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Mini-Dungeon #020: Sepulchre of the Witching Hour's Sage
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/28/2015 05:29:52
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


Still here?

All right!


Sometimes, the PCs need answers at any cost. Thus, they enter a two-way portal in a cemetery near the ruins of an ancient civilization and enter the sepulchre - where they will soon notice that entering specific rooms may deal small amounts of negative energy damage on saves. Indeed, several undead and shadowy books continue to perpetuate this theme, while an illusion-supplemented trap is a) interesting and b) devious. The little dungeon also sports minor item-scavenging and a terrible final revelation of a horrid price to pay for the information and a unique, interesting showdown.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


Stefanos Patelis delivers an excellent mini-dungeon here - we receive a glorious dungeon with diverse challenges, unique fluff, cool adversaries and quite frankly more roleplaying potential and a more evocative set-up than what one can see in many longer modules. This is a great mini-dungeon that manages to provide a fun, memorable experience in spite of its brevity - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #020: Sepulchre of the Witching Hour's Sage
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Mini-Dungeon #019: The Goblin Warren
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/26/2015 06:34:04
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM.


Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!


This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.


Still here?

All right!


Situated amidst a barrow thought to be curse, the quasit Viletongue has had a good run - what demon doesn't delight in driving mortal priests mad and have them kill one another? Alack and alas, today, he is still imprisoned, though he has found new ears to whisper in - those of goblins. Bilemaw the Impaler and his warparty, complete with goblin dogs, has since moved in and followed the quasit. The PCs, sent to eradicate the goblins, may actually do the crafty outsider a favor by re-consecrating a desecrated shrine that ironically makes it harder for the demon to escape. So yeah, the PCs may unintentionally unleash a pretty nasty beast...


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!


I wasn't looking forward to Jonathan Ely's Goblin Warrens, mainly due to hating the exceedingly generic hobgoblin lair. With an interesting shape and set-up, traps thrown in the mix and a background story as well as things to do beyond "kill everything", this one is a proof of an author who is coming into his game - seeing how limited the space allotted is, I was pretty impressed by the level of detail provided and implied and firmly believe that a capable GM can make this warren rather memorable, in spite of the classic themes. Now, sure, this does not reinvent the wheel, but is has fun ideas and deserves a rating as a good mini-dungeon, scoring a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #019: The Goblin Warren
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B23: Ruins of Gilead
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2015 03:17:35
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!


This being an adventure-review, the following does contain SPOILERS. Potential players will want to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! There is nothing good on jungle islands. EVER. Alas, this crucial piece of wisdom was not imparted upon the hapless treasure hunting team sent by the Northern Pass Trading Company under the command of Henry Beckett and the experienced hunter Bethany Tirsbury. Rule #2 when finding a ruined city and unearthing a gilded idol: Destroy it ASAP, with extreme prejudice, but only after determining that destroying it does not set the unavoidable, evil entity trapped inside free. If it would pursue other methods. The expedition has not heard about this one either, unearthing the idol containing the demon Aravax, who happily subsequently drove the expedition into cheerful slaughter and hatred. All of this is history - and now, the PCs have been sent to the island to succeed where the first expedition failed and preferably, return with valuable artifacts that do not kill everyone.


So, whether you elect to include a proper mission briefing or not, this module's meat begins upon the PCs finding the first corpse...and then more. A trail of grisly breadcrumbs leads them right towards the former camp of the expedition (fully mapped, btw.), where they happen upon the grisly remains of a massacre and, once dramaturgy dictates it's time to enhance the mood of dilapidation further, a GM can spring Bethany upon the players - the clearly disheveled and insane woman makes for a complex social scene with plentiful read-aloud-text for GMs less adept at improvising text. Oddly, the madwoman demands at the threat of violence that the PCs read the journal of Henry (depicted as a kind of hand-out in its own font, should you elect to simply print out and cut out that section of the page) - Bethany is obviously illiterate and while the barbarian-class to which she belongs no longer prescribes this drawback, I consider it sensible as an assumption for any quasi-medieval setting -at least in my home-game, peasants do not read.


Actually reading the text sets Bethany on a deadly course that may be exploited by the PCs - driven into a paranoid obsession, she seeks to find and kill Henry, drive Aravax from the idol and kill it and then claim her prize - obviously, PCs should realize that she is just another unwitting pawn of this corruptive influence - but still, when played right, they may use the confused woman... After this odd visitor and plundering the camp (potentially finding a weird item), the PCs will probably be on their way towards the eponymous ruins of Gilead. Haunted by swarms of deadly hornets and hostile guardian spirits, the PCs make their way to the obelisk at the center of the city - where an intriguing puzzle-combat begins: Essentially, activating the magical mechanism isn't easy and more and more guardian spirits arrive, though their relatively straight-forward and dumb programming means that they can be outfoxed by smart PCs, thus allowing them to have brains trump brawns in an encounter that plays in a surprisingly fun manner. However, this is only the beginning - with the map thus in hand, the PCs are off to the mapped and remote temple that contains Aravax' idol - which btw. includes a nasty trap that may drown you in wall of force-like blood. Beyond this ominous threshold, the vile idol and Henry await - the chosen of the demonic spirit sporting unique, strange abilities that render him a more formidable foe than the sum of his class levels. Once again, communication with the obsessed man is lavishly detailed - and defeating him does not end the threat, which only ends once the PCs deal with the idol in a permanent manner and defeat the evil within once and for all. Oh, and yes - the PCs better not dawdle, for Henry's ritual is a ticking clock...


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a blend of stock and original art, the latter of which is pretty awesome. Cartography is solid and in full color and comes with player-friendly versions. The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.


