlock for Diplomacy. I know, right? It suddenly feels like you’re looking at a knight, not an armored and mounted murder-hobo! 3rd level nets renown, 8th level great renown and 14th level incredible renown. Minor nitpick – these are social talents, not vigilante talents. 5th level nets a social talent (erroneously called vigilante talent twice) from a list, and 11th and 17th level net another. The capstone, btw. – renown in massive, huge metropolis! (In addition to aforementioned abilities with a more combat-centric application.)

Pertaining orders: The pdf presents 11 orders, and they all have a signature skill. Every cavalier level, the cavalier gets a bonus skill rank and treat said skill as a class skill, with 8th level providing the skill unlock for the signature skill. Oh, and guess what? There is an option for being orderless! And another, important thing: Each order not only comes with a brief flavor text, it also provides a unique application of commander’s aura! The order of the beyond allows, for example, to treat all allied weapons as aligned! Ouch! Temporary skill grants, scaling DR-bypassing, quick and better Survival and Stealth, cavaliers taking ½ damage of allies, and what about allies preventing 5-foot steps and withdraw on a failed save? Better Stealth and demoralizing, etc. also can be found here. In short: The orders have been properly rewired to account for the vastly improved base class engine. Additionally, we get no less than 6 different favored class options for all races, allowing for +1 round, more mount hp, increased movement rate, darkvision, etc.. Liked these!

The class customization is not done! We can also choose two variant proficiency loadouts – one nets you, for example, tower shield proficiency in exchange for ranged martial proficiency, and another allows for exotic weapon use at 1st level. The dual aura ability may be exchanged with challenge if you really want that one back. Instead of the auras and dual aura, you can have weapon training – loss of these doesn’t render the ability useless, due to the follow up abilities. Reduced commander’s aura is also presented here (oddly, thrice – it’s literally the same text, three times. Weird cut copy paste glitch, but doesn’t hurt anyone.) Favored enemy is an option as well. Banner and greater banner may be exchanged for wild empathy, fast movement or fast rider. The renown/court angle may be exchanged for rogue talents, favored terrain or maneuver training; rider’s bond may be replaced with stalwart (not a fan) or uncanny dodge. The charge abilities (beyond the basics) may be exchanged for combat style or martial flexibility. So yeah, you can play brawling hedgeknight, criminal deserters, etc.

The pdf also comes with 11 archetypes: Draconic avenger nets you a drake companion mount (not to be used with Legendary Games’ Wyrmtouched without the feat-chain – kudos for accounting for that!), and the archetype loses the charge/risky lunge array. Dreadnaughts are pretty cool – the class loses the mount, but gets oversized weapons – two-handed weaponry one-handed at first level, intercepting movement, body checks and crashing into targets. This archetype makes you feel like a big, bad colossus dude – basically, the defensive tricks and the like of the mount are integrated into this guy. Really, really cool one, and a resounding success as far as I’m concerned. Firearm soldiers are a straight engine tweak – charges are replaced with a bit of firearm tricks. More interesting would be the houndsmaster, who gets a pair of dogs or wolfdogs that can share a space or “split”, basically tweaking the base companion engine to behave like a conglomerate “lite” version, a splittable entity. I love this. The hounds act as a mount stand-in and allow for some soft crowd control and tactics beyond the regular means that companions offer, and e.g. Combat Reflexes and similar tricks further emphasize this massive engine tweak in a compelling manner, which is particularly suited for darker fantasy games, as the hounds at higher levels can sever limbs when attacking in conjunction – and yep, we get a half-page table that notes the consequences. Minor nitpick: These rules should state loss of ring-benefits, for example, for arms lost, but that is evident from context.

The iron general would be a monk/brawler-like hybrid archetype for unarmed cavaliers. The jungle rider gets a modified proficiency list, can make crooked charges and delays the mount to 4th level, where he gets a more exotic array of creatures to choose from. Masked travelers are a tweak that emphasizes the vigilante-ish angle, losing banner etc. and locking the target into being order-less. Marrow lancers are basically the death knight angle – undead companion (more resilient, less agile), and a fully modified commander’s aura feature that focuses on debuffs, and a more nasty Intimidate focus make this one a great choice for anti-heroes and villains.

Mounted champions presented an interesting thing I seriously did not expect to see: Spheres of Might-synergy! Yep, Legendary Games and Drop Dead Studios synergy? Awesome! This fellow employs the Beastmastery and Warleader spheres, allowing for full Spheres of Might synergy. Nice! (Minor nitpick: The header for Mount (Ex) is not bolded.) The pegasus knight is straightforward, and nets you a neutral winged animal version of Pegasus. The steppe rider gets the chance to fire through wind walls, more mobile mounts (while in full movement), shots that hamper targets, Perception skill unlocks, severing arrows at higher levels – basically, think of these guys as the equivalent of the mighty Mongolian cavalry.

The pdf also includes a 6-level PrC, the lancer, who requires +5 BAB, Mounted Combat and Weapon Focus (lance), 2 skills at 5 ranks to take; the PrC gains ½ Fort-save progression, full BAB-progression, d10 HD, 2 + Int skills per level. Ultimately, this PrC represents a different take on the cavalier concept – namely that of the lance-wielding knight who gets elevated to his position. Renown and several cavalier-ish tricks are gained, emphasizing the journey to knighthood, if you will.

We also are introduced to 7 new feats: Aura Study nets you one additional aura you’d usually lose to reduced commander’s aura. Wait. What? Yep, this ties in, obviously, with the tripled reduced commander’s aura – it is evident that a variant that should provide less auras was intended to be one of the reduction options and got somewhat shafted by the glitch. If you really want a base order’s challenge, you can gain the like via a feat, and e.g. houndmaster can choose wolves. There also is a feat to gain an order’s aura, etc. The magic items section includes a banner enhancer, and weapon property that enhances the aura. Really cool: There is a gem that can be attuned to a companion allows you to bring an attuned companion back from the dead. A bridle that makes targets behave as combat trained can be found, and a saddle allows a critter to use the rider’s Will-save vs. mind-affecting effects. The shared pain saddle, finally, allows for 1/round transferral of pain to the mount, with HD as a cool scaling mechanism.

The book concludes with Arsa Verain, a CR 3 sample Legendary Cavalier, who comes with a detailed background story as well as his mount’s stats. His questing has a personal take – Arsa had feelings for a man called Jerome, who, alas, before Arsa could confess, was seemingly taken away by a mysterious woman – and so he looks for a lost love that may be not even reciprocal. He does come with full boon-notes. (I noticed a missing “l” at one point in the prose there.)

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are still very good as a whole; the book generally tackles complex concepts with pinpoint precision, avoiding the usual oversights we’ve come to dread. Anti-abuse caveats, smart notes on statting, ability classification – this gets almost all right…excluding the odd tripling glitch, which does negatively impact in a minor way one of the feats and some intended customization options. It’s not hard to salvage this, mind you, but it’s a bit of a downside. There are also slightly more typos/aesthetic formatting glitches here than usual for Legendary Games, though these still number less than in the vast majority of comparable publications. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf features a variety of new and classic full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Sooo…the legendary cavalier’s base engine is a resounding frickin’ success of epic proportions. There. I said it. Sure, a couple of the archetypes are the obligatory engine tweaks, but we also get several intriguing and well-wrought complex options. The lancer realizes an alternate take on the concept, suitable for more historic/medieval-themed settings…but seriously, for me, the base class is the unmitigated star.

The vanilla cavalier had an identity crisis, was boring to play, did not have much customization options or agenda in combat. The Legendary cavalier is not the most customizable class ever – you can still hand this to a novice without much issue. However, the awesome aura-engine means that you have viable, interesting combat options. The departure from the challenge focus means that you don’t have to rest all the damn time for that one class feature…and I could go on. Is this formally perfect? Nope, and I do have to account for that.

More important, though: Does this finally do the cavalier justice? Make him a non-magic knight that is badass and cool to play? That does something else than charge every damn turn? Heck yeah. N. Jolly, Dave Nelson, Jason Nelson, Hal Kenette and Blake Morton rocked this class hardcore. I don’t even have to think for a second – this guy replaces all cavaliers in my games, and should be considered to be an EZG Essential for all games that feature the cavalier class. It’s a straight, vast improvement that finally makes the cavalier feel like it should be. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 (because the few glitches are excusable), and this gets my seal of approval. Make your cavaliers actually matter and be fun. Get this one!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Cavaliers
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In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer
Publisher: Mystic Bull Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2019 06:21:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of sidetreks, encounters and meta-scenarios clocks in at 46 pages, 1 page front cover,1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 41 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Sometimes, passion can help overcome even a nasty failure – this was a failed IndieGoGo, but it honestly doesn’t show. It’s readily apparent that the creators believed in their book and poured their own money into this supplement, because they believed in it. It’s also a freshman offering – the first thing the company has put out, so let’s take a look at how this turned out, shall we?

