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Memento Mori / Memento Vivere
Publisher: Wyrd Valley Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/25/2021 12:29:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Not counting the introductions, this book contains 120 pages of content, but I need to preface that from the get-go with a statement, namely that this is a VERY dense book; with a different layout, this could easily have been 240 pages, or even more, so the length here seems almost deceptive in a good way. And yes, before you ask, in spite of this density, the book does not feel cluttered.

This book was moved up in my reviewing queue due to being requested by my supporters, and due to receiving a print copy. I have consulted both the print and electronic version; for more details on the print version, please consult the section where I discuss the formal criteria in the conclusion of the review.

I’d like to ask you to read the entire review. This book tries to be a (not really) system agnostic (campaign) setting, mega-adventure, plus supplemental class options and rules-lite system.

So, before we start, I should note that this book has a hard standing with me; a very hard one indeed: When the pitch is to combine Albert Camus’ hope with Kafka’s futility and estrangement, and a sprinkling of Lovecraftian paranoia, my response is an owl-jpg that says “O RLY?” Camus’ writing has been a source of strength over the years for me, and I’d be hard-pressed to quote an author with whom (and with whose writing) I empathize as much as Kafka. Heck, I’ve even read all of Kafka’s letters and fragments. And there are a lot of those. I actually quote Kafka in my daily life. Yes, I’m that pretentious a prick, but what’s new? ;P

Anyhow, secondly, the book hits another angle that send me into the “Oh noes”-territory, namely that it is “system agnostic” in a way, but thankfully not really. I have no issue with flavor-centric books refraining from conforming to systems, but for rules-heavy stuff, adventures…well.

You see, all too often, “system agnostic” translates to “I want maximum market penetration without the hassle of having to actually learn a roleplaying game system in detail, much less its terminology or math.”

The resulting system agnostic books, for the most part, don’t properly work in ANY system; they creak and groan like rusty cogs in an otherwise pristine clockwork. When a book is made for a system, one can learn the system, its power-levels/assumptions, and convert accordingly; without a frame of reference, it becomes hard to decide what power-level something is supposed to have. Ever asked yourself why there are so many low-level OSR-modules, and almost no high-level options? That’s one reason. A character of level 1 in OSE, LotFP, OSRIC and For Gold & Glory character might have similar options, but those start to fall apart fast at higher levels, when utility spells, battle spells for AoE damage, cohorts and options come into the fray, not to speak of the assumed frequency of magic items and their potency. At higher levels, one has to account for all those pesky things like teleportation (easier in some systems than other), flight (ditto), etc. So just claiming to be no specific rules set ends up being inconvenient, and often an excuse to not engage with the design of a system and its assumptions. At higher power-levels, this seemingly unifying design core among old-school systems starts wearing thin like a wet tissue, and the issue is exacerbated when a book also tries to cater to the D&D 5e crowd, where even a 3rd-level character can vastly outperform pretty much anything in the old-school arena. So yeah, system agnostic makes all my alarm-bells go off.

Except…this book is not really system agnostic. Instead, it provides its own rules lite alternative system in the back, and otherwise uses D&D 5e as its default frame of reference. Essentially, this means that spells, magic items, etc. are provided in a way that is almost D&D 5e; there are a few annoying differences, for example that “checks” are referenced as “tests” instead, and that three letter ability score abbreviations are used in sections of the text where the ability scores should be fully written out, a hyphen missing, that sort of thing. It bothers me, but I’m OCD, so unless you’re similarly inclined, there’s a chance you might not even notice it. As a whole, though, this actually does a better job conforming to 5e’s design paradigms than MANY supplements that have the gall of calling themselves 5e. (cough tons of horrid dual-system offerings and sloppy conversions /cough) Now, personally, it frustrates me that the team didn’t simply go the last step; implement proper 5e-nomenclature throughout, without these minor deviations, and make that the standard. It feels like deviation for deviation’s sake to me. On the plus side, the per se pretty stringent adherence to 5e’s paradigms also means that this DOES have a frame of reference, power-levels, etc. that you’re probably familiar with, and this in turn means that it’s easier to adapt to your respective system. This is a good thing indeed.

Moreover, the book includes a 4-page system, which, for a certain demographic, might well be a great reason to get this, namely the “Memento Ludere” rules light system.

Memento Ludere is essentially D&D 5e, boiled down to its essential core; the game retains the 6-ability-score paradigm, proficiency bonuses, resistances and vulnerabilities, advantage and disadvantage, etc. There are plenty of differences here, though. Damage inflicted has been streamlined, there are two classes, and the rules for this system (as opposed to the spells featured earlier in the book) do not differentiate between damage types. Similarly, bonus actions are rare and reactions are eliminated. There are some further streamlining procedures, such as item slots replacing weight-based encumbrance, HD being always d8s, and e.g. the exhaustion system being altered to be simpler. (I do love the 6-step condition mechanic, but if you wanted simpler, which you probably do when contemplating this system, then you’ll like it!)

There are a couple alterations herein that I very much enjoyed and deem worth commenting on, as they represent some factors I’ve been houseruling myself, if from the other side of the rules-aisle, so seeing rules-lite takes on these issues was enjoyable: The system offers a more differentiated approach to drowning/holding your breath; while I have my own system for that (published in the Survivalist’s Guide to Spelunking), I went the other way to tackle the issue that I did not enjoy the default system offered by 5e.

Memento Ludere provides a pretty harsh, but simple and sensible system, whereas I went for a more complex angle that allows for the creation of Breath-based puzzle dungeons. Very much appreciated seeing the other side of the design-paradigm approach here. Where we conform, it seems, is with the death and dying rules, as Memento Ludere dispenses of the death saving throw in favor of a harsher, more old school system; I appreciate that. Similarly, I appreciate that the system, in spite of its brevity, actually escalates falling damage beyond a linear progression of d6s; personally, I use an injury-system and an even steeper increase, but for a rules lite system, I was more than pleasantly surprised to see this. Fans of Maze Rats and Knave will also appreciate the spellcasting system, which lets you keep casting a spell until you fail your spell test, so the one-line spells presented can be used more often.

The system, as a whole, works exceedingly well. It requires pretty much no explanation to players familiar with the basics of D&D 5e, plays fast, and retains a degree of complexity and progression I appreciate. It’s precise, considerate and well-wrought. It certainly is significantly better than many an old-school hack I’ve covered, and leagues beyond half-baked attempts at blending OSR and 5e gaming. If you ever wanted a stripped down, easy 5e-version, then these few pages may already warrant the asking price.

Now, personally, I tend to gravitate to the other end of the rules-density spectrum, to the one where I like adding rather than subtracting options and complexity from D&D 5e to increase the number of things I can do, so I was rather happy to notice that the book, as a whole, was written with D&D 5e as a frame of reference, and this system as a secondary option for the ultra-rules-lite OSR-fans out there.

I consider this system’s presence in the book to be a win-win situation.

Now, while we’re on the subject of rules-relevant components, let’s take stock of the other components in the book that fall under that umbrella term. The book includes 4 well-wrought backgrounds (collector, dredger, oathbinder, gravekeeper), which each include an extra d8 table to roll for customizations (collectors can randomize which divinatory method they’re interested in, oathbinders their profession); these are all 4 really cool and evocative, and rules-wise, I have but one nitpick: Swim is not a skill; it’s just a subset of Athletics. That being said “Athletics checks made to swim” probably wouldn’t have fit in, since all 4 backgrounds are on a two-page spread. Similarly, all spells and magic items are on their own two-page spreads. The spells feature a couple of cosmetic deviations from standard formatting (hyphens, plane names not title case’d, that sort of thing), but otherwise work and fall into an interesting design-space, with exorcism as a 3rd-level spells, or the 1st-level parrot-blather, which forces the target to loudly speak what you think. See Dead People also got a chuckle out of me and sending an item into the immediate future via time stutter is also interesting. In short: the spells deal with creative and suitable things, instead of just presenting MOAR damage options. Creating a dome of telekinetically held together objects also made me smile. (Yes, the team obviously knows and enjoys Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell; there are several subtle and less subtle hints to that extent in the book.)

The magic item section provided is similarly strong, and contains familiar ashes, magical death shrouds, and what about that bell that lets ghosts attempt to shake off Overwhelming madness? Wait. Madness? Yep. Take a look at that character sheet included in the book. Before all the super-sensitive people start sharpening their knives and holding out torches and pitchforks: This book does not overgeneralize, nor does it treat mental illness in a disrespectful manner. It has that by now arbitrary “please don’t be offended”-caveat. Madness herein is actually a kind of psycho-spiritual altered state prompted by exposure to the supernatural, and while most beings have 0 MP (Madness Points), adventurers all start with 1. (Which makes sense, if you think about it. Also, cue in the Nietzsche quote, dancing stars and all that.) When you attain a MP, you roll 1d20, and try to beat your current MP. On a success, nothing happens; on a failure, you are overwhelmed by madness and roll on a d6 table that includes fainting, fight, flight, fugue state…you get the drift. You can reduce MP by 1d6 for every week spent in a safe, civilized environment, doing things that are not murderhoboing or confronting eldritch abominations. There is more to the system. If you have 1 MP, you also have a Psyche value, which is the combined total of Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma modifiers, minimum 1.  You can reduce your psyche by 1 to add 1d6 on a d20 roll, or to avoid being Overwhelmed by Madness, and you regain 1 psyche after a night’s rest (should be long rest), or 1d6 psyche per day spent in safe, not blood-soaked adventuring locales.

Each character also has a paroxysm, which is rolled secretly by the GM. Once a character’s MPs rise above 10 + maximum Psyche, the character Succumbs to Madness, unlocks the paroxysm, and resets MP to 1. Why did I use “unlock”? because a paroxysm is a two-edged sword: While they do come with hefty drawbacks, they also feature significant bonuses. These are paid for with Psyche. I very much enjoy this system. It’s fast, easy to use, and it rewards the players for roleplaying their characters. Oh, and once a paroxysm is unlocked, you roll 1d12 when Overwhelmed instead; on 7-12, the paroxysm’s respective overwhelm effect, the drawback, is triggered.

Then, there is this 1-page series of questions that every player should be able to answer…they’re all about when they died. Last thoughts, etc. For after that, they get to play the ghosts. Yep. Ghosts. And yes, I just flashed back to Ghostwalk as well, which I very much liked in theory, if not particularly in its “death is just the name for your gestalt-switch”-execution. Ghosts in this book play differently; they don’t heal as usual, and instead are very much governed by the stroke of Midnight, when they roll all HD, sans modifiers. That is the ghost’s HP maximum for the day. Yes, this means that there will be days when ghosts are rather vulnerable… The ghost rules take properties such as ghost touch into account on one hand, and on the other also cover folklore like lines of salt. Resurrecting and changing between being a ghost and alive is also not as casual or meaningless as in Ghostwalk, which is a good thing: Ghosts often have trouble remembering things from their life, and vice versa; and yes, this includes XP loss. I am very much in favor of this approach, as it discourages trivializing death. Ghosts do have more use for psyche, btw.: Ghost powers, some of which may also be powered by HD! Oh, and you can be a fashionista extraordinaire! What do I mean by that? Manikins! Ghosts can possess special manikin bodies, with 3 samples provided. AWESOME!

The book also features a brief bestiary and some massive tables of flavor only NPC-descriptions for your convenience. The critter math is solid, and the design is nice, but once more I found myself wondering why the book elected to almost hit 5e’s style. Anyhow, the coolest critter from a design-perspective would be an undead cat, whose potency relies on how many lives it has left

So, yeah…ghost characters, manikins, rules for psyche, items etc…all, aesthetics-wise, very interesting, and all pointing towards that kind of fantastic/occult weirdness I am fond of, so let us talk about the (campaign) setting, which does cover roughly the first 40 pages of the book.

Adrift in the sea of souls lies the isle of Anon, a transitory place, locked from the great wheel, and as such, we do get proper planar traits; the isle is surrounded by aforementioned sea and mists…yep, mists that steal your identity. Fans of Ravenloft and Silent Hill, such as yours truly, definitely appreciate this. Additionally, another analogue would be that the book acknowledges the anachronisms that made Ravenloft’s 3.X iteration the best in the setting’s history. (Srsly, if you like Ravenloft, get Arthaus’ books; their rules suck, but the flavor is the best Ravenloft has ever been.) Anyhow, Anon is, in some ways, closer to Renaissance aesthetics than to the early modern period that most settings assumed, which is also represented in the second isometric map included here: The isle of Anon gets one such map, and the city of Vestige gets the second one;  Anon has a square grid, but no distance-indicator on the map; vestige has no grid or distance indicator, but the architecture is genuinely interesting, providing a blend of age of sail aesthetics with classic Gothic architecture; picture a blend of age of sail and Bloodborne’s style, if you will.

Beyond these locales, the book also touches upon interesting concepts, such as obols: The true currency of Anon, these are items infused with meaning, with memories. Lightning that strikes the beaches of Anon can create Geistglass, a substance that can capture, in a way, the spirits of defeated ghosts (which otherwise reform), becoming soulstones, which are essentially one-use spells…but using them, ultimately, allows the ghost to reform. This duality alone is narrative gold. Of course, where a concept like obols is introduced, an 88-entry table of weird objects? Definitely appreciated!

Indeed, the book does make good use of its pages: Even on artwork pages for chapter-intros, we e.g., have lists of dressing. The city of Vestige is presented by district, teaching us about e.g., the docks, notable places (which include a huge shipwreck inhabited by fancy goblins), and yes, there are more posh neighborhoods, a mage academy, etc. Factions are also included, like the sellsword Order of Andras, which reminded me somewhat of a less malign take on a “Council of Owls” mythology. The factions also include the order of Yog-Sothoth, which is the one thing here that made me groan briefly; the Old Ones are just so…done to death. That being said, choosing a more esoteric one and tying the entity to will-o’-the-wisps was a smart call, and recontextualizing the Great Old One as kind of neutral was a smart call and can be considered to be a clever twist. And yes, there is a catacomb/graveyard district. Bear in mine that there are tons of supplemental tables for these locales. Curiously, btw., it is also in this section where playable skeletons as a kind of race are included; this section should probably have been in the character options section, not in the middle of the city write-up.

Oh, and there is the Wall. The wall between the living and the dead, that the dead constantly build, and that constantly sinks. A perfect pretense for an eternal dungeon crawl, and an atmospheric one to boot. (Also, of course, has that nifty Kafkaesque angle…); beyond that, we have fey; we have caravans of strange nomads, and he have the neverborn isles, which could be likened to a gothic twist on Peter Pan or Lord of the Flies; far enough away to be interesting, defined enough to inspire, and free enough to add the degree of grit and darkness, or whimsy and hope, that you desire. Did I mention the Blood Swamp?

