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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)
Click to show product description

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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

Add to DriveThruRPG.com Order

Where There's a Will (P1)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/08/2021 12:00:45

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. 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.

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 (P1)
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Arcforge: Star*Path
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/01/2021 10:50:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This book in the Arcforge-series clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first of all: I don’t expect perfection here. I went into this review with the firm desire to be lenient, as this book attempts something that can system-immanently not be achieved with perfect precision, namely provide more extensive guidelines regarding the translation of SFRPG material to Pathfinder’s first edition, and vice versa.

While both systems seem similar at first glance, even a cursory analysis will show that there are crucial differences in almost all components of the systems in question. This, of course, comes as no surprise to people who have actually played both systems, but it bears mentioning. These differences obviously also extend to the act of building characters and using options.

Now, ideally, we’d have a kind of book-shaped program—input system A, output content perfectly-balanced for system B, but the like would require a near boundless database of material, considering PFRPG’s vast amount of content, and SFRPG’s constant growth.  Unfortunately, the like is, pretty much system-immanently, a squaring of the circle for systems of this complexity, and not something the book could ever originally hope to achieve. If you want a perfect conversion product, then, well, you’ll be disappointed. This book never had a chance to deliver that.

PFRPG’s focus on numerical bonuses, SFRPG’s stamina/resolve-chassis, how magic items and damage is handled, and so many more components, are simply incompatible in many ways, and would require a firm retooling from the ground up.

To make this abundantly clear: The basic premise of this book is as deeply and fundamentally flawed as the SFRPG Core-book’s basic conversion guidelines, at least if you want to maintain the aesthetics and balancing of the two systems, a problem that is more pronounced in SFRPG, as it generally is much less swingy regarding the power-levels of the characters and parties as a whole. If you ever went through the hassle of using SFRPG’s core book’s conversion guidelines for a complex PFRPG-class, you’ll know what I mean.

Introducing PFRPG into this context will inevitably break the power-curve of SFRPG, and/or result in some very weird situations. Same goes vice versa—in PFRPG, targeting touch AC is a huge thing; in SFRPG, touch ACs, per the core book’s conversion guidelines are converted into something that targets EAC instead, which is generally significantly higher than touch AC.

However, if you are sufficiently proficient with both systems and wanted more guidelines than the rather sparse ones the SFRPG-core book offered, then continue reading. This book can’t relieve the task of conversion and balancing off your shoulders, but let’s see whether it can succeed in facilitating the process.

First of all, similar names of abilities, archetypes, etc. are handled by adding “SF” or “PF”, respectively, and the pdf acknowledges that PF-archetypes, when using PF-classes in SFRPG, should be allowed, with the caveat of requiring a case-by-case judgment regarding their applicability.

The book wastes no time and goes through all of Paizo’s PFRPG1-classes and how to adapt them to SFRPG, and also covers the Legendary-rebuilds, up to and including the samurai and magus.  This section and the notes of which class features are diminished, which lost, makes my contention above work better than anything I could have come up with. To give you an example, the following in the entirety of the conversion notes presented for the magus-class:

“2nd Level: For the highest level of magus spells you

can prepare, reduce the number of spells prepared

by 1.

4th Level: You do not gain Spell Recall. When you

would gain Improved Spell Recall, you instead gain

Spell Recall.

Multilevel 6th, 9th, 12th, and 18th levels: You do not

gain a Magus Arcana.“

Okay, so if you follow the global conversion guidelines, the touch attack of spellstrike now targets EAC, but in SFRPG, crits don’t require a reroll to confirm. This book later goes into the topics of critical hits and notes that unusual threat ranges and higher critical multipliers should have a translation regarding critical hit effects instead, and uses wound and severe wound as examples here. Okay but what about a spellstrike critically hitting? Should it have a different critical hit effect for melee attack and for spell conveyed? More generally, many of the secondary pools in PFRPG offer powers that are on par with options that require Resolve expenditure in SFRPG, and/or that have a cooldown, in that they can only be reused in SFRPG after a 10-minute rest in which Resolve was spent to regain Stamina. The book does state that a magus’ arcane pool should be eliminated in favor of Resolve LATER, but does not per se present any guidelines regarding the limitations that often accompany powers contingent on Resolve expenditure.

The material provided by this supplement, ultimately, can never be more than the tiniest fragment of the actual work that would be required to make PFRPG classes work in SFRPG – heck, a proper conversion of 1-3 classes from SFRPG would probably require at least the page-count of this entire book. And that’s not even starting with the fact that SFRPG’s spells tend to be weaker than those of PFRPG.

So yeah – this cannot be the universal conversion guideline it wants to be.

However, it does have some components going for it, in spite of this, as a general rough starting point for your own designs. What to do with favored class options, for example? Well, the pdf covers that.

We then take a look at the helmsman class from Arcforge: Technology Expanded, and probably is the most interesting take here, with the pdf acknowledging the need to remove the numerical bonuses prevalent in akasha, as well as suggestions for Resolve use, bonded vessel starships, etc.—there are some salient starting guidelines here, as well as a couple of armaments…but at the same time, the in-depth look at akasha and its global rewiring to adhere to the conventions of SFRPG isn’t really done.  Some feats, like Technologist and those pertaining combat maneuvers are covered as well, essentially elaborating slightly on the general guidelines presented in SFRPG’s core book. The pdf discourages the use of martial maneuvers and Path of War classes in SFRPG, but does imply the use of psionics and akasha, with the power-increasing and rather problematic “…as advanced tech” guidelines from Arcforge: Technology Expanded to be okay in SFRPG. …Yeah. NO.