By all means, I should hate Jeffrey Gomez' Ruins of Gilead. The paranoia-expedition and its tropes are almost by-the-book pulp tropes and indeed, if you subtract the rules, you could arguably play this in ANY setting, even a real world one à la CoC. This module does not reinvent the wheel - but it does sport something I thoroughly enjoy about it - an excellent pacing. Never is an investigation lagging, no dearth of clues - the module runs like a pretty smooth and well-oiled machine and quickly delivers what it sets out to do. Add to that the nice tidbits, from the ability to use the terrain to negate the threat of foes to some iconic imagery and variants and I, surprisingly, actually enjoyed this module far more than I anticipated. It also ran smoothly in an easy 6-hours playtest, though slower groups can probably take up to 4 sessions, depending on the pace set by the GM.


In the end, this is clearly a nice little love-letter to the pulp-genre's classic tropes and showcases a promising author from whom I most certainly would like to read more. My final verdict clocks in at 4 stars, with an explicit recommendation for less experienced GMs who have an issue with improvising NPC-interactions.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B23: Ruins of Gilead
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Mini-Dungeon #018: Neotomas' Paradise
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/21/2015 02:56:44
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf apart from any deviations from the linked base creature/NPC.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



So, beggars have been vanishing and thus, it falls to the PCs to venture forth into the sewers to find them - and yes, they may contact a disease more horrible than filth fever here - which is a nice deviation from the tired "contract filth fever"-routine...after all, bubonic plague is so much more unsettling. Exploring the dark caverns, the PCs not only have to brave rat swarms, they will also encounter a ghost of a slain beggar before finding the culprit of the disappearances - a nasty wererat slaver on a recruiting spree and by now transformed were-rat beggars...oh, and yes, the PCs can walk into a gelatinous cube.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!



Michael Smith delivers a sewer level, but one of the good ones - with lighting, environmental hazards and actual chances for social interaction and some minor investigation, it is quite impressive to see what he managed to cram into these two paltry pages. In fact, this is pretty much an example in many ways on how you can render such a tired trope work, even when hobbled by the strictest page-count imaginable. This mini-dungeon was absolutely fun for its brevity and deserves a final verdict of 4.5 stars, falling short of the round up only due to the absence of skill-related obstacles herein - swimming, climbing etc. and minor terrain hazards beyond would have made this even more impressive.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #018: Neotomas' Paradise
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Mini-Dungeon #017: Shadows of Madness
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/14/2015 04:55:05
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



Wizards strive as wizards are wont to do, for knowledge - and much like dwarves digging too deep, they are prone to being destroyed by this thirst for knowledge. Exactly that has, alas, happened to a wizard names Tibor - and now the PCs have found a stair amid the rubble of his former tower.



In this small dungeon, the PCs will find strange notes and fight disturbing, shadow-templated foes and ultimately, save a medium -who was kidnapped by shadow-infused bugbears to facilitate the planned retribution of said aforementioned wizard -who now, driven mad by soulslivers, constitutes the boss of this dungeon.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The basics of the stats are presented when they deviate from the hyperlinked statblock - as provided, they should be enough to run all creatures but the boss sans consulting them.



Michael Smith delivers a nice mini-dungeon here - with a neat theme, relatively diverse combat challenges and even a bit of talking and a trap + a dangerous item, the mini-dungeon provides essentially what one can expect from the format - a relatively fun, short romp. While falling slightly short of the conceptual brilliance of some installments in the series, I still feel justified in rating this 4.5 stars, rounded up by a margin due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #017: Shadows of Madness
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Search for Lost Legacy 4: By Eternal Wrath
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/06/2015 03:18:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The final installment of the Search for Lost Legacy adventure arc clocks in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This being an adventure-review, the following obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? This installment takes place in Vargon's former private sanctum, which is now under the command of his erstwhile second in command Damon Light-cleaver, though e.g. a Dark naga and certain servants provide ample opportunity for the PCs to sow discord within the ranks of their opposition - as this level is still very much inhabited, it should come as no surprise that the focus is a different one that takes a step away from the theme of abandonment and decrepitude.



In game, this proved to be at once an interesting change of pace and a flaw - while the series so far has excelled primarily in its indirect storytelling, so far almost all of the hints, from diary-entries to the theme of the sins of the ancestor inherited, this module changes its focus into a dungeon that is still operational, with the ancient wizard's lich-transformation being the central theme - sabotaged though it is, it is up to the PCs to complete it and annihilate the proto-lich while it phases back into reality in order to truly stop the wizard. While this is by no means an uncommon trope, it does not sport advice to trouble-shoot the very reasonable refusal of PCs to engage in exactly this practice, which can grind the module to a pretty nasty halt -essentially, the series fails to provide a good reason to actually try to destroy Vargon instead of leaving him in limbo. The exploration of the complex and braving of halls used in the process of lichdom-apotheosis works well as a concept per se, but still - from a dramaturgical perspective, I do think this pdf flounders.



On the plus-side, the social interactions and Bluff/sense Motive-boxes provided go above and beyond for the DM, with plenty of intriguing quotes that should not leave even the most inexperienced DMs baffled - two thumbs up for these!



That being said, to me, the internal consistency and realism the series evoked so far falls completely apart here - with so many powerful, unbound villains and his second-in-command here, with the transformation not completed, this whole level made no true sense to me. How could it go unnoticed? How can it be that Vargon hasn't been properly finished off? With so much of the complex remaining essentially barren and lost, why not extend the domain and claim those resources, rife for the picking? The reasons provided within the context of this module remain flimsy at best and, to me, invalidated the carefully established sense of cohesion and realism established over the curse of the series.