Oh, but all of that seems so quaint to you? You and yours desire something more extravagant, more outré? Well, beyond the descent lies a place/faction opposed to the ferrymen Vestibul, a strange graveyard of empires, bureaucratic not-quite-there quasi-real place/faction/force of nature (??), a distorted reflection of Anon…and here, in the delightful place known as Flesh Row (and some others, if you so choose), is the Descent, which leads to The Other Side.

The Other Side is where the Kafka angle comes fully to the fore: A bureaucratic hell of random department generators and random rooms that makes “Das Schloss” almost seem sensible by comparison. Suffice to say, I loved it and would have loved the massive generators here to be expanded further.

The book also includes a 30-page adventure “Escape from Ghost island”; the module “only” covers 30 pages, but oh boy, is this one massive beast. The module starts off with a flow-chart of most likely events, and actually features a pretty broad array of development notes/trouble shooting. What it does not do, is specify an expected level-range, at least not in the book; the back cover mentions 5th level. Of course, the special nature of Anon does mean that the deaths of the party are…well…less of an issue, but difficulty-wise, I’d definitely recommend this for mid- to high-tier parties, and 5th level might be a bit low, as the module can be quite brutal. Then again, repercussions for failure are more ephemeral here.

The module does not feature read-aloud text in the traditional sense but does feature read-aloud text for key NPC interactions; nor does it include player-friendly iterations for the maps featured inside. The adventure is complex, has a lot of moving parts and some serious intrigue going on; that it managed to fit its massive content into 30 pages is impressive. That being said, the rudimentary synopsis is all but useless for the GM, and with the amount of moving parts, the adventure is clearly geared towards experienced groups; both regarding GM and players. On the huge plus side, the adventure does not have simply win/fail-states, often allowing, design-wise, for degrees of success of alternate paths. It also focuses very much on not simply requiring high rolls. Considering the potency and massive hit point pools of several creatures herein, the focus on roleplaying and problem-solving as opposed to just hack-n-slash is commendable. Oh, and yes, riddles included.

So, at one point, I was attempting to summarize the adventure in a way that does justice to it, but ultimately, I found myself in a position as a reviewer, where I kept writing and realized that this would further increase the already massive length of the review to all-time lengths.

Instead, let me try to first be a bit more opaque: The module begins with the arrival of the party on Anon, including a rather hilarious introduction to the Kafkaesque aspects of the setting featuring a semantic discourse on the intent of the word “and” in “Voluntary Registration and Arrival Tax.” That’s pretty much scene #1, and it’s less than a third of one page, including the adventure hooks. Soon after that, the party is introduced to Dr. Judas Lynch, multiverse famous escape artist, and his lady Miss Magnolia Strange (Strange and Norrell nod, obviously), witness the Houdini-like prowess of the man, and also are introduced, via séance and dialogue, to some of the key concepts. If you’re like me and into classic weird/strange fiction, then this entire section alone has sold you already. Fully realized and printed songs, GM guidelines etc. abound, and the module manages to cram so much more into it. Genre-wise, this heart-warming setting of the stage gets the characters involved in the fates of Dr. Judas and Ms. Magnolia, introduces them to Anon and Vestige…and represents the beginning of an adventure of a density I have not encountered since covering the fantastic Zeitgeist saga.

The following contains broad-strokes SPOILERS for the module; not for how it progresses, but for key components of the plot. If you’re a player, do yourself a favor and jump ahead to the conclusion. I will draw back the Veil (haha) on some structural elements that you DO NOT WANT SPOILED.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Dr. Judas is a legend; super powerful, kind, a hero; his dialogue is inspiring, and both he and Ms. Magnolia would reek of Gary Stu/Mary Sue syndrome, were they not so damn likable. And were there not the fact that Dr. Judas is fated to die. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves: The party soon runs afoul of a legendary killer, the possessing ghost known as Guignol (nice!), and if they don’t take heed, the authorities might attempt to pin the deed on them; worse, Dr. Judas’ expertise threatens to shift the precarious balance in Vestige, as he has found a way to more easily breach the veil between life and death. Indeed, perhaps the most impressive achievement in the early parts of the module would be that it sells a) the party being captured, b) Judas helping to free them and c) Judas inevitably dying in the process (OR immediately thereafter) in a way that does not feel railroaded. It is one of the best instances of a scripted sequence I’ve seen in a while.

Following this tragedy and some regrouping, a séance with Ms. Magnolia yields no results; Dr. Judas is not in the afterlife, which sends the party to the spirit world with a hilarious roleplaying challenge of sorts, the Dumb Supper ritual, but all of that is only the beginning, as the module gets stranger, more fantastic, and interesting…including a trip into the mind/soul refuge of Dr. Judas (which includes, among other things, a chess puzzle, including tons of troubleshooting); the module also features a Chambers-reference and one to the Persona series (if the dungeon concept wasn’t clue enough) that include the Reaper. And yeah, like in Persona, fighting it is…well. Not smart. Oh, and, of course, the party will need to deal with the bureaucracy. All this against the backdrop of a massive conspiracy that you can easily expand.

The ending of the module is bittersweet and comes full circle to the convictions of the lovable pair; in many ways, it managed to be one of the most touching experiences when it comes to the fates of NPCs in a pen and paper roleplaying game that I have encountered so far.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good; certainly better than what I expected to get from a freshman offering. On a rules-language level, I was consistently appalled by the module’s insistence to almost adhere to full 5e-standards, but not quite. Most people probably won’t mind, but to me, as a person, these admittedly internally consistent deviations seemed just so unnecessary. Whenever I saw a weapon not noting its physical damage type, whenever I saw not average damage value in the otherwise solid statblocks, something in me winced. But that’s probably just me, and most people will not mind. Layout usually adheres to one- or two-column standard for the setting etc., depending on how they could cram in the most information, and to a 3-column standard in the adventure section; either way, the book manages to sport a ridiculous amount of content for its page-count. The artwork deserves special mention: Artists are individually credited, and photos/pictures altered to fit the setting; the style is surprisingly consistent, stylish b/w, and the effect really worked for me. This is a surprisingly atmospheric book. The cartography is a weak spot: While the isometric pieces are solid, that's one aspect that needed a bit more oomph; player-friendly versions of the maps would have been great; as would have been scales for the larger ones...just so one has a better at-one-glance grasp. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks (YAY!), and the print version deserves special mention.

We get a perfect-bound softcover, yes, but it is one of the most durable ones I’ve seen. The book withstands use surprisingly well, sports THICK, quality paper, and sports its name on the spine. I was pleasantly surprised by its quality.

This is the first design by Wayne Canepa that I’ve seen since the Liber Influxus Communis days and the solid player’s guide for a series of adventures that never happened. It’s certainly the first massive book he’s written as the sole author. Now, the producers of this RPG are actually real life entertainers and performers (link below), and I have to commend them for being Patrons in the best sense of the word. Now, I did not notice the website-link in the credits before I read this book, and I did have the impression that there is some self-insertion going on with these two characters. However, I actually didn’t mind. I ENJOYED that aspect, because they are LIKABLE and because the player characters remain the stars of the show, the ones who actually adventure, and not just bystanders. This degree of self-restraint for patrons is something one doesn’t see that often; as a negative example, I just have to point at a certain, utterly obnoxious character in the Kingmaker CRPG. You all know who I’m talking about.

So yeah, huge kudos to these two people for having this book made.

Now, as you all know, and as you all have read me rant about above, the system agnostic almost 5e-angle irks me to no end as a person. Oh, and Ghostwalk set a pretty big and not too great precedent.

But in spite of that, I utterly adored this book.

Wayne Canepa’s vision here is one that makes an excellent case for roleplaying games as tools for the concept of Bildung in the sense of the Bildungsroman; as a tool for self-improvement in a lifelong quest of becoming a better self, and, one could make the case in this instance, as a tool to work through grief.

The setting presented here is one of macabre beauty; it is one that does feature despair, and death and madness, yes; but it similarly manages to be absurd, grotesque, and yes, funny. And, also thanks to the characters and writing, one that is genuinely heart-warming.

This book succeeded in touching the soot-black cynical coal that substitutes for my heart on workdays and days starting with “S” and left me genuinely touched at the end of the adventure. It left me wanting more, in the best of ways.

Now, in real life, I’m as diehard an atheist as you’ll likely find, but that doesn’t mean I can’t and don’t genuinely adore the vision presented here, because, in a way, every aspect of this setting, and I mean each and every one of them, could be read in a metaphorical manner. I could probably write another 10 pages of text on potential analysis for each aspect of them book and what they can signify, but for most of you, that’d be boring pontificating.

Instead, how about this:

One of the greatest joys for me as a reviewer, has always been to find books and showcase material that would be drowned out in the torrent of constant releases. Most significantly, when I managed to find an author, a designer, who created something special, something oozing heart’s blood…and, in very rare cases, perhaps something with genuine artistic value, one of those rare gems that no longer are just gaming books, but that can genuinely be considered to be art.

Not “art-punk”; I’m not talking just aesthetics here; I am talking about content. I am talking about genuine, humanist value. Not since Julian Barnes’ seminal “Nothing to be Frightened of” have I encountered a book on the subject of death that managed to impress me to this extent, and herein, it’s the very medium of roleplaying games, of interactivity, that makes it work. This book is not trying to be literature, to beat Camus or Kafka, because it can’t; but what it does do, is take those concepts, that atmosphere, and transport it into the frame of our elf-games. It does not try to shroud this goofiness; it does not try to be grimdark or bleak.

In these times, most of us have lost someone. A pandemic still rages outside, and people are divided along an ever-increasing array of lines in the sand, with discourse becoming ever more difficult. Online hate rages, and the lynch mobs of today scour social media for the next target to de-person and destroy. The economy is looking less than promising. This can be a bleak age; it’s easy to fall prey to only seeing things falling apart. Or that’s just my morbid disposition.

And yet.

This book constantly tells us, in all aspects, “Memento Mori—Remember that you must die”…

…but it also tells us “Memento Vivere—Remember to live.” And it performs those leitmotifs.

Again and again.

A wakeup call to live, to not just be defined by death and finality, but to embrace this ephemeral existence, for we only get this one life.

It’s exhilarating. Touching. And, depending on your state of mind, it can be a profound experience.

Or, you know, it can “just” be a genuinely novel, fantastic, well-crafted setting and adventure to just have fun with, to enjoy with the people you hold dear. Which we all should do, while we can.

Rating? 5 stars, seal of approval, best of-tag; if I currently had the time for a Top ten list, this’d be a contender. I’ll give it my EZG Essentials-tag instead.

I hope you check out this book and love it as much as I did.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Memento Mori / Memento Vivere
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Files for Everybody: Mephians
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/22/2021 13:44:04

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the „Files for Everybody“-series clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction (which also features advice on using them and some info on their musk in a sidebar), 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my supporters.

So, mephians…it’s one of the rather interesting anthro races/ancestries introduced by Everybody Games for various systems, and it was always one near and dear to my heart (cue tons of bad Lacrimosa goth in-jokes); much like in previous treatments of such ancestries for e.g. the yroometji, the mephians in this installment receive quite a lot of rather interesting options and flavor.

Now, I know that you may be already familiar with this, but it’s important and something I very much feel like I need to address it: The mephian-treatment herein does feature not only a significant amount of rules-relevant material, the pdf also spends some space to actually contextualize the ancestry, explaining, for example, life cycle and physiology, but also providing a glimpse at the culture, which includes notes on architecture, cuisine, relationship with other species, etc. Their language is also touched upon, just fyi. I won’t ever tire of mentioning how important that sort of thing is to me. This information is what sets apart a different set of numbers for a weird-looking human and a genuinely plausible different species.

So yeah, as far as I’m concerned, this should be standard throughout the industry, regardless of system. Of course, the pdf also includes the “If you are a mephian…” and “Others will likely…”-sections. Rules-wise, the core ancestry provides 10 HP, 25 ft. speed, Medium size, a nonlethal tail slap attack for 1d6 bludgeoning damage, and the ability to secrete musk. This is a one-.action ability, usable once per hour, that has the poison trait. If your next action is a tail slap and hits, the enemy must make a Fortitude save, becoming sickened 1 on a failed save, sickened 2 on a critical failure, and trying to detect the target who failed the save via scent makes the sense one step more precise. On a critical failure, the sickened condition value can’t be reduced for a certain period. Okay, this alone already changes how mephians play when contrasted to other ancestries…which is a good thing.

Ethnicities are included in the discussion of the species as well, and in an interesting and applaudable decision, do NOT correlate with the heritages you get to choose from; a total of 10 heritages are provided. Artisans are trained in Craft and receive Specialty Crafting, and add the feat’s circumstance bonus to checks to Earn Income with Crafting. Atheist mephians get a +1 status bonus to AC and saves vs. divine spells and abilities, plus resistance equal to ½ level against damage from divine spells and abilities. Communal mephians choose a multiclass dedication feat for a class other than theirs, even if they don’t meet the level prerequisite. Other prerequisites must still be met. Empath mephians learn the attitude of targets when they (critically) succeed Sense Motive and become expert in Perception. Honeyfurs get Toughness, and the DC of recovery checks is 8 + dying value. Ironbellies get a +1 circumstance bonus to Fortitude saves vs. ingested poisons and effects that cause the sickened condition. They also can recover more easily from being sickened, Muskwallows get 3 additional musk uses per hour, stacking with other increases. Sojourners get Additional Lore, choose two subcategories and get two additional skill increases at indicated levels that must be applied to the chosen categories. Traditionalists get a 1st-level ancestry feat, and weldbond mephians get a primal cantrip as an innate spell at will, with heightening of up to ½ your level.

Eleven 1st-level ancestry feats are provided, and the benefits include a +4 circumstance bonus on checks to Aid, using Diplomacy instead of Perception to Sense Motive due to your empathy, gaining imprecise scent, and using your tail in a quasi shield-like manner, with the one-action option to raise it; the balancing caveat here is that, if your tail gets disabled by excess damage, you can’t raise it or secrete musk until you’ve been the recipient of Treat Wounds. Speaking of musk: More uses are available, and if you buy into the sequence, you can get rid of the cooldown frequency. Suffice to say, you can make acid -based musk pitch Strikes. The tail-focus can be further emphasized by unlocking weapon traits for it, or add one trait and increase base damage.