This is a collection of side treks, encounters and connective gaming tissue – i.e. small metaplots you can insert between adventures. The respective encounters and adventures do come with flavorful read-aloud text and mimic, in font and presentation, the official Goodman Games supplements. The maps, if featured, are isometric and pretty damn solid, particularly considering the genesis of this supplement. On the downside, some of the maps, particularly those depicting natural environments, tend to lack a square grid, which makes determining positions and dimensions not always as easy as it should be.

I will thoroughly spoil the content of all of the material herein in my discussion below, so if you plan on playing these as a player, stop reading NOW.

From here on out, the SPOILERS rule! … .. . All right, only judges around? Great!

-“In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer” by Ken Jelink: Intended for low levels (1st level), this encounter for low levels kicks off with a bang, as a superior hydra of pure water attacks the PC’s seafaring vessel. Rescued by pirates of dubious repute, the PCs are roped into researching a Cthulhu-cultist/wizard imprisoned…said cultist is related to the local lord, and the prison is a brief mini-dungeon, where coral oubliettes and a brutish mauler loom – and betrayal is afoot. I liked the premise here, and the execution isn’t bad either, but this one would have worked much better as a full-length module that allows the mythos components and the unique backdrop of the dungeon to shine.

-“Mermaids from Yuggoth” by Daniel J. Bishop: Also intended for low levels (level 2 – 3, though), this one is really interesting in that it’s one of the meta-narrative encounter collections within; it is based on the PCs assuming control of an ostensibly haunted and abandoned manor. As they get to know the local populace and their home, slowly but surely the weird and unsettling is settling in, spanning, ideally, multiple adventures and weeks in the meantime between escalations. Add to that the unique monster (and the lavish and utterly alien b/w-illustration), and we have a true winner that is more efficient in conveying the feeling of a traditional mythos-story than many CoC adventures. Two thumbs up!

-“Shadows of Malagok”, penned by Jon Wilson, is intended for mid-level characters (5th level is suggested), and represents a slightly expanded swamp wilderness encounter that have the PCs find a shrine of Malagok and face the eponymous shadow as well as the servants. Okay, if not outstanding.

-“Swindled at the Laughing Harpy” by Paul Wolfe can theoretically be run for any levels, though low level PCs will probably have to run at one point. This encounter focuses on grafters attempting to swindle the PCs – where once they did so out of greed, they have now been enslaved by an insidious artifact tied to the horrid entity known as “The Painted Woman.” This is a fun little encounter that sets the PCs well up to “Quest for It”, as any judge worth their salt can craft a unique angle from the aftermath.

-“Slaves of the Visitants” by John Humphrey comes with a nice isometric map of the escape room-like basement, in which the encounter takes place. It is also a puzzle-counter, though one that requires a bit of work to translate to other languages, in case you’re not running this one in English. I’d consider this to be a solid encounter, though one that that could have used a tad bit more depth and complications.

-“Sails Aflame!” by Jon Wilson is as straight-forward a low-to mid-level encounter as can be: The PCs are on a ship, when basically a ginormous burning beetle that makes a nest out of flotsam attacks the vessel! It’s a great way to wreck a ship, a unique critter and a truly deadly adversary for low level PCs, intentionally beyond their easy means to defeat. Unique, fun, to the point – and all on a single page! Two thumbs up.

-“Caves of the Ice Mistress” by Ken Jelinek is crafted for level 5 characters, and is a fun little 3-room ice-themed mini-dungeon, with an Appendix N-style ice spider theme. Per se nice, the third room of the isometric dungeon map is a bit hard to grasp, a fact exacerbated by aforementioned lack of a grid on the maps.

-“The Long Sleep” by Ken Jelinek is a pretty straight-forward mini-dungeon funnel, wherein the undertaker has gone missing, requiring stouthearted folks to investigate. They are bound to find more than they bargained for. This one is nice, particularly if you want to start a bit more low key to have room to build up material in the future.

-Paul Wolfe’s up next, with “The Cult of the Flickering Sign”, intended for level 3 characters, is pretty cool – aforementioned sign is reproduced in the book, and while happening upon the cult and wrecking their party’s pretty simple, it’s a great way for the judge to kick off a longer adventure by lacing in the storyline of the sign. Efficient, neat, like it.

-“Another Man’s Treasure”, intended for low level characters, can be somewhat fatal for 0-level characters, and focuses on an interesting, cursed magical item. Big kudos: Via logic and observation, the PCs actually can deduce the parameters of how it works. Like it!

-“The Nazhghad’s Invocation” by Paul Wolfe is basically about the PCs stumbling into a spell duel between two factions of equally vile entities and their servants. Solid if you need to establish a conflict between factions, but otherwise not an encounter that grabbed my attention. A round by round breakdown of the spell duel is nice to see, though.

-“Icon of the Blood Goddess” can be started as soon as level 0 or level 1, but the main draw will probably require at least level 3 for the finale. It is penned by Daniel J. Bishop, and is the second of the linked meta-encounters that can provide a narrative framework between modules. The PCs pass an alley, where they can see a gaunt statue – over the course of multiple adventures, the believers in the statue and the offerings left will increase, as the malign blood goddess, growing ever more monstrous in appearance, draws in more and more adherents, escalating the danger…that can only be stopped by entering her realm, where a deadly puzzle combat, including unique spellcasting side-effect table and spellburn side effects are included. This one is a resounding success and is well worth my seal of approval when judged on its own!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed a couple of minor glitches, but not enough to sink this supplement. Layout adheres to the classic two-column b/w-standard you know from Goodman Games’ offerings, down to the font. The b/w-artworks similarly mirror Goodman Games’ aesthetics, and while the isometric maps don’t always live up to that exceedingly high standard, they still exceed what you’d expect from this project. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, with one bookmark for each encounter.

This collection of encounters penned by Paul Wolfe, Ken Jelinek, Daniel J. Bishop, Jon Wilson and John Humphrey feels like a passion project, in the good way. It is a nice means for the judge to bridge “big” adventures, and while some of the encounters left me rather less impressed, many actually go beyond the call of duty. In particular the two meta-encounters that span multiple sessions penned by Daniel J. Bishop represent glorious additions, and frankly, I’d love to see more of those, regardless of system. You know, little sidestories that you can easily and painlessly weave into ongoing campaigns. These two, at least for me, warrant the fair asking price on their own, and both should be considered to be pretty much 5 star + seal material.

I do have to judge the collection on its own, though, and it does have a few rough spots here and there, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, though with a definite rounding up here; this is worth getting, and represents a fun and handy kit to have.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
In the Prison of the Squid Sorcerer
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Monstrous Lair #24: Roper's Cave
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/22/2019 06:19:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

All righty, this time around, we check out the approach to a roper’s cavern – being ambush predators, what can we find? Well, wide marks on the floor, their trails, for example. Craggy rocks with many niches…or a rotting piece of strand, cut off in a struggle. A dwarven graffiti may warn folks away…but yeah, by necessity, nothing to peculiar. (As an aside: Easily discernible tracks are not something I’ve seen any book dealing with ropers feature – that may provide a lore-conflict, so beware with that entry!) When the PCs happen upon the roper, he may be sleeping. Or Shamming sleep. (How does an ambush predator fake being asleep? Snoring gives it kinda away…) More interesting would be the entry that sees the roper scratch sigils into the walls, but from scratching against the walls to eating/lording over vanquished foes, not much going on here.

Major lair features include chasms with rubbish and detritus, high escarpments, ledges, unsafe entrance ceilings or stalactites prepped to fall. Quite a few of these focus on giving the roper an advantage, which is a good thing here. Minor features consist of e.g. swarms of blind bats, cool breezes, phosphorescent lichen and the like – here, the pdf is once more pretty noncommittal. The roper’s appearance may include tendrils with mottled patterns, splintered fangs, odd dimensions, being obviously sick…or weirdly-shaped, there are some nice ones here. The treasure-table includes severed hands still grasping swords, deformed lumps of platinum, rusting lanterns with yet enduring magical light and more. The final table includes skeletons of mules and owners, hollows hiding tangled messes of bones and rubbish, splintered shards of once sturdy shields or upturned boots hanging from a tall stalagmite.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Robert Manson didn’t have an easy job here – as ambush predators, ropers are hard, and they are not exactly a creature that brims with lore written about it. That being said, I consider this to be an okay dressing file; the trails are a bit weird, and a couple of the appearances wreck camouflage attempts, which is somewhat strange. All in all, this is an okay, offering, and as such, my final verdict will be 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #24: Roper's Cave
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The Auspician's Handbook
Publisher: Drop Dead Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2019 08:27:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Spheres of Power-expansion books clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the Fate-sphere expansion – what does it offer? First of all, it should be noted that the GM advice chapter provides some advice on material that is supposed to have the curse descriptor. If you wish to add alignment descriptors to your Spheres of Power game, and advice on removing alignment, can be found. While Spheres of Power is thankfully (a huge plus, imho) less alignment-heavy than the base game, this does have a couple of more notes. Similarly, the pdf does cover hero points and their interaction with spheres of power, with the supplement offering a few feats to interact with these and the content within – the most interesting one herein blends words and hero points – more on that later.