This is problematic on a balance-level perspective, and also regarding the respective “item levels” or the like, as which these then are supposed to be treated. Personal pet-peeve: There is no “power armor” in SFRPG—the correct name is “powered armor”, and oddly, the book suggests making Arcforge: Technology Expanded’s mechs behave as powered armor, which makes NO SENSE. They behave clearly as a vehicle that is closer regarding its mobility to a powered armor, but…again. What was I expecting? To properly translate the rules to SFRPG would take much more space than just a paragraph.

On the plus-side, weapon category translation from PFRPG to SFRPG makes sense, and we take the finesse/operative angle into account, and the pdf also provides a quick fix regarding the different types of automatic fire when using PFRPG weapons with automatic fire in SFRPG—the pdf suggests changing the PFRPG version’s name to “automatic (burst).” PFRPG charges count as ½ SFRPG charge, and charges sourced from a SFRPG-battery count as two charges for PFRPG weaponry. And yep, oddly there is no acknowledging of the fact that PFRPG’s version of automatic fire can allow for automatic long-range blasts, while SFRPG’s version, oddly, is more spray and pray, in spite of ostensibly using the higher tech…well…tech. This is, alas, symptomatic. As soon as you go into the details, the book falls apart.

The quick and dirty 2 gold = 1 credit conversion for item costs may work for some games, but it is, balance-wise, widely off. Compare the dark blue rhomboid ioun stone with its +2 to Perception and Sense Motive (+4 when reaching 10 ranks) in Pathfinder, with its aeon stone equivalent. In SFRPG. the item in SFRPG provides a +2 insight bonus to Perception and Sense Motive. Both very basic, right? No later scaling in SFRPG, so the PFRPG-version is better.

If you follow these guidelines, the PFRPG-item (price: 10K gold) would only cost 5,000 credits in SFRPG. Here’s the thing: The SFRPG aeon stone? Priced at 18,000 credits and item level 10. Those are the most basic examples I could find at a glance; better one exist, but this one is so straightforward, it’s impossible to dispute.

The system provided here is not even close to what the output should be, and this example is the most basic I could find. It does get worse.

Let me make that abundantly clear:

These guidelines DO NOT WORK and will destroy any semblance of balance your SFRPG game has.

As an aside, I’d also like to mention that, in SFRPG, the resource is credits, and NOT “CP.”

It gets so much worse. “In SF, characters are unable to wear more than two functioning magic items at a time. Given the sheer number of magic items that become available when PF content is allowed, players may wish for a way to circumvent this restriction. Hence, it is proposed that for every unused armor upgrade slot the character possesses in their armor, the character may wear and use an additional worn magic item.” (Arcforge: Star*Path, pg.11)

And this is where anybody obviously stopped caring about any notion of balance whatsoever. Because a mk1 electrostatic field is CLEARLY the equivalent of a 192,000 gold amulet. Clearly. Nobody ever took a look at this and thought: “I think there ought to be some differentiation based on price going on here.”????

There is a table of technological artifacts with horribly priced items. PFRPG’s power armor from the Technology Guide is seriously presented as a 150,000 credit item…you know, instead of with, I don’t know…PROPER POWERED ARMOR STATS FOR SFRPG.

Oh, and don’t even think that the high-level armor-benefits and damage outputs in SFRPG are in any way, shape or form balanced with the PFRPG-material converted to the system.

In summary: The conversion notes from PFRPG to SFRPG are a dismal failure that will break your SFRPG-game to smithereens.

So, does the conversion notes from SFRPG to the first edition of PFRPG fare better? So, we begin with a solid conversion regarding HD, classes with weapon specialization lose it, and Resolve is used as a regular pool for class abilities only. Spells lose Resolve cost, and since many items, feats and ship actions require Resolve as well, the pdf champions the introduction of yet another pool, namely surge points, which is equal  ½ HD or CR, + the creature’s highest ability score modifier. The pdf advises in favor of doubling static bonus gains and the conversion notes for each class are better than that for the PFRPG classes, making use of spell lists, proficiencies, spell casting categories. Ironic: In the per se simple race conversions, static bonuses should be racial in PFRPG as well – something missing from e.g. the shirren’s gifted linguist ability. Blindsense in PFRPG is also much stronger than in SFRPG. Still, as a whole, this is somewhat better than the first part of the book.

And then we come to global system changes: When using this variant, all characters get Precise Shot, Technologist, Weapon Finesse and Improved Unarmed Strike, even if they don’t meet the prerequisites. Oh, and for the purpose of prerequisites, all characters are treated as having the Combat Expertise, Dodge, Point-Blank Shot and Power Attack feats, and any Improved combat maneuver feats are not required for the purpose of prerequisites.

At this point, the book leaves conversion guideline territory, and becomes “essentially a massive hack to the game, with different expectations that any core game I know has.” On the plus-side, we get a table with some PFRPG-feats and the SF-version, noting which feat to use—you’d use SF’s Spring Attack, but PF’s Spell Focus, for example. Odd: The longer the pdf runs, the more typos there seem to be – superscripts not superscripted, a “h” missing from “heavy armor” and the like, but that as an aside. The translation of SFRPG critical hit effects to PFRPG works (they are realized with threat range/multiplier mods instead; not a fan of the design, but it does work), and Weapon Focus essentially now applies to item groups. The pdf also provides guidelines for damage die increases when using SFRPG weapons in PFRPG, and a handy chart that lists damage dice and average damage, which is helpful for non-designer GMs who can’t quickly calculate the like on the fly. But know what’s missing? Entirely? Damage conversion. Know how SFRPG-weapons can have insane base damage values in comparison with PFRPG? Guess what’s not even mentioned? Bingo. How to use these/convert these. The magic item/fusion conversion is btw. as wonky as you’d expect it to be.