The 5th-level feats (4 total) include musk and tail slap Strike in one swoop, Mephian Unarmed Expertise (what it says on the tin), an upgrade to musk that renders targets flat-footed while they Retch (or regardless, on a critical failure), and Fume Musk lets you AoE musk as two actions. Three 9th-level feats further build on communal focus when using Aid, a new degree of success array for musk (that can theoretically maintain the stench for weeks!), and the option to potentially temporarily blind targets. 3 13th-level feats complement the array, with one having an erroneous prerequisite reference: That should be “Mephian Unarmed Expertise”, not “Mephian Unarmed Cunning” (the latter feat does not exist); the feats here include save DC increases, building on the tail slap potency, and a one-action Stance that makes the raised tail constant.

I generally enjoyed the array of options presented here; they are well in line of the default ancestries, and the tail/musk interplay does allow for potentially rather interesting playing experiences. As for the class options included, we do get a new alchemist research field (aromachologist), which is interwoven with perhaps my favorite component of this pdf, namely the introduction of a whole new type of alchemical items, namely perfumes, ranging in item levels from 1 to 20, with power per perfume available in 4 steps. Perfumes can be unstopped, or they can be thrown (different number of hands required!), and they can be offensive or defensive: Ill-Be-Gone Perfume, for example, in its most basic form helps against diseases and the sickened condition, but at increased potency, we’re looking at quickened, but only usable to Retch. Of course, we also have attitude enhancers, perfumes that stupefy targets…or what about a perfume that provides debuffs, but also resistances? 10 perfumes, all with 4 versions (and yes, they do have the Bomb trait), are included.

…I’m a bit of a dandy. I am inordinately fond of some perfumes, including ones featuring Oud. This is right up my alley, and mechanically, the flexibility inherent in the base item category also is something I enjoy. If this sounds cool to you and you want flexible buffing/debuffing/soft terrain control, then this will be right up your alley. And yes, wind-interaction etc. are included in the rules. With the muskologist archetype, mephians can lean into the cool perfume angle, and even learn to infuse alchemical perfumes in the mephian’s musk! Super cool.

While we’re talking about dandyism: The dandy rogue racket is cool: They gain the no-action ability to Showboat, which can add mental damage to Strikes based on your Charisma, and potentially Demoralize or Feint them, and two rogue feats build on that. Nice!  The guardian barbarian instinct is an interesting defensive-minded angle that makes sense within the culture, allowing you to take hits for allies in reach. Bards get four rather cool feats that build on inspire courage/defense and let you grant Sudden Charge, or reduce actions required. A healing song is also provided, with anti-abuse caveats. The final feats unlock the two bard composition focus spells included.

Oh, and guess what? Godless cleric? Yeah, check. If you’d rather be a humanist, someone who cares about connections with mortals…then this one delivers that as well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level and on a rules-language level; apart from a minor hiccup that doesn’t really affect rules integrity, this is one complex and creative operation.  Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the original piece of artwork is nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation comfortable and swift – kudos!

Okay, please give me a second for a bit of story time. At one point, I was very frustrated with uncommon ancestries/races; because they felt like a pile of lame bonuses (or excessive ones) jammed on top of what were essentially weird-looking humanoids that didn’t fit. The implementation, back then, tended to be either a) bland, b) overpowered, or c) both.

This stance has since then changed rather significantly, and a large reason would be Alexander Augunas’ design for ancestries/species/races. The author has consistently tackled species I did not like, heck, even ones I positively loathed, and breathed life into the. For Starfinder, he has written some of my absolute favorite playable species. For PF1, he has made vishkanya, wayang, nagaji, etc. unique & interesting, more than just an array of stats.

It should come as no surprise, then, that his ancestry-designs for PF2 have been absolutely inspired so far, and I don’t expect that to change any time soon. The flavor is glorious, and actually hits several things I’m inordinately fond of, from the godless cleric to the dandy, finally culminating in perfumes (Can I haz moar, plox?), this touches on concepts I adore.

From a design perspective, the supplement makes great use of PF2’s options and allows you to play a character that manages to deliver a playing experience that is distinct from the core ancestries. Now, at first glance, the perfumes do look a bit weird, but once you put the pieces together and get what they actually do, you’ll be smiling from ear to ear.

This is the best iteration of mephians so far, and it serves as a great benchmark for what ancestry-books for PF2 should deliver: Plausible flavor, unique stratagems, thematically-consistent options.

5 stars + seal of approval. Get this. And while you’re at it, all other ancestry-books in the line as well.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Files for Everybody: Mephians
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Files for Everybody: Arcana Feats
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/14/2021 10:39:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Files for Everybody-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review.

Okay, so in this installment, we deal with Arcana feats. The pdf features 2 skill feats for second level, 1 for fourth level, 4 for seventh level, and 2 feats for fifteenth level.

The first of the second level feats is Discern Arcane Creatures and lets you “Recall Information” (should be Recall Knowledge) about beasts, constructs or dragons. It’s, of course, properly tagged as secret. Expertise lets you choose a trait that’s associated with a skill you’re an expert in. When you encounter erroneous information about the chosen subject matter, you get a secret roll from the GM, with proper success/failure conditions noted. A handy table lists the respective material.

The level 4 feat Exploit Anatomy requires Expertise. Select one creature you can Recall Knowledge about them; if the chosen creature has an ancestry trait or creature trait you have chosen with Expertise, you treat their resistances or hardness by 2 for one minute; master rank enhances that to 4, legendary to 6.

The level 7 feats include Dragon Hunter. This feat reduces dragon-induced frightened condition value by 1 and nets a +1 circumstance bonus to saves; legendary increases the benefits to 2. Fuel Ritual requires master rank in Arcana, Occultism, or Religion. The feat enhances, bingo, rituals: When you’re the primary ritualist for a ritual with a spellcasting tradition associated with a master rank skill (Arcana, Occultism, Religion), you can expend a spell slot of a level equal to or higher than the ritual’s level to expedite the casting time of the ritual by 1d12 hours; if the spell-level expended is twice the ritual’s level, the reduction is 1d12 + 6 hours instead, but regardless, the ritual’s casting time can’t be reduced by more than half. The feat also properly presents rules for multi-days rituals.

Spell Connoisseur builds on Recognize Spell, and nets additional information, as well as some new pieces of information for critical successes, including additional components, metamagic, etc. The feat is per se nice, but I’m not sure I’d consider it worth a feat. I also don’t particularly like that the feat lets you potentially determine the language of verbal components.

Spellsense builds on Arcane Senses and nets you spellsense as a vague sense; illusion can only be detected with Seek, and in conjunction with detect magic you can notice lingering auras that were there within 24 hours, 30 days if you’re legendary. I like this one, but t does mean that the GM needs to consider quite a bunch.

The two 15th-level feats include Dragon Slayer, which builds on Exploit Anatomy and may be used as a reaction. When you use Exploit Anatomy against a dragon and have a success or critical success, you impose a status penalty on the dragon and it loses status bonuses to AC and saves, except those gained from spells. Also usable as a reaction would be Sabotage Construct, which follows a similar design-paradigm and can stun constructs and force them to take actions on your behalf, with the check required properly codified. However, there is a bit of confusion here: The feat seems to have once been called Override Construct, and one such reference is still here.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting is good on a formal and rules-language level; the glitches here and there aren’t significant. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks but needs none at this length.

Dustin Knight’s Arcana feats are interesting, if perhaps not world-shakers. For the low asking price, this is certainly worth checking out. That being said, I wasn’t really blown away by this one. I think this is worth 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price and in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Files for Everybody: Arcana Feats
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Path of the Wilds
Publisher: Ascension Games, LLC
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/05/2021 06:47:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book clocks in at 105 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of index and artist credits (nice!), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 96 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue due to me receiving a print copy of the book, and it was also requested by my supporters. The review is based on the 2nd printing-version, with the 1st-edition errata included, as I want to reward authors that care and improve their offerings and revise the actual books, instead of slapping an errata file in an obscure corner of the world wide web or in an extra file. An important note right away: This book really embraces PFRPG’s first edition, including the later hardcovers: This book does support material from Occult Adventures, Ultimate Intrigue, Ultimate Wilderness, etc.

Okay, so after a brief introduction, we dive into the 3 new base classes presented herein, the first being the elementer, who receives d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves and a custom proficiency list that includes simple weapons, glaive, starknife, greatswords, longbows and more; regarding armor, we have proficiency with light armor and shields (minus tower shields); as an arcane spellcaster who receives spells of up to 6th level, using Intelligence as a governing ability score and a spellbook; we have a prepared caster, with the spellbooks for preparation codified as those of the magus and wizard. Of course, light armor incurs no arcane spell failure. Regarding spells, the class uses, no surprise there, an elemental focus; as such, it properly defines elemental spells, which are properly classified in the custom spell-list of the class and codified in the class. 3rd level nets +1 damage per die rolled with elemental spells and spell twists; more on spell twists later.

The class uses an energy pool with a maximum equal to class level + Intelligence modifier (minimum 1), and starts the day with half that pool filled, rounded down. When the elementer casts an elemental spell of 1st level or higher, or uses a spell twist. They gain class level spells; as a standard action that does not provoke AoOs, they can sacrifice any number of prepared elemental spells, gaining half the amount of energy points of the total spell levels. These points cannot be gained while the character is in aegis form. Wait aegis form? Yeah, but we should first talk more about the spellcasting engine of this fellow, because it is surprisingly novel for a game as well-trod and broad as PFRPG.

You see, if you take a look at the spell lists, you’ll notice that, in spite of the class only getting spellcasting of up to 6th spell level, the spell list reaches 9th level. So how can that be? A nerf gone wrong? Nope. 6th level nets the fusion spell-like ability, which allows the elementer to chosoe a single element from the classic 4 western elements, with an additional element unlocked at 19th, 14th and 18th level. When preparing spells, spell slots may be fused to prepare a spell from that elemental category. The slots need to be combined, and require a higher value; to prepare a 2nd level spell using lower level spell slots requires 3 spell levels; an 8th level spell would cost a massive 15 spell levels; however, the ability only allows for the fusion of spells that the elementer can prepare.

Metamagic may not be applied, and the chosen element has a somewhat different array of rules: The curious reader will have noticed that the above caveat actually would prevent fusing spells of above 6th level, but the chosen elements adheres to different rules: The elementer can fuse spells of up half their class level, rounded down, of all the elements chosen

The spellcasting engine also offers quite a few unique offerings for the spellcasting engine, represented by an array of so-called spell twists, starting with 2 spell twists gained at 2nd level, and an additional one gained every three levels thereafter; these spell twists have associated elemental categories, and to use them, the elementer has to sacrifice a prepared spell of the associated element of 1st level or higher; spell twists with the “All” category are exempt from this restriction, but are the exception from the rule. A spell twist is a spell-like ability and used as a standard action, with a save DC of 10 + sacrificed spell slot’s level + intelligence modifier; the spell twists can be boosted, so if a spell level of a higher level than 1st is used, the effect tends to be better beyond the DC-increase implied by the formula: Increased damage, additional targets, etc. The spell twist array is btw. interesting: For water, we have, for example, the expected cold damage, but with the Drown spell twist also nonlethal damage + change of staggering on a failed save. Suffice to say, the ability is phrased in a precise manner and accounts for unbreathing or water-breathing targets. And yes, spells prepared in higher spell slots are accounted for. Now, this spontaneous spell-conversion into (usually) blasting/minor crowd control effects is per se neato, but actually comes with yet another interesting effect, namely that spell twists also grant energy pool points.

Let’s talk about the defenses of the class for a bit; 2nd level nets evasion, 12th level improved evasion, and 4th level nets a barrier consisting of an energy resistance pool that begins with a value of 10 and increases by another 10 every 3 levels thereafter, capping at 60; these may be freely assigned to the classic 4 energy damage types associated with the elements (acid, cold, electricity, fire) whenever the character prepares their spells. This class feature becomes more interesting at 9th level, where, whenever the elementer manages to negate energy damage (taking 0 damage due to resistance/immunity, or evasion), every 20 points of damage negated lets them regain 1 energy point. This does work while in aegis form, but we’re getting ahead of ourselves. 15th level increases the barrier’s effectiveness, granting immunity to damage types if at least 30 points are assigned in the barrier.

We already mentioned aegis. Yeah, elementers begin play with the ability to wrap themselves in elemental power as a swift action. Assuming aegis form costs one energy point, and the elementer gets an untyped (not a fan…why not codify these bonuses properly?) bonus on attack rolls, AC and CMD, and the elementer’s weapons count as magic for the purpose of overcoming DR; the bonuses increase at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter, capping at +6 at 17th level. In aegis form, the elementer cannot cast spells, use spell trigger or spell completion items, or gain points in the energy pool. Aegis can be ended as a free action and ends when energy points drop to 0; aegis can only be entered at the end of the character’s next turn, which is a clever cycling block. Smart design right there.

But there is another rather important unique ability, namely the supernatural ability Affinity, which is gained at 1st level; when the elementer prepares spells, they choose a single lesser affinity power, which can be accessed in aegis form only; at 6th, 11th and 16th level let the elementer choose a moderate, greater and master affinity power. These, however, are NOT simply available in aegis form; instead, moderate affinity power requires spending 2 energy points when entering aegis form AND that the character keeps spending these 2 points per round. Greater powers cost 4, and master powers require a cost of 6 points of consistent and initiation costs; and here the cycle-caveat comes into place, because the elementer MUST pay the costs or end the aegis. So, if you start a 4-point aegis to access greater affinity powers and below, you need to keep paying that, or end aegis and re-enter it at a lower cost, but minus access to the greater affinity power. As usually, affinity powers are categorized in the 4 classic elements, with save DCs, if applicable, at DC 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier. At 7th level, the elementer can, as a free action exchange affinity powers for a new array; usable 1/day, +1/day at 13th and 19th, but this exchange may only be used once per round, regardless of daily uses.

The lesser affinity powers generally grant scaling damage increases that stack with the associated elemental weapon special abilities; for example, the bonus fire damage added to your weapon with the searing heat lesser affinity power stack with flaming. The moderate powers tend to focus on movement and defense and include, for example, fly speed (which makes sense at the level it unlocks), miss chance versus ranged weapons, etc.; the greater affinity powers include defensive fire, temporary hit point armors, etc.; master affinity powers are auras and include noise-drowning winds, damaging churning ground etc. There is something I VERY much appreciate regarding these affinity powers: They reward focusing on elements, for every single affinity power has synergy effects that increase the potency of the powers when you choose to focus on a selection from one element. For example, the aforementioned temporary hit point armor granted by a moderate water affinity power, the temporary hit points start replenishing, and the replenishing hit points stack with themselves. The capstone lets half their elemental damage bypass resistances and immunities, excluding the elementer’s own, and elemental spells and spell twists that deal physical damage ignore all DR except DR/-.