The pdf contains 4 archetypes. The grim disciple mageknight replaces the first level talent and 2nd level mystic combat with the Fate Sphere and a bonus curse talent, as well as the neutrality drawback, which may not be bought off. Stalwart and mystic defense are replaced with the option to spend a spell point to reduce the casting duration of a curse by one step, to a minimum of swift action; this improves to allowing for the use of 2 spell points for the reduction of casting time by two steps at 11th level. Instead of marked, we get casting ability modifier as a bonus to attack and damage rolls versus cursed targets.

The second archetype would be the lucky bastard unchained rogue, who gains kismet instead of evasion. This ability is measured in Charisma modifier (minimum 1) points that may be regained on natural 1s on saves, attack rolls, and has the interesting notion to make an attack a gamble – this adds a d3 to the attack roll: On a 1 of the d3, the attack deals minimum damage, on a 2 normal damage, and on a 3, the lucky bastard regains 1 kismet point. The latter ability btw. THANKFULLY has a caveat that prevents abuse via cuddly kittens. Kismet may also not be cheesed prior to combat, as it caps at Charisma modifier. The archetype gets a selection of deeds, which include a custom deed at 2nd level that can negate AoOs, allowing for skirmishing. 4th level further expands that angle, and the risk/reward theme is also exemplified by a standard action strike vs. flat-footed AC that has the chance to deal extra damage, but at the cost of potentially being disarmed. This one is a bit ill-conceived, as it doesn’t specify whether the bonus damage is multiplied on crits. That being said, kudos for catching that e.g. locked gauntlets don’t help – if you can’t drop the weapon, you instead become staggered. Higher levels provide further deeds for use with the kismet engine. All in all, an interesting one.

The ordained hunter inquisitor is a mid-caster using Wisdom, with class level + Wisdom modifier spell points and 1 magic talent per caster level attained. The archetype gets the Fate sphere instead of detect alignment and discern lies, and track is gained at first level and slightly modified. Monster lore and the judgments are replaced with a Wisdom-based variant of the kismet engine noted above, which instead ties in with the Fate sphere for the purposes of gambling for regained points. (And yes, this also has an anti-cheese caveat.) While the engine at the base of this one is thus familiar, the execution is not, for the archetype receives more than a page worth of customary deeds for use with kismet, which include superior defenses against traps, an SR that fluctuates slightly based on kismet pool points, the option to spend kismet to temporarily gain pounce (behind an appropriate level cap), and e.g. high level teleportation tracking. The archetype also comes with a cool high-level replacement for slayer, which helps pinpoint even the most elusive of quarries, and the capstone also does its job. This is a really cool and encapsulates the concept it portrays really well.

The paladin may choose to become a Parzivalian Knight, who is a low caster using Charisma, but with full level + Charisma modifier spell points. Class level is treated as caster level for consecrations and motifs from the Fate Sphere, and the class may Charisma modifier times per day ignore a general drawback when using a consecration – or employ uses of this ability to maintain or create consecrations. This gets rid of lay on hands, though. Similarly, the auras of the base class are modified to instead behave akin to consecrations, which is something I enjoy – more agenda and tactics. Instead of mercies, we have the means to activate some consecrations chosen (more unlocked at higher levels, provided they don’t have a spell point cost to create) 1/round as a free action. The archetype also gets a wildcard motif talent with a cost reduced for self-target use, and the engine actually manages to blend consecration auras and motifs really well. Surprisingly fun archetype!

There is a new arsenal trick for new special weapon qualities (not italicized properly) and class options for investigator, rogue, slayer and unchained rogue to take chance feats. There is also a mystic combat that nets you a cù-sìth black dog.

All right, I’ve already been talking about motifs– so, what are these? Talents with the (motif) tag are cast as a standard action unless otherwise noted, and usually have a range of touch. Will save is the default means to resist them, and they have a default duration of 1 hour per level, but they may be discharged as an immediate action to gain a short-term effect. Motifs don’t stack with themselves. Motifs are based on Tarot cards in style (cool!), but as a nice boon, groups preferring the Harrow deck actually get notes that provide the equivalent cards. Cool! All righty, that out of the way, let us take a look at the talent section herein, shall we? As far as words are concerned, 12 talents are provided – these allow for the use of objects as holy symbols (or to align weapons – kudos for getting the rules right here!!), and there is an interesting one that allows you to reroll, but at the cost of then being haunted by bad luck in the roll’s category. Hand me my trusty bad of kittens – this needed a threat caveat. There also is a nice forced reroll for foes that offers a buff after such a reroll. There is a word forcing targets to classify themselves, and a risky conjunction of fates that allows you to tie stats together, but at the risk of the participants. A debuff word of enmity is solid, but personally, I liked the one that allows for the cloaking of alignment. There is also a really potent one that allows you to place a curse on a weapon, which makes the attack hit automatically. A word that allows for the use of smite etc. versus targets that would usually not be eligible for such abilities is brutal.

The pdf also provides talents that affect the meta-engine, like applying two motifs at once, ranged word use, or make a consecration remain in place, or centered on an object. There also are 5 consecrations, with an aura that can grant healing (spell point cost to make the aura selective). Sounds basically like infinite healing…or does it? Nope, thankfully, the author was smart – it caps at the amount of damage taken since the last turn AND since the creation of the consecration. This is really clever as far as anti-cheese caveats go – two thumbs up! Plainly visible alignment reveals, auras that debuff targets opposed to your alignment, etc. – some fun options here!

The majority of talents are, as noted, based on Tarot cards, and these do have some interesting tricks, like granting a floating pool of insight bonus-y pool points; we have means to gain a boost to a save at the expense of the other saves, better means to work alone, and the option to discharge these for unique benefits adds another level of depth to them. These rank among my favorites here – including for example the trick to discharge the judgment motif to pinpoint all invisible creatures in close range! Or, what about preventing death by empathic transfer to allies (can’t be cheesed?) – there are a lot of neat ones here, and the motif talents are indeed a great addition to this book and the sphere.

The advanced talents are 8 this time around: Long-term consecrations, bind possessing spirits, fortify a target versus a specific death – these really tie well into concepts like preordained destinies, wyrd, etc. when focusing on flavor, and to offer potent options when not doing so. I considered all of these well-placed in the advanced options array. The book also contains two mighty level 9 incantation – petition the fates, which allows you to even prevent natural disasters from wrecking the landscape (cool!), and a brutal, if ill-labeled Ragnarok. The latter is a one-mile kill stuff burst that also calls forth demons. Yeah, don’t see the mythological resonance either. The pdf also includes the new detect divinity ritual.

Beyond these, the book has a pretty neat feat chapter, which introduces, as hinted before, the new (Chance) feats – these feats net you a kismet pool, subject to the limitations as noted before in the archetype section. Doubling healing via kismet (Affecting you as well as the target), channel/kismet synergy…some pretty cool ones, though I’m not the biggest fan of the feat that nets you an additional attack after a critical hit. If it hits, the crit threat range is increased by 1, which explicitly stacks with other critical threat range increases. On the plus side, we get a cool Admixture feat for Fate/Destruction synergy that allows you to replace a second blast with a word, and the Battle dual sphere feat is pretty badass. The book also provides two nice traits, a new casting tradition (cartomancy) and 4 sphere-specific drawbacks.

The book also features a CR 10 Cù-Sìth and the ridiculously potent Mau (mummified cat/master of fate), which clocks in at CR 20!

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good for the most part on both formal and rules language levels, with precious few minor nitpicks to complain about. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artworks provided are nice and a blend of stock art and new pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Jeff Collins’ take on the Fate sphere makes for a fun and interesting expansion for the Spheres of Power-system. The motifs are great and fun, and the options presented herein often allow for meaningful, fun options – which is particularly impressive when considering how the Fate sphere is certainly one of the tougher spheres to get right. As a whole, I can recommend this to fans of the system, particularly those that want to see divine/fate-themed angles realized in unique spheres-related ways. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Auspician's Handbook
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GM's Miscellany: Monstrous Lair I
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/21/2019 08:24:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the Monstrous Lair-series clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword, 1 page ToC and how to use the book, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 44 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

At this point, I do believe that you’re familiar with the series – each entry includes 7 d10-tables, which feature approaches to the respective locale; the second table depicts what’s currently happening as the PCs stumble into the lair; we get two dressing tables – one for major, and one for minor features, and similarly, a table for sample valuables, and one for trinkets. Finally, there is a table that allows you to customize how the respective creature looks.

As far as scope is concerned, this compilation organizes the following supplements in an alphabetic order: Aboleth’s sunken cavern, bandit camp, bugbear lair, dark creeper village, ghoul nest, giant spider web, gnoll camp, goblin raiding camp, harpy nest, kobold warren, lizardfolk village, medusa lair, minotaur den, mummy crypt, ogre cave, owlbear nest, pirate cove, sahuagin sunken cave, troll caves, witch hovels, thief hideouts and wight barrows.

Now, I have written reviews for each and every one of these, so if you want my individual take on the constituent dressing files, please check out these; as far as I’m concerned, the main draw of this supplement would be its compilation nature.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and the book features quite a nice array of b/w-artwork. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the file comes in two iterations – one optimized for the printer, and one for screen-use, which imho should btw. be industry-standard, but I digress.