The book next provides some VERY cursory guidelines for using SFRPG monsters in PFRPG—which’d be a good point to note that the pdf does mention Armor Penetration rules. These can be found in the Arcforge: Psibertech book, and not, as claimed here, in the Arcforge: Technology Expanded book. Not a complaint, mind you, but it’s something I noticed while testing these three books.

This is btw. the section where it all clicked for me: Why no proper modification of armor and weapons: The GM’s supposed to modify the encounters to make up for the ridiculous escalation of AC and weapon damage! While some general guidelines are presented, this presents a kind of problem not unlike the one witnessed, ironically, with Mythic Adventures BEFORE Legendary Games started bashing that system into a better shape and properly upgraded the adversaries, banned the broken bits, etc.

I was honestly chuckling there for a second—in a very, very bitter way. I don’t think this is worth it. The conversion breaks the game, knows it, shrugs its shoulders and tells the GM to “git gud” and play rocket launcher tag. As an aside: Numerous spell references are wrong here, and throwing more enemies at PCs, high initiative, negative statuses and environment can only go so far. This is not an acceptable or in any way salient way of handling conversion.

This should have received the attention and care to make it work for vanilla Pathfinder groups.

The book also contains new mechanics in the guise of PF1-archetypes:

The ace greaser mechanic gets a companion vehicle and may choose helmsman overcharges in place of mechanic tricks. The robot lord helmsman gets the mechanic’s artificial intelligence and custom rig instead of the bonded vessel stuff.

But there is more. Did a lot of the above sound familiar to you?  The disregard of balancing tools in both systems. The damage escalation. The fact that the book sees no issue in blatant power-escalation…well, the majority of archetypes herein are made with Path of War rules. And the shortcomings in the SFRPG to PFRPG-section suddenly make sense. If you can dish out ridiculous amount of damage and the design goal is to solo dragons, the SFRPG weapons won’t bother you (as much)—but they’ll be added to that, so sure you want that? Regarding math, a +20 AC matters less when you use a subsystem that is based partially on the assumption that you can substitute skill-checks for attack rolls, allowing you to boost your attacks in a ridiculous manner. When you can hit with a skill that you can buff by +5 for less than 1K gold, this lack of concern becomes suddenly understandable. When the system’s already changed regarding its base assumptions regarding PC and NPC power, undercutting prices and the like? Suddenly falls by the wayside.

In all brevity: Eliminator’s operatives get Steel Serpent, Tempest Gale and Thrashing Dragon, as well as the option to Claim targets as a swift action. This has a close range, and lasts for ½ class level rounds, and it makes you auto-succeed trick attacks against claimed targets. Legatus envoys get Golden Lion, Scarlet Throne and Tempest Gale…and…oh boy. Guess what? The ability to execute maneuvers through allies? You know, one of the rajah’s ridiculously strong abilities? This fellow has it. But guess what? While extremely potent, I’d allow this fellow in Path of War games. It’s a very strong option, but not as escalated as the rajah. Starknight solarians get Elemental Flux, Golden Lion, Riven Hourglass, Solar Wind and Veiled Moon. Their maneuvers are randomly granted in combat, somewhat akin to the crusader class of To9S of yore. Interesting: 2 disciplines are assigned to photon, two to graviton, while Elemental Flux is always an option. As such, stellar mode is modified into an animus ability (required for Elemental Flux). I like the blend of maneuver-and mode-engines here. For a Path of War game, it’s an interesting engine-tweak. The uplink warrior mechanic chooses here disciplines and uses them via exocortex, including an ability to gain temporarily combat feats. The zenith marine soldier gets four disciplines of their choice and a series of fixed immunities in exchange for 5 bonus feats and kill shot, which is a ridiculously good deal, but I kinda expected as much.

The pdf closes with a couple of solarian and technomancer options balanced for PFRPG (don’t use these in SFRPG!), and feats to adjust classes to the power-level of the fused systems – such as making trick attacks possible with all weapons, an option to use a mind blade and enhance is like a solar blade, etc. There is also a feat that lets you use PFRPG automatic weapons with the SFRPG automatic property. Ironically, the PFRPG automatic property is better in SFRPG, with its focus on longer-range combat, and the SFRPG automatic, with its spray and pray, is stronger in PFRPG…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not particularly impressive on a formal or rules-language level, particularly not for Legendary Games. There are plenty of formatting hiccups herein, with missed italicizations, capitalized things that shouldn’t be, etc. I also found quite a few typos. The rules-language level fares better, but only regarding the formal execution. If you even remotely value the balance of your game, take ANYTHING herein, even the components that seem to make sense or sound like true convictions and facts, with not a grain, but a large dose of salt. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Matt Daley’s Star*Path didn’t really have as big a mountain to climb to my heart. I did not expect it to be exhaustive; it can’t be at this page count. I expected it to be helpful; incomplete, but genuinely helpful. All I wanted out of this book, was some tables, some math done for me, so I wouldn’t have to extrapolate as much. And I VERY MUCH wanted to like this book.

This needed to present some guidelines for GMs to decide when an ability converted from PFRPG to SFRPG needed a resource cost, some suggestions for pools and how they operate. This needed to get the magic translation from system to system right, provide guidelines for spells. And get the items right. All of these things, general design principles from which one can extrapolate special cases, could have easily fitted within the book’s 38 pages.