The elementer, as a whole, is a class that thematically shouldn’t interest me; it’s a powerful elemental knight-type character who is really potent regarding nova-ing. HOWEVER, when you’re playing in a game where the GM can properly discourage nova-casting (not that hard, imo), it is one grand experience; the switch of modes between spell twists and aegis rewards oscillating roles; the class chassis makes sure that you still matter if you choose to nova, but don't actually WANT to nova, which is SMART; the degree of spellcasting flexibility and tweak of the classic system generate a surprisingly rewarding playstyle that works better than it looks on paper. This is a genuinely good elemental class; I wouldn’t recommend it for ultra-gritty games, but I do very much enjoy it. The design is certainly smooth, elegant, and as a whole, very well-considered. 

The second class would be the invokers, who gain d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armor and shields (excluding tower shields), full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves.  3rd level and every 6 levels thereafter net a bonus combat feat.

The class gets a spirit companion, who gains d6 HD, starting with 2 HD and increasing that up to 15 HD at 20th level; the spirit companion’s BAB adheres to a 3/4-progression, mirroring HD; good saves (Reflex and Will saves) scale up marginally better than for the phantom, kicking off at +3, and capping at +10; the bad save (Fort) cap at +5; the companion starts off at 12 skill ranks and 1 feat, increasing that up to 98 ranks and 8 feats; natural armor bonus +1 is gained at 2nd level, and scales up to +12; also at 2nd level, the companion gains a +1 bonus to Dexterity and Wisdom, scaling up to +8; AT 4th, 9th, 14th and 20th level, we have an ability score increase of +1. The spirit companion has low-light vision and gains spontaneous spellcasting governed by Wisdom of up to 4th spell level, using the custom invoker spell-list, with limited spells known. 5th level provides a spell slot that can be chosen from the invoker’s currently invoked spirits, even if the spell is not known to the companion. They can be metamagically enhanced. 7th level nets devotion, so the usual +4 morale bonus vs. enchantment spells and effects.

The spirit also starts play with the spell-like ability spirit blast, which it, as a standard action, can fire a close range ranged touch attack, and deals 1d6 damage per 2 HD of the spirit (so 1d6 at first level, since it starts off with 2 HD), and adds Wisdom modifier; the blast can’t be Vital Strike’d, but does count as a weapon for the purposes of feats; SR applies. Now, there is more to the spirit companion than this framework, but the rules for this are outsourced, since they apply to spirits in general; as a minor point of criticism, I think noting the respective unlocks of these global spirit rules in the spirit companion table as well would have been a rather helpful/convenient decision.

The spirit companion is, base-type-wise, a fey, and, as hinted at before, it, like all other spirits, are defined by the dominion and oath; dominions would be land, beasts, sea, etc., while oaths describe the role of the spirit companion in relation to that dominion. While we get a decent array of dominions, only three oaths are provided: Acolyte (spellcasting), guardian (tougher) and harbinger (more damage). Oaths grant minor power increases at 4th, 10th and 16th level, and the oath also influences the invoker’s 7th level ability, Avatar (Su), which is a merge of invoker and companion initiated as a full-round action. In this form, the invoker can cannibalize spell slots of the companion for spirit energy pool points, and also gains abilities based on the oath and dominion chosen. This form lasts for Charisma modifier minutes, until ended (swift action), or slain; it can be used 1/day, +1/day at 13th and 19th level. Which brings me to the bonuses of the guardian and harbinger, which irked me, to be frank. Why? The bonuses grant as spirit abilities and avatars benefits are…bingo.

Untyped bonuses all around. This is bothersome, considering that PFRPG ALREADY has ridiculous bonus-stacking going on, and untyped bonuses…well, personally, I’d need to type those all before allowing the class in my game. YMMV, but yeah. These should be typed. The dominions of the companion determine the damage type of the spirit blast, provide a 1st and 7th level ability, with additional effects for the avatar form and unlocked 13th and 19th level abilities. Land, for example, nets bludgeoning blasts, burrow speed 20 ft at first level for the companion, 7th level tremorsense 20 ft, and the avatar upgrades net burrow speed, tremorsense (both scaling) and acid resistance improving to immunity.

Okay, so the companion is a minor caster, pretty fragile, and can blast; now, what does the invoker themselves bring beyond the chassis? As noted before, we have a pool of spirit energy points, which is btw. ½ class level + Charisma modifier. The pool refreshes at the start of the day after 8 hours of rest. At first level, the invoker selects two spirits to bond with, and gains an additional one at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. One of the spirits chosen at first level must match the companion’s oath and dominion. These spirits grant spirit powers, and said powers are usually a standard action to activate and have a save DC of 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier; the chosen spirit’s spells are added to the invoker list, but do NOT automatically become known for the spirit companion.

The spirits are somewhat akin to Medium spirits, just in more flavorful: Alpha Protects the Weary Pack would be a guardian of beasts, who grants the spirit power Alpha’s Challenge (Su): When you hit a foe with a weapon attack, you can spend 1 spirit energy point as a free action for a challenge; the challenged target takes a -2 penalty to attack rolls against anyone except you; this increases by -2 at 5th, 11th and 17th level and lasts for Charisma modifier rounds (minimum 1) and may only be maintained versus one target; the spell array ranged from compel hostility to aspect of the wolf and mage’s faithful hound. Like medium spirits, we have lesser, intermediate, greater and grand abilities, dubbed invocations. Invocation saves, if any, are DC 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier. Lesser invocations are available starting at 2nd level, with 5th unlocking intermediate, 11th level unlocking greater, and 17th level unlocking grand invocations. To return to our spirit, we have Diehard and a lower to-die threshold as the lesser one; scaling bonuses when badly hurt (properly typed-YEAH!) as the intermediate one; more concurrent uses of alpha’s challenge and an immediate action interception movement when allies are attacked that is powered by spirit points (cool!), and the grand one nets fast healing 5, and halved damage when at 0 hp or less, including no staggering and immunity to harmful mind-affecting effects. See what I mean with more flavorful? Yeah, these spirits are cool.

5th level allows for the invocation of two spirits at once, with the secondary spirit’s invocation powers unlocking at 5th, 8th, 14th and 20th level, respectively. At 6th level, the invoker can invoke spirits multiple times per day, at the cost of 1 spirit energy per invoked spirit in a 1-hour ceremony. 12th level reduces this time-frame to 10 minutes, or at the cost of 2 spirit energy points per spirit as a swift action.

4th level nets mystic bond, a free action ability that lets the invoker sacrifice hit points to negate damage that would reduce the companion below 0 hp; tight design avoiding exploits here; additionally, the companion can cast spells with target “You”, “touch” etc. at range on the invoker as a full-round action, unless the spell has a longer casting time.  If the companion is slain, 10th level lets the invoker expend all spirit energy points to raise dead (resurrection at 16th level) the companion. Minor nitpick: Should have a minimum 1 caveat. 16th level nets telepathic communication with the companion within the companion’s link. 20th level unlocks ALL spirit powers, but spirits currently not selected cost twice as much spirit energy. The capstone also further enhances quick spirit switching and no longer has a cooldown for it.

I really like this class; a melee-class with mode gameplay and a fragile, minor caster companion makes for a compelling class; Multiple Ability Score Dependency does a pretty solid job of keeping the fellow in check, and the flavor is genuinely inspiring. The power between options adheres to a pretty solid parity as well. All good? No, there is one thing I have to complain about: bonus types. While a few abilities feature proper bonus types, there are also a couple that lack types, even when they clearly should have types. That being said, if you’re willing of typing them, you’ll have one damn cool class here. Seriously, impressive beast.

The third class herein would be an attempt at a melee defensive character, with aura-emanation-buffs; difficult to execute, so how does the fellow perform? The class gains d10 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, light and medium armors, shields (except tower shields), full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves, and a bonus combat feat at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter. The warden adds their Wisdom modifier instead of Dexterity modifier to AC and CMD, though conditions that cause them to lose Dexterity modifier still apply. Armor Maximum Dexterity Bonus still applies, but the bonus to AC cannot exceed warden class level. 1st level nets ½ class level bonus to Knowledge (dungeoneering, geography, nature), Handle Animal and Survival and allows for untrained skill use. 3rd level nets immunity to magical and natural diseases, and 7th level to poisons; 4th level adds Wisdom modifier in addition to Dexterity to initiative and may always act in a surprise round. At 19th level, the warden is treated as always having rolled a 20 on initiative and is never surprised. 12th level nets stalwart (essentially evasion for Fort- and Will-saves), and at 16th level, animals, plants and vermin of Intelligence 2 or less never attack the warden; those with a higher Intelligence can make a Will save to attack, and if the warden or allies initiate hostilities, the target becomes immune for 24 hours.

While not wearing heavy armor, the warden gets the verdant bonus, which starts at +1, increases by +1 at 4th level and ever 4 class levels after that, and the bonus applies to other class features as well. Speaking of which, let’s talk about perhaps the most defining class feature of the class, namely the eponymous wards, which are btw. a supernatural ability. Creating a ward is a swift action and it generates a spherical emanation in a 10 ft.-radius, but the warden has control over the radius in 5 ft.-steps to the maximum; range is close and allies (including warden) in the ward gain the effects of endure elements, with allies gaining an insight bonus to AC equal to the aforementioned verdant bonus. The warden does not gain this additional verdant bonus a second time, though, not even from other wardens (good catch exemplifying design with foresight!); wards last indefinitely and can be dismissed as a swift action, and only one ward may be in effect as a given time. 9th level increases the radius to 15 ft., and the range to medium, and he can now manifest two concurrent wards; at 15th level, ward radius increases to 20 ft., range becomes long, and 3 wards can be manifested at once. At 13th level, the warden can use a move action to teleport up to twice his movement to an open space in a ward. The capstone nets a true immortality apotheosis: Outsider, and auto-resurrection after 24 hours within 20 miles of the place the warden dies.

2nd level nets the supernatural remedy ability: As a standard action (swift if targeting self), the warden can grant fast healing equal to ½ class level, and it usually can be employed to adjacent targets, but if the target is within a ward, range is close instead; usable ½ class level + Wisdom modifier times per day. 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter net a so-called secret; if applicable, saves are Dc 10 + ½ class level + Wisdom modifier. These include curing sickened with remedy (at 8th level also nauseated), commune with nature at will (min 14th level), using 2 remedy uses to cast restoration sans material component as a standard action (minimum 11th level), Cultivate Magic Plants as a bonus feat, woodland stride, seeing through undergrowth, etc.

At 3rd level, the warden chooses facets, which can once per day be prepared, and he begins with 2 facets prepared and increases that by 1 facet every other level, capping at 9 facets prepared at 17th level. If applicable, saving throws are DC 10 + ½ class level + Wisdom modifier. Facets have three levels: lesser, greater and grand; greater facets are unlocked at 9th level, greater ones at 15th level. In order to prepare a grand facet, the greater and lesser facets must be prepared; in order to prepare a greater facet, the lesser facet must be prepared. Essentially, getting access to the more powerful aspects of a facet decreases the flexibility. Good call. Whenever the warden creates a ward, they can apply a single facet; effects of facets are cumulative with their lower iteration. What do they do? Dawn’s Light creates light (a rare case of italics missing) and affects targets in the ward with faerie fire; the greater version adds invisibility purge, dazzles those outside the ward (no save), and grand can temporary blind targets and counts as actual daylight. Interaction with darkness etc. also improve. Bones of the earth nets acid resistance based on 5 times verdant bonus; at greater facet power, we get a CMB boost; allies can’t be moved except by mind-affecting and teleportation, and can’t be knocked prone, and grand also nets verdant bonus DR/adamantine. All facets make sense, and as a whole, their power-levels are on par. Another fun-to-play class, and one that absolutely works in any game, from more potent to grittier ones.

The three new classes all come with favored race options that cover the core classes, and the plane-touched ones. These are okay, if not spectacular. The book also features a series of archetypes: 3 for the elementer, 3 for the invoker, 3 for the warden. The book also features material for barbarian, druid, hunter, kineticist , medium, paladin, ranger, shifter, and sorcerer.

In brevity: The animist barbarian replaces rage with essentially a ward-lite ability that lets them summon totems that provide benefits to themselves and allies, and scale. They also feature a caveat that includes synergy with traditional rage-basic tricks. Totem rage powers also can be granted by these totems, which can be rather brutal for a well-composed party (or not as efficient for less well-composed ones). Instead of trap sense and 4th level’s rage powers, we have a somewhat bloodline-y spell-like abilities, and at higher levels, totems can act as spiritual weapons. Interesting.

The geomancer druid replaces nature sense with Earth Magic and focuses on elemental planes, with favored terrain types codified according to that elemental focus, and in the proper terrain, the druid can lose prepared spells in favor of favored terrain related domain spells.

Elementers can choose to become aegis knights, who lose fusion and the (improved) evasion in favor of faster wards and energy points conversion as well as fortification. Essentially a tweak that focuses more on aegis than spells. Stormcallers specialize in air and water, and are essentially a storm-themed variant with spell conversion instead of 2nd level’s spell twists and modified barriers. Volcanists follow a similar design paradigm, but focus on earth and fire instead, though, surprisingly, it’s not just a template swap, instead focusing different on distinct abilities.

Hunters can opt for the planar hunter archetype, replacing animal focus with a planar focus that comes with a pretty massive list that covers aligned plane effects as well as the inner planes, shadow plane, astral, ethereal, etc. Precise companion is exchanged with bonus spells, and otherwise we have planar themes.

Invokers can choose to become speakers of the wild. This archetype delays the invoke ability to 5th level, instead gaining bardic performances first, and the speaker’s companion also benefits from the bardic focus. Invocation abilities are also delayed. Spiritbound invokers get an increased array of skills per level and lose the companion. They are Charisma-focused and use medium spells, and can enter avatar form quicker and without merging, obviously. Wanderers don’t need to have one of their first spirits match their companion; their invocation is fleeting, but they can briefly invoke two spirits at once; interesting engine-tweak.

Kineticists receive 1.5 pages worth of wild talents, which include an arboreal hammer-duplicating form infusion, the utility option to clear terrain, etc. I particularly considered the option to lace targets with spores that grant temporary hit points to those that attack the target. Interesting.

The medium gains a complete array of alternate spirits, so-called wild spirits; the trickster is, for example, replaced with the beguiler, who gets, among other things, a scaling untyped damage attack, which usually would result in my usual complaint, but the codified nature of a mind-affecting effect does make this more palatable. The spirit, is a whole, is MUCH more interesting than the trickster; instead of the marshal, we get a companion/hunter-themed spirit…you get the idea. As a whole, I enjoy the spirits presented here.  The primal vessel archetype exclusively uses these spirits and replaces the haunt angle and divination themes with ones that are more nature-themed.

