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C04: The Play's the Thing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/27/2015 05:51:01
An Endzeitgeist.com review of teh revised edition

This revised edition of the module is 50 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages of content, so let's check this out!



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



All right, still here? Good! Naytella is a goddess of relaxed, pleasure-driven life and one of her adherents, a man named Teatteri is finally settling down, has managed to ingratiate himself within the town of Bankside. Unbeknownst to most, their secret allegiance to the goddess made them clash with conservative authorities before and in order to secure permission to create the theatre, they have allied themselves with doppelgangers seeking the goddesses capability to provide joy and revelry.

Said shapeshifters have since replaced parts of the council and flyers that are charmed do their part in securing the steady flow of audience members to the theatre - after all, the goal is to convert a whole town to the worship of Naytella! The powerful men and women of the town may act as hooks for the PCs and the doppelgangers as foils, presenting us with a concise depiction of their agendas, ways to use them etc., providing a nice framework to set up a complex, smart investigation before entering the (still) closed theatre, where a gamut of theatre-themed, clever traps await enterprising PCs. The general set-up of the investigation component works rather well indeed, so kudos.



Before they can reach the cellar of the building (which btw. comes with 4 full-color maps, all of which come with player-friendly versions), they will also have to best the first group of NPCs. First group? Yes! A total of 4 different NPC-groups are part of the module, each coming with essentially "party-sheets" that include all the necessary pieces of information to run the parties on one page - supremely comfortable for the DM - I approve!
Now the cellar and dungeon below are interesting and highly chaotic in theme, including skulls chanting a litany that confuses the listeners (without deadly effects - the results are hilarious, after all, the servants of Naytella are chaotic and not evil!). The tactics of the servants of Naytella mostly reflect that as well - if the PCs get beaten, it's not necessarily their end. Now, when they find the intoxicated council alive and well, the PCs will have a tough decision at their hands - free the council? Join the adherents of Naytella? Help them escape the wrath of the citizenry? The options are there and the result up to your players.
It should be noted that the module also includes clothing-material golems as well as 4 pages of maps of the complex, both in a keyed and a keyless version.

The pdf also features the new companion of Naytella PrC, which grants d6, 6+Int skills per level, comes with a wide variety of potential means of entry, good ref and will-saves, 3/4 BAB-progression. The Companions gain the option to use multiple skills (like sleight of hand) at range, their cha-bonus to saves and even a sonic-based breath weapon and attribute boosts. They may also choose from 3 special abilities at 8th level. All in all, an interesting an more worthwhile alternative to the arcane trickster, with generally solid wording with only minor hiccups that pertain only aesthetic components of teh rules-language and do not obfuscate their intent. All in all, a solid PrC.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting of the revised version have been upgraded indeed - they can now be considered rather good. Layout has been completely revised and now adheres to a beautiful 2-column standard that is suffused with a plethora of full-color artworks, some of which are stock, whereas others are original - impressive to see the crew go the extra mile here. The module's 4 maps in full color are neat indeed. The pdf I have does not sport bookmarks, which constitutes a minor comfort detriment.

Make the primary antagonists Calistraeans or extremists of Cayden and this module will work perfectly in Golarion. The module's antagonists for once not being evil is a cool change of pace, as it makes the PCs ponder their own moral choices and honestly, the sheets to track the NPC-groups are extremely useful to run what would otherwise be very complex encounters. Kudos for the good idea! The location in which it is set, as well as the (potential, but mostly optional) investigative backdrop in the beginning adds also a nice touch that allows you to decide how to tackle the module with your group. Stephen Yeardley has crafted a neat module indeed and overall, I did enjoy reading these pages. The amount of content provided is also appropriate and overall, the module is a fun romp with a distinct identity that can argueably be played as sinister or as a lighthearted, fun diversion.



Beyond that, the level of care the AAW Games-crew have put into making this more aesthetically-pleasing is quite impressive - the cleaned-up layout is professional and makes running the module easier and the improved editing gets rid of some minor ambiguities. Now I wouldn't be me if I had nothing to nitpick now, right? The PrC, while generally managing a superb job in making it appeal and work for both 3.X and PFRPG, could have used a bit more unique tricks and choices. Here and there, from a rules-language-aesthetic point of view, one could have smoothed the wording slightly - "deal 2d8 damage of sonic energy" should read "deal 2d8 point of sonic damage". ... Yeah, I know. But this level of nitpickery I all I can muster here. The revised edition surpasses its predecessor and thus receives a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
C04: The Play's the Thing
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Mini-Dungeon #007: The Pententieyrie
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/20/2015 03:59:05
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!



Okay, beyond the pun-tastic title, this one is interesting - draw a rough image of the map - it should look like an Aztec glyph. The trail leads the PCs to a strange complex, shielded from dimensional intrusion and sporting a hard-to-reach locale -an hermitage, if you will. Within the complex, not only do strange wonders await - there is also a vrock. Yeah, a demon. Only, said demon actually is on the path of redemption! Yes, this may not necessarily be a combat encounter, but rather a module that could help bring unprecedented salvation to a being of pure evil, perhaps serving as a great launching point for PCs endeavoring to redeem an antipaladin or similar foes/morally bankrupt characters. Have I mentioned the option for flight-training and some rather...let's say, unique, properties?



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.



Okay, beyond being a mini-dungeon, this one is an AWESOME, unique set-piece - with unique ways for avian/flight training and perhaps one of the most far-out potential mentors I've seen in a while, Stephen Yeardley's mini-dungeon delivers more oomph and unique tricks than what one would deem possible within such a restrictive format. Truly impressive and well-worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #007: The Pententieyrie
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Dire, Devilish Deeds (2 of 4): Arcineum Devaneas 2
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/19/2015 10:33:21
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the "Dire, Devilish Deeds"-saga clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Now, for the purposes of this review, I do assume that you have read my review of the first Arcineum Devaneas module, so no, I'm not going to repeat the basic premise etc. and instead jump right into the action, okay? Great!