Instead, we get essentially useless, fragmentary class conversion starts that gobble up wordcount; utterly broken, worthless and handwaving pricing guidelines that don’t live up to the most cursory of scrutiny. The conversion notes are mired in specifics, when it should have provided WORKING general guidelines. The conversion to SFRPG is a colossal mess. Don’t use it.

The other way round fares a bit better; it’s not good either, though, and much like the other direction it is just as mired in specifics, which, while nice when they apply, was not what this book professed to be.

To make this abundantly clear: Whether you want to convert PFRPG to SFRPG, or vice versa—this book fails in delivering anything remotely balanced. For most groups, the material herein will not work. The conversion to SFRPG in particular is horribly uneven. I tried both directions and found both incredibly wanting.

That being said, there is one thing of value for a very select audience: The fused system based on PFRPG, with SFRPG-components spliced in, makes sense in a very abstract, theoretical manner. The assumed power-level of this fusion is greater than its parts, and the prevalence of Path of War-based material is testament to that. The notion of playing fast and loose with balancing in favor of a power-fantasy, the crucial defining feature of Path of War, is also prevalent here. So, if your aesthetic is that you should be able to solo dragons and don’t mind escalation beyond Path of War Expanded, then this fused system will have merit for you and your group.

If you wanted a solarian balanced against non-Path of War-PFRPG? Then I’d suggest the edgeknight by Interjection Games, a light/darkness-mode full-BAB class (see Ultimate Antipodism) that will not break your game, potentially with some power upgrades, depending on your game’s power level. For PFRPG, there are plenty of classes that fill SFRPG-class niches.

The only groups to whom I can really recommend this pdf, are those that play with Path of War, who also REALLY wanted to have the SFRPG-classes in PFRPG. For you, this may be a solid offering, though you’ll still have to rephrase all those abilities for smooth gameplay.

For me as a person, this book was worthless. I got nothing out of it.

Nothing at all. I will use nothing from this book ever again. For me, this is a 1-star dud.

As a reviewer, I consider it problematic, in that it professes to provide reliable metrics for conversions (see item conversion) with an air of conviction, but if you even slightly prod the numbers, they fall apart, making it a somewhat malign trap for less number-focused GMs.

Heck, the even remotely mathematically-inclined who went into some deep dives regarding the engines of the two systems will notice pretty much immediately that this doesn’t deliver what it needed to.

A book like this is certainly possible, but it needed to really get into the math and the grit of the systems and focus on getting the core translation right. This did not, and instead got lost in specifics without addressing the fundamental issues of the task at hand. For super high-powered groups, this can be an okay, if seriously flawed book; for all others, this is at best a dud, at worst a danger to the integrity of your game.

I wanted to love this. I hoped to adore it. I didn’t want a perfect conversion code, but I wanted a functional core from which one can extrapolate—because that’s what this book desperately needed to deliver. And didn’t.

My final verdict can’t exceed 1.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Arcforge: Star*Path
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Ships: Heavy Dropship
Publisher: Evil Robot Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/30/2021 08:58:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Galaxy Pirates-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content, and the deal also includes a high-res jpg floorplan of a medical shuttle. Let’s take a look!

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

This pdf contains a total of 6 different dropships for your perusal, and these include one-page ship-sheets that already include the respective ship’s stats filled in, serving as ready-to-use handouts. Additionally, a page contains a selection of paper-model stand-up style artwork versions of the ship you see on the cover; the floorplan of the medical shuttle is included in a version that specifies what’s where in the pdf as well, serving as a nice complement to the VTT-ready jpg, which omits that information and thus can be used for other contexts as well. The awesome artwork is presented, handout-style, on a one-page size, handouts-ready, as well.

Each of the 6 ships features a brief introductory note on how they are used, a statblock, some ship notes and sample names (nice!), and a Computers-table full of DCs (EDIT: Typo in pdf was fixed), so that’s what we get structurally.

Regarding the respective ship tiers, we’re moving in the lower tier-section, ranging from tier 1 to tier 3, with all classified as small shuttles. The standard tier 1 heavy dropship is powered by an arcus light power core, and sports basic short-range sensors; it features mk 4 armor and defenses, as well as a mk 1 tetranode computer; S8 thrusters provide proper perfect maneuverability. No drift engine for the basic version, and three cargo holds. Basic 20 shields are applied in a 3:2 ratio to forwards/aft : port/starboard. Offense capabilities would be provided by a forwards-facing coilgun.

For the tier 2 heavy arms dropship, the shields are upgraded to basic 30, with the shields on port and starboard almost as well-developed as those on front and back. Beyond the crew being better, the primary change here would be that the offense has changed to featuring linked coilguns on the forwards-facing side. The increased power requirement of shields is satisfied by a pulse gray power core.

The heavy armored dropship (tier 2 as well) places s single coilgun on a turret, and uses a micromissile battery as the forwards-facing weaponry. Shields are upgraded EDIT: and now properly classified as light 60. For this fellow, we go with only budget short-range sensors, but upgrade armor and defenses to mk 5. A mk 1 duonode computer is in this one; like the heavy arms dropship, it sports 3 cargo holds as expansion bays. Funny: There is a list of irreverent nicknames for these types of ship: From “Anvil Chorus” to “Aerodynamic Brick Express”—that got a chuckle out of me.