The pdf does collate Damon's story and the proto-lich template in the appendices (oddly featuring the 3.X-template as well as the PFRPG-version, though the 3.X-content has otherwise been purged from this pdf...) and sports the map of the complex in a player-friendly version as well - kudos for that.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though, as in the previous installment, some fluctuations in writing quality of both fluff and rules-text can be found herein. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full-color standard with gorgeous full-color artwork and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



John R. Davis' series' final installment is challenging for the level-range, though not in an undue manner - my players considered it not that hard, but then again, the mechanical challenge was never the forte of the series. This module, ultimately, constitutes the logical conclusion of the series as foreshadowed in part III, though it does so in a disappointing manner. Ultimately, the threat foreshadowed is invalidated pretty much, the sense of logical cohesion established carefully via indirect storytelling crumbles somewhat apart. The extremely compelling leitmotif of the dungeon, carefully established in part I and II, already somewhat diminished by installment III, now completely crumbles apart and, unfortunately, takes what makes the series special with it.



Where the first two installments, and to a lesser extent the third, stood out due to the atmosphere evoked, the unique sense of a strange archeology, this one almost negates that very premise by undermining the very foundation that made this stand out - the presence of a BBEG beyond the story's focus/boss and the traitorous creatures herein almost constitute the antithesis of the cohesion the series has worked so hard to establish.



Don't get me wrong, I don't expect a sense of Gygaxian realism in my dungeons; I can have great fun with dungeons that make no sense whatsoever, living creatures just waiting behind a sealed door etc. But this series began as something logically and thematically incredibly cohesive and consistent. When slowly, but surely, this premise is eroded; when what constituted the main draw and unique flair is abandoned half-way, it becomes problematic. The third module still made sense and was as much a change of pace as an invasion in one of the Dark Souls-games; but instead of a return to form, a module that could have stood by virtue of the vistas and exploration provided, the set-up herein sports several narrative and logical choices that hurt this arc and render it the one thing I hoped the arc would avoid - a bit generic.

Detailed, yes, but still. Add to that the inherited minor issues (minor rules-hiccups, remnant references to 3.X) of the series and we have a module that fell short of the promise inherent in the arc's plot.

I still very much can recommend the first 3 installments of the series, yes, even the less than perfect 3rd one, but to me and my players, this one provided a frustrating anti-climax that cast a pall over our otherwise very much remarkable journey through this arc. My final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up mainly since I believe that this works alone well, or at least better - but within the context of the series and its themes, it sticks out like a sore thumb. As a personal recommendation; I'd advise GMs running this to heavily modify the final complex and maintain the theme of decay via failing wards and haunt-like effects throughout an exploration of ruined halls.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Search for Lost Legacy 4: By Eternal Wrath
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Search for Lost Legacy 3: By Shadow's Grasp
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/21/2015 04:16:10
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the Search for Lost Legacy adventure arc clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



This being an adventure-review, the following obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great!

So, at the end of the module, the PCs began traversing an underground river towards the third level of the dungeon and thus, this module kicks off with an encounter of a duergar expedition force, including full stats for a vessel, the Ironkeel. Alas, nothing is doen with the vessel. No vehicular combat - a missed chance. Once victorious, the PCs will find evidence that bespeaks of duergar trying to loot the complex ahead - they are not alone here. While I get why this choice was made from a dramaturgical perspective, it does somewhat dilute, at least to me, what made I and II so captivating - the sense of dilapidation and abandonment that suffused the complex, a feeling of isolation and shattered dreams.



At the same time, though, the complex manages to retain its believability to a laudable extent - that s, one can still see the themes that rendered the series compelling so far being represented within these pages. What am I trying to say by this? While the focus herein pertains more crucial rooms of Vargon's former complex, the respective rooms still feature an intriguing array of details of their former functionality. The defense-mechanisms and passwords that the PCs can unearth, as a whole, do provide a sense of realistic cohesion - the defense-mechanisms and checks provided makes surprising sense, even when referring to the unique fiendish minotaur herein.



The motifs of mephits and unobtrusive riddles still can be found within these pages, though one that refers to the initial letters of a rhyme imho requires more careful specification to be fair - as written, the players imho will have a very hard time guessing the intended solution. At the same time, this module does sport one "puzzle" that is downright awesome: There is a very strong xorn in here, who challenges PCs to a Tic-Tac-Toe variant, where the candidates put one hand on their head and then draw via the remaining hand(s) - i.e. one for PCs, two for the xorn, resulting in two xorn moves for any PC. And yes, this can allow the PCs to distract the guardian and plunder to their heart's content - just make sure, the creature is occupied by its "fair winning streak"...



Beyond the remnants of Vargon's forces, this level also constitutes a means for the PCs to meet their dangerous opposition - Tanrik and his henchmen have also infiltrated this level, providing additional opposition and, in Tanrik's case, the prime antagonist and boss of this level -his background story and the legend of the perished emerald band are recounted among the appendices and again, we have nice full-color maps including player-friendly versions provided.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay - both on a formal and rules-level, there are quite a few minor glitches that plague the writing and constitute a detrimental factor in the details. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard with neat artworks and cartography. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



I have noted in the second installment a strange fluctuation in writing quality and ultimately, this very much extends to this installment, but in a rather significantly exacerbated form - when e.g. alchemical potions can create expeditious phase I have NO IDEA what that is supposed to mean. As much as I love the use of diaries etc. to foreshadow the things to come and fill in the blanks of the story, sentences à la "He states that he has attained just enough spell power now to bring the magical barrier." [sic!] eject me straight from the level of immersion attained by the indirect story-telling. This does extend to magical item treasures, where a price modification could be in addition or as part of a piece of jewelry's price - small glitches like this, while certainly not hampering the GM to the extent as to make this problematic, ultimately constitute my main issue with this installment in the arc.