Now the following obviously sports SPOILERS. As such, I'd advise potential players to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still here? Only DMs left?

Great! We left the PCs while they were still exploring the druidess's gauntlet and thus, the next puzzle and next challenge loom: This time around, the handout-supported puzzle provides tiles or cards with pips - these cards need to be arranged in specific patterns, so e.g. only 4 pips a card are visible. 2 more such challenges are provided and once again, a DM's cheat-sheet helps here. Each task mastered provides increasingly potent rewards. The next combat challenge transforms the PCs into dire lions and lets them face off versus bearded devils.



The next puzzle is one of my favorites - it provides 4 tiles that represent sections of a quarry pit, with pieces of metal gleaming from the soil. A legend provides the intriguing backdrop of this puzzle and the task is to arrange the 4 tiles in a way that the red marks on the tiles do not show up on the same horizontal, vertical or diagnoal lines - once again, a visual puzzle and an interesting one. The combat challenge pits the PCs in the shape of xorns versus metal-stealing chain devils for an interesting combat challenge.



Okay, the next puzzle is awesome - we get an array of summoning symbols, which should be created with one, uninterrupted line. The player's task, then, would be to determine which of the symbols do NOT work like this - 12 symbols, only a few that can be properly drawn in one stroke. And yes, this IS more difficult than it sounds! Again, a damn interesting puzzle and like all herein, one that comes with a convenient DM-cheat-sheet for the solutions as well as a visual representation to be used as handout. The next test pits the PCs as invisible stalkers against the power of a bone devil -aka, the battle of constant misses. With at-will invisibility, this combat is pretty nasty and will take a bit...just as a warning.



The next puzzle is not one to have the PCs dillydally - a piece of flotsam sports two spirals...or at least, that's how it looks. Can they determine only with their eyes which is a spiral and which isn't? Sounds easy, right? Look at it and don't use a pencil and it gets harder, believe me...nice optical trick, though not my favorite puzzle. After the battle of wispy misses, the next combat will pit the PCs in the form of tojanidas versus a fiendish giant squid.



Then, it is time for the final puzzle - a massive word-tile puzzle - each of the pieces sports two letters and is color-coded for the convenience of the players; making the puzzle harder can simply be achieved by making the tiles b/w. The puzzle itself is pretty much not that difficult, but the set-up here proved to be a bit opaque for me; the solutions, at least for my part, did not help me "get" the rules of this puzzle and it took me some time to determine how this puzzle was supposed to work. The combat thereafter is a nasty trick battle of elder earth elemental-PCs versus barbed devils and it yields the final wooden letter that makes up the final puzzle - each encounter yielded a letter, all together can be used to create a pass phrase to get the PCs out of the gauntlet. The final sections are devoted to replenishment of resources, rest and the significant and well-earned rewards for completing this daunting gauntlet...now the second awaits!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard. The full-color artwork is neat indeed and the map of the gauntlet is also provided as a player-friendly version. The puzzles and solutions come in handy full-color and can easily be printed out.



The second section of Stephen Yeardley's Arcineum Devaneas'-gauntlet is significantly harder than the first - mostly because it provides uncommon puzzles that do not rely on logic, but more so on intuition and visual thinking, with especially the penultimate riddle being slightly too opaque in its rules for my tastes. That being said, I consider the other riddles to be intriguing enough to offset that and yes, the tradition of puzzle-like combats is very much maintained. Easy scaling for group-sizes etc. has also been provided and overall, I enjoyed running this module just as much as the first part - which is no wonder: Part I and II HAVE to be run back to back, unless you're only out for encounter-scavenging. running half the gauntlet makes no sense, so either get both "Arcineum"-files or none. (Arcineum Devaneas covers the druid gauntlet, Devaneum Arcineas covers the sorceror gauntlet.)



That being said, I wholeheartedly encourage you to get these adventures - why? Because when I started playing roleplaying games, the assumption was that we, the target audience, are intelligent folks, that we play, yes, but heck, while we do, we use our faculties. We train our imagination. It is my firm conviction that my papers, my works, my thesis - everything really, has benefited from the honed ability to think outside the box, to adapt to uncommon circumstances, to think in creative and unconventional ways. I'll never forget the stunned look on my teacher's face when I was capable of defining necromancy versus thaumaturgy in 5th grade or the time when I wrote the correct spelling of "Thoth" in the phonetic alphabet. Thing is, we seem to somehow neglect our brains in quite a few modules out there - sure, combat is exciting and all, a big puzzle-box with many variables, but there is a reason for the continued popularity of complex investigations.

We're smart people. We like it when our minds are stimulated. Sure, brainless monster-bashing is fun...but a puzzle once in a while goes a long way to keep monotony at bay. Combined with the utterly unique premise, this saga of modules does just that - the combats are problem-solving exercises, the puzzles are diverse and deviate from the more common logic-puzzles (which I adore)- what's not to like? This series is a breath of fresh air that definitely should be rewarded for all the chances it takes and for it not only having one unique component, but for being unique all around. This is one impressive first half of the Dire, Devilish Deeds-saga and I'm looking forward to seeing the second gauntlet! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the minor rough edges here and there.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dire, Devilish Deeds (2 of 4): Arcineum Devaneas 2
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Mini-Dungeon #008: Carrionholme
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/19/2015 10:23:58
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!



In the center of a swamp, a hag-coven in service of Jubilex has created a complex inhabited with slimes and molds - including wandering black puddings. The complex very much is a solid theme-dungeon, yes. However, at the same time, it is not "sunken" - at least the text never mentions any swim-checks, water-depths of intrusions of swamp water - which is a pity, for some terrain-tricks would have helped to set this dungeon apart.



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.