The remaining 3 ships are all tier 3: The medical dropship gets light 50 shields with relatively even distribution, the base mk 4 armor and defenses, and a mk 2 trinode computer; the only weaponry here would be the ole’ forwards-facing coilgun, and 3 medical bays underline the focus of this one.

The science exploration dropship (tier 3) has a pulse gray power core with a signal basic hyperdrive and advanced medium-range sensors, and a mk 3 duonode computer. With mk 4 defenses and armor, is suitable regarding defenses for a non-primary combat ship for the tier, and the shields (6 better on forward and aft) also make sense; Good crew quarters make sense for scientists and two labs plus environmentally-sealed chamber as expansion bays certainly make sense as far as the designated use is concerned. Offensive capabilities would be provided by a turret coilgun.

The recon dropship uses the heavy armored dropship’s offensive capabilities, and also has the signal basic hyperdrive; as noted previously, we have 60 shields, which are distributed identically to the science exploration dropship; we have a mk 3 mononode computer, and also retain the science exploration vessel’s good quarters. Defenses are upgraded to mk 5, and sensors are improved to advanced long-range sensors. The science-vessel’s labs and sealed chamber have been replaced with cargo holds. EDIT: Computers check DC table has been fixed.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting EDIT: have significantly improved, getting rid of some typo-level glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard, which, while in color, remains relatively easy to print, and the ship-sheets are really handy; similarly, the inclusion of a deck plan in full color, including a VTT-friendly, key-less version, is awesome. Weird issue, probably only on my desktop PC, as I haven’t been able to duplicate it elsewhere: The colors of that jpg display correctly for a second when opened, then switch to their negative values. The VTT is tried this with got rid of the issue, though. Just figured I’d mention it. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length, and the dropship artwork provided is awesome (seems to be the heavy arms dropship, fyi).

I really appreciate the ships provided by Paul Fields and Jim Milligan; they take some time off my hands, and help when one needs to improvise; plus, I always maintain that SFRPG needs MOAR ships. And ship plans. Lots more. That being said, I am somewhat less enamored with this installment than with the best of the previous ones. A little bit more variation between the different types of dropship would have been nice to see. EDIT: As a whole, for the low price, and considering the neat plan + artwork, there isn't anything to really complain about, now that the previous hiccups have been taken care of. It's not the strongest of the installments in the series, but it does provide some neat bang for buck. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, but in the end, I think this is closer to 4 than 5, hence I'll be rounding down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ships: Heavy Dropship
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Fronds of Benevolence
Publisher: Melsonian Arts Council
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/27/2021 06:42:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page hyperlinked ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 44 pages of content, laid out in booklet size (6’’ by 9’’/A5). My review is based on both the pdf and the offset-printed hardcover-version. Let’s take a look!

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

On the interior of the back page, we have a total of 36 common names, and 36 common occupations, which include cockfight referees, thinking engine specialists, etc.; similarly weird in a good way would be a 36-entry table of golden barge meals, and the inside of the front cover provides two d6 tables of rumors, which state that they want the GM to state whether they’re true or false; one d6-table is for the Northern part, the other for the southern part; facing this would be the point-crawl-style flowchart of encounters/regions that the party may explore. A pointcrawl is a way to depict overland adventure: Scripted encounters/locations are noted on the map, travel distances between them as well; it’s like each encounter/location is one dungeon room. Simple and elegant.

In the back of the book, we get a selection of 12 critters/NPCs and their stats, with some of them featuring Mien-sub-tables.

Regarding the theme, this book plays to Troika’s biggest strength: Full-blown strangeness in a playful manner, and the module, ultimately, is a road-trip like journey; it has a branching path of sorts, and is intended for 4 to 6 characters, but it does not focus on a riveting plot or the like. The module starts in the Duchy of Plandra, which is headed by Duke DeCorticus, a benevolent plant-overlord with a complex life-cycle that depends on rare earths; also known as star loam, this substance usually comes from “The Wall”, far to the south; now, no more shall be delivered. Is that due to the crazed pamphlets of seditionists that have been showing up in Plandra? It’s up to the party to secure the earths their patron/deity/ruler requires to survive.

Structurally, this is a broad-strokes type of module; the journey aspect caters to that aspect, and the GM is encouraged to move things along to the best of their ability; this is contrasted with something rather uncommon… …but to comment on that, I need to dive into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

… .. .

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, on page p, the timekeeping aspect comes into play: At the module’s start, you roll 4d6; this is how long the Duke’ll have to live. Each day has 4 die-signs showing 6s, and every hour, you fill in a pip. On the pointcrawl page, a specific region lists its travel time, usually in days, to pass through it or to move to a connected locale; this means that, RAW, if the initial 4d6 roll is bad, the module can actually be unwinnable. I intensely dislike this. Say, you roll 4d6 and get 1,1,2,2. Then, the party takes the faster travel option, but might have to wait 1d3 days; the party is lucky and comes up with a 1 day waiting period and rolls travel duration for it: 1d3, comes up as 3. One day left; even with ideal actions by all players, they cannot return to Plandra in time to save the Duke. As an aside: The Duke’s life is on the line—the party should have an express barge set up for them. The delay to even start the journey makes no sense to me. Granted, a pretty bad scenario for the Duke’s life is not that likely, but a minimum value (it’s 6 days, fyi) noted for the GM to save the Duke, or a suggested number for a fair, a tough, an extreme challenge? That’d have been helpful.

Anyhow, I already mentioned branching paths and travel options: The party has two general venues when it comes to traveling from Plandra, first of which would be a Golden Barge; the other being a stilt loper, essentially a massive platform on two goofy mechanical legs. The stilt loper walker can set off right away, but it requires trusting the pilot, and is slower: the very first travel to the first associated area takes 1d6 days. You see where I’m getting at. The randomized deadline doesn’t do the module any favors.