This is by no means bad, mind you, and it inherits the logic and feeling of realistic exploration as well as the series' proclivity for indirect storytelling. At the same time, John R. Davis' writing is less refined herein, with quite a few small issues, more so than in the previous installments. It should also be noted, that, while this does refer to 3.X in a couple of instances, no rules for this system are provided - this is very much a PFRPG-only module, not one of AAW Games' earlier dual-stat modules.



Over all, this installment proved to be less refined both as a reading experience and in actual gameplay - my experience did show that, while this can be the most challenging of modules in the series so far, it also runs slightly less smooth than part I and II. When I'm also taking aforementioned, partially content-influencing glitches into account, I can't unfortunately settle on a final verdict higher than 3.5 stars, though I will round up by a teeny tiny margin for the purpose of this platform due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Search for Lost Legacy 3: By Shadow's Grasp
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Search for Lost Legacy 2: By Water's Mirror
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/16/2015 04:12:16
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The long-delayed second part of the Search for Lost Legacy adventure arc clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 44 pages of content, so let's take a look!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Having succeeded in the first module, the settlement Krisen, now complete with statblock, is still suffering from an imperceivable pall - the dread wizard Vargon, caught between the state of lichdom and mortality, is still in stasis and still, his descendant seeks to unearth the power of the fallen archmage. Having braved the mine and reopened it, it is time for the PCs to venture further below, into level 2 of the strange complex hidden beneath the soil of Krisen's mountains, with perhaps diplomatic contact established with gillmen further providing a means to gather information and learn about what dwells below, following the trail of the long-perished adventurer group that went by the name of "Emerald Band."



The complex of Vargon thus constitutes a collection of former quarters of his Crimson Guard, laboratory rooms, summoning chambers - essentially, what you have here is a complex that tells its own story in a rather interesting way - when e.g. salt mephits can be found and once were used in incubators to experiment with good dragon eggs, when a burning skeletal champion or a basilisk roam these places, they never feel random or strangely placed.



When e.g. extrapolations info for certain books and the like actually provides read-aloud material for the GM alongside information that contains hints for passwords, when riddles not refer to tired real world concepts, but actual in-game knowledge in a clever and obvious way (no, I'm not referring to roll d20 to succeed...), when skum gardeners, bereft of any true sense of changing years and studded with an inhuman psychology just want something different to eat, when a devil is so utterly bored, he is not frightening any more, but only wants to be dismissed from service - that's when you'll realize that this module does tell its story in a highly unconventional way - this complex, even more so than the first level, is all about indirect story-telling, in a mastery one only rarely sees from a given pdf.



The truly stunning thing, though, would be how this sense is evoked to create a sense of immersion - not every room has a deadly encounter or trap, though many do; what makes this work is the implied realism and the central leitmotif of decrepitude suffusing each and every read-aloud text and room - alongside the theme of abandonment. Much like some rare video games, this module actually managed to evoke a sense of melancholy, of abandonment of once high dreams squashed - when old fairy tale books provide hints, when loyal retainers still perform non-sense tasks and when conjured outsiders have been either driven mad by boredom or just have become hostile, adhering to commands long gone - then you'll realize what makes this module special, at least to me.



This module does come with a nice full-color map, which also comes as a player-friendly version, though annoyingly, the side-view of the overall layout of dungeon-levels on the player-map spoils dungeon-entries and location of levels 3 and 4 -I sincerely implore GMs to cut out these spoilers before handing out any part of the map to the players! That being said, I wholeheartedly endorse the pdf's player map omitting secret doors, allowing you to cut out the ma's components before handing them out, piece by piece, to your players as they explore - kudos! (Coincidentally, this, the intended use, also negates aforementioned problem with the dungeon's side-view...)



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches on a formal level. On a rules-language level, there are quite a lot of deviations from the default to be found herein, though that is less problematic for adventures than for crunch-books. Layout adheres to a beautiful, easy to read and organized 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf sports copious amounts of nice full-color artwork and a nice map.



John R. Davis' first part of the adventure arc, released way back, was promising - an interesting set-up, but it did leave me wondering whether he could maintain the fragile atmosphere - let's get that out of the way: He did. This is very much an old-school module in that it presents a dungeon crawl, yes. But one where the true draw lies beyond the immediate sum of the constituent parts: We do have nice encounters, chances to use social skills etc. - the diversity is here.



And much like its predecessor, this is an easy module and should not yield too many dead PCs when handled with care. The glorious component and the main draw of this module, though, remains its ability to actually retain a dense atmosphere of immersive, indirect storytelling wherein the PCs are not hit over the head with the story, but rather than that rewarded for speculation. This is one of the dungeons, where carefully planning PCs move from room to room and actually have this experience of unearthing a story by walking its corridors - a story of abandonment, failed ambitions and dreams that is represented by an omni-present decrepitude as a subtle leitmotif. Where part I subsumed the mechanics and challenges wholly under the focus on atmosphere, the second installment increases the challenge, providing at least 3 encounters that can go wrong for unlucky PCs, somewhat increasing the challenge posed by this module - while still not difficult, this does eliminate one of my major gripes with part I.