Jonathan Ely's Carrionholme has an evocative title, cool adversaries and a premise I enjoy. At the same time, it does something the format, alas, has no room for - waste words. The reference to other swamp-dwellers unrelated to the complex is pretty long and eats the words that could have been used to provide the unique terrain-features this dungeon practically demands. So, dungeon in the middle of the swamp...why is there no water? No mud? Quicksand? A component of decrepitude, of decay? This mini-dungeon could be so much more unique. As written, it could be literally anywhere and lacks the component that anchors it as a complex as a unique dungeon. While not bad in any way per se, the overall experience of running this one proved my points valid - without modification, it is generic; add some terrain and you get awesomeness. I can't rate potential, though. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #008: Carrionholme
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Dire, Devilish Deeds (1 of 4): Arcineum Devaneas 1
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/15/2015 10:05:29
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This first installment of the Dire Devilish Deeds-saga clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now this reviews discusses a module and thus does sport SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? Only DMs left?

All right, this module's theme, in the immortal words of Monty Python's flying circus, would be "And now for something completely different." So this module is uncommon in more than one way - first of all, it is for "any level." If you're like me, you'll be thinking "WTF, how is this supposed to work out?" - well, to explain that, I have to discuss the basic premise of this saga. Ever wondered what demigod-powerful adventurers might do once they survive a campaign, kill their foes, etc.? Well, in the case of Olemus Multa and Maaginen Jekku, a drow sorceror and a svirfneblin druid of nigh unprecedented power, the answer is "to engage in philosophical banter on the supremacy of divine or arcane magic." To settle their friendly dispute, they extend (concealing their nature to avoid racial prejudice) a kind of "invitation" to the party - whether via strange shops, aromatic teas or the like, the PCs are drawn into the dispute of the two powerful adventurers. The two individuals have set up demiplane-like gauntlets to test the wits and power of adventurers, with the first one herein being a forest-like maze. Now here's the cincher, though - the PCs won't be fighting in their usual forms, at least, for the most part - archways and the very nature of this gauntlet will transform them into various shapes and e.g. pit them in colobus monkey form versus fiendish dire rats. And yes, that stats are provided.



Now if you're like me, you'll be skeptical here - after all, death thus can become a pretty possible thing; however, the adventurers do not aim to kill people; they can, and will, return dead PCs back to life and word of recall etc. all help making this not an exercise in frustration, even though the enforced polymorphing may rub some players the wrong way. If you manage to get over this initial trepidation, though, the angle of the saga remains a very fresh one. It should also be noted that this transformation is complete - with the notable exception of still allowing for communication between the PCs, it does not allow for magic items, spells, etc. and thus deviates from how such magic usually works - thus breaking essentially how polymorph spells work. So yes, your PCs are stuck in the stats of the creatures they transform into. Reversal does carry over HP and suggests a percentile representation - took 30% damage? So did your regular body. I'm not a fan of this, since it is more time-consuming than it ought to be, but handwaving this shouldn't be too difficult for the DM either. While my first impulse is to complain about that and yes, if you are particular about that, be warned of it, but here, I won't complain. Because this module is pretty much NOT about the combat challenges.



What do I mean by this? Well, this is pretty much closer to Quest for Glory or King's Quest than to similar RPGs. This is essentially a point-and-click-adventure as a module - complete with puzzles. Yes, puzzles - and interesting ones. The first is pretty simple: A floorboard with gems, wherein no gem should cross lines with another one. If this sounds opaque, rest assured that a visual representation of the challenge, also coming with a solution for the DM, makes the puzzle pretty apparent. Now the benefits reaped from its completion help getting the party through the deadly gauntlet.



The second puzzle also has an awesome visual representation - the letter "S" carved into the head of a stone snake, its body leading down to the next letter of the word "serpentine" - now the PCs need to deduce in how many continuous ways the word can be spelled via this contraption. Again, a gorgeous visual representation helps here and provides an edge for the polymorph challenge ahead - transformation into black bears versus lemures.



The next test provides a grid with 5 skull-fields that represent undead foes. 5 noble warriors seek to vanquish them - alas, the undead detect too much life force concentrated on one field. Thus, the tokens for the warriors need to be placed on the field, their steps on their way to the individual undead they are sworn to destroy traced...and all of that without any warrior crossing each other's path. And the PCs SHOULD definitely defeat this puzzle, for the polymorph challenge puts them in the bodies of apes and pits them against HELLHOUNDS. Yeah, without the puzzle's boon, they will require lady luck on their side...



The final puzzle depicted herein would be a field of numbers, ranging from 1 to 9, carved into a tree stump. They need to be arranged in such a way as to make the number in the second row twice that in the first and that in the bottom row three times that in the top row. Now if this puzzle looks impossible at first, one needs to be careful in re-examining the wording here - it does work. And yes, once again we have visual representation of the puzzle and its solutions For the solution, they receive the most benefits so far - and they'll need them - for the final challenge sees them face fiendish giant wasps in the scaly hides of a deinonychus. Each challenge, btw., nets a wooden letter that is part of the final puzzle, the way to leave the gauntlet, which is depicted in Arcineum Devaneas II.



The pdf comes with a gorgeous map of the gauntlet, including a player-friendly version.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with ample gorgeous artworks.



Okay, this module will not be for everyone. And it imho requires Part II for a basic conclusion. But know what? I ADORE THIS MODULE.



If you're like me, you've run A LOT of modules, read even more. I've NEVER run a module like this. In the beginning, I said that this was more like "Quest for Glory" than regular modules and there's a reason for this - beyond the ample puzzles provided, each combat essentially is a puzzle. They can be won by brute force and luck, yes, but in the end, the fights require more brains than brawns - this is no "optimize to win"-scenario, it is one that tests the mental prowess of your players. Better yet, the module does not penalize failure in admittedly stacked environments and does not require the completion of the puzzles herein. Their visual handouts render running them very easy and the combat itself is neat as well.



The premise of the narrative set up is fresh as well and what could be considered "shoehorned" actually works superbly thanks to the diverse hooks - one is bound to work for just about any group. Still, one thing remains - the module *does* somewhat cheat - the polymorph-effects work pretty much in non-standard ways here and the rules-rationale for HP-carry-over etc. is clunky at best, the deviation from how polymorph works is jarring - in this regards, the module is far from perfect and requires that you accept the premise.