This out of the way, the first of the most likely routes is the one with a stronger intrigue-theme: taking the Golden Barge also means that the party will probably have a fight with a void beast, and there’s a chance that the auric liquidators will attempt to blow up the Barge; these liquidators are the fanatical secret police that serves Green Overseer Feng, the delightfully goofy mastermind behind the brewing sedition and pamphlets denouncing Duke DeCorticus. If the Barge does crash-land, it might end up on an asteroid, which sports the one content-level gripe I could find; the rudimentary culture on this piece of rock is governed by The Calculatronicus, a vast engine capable of firing rays, but which lacks the stats for these rays. The rainbow badlands haunted by the (white) wine-colored raiders would be the second possible location to crash.

Which brings me to a structural nitpick with this module: While there are possible connections between routes and options given for, and where the barge crash-lands is actually noted in a table, there is no real guidance provided there; one silt loper pilot wants to get to the emptied city, which can be reached from the rainbow badlands, the asteroid, and from the eye-bleed badlands, but WHY the party would get there/the connection per se, is weak. The asteroid is another example: It can lead to the rainbow badlands, or to the emptied city, but how? The GM needs to fill in those details.

Thus, as a whole, the module does feel in parts like a well-fleshed out outline, but one that does not sport a consistent connective tissue between all locales, which, admittedly, tend to be outrageous and interesting.

As mentioned before, one way to solve this would be to reach the Wall and best Overseer Feng in his cupola; I generally like this route, but the society atop the wall and the unmapped chambers of the cupola have made this section a bit more opaque than I’d have liked it to be.

The second way to save the Duke would be to find an Yggdrasil-sized tree and reach its roots, where the psychic holy tuber is guarded by 3 undead gardener-knights with unique weaponry, all in a village otherwise only inhabited by grotesque mummies, whose heads have been replaced with roses, which struck me as a truly disturbing and weird imagery.

A big plus of this module would be its significant replay-value; there are many ways to go about solving the module, and e.g. the cultural conflict between the red and white wine-colored raiders is but one of the various strange tidbits; having a species of pseudo-baba-yagas hunt silt lopers? Interesting. Terrain-features with actual impact on gameplay? Nice. I couldn’t help but feel, though, that the module would have been better-served by decreasing the number of locations, and instead providing more details for them…and being consistent in their connective tissues/transitions.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a 1-column standard with a blending of original b/w and full-color artworks in the same style as seen on the cover. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, with the header of each page of the pdf jumping back to the pointcrawl map—nice. The pips of the die-timeline can be marked in the pdf version as well. Kudos! The print version is a solid, well-crafted hardcover.

Andrew Walter provides a nice, fast-paced journey when it works as intended; if the GM consistently pushes the party forward and hasn’t rolled too low on the days-to-live-counter, the module can feel like a truly strange and fascinating roadtrip that taps into the same kind of weirdness that the Troika! core book proposes; hitting this note is impressive. On a downside, if a party does want to think, linger, plan, act methodically, then this module might well be frustrating for the party and GM alike, as the connective tissue between locations, how to actually get from A to B, is more vague than it really needs to be. Quite a lot of pages have between ¼ and 1/2 of a page of free space, so the module certainly had plenty of space to put these final developments in.

In many ways, this module, to me, is slightly frustrating; with one final development pass and some blank spots filled out, this could have easily been a masterpiece. Having a player-friendly map of the pointcrawl, or parts of it, would also have been helpful indeed. In the end of one of the routes, some maps would have been helpful as well.

This adventure is certainly unique, brims with creativity, and has some delightfully outré ideas, but it does lack that final refinement to make everything smoothly gel together; not to the point where an experienced GM is stumped, but certainly to the point where this needs some serious planning to run smoothly. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Fronds of Benevolence
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Files for Everybody: Fighter Options
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/26/2021 09:12:09

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction (which does contain new mechanics in the side bar), 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with slightly over 4 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.

We begin this pdf with 10 fighter feats for 1st level; among those, the passives are “X Training” feats; Trip Training, Shove Training, Intimidation Training, Feinting Training, Grapple Training and Disarm Training. The design paradigm of these is clear: You use a weapon instead of a skill for a maneuver, provided your weapon has the proper trait, you use an attack roll instead of the respective skill for the maneuver. For the physical maneuvers, this usually means not requiring Athletics, while Deception and Intimidation can be avoided with the respective feats; in these two instances, we also have a modification to prerequisites, allowing you to use a weapon rank’s proficiency rank instead. I am the only one who cares about that, but to me, Demoralize Training would have been a better feat name, and analogue to the other feat names, but that’s just me being OCD, and not a strike against the feats.

The remainder of the 1st-level feats take one action to activate, with Combat Advice being the first: You choose an ally and one opponent and make a fighter roll (explained as 1d20 + proficiency bonus for fighter class DC + key ability modifier); if you succeed, you briefly share proficiency rank for one attack (or until the ally’s next turn on a critical success); on a critical failure, the ally takes a penalty until the start of your next turn. The feat requires both to be within 30 ft, but oddly, not that you actually perceive both.