When I read this pdf, I was skeptical and not too blown away, but in actual gameplay, this worked out as a very immersive experience that surpassed part I by quite a bit, being simply more refined in all aspects, providing a welcome level of detail - when ancient beers can develop beneficial or detrimental magical side-effects, when read-aloud texts galore help you run a module, you even look past one or two turns of phrases that fall slightly behind in narrative quality, because the overall package just works. In parts, this felt almost like a slightly more playful Raging Swan Press adventure, and I mean that as a compliment towards the level of detail the dungeon offers. Especially less experienced GMs that are daunted by some of AAW Games' more complex modules should have a field day with the content provided herein.



I've been thinking for quite a while - my players very much mopped through this dungeon and felt it to be pretty easy and this module does not sport AAW Games' usual high-concept, unique takes and the like - but know what? It doesn't have to - it is an excellent example of what can be done to evoke a truly unique and compelling atmosphere and ultimately, my players really LIKED this module, in spite of it being too easy for their almost pro-gamer-like sensibilities - when an atmosphere manages to maintain immersion despite that, manages to evoke a theme so fragile, one cannot loudly complain, now, can one? In the end, this was a blast to run and constitutes an example of a truly well-crafted module, one only rarely marred by strange, sudden lapses of writing quality where evocative prose suddenly gives way to pretty bland, simple sentence-structures in an odd quirk. I really, really enjoyed the module as a whole, though- and hence, I will rate this 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Search for Lost Legacy 2: By Water's Mirror
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AaWBlog Presents: Mischievous Meadows
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/10/2015 03:28:57
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, so let's take a look!



All right, after the last installment of AAWBlog presents suffered from finding its place with how the format works, this time around, we have a different take on the whole concept: This pdf can be divided into 5 quests, all of which can essentially be described as short sidetreks that can (and should be!) linked.



As always, the following discussion dives into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

If you're a player and still here: Brave yourself. You will lose items. The module kicks off with the most loathed of ways of antagonizing PCs and their players: Stealing their hard-earned loot. Worse: The thieves are ridiculously good at what they do and as diminutive fey, they are adept indeed at what they do - with interdimensional sacs and fey-themed haunts supplementing the thefts if the primary antagonists have issue, any DM should not have too many issues. Speaking of which, the issues WILL come - when the thieves return to take more as adventurers fuming with rage, they will have a massive tree with anti-magic zone supplementing them - speaking of which - said tree has an utterly unique ecology and synergy with the diminutive fey that also translates into the combat set-up. Among the bonus-content here, thieving grass and a nasty haunt further complement this nice set-up.



After this, the PCs will have the chance to run a mini-gauntlet, wherein puzzles and something odd will be noted by astute players - the whole scenario of a kind of "save-the-damsel" doesn't seem to line up...and yes, if they brave the puzzle and challenges, something...ODD happens... The 4th challenge pits the PCs against a group of mad critics - only to be assaulted by fiery avians, the prepfalcons - which, coincidentally, are the bred foes of the somewhat insectoid, thieving fey -a fact that the PCs will learn as they face down a whole army of the thieving creatures, whether with or without mass combat supplemented by arriving prepfalcons. Escaping the massive blaze evoked by the raptors, the PCs will have a chance to literally press a conspicuous red button laced with "Don't press!"-notes.



And yes, the PCs may at this point have come to the attention of the P.R.A.N.K.S.T.E.R.S.-secret society... The pdf also provides a short deity-write-up and ample DM-advice: And in this instance, that is warranted: The whole collection of encounters deals with eliminating magic items and changing equipment, thus advice on handling player frustration, on merging different play-styles and on ways to handle humor at the table.



The pdf also provides the Deck of Miraculous Luck as a reward system - a deck with 30 cards that provide lucky effects for the players to draw from, with each card sporting a unique bonus/effect to unleash. A fun reward system, though one I wished had more options...and particularly, negative ones as well. But that may be me. As a nice bonus, the pdf comes with back covers for the cards and individual representations for the respective cards - just print out back and front, glue it to card-board and go.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to AAW games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes with a solid blend of new and stock art and the cartography, where provided, is okay.



Mike Myler, Justin Andrew Mason, Brian Wiborg Mønster, Rory Toma - gentlemen, this is a better example for the format of AAWBlog presents - the encounters herein may be thematically-linked, but they can relatively easily be dropped into a given campaign on their own. While the overall, connecting storyline between the quests remains pretty opaque for the PCs, these encounters are more self-contained, less burdened by an overarching narrative. The theme here is obviously "get rid of problematic items" and each of the encounters manages to do that with a variety of interesting ways -from haunts to creatures.

With playful items and set-ups, the general sense if one of light-hearted fun. At the same time, though, this collection does feel like it could have used some more care: references in the text that obviously hearken back to the time when these were published as blog posts, hinting towards the next blog post, just hurt the internal consistency of this collection. I also think this pdf's organization of haunts etc. may be less easy to navigate than the last ones - whereas Cultus Sanguineus collected them in one space, here, they are spread between the individual quests - and taking into account how the encounters herein work better as single ones that build up over multiple modules, that makes things a bit less easy to navigate.

So yeah - the roughly-linked encounters doe work better, though, once again, the overarching plot remains a weakness of the collection - this is NOT a module; this is a collection of content linked by a rough theme - it works for what it is, but once again, transitions remain somewhat problematic here and I wished, both the blog-references had been purged and the transitions had been smoothed. More means for the players to actually find out what is happening would have also been appreciated - as written, this ended with plenty of question-marks above my player's heads and an ultimate feeling of having missed the point. Still, what is here, is damn fun and as such, I will settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
AaWBlog Presents: Mischievous Meadows
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B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
by Martin S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/04/2015 09:56:49
This adventure starts with a one background to introduce the main villain and the reason why he built this tower. The background contains enough detail to satisfy most players who wish to use their knowledge, but can be easily expanded if you want to make this adventure a part of your campaign.