Paladins can elect to become purifiers, who can smite anything, but at the cost of the damage being fire; as a whole, this one is a fire-themed paladin. The divine guard ranger gets a defensive variant of favored enemy and self-only warden remedy and access to secrets. The shifter class gets the mystic shifter archetype, who loses wild empathy and the chimeric aspect array in favor of spellcasting, and a druid’s wildshape. Engine tweak. Speaking of which, the elemental savant sorcerer loses bloodline spells and the 3rd-level bloodline power in favor of the option of switching between elemental phases. Interesting.

The warden gets the forest ascetic (unarmed, monk-y warden); primal guardians can’t place wards at a distance and gets a modified ability, and it includes a challenge ability; the archetype is an interesting engine-tweak that plays in a different manner. The verdant soul replaces the ward, verdant bonus and facets ability array with wood-themed kineticist abilities.

Beyond these options, the book includes a significant feat and spell array; the feat table includes the expected options that enhance class features; Aegis Strike, for example, eliminates the action cost of Arcane Strike (or Energy Strike, if you have it) while in aegis, and the Arcane Strike’s benefits are spell twist relevant. There is a charge option for the Vital Strike feat chain. It is also important to note that the book codifies a series of spells as animal or plant spells with the respective descriptors, and the feat array also taps into that. The spell section includes plant-based battle spells, spells that grant tremorsense and elemental spells are, unsurprisingly a focus. There are also some intriguing ones that stood out to me: One lets you touch a potion or poison, transforming it into a wasp that attempts to deliver the liquid. A utility-spell that protects from weather effects is also smart; the pdf includes a series of high-level polymorph-self buffs and a prism-series that uses all four core energy types/descriptors. Important to note here: These spells are cognizant of the benefits of their flexibility and are balanced as such.

The final chapter of the book features an assortment of various magic items, with new armor and weapon special abilities and several special weapons included; these include an armor property that enhances the aegis class feature, an armor that can act as a plant source and root you, and waterproof armor that lessens weather-severity. It should be noted that there are some really nifty artworks for the items, and there are some serious gems here: The weapon property that lets you cycle through flaming, corrosive, cold and shock is genuinely awesome. (Yes, there also is one option for the burst variant. Weapons that help you mark quarries or studied targets. Enchanted lashes, cycling starknives…some seriously cool stuff here. The kineticist’s bangle has a designated element and grants the associated element as an expanded element for the purpose of composite blast unlocks; while it’s not an inexpensive item at 11K gold, it warrants close scrutiny for games using expanded kineticist content. A really cool magical compass is also included, and I was very pleasantly surprised to see the trophy belt, which lets you collect trophies to gain a variety of creature abilities from the trophies, essentially a blue magic lite array that might be a bit inexpensive, but has the cost of needing to get the trophy, so I'm relatively cool with it.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level; there are precious few very minor formal hiccups, and on a rules-language level only the inconsistent bonus typing struck me as an overall potentially problematic issue, though that may have been intentional. Layout adheres to Ascension Games’ two-column standard and sports a significant amount of text per page. The book features a lot of original full-color artworks in the style seen on the cover, and the pdf-version comes with both a mobile-friendly version and one that is optimized for HD. The print copy is a solid softcover and sports the name on the spine.

Chris Moore, with additional content by Dolant Smart and Jake Zemke delivers in this book. In SPADES. Path of the Wilds is a love letter to PFRPG at the system’s best, with 3 base classes that offer absolutely fun and novel playing experiences and a design that is clear, smooth, and speaks of seriously impressive skill, even with very complex options. Nothing herein looks random, everything shows clear consciousness of the system’s pitfalls, and as a whole, the book managed to attain a level of quality that is seriously compelling.

Are there some hiccups? Yes, but as a whole, it is ridiculous how precise the tiny team managed to realize this tome. In fact, I can list some Paizo books that sort more issues than this one. So yeah, quality-wise, this is definitely top-tier, and the asking price is VERY low for both pdf and print, and I’d seriously recommend getting print. Regarding power-levels, this book works properly with default-PFRPG-power-levels; people preferring high-powered gameplay can use the material, and even if you gravitate to gritty gaming, you can make use of the book with some cursory analysis and minor tweaks here and there.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Path of the Wilds
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Vathak 5e Adventures - Brides of the Black Earth
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/30/2021 04:31:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Vathak Adventures-series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page basic explanations of rules-terms, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review is part of a request from my supporters.

Okay, this adventure is intended for a group of 3rd-level characters, and situated in the Shadows over Vathak horror setting, in Kingarten, near the Moldoveana Forest, to be precise. The module features read-aloud text, and dialogue, though the latter is not designated as read-aloud text; however, the module does start off with a handy Q-A-sequence, and it does include something cool: GMs who have a hard time improvising dialogue will find rather detailed question/answer sections with in-game responses you can paraphrase. Kudos!

The module features a b/w-map, and while the map itself does not note scale, the text does. No player-friendly version of the map is provided. On the big plus-side: The module has a full-color, rather neat handout that covers half a page. Kudos for prioritizing art budget in a way that benefits the players.

SPOILERS AHEAD! Jump to the conclusion if you want to play this.

..

.

Okay, so the module begins with the proclamation of Jarwick, a herald, pronouncing the impending marriage of Lady Malyssa Florin’s daughter Taelerys to Lord Heltyn. Attendance, of course, is mandatory, and the day’s a holiday. The Question and Answer-powered legwork soon clears up that the marriage is politically motivated; it seems like Taelerys wasn’t happy, but that she came around when the lord turned out to be rather strapping. For a bit of beer, the adventurers can also find out that the young lady missed her morning ride for the last couple of days and hasn’t been seen since. Jarwick also thinks he heard crying at night.

Soon thereafter, a messenger arrives and hands the local innkeeper a fully fleshed out a summons for the party by Her Grace, and one that emphasizes DISCRETION.  At the castle, the rather discreet process of getting to Her Grace is depicted pretty clearly. Turns out that Taelerys has vanished; once more, the QA-approach for the dialogue with Her Grace is provided, and the party can investigate the room of the vanished maiden.  In her diary (aforementioned handout), she notes being visited by a dark rider and falling for the entity, as well as confiding in the minstrel Perciwell; the cowardly minstrel could identify the dark rider as the exiled outlaw Reeve Adenot, who colludes with a witch. The minstrel has been browbeaten by the outlaw, and the nocturnal crying? Actually, that’s the minstrel’s guilt.

The trail leads the party to a grove, where interaction with a dryad can lead them farther to a vineyard, where she attempts to charm a character with her wine (great angle for further quests and NOT a gameover!); her associate Terrick knows more about the Reeve’s associate, a witch named Svige, who has since her time as Terrick’s apprentice, sworn allegiance to the Old One Ka’sogrotha, gaining powers from the Worm of Black Earth, self-styling herself as the eponymous Bride of Black Earth. He warns that she’ll be more powerful underground. Terrick also mentions that he lost his eye to her, which the witch still sues to scry on him, and consequently sends minions to take out the party.

From there, the party ventures forth to the bandit camp, where they need to deal with some regular dudes; the Reeve is a knight with a custom ability that allows him to get away. Taelerys is bewitched and harmless, but the magics make her hostile, so dealing with her will be interesting.

Ultimately, the party will need to go underground and deal with Svige, which would be a small dungeon. The dungeon features some sold challenges and includes a magical poison, a properly crafted magic item. The dungeon features several interesting tidbits and is internally consistent and makes sense. As a minor nitpick, there are quite a few minor formatting hiccups regarding rules-formatting, no big ones, but they do exist. The Bride of Black Earth, alas, is a downer of sorts. She is a mage and has a custom spell list, but no unique abilities, which makes the “face her in light” angle not work.

Conclusion:

Editing is very good on a formal level, and good on a rules-language level; formatting is okay; there is e.g. an instance where a textblock that should be italicized isn’t, and on a formal formatting side, there are a couple of issues. The interior artworks are historic b/w-pieces used in a neat manner, and the color cover is neat. The handout in full-color is great. The b/w-cartography is functional, but not spectacular. The lack of a player-friendly version of the map is slightly problematic. The pdf has no bookmarks; while it doesn’t necessarily need them at this length, that’s still a comfort detriment.

Jason Owen Black provides (based on Kim Frandsen’s work), a rather interesting and fun sidetrek. There is some roleplaying, some combat, and the module manages to evoke an atmosphere that feels like a somewhat twisted fairy tale; the module isn’t horrific per se, but hits dark fantasy notes as Vathak’s secondary theme very well, with the setup feeling more feudal (in a good way!) than many comparable modules. For not even $3, you get a rather nifty little sidetrek; certainly, not an earth-shaking one, but the module, as a whole, works and is a fun experience. It’s not an easy one, mind you, but it certainly isn’t generic. So yeah, I consider this one to be definitely worthwhile. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low asking price and due to it being simply closer to 4 than 3 stars for this low price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak 5e Adventures - Brides of the Black Earth
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Vathak 5e Character Options - Chilling Spells
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/30/2021 04:30:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content and 1 page editorial/SRD, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as part of a series by my supporters, who asked me to cover the entire product line.

This pdf includes 3 different spells, the first being chilling breath, has a non-standard range: The cantrip lists it as a “30 feet cone”, but 5e formats this usually Self (30-foot cone). The spell is broken in some ways: It is a cone, but only targets a single creature or object? How? Its verbiage is also broken. “Make a Dexterity save. If successful then avoid damage altogether. If not, then take 1d8 cold damage and be slowed by 5ft per round for 1 round.“

…RAW, this spell damages the caster. Also: Slowed is not a condition in D&D 5e. This spell does not work as written.

The second spell is wall of cold, a 4th-level spell, which can be cast as a wall maintained by concentration, or as a wave. Unfortunately, the offensive wave is broken in various ways: 1) it doesn’t properly codify its area of effect. I read and read it, and it doesn’t make sense. Secondly, the spell fails to codify its damage type properly. Thirdly, the spell causes 3 (!!) levels of exhaustion on a failed save, which is ridiculous overkill in 5e, even if this exhaustion is removed by a short rest. Certainly not suitable for a 4th-level spell.

The final spell is another 4th-level spell (hyphens missing in the spell headers, btw.), and entraps the target in ice. This spell is broken and not operational. The rules syntax in the first paragraph is borked, but at least kinda functional. The spell makes no internal sense: It has 150 hp, and the imprisoned target takes 25% damage, which is annoying to calculate. The prison is only affected by bludgeoning damage, which makes no sense. (Thunder? Lightning? Fire?) After the spell’s duration, it takes 4 hours for the ice to thaw, which may be hastened by applying fire? Ridiculous: “Magical fire applied to the icy prison will reduce the thawing time by 75%.” Per application? Why isn’t this done via hp? This is extremely clunky, to the point where it’s VERY hard to run at the table. In the aftermath, the victim also…bingo, takes 3 levels of exhaustion.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are bad on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Troy Daniels obviously had problems with the rules-language of 5e and its balancing, and no developer has fixed this either; not one of the three spells is functional or balanced properly, alas. The ideas are neat, but the execution is broken. I can’t recommend this. 1 star.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Vathak 5e Character Options - Chilling Spells
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Acid Death Fantasy
Publisher: Melsonian Arts Council
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/17/2021 09:19:34

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book contains 46 pages of content (6’’ by 9’’/A5), not counting editorial, ToC and front/back covers.

This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review by my supporters. My review is based on the print version, as I do not own the pdf.

 The interior of the front cover is a nice, full-color isometric map depicting Shurupak, the most stable city ruled by the many-crowned monarch, and from this place sprawl the Thousand Sultanates, with their ever-changing identities, rulers and customs; the spread that includes the interior of the back cover contains a generator for these transient micro-states: With two d6 rolls, you can determine the title of the ruler, and two d6 rolls let you determine competing fads; the interior of the back cover also has 6 troubles afoot and a list of stuff to do.

Beyond these sprawls lie the wastes, where the worms exist and dune-riders (as seen on cover) roam; four-armed metal-workers rise from duneholds to sell exquisite merchandise; in the North, the verdant jungles are the territory of the Azure Apes; the old steel gods that wrought the apocalypse lie to the west, and to the east, the massive plastic sea looms, where the Coated Men travel to have their skin coated in plastic…which promises power, but also an early grave.

If all of this sounds impressive, then because it damn well is just that; this introduction to a campaign setting of sorts is provided within the first two pages, and it had me STOKED.

The remainder of the book contains a total of 36 backgrounds (on reddish pages), and 36 monsters/NPCs (on greenish pages). The aesthetic, as you probably have determined right now, is one of very long after an apocalypse, with a quasi-techno-magical touch and aesthetics deeply infused in (stoner) doom aesthetics, blended with Heavy Metal F.A.K.K., minus the sex/adult angles. Add a touch of Dune, et voilà.

Now, as for the backgrounds, it is very much recommended that the GM read them, for much of the lore for this setting (?) is implied in the backgrounds. Aforementioned Coated Men, for example, are one background, and their text obviously implies that the Plastic Sea mentioned in the intro isn’t instantly fatal at least, and instead serves some weird, quasi-religious function. And WEIRD is allcaps, throughout: For example, one of the backgrounds makes you one of the last Bear Men. You see, Bear Men became somewhat anti-natalist and depressed as a culture, but the background, the Shaved Bear, rejects that, brimming with hope. Yes.

You can play a shaved bear person. The design of the backgrounds is generally pretty well-rounded, and features some interesting ideas, like e.g. a lizardfolk species’ cold blood represented by a reduced number of tokens in the stack if you’re too cold. You might be a worm-rider, a survivor of the old world, or perhaps you’re one of the agents (current or former) of the freshwater grubs. Possessions and skills generally serve alongside special abilities to render the overall power-level within the rather broad parities that Troika allows for; in contrast to many other supplements I’ve read, the backgrounds here feel pretty well-rounded and playable.

The monsters all obviously come with their stats and mien, and include murder cacti, scorpions and various lizards. Of course, the horrible mastermind freshwater grubs (think human-faced grubs in freshwater tank/thrones) are included here with a brief plot-generator, and we learn about dunesharks and beetles that carry massive ultra-hard papier-mâché tower-crèches. Several of these creatures do some neat things with Troika’s basic rules-chassis, for example when it comes to a kind of escalated damage chance. From nanosands to the last hover-tank Hyperion and ancient robots, this book manages to provide an amazing INDIRECTLY-defined backdrop.