Now Stephen Yeardley's "Dire, Devilish Deeds" requires an open mind, yes, but it is more fresh wind in design, premise and execution than I've seen in ages. And its unique set-up also means that the instances in which the rules are bent are not there to arbitrarily create difficulty or shoehorn one room/hazard to work (something I LOATHE) or worse, penalize characters by randomly stripping away powers. The change in rules instead exists to propel the narrative and make the basic premise of this array of challenges work - it's not a cop-out, it's a narrative enabler for something that would not have worked in the default frame. Without this change, the whole set-up, the whole story, would not work. If this kind of thing does bug you, please detract a star from my final rating.



If this saga can maintain the level of awesomeness exhibited herein, we'll have an instant classic on our hands. The first module elicited a sense of jamais-vu from me and turned out to be a thoroughly tantalizing trip. This is superb and captivating and while the premise sports some rough edges, if you tackle it as it's intended to, I guarantee that you will not have ever played something like this. This module is a breath of fresh air, a glorious example for the versatility of our system and a rebuke to the claims that only a limited number of playstyles or module-types work within a given system. I adore this module. It is well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval and. Now the series imho requires owning at least 2 modules, unless you want to scavenge the puzzles/polymorph challenges, so I'm going to hold off for now regarding declaring this as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015, but if the other parts hold up, this is exactly what I consider them to be.



If you've been feeling the "been there, done that"-blues, if you want a change of pace, if you want to reward innovation and if you enjoy challenging the smarts of your players, then this should be considered a must-buy module - get it. We need more modules that dare to deviate from the tired old formulas.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dire, Devilish Deeds (1 of 4): Arcineum Devaneas 1
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Mini-Dungeon #006: Abandoned Shrine
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/14/2015 03:34:20
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!



What formerly was a shrine devoted to a cult of assassins and their foul deity, now hosts an array of nasty gang members and their ogre boss. The complex itself is pretty straightforward and would be rather conservative in its own place. However, blending skeletal champions and remnants of the cult with the new gang-inhabitants makes the dungeon feel interesting and less predictable. A simple haunt and a unique trap as well as modified equip for the hyperlinked stats render the mini-dungeon more diverse than the basic premise would lead you to believe.



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.



Brian Wiborg Mønster delivers an interesting little mini-dungeon, which, on paper, may look none too impressive. In play, the small dungeon felt more dynamic than I would have expected and the brief statblock modification shorthands render this one pretty much plug-and-play-ish, beyond even the other mini-dungeons. Still, this is, concept-wise, slightly less intriguing than similar installments in the series. My final verdict hence will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #006: Abandoned Shrine
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Underworld Races: Vestraadi
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/12/2015 03:41:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Underworld Races-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



As has become the tradition with this series, we open with the extensive history of cataclysmic events that have shaped the unique underworld of Aventyr before we delve into the unique fluff and description of the new race featured herein - now those fleshy tendrils on the sides of Oxolotls, the ones that make them look a bit like Mudkips? Now think of a white, humanoid, massive creature with those things all over the body, a slightly lopsided, sickle-shaped head and three-fingered, multi-digit hands and you have the nightmare fuel that is the appearance of the mysterious vestraadi. And yes, I am not going to spoil the few tidbits about them shared herein in the racial history - mainly because there is more mechanical ground to cover than in just about any Underworld race-book so far.



Vestraadi receive +4 to Wis, +2 to Con, -2 Cha, are aberrations, have a land speed of 20 ft. and a swim speed of 30 ft. blindsight 40 ft in water, 5 ft on land, scent, are constantly under detect poison, have a cold resistance 5, can breathe air and water, always treat Stealth and Perception as class skills - and they are Blind. As such, they may be immune to gaze attacks and sight-based illusions, but also are susceptible to sound-based effects and illusions due to their acute hearing. Now usually, I'd be complaining about the +4 Wis here - but unless you use the following rules, the vestraadi only receive +2 here.



What rules? Well, fans of daredevil may be familiar with the sonar idea - well, that's exactly how the vestraadi see the world. Unless suppressed, they constantly ping their environments, thus perceiving other vestraadi and their environments (though they can suppress this for hiding etc.) - this has a range of 240 ft. - moving objects are harder to fix - the vestraadi can designate character level + Wis-mod to automatically identify. Whenever a vestraadi's turn hits, the aberration may detect creatures in 30 ft range with a Perception-check versus 10 + size modifier + Stealth-check or the object's attribute modifier (e.g. Str-mod for thrown weapons) - the vestraadi gains blindsense against such targets, but on a 1, something goes wrong. As a swift action, a vestraadi may make a second such roll at +2 to Perception against targets he can blindsense - if successful, they are treated as being seen via blindsight until the beginning of the vestraadi's next turn. Against objects not so perceived, the vestraadi is treated as flat-footed, with the range increasing over the levels. The higher the level of the vestraadi, the more additional effects are added - from detect magic at 5th level to arcane sight at 20th level. The downside is apparent - the detect-effects may knock them out as per the default rules of the spells, so that constitutes a design flaw in my book. Soooo...this looks clunky, doesn't it? Lot of rolling? Complex? Yeah, it honestly kind of is - however, at the same time, I playtested this system and in the hands of a capable player, the delay is minimal - and renders the playing experience utterly unique - the vestraadi play like no other race I've ever played or DM'd for - they at once are superb in the perceptions and utterly sucky. They are truly unique and I applaud the race for making this work!



The FCOs of the Vestraadi are interesting -from granting mounts swim speeds to some dark tapestry-ish themed options, the feel well-balanced and partially even innovative. From corals that help scent-based navigation to slime that makes weapons harder to disarm, the mundane items are neat.