Creighton Broadhurst, Simon Butler, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood and Mike Welham know how to write amazing dressing – at least most of the time. While a few of the constituent Monstrous Lair-installments fell slightly flat for me, the fact remains that the majority of the material within these pages represents a rather helpful tool for GMs. In particularly entries like the ones on gnolls, bandits or pirates, ones that should have had me yawn, actually managed to inspire, to elicit excitement, and the fact that this book compiles and presents the series in a format that’s more convenient to use at the table than an individual print-out/pdfs makes this worthwhile for folks like yours truly that already have a ton of printouts flying around the table. If you are primarily interested in a few of the files, you may want t consider cherry-picking, but otherwise, this does represent the best way to enjoy these lairs. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Monstrous Lair I
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Wormskin Issue 4
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2019 06:37:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Wormskin-‘zine that depicts the strange and wondrous forests of Dolenwood clocks in at a massive 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 67 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

As always, the material herein has been penned with Labyrinth Lord or B/X in mind, but conversion to other OSR-systems is pretty easy. I own the print version of the ‘zine, which is a nice little booklet. Its spine doesn’t feature a name, which is a bit of a minor nitpick, considering that it is massive enough to have the space for it. …yeah, you can see, I’m having a tough time finding things to criticize here.

All right, so, as far as universally applicable material goes, this includes a brief one-page table of conditions, under which fickle fairy magic items cease to work…like being exposed to a bird’s song! The entries provided are nice, the concept simple, and yet, what may be drawn from this is pretty neat. Unpretentious, usable, solid.

The ‘zine also features a massive d30 double-spread table covering 6 pages that allows you to depict the “lesser” standing stones of Dolmenwood, or to customize weird monuments in your other games. The table sports 6 columns: One column to let you determine stone material, one that denotes the source of the material, one for the state of the stone, and one that establishes the setting. The table notes, for example, that, when a surface has been properly cleaned, it is worth considering by whom. The table also sports uncommon properties, like pleasant or unpleasant smells, attracting wildlife, drawing, elephant graveyard style, dying animals to the place, etc. Finally, detailed features of note may include fine, Drunic inscriptions to summon forth ghost crows, or being able to speak in a grinding voice, proclaiming itself to be the voice of the forest. Think that sounds lame? A table for stones? Okay, so here’s one of the results I got from this table:

A standing stone of salt crystal in the form of a toroid, veined with metal, crawling slowly atop a thousand insectoid legs, accompanied by strains of ballroom music that seem to drift from somewhere, sporting a warning in a coded form of Woldish, which warns the PCs of the dangers of spellcasting in the vicinity. …Come on, this is awesome! These two sections have been penned by Gavin Norman and Greg Gorgonmilk.

Beyond these tables, the pdf contains a detailed and mapped wayside encounter/mini-module of sorts, which is suitable for low level characters – about level 2 – 4 should be viable. This would be Matthew Schmeer’s “The Atacorn’s Retreat”, which comes with a plethora of rather interesting adventure hooks that go above and beyond, but in order to discuss this in more detail, I will have to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only referees around? Great! So, atacorns are the offspring of the Nag-Lord’s trysts with witches: Cloven-footed, cow-tailed, with mule-like features, the atacorn herein, Farthigny, is a bit special in that he seems to have managed to annoy none other than Lord Malbleat…and bards. Known as the “Fiddler in the Dark”, his ostensibly potent magical fiddle is sought after by bards to be destroyed, and indeed, the atacorn does come with 8 different sample tunes – like “Never Ever Swim Through the Fever Marsh”(got the reference?), a pun-filled country jag poking fun at lost travelers. His little two-room bungalow is fully detailed and mapped – he does have a retinue of moss dwarves that seem to enjoy the abuse he subjects them to. His fiddle, btw., is a unicorn-like protrusion that grows from his lower jaw, and it can indeed generate truly astounding tunes. Getting to it, though? Impossible sans killing the atacorn, who, while rowdy, seems totally nice! He invites the PCs to his abode, and proceeds to offer a true feast while regaling them with songs. Said abode, btw.? Lavishly-mapped by Kelvin Green, the bungalow’s b/w-map is truly gorgeous in its impressive details, and is actually player-friendly, bereft of keys and labels! You can copy and cut up the map and hand it to players! Big kudos!

These impressive details do extend to more than the map, btw.: This is one of the densest adventure locations I’ve seen in quite a while – heck, even the fillings of pillows (!! Human hair and fairy wings, in most, but not all, cases…) may be interesting, let alone all the carefully hidden, odd and magical stuff to be found. Of course, there is a catch – Farthigny is not a nice guy. In fact, he drugs the PCs – with drugs to which he’s immune. He totally wants to check their livers – the Jale God once prophesized that he’d be slain a child of a parent whose liver bleeds blue. Did I mention the half-dead dryad in the furniture? There is true dark fantasy, hidden behind a veneer of gonzo whimsy that feels plausible. He also has a cozy torture cellar for ritual sacrifices hidden below the bungalow! Yay! This horrid place is btw. lavishly illustrated in full-color, with a one-page hand-out-like artwork that you can hand to PCs. This place is just as detailed, and Farthigny’s living space contains quite a few odd magical items – like a dagger inhabited by a lesser murder demon, the Ring of Calibraxis (In case you didn’t notice – yep, this does contain quite a few cool eastereggs!), and similar oddities. One note: There is a save or die here, but it’s a justified one – if the PCs drag a magical, potentially cursed tapestry and put it atop a bloody ritual circle, the result may be fatal. It’s very obscure, and I’d be surprised if it comes up a lot during play, but it certainly has the feeling of “you’ve meddled with forces beyond your ken” – random actions beget random (and dangerous results). I can live with that.

The lion’s share of this installment, though, is devoted to the subterranean level of the eponymous ruins of St. Clewd’s abbey, penned once more by Gavin Norman And Yves Geens. This part of the module can be rather challenging, depending on how much your PCs explore, and whether they think they can slay everything in sight. I can see this be a tough challenge for mid-level PCs, or potentially “solvable” for even low level PCs. Suffice to say, this is old-school – and “taking your tail between your legs and run” is certainly the better part of valor – for example, when a massive hydra shows up: Said entity has different attacks for each of its heads, which range from bloated boars to inverted cow’s heads, with different personalities to boot. Trying to best this one? TPK machine for low level groups. That being said, the hydra also is not immediately hostile, which makes this behave as a “reap what you sow” moment. Anyhow, the level of detail is once more impressive: The random encounter table is only half devoted to different creatures, with the other half consisting of chaotic phenomena, courtesy of the dimensional cataract that pulses within this complex, rendering reality somewhat unstable.

It should also be noted that this complex comes with a lavish isometric b/w-map drawn by Claytonian (of “The Wizardarium of Calabraxis”-fame); said map comes with a scale, but no grid, and is pretty damn impressive. It should be noted, though, that, in spite of numbers for keyed locations having been added in blue bubbles, no unlabeled version has been included. We do get a proper jpg.-version, though.

But I digress – you see, this module is STRANGE. There, for example, would be the dangerous, oracular and slightly telepathic catfish that actually manages to make sense, and that makes for a great way for the referee to seed further adventures…if it doesn’t eat all PCs, that is. I used “strange” in opposition to “weird” consciously, as this does not adhere to e.g. LotFP or DCC’s type of weird fiction, instead opting for an oddly plausible scenario of high magic strangeness grounded in a fairy-tale-esque backdrop. In short, it perfectly encapsulates how you can portray Dolmenwood’s unique flavor in a dungeon setting.

The dungeon itself, while certainly deadly, has plenty of loot (including a massive one-page treasure table), for sure – but what sets it apart from many modules would be that it actually, at least half of it, is a social dungeon.

But to explain that aspect of the module, I will have to go into pretty significant, deep lore SPOILERS. If you’re a player, please, at least stop reading now. … .. . All right, only referees around? Well, when St. Clewd vanished while fighting the black unicorn men dubbed Sallowbryg, it wasn’t the end. Indeed, a cataclysm has befallen the monastery even before the goat-men razed it to the ground: You see, a particularly greedy and incompetent abbot sought to call forth St. Clewd once more – not cognizant of the fact that the saint had fused body and mind with the foul beast. Suffice to say, the results were not pretty, and now, the deranged and horribly mutated saint (lavishly illustrated by Andrew Walter in their signature style) has been helf here, watched over by the order of wardens, so that his shame may never be known. This order of fanatic monks whittled away the centuries below the monastery, held alive, ironically, by the effects of the botched ritual, which created the chance to revive the fallen. Okay, it may go horribly wrong. Sure, many come back as zombie-like vegetables…but there’s the sacred duty!