Parry has the Concentrate trait and lets you make an attack roll, which you compare with the AC of all opponents you’re observing; on a success, the next attack is resolved vs. attack DC (10 + proficiency bonus with used weapon + Strength modifier, or Dexterity modifier if you used a finesse weapon) instead of your AC; on a critical success, this lasts until the start of your next turn, while a critical failure nets you a penalty to AC and Reflex saves against that opponent. This feat is interesting, but it’s also a bit weird, in that it allows the user no control over the enemies against which it applies, save the “observing” caveat; RAW, you check against all opponents, which might end up with you having a critical success against some opponents, and a critical failure against others. Design-wise, I get this decision 100%, but from an in-game logic point, it strikes me as odd, as it potentially rewards limiting your own field of view.

The other 2 first-level feats use a new trait introduced, namely Exhaust; you can only a feat with this trait only once until you take the Rebound Exploration action, which also features the Concentrate trait; one use of Rebound refreshes all your ability to take actions with the Exhaust trait. (That’s the new content on the intro-page, fyi.) EDIT: As an aside, if your group gravitates towards to higher-powered play, an easily-turned balancing screw would be to track Exhaust by feat, and not globally.

Battle Trance would be one of those feats: It has the Exhaust and Stance traits, and it adds deadly equal to the weapon’s damage die to all weapons you wield, and the effect increases as usual for striking weapons; if the weapon already has the deadly or fatal trait, you instead increase the die size by one step. Battle Trance lasts for Constitution modifier rounds and takes one action to activate. Con 14 is a prerequisite to ensure the feat is viable, which also extends to the next feat. For two actions, Second Wind can be used when your current Hit Points are less than your total hit points; this nets you 3 + Constitution modifier temporary hit points that last for 1 minute.

For 2nd level, we have 5 feats: Swift Aid takes an action and can eb sued once per turn, allowing you to Aid attacks of an ally. Which struck me as weird. Pretty sure that the action icon here is wrong, as the vanilla Aid already requires spending an action. Or this was supposed to eliminate the need for the reaction, but I’m not sure here. Size Up lets you Recall Knowledge using Perception, and nets you information on fighting prowess, whether the target uses offensive or defensive fighting styles, etc.; It's nice to see that the control here remains firmly in the GM’s hands. One Step Ahead is a stance and makes you choose an opponent. If said opponent tries to use Manipulate and triggers and AoO, you disrupt the attempt if you hit, and can, on a critical success, even regain your reaction. Stance lasts for 1 round. Bravery is a reaction with the Exhaust trait, and makes a failed fear effect save a success, a success a critical success. Lightning Reload is another Exhaust action (1 action) and requires Dex and Con 14M it makes all trained weapons reload 0 and thrown weapons can thus be drawn as part of the same action as attacking them; the stance lasts for Constitution modifier rounds.

Among the 4th-level feats, we have one that builds on Second Wind, with scaling increases to temporary Hit Points. For one action, Distance Thrower is a stance that increases the distance of weapons you’re a master or legendary with. Half Haft is a stance that lets you one-hand 2-handed melee weapons at the cost of damage die decreasing by one size; when entering of exiting the stance, changing grip appropriately is a free Interact. With the Exhaust trait, we have two feats that also sport the Fortune trait: Unmoving requires wearing armor, and nets you a circumstance bonus to AC, save DC, or saving throw equal to the armor check penalty. I like the idea here; long-term, this is a feat that bears close scrutiny, though. Rebounding Attack is a reaction when you miss a Strike with a weapon you’re an expert with; it nets you a reroll, but can’t do anything for you on critical failures.

For 6th level, we have a total of 7 feats: Boundless Stamina lets you use up to 3 Exhaust actions before you need to Rebound. Armor Training decreases the Speed penalty by 5 feet for every 2 by which your Strength exceeds the armor’s Strength value; it also nets you minor physical resistance based on armor type. This feat makes sense in so many ways. I love it! Assured Strike is a feat with the Exhaust trait and can be triggered when you Strike an opponent and hit, dealing average weapon die damage, rounded down. The second feat with Exhaust, Determination lets you make an ability check against negative conditions, with the ability depending on the condition, and if you succeed, you get to decrease the respective condition value. Minor nitpick: The “Success” line has a formatting hiccup.

If you’re wielding a shield and are expert in Reflex saves, you can, for two actions, use Shielded Evasion to Raise a Shield. Until the start of your next turn, your Reflex save successes become critical. Makes so much sense, 2 thumbs up! Also, for two actions, we can make the classic Dazzling Display, but only if you are a master with simple and martial training and have Intimidation Training; this is a 60 ft. AoE Demoralize that uses your attack roll vs. Will DC of affected foes. Shrug It Off builds on Second Wind, and nets you temporarily half your level as fast healing for 3 rounds when using it.

For 8th level, we have two feats: Armored Assault enhances your unarmed attacks by your armor’s potency rune, and if it’s made from special materials, lets you bypass resistances. Hustled Step is a Flourish and Exhaust feat that requires no action and nets you a free Step. Finally, we have 3 10th-level feats: Quickened Combatant also has Exhaust and Flourish as traits and requires no action but must be used when you begin your turn; you get quickened 1 until the end of your turn and must use it for Strike or an attack action. Bolstered Stamina takes only one action but can be used only once per day: It nets you an instant Rebound. Battle Routine is a Stance with the Concentrate and Exhaust traits, one action to activate, and builds on Assured Strike; you can maintain it for Constitution ability modifier rounds, and while you do, Assured Strike no longer has the Exhaust trait.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, very good on a rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf needs no bookmarks at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ fighter options are bold and let you do some rather neat things; from the anime-inspired Battle Trance to the iconic option to use the shield to withstand dragon breath, the supplement offers quite a few feats I’d consider to be gold. The usage of the Exhaust/Rebound-mechanics to balance the more powerful options is nice as well and discourages from building nova-fighters that are very strong, and then need a rest after every combat…which is rather clever, design-wise. I like this supplement; it’s not 100% perfect, but certainly worth getting if you’re looking for some fancy fighter tricks. 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Files for Everybody: Fighter Options
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Book of Beasts: Witch Codex (PF 1e)
Publisher: Jon Brazer Enterprises
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2021 05:54:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Book of Beasts-series focusing on NPC Codex-style NPCs clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page of back cover, leaving us with 19 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.