Racial feats include 3+Wis-mod rounds discern lies, detecting diseases, +4 dodge versus attacks not perceived via sonar, +1 AC versus attacks perceived by it, nigh perfect sound mimicry or significantly boosted intimidate-effects - unique bonuses and thankfully none that render the whole raison d'être of the race ad absurdum. The magic items provided, which include a bow that allows the wielder to project his perception to the point of impact, greasing boots and deadly whips, can be generally considered well-crafted and unique as well - but relatively powerful.



Now among the spells, I am not sold - an immunity-ignoring 2nd level charm, for example, is not gonna happen in my game, with the same holding true for the even worse greater version. A level 4/5 AoE spell that deals CL x d8, max 10d8 30 ft. burst damage AND decreases movement in the area by 20 ft AND penalizes ranged attacks by -8 is too much. A spell that weaponizes the tendrils on their bodies also does not work as intended and generates utter confusion - they make autonomous AoOs as if they had Combat Reflexes - but what if you have the feat? Do they stack? Do you have to perceive the targets? Can both you and your tendrils execute an AOO versus the same target? If your tendrils drop a foe prone, can you execute an AoO against him? This spell is a mess.



Finally, we are introduced to the Vestraadi Argus racial paragon class - at 5 levels, these watchers receive +3 BAB, fort and ref-saves, + will-saves and increase their sonar range by up to 100 ft. The class nets d8, 4+Int skills and proficiency with the whip. The class also increases scent-range, provides for limited perception-rerolls, 3+wis-mod deathwatch and arcane sight per day and later can see through solid material, even metal up to a certain thickness. The capstone also nets 3/day true seeing. An okay watchman-class, I guess.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches beyond the minor bolding issues. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard for the Underworld Races-series and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with copious amounts of gorgeous, original full-color artwork.



The Vestraadi are one of the most innovative races I've seen for Pathfinder - I have literally never seen a race attempt anything like it and that makes it inherently awesome to some extent to me. Mike Myler's sonar mechanics are honestly much better than I expected them to be and in playtest, the vestraadi played utterly, stunningly unique - literally a different experience from ANY race out there. Now yes, a player must REALLY know the perception, scent, blindsense and blindsight-rules by hard, otherwise it bogs down gameplay...but if that is ensured, these guys rock incredibly hard.

While I LOATHE the detect effects, their overloads also need to be addressed and some of the supplemental content, quite frankly, requires a nerfing/rebalancing. However, I still urge you to check this out - it is the most unique race I've seen in ages and when cleaned up, it has the potential to become one of my all-time favorites - consider this a seal-of-approval-in-waiting. As provided, the pdf is still flawed. And yes, the paragon PrC isn't *that* impressive beyond being the ultimate detector. But still - the vestraadi are a glorious race that, once this pdf's rough edges have been polished off, will take their place as one of my all-time favorites. And yes, I'm going to scavenge the hell out of the sonar (daredevil ninjas, anyone?), replace the detect effects with something more to my liking...and cackle with glee. It should also be noted, that a fellow, blind gamer was involved in the creation of the sonar-rules and quite frankly, I really, really like how this mechanic provides a totally unique experience that deserves to be added to one's game.



I'm postponing the verdict. Why? Because, quite frankly, with the flaws, I should rate this down to 3. I can't. I love it too much. I have always rewarded imaginative creativity over mechanical perfection and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Vestraadi
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Mini-Dungeon #005: The Soularium
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/08/2015 12:17:21
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 Soularium is pretty uncommon in that it does not represent a classic dungeon, but rather a cult's dread operation disguised as a charity - what at first looks like a benevolent organization, quickly turns out to be the soul harvesting operation of a nasty quasit and his faithful cult - including and alignment seeing statue and pretty concise defenses - conceivably well--crafted for such a small module and sporting actual traps and the like herein.



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. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.



Rory Toma's Soularium is an interesting, fun sidetrek with cool defenses, nice ideas and a solid cartography to boot. There is not much to complain about here - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #005: The Soularium
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Mini-Dungeon #004: Summoner's Remorse
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/05/2015 06:00:22
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!



Okay, so recently, villagers have been kidnapped by a nefarious cult, HEL-bent (haha) on rescuing a dark naga from the limbo of HEL via terrible human sacrifice. The mini-dungeon kicks off by a maddened villager slitting his throat in front of the PCs, thus conjuring forth scarab swarms - 3 scarab stones need to be destroyed in the complex to thwart the scarab swarm-controlling cult in a surprisingly atmospheric, dark module that has an atmosphere I did not expect to see in this series.



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.



Justin Andrew Mason pushes the boundaries of the series in this module, providing a rather atmospheric, awesome mini-dungeon for your perusal - from cool adversaries to nasty atmosphere, solid challenges and a sense of urgency, this one delivers more than a file of its length conceivably has a right to - excellent job, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #004: Summoner's Remorse
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Underworld Races: Colliatur
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/29/2015 05:32:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Underworld Races-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Disclaimer: The Colliatur are based on the colloid, an entity I created for Rise of the Drow. This makes me partial to the concept underlying the race. However, I had no involvement in the concept and creation of this race beyond being asked if the concepts would be true to the spirit in which the colloid was written - I provided neither editing, development, writing or the like for these guys as presented here. I entered this review exceedingly skeptical on whether this race would make sense or stand up in any way to what I expected this to deliver - experience has shown that I usually end up pretty disappointed when I tackle any book with serious expectations. I went into this with a negative bias - so could this survive my scrutiny?



We begin this supplement, as had become the tradition with this line of products, with an introduction to the numerous cataclysms that shaped the underworld of Aventyr - and among these, the colloid. The alien crystalline structure that seeks annihilation of all undead, though, did not go unopposed and thus, the colliatur were born as a race - a blending of the colloid's body invasion and a pathogen released in the water that did result in some mishaps instead of annihilation of the crystal: Instead of halting the advance of crystallization or becoming one with the colloid, the subjects instead became something new - the shepherds of those lost in the colloid, independent and free-willed - and thus, also a threat - but only for the wicked. For, surprisingly, the colliatur are friendly and inclusive, with hair and bodies laced with crystalline strands and an origin from various races, though, of course, humans are considered the default origin. Say what you want about the colloid - the entity's intrinsic value of life has a rather interesting effect on the race of the colliatur. In the cloak and dagger backstabbing world of the underdark, tendency towards an ennui-like, benign neutrality is very much a fresh wind.