Said monks (random monk generator included), have, in recent years, experienced a schism of sorts – the traditionalists (or Fidelii) and the semi-heretical splinter-sect of the Cardinites. The Fidelii want to keep the deranged saint-thing contained, and keep their vigil, while the Cardinites believe that freeing St. Clewd will help him recover and usher in…something good? Their leaders and holy ceremonies are btw. covered in detail, allowing you to create a subterranean and utterly strange “Name of the Rose”-ish intrigue, should you choose to. Of course, kill ‘em all might be an option, but one with consequences…And yes, the PCs can try to test their mettle against the saint-thing, but it’s not something I’d recommend, unless you’re fond of rolling 3d6, 6 times in a row.

The best way to use these folks, though, would be to have them be what they’re supposed to be: An isolated society of weirdo fanatics, whose whole world-view and fragile power-dynamics may well collapse/ignite when the PCs are added as the proverbial fuse. It should also be noted that the struggle of factions, obviously, does allow for the use of this as a repeat-visit scenario…and, one more note: Even if you don’t like Dolmenwood (WHY??? O_O), this module could be easily used as a kind of religious fanatic bunker in a post-apocalyptic, weird world. Just a thought…

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the ‘zine’s one-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports a surprising amount of awesome full-color artwork by Anxious P. and Sean Poppe. The b/w-cartography by Kelvin Green and Claytonian deserves special praise – both styles are amazing, detailed and evocative, though I do wish we’d get an unlabeled version for the dungeon as well. The pdf version is fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the softcover is a neat version – personally, I’d advise in favor of getting this and #3 in print, as it’s definitely a high-quality little booklet worth the price-point.

The fourth installment of Wormskin, while more module-centric than the ones before, is AMAZING. From the sidetrek that kicks this off to the dressing table to the massive and lavishly-crafted dungeon-level, this installment continues the streak of unadulterated awesomeness of the series, and, some might argue, one ups it with easily one of the most unique and rewarding dungeon-levels I’ve seen in quite a while. This oozes passion, has a distinct style, and when rereading this for the purpose of this review, I found myself just as stoked as when the booklet first fell into my claws. This is excellent and a great example of what a ‘zine can achieve. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wormskin Issue 4
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Starfinder Compatible: Orbi City-Station
Publisher: Straight Path Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2019 06:32:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 15 pages of content, though it should be noted that these pages are laid out in a horizontal standard optimized for e-readers – that is, letter-size is pretty large.

The city station of Orbi sits on a disk dozens of miles across a city of metal and glass, with a central tower of black supporting an almost translucent platform almost as large as the city itself. Streets of warm laughter and cheer make the city of Orbi, home of the Nomi, a galactic entertainment hub. The city can fly and take to the air sans even a ripple of air, often traveling not only from place to place, but from world to world. Glass platform and city floor form an airtight bubble, allowing for travel through space.

The city of Orbi is thus a great way to travel and with its incredibly complex engine, the small, gregarious and open nomi, perpetually interested in new impulses and cultures, are a central focus of what makes this cosmopolitan place so compelling. As hinted at before, Orbi does regularly land on planets, and thus could potentially act as a place to meet primitive cultures or provide a culture-shock for characters; as a means to transition or marry science-fantasy and sword-and-planet, for example, this rather works well. The engine of the Orbi is mostly magical, and the city houses almost 600.000 inhabitants, 5/6th of whom are nomi. The city station follows a 256-day year, and population is controlled, with deaths and emigrants counted and then, a procreation season at the start of the year. It should be noted that sexual activity is not frowned upon – as long as procreation is limited to the proper season. Non-nomi are not subject to these official regulation, and immigrant passes and the general focus on the arts make the place seem pretty liberal.

The pdf also explains to use the history of the 200-year-old city ship, mentions the good guy in charge (an android soldier/technomancer, mentioned in fluff-only – Nomi aren’t that inclined to long-term planning), the bitter local fruits grown, etc. While there are dissenters that wish the city closed to immigrants (their leader is once again mentioned), the decision is still up in the air. The city, unlike the standard SFRPG engines, is powered by the Bend Engine, a magical device that bends space. Somewhat to my chagrin, we don’t get stats for the bend engine, which is a bit of a pity, as it certainly has a lot of narrative potential and would make for a nice starship upgrade at higher levels of escalation down the plot line. We do get an overview of the outer and inner ring and the movers and shakers to be found there, as well as a brief summary of the 6 flavorful ships noted as pretty much permanent fixtures. Once more, ship stats would have been nice.

The pdf also includes a write-up of the Nomi, who get +2 Charisma and Intelligence, -2 Strength (making them lopsided on the mental side of things), 3 Hit Points, and they are Small humanoids with the Nomi subtype. They have a pair or arms, a pair of legs, and a pair of limbs that can be used as either. Changing modes for these limbs (for wielding/holding more items or base speed increase by 10 ft.) is a swift action. Cool, if not as refined or fun as e.g. The Ydreft from Star Log.EM: Ydreft. Nomi get Skill Focus as a bonus feat, and may 1/day spend an hour to retrain to which skill this feat applies. They also receive a +2 racial bonus on checks made with tools, and o checks to make use or activate unknown technology. (It’d have been nice to get some guidelines what constitutes unknown technology). Beyond these stats, the nomi come with a full proper write-up regarding relations, homeworld, and even the often overlooked “Playing as a Nomi”-section including what other races may think about them. Kudos! Speaking of which: The pdf even provides notes on nomenclature and vital statistics, such as average height, maximum age etc.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a horizontal two-column full-color standard with a blue background and light yellow text. The layout is optimized for e-readers, which means that this isn’t exactly printer-friendly. The pdf has no interior artwork, but does come with proper bookmarks for easy navigation.

Michael McCarthy’s Orbi is a fun city station. I like the take on a traveling good-guy station, and the nomi, while weird, are also rather charming. They are good-guy aliens. One could easily interpret an artist’s city-on-a-hill-metaphor into the place, though that, if intended, is subtextual and something most folk probably won’t notice. All in all, I really enjoyed this supplement. Orbi is a fun place, has quite a lot of adventuring potential, and features some evocative, cool ideas. If anything, it does suffer a bit from the lack of stats for the ships noted, the engine, etc. Mind you, at this low price-point, this is definitely a good purchase, but it could have easily been a fantastic one with a bit more crunch. This is still very much worth checking out, though. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Starfinder Compatible: Orbi City-Station
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THOT Police
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2019 06:31:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Alpha Blue-module clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always, this is an Alpha Blue adventure. Alpha Blue is a sleazy scifi-game in the vein of 70s/early 80s scifi porn parodies that uses the dice-pool based VSd6-engine, and as such, the pdf contains a couple of suggestive images and sexual themes. As far as Alpha Blue is concerned, these are pretty tame, though – there is not a single exposed beast to be seen inside. Impressive, btw. – we get an array of cosplay-ish photography to serve as interior art, with one of the pieces being somewhat suggestive. These pictures are all high-quality, and in case you’ve got something against the depiction of drawn nipples, rest assured that not a single nipple or form of nudity is included within. I know several pop videos that are more lewd than the pictures. That being said, if sexuality is a hot button topic for you, then you probably won’t want to play Alpha Blue in the first place.

All right, so, as always: This is an adventure-review. As such, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump ahead to the conclusion. … .. . All right, only BDSMs (Bold Dungeon Space Masters) around? Great! So, if you did expect a straight sequel to THOT Audit, you won’t get that here. The pdf starts with the premise that the PCs, as opportunists, have joined the THOT police as bounty hunters – but there are 6 different reasons for why they may be late to the party regarding assignments. The adventure takes place during Space Christmas, and police captain Harass and the others seem to be congratulating one Zammy Zathwell on his draw – he got an assignment to a very well-paying job on a New Martian citadel. The citadel is btw. called Nakatomi. Hence the Christmas-theme. Thing is, the PCs probably want in on that job, but their ship will end up being stolen – and it’ll be parked in an area studded with laser mines – and botching here may well wipe out the whole party, so better be careful!

The ship will be found at a refueling station, which’ll allow for a confrontation of the fully statted thief. After that, the PCs will have to get past the Mars blockade, of the Federation, and doing so will be risky. The checkpoint will be risky (one of the officers can telekinetically squeeze the balls of males…), and Karlsbad, the guy in charge, thankfully, can be bribed…or, well, the PCs may use an attempt of a space corvette to sneak past to their advantage… (And yes, we do get stats for the officers and Karlsbad.) Said corvette-driver, by the way? He’s more important than it looks – he is a relic smuggler (fully statted) names Souda, who, as a being of pure energy, can help allies…and is totally invulnerable to lasers! He’s also carrying The Bad Luck Eye Of The Little Crimson God, stolen from the Crimson Da’awn syndicate! It is worth a fortune and may be used to create a doomsday weapon – and yep, he’ll conveniently crash near Nakatomi Citadel if left to the federation…

Speaking of the Crimson Da’awn: The syndicate is planning a hostile take-over of Nakatomi Citadel in order to steal the bare-naked bonds stored there, with the grand plan of opening Alpha Blue-themed restaurants. Think of that as space-hooters, just more lewd. The hostile takeover announcement is btw. represented by a bit of read-aloud text. The leader of this strike-force, Maddek Skwa, has a pretty powerful ability that’ll make others bow and comply, and he and his cutthroats are properly statted. He also carries a magical portable gloryhole, with random effects.