Follows a few adventure hooks and then we get to the first part of the adventure covering the journey through the desert. Advice is given to make the journey interesting and three encounters complement this section. Two of these encounters are quite helpful to provide a bit more information about the tower if the characters are able to help the young nomad in distress. In the event that they fail, they can still get the information from the nomad tribe, but they are a bit less helpful. If you used random encounters before these two encounters, the nomad camp provides a good respite and chance to rest for the characters. The third encounter is more typical of desert encounters and does not provide any more details on the adventure background.

The rest of the adventure covers the exploration of the tower, the inhabitants, the traps protecting the tower and of course, the main antagonist. This part of the adventure is quite deadly in my opinion. Not many rooms are devoid of danger: they either contain traps or creatures. Options are provided to make the adventure even more deadly. Having the main entrance blocked after the characters enter is a nice one and prevents the group to stop and rest after each encounter. However, using the option to have the tower sink below the sands after a certain amount of time makes it one giant trap. Unless you are confident your players can navigate the tower easily and efficiently, I would not recommend this option.

Overall this is a nice desert adventure with very interesting traps and opponents. It is straightforward by desing and it is also what makes it easy to use in pretty much any campaign. I liked that although the traps are difficult, there is often a way to deactivate them after they are sprung. The characters need to find the hidden lever. Sadly, this is only for the first level of the tower, the traps on the other levels cannot be deactivated with a lever. That being, said a group without a character that deal traps will have a very hard time in this adventure. These traps can also be reset by the mephitis and the invisible stalker serving the master of the tower. It would have been nice to know how seriously they take this responsibility. The tower is supposed to come out of the sands every 60 years... So, some indication on how often they reset the traps, or if they patrol to check on the traps would be helpful. I assume it is left to the GM's discretion. If the characters fall back on the lower levels, you can always decide if the traps have been reset.

Besides this, the encounters are well detialed and the information is presented in a way that a GM can run this adventure without much preparation and without searching through books. Each encounter provides a fair amount of treasures, more than I usually give my players, but this can easily be adjusted.

A nice tough adventure!

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
B19: Tower of Screaming Sands
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Mini-Dungeon #016: The Halls of Hellfire
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/03/2015 00:58:47
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



The Halls of Hellfire were once a sacred neutral ground, a place for peace talks - now, the halls are a beacon for creatures of pure evil, tainted by the darkness that saw the downfall of this once-sacred space. Now, the lamia of the desert have been drawn to this place and both regular specimen of the feared species as well as a matriarch await the PCs to toy with their minds and break both their bodies and souls.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf comes with a nice piece of full-color artwork.



Jonathan Ely's Halls of Hellfire provide a storied locale with per se cool combat encounters and some solid traps. Alas, at the same time, I did feel like this locale fell short of its awesome background story - some tantalizing hints, a bit more fluff, perhaps a series of short haunts - something to make the PCs experience the tragedy of the place first-hand would have gone a long way to make this more than a cool ruin inhabited by some lethal lamia. That being said, this mini-dungeon is by no means bad and well worth a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #016: The Halls of Hellfire
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Varakt's Halo: The Great Pubo Hunt (1 of 3)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/02/2015 04:25:21
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 pages, so let's take a look!



This pdf does sport a psionic psyllabus-page - essentially a handy cheat-sheet that sums up the basic peculiarities of the psionics-system on a handy page - nice for novices to psionics - who also happen to be the target demographic of this module. 11 pregens are provided for the perusal of the players, with all getting their own artworks - while these may not be beautiful, the pregens do sport roughly the same level of optimization, so that's nice to see.

Why eleven? Well, because there are two new psionic races native to the island of Varakt: The first would be the athmer, who get +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, wild talent as a bonus feat, darkvision 60 ft., Run as a bonus feat and +2 initiative, are amphibious and can 1/day unleash a breath weapon of either cold or electricity damage that deals 1d6 damage of the chosen type in a 50 ft.-line. They also get energy resistance 5 to the breath weapon's chosen element, are amphibious and can choose +1 power point as an FCO. Personally, I consider this race to be slightly too strong - either eliminating the Run-feat and initiative or the amphibious racial trait. There is a nice tribal distinction between electricity and cold-based athmer and the fluff of the race is nice.



The second race would be the Hrek, who get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Con, are naturally psionic and gain the FCO-option. They also receive darkvision and can reduce the penalty to Stealth while moving by 5 and can use it while running at -20 penalty. 1/day, hrek can cause iron or steel touched to grow into another object - alas, the ability fails to specify what action this takes. the ability also does not specify the effects on magical equipment, whether this can be used offensively in combat, etc. Hrek are treated as +1 level higher when casting spells with the fire descriptor, for the purposes of the fire domain or the fire elemental bloodline, the flame mystery's revelations and alchemist fire damage-causing bombs. Odd that this does not extend to psionic powers utilizing fire as the chosen energy. Hrek also get a breath weapon and resistances tied to it akin to the Athmer, only theirs is a cone and either fire or acid-based. Very odd here - why can't one choose acid and related class abilities for +1 CL? And why have psionics not been included in that + 1 level? The two races come with age., height and weight-tables. I'm honestly not a big fan of the Hrek either.