Racial trait-wise, colliatur may freely choose one ability score to receive a +2 bonus, are native outsiders, get darkvision (not bolded in a minor formatting glitch) and a +2 bonus to AC. 1/day they may deflect a ray as if using the Deflect Arrows feat via their crystalline refractions. Also rather interesting - they receive resistance against negative energy 5, do not lose hit points when taking a negative level and receive a +2 bonus to saves versus necromancy, death, etc. effects. Contact with acid triggers fast healing 2, but thankfully, this healing caps at 2 hp per level per day - solid minor healing sans abuse potential. As sociable and nice fellows, colliatur may try again to positively influence attitudes when only failing by 5 or less. They receive +2 to concentration checks to cast spells defensively and colliatur with Int 11+ may cast comprehend languages, detect magic and read magic 1/day. They also receive +1 to attacks versus undead. This quite an impressive ability array with numerous unique signature abilities - which is great. However, balance-wise, we'd have an issue in spite of the relative scarcity of negative energy...this is offset somewhat by a weakness - the colliatur's partially crystal bodies are susceptible to sonic damage, rendering them vulnerable. So all in all - the race works.



And yes, in theory, you can combine these guys with other races, but that is beyond the scope of this pdf (and quite a challenging expansion to design!) - now interesting would also be the favored class options, which, unlike those of quite a few "good" races, actually reflect the compassion of the race - we can see quite a few nice non-lethal damage upgrades and, also rather neat, a gunslinger archetype-specific FCO. The inquisitor's FCO also deserves special mention, its benefit depending on the type of judgment active, resulting in either DR/nonlethal (VERY interesting) or a nonlethal damage bonus. As far as FCOs with their limited design options go, these are inspired indeed.



Now I noted a racial archetype, which would be the crystal cannonade, a gunslinger archetype for everyone - even those of you who do not like guns. The idea is as follows: You take a crossbow and your own body's crystal fuses with it, granting you the option to reload it as swift actions - with one hand. Your body does the reloading for you, meaning that you also have no need for ammunition. Shots fired thus are touch attacks and deal nonlethal damage - unless the target is immune against it - then, they deal half damage as bludgeoning damage. Yes, this not only allows you to play a gunslinger in non-black-powder games, it also provides a means to dual wield heavy crossbows and pull off some nasty tricks with them (yes, feats and deeds work with this...) - even before you get dex to damage and further increase that amount over the levels. It is odd, though, that these weapons still can be disarmed, though they become an extension of the colliatur, oh well, not a big gripe. Personally, I would have preferred a slight upgrade to the base weapon's potency to bring the archetype's basic weapon framework closer to that of firearms, but again, this is me being a very spoiled reviewer. This is a deceptively cool archetype - for one, it's not LOUD. It's not expensive at low levels. It renders crossbows a valid weapon choice. And its synergy with the vast array of reloading options ensures that you can make some pretty nasty builds that were not possible before. On a nitpick, the reload for heavy and simple crossbows via this ability remains the same, but since the feat-based action economy remains the same as before, the combinations thereof lead to different results - so I'm going to assume this choice to be intentional. So yes, one of the subtle-good-archetypes.



Thankfully, this level of quality extend to the alchemical items -from divination-enhancing powder that taps into the colloid's foresight to improvised weapons of crystal pried from the fallen, the colliatur get some cool tricks. The feats available mostly also fall into this category - some colliatur may emit dancing lights or light at will, whereas others can reduce the amount of negative levels taken per attack, making them predisposed to battling the tougher undead threats. This does not end here, though - what about breaking off parts of your body to make crystalline tools (and yes, later even weapons!)? Yeah, these feats are pretty awesome, though the follow-up feat could have used the line of the base feat again how to heal the speed reduction and damage this may cause. Mind you, the feats are functional and all is there, the presentation could just be slightly more detailed. Finally, what about morphing your hands into crystalline weapons, even ones with reach, provided you have additional colliatur feats? And yes, there is a positive energy-damage booster feat for casters, further emphasizing the anti-undead stance alongside the scaling feat that increases negative energy resistance.



The magic items follow this weird, but awesome trend - there are implants that grant a telepathic bond, even in an antimagic field and which can be tuned to diverse frequencies, allowing for elite-squads to act in silent unison. There is also a shard that REWARDS nonlethal spellcasting - while wielding it, you cast a spell merciful, but at CL +3 - which is powerful, but fittingly so.



The pdf also sports 5 new spells - from communion of minds that allows for Knowledge-rerolls to eidolon evolution-like tricks via alien surge and its greater brother, the spells are interesting. On a minor nitpick - regular alien surge scales while the greater one does not. And yes, there are two pretty powerful nonlethal damage-spells.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches beyond the two minor bolding issues. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard for the Underworld Races-series and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with copious amounts of gorgeous, original full-color artwork - and I mean gorgeous. Jacob Blackmon has outdone himself and created colliatur that at once are beautiful and still evoke a sense of uncanny-valley-like alienness that still is somewhat captivating. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that the pieces he made here rank among my favorites of his work.



I get the allure of the darkness. The flair of the brooding antihero. The gritty protagonist. But know what? Beyond all those grimdark races out there, the Colliatur are a breath of fresh air. Why? Because they are, unabashedly so, a hero-race. They are kind, friendly, not dour or xenophobic. They may come off as a bit arrogant, but they're beautiful and even the worst examples of their race can be superb allies versus the undead. The race has a very distinct style and aesthetic that sets them apart and makes them unique - and one of the races I'd never ever want to miss in my games. Beyond making superb adventurers, they are a balanced race (approximately on par with the planetouched races) and one that has a mechanic distinctiveness beyond what aasimar or tieflings offer.