But I’m getting ahead of myself – the takeover attempt is a floating encounter that will probably take place after the PCs have entered the place – provided they figure out a way to get past the leech-covered concierge…who, once more, has unique abilities! This is something that really deserves mentioning: Even regular guardsmen tend to get unique descriptions AND abilities – the guard Thwib (who looks like a turtle except for a Nietzsche moustache and a giraffe’s neck), for example, has a chance of incapacitating targets on double sixes due to a summer spent in ninja bootcamp. The gift shop contains snowglobes (12 provided; including an easter egg for Kort’thalis fans) – I liked those, but the lamprey-faced ballerina that may be hostile or nice? It’d have been neat to get stats for her.

In the bar, the PCs can meet the powerful Federation office Ja’an Maclem, who always has a hidden weapon somewhere. (In case the Die Hard references so far were to subtle…) The museum would allow the PCs to get the Shroud of Tu’uran, which makes for a very potent, if sacrilegious defensive item. The different ladies that would qualify as to-be-taxed THOTs btw. also get their proper stats; my favorite there would be one whose eyes show you a destiny you may have. The lady working at the lingerie shop can daze hostile males and is particularly dangerous in combat when near poles, and makes for a cool potential ally. Less cool: There is a guy who has a rape whistle. Blowing it has a chance of tentacles spontaneously manifesting and…you get the idea. Not a fan of that inclusion. Two reasons: 1) I really don’t like random things and abilities humiliating PCs, unless they earned it. 2) It may be me, but I really don’t think that references to rape, even tentacle rape, should feature in a happy-go-lucky beer-and-pretzels-style game about fun and casual sex. Still, this is a personal opinion and as such will not feature in my final rating; it’s just as easy to picture folks that don’t mind its inclusion – heck, and ex-girlfriend of mine was really into those types of hentai...and it’s not my place to judge anyone’s kinks. Still, figured I’d mention it, and before you ask – it’s literally a throwaway line in one item. Redacting it is a 0-effort job for the BDSM.

A fully-statted parody of Jean-Paul Sartre can also be found (in Space Starbucks); there is a tanning salon in which a female is masturbating, a lawyer’s office (fully statted lawyer); there is a security guard (whose name’s missing an “a” in one instance); the PCs can engage in a slave auction ( 4 different statted slaves provided), and in the art-gallery, there is a hint to Cha’alt. Beyond an insectoid drug-dealer in a Subways (Where’s the BDSM sub-pun there? Missed chance…), we also have a really depraved massage parlor that includes a nice alien…and there is a pretty unfair, sucky room, wherein the PCs have a 2-in-4-chance of dying; 1-in-4-chance of backstabbing the PCs. That is…not fun. It’s just random, and not in a good way. I highly suggest at least providing some way for PCs to evade this random insta-gib.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the impressive two-column full-color standard of the latest Alpha Blue-modules, and text is white, to set it apart from the background. I’m prone to migraines, but this one didn’t trigger that, so yeah. Artworks inside constitute of nice full-color photography, as noted before, and is pretty cool. The citadel comes with a properly keyed, full-color map that may not have a scale, but needs none, considering how Alpha Blue operates. Big plus: We get a VTT-friendly, unlabeled version of the map that can bused as a handout, and all versions of the map are provided as .jpgs as well. The pdf does not have any bookmarks, which constitutes an unnecessary comfort detriment.

Zoltar Khan Delgado’s/Venger As’Nas Satanis’ new direction for Alpha Blue is great to see. The direction taken in THOT Audit, to provide proper adventures instead of vignettes, is a boon for folks that actually play Alpha Blue, particularly since they feature his trademark weirdness without compromising the overall usability. This module depicts a nice sandbox with a floating “oh damn, shit got real”-moment, leaving how everything plays out to the PCs and the interactions with NPCs – which is a big plus as far as I’m concerned. That being said, the Trap Room mentioned is just dumb, frustrating and random, and not in a good way. Similarly, the lack of bookmarks is a comfort detriment in an otherwise nice adventure. On the plus-side, the creativity that went into the NPCs does salvage a high score for this – the author went above and beyond regarding unique effects, tricks, gear, etc. – the stats provided are creative, and we get quite a lot of them. Considering that and the low price point, my final verdict will round up from 4.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
THOT Police
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Monstrous Lair #23: Troglodytes' Warren
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/20/2019 06:29:56

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables. It should be noted that this is the first installment that changes not the formula per se, but the layout of the tables and the headers: Instead of “approaches” we now have “outside the lair”, and “notable features” now are called “major lair features”, “trinkets” are now called “trash” – you get the idea.

Outside of the lair, rubble may slow movement, and crude tribal sigils, trails of humanoids dragged towards the caverns and bloody footprints speak of deadly adversaries awaiting – while these ar not particularly specific, they are okay. As for what’s going on, we have troglodytes waiting in ambush, perhaps alerted by some sort of inexplicable sixth sense, troglodytes lolling around, content and sated, and good-natured wrestling, gambling or a dispute in progress. Major features include outcrops that have been crudely fashioned into an approximation of chairs (odd, considering troglodytes are usually depicted with tails…), the signature stench (does that constitute a major feature?) or a forest of mushrooms. The minor features include uneven floors, polished collections of shells and the like. The two best entries here feature albino insects buzzing around lichen and hollow stalactites dotting the ceiling, dripping water.

Individual appearances may include leather belts worn as bandoliers, being one-eyed, having scras or oversized teeth, etc. As far as treasures are concerned, we have shards of onyx, skull-fetishes and swirl-decorated skulls, to name a few. The trash-section includes buckets from which water drips, skulls used as makeshift containers via hardened mud and crude, roughly ziggurat-shaped statuettes.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

I was not impressed by Robert Manson’s take on troglodyte lairs. Somewhat generic, the tie-in to the troglodytes themselves didn’t shine through as much as I hoped it would. For the most part, you could use these dressings for any primitive cave-dwellers; certainly much less compelling than e.g. the take on kobolds or the amazing one on gnolls. My final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #23: Troglodytes' Warren
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Everyman Unchained: Teamwork Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/19/2019 06:00:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Everyman Unchained-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, I’ve always felt that teamwork feats are a good idea, but not one that has been implemented well – I wholly concur with the assessment of the introduction, that they cost two feat slots for the benefit of one, which is, to boot, situational. This book thus aims to upgrade teamwork feats to make them useful for characters that don’t have a class feature that makes them more viable. Let’s dive in!

Teamwork feats require that you establish a team: 1/day, you can form one by spending a 10-minute drill. A team can consist of a maximum of half your character level + Charisma modifier or ranks in Profession (soldier) + Charisma modifier, whichever is higher. Once founded, all characters in the team count as teammates, and you can only be in one team at a given time.

-Allied Spellcaster: Adjacent teammates get +2 to CL to overcome SR, +1 to determine spell variables, provided the ally knows how to cast the spell or has it prepared.

-Back to Back: No more flanking bonuses versus two or more teammates adjacent. Sneak still works.

-Improved Back to Back: Teammates can’t be flanked when adjacent.

-Broken Wing Gambit: Feign weakness, incur +2 atk from enemy, to grant all other teammates threatening the target. Can also be used as an immediate action.

-Close Formation: Push past teammates while charging (heck yeah) and the feat properly codifies this movement; also, teammates can end their movement in another mates’ space (max 2 creatures per square); gets mount right. This one is really evocative.

-Combat Medic: No AoO for Heal, take 10 even in dire situations.

-Coordinated Charge: When a teammate charges, charge as an immediate action the same target. Ouch! BAB +10 keeps this in check, fyi.

-Coordinated Defense: +2 to CMD when adjacent, +4 versus targets that are larger. And suddenly, gnomes and halflings look less yummy…

-Coordinated Maneuvers: +2 to CMB; +4 when attempting to grapple or escape a grapple.

-Coordinated Shot: +1 to ranged atk vs. targets threatened by teammate; bonus can increase to +2 when mates are flanking. Accounts for cover.

-Distracting Charge: +2 to atk versus the target of a charge until the start of the charging teammate’s next turn.

-Duck and Cover: Has a confusing glitch; should read that they gain a +2 circumstance bonus to AC and Reflex saves, not “AC against Reflex saves;” additionally, all teammates roll Reflex saves normally and take the highest d20 result rolled for their save. (Cool!) If the difference between the roll used and the own roll is 5+, the character is knocked prone (or staggered, if already prone or being incapable of being knocked prone).

-Improved Duck and Cover: Allows characters with evasion to take part of the damage for their allies. Nice! (Also has an anti-cheese caveat – kudos!)

-Escape Route: When a teammate provokes an AoO for moving out of another teammate’s square, the attacker takes -10 to atk on the AoO. OUCH! Potent, but I like it, as it rewards tactical positioning.

-Ensemble: Bolster performances within 30 ft. as an immediate action, increasing range.

-Feint Partner: Makes the target lose Dex-mod versus the next attack of the teammate as well, provided they’re executed soon enough.