But this is a module and as such, that's what I'll talk about next - so, from here on out reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! The PCs begin this module stranded on the odd tropical island (fully mapped, btw.) after an assault of goblin pirates wrecked their ship and awake on the lush beach - only to be attacked by sahuagin and promptly, saved by a group of hrek -while pretty friendly, they pantomime to the players the issues and creatures looming beyond the treaded paths. Overcoming the communication obstacle, hampered by the strange crystals on this island, does make for some awesome roleplaying potential that cannot be solved by just one roll of the dice or magic. It should also be noted that awakening to psionic powers also falls into this chapter, which should be interesting for the pregens, whose strange unfamiliarity is explained via this change. Nice way of tying mechanics with the story! Decoding grat, this language, is a task beyond the immediate scope of this module, though nearby pylons and a skeleton of a translator at least help with communication to a point where it becomes kind of functional.



It seems like the annual Suar rains will soon be upon the island - which requires a sacrifice of a so-called pubo - which would be a fatter, dumber and psionically active local variant of the dodo. Alas, beyond this, the issue of the coastal sahuagin complicating hunting remains. Entering the pubo hunting grounds results in hilarious pain - the birds not only have cognitive crystal kidney stones, they also drop explosive excrement. Finding and capturing one of the dumb birds isn't that hard - but why are there no other predators in the area? Well, once a huge, mutated mamma pubo comes running, the PCs will know why. And yes, this beast is very lethal! Following the trail of the unnatural mutation, the PCs can find some interesting hints that someone is engineering troubles - as a conch-shell resounds and denotes another attack. On the way back, the PCs can test their mettle further in combat with both blue aegis and soulknives.



Upon their return, the PCs are made to understand that they'll sacrifice the pubo the next day on the volcano - but at night the blue tribe attacks and steals the pubo they brought - in the case of mama pubo, should the PCs have opted for her, leaving a huge trail they can easily follow and making the hrek look rather incompetent. At the blue's camp, the showdown with the remaining blues constitutes the finale of this module.



As a nice hand-out, sheets for each player-character allow for a nice help regarding pantomime, representing different words they can decode, providing a great, optional way of simulating the communication in grat-pidgin.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful, colorful 2-column full-color standard. Artworks range from the nice cover to thematically-fitting stock-art and the less than gorgeous pregen-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography ranges from great to okay and provides a total of 3 maps, all with player-friendly iterations.



Mike Myler's great pubo hunt is something I don't get to see often - a genuinely funny module. While it may not be apparent when just reading it, actually playing the pantomime/communication-breakdown is just FUN and this is further emphasized by the hilarious pubo-hunting. This is pretty much a very FUN module that can work perfectly when used with kids - it's not grim or dark or nasty, it's just FUN and even young audiences can appreciate the tone when handled by a halfway decent GM. The supplemental help also is a nice bonus and as far as the adventure is concerned. The great pubo hunt is a module that is just fun - a change of pace and a solid introduction to psionics, though mama pubo can provide a very challenging opponent. So, all perfect? No. Quite honestly, I wished the hunt itself had more detail and the same holds true for the hrek-settlement and the settling-in-period. This module would definitely have benefited from stretching this component longer and not just boiling it down to a short period of relative inconvenience. The finale could also have used more details, perhaps some more terrain features, traps, a map or something like that - anything to make it slightly more distinct, especially after the cool battle against the deadly mutation...

In short, I found myself often wishing that there were less pregens and more adventure herein, probably also since I'm not a big fan of either new race - they conceptually left me unimpressed.

This divide becomes more apparent when taking the exceedingly cool module that is here into account - the module-part here breathes Mike's trademark playfulness and imaginative talent. I contemplated quite a while, but ultimately, I'm going to settle on a final verdict of 4 stars. Consider me excited about the sequels!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Varakt's Halo: The Great Pubo Hunt (1 of 3)
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AaWBlog Presents: Cultus Sanguineus
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 07/02/2015 04:22:31
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



So, what do we get here? Well, essentially, we get a small collection of thematically-linked encounters - think of them as pretty much a kind of sandbox to fill out: You get the key-scenes and fill in the rest. Got that? All right! As such, the following obviously contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! Countess Veresovich and Count Krev Ragata have been up to no good: Finding a set of dread scrolls during her travels, the countess plans to conjure forth a powerful entity - alas, and thankfully for the Klavekian metropolis of Mohkba, the players are involved. In the mean and gritty streets of a less savory neighborhood, the PCs witness an obviously incognito noble, said Count Ragata is stabbed and robbed right in front of the PCs - as they navigate the dark and rather gritty (and lavishly-mapped) alleyways of Mohkba, they hopefully manage to track down the assailants and avoid falling to the haunt -in the aftermath, they are invited to nothing less than Veresovich's masquerade ball - perhaps even keeping a mask as suggested by the count.



The masquerade ball itself can be considered a nice array of read-aloud texts and socializing. In any way, the masquerade will probably feature the items sanguineus, now assembled. A set of 3 magic items that collectively can transform the wielder into a vampire also feature herein...though oddly, the countess seems to vanish from the ball and when suddenly, walls of force supplemented by lethal blood vortex haunts lock down the house, things get ugly fast. The assembled nobles find out, the hard way, that the countess is not to be trifled with, as the floor of the ball room collapses and dumps them below the house...



Seeking of the house - there is a nice miniature map, but I don't get why we don't get a properly-sized map - as provided, the map is the one herein you can't properly use. And yes, the caverns below the house also sport a proper, big map - once again, just as useful as the one for the alleyways. So what is going on down in those nasty caverns - well, the countess' is currently engaging in the massive slaughter required for her ritual's success. In order to stop her, the PCs not only have to brave her cultists, they may also have to deal with allies foolish enough to wear the sangineus items and perhaps the vampiric Count Ragata, all while moving past massive blood pools filled with leech swarms - oh, and if you want to - this final encounter does sport mass combat between trapped nobles and cultists - oh, and yes, the daemon the Countess seeks to summon is part of the deal, as are even more, nasty haunts.