The anti-negative-energy-shtick is pretty innovative, but it is the mechanic representation of their tendencies to value all life set the colliatur apart for me. Colliatur are a great reminder that adventurers, especially good adventurers, do not need to be murder hobos. They can be knock-out hobos as well. ;) Kidding aside - thematically, one of the glorious things about them is that they provide a concise feeling for elements that had no fluffy identity - beyond the focus on nonlethal damage (and the mechanical REWARDS for using them!) they also provide a cool alternative for the crazy-prepared trope of feats...and mutable bodies. We've seen a lot tentacley-mutatey takes on scavenging some of the versatility of the eidolon et al - but let's face it, you won't be playing a paladin that grows tentacles with razor-fanged suckers anytime soon. (If you are, great for you!)



A race perpetually gleaming white teeth, star-shaped pupils in the eyes, crystalline strands in hair and body that can form their hands into beautiful instruments of destruction? A race suitable to combat some of the vilest foes out there? Yeah, more like it, ain't it? Essentially, this race is a thoroughly fresh take on the radiant champion trope, exceedingly distinct from the aasimar and still mechanically more than valid. The pdf does have some minor rough edges here and there, but for each rough edge, I found at least 2 pieces of crunch I considered awesome or ideas that were downright inspired. The fluff of these guys is superb. Their identity is pronounced -and yet, they fit easily within the frame of just about any campaign. Better yet - they are not necessarily geared towards an alignment - and picture one of these guys as a master torturer/slaver (very good at capturing prey alive...) or as a psychopath stalking the streets, slaying undead and living alike and you have some cool adventure potential - just picture the vampire whimpering in fear of the "white teeth, the star-eyes...." Yes, I am running that module sooner or later...



In case you haven't noticed - I adore this race. They have an awesome visual style, the story to back them up, unique rules, a unique niche and still manage to not be restrained by it. DMs can easily blend other races with the colliatur in their home-game as well... In one sentence -this delivers all of what I look for in a race - with equal capacity for being radiant heroes and slightly uncanny-valleyesque beings or even villains, Mike Myler's colliatur are inspired in all the right ways - final verdict? 5 stars plus seal of approval. Check out this race - it is definitely worth it!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Colliatur
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B04: The Cave Beast's Hoard
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/23/2015 09:35:42
An Endzeitgeist.com review of the Revised Edition

This revised edition of the B04 module clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



There is something you'll note from the get-go - you wouldn't know this module for what it once was. From a cleared layout to copious new artwork and maps, the production values have increased by a huge step, bringing this up to par with AAW Games' new standard. The font-size is also pretty small, making the module longer than one would think from the page-count. That out of the way, let's get to the meat of this revision.



The following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here?

All right! First of all, the town of Woodwall is fully depicted, with settlement stats et al. - which may be nice...it becomes even cooler once you realize the town's unique fey-themed defenses and its unique magical fountain - indeed, there is quite a bit of research to be done in town (what about a sample legend?) and the overland map also helps vividly picture the environment. A quick investigation should point the PCs quickly towards an ominous "cave beast", which may or may not be a beast or a couple of people, who has been picking off people - one by one. Curious and sharp-witted players may realize here, that there is a theme connecting the disappearances...



The PCs are on a scavenger hunt here, checking mines, old forests and seas for clues of what has happened - and indeed, each place yields new hints and red herrings - and unique challenges with e.g. a nasty Gathlain sorceror - each of the places contains a piece of the puzzle, each place has become the doom of one fleeing apprentice of a particular, long-gone wizard - once these have been cleared out, only a fully mapped keep remains, wherein the PCs will have to brave a kobold infestation to fin the true nature of the cave beast - and no, they may believe the kobolds alone to be responsible, but a close examination of the treasure hoard will quickly disprove this thesis. And then, there is the final confrontation, with the animated golem, all made from the treasure of the long-dead wizard - and here is, where the module becomes awesome. The massive creature is exceedingly deadly - but throughout the module, the PCs could find ways to even the field - each apprentice has left them one way of making the fight easier and careful investigation in the beginning of the module can also provide means of making this challenging, cool puzzle-boss-fight more manageable.



Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games' two-column full-color standard, including gorgeous maps (with player-friendly versions!), copious amount of original artwork and full bookmarks for your convenience.



This happens when a company of dedicated individuals CARES. This old module, a blemish, has been changed to an extent, where you wouldn't believe that this and its predecessor are even related - the writing has vastly improved and Mike Myler has brought his A-game to the table not only the town, but the whole flow of the module much, much more impressive - and especially the way in which the furious finale has been upgraded to actually reward the actions of the PCs! This module rewards sharp players, provides diverse challenges and took Jacob Kellogg's least refined module and turned it into something beautiful. Add to that the massively increased production values and we have a classic example of "From Zero to Hero" - as provided, this revision is fun, diverse and offers multiple challenges for the PCs to face. I *really* love what has been done here, I applaud this level of commitment and I gladly award this revision 5 stars + seal of approval, rendering it a worthy addition to the canon of AAW Games-modules.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B04: The Cave Beast's Hoard
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Underworld Races: Dødelig
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/21/2015 09:38:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Underworld Races-series clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We begin, as always for the series, with the epic stories of the cataclysms that have shaped Aventyr's underworld, before delving into the race-specific history of the dødelig. So, what are they? Well, the short answer would be that they are the vessels and creation, the last-ditch gambit, of Aventyr's first lich - cornered by the crystalline, undead-loathing colloid, the lich tore himself asunder and spread his essence into the petrified skeletons of halflings his familiar had unearthed. Thus, the dødelig were born, and yes - they managed to escape the certain annihilation under the crystalline gleam of the colloid.