-Improved Feint Partner: Foe feinted provokes AoO from all mates.

-Harder They Fall: Makes teammate count as larger for relevant combat maneuvers; increases aid another bonuses based on teammates threatening the target. Oh, and the opponent takes falling damage when successfully affected by the maneuvers. NICE! Attack on Titan, anyone?

-Improved Spell Sharing: Divide duration of spells targeting familiar, eidolon, etc. evenly.

-Intercept Charge: Immediate action move up to speed, blocking the charge – at the cost of movement next round. Cool!

-Lookout: When 2 or more teammates are adjacent, they get to act in the surprise round, as long as at least one would be able to act. Teammates that’d be unable to act treat their initiative in the surprise round as 1. If all would be able to act, they may take more actions! Brutal! Like it.

-Outflank: Increases flanking bonus to +4.

-Pack Attack: Immediate action 5 –foot step when teammate attacks.

-Pack Flanking: Considered flanking, regardless of position while adjacent.

-Paired Opportunists: Typo: Doubled “Whenever” at the start. +2 to AoOs when teammates are adjacent; also allows a teammate to get an AoO when an ally gets one, regardless of own situation. Thankfully has an anti-chain caveat.

-Seize the Moment: Foe provokes an AoO after being critically hit by teammate.

-Shake It Off: +2 on all saves while adjacent.

-Share Healing: You can divide healing between teammates.

-Shield Wall: 2 or more teammates adjacent increase the shield bonus, depending on shield type. Shield bash does not end this bonus for team members. Also nets cover to adjacent teammates when using a tower shield, making that more viable.

-Shielded Caster: +4 concentration checks while adjacent; also, penalties imposed on concentration are halved.

-Stealth Synergy: When 2 or more mates attempt Stealth with line of sight to each other, use the highest d20 roll.

-Swap Places: Lets you move into a teammate’s space, provoking AoOs; the teammate may move out as an immediate action – no AoOs. Size restrictions apply, though. Cool one!

-Improved Swap Places: No longer provoke AoO, slightly delimits size limitations. Also has a bull rush-y option. Nice.

-Tandem Trip: Roll twice, take better result.

-Target of Opportunity: When a teammate hits a target within 30 ft. of another teammate, that teammate can use an immediate action to shoot the target.

-Team Pickpocket: Bluff to enhance an immediate action Sleight of Hand.

-Wounded Paw Gambit: Ranged weapon follow-up version of Broken Wing Gambit.

The pdf then takes a look at class features: The holy tactician’s battlefield presence is rewired to allow for the exceeding of maximum team size; the drill instructor ability of the strategist cavalier can add up to 4 allies to the team via resource expenditure and a drill; the field instruction of the exemplar brawler can use his action to make allies count as members of the team for a short while. Hunter Tactics make the animal companion not count as a team-member for the purpose of determining maximum. The inquisitor’s solo tactics make all allies count as teammates, but don’t bestow these benefits on the allies…making solo tactics work for the first time really as I envisioned it. The cavalier’s tactician class feature is also rewired to interact with the teammate mechanic.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are still very good on a formal level, with just a few typo-level minor hiccups; on a rules-language level, the pdf is extremely precise and top-notch, with only one autocorrect glitch that could cause minor confusion. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has plenty of really nice artworks, with the expected kitsune focus. The pdf has no bookmarks, and is at the length where I consider that still okay without warranting the penalizing of the final verdict.

What happens when Alexander Augunas, David N. Ross and none other than Owen K.C. Stephens join forces? Awesomeness. The refined versions of the teamwork feats and the engine, which is elegant and only minimally intrusive, are pretty impressive indeed. You could easily slot this into pretty much all ongoing campaigns without much hassle, and the team-building component makes more sense for me as well. All in all, I consider this to be a success indeed, though I did wish we’d have gotten a couple of far out new ones and feats that supplement further the base component of the team-building aspect of the engine. Still, highly recommended - 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Unchained: Teamwork Feats
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Totally Random Tables
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/19/2019 05:58:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page kort’thalis glyph, 1 page space for notes, leaving us with 10 pages, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so this pdf contains a total number of 30 different d6 tables, which sport 6 entries per table; per page, you usually get up to 4 different tables, for up to 24 entries per page. This doesn’t exactly use space economically, is what I’m trying to say. I usually print out pdfs, but here, I probably won’t do that. On the plus-side, each table gets its own color, chosen from 6 different ones, which helps remember them.

It should also be noted that this is NOT a dressing file. This is IMPORTANT. Were I to rate this by the same metrics as e.g. Raging Swan Press’ focused and flavorful dressing-files, this’d be a total failure, because, as its name implies, this is TOTALLY RANDOM. None of the tables have a header or a concise leitmotif, nor do they have a unifying theme.

To give you an idea of the breadth, let’s take a look at the first table: We have “Carbon scoring” as one entry, and “My favorite color is cherry, says the voice.” As another; another table has a wand with 1d12 charges that can reduce a targeted opponent’s hit points to 1d20. (Range would be nice, as would be a note if this is permanent or affects current hit points.) The very same table has a Purple Prizm reference (Alpha Blue’s choice softdrink; also represented in a reused, but awesome artwork) and a rusted sheriff’s badge.

You can find giant fruit flies with suckered tentacles, Metallica cassette tapes, black stockings, oreo candy canes, a cap that probably was inspired by Cloak & Dagger…or Disney World.

The tables herein are absolutely, utterly and totally random, and apart from a one-page, really nice b/w-artwork…that’s kinda it. So…what’s the use of this pdf? What do you do with it? Well, use number one, is simply to get the creative juices out of a routine, but the introduction proposes another use – a means for the GM to challenge themselves. Roll a couple of times on the table before running the game, and see whether you can integrate the disparate elements. Thos are actually the uses of this pdf that are truly salient and work – as noted, for dressing, this is, well…too totally random.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, only good a rules-language level where applicable. Layout adheres to the rather beautiful two-column full-color standard with veins that Kort’thalis Publishing likes to use. The pdf is layered, allowing you to make it very printer-friendly, if you do print it out. The pdf has no functional bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them. As noted before, the artworks featured within are pretty impressive.

Venger As’Nas Satanis’ random tables left me kinda puzzled, to be honest. Not as a person, but as a reviewer.

How in all hells am I supposed to rate this?

The entries of the tables oscillate in theme, originality and depth in such a massive manner, the themes are so different from one another, it’s frankly even hard to complain about the depth of oscillation between the specific and general.

As a dressing file, this’d be, at best, a 2-star file, as it lacks focus and direct utility at the table. On the other hand, when used as a challenge for the GM, as a means to hone one’s improvisation craft in Iron GM-style (or to prepare for Iron GM), then this may well be a rather awesome training run pdf that can help freshen up GM styles and get GMs out of creative ruts.

Whether this is worth getting, ultimately, is extremely contingent on what you want from it. I can see folks liking this…and others considering it useless.

This could well be a 4-star file for you, or…well, not. I have to take both positions into account. The relative brevity of the supplement (It could have fitted its content on half the pages, easily) is the most significant detriment for me, and as such, I will round down from my final verdict of 3.5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Totally Random Tables
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Adversaries: Voidborn
Publisher: Evil Robot Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/19/2019 05:57:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Galaxy Pirates supplement comes as two pdfs – one made for Pathfinder, and one for Starfinder. Both pdfs clock in at 4 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The voidborn fast zombie presented for PFRPG clocks in at CR ½ and is a take on the infectious fast zombie. Slightly odd – while the type is undead, the statblock still reiterates basically a ton of the undead traits and calls them voidborn traits. This would usually not be an issue, but here, as they’re non-intelligent, the voidborn would usually fall under the undead clause of no natural healing, something that is not explicitly stated by the voidborn traits, which makes me think that they may be intended to heal. The CMD is unfortunately off, and the second attack routine looks like their slam attack may be intended as a secondary natural attack.

The voidborn also features some lore DCs, which is generally something I like – but “Medium Undead Knowledge check DCs” is not standard – first of all, this is a good place to note that the pdf italicizes stuff like “Knowledge” that shouldn’t be italicized. Secondly, PFRPG usually handles knowledge pertaining undead via Knowledge (religion). It’d have been nice to see variants of the virus codified as scaling hazards, but that may be me.

As unfortunate as aforementioned hiccups are, the pdf does have something to offer that really stoked the fires of my imagination: A lore section. The pdf discusses how the voidborn are the result of a nanotech virus designed to wipe out life in the Milky Way, and when the pdf talks about how the virus was seeded by sublight probes, how it feels to be infected, the behavior patterns of voidborn, their campaign role and how their predation works, I couldn’t help but smile. As underwhelming as the statblock was, as much did I enjoy this page of well-written and fun lore.