Thematically fitting traps further complement this supplement, as do valid pieces of advice regarding mass combat and when to use which rules and the same goes for social encounters.



I should also not fail to mention the presence of multiple magic items, all with significant descriptions, beautiful full-color renditions and lore-sections.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color 2-column standard and the pdf comes with quite a few gorgeous full-color artworks. The cartography is very good and evocative, though I really wished the mansion-map had also been featured in one-page-size to actually be printed out.



Mike Myler, Jonathan Ely, Justin Andrew Mason, Rory Toma and Brian Wiborg Mønster deliver a damn cool vampire-themed set-up of encounters and set-pieces. The encounters themselves are great - every one of them, ultimately, can be considered fun and uncommon with at least one or more neat options/ideas per encounter. That being said, at the same time, this pdf does feel a bit like it has an identity-crisis.



I can get behind the format of roughly, thematically-linked encounters to flesh out - I actually like that. At the same point, this pdf left me feeling somewhat confused regarding the transitions and how the whole master-plan connects - essentially, what we have here is a GLORIOUS adventure, a superb investigation...that was not fleshed out. If you are familiar with The Skinsaw Murders: Think about the Sanitarium Encounter going to the Farmstead going to the Clocktower. You just feel constantly like the sinews that connect an awesome storyline are missing. Now this is partially due to the format, granted, but in this case, it frustrated me to no end.



Why? Because this is a supreme set-up of glorious encounters that get the gorier aspects of horror downright perfect in flavor - the encounters are FUN. The atmosphere is great. The adversaries are cool and the same goes for traps, haunts and items - but in the end, what we get here is a sketch - a sketch of something awesome, but a sketch nonetheless. The encounters do NOT need a fully fleshed out connecting thread - but they imho would benefit immensely from an actual structure being presented to the GM.

A capable GM can make this a full-blown 3-part adventure saga, perhaps even a full-blown AP, and it is inspired in what it delivers - but I wished its components had been connected better. Essentially, we get three set-pieces that are almost required to be run in conjunction, and still, we are left wondering about the transitions and left with a feeling of lack- when a short break-down of the plot, some structure to guide from encounter to encounter and expansions would have made this a legendary 5 star + seal of approval module.



As provided, this is a nice compilation, yes, but one with opaque villain motivations and structure that is held back from true greatness by being too story-driven and unique to work as disparate drop-and-forget-encounters, by being too adventure-like for being a disconnected encounter-collection, and by not providing enough connecting narrative thread for a collection of linked encounters.

Conversely, if judged as an adventure, even as a skeletal sandbox, it feels too unstructured to make the most of its great premises. I figured that running this as written would change my impression - alas, it didn't, it only made me wish more that this had been a full-blown gothic horror saga.

For scavenging purposes, this is an excellent buy, but as a sourcebook or as a DIY-module-toolbox, it falls behind the potential of its easy 5-star-premise. So, if you're looking for some bloody material to craft with, take a look, you won't be disappointed - if you want a full-blown module or drop-and-forget encounters, you may wish to look elsewhere. Still, this remains a solid pdf, one I hope will one day be made into its own, complex, investigation-heavy horror AP. For now, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars - and since I am a fanboy of all the themes evoked, as a person, I will round out. As a reviewer, though, I think I need to round down.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
AaWBlog Presents: Cultus Sanguineus
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Mini-Dungeon #001: Buried Council Chambers
by Andrew J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/19/2015 18:29:40
Mini-Dungeons are 2-page PDFs that describe a small dungeon and its rooms. These modules provide a dungeon layout and fill in the details about each of the rooms. Though they are pretty basic (they are, after all, mini dungeons!), I found this one to be useful as a secret side-dungeon that can be added on to a larger dungeon or adventure. Its light on monsters but heavy on puzzles and riddles for the PCs to solve, so attaching it to a larger monster-filled dungeon can provide a nice break in the action (and, since it was hidden, a place for the PCs to rest after they have cleared it).

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #001: Buried Council Chambers
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Mini-Dungeon #015: Torment at Torni Tower
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/16/2015 02:44:47
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map (alas, sans player-friendly version) and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com's shop and thus, absent from the pdf.



Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!



This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.



Still here?

All right!



Somervel has not been treated kindly by the seasons - its pale forts, somewhat akin to beaver lodges, earthen mounds on islands in the marshlands, have been isolated for quite a while - most of the complex is below ground, with one tower jutting forth from the mound. Torni's tower has fallen to the seasons and when he PCs are sent to investigate the place, they are greeted by a haggard female - but that's just the beginning of the trouble. Turns out the female is a disguised annis hag who not only single-handedly (or better clawedly) took the fortress and slaughtered its inhabitants, she also makes off to rouse her ogre minions, some of which in states of drunkenness (which is accounted for by the mini-dungeon!) and prepare her detailed and rather awesome tactics - she for example collects stirges in a bag to throw at the PCs. What about speaking tubes? Yeah, smart! So, the presentation provides the roster of inhabitants, the rooms and the tactics of the annis hag - all in all, providing a surprisingly awesome and best of all, organic mini-dungeon against foes with unique tactics and in a distinct backdrop.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf provides a nice piece of full-color artwork.



Stephen Yeardley does it again - this mini-dungeon is inspired, cool and does everything right: From an awesome, unique locale to smart adversaries and a surprising amount of fluff crammed into the scant few pages, this mini-dungeon is concise, logical ad downright awesome - no complaints and one of the high points of the series - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #015: Torment at Torni Tower
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