Okay, as usual, we begin with a brief introduction before diving into the respective NPC stats; the focus, for the most part, lies on the statblocks, though, like in the NPC Codex, there are a few instances where the statblock is followed by a brief sample NPC personality and potential roleplaying advice for said named NPCs. The rationale here is clever: Essentially, statblocks that do not take up enough room use the extra space to deliver this bonus content of sorts; conversely, this means that these entries mainly show up between the extremes of the level-range.

The pdf includes a total of 20 statblocks, one for each level, thus spanning CRs from ½ to 19. A significant plus as far as I’m concerned: there are no derivative statblocks in the supplement, so you won’t see one statblock at CR 1, and a mildly-modified/scaled version of the same statblock at CR 5; instead, each of the builds actually is independent, which is a great thing as far as I’m concerned. It’s also nice to see that base statistics are included in the builds, as is a proper tactics section.

Beyond this show of genuine passion and care, the supplement also features another aspect I very much enjoy seeing: This book makes full good of PFRPG’s extensive book canon: Ultimate Wilderness, Ultimate Intrigue, and, of course, the older hardcovers (excluding, interestingly, Occult Adventures, pretty much my favorite PFRPG 1e hardcover by Paizo), which helps diversify the content presented in a significant manner. The builds actually represent this broad focus in more than one way: The CR ½ Coven Aspirant, for example, has chosen Defiant Luck, with the spellbook including snowball.

At CR 1, we have a goblin tribal cursecaller, with corresponding low Wisdom and Charisma, and a spell-selection that includes aphasia and mudball. I really enjoy seeing builds like this. Why? Because PF1e, in some of its best moments, uses mechanics to underline the story and flavor of a creature or NPC, generating this cool mutual reinforcement between rules and flavor.

Of course, there also is a rather significant diversity between patrons chosen for the various witches. The CR 2 clandestine practitioner, for example, has the ancestry patron, while the CR 3 draconic debilitator uses the occult patron; the kobold uses the hex channeler archetype, and with flame-retardant outfit and two different grenades, the fellow feels radically different from any builds after and before it.

Need an arcane skirmisher with hit-and-run capabilities? What about a CR 4 grippli using the woodlands patron and blowgun and Opening Volley? Yeah, cool build. At CR 5, we have a hedge witch (with a super-minor cosmetic hiccup: The correctly formatted archetype is listed twice in brackets; does not influence integrity of statblock) that pretty much is a take on the white witch trope; nice!

A dwarf brewing specialist has sensible feats: Brew Potion, Brewmaster, Ironguts…you get the gist; the rules complement the concept; same e.g. for the CR 7 changeling sea witch with a tidal theme, blending “stormy” aggressive and defensive options, resulting in a we—rounded build, including Brilliant Spell Preparation and a properly reserved slot. NICE. In fact, that is probably one of the things I enjoy most about these NPC builds: I can see these characters actually existing in the game world; they make sense.

Need a dhampir caster with a serious vampire mage angle? You can find it here. A sylph with a hard and soft terrain control angle themed around mobility and a theme of mists and air magic? Included. A tiefling with a seduction/enchantment theme? Yep. Want a witch who, spell-wise, cleaves closer to the wizard, representing arcane schooling? Included herein. Want a hermit with a subdued dark fey/thorn angle? You can find ne in this pdf. With the bonded witch archetype and deception as a patron, we have a CR 13 half-elf that makes for a good take on the arcane thief/heist-specialist. The ratfolk skin changer would do skaven proud, with a blend of transmutations & plague-based magic.

The book also includes an evil monarch build focused on domination and vengeance, supplemented by full-blown battle magics, and, on the other side of the spectrum, the most potent witch herein masquerades as a shepherd…and if you cross them, you may end up as a goat…

One of my favorite builds in a while: Fetchling gravewalker 17 that has a spell-selection based primarily on necromancy, with darkness and debuffs plus clever selection of hexes and supplemental options, making this witch a threat in regular combat, but also a surprisingly efficient serial killer style adversary. A genuinely cool villain build that made me come up with a neat adventure outline.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal and rules-language level; well done! Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, with a black border, and the pdf includes a blend of new full-color artworks and classic stock art pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Richard Moore delivers, big time, in this NPC-Codex-style offering; the builds are versatile, make sense in-game as persons, and still retain a wide variety of tricks that make them mechanically viable for the respective focus of the build. The pdf does everything right that I’d want here: The builds are versatile and varied; they make use of a ton of options and provide a blend of straight and rather out there builds, and all without compromising the viability of the respective statblock as a representation of a character actually existing in-game. Heck, when a statblock makes me come up with a module structure? Yeah, awesome.

This is 100% worth the low asking price and stands as an excellent representation of a damn fine NPC Codex-style book. Final verdict? best of-tag, 5 stars + seal of approval. Want a selection of diverse and cool witch statblocks? Get this. Heck, this might be worth getting even if that’s not what you’re actively looking for.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Beasts: Witch Codex (PF 1e)
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