Now, for SFRPG, the voidborn also clocks in at CR ½, but uses the EAC and KAC values of a CR 1 creature from the combatant array. Instead of +2 to Ref-saves, we have +2 to Will, which is odd – as per the undead graft, the critter should have +2 in all saves. Similarly, the undead/unliving traits are nowhere to be found here, instead sporting the voidborn trait. The attack values provided are correct, but the damage values lack the modification bestowed by Strength. Furthermore, the line looks like the creature gets a secondary melee attack at low attack bonus, which is uncommon in SFRPG at low levels, where multiple attacks are usually relegated to CR 6 and above. The ability DC for their fever is off, and we, alas, get no proper track, though the disease practically screams for a custom disease track progression.

The statblock should also specify that they’re mindless, which would usually influence their skills. Here, they seem to be using the CR 1/3 values instead. While them having a master skill (Intimidate) violates mindless’s paradigm, I can live with that, though it’s odd when you think about it, as Intimidate requires a conscious effort that the creature is clearly incapable of undertaking. The statblock, as a whole, does not operate as a SFRPG-statblock does, lacking “other abilities”, the proper formatting of a couple of components, etc.

The table is properly codified regarding the skill employed, which is a plus, though considering the flavor, Life Science or Medicine notes to treat the disease (in Starfinder, much more dangerous than in PFRPG!) would have been nice. As an aside – this being a virus, this practically screams for its own subtype graft.

The flavor, as before, is nice.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting on a formal level are good, though the deviations from the default values irks me. On a rules-language level, there are quite a few issues and deviations from the standard, and, alas, this pdf doesn’t have much beyond the statblocks to rate in that regard. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard, with the SFRPG-version having a nice, starry border. The pdfs have no bookmarks, but need none at this length. The artwork featured rocks.

Paul Fields and Jim Milligan have written, as loathe as I’m to say it, two deeply flawed statblocks here, with the SFRPG one feeling like it’s a pre-Alien Archive one. Particularly in SFRPG, the options of the system have not been realized, and there are, unfortunately, quite a few glitches in this brief file. This is all the more unfortunate, as the lore section is inspiring, to say the least, and oozes flavor. Still, as a whole, I can’t rate this higher than 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Adversaries: Voidborn
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Everyman Minis: Mutative Mucks
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2019 06:45:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 6 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, on the introductory page, we have something I really like – notes on harvesting mutating much, i.e. creature remnants. I don’t know why, but the notion of using parts of magical creatures to supplement your magical effects has always appealed to me immensely. (As an aside: Playground Adventures’ Creatures Components Vol. I is THE resource for that sort of thing…) Each muck yields 3 doses, plus one dose per size category above Small. Heal or Survival may be used as a substitute for Craft (alchemy). The item is properly codified – Monster Blood Tonic. When you consume it, you’re affected by the mutative muck’s subtype’s consume ability for 1 minute. If you drink a second tonic within 24 hours, the effects become permanent, and 1d20 hours later, something goes horribly wrong, subject to GM’s approval. Yep, whip out your mutation tables, ladies and gentlemen!  Some ideas are btw. provided. Nice one!

Mutative Muck, as a baseline, is depicted as a CR 5 ooze, and whenever it takes damage, it regenerates 5 hit points and gains a growth point. When the ooze consumes a creature that’s been dead no more than an hour, it gains a growth point, if it’s of the same size as the muck or smaller, 2 points if the target creature consumed is larger. Eating a creature takes a full-round action, and every time, these guys get 5 growth points, they get the giant creature simple template, up to a maximum of Gargantuan. When a muck doesn’t get growth points, its size reverts at the rate of one template per day. Capable of massive suction, striking these with a weapon can disarm you, and whenever th muck hits a target with a slam attack, the target must save or be affected by one of 6 effects from the mutative muck’s weirdification table. As hinted at before, consuming these mucks has mutative properties.

So that is the base-chassis of the creature. There are no less than 5 different mutative muck subtypes included, all with their own consume-effects and weirdification tables. Two of these tie in with Everyman Gaming’s phenomenal Microsized Adventures – gigantifying grimes and microsizing mires can modify the creature’s size – and the weirdification effects? They’re awesome! The Gigantifying Grime’s table, for example, include having the head swell to an impossible size, making the target count as one size category larger for purposes when you need to squeeze. What about thickening and elongating, which imposes a penalty to AC and the sickened condition. What about having arms shrink to the size of stubs? Yeah, these are fun. When you encounter a polymorphic pollution, you risk having your head transform into that of an animal or vermin – with the corresponding Intelligence! And yep, you can end up being mindless! You could also potentially lose a pair of locomotive limbs!

Regression Wretch makes you younger, and can feeblemind you, turn you into an infant, etc. – while withering wretch is the other side of the coin, potentially aging you! And yeah, this, obviously, can be used in conjunction with the age-modifying rules from Childhood Adventures, but, it works perfectly fine without access to that book.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has two nice artworks in full color. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Matt Morris delivers something genuinely fun here: These mucks go one step beyond what you usually see in creatures, not by power, but by narrative potential. In fact, they reminded me of why I really enjoy some of the far-out OSR-books, and why I go through the hassle of converting as much material as I do. You see, there are a couple of supplements out there, which, in tone, and rules, just jumpstart your imagination – and the mutative mucks are just that. The growth engine alone can allow you to make the classic “Blob from outer space/Wizard’s lab”-storylines; add to that their properties, and you have reasons for PCs to seek them out. Heck, add the unique effects of the subtypes of muck, and you have a plethora of cool adventure hooks just waiting to happen. This is a cool premium-critter pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Mutative Mucks
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Monstrous Lair #25: Scrags' Sunken Cave
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2019 06:41:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

The outside of the caverns of scrags hints at foul proceedings: Rotten fish bones, discarded legs among weeds, half-eaten and then thrown away, macabre fish-head decorations and broken masts used as bridges over slimy ponds – this carries a sense of ickiness, of primal savagery and wrongness I enjoyed…you certainly won’t expect something civilized after this! As for what the scrag may be doing when the PCs invade – they actually are primitive, as expected, but more distinct than I expected: Scarping fat off a porpoise’s corpse? Wedging fishbones in wall prior to coloring them, urinating over a pile of bones while chuckling? Granted, the latter is a bit generic, as is using a femur bone to clean teeth, but it fits. The major lair features include slain fishes with bite marks, crude murals, rusted anchors and discarded nettings…and what about a rowboat containing clothes and weaponry, swarming with insects? The minor lair features table sports deep tracks in the sand, claw marks marring soft sandstone, nervously clucking chicken and anchor used as traps or to hang victims.

As for the scrag’s appearance, we have seal-skin armor, anchor-wielding, wearing the skin of an octopus, barnacles and corals making a weird living armor and more – some creative entries here! The treasure table sports a lavish crown that may turn to dust when exposed to air for too long, a strange dagger that has “Embrace the siren’s call” engraved and treasure boxes of mahogany, wrapped in plain black flags. As for the things that may litter the scrag’s abode, we have pirate’s tri-cornes, tiny ships in bottles, broken figureheads and once resplendent coins, fused with seaweeds, barnacles and similar signs of uncivilized neglect.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Huh. Steve Hood surprised me. I did not expect to see scrags covered in this series. Notoriously underutilized and not exactly blessed with a ton of supplements to distinguish them, this dressing file does an admirable job of setting the scrag apart: Uncivilized and savage, brutal and with just enough smarts for malignant thought, this pdf encapsulates them as distinct better than I thought it would, setting it clearly apart from e.g. the sahuagin installment. All in all, a good offering, well worth 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #25: Scrags' Sunken Cave
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Monstrous Lair #22: Sahuagins' Sunken Cave
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 03/18/2019 06:40:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Monstrous Lairs-pdfs clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

In contrast to the often-depicted, sprawling sunken cities of dread sahuagin, we take a more savage approach here – as the pdf immediately makes clear, when bodies wrapped and weighed down by heavy chains, sway in the waters. Shattered ships, immense whale ribcages and “undulating dystopian” forests of seaweeds stretch to the surface – pretty poetic and cool! As for what’s going on, we have sahuagin teasing large eels, prisoners dragged below from bubble cages and the feeding of sharks – pretty evocative! As for notable features, we have gaping jawbones at the entrance, barnacle-covered statues and shoals of tiny fish and crabs dining on the remains of the vanquished. Minor features of these caves can include diamond-shaped lattices taken from ship’s windows, strategically-placed sharp corals and dull ship’s bells used as impromptu warning signs.

Individual sahuagin may sport patterns drawn to mimic seaweeds, breastplates of bones, using manta-ray skin as a kind of cloak/punching-dagger combo or trophies of elven hair…remember the history of conflict with sea elves, and the propensity for the presence of the like being here. The treasures featured include shark-shaped anti-dream-catchers that bring nightmares, fossilized megalodon teeth and barracuda-skulls turned into weird ceremonial items. The trinkets include jars of rotten food that can taint the water with clouds of muck, shark-tooth necklaces that can scratch the skin, releasing blood into the water, and strange orange anemone skins containing air for the unfortunate captives.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Steve Hood delivers in spades here – the sahuagin dressing is well-written, breathes creativity and inspires with its dressing. This is a great example of what the series can achieve. Inspired, fun and creative, this gets 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #22: Sahuagins' Sunken Cave
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