They scoured the underworld, finding more skeletons and awakening them, guided by the sundered remains of what remains of the dracoprime. Now interesting would be the very fact that these guys are not evil, maintaining mostly the behaviorisms and hearty nature of their parent race. The cover provides a good impression here - I try to picture them as what would happen if the glorious día de los muertos (seriously, if you can, at least once go to Oaxaca to celebrate that!) met with halflings and were extended for all the time - after all, these guys do not have to plow or sow anymore...



The dødelig receive + 2 Dex and Wis, -2 Str, are small and undead (cha instead of con-mod, immunities to bleed, mind-affecting effects, death effects, disease, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning, nonlethal damage, ability drain, exhaustion, fatigue, energy drain, damage to physical attribute scores or effects that require fort-saves, unless they also affect objects) - yes, the full list. As undead, they are immediately destroyed upon reaching 0 hp or below, get darkvision 60 ft. and a movement rate of 30 ft. They also receive DR 5/bludgeoning, stonecunning and their petrified body can be affected by spells dealing with stone, potentially causing nasty damage and slow. They may also, 1/day as an immediate action, benefit from positive energy as a though they were alive - only for 1 minute, but still. They also suffer from light blindness and exposure to sunlight deals 1 point of Cha-damage per hour - no save. Ouch. So, what do I think about the dødelig's crunch? I honestly consider them to be a bit too front-ended regarding the array of full undead immunities. While this is counterbalanced somewhat by the fragility (0 hp = dead) of the race and the light-based detriments, the race is also limited by the former - but more on that later. So are they strong? Yes. Are they broken? No, not really, but they may be too strong for the grittier of groups - when all is said and done, though, they should not cause grief in most groups and thus are one of the few undead races that kind of get it right.



The racial favored class options provided are neat and relatively unique in that they provide negative energy bonus damage, for example. The alchemical items, including performance-enhancing bone xylophones and obsidian bullets that render slings more valid also are pretty neat.



The dødelig feats provide for means that you will want for your adventuring undead halfling -from options to freeze-style conceal yourself exceedingly well in rocky environments to help when disguising as a living halfling, these are very useful. Dødelig who opt for the racial bonus to skills granting feat that represents memories of an old life may also learn to alter self to assume temporarily the semblance of the living form of their former life. Two secondary claw attacks at 1d4 also exist here and one feat increases the amount of gold you start with and how much you tend to find.



By using ground dødelig remains, you can suppress magical auras (but not the magic) and there also are items to hide your undead nature from detect spells, increase your necromancy or cause those listening to dance akin to a certain irresistible dance. Dødelig also come with 4 spells - one to detect dødelig at greater range (and stone - you have to free your brethren!) and one to fuse with other undead to turn into a larger-sized bone-conglomerate - nasty! A spell to create dødelig from living halflings and one that makes you count temporarily as a halfling can also be found here - they are solid, but did not blow me away - as a note, though: The dødelig-transformation spell could make them quite an eerie threat: When famine or disease rage through the lands, transformation into a skeletal undead may seem like a good idea...



Now if the feats and racial weaknesses have not been ample clue - this race has a pretty hefty investment tax to work well in some contexts - the 3-level racial paragon-class Day Rambler can be considered such an example. The class receives +1 BAB over the levels, +3 fort-and will-saves, +1 ref-saves and +3 natural armor. The class nets d10, 2+Int skills and caps the amount of damage the dødelig can take per day at 3 minus the number of day rambler levels. The ability that makes them temporarily benefit from positive energy also is enhanced and lasts longer, they lose light blindness and get sharp hands as a bonus feat - or increase the damage die by one -for a base damage of 2d4, which is slightly odd, since usually, there would be a dice-step-progression à la d4 -> d6 -> d8 etc.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column standard established for the series and Jacob Blackmon's gorgeous, original artwork is neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience



So, by all means, I should not like these dødelig-guys - I've been pretty vocal about my dislike for massive hidden character-resource taxes, like the one that warrants the existence of the 3-level paragon-class. I'm also not known for much leniency regarding races that get access to the massive array of undead immunities - but here, much like for Kobold Press' darakhul, the detrimental effects are required to render the huge slew of immunities worthwhile without upsetting the balance. The dødelig that wants to work flawlessly in a regular society will have to think fast and out of the box - but that works with this race rather well.

Know what I love about these guys? In spite of the grim background story, in spite of being undead - these guys are surprisingly fun and playful, exhibiting one of the strengths of Mike Myler as an author - what my group tends to call fundead. Are they perfect or as culturally distinctive as some of the other races in the series? No, but they rock - pun intended. These stone skeletons are cool, if limited. I really wished they had less immunities and less of a general ability-tax/character investment required to render them operable in the surfaceworld, though - in regular campaigns, players will need to carefully plan to make these guys work and for some low-end campaigns, they may be a bit much. And I don't get why the undead traits aren't spread over the 3 levels of the paragon-class - it imho would make sense to strengthen the ties towards undeath and the stone-nature of the dødelig would make for a nice rationale for such a decision, while also putting player agenda higher on the list: Want to play a halfling skeleton? Here you go. Want to play a halfling skeleton with full undead immunities? Here are a couple of levels of racial paragon... What I'm trying to say is - this is not perfect, it's not for every group and it could have been a tad bit more streamlined - but it remains a surprisingly well-crafted book that presents the first non-grim/dark undead PC race. Hence, this is a good book for me - well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars - and since I have a policy of in dubio pro reo, I will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Dødelig
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Mini-Dungeon #003: Shrine of the Earth Barons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/17/2015 03:31:41
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 PCs find a capstone that opens to a dome that once housed a cabal of gnomish earth elementalists, now obliterated by a staff of power's breaking by a fanatical adversary. Rather awesome, the dungeon does sport moving teleportation vortexes as well as deadly, cool golems and earth-themed adversaries, often with interesting reskins to add a further sense of unique identity.



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.



Stephen Yeardley delivers a concise, golem/earth-themed mini-dungeon with some pretty unique minor hazards - the keys, destruction etc. - all concisely-presented and surprisingly detailed for such a small pdf. Well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #003: Shrine of the Earth Barons
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