And I wish it didn’t have that "IN"-prefix. But that belongs in the…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a one-column standard, with page-use different between sections: Around 1/5 of the page tends to be empty on every 3third or so page, since there (usually) is 1 background per page, sometimes 2; in the monster section, there often are 2 critters per page. The full-color artworks by David Hoskins rock and adhere to the same style you see on the cover; artworks are expensive, so I get why there aren’t more (there already are quite a bunch of them!), but for the bestiary in particular, it’d have been awesome to have an artwork per critter. The hardcover is really gorgeous, with sewn binding, color-coded pages, name of the book on the spine; all in all, high quality.

Luke Gearing does a fantastic job at indirect world-building herein, mostly via backgrounds and monsters; while that worked, kind of, to establish Troika’s aesthetic in the core book and hint at the weirdness of the humpbacked sky, this book presents a more conventional (and, to me, more accessible!) campaign setting that ticks off a TON of my “OMG, HOW COOL IS THAT?!?”-boxes.

Alas, this more grounded setting also perfectly highlights the grating effects of this indirect narrative approach; you don’t read a cohesive sourcebook; instead, you have to piece together setting-information from backgrounds and monsters; there is no place that really explains how anything really works in this world. The setting is as ephemeral and disjointed as the hallucinogen-induced visions that inspire its amazing aesthetics, providing only the barest minimum of contexts, and spreading these contexts out to boot. This would be less of an issue in a super-abstract setting, but in one that is pretty consistent in its themes, it does mean that the GM should probably take notes while reading backgrounds and monsters.

And don’t get me wrong, I am very much aware of the design-paradigm here: “Insinuate, hint, inspire the GM!” Good idea, but it works better if there is a functional skeleton to wrap those insinuations around. Acid Death Fantasy genuinely infuriated me when I realized that a paltry 1.5 pages of brilliant setting would be all I’d get, and while I appreciated and genuinely loved “discovering” more details when reading the backgrounds and monsters, I proceeded to become even more annoyed when I realized that these pieces of information were strewn about like that.

In short: As a person, I absolutely LOATHE that writing this evocative, this inspired, chooses to hamstring itself by adhering to a mode of information presentation and design focus that sells short its brilliant setting.

As an analogy: This is a bit like one of those campaigns where you get a player’s book with basics and hints, bits of lore strewn about, and a GM book that features the monsters and actually provides the information that lets you properly run an immersive game in the setting. Only in this instance, the information that lets you have an easy time running the setting has been cut, and your monsters have been grafted into the player’s guide.

I know next to nothing about Shurupak. Power and Water are leitmotifs of the setting (even set in title case + italics!), but what to do with that? No clue. The bird-like warflock and their culture, the coated men…there is so much greatness TEASED at. In a sentence or two. The barest of minimums of contexts given. Enough to make you want more.

…and enough to frustrate me to hell and back. Where’s my actual setting? Yeah, I am probably intended to improvise that and cobble it together…but I don’t want to.

As a person, this book pisses me off for what it could have been if presented as a more traditional setting, perhaps cutting a few of the less-inspired backgrounds and monsters (which, admittedly, are the exception). As a person, I probably wouldn’t get this again, as all its promise remains just a tease for me, the equivalent of creative world-building and lore blue balls. For me as a person, this is a 3-star book at best.

Then again, if you hate it when settings come with consistent lore and define/explain their concepts in more than rudimentary hints, then this might be exactly what you’re looking for; it is probably with you in mind that this was written!

However, as a reviewer, I try to rate books for what they are, and not for what I want them to be.  And frankly, if you love aforementioned indirect approach, if you want your settings to be fragmentary, full of high-concept tidbits, then this will be right up your alley. In fact, if you didn’t mind these issues in the core Troika book, and figured that the setting in “Fronds of Benevolence” was almost too well-defined, then this will be pure gold for you.

When viewed neutrally, then the whole cadre of backgrounds can be considered to be well-rounded and versatile indeed; the monsters, similarly, are often inspired and endeavor to do interesting things with Troika’s rules-lite chassis. The only neutral gripes I can field against this would be the rare less inspired background (like the hermit, who gets 4 Philosophy and three 2 random spells, no possessions. Boring.) or monster (ruin degenerate being a particularly bland one). That being said, for each such outlier, there are at least 2 great ideas that send the synapses firing.

And considering all of that, it wouldn’t be fair to rate this anything other than 4.5 stars, rounded up. This book may not be for me, but you might adore it. Oh, and if there ever is a “proper” setting book for Acid Death Fantasy, I’ll gladly back the hell out of it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Acid Death Fantasy
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GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2021 09:30:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book full of Eventures (non-combat-centric little scenarios) clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page isometric overland map of the Gloamhold-region of the Duchies of Ashlar, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

Okay, so the first thing you need to know, is that this is NOT a compilation of the Eventures-series so far; instead, this is a series of micro-eventures, 2 pages each; essentially, the book provides a series of roleplaying-heavy interactions, you know, the kind where you just add in players and have a go. The book also has the benefit of a page spread containing all information for an eventure; this means you can just flip open the book, pretty much spontaneously, and have something ready to go.

As for the contextualization, the city of Languard serves as a backdrop, as featured in the City Backdrop-installment and the Languard Locations-series. The city map is provided alongside some basics, but it should be noted that all individual eventures can fit seamlessly into your fantasy metropoles, particularly if these tend to gravitate to the grittier/more realistic side of things.

Okay, that out of the way, what’s the structure provided here? Let’s take a “A Day out at the High Market” as an example: We are introduced to notable folk and other individuals (flavor only, with 5e-default statblock reference included; for PFRPG and PF2, these don’t provide statblocks; in the OSR-version, we have no references to “rogues”, but do mention “thief” instead; for purists, it should be noted that the supplement favors “wizard” over “magic-user”.); the section comes with a brief d20-table for stall-generation, 6 notable things to sell, 6 complications, and 6 whispers and rumors. The eventure also provides some advice for integrating the eventure into a campaign and running it. The book includes two such market-based eventures, and one that focuses on dining at a rather fancy establishment (on a sailing ship, with delicious menu noted), 3 different taverns/bars to drink the days/nights away…and more.

The book manages to present selling loot at a bitter social climber’s establishment, or shopping at essentially an adventurer’s shop, an experience worth talking about, and provides more: Visiting the Dreaming Spire (think academy/research hub), talking to the notorious family who ships adventurers to the mega-dungeon of Gloamhold, and visits to 4 radically distinct types of religious buildings are included as well.

Now, as for the systems this is available for: The book, as a whole, is pretty much ALMOST system neutral: Prices are adjusted accordingly, and the general lore section on Languard features some basic DCs, and there is one instance where the respective system’s Perception check is required, but that’s pretty much it. So yeah, if you are in this for stats, crunch and rules-relevant material, this will come up wanting; the focus here is on roleplaying and providing a somewhat volatile set-up. As a consequence, the eventures herein work best for low levels, as higher level discrepancies in power through spells and magic items cannot be accounted for. Similarly, this does mean that the material herein is not exactly 100% go-play; most GMs should have an idea at least regarding the NPCs the party might interact with.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the b/w artworks and cartography provided for the city are nice; the individual establishments and places features herein do not come with maps. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, and one for being printed—kudos! The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Creighton Broadhurst, with additional design by Steve Hood and Amber Underwood, delivers a genuinely fun and handy book of social encounters/scenarios focusing on those scenes that are usually less glamorous than e.g. dungeon-exploration, but that do add a significant degree of plausibility and a sense of being alive to a setting. I very much enjoy this supplement in all of its iterations, and would be celebrating it even more, were it not for two very minor complaints: It would have been awesome to get maps (and player/VTT-friendly versions) of the respective places, and it would have been nice to have the respective parts include more rules: You know, unique blessings to be gained in the temples, a statblock here and there…things that contextualize the content in the respective system.

This is me complaining at a high level, though. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo...if you can tolerate the almost system neutral approach. If that rubs you the wrong way, then this’ll be significantly less captivating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (5e)
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GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (OSR)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2021 09:30:23

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book full of Eventures (non-combat-centric little scenarios) clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page isometric overland map of the Gloamhold-region of the Duchies of Ashlar, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

Okay, so the first thing you need to know, is that this is NOT a compilation of the Eventures-series so far; instead, this is a series of micro-eventures, 2 pages each; essentially, the book provides a series of roleplaying-heavy interactions, you know, the kind where you just add in players and have a go. The book also has the benefit of a page spread containing all information for an eventure; this means you can just flip open the book, pretty much spontaneously, and have something ready to go.

As for the contextualization, the city of Languard serves as a backdrop, as featured in the City Backdrop-installment and the Languard Locations-series. The city map is provided alongside some basics, but it should be noted that all individual eventures can fit seamlessly into your fantasy metropoles, particularly if these tend to gravitate to the grittier/more realistic side of things.

Okay, that out of the way, what’s the structure provided here? Let’s take a “A Day out at the High Market” as an example: We are introduced to notable folk and other individuals (flavor only, with 5e-default statblock reference included; for PFRPG and PF2, these don’t provide statblocks; in the OSR-version, we have no references to “rogues”, but do mention “thief” instead; for purists, it should be noted that the supplement favors “wizard” over “magic-user”.); the section comes with a brief d20-table for stall-generation, 6 notable things to sell, 6 complications, and 6 whispers and rumors. The eventure also provides some advice for integrating the eventure into a campaign and running it. The book includes two such market-based eventures, and one that focuses on dining at a rather fancy establishment (on a sailing ship, with delicious menu noted), 3 different taverns/bars to drink the days/nights away…and more.

The book manages to present selling loot at a bitter social climber’s establishment, or shopping at essentially an adventurer’s shop, an experience worth talking about, and provides more: Visiting the Dreaming Spire (think academy/research hub), talking to the notorious family who ships adventurers to the mega-dungeon of Gloamhold, and visits to 4 radically distinct types of religious buildings are included as well.

Now, as for the systems this is available for: The book, as a whole, is pretty much ALMOST system neutral: Prices are adjusted accordingly, and the general lore section on Languard features some basic DCs, and there is one instance where the respective system’s Perception check is required, but that’s pretty much it. So yeah, if you are in this for stats, crunch and rules-relevant material, this will come up wanting; the focus here is on roleplaying and providing a somewhat volatile set-up. As a consequence, the eventures herein work best for low levels, as higher level discrepancies in power through spells and magic items cannot be accounted for. Similarly, this does mean that the material herein is not exactly 100% go-play; most GMs should have an idea at least regarding the NPCs the party might interact with.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the b/w artworks and cartography provided for the city are nice; the individual establishments and places features herein do not come with maps. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, and one for being printed—kudos! The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Creighton Broadhurst, with additional design by Steve Hood and Amber Underwood, delivers a genuinely fun and handy book of social encounters/scenarios focusing on those scenes that are usually less glamorous than e.g. dungeon-exploration, but that do add a significant degree of plausibility and a sense of being alive to a setting. I very much enjoy this supplement in all of its iterations, and would be celebrating it even more, were it not for two very minor complaints: It would have been awesome to get maps (and player/VTT-friendly versions) of the respective places, and it would have been nice to have the respective parts include more rules: You know, unique blessings to be gained in the temples, a statblock here and there…things that contextualize the content in the respective system.

This is me complaining at a high level, though. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo...if you can tolerate the almost system neutral approach. If that rubs you the wrong way, then this’ll be significantly less captivating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (OSR)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (P2)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2021 09:30:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book full of Eventures (non-combat-centric little scenarios) clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page isometric overland map of the Gloamhold-region of the Duchies of Ashlar, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

Okay, so the first thing you need to know, is that this is NOT a compilation of the Eventures-series so far; instead, this is a series of micro-eventures, 2 pages each; essentially, the book provides a series of roleplaying-heavy interactions, you know, the kind where you just add in players and have a go. The book also has the benefit of a page spread containing all information for an eventure; this means you can just flip open the book, pretty much spontaneously, and have something ready to go.

As for the contextualization, the city of Languard serves as a backdrop, as featured in the City Backdrop-installment and the Languard Locations-series. The city map is provided alongside some basics, but it should be noted that all individual eventures can fit seamlessly into your fantasy metropoles, particularly if these tend to gravitate to the grittier/more realistic side of things.

Okay, that out of the way, what’s the structure provided here? Let’s take a “A Day out at the High Market” as an example: We are introduced to notable folk and other individuals (flavor only, with 5e-default statblock reference included; for PFRPG and PF2, these don’t provide statblocks; in the OSR-version, we have no references to “rogues”, but do mention “thief” instead; for purists, it should be noted that the supplement favors “wizard” over “magic-user”.); the section comes with a brief d20-table for stall-generation, 6 notable things to sell, 6 complications, and 6 whispers and rumors. The eventure also provides some advice for integrating the eventure into a campaign and running it. The book includes two such market-based eventures, and one that focuses on dining at a rather fancy establishment (on a sailing ship, with delicious menu noted), 3 different taverns/bars to drink the days/nights away…and more.

The book manages to present selling loot at a bitter social climber’s establishment, or shopping at essentially an adventurer’s shop, an experience worth talking about, and provides more: Visiting the Dreaming Spire (think academy/research hub), talking to the notorious family who ships adventurers to the mega-dungeon of Gloamhold, and visits to 4 radically distinct types of religious buildings are included as well.

Now, as for the systems this is available for: The book, as a whole, is pretty much ALMOST system neutral: Prices are adjusted accordingly, and the general lore section on Languard features some basic DCs, and there is one instance where the respective system’s Perception check is required, but that’s pretty much it. So yeah, if you are in this for stats, crunch and rules-relevant material, this will come up wanting; the focus here is on roleplaying and providing a somewhat volatile set-up. As a consequence, the eventures herein work best for low levels, as higher level discrepancies in power through spells and magic items cannot be accounted for. Similarly, this does mean that the material herein is not exactly 100% go-play; most GMs should have an idea at least regarding the NPCs the party might interact with.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the b/w artworks and cartography provided for the city are nice; the individual establishments and places features herein do not come with maps. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, and one for being printed—kudos! The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Creighton Broadhurst, with additional design by Steve Hood and Amber Underwood, delivers a genuinely fun and handy book of social encounters/scenarios focusing on those scenes that are usually less glamorous than e.g. dungeon-exploration, but that do add a significant degree of plausibility and a sense of being alive to a setting. I very much enjoy this supplement in all of its iterations, and would be celebrating it even more, were it not for two very minor complaints: It would have been awesome to get maps (and player/VTT-friendly versions) of the respective places, and it would have been nice to have the respective parts include more rules: You know, unique blessings to be gained in the temples, a statblock here and there…things that contextualize the content in the respective system.

This is me complaining at a high level, though. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo...if you can tolerate the almost system neutral approach. If that rubs you the wrong way, then this’ll be significantly less captivating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (P2)
Click to show product description

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (P1)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/16/2021 09:29:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book full of Eventures (non-combat-centric little scenarios) clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page isometric overland map of the Gloamhold-region of the Duchies of Ashlar, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, leaving us with 36 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

Okay, so the first thing you need to know, is that this is NOT a compilation of the Eventures-series so far; instead, this is a series of micro-eventures, 2 pages each; essentially, the book provides a series of roleplaying-heavy interactions, you know, the kind where you just add in players and have a go. The book also has the benefit of a page spread containing all information for an eventure; this means you can just flip open the book, pretty much spontaneously, and have something ready to go.

As for the contextualization, the city of Languard serves as a backdrop, as featured in the City Backdrop-installment and the Languard Locations-series. The city map is provided alongside some basics, but it should be noted that all individual eventures can fit seamlessly into your fantasy metropoles, particularly if these tend to gravitate to the grittier/more realistic side of things.

Okay, that out of the way, what’s the structure provided here? Let’s take a “A Day out at the High Market” as an example: We are introduced to notable folk and other individuals (flavor only, with 5e-default statblock reference included; for PFRPG and PF2, these don’t provide statblocks; in the OSR-version, we have no references to “rogues”, but do mention “thief” instead; for purists, it should be noted that the supplement favors “wizard” over “magic-user”.); the section comes with a brief d20-table for stall-generation, 6 notable things to sell, 6 complications, and 6 whispers and rumors. The eventure also provides some advice for integrating the eventure into a campaign and running it. The book includes two such market-based eventures, and one that focuses on dining at a rather fancy establishment (on a sailing ship, with delicious menu noted), 3 different taverns/bars to drink the days/nights away…and more.

The book manages to present selling loot at a bitter social climber’s establishment, or shopping at essentially an adventurer’s shop, an experience worth talking about, and provides more: Visiting the Dreaming Spire (think academy/research hub), talking to the notorious family who ships adventurers to the mega-dungeon of Gloamhold, and visits to 4 radically distinct types of religious buildings are included as well.

Now, as for the systems this is available for: The book, as a whole, is pretty much ALMOST system neutral: Prices are adjusted accordingly, and the general lore section on Languard features some basic DCs, and there is one instance where the respective system’s Perception check is required, but that’s pretty much it. So yeah, if you are in this for stats, crunch and rules-relevant material, this will come up wanting; the focus here is on roleplaying and providing a somewhat volatile set-up. As a consequence, the eventures herein work best for low levels, as higher level discrepancies in power through spells and magic items cannot be accounted for. Similarly, this does mean that the material herein is not exactly 100% go-play; most GMs should have an idea at least regarding the NPCs the party might interact with.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the b/w artworks and cartography provided for the city are nice; the individual establishments and places features herein do not come with maps. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, and one for being printed—kudos! The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Creighton Broadhurst, with additional design by Steve Hood and Amber Underwood, delivers a genuinely fun and handy book of social encounters/scenarios focusing on those scenes that are usually less glamorous than e.g. dungeon-exploration, but that do add a significant degree of plausibility and a sense of being alive to a setting. I very much enjoy this supplement in all of its iterations, and would be celebrating it even more, were it not for two very minor complaints: It would have been awesome to get maps (and player/VTT-friendly versions) of the respective places, and it would have been nice to have the respective parts include more rules: You know, unique blessings to be gained in the temples, a statblock here and there…things that contextualize the content in the respective system.

This is me complaining at a high level, though. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo...if you can tolerate the almost system neutral approach. If that rubs you the wrong way, then this’ll be significantly less captivating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Mini-Eventures I (P1)
Click to show product description

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Arcforge Campaign Setting: Ravages of the Qlippoth
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:06:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Arcforge-supplement clocks in at 60 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 54 pages of content (yes, the pdf is missing its SRD), so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the behest of my supporters.

Now, before we start, it should be noted that Arcforge is a highly-permissive setting that gravitates to the upper echelon of the power-spectrum; psionics, akasha and tech in particular are firmly integrated into the setting, and it should be noted that the two core-engine books Arcforge: technology Expanded and Arcforge: Psibertech have some issues in internal consistency regarding their balance and the power-parity between options within those very options presented. For the purpose of this review, I’m not going to rehash my complaints in those regards, and instead focus on the content presented herein.

Structurally, the book uses a somewhat weird approach: It begins with campaign information, then proceeds towards a bestiary, and finishes with class options; personally, I prefer my player-facing material at the front, GM material at the back, but that just as an aside. I’ll start off with the player-facing options, which include 7 archetypes: Apostate dreads replace Climb, Stealth and Swim with Diplomacy and Knowledge (Arcana, Planes, and Religion), and twin fear is replaced with the Spook ability (which curiously, has a double colon); the ability enforces concentration checks for enemies, and ties the extra action array of the shadow twin feature instead to failing such a check. 15th level allows for the dread of shadow twin to emit an antimagic or null psionics field when such a check is failed…and twin/dread are unaffected. This is a clever-high-level tweak. I like it. 18th level allows for the expenditure of 2 terror uses to use mage’s disjunction or unravel psionics, and for 3 uses, both can be activated at once, targeting the same area; this replaces level 18’s terror. The two terrors allow for dispel magic/psionics (upgrades later), or impose an effect that manifests their casting/Manifesting ability. I like this archetype.

The chainmaster soulknife reduces damage die size by one step, but gets the reach and trip traits for the mind blade, regardless of form, and makes the mind blade qualify as a spiked chain for feat etc. purposes. Instead of quick draw, the mind chain may manipulate things as though his chains were hands, and also nets an untyped +2 bonus to combat maneuver checks, and it adds the grapple quality. Bonus should be typed here, and there is a “APG”-superscript not properly formatted here. Instead of 8th and 16th level’s blade skills, we have damage and backlash damage increases for the vicious special property (incorrectly formatted), which makes an even more massive sudden death attack, and at 16th level, mind chains ignore DR and hardness and increase critical damage multiplier by 1 to a maximum of x6. X5 is already ridiculous, so yeah, not a fan. The archetype also gets a soul binding capstone coupled with assimilate and the option to manifest the chain sans save in a null psionics field, though it still loses its special abilities.

The depthlord oracle exchanges mystery skills for Knowledge (dungeoneering, engineering) and Use Magic Device, and mystery bonus spells are replaced at 2nd level with a psychic spell one level lower than highest oracle spell known; the spell is treated as one level higher for all purposes. Every two levels thereafter, the depthlord may choose another. The revelations include SR and PR, and transparency between magic and psionics, including an interesting caveat. Eldritch Abomination antipaladins actually get smit abomination (vs. aberrations, Great old One servants, etc.), detect psionics instead of detect good, and touch of corruption and channel negative energy are replaced with the option to impart cumulative Will save penalties with attacks, with cruelties including confusion, insanity, and mind-shattering. 4th level nets gifted blade at one level lower instead of spells, and a metamorphosis powers-based replacement for fiendish boon. Interesting one; great for the dark champion that fights horrors with horror trope.

The reshaper cryptic replaces pattern design with a warped appearance, and may forego cryptic insights in favor of 2 customization points for aberrant aegis customizations; 7th and 16th level net (greater) metamorphosis, respectively, and we have a new capstone. Rustsworn hunter slayers get proficiency with heavy armor and sniper weapons, but moves studied target to 5th level and reduces its bonus by 1. The archetype also loses armor check penalty on Stealth (incorrect formatting) instead of 6th level’s slayer talent. The talent at 12th level is replaced by class level resistance to fire, cold and acid. Steelduster rangers lose wild empathy and spellcasting in favor or a mech, and a new feat array option array for the combat style feats; hunter’s bond is modified to get a synthetic companion that may merge with the mech, and at the highest levels, the steelduster’s companion can even pilot the mech. The quarry abilities are lost, though.

The book includes 6 new feats: boon mech is a multiclass feat for mech progression; Harmonic Resilience makes your SR apply to powers, and PR to spells. Killing Madness lets you kill a creature by reducing it to 0 sanity or a mental ability score to negatives…I like the idea, but it’s not that hard to abuse. Mechanical Initiate nets a bonded mech at -4 class level. Metapsionic Ability has its verbiage in a pretty confusing mess: it’s clear that it originally was an excerpt from some other rules-component; its presentation as a feat confused me, big time. Still not 100% sure about how this was supposed to work. Soul Keeper makes creatures you kill slightly harder to return to the living, and nets you a minor bonus when you kill a critter; the bonus is conservative enough to make a kitten-exploit not feasible.

Unless I’ve miscounted, the pdf also includes 16 new powers…wait. Tactical suppression…that save-or-suck prevent creatures from using specific actions…sounds familiar. And those super-potent augmentation options…that bestow curse, just in better and much more flexible malefic metamorphosis…I definitely have seen that stuff before. That cool latent programming power…I know it…but…I also have those weird flashbacks to that one pdf. The Horror, the Horror! Kidding aside, the pdf reproduces a series of psionic powers first featured in the Terrors from the ID-supplement. On the plus side, the formatting this time around is not a total trainwreck, but on the downside, a few of them could have used some gentle nerfbat-prodding. Oh, and the formatting is still littered with some legacy errors from Terrors, with power-references erroneously title-cased and the like. That being said, as a whole, the powers selected tend to rank among the best/most creative from Terrors book; if you need to make a decision, get this one right here. The cool mind-games powers are all here, formatting is better, and the power-selection is certainly something of a best of. If you need guidance on some nerfing, I’d suggest being very careful with the augmentation options provided. Eliminating them makes the power-section more suitable for lower-powered games.

Okay, that out of the way, let’s take a look at the setting section: The first 7 pages provide the basic introduction to the setting of Vandara, and if you read Spheres of Influence, for example, will be material you already know. Where the pdf diverges from previous books in the series would be with its major locations, which include the Ashfield, perfect reminder of the ruin that the qlippoth war wrought upon the lands; deadly and frozen Coeusel, where the qlippoth reign supreme and corrupt wildlife; the nuke-blasted and hobgoblin-led Dorukalad, a region that seemingly consists of trenches and bunkers, with war as the raison d’être for daemons and goblinoids alike…and there would be the Erebine, a labyrinth at the planet’s core and dumping ground for ancient war creatures and titans from the Maker’s War. We learn about the wreckage-choked Gray Ocean, where the qlippoth still retain some sort of supremacy, and the sajac fortification, fortresses on and around mountains,a re a bit like a combined super-dwarven hold and The Wall. Finally, the silicone barrier is also expanded upon. These lore-heavy write-ups are an absolute joy to read and genuinely compelling; they adhere to the “go large or go home”-style, without ever feeling rididculous. They make sense.

The majority of the book is taken up by…dingdingding monsters! We start off with a CR +2 template for apostle kytons, who can recite damaging prayers, cause bleeding wounds, and style-wise definitely have the whole Hellraiser-conversion angle going. Nice template, supported by a CR 12 cryptic with the template. A CR 13 shooting star firing and disease-devouring papinjuwari giant is also provided here, but it seems to have lost its flavor on the cutting-room floor. Of course, the main focus of this booklet would be the qlippoths: the book presents a psionic subtype variant, which is pretty nice, though oddly the headers for the signature abilities it nets have not been bolded properly. This is cosmetic, though. Qlippoths in Vandara have a corruption, and when they reduce Wisdom or Charisma to 0, they permanently alter the unfortunate: Elves may become drow; dragons psionic dragons; cyclops papinjuwari…you get the idea. I really like this. They also detonate. I’m fond of detonating monsters. I’m even more fond of the state of Aristeia, which means “certain doom”; essentially, it’s the super-saiyajin state for qlippoths, represent by, well a mythic template. A Cr 16/MR 6 Ylyrgoi (including a really nifty full-color artwork) illustrates that.

At CR 2 the cythnigot, at CR 3 the hydraggon, at CR 4 the thognorok, at CR 5 the deinochos, at CR 7 the shoggti, at CR 8 the utukku, at CR 10 the nyogoth, at CR 11 the gongorinan, at CR 12 the chernobue, at CR 13 the behimiron, at CR 14, we have the augnagarat, at CR 15 the wilbopik, at CR 16 the cataboligne, at CR 18 the thulgant, and at CR 20 the iathavos. Yep, that would be the whole qlippoth-cadre rebuilt as psionic qlippoths. I like this very much, as the new versions tend to be a tad bit more frightening/potent. Are the builds perfect? Not always; there’s e.g. an instance where a Psi-like ability notes a CL instead of a ML…but as a whole, this is certainly nice to have. These hiccups in refinement can also be seen with the qlippoth-corrupted creature, which has its header modification header not properly formatted; more egregious: the sample creature (Gnoph-Keh, CR 12, fyi) refers to “qlippoth-blighted” instead of “qlippoth-corrupted”; it also e.g. lacks the scent universal monster ability that it’s supposed to get from the template, among other.

But the book has one trump-card left to play. Or rather, 7. Askyjoth. Estidoth. Kazeyoth. Liktruoth. Nyorbradoth. Remaloth. Zelovoth. Most of them are CR 24. Yep, you guessed it: qlippoth lords. And yes, they can go Aristeia with a modified template, and they get their own qlippoth lord traits. Oh, and those builds…ACs in the 40s. massive hp pools (usually 400+); massive defensive capabilities; signature abilities galore. We have e.g. one with crossover construct-outsider immunities and the ability to ignore warped/difficult terrain, essentially a living terraformer; we have a dervish-style shredder wielding 4 adamantine scimitars who can scavenge each day anew the abilities of 3 level 20 characters, and some less complex behemoths…and can you picture what kind of damage output you need to best that lord who also has a 20th-level vitalist’s collective? These lords ROCK. Why? Because they take the ultra-permissive approach of Arcforge and make massive numbers-puzzles bossfights that require top-tier, optimized parties to beat, doing what, arguably, only PFRPG can do to this extent. Some of these builds reminded me of some bossrebuilds I made for my super-optimized campaign, and I mean that as a true compliment. And yes, they get full-color artworks. There is but one thing I can complain about realistically here, and that would be that they lack lore; it’d have been amazing to see a big, fat lore section for each of the lords. Then again, their statblocks do tell stories, and ensure that even optimized parties should do their legwork before challenging them. Why? What about one who is immune to AND capable of using any psi-like ability of undead creatures under its command? Yeah, run into this fellow unprepared and without a plan, and you go splatter-splotch. And the themes they have are represented exceedingly well in the respective signature abilities. Yes, I’m a sucker for super-enemies…but who isn’t? Particularly when they highlight so well what the author can do?

Conclusion: Editing and formatting in particular are a bit inconsistent: On the one hand, there are top-tier complexity statblocks without any gripes, on the other hand, we have some aggravating formatting snafus in basic ability headers. Still, as a whole, so far the most refined Arcforge-book I’ve covered. Rules issues tend to be primarily focused in reprinted material, and as such, I’ll deemphasize those in the rating. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, with a blend of old and new artwork. The bookmarks are only basic: For example, we only get a bookmark for qlippoth lords, not for each individual one, which makes navigation less comfortable than it should be.

This installment of Matt Daley’s Arcforge-series feels like he found his voice; the flavor/setting components are great and evocative, and the monster builds, particularly for the lords, are BRUTAL, in the best of ways. The player-facing options show more restraint than I’ve seen in Arcforge so far, which is a very good thing indeed. The only components I’m not too keen on would be the powers, but mainly due to their augmentation options generally catapulting them significantly above comparable options at the same level; getting rid of the augmentation options is a rough, but swift way of nerfing them slightly at least, which should be sufficient for Arcforge games embracing the massive power presumed by the setting. (or, you know, only use them for qlippoths…) For other games, a sharper scrutiny may be in order. Still, even when taking the issues in the powers-reprint into consideration, design-wise, this is the most refined I’ve seen Arcforge so far.

Now, this book does have its fair share of avoidable hiccups, but it similarly has a lot going for it; if you’re as much of a fan as I am when it comes to super-deadly bosses, then this booklet will make you smile and warrant the asking price for the qlippoth lords alone. The Aristeia mode is just a beautifully volatile icing on the qlippoth cake as far as I’m concerned and adds a significant level of danger and unpredictability to the supplement. It also BREATHES Anime/Evangelion/etc., which I adore. Psionics and qlippoth are a great match, and I appreciated the rebuilds as well.

Soooo, how to rate this? Weeeeell. Formally, there are a lot of small hiccups that accumulate, and that some will consider to be jarring. HOWEVER, there is also a lot of genuinely inspiring stuff here. And I love the qlippoth lords. As a person, I’ll round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars; as a reviewer, though, I have to round down, since the sheer amount of formal hiccups would make rounding up unfair for all the other books I’ve covered over the years. Still, if you like your top-tier/super-deadly builds, check this out, even if the core-ideas of mechas and Arcforge as a setting are less interesting to you. If you even remotely like qlippoths, this is worth getting.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Arcforge Campaign Setting: Ravages of the Qlippoth
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Where There's a Will (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:05:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This eventure clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreon supporters and as such moved up in my queue.

Okay, so this eventure works a bit differently from the usual ones, in that it does feature a bit of more contextualization required: This module pretty much requires being set in a coastal city to work as written; the module uses the city of Languard as a default, but conversion to Sasserine, Freeport, Riddleport, etc. is not difficult. The premise, you see, is that the infamous pirate captain Tyric Selflit has passed away, and the consequences of this happening. In a way, the module consists of 3 distinct vignettes that could be run independent of each other, between adventures, or in direct sequence. Part II is a bit more contingent on the other parts, but with some work, it can be run on its own as well. It should be noted that the second part works MUCH BETTER with “A Day Out at the Executions.”

Okay, the eventure begins with 3 hooks and a d8-table of rumors before going into the details of the respective scenes.

The first scene is all about the news spreading, and as such, is complemented by tables that include false and correct rumors, some minor events, and a total of 20 pieces of dressing; the setting of the stage presented here in stages, from bells tolling to rampant speculation, does a good job driving home the gravitas of the situation.

The second scene, then, would be about the deceased pirate getting a funeral of sorts at Traitor’s Gate (see A Day Out at the Executions); here, 6 exceedingly detailed NPC writeups are presented, alongside with a bit of read-aloud text, mannerisms, background, distinguishing features, and notes for interaction with the party. Cool per se, and system-immanently, the eventure works better in 5e than in all other systems. Why? Because it uses the default NPC stats of 5e in its NPCs, which does mean that you have concrete rules for social skills and combat to fall back on if required.

Part 3, then, would essentially be the reading of the Will in a shady pirate’s bar, so whether or not the party actually is there will depend on the morals of your group. The tavern is not mapped, and there is an additional NPC for further complications here. The celebration itself, somewhat to my chagrin, is also bereft of rules – even though knife-throwing, drinking etc. all can easily be gamified without spending a lot of words. The “notary” does hand out maps, and then offers a quest of sort – for a legendary artifact, which, yep, does not come with stats. (Though, if you do have the 3.X-book Elder Evils, you’ll have a good idea for an end-game for it…) Much to my chagrin, the important parts, the celebration itself and the reading of the will, are totally glossed over. The latter, very volatile situation, is even relegated to a single paragraph. No, I am not kidding you. No if/then, no details…it was a serious downer for me. Heck, picture it: a proper tavern, highly volatile situation, lots of booze…it wouldn’t have been hard to devise some proper rules, perhaps even a lair action or two. sigh The eventure closes with some suggestions for further adventures.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-level, the latter being no surprise, since there are next to no rules-relevant components herein. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf offers solid b/w-art, but no cartography for the environments. For Part II, this is not necessarily an issue, but in Part III, it does hurt the adventure. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen use, and the pdfs come fully bookmarked.

Jacob W. Michaels is a veteran designer and author, and it shows in the skillful web of NPCs woven and how plausible they feel. This little pdf manages to set up something we only rarely include in adventures, even though the reading of a will can be rather exciting and a grand source of adventuring options. That being said, I do think that this supplement doesn’t prioritize its content correctly, perhaps due to over-emphasizing NPC-write-ups. This is billed as the end of a notorious villain and the aftermath of his demise, which is a neat premise and something I enjoy seeing.

But the execution? It left me rather disappointed. The eventure spends a lot of time on a plethora of NPCs in Part II, and then misses actually making the capstone of the show, the will itself, interesting. Sure, the web of personalities is neat to see, but combined with the lack of concrete rules, the result of this eventure is that it feels like a very long and detailed adventure hook, not like a social adventure in and off itself.

In many ways, this either needed more content, or it needed to be split in two to make both parts shine: One eventure for celebrating the demise of a villain, and another one for a proper wake/reading of the will.

As presented, this eventure felt like a let-down to me. In 5e, it works slightly better than in the other systems it has been presented for; taking that into account, combined with the author’s indubitable skill and the low and fair price point that my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars. But I’ve thought long and hard…and frankly, I can’t justify rounding up for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Where There's a Will (5e)
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Where There's a Will (OSR)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:04:01

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This eventure clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreon supporters and as such moved up in my queue.

Okay, so this eventure works a bit differently from the usual ones, in that it does feature a bit of more contextualization required: This module pretty much requires being set in a coastal city to work as written; the module uses the city of Languard as a default, but conversion to Sasserine, Freeport, Riddleport, etc. is not difficult. The premise, you see, is that the infamous pirate captain Tyric Selflit has passed away, and the consequences of this happening. In a way, the module consists of 3 distinct vignettes that could be run independent of each other, between adventures, or in direct sequence. Part II is a bit more contingent on the other parts, but with some work, it can be run on its own as well. It should be noted that the second part works MUCH BETTER with “A Day Out at the Executions.”

Okay, the eventure begins with 3 hooks and a d8-table of rumors before going into the details of the respective scenes.

The first scene is all about the news spreading, and as such, is complemented by tables that include false and correct rumors, some minor events, and a total of 20 pieces of dressing; the setting of the stage presented here in stages, from bells tolling to rampant speculation, does a good job driving home the gravitas of the situation.

The second scene, then, would be about the deceased pirate getting a funeral of sorts at Traitor’s Gate (see A Day Out at the Executions); here, 6 exceedingly detailed NPC writeups are presented, alongside with a bit of read-aloud text, mannerisms, background, distinguishing features, and notes for interaction with the party. Cool per se. While we get a rough context line for the power of the individuals (say, “LE female elf fighter 4”), that’s all the mechanics you’ll get. No stats. On the plus-side for all the purists among my readers, it should be noted that the pdf makes proper use of old-school terminology when it comes to classes, and rumors etc. do not come with DCs, but need to be attained via roleplaying.

Part 3, then, would essentially be the reading of the Will in a shady pirate’s bar, so whether or not the party actually is there will depend on the morals of your group. The tavern is not mapped, and there is an additional NPC for further complications here. The celebration itself is also bereft of rules – even though knife-throwing, drinking etc. all can easily be gamified without spending a lot of words. Heck, in OSR, it’d be a sentence. Additionally, there simply isn’t that much going on in the way of descriptions. The “notary” does hand out maps, and then offers a quest of sort – for a legendary artifact, which, yep, does not come with stats. (Though, if you do have the 3.X-book Elder Evils, you’ll have a good idea for an end-game for it…) Much to my chagrin, the important parts, the celebration itself and the reading of the will, are totally glossed over. The latter, very volatile situation, is even relegated to a single paragraph. No, I am not kidding you. No if/then, no details…it was a serious downer for me. The eventure closes with some suggestions for further adventures.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-level, the latter being no surprise, since there are next to no rules-relevant components herein. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf offers solid b/w-art, but no cartography for the environments. For Part II, this is not necessarily an issue, but in Part III, it does hurt the adventure. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen use, and the pdfs come fully bookmarked.

Jacob W. Michaels is a veteran designer and author, and it shows in the skillful web of NPCs woven and how plausible they feel. This little pdf manages to set up something we only rarely include in adventures, even though the reading of a will can be rather exciting and a grand source of adventuring options. That being said, I do think that this supplement doesn’t prioritize its content correctly, perhaps due to over-emphasizing NPC-write-ups. This is billed as the end of a notorious villain and the aftermath of his demise, which is a neat premise and something I enjoy seeing.

But the execution? It left me rather disappointed. The eventure spends a lot of time on a plethora of NPCs in Part II, and then misses actually making the capstone of the show, the will itself, interesting. Sure, the web of personalities is neat to see, but combined with the lack of concrete rules, the result of this eventure is that it feels like a very long and detailed adventure hook, not like a social adventure in and off itself. And yes, I am very much aware that the OSR version, system immanently, does not have the same amount of rules expected or required, but the structural shortcomings apply here as well, and they do hurt this version just as much as far as I’m concerned.

In many ways, this either needed more content, or it needed to be split in two to make both parts shine: One eventure for celebrating the demise of a villain, and another one for a proper wake/reading of the will.

As presented, this eventure felt like a let-down to me, and it is only due to the author’s indubitable skill and the low and fair price point that my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars. Compared to the other eventures in the product-line, this one fell flat.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Where There's a Will (OSR)
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Where There's a Will (P2)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:01:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This eventure clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by my patreon supporters and as such moved up in my queue.

Okay, so this eventure works a bit differently from the usual ones, in that it does feature a bit of more contextualization required: This module pretty much requires being set in a coastal city to work as written; the module uses the city of Languard as a default, but conversion to Sasserine, Freeport, Riddleport, etc. is not difficult. The premise, you see, is that the infamous pirate captain Tyric Selflit has passed away, and the consequences of this happening. In a way, the module consists of 3 distinct vignettes that could be run independent of each other, between adventures, or in direct sequence. Part II is a bit more contingent on the other parts, but with some work, it can be run on its own as well. It should be noted that the second part works MUCH BETTER with “A Day Out at the Executions.”

Okay, the eventure begins with 3 hooks and a d8-table of rumors before going into the details of the respective scenes.

The first scene is all about the news spreading, and as such, is complemented by tables that include false and correct rumors, some minor events, and a total of 20 pieces of dressing; the setting of the stage presented here in stages, from bells tolling to rampant speculation, does a good job driving home the gravitas of the situation.

The second scene, then, would be about the deceased pirate getting a funeral of sorts at Traitor’s Gate (see A Day Out at the Executions); here, 6 exceedingly detailed NPC writeups are presented, alongside with a bit of read-aloud text, mannerisms, background, distinguishing features, and notes for interaction with the party. Cool per se…but, you’ve probably already expected what I’m about to say: While we get a rough context line for the power of the individuals (say, “LE female elf ranger 4”), that’s all the mechanics you’ll get, and in this instance, getting some brief notes on social skills etc. would have very much made sense.

Part 3, then, would essentially be the reading of the Will in a shady pirate’s bar, so whether or not the party actually is there will depend on the morals of your group. The tavern is not mapped, and there is an additional NPC for further complications here. The celebration itself, somewhat to my chagrin, is also bereft of rules – even though knife-throwing, drinking etc. all can easily be gamified without spending a lot of words. PARTICULARLY considering PF2’s elegant engines, this would not have been hard. The “notary” does hand out maps, and then offers a quest of sort – for a legendary artifact, which, yep, does not come with stats. (Though, if you do have the 3.X-book Elder Evils, you’ll have a good idea for an end-game for it…) Much to my chagrin, the important parts, the celebration itself and the reading of the will, are totally glossed over. The latter, very volatile situation, is even relegated to a single paragraph. No, I am not kidding you. No if/then, no details…it was a serious downer for me. The eventure closes with some suggestions for further adventures.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-level, the latter being no surprise, since there are next to no rules-relevant components herein. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf offers solid b/w-art, but no cartography for the environments. For Part II, this is not necessarily an issue, but in Part III, it does hurt the adventure. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen use, and the pdfs come fully bookmarked.

Jacob W. Michaels is a veteran designer and author, and it shows in the skillful web of NPCs woven and how plausible they feel. This little pdf manages to set up something we only rarely include in adventures, even though the reading of a will can be rather exciting and a grand source of adventuring options. That being said, I do think that this supplement doesn’t prioritize its content correctly, perhaps due to over-emphasizing NPC-write-ups. This is billed as the end of a notorious villain and the aftermath of his demise, which is a neat premise and something I enjoy seeing.

But the execution? It left me rather disappointed. The eventure spends a lot of time on a plethora of NPCs in Part II, and then misses actually making the capstone of the show, the will itself, interesting. Sure, the web of personalities is neat to see, but combined with the lack of concrete rules, the result of this eventure is that it feels like a very long and detailed adventure hook, not like a social adventure in and off itself. As for the PF2-version, the same structural gripes as in PF1 apply, though personally, my heart aches whenever I see a module not make use of PF2’s exceedingly elegant and word-count-friendly ways to make adventures shine.

In many ways, this either needed more content, or it needed to be split in two to make both parts shine: One eventure for celebrating the demise of a villain, and another one for a proper wake/reading of the will.

As presented, this eventure felt like a let-down to me, and it is only due to the author’s indubitable skill and the low and fair price point that my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars. Compared to the other eventures in the product-line, this one fell flat.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Where There's a Will (P2)
Click to show product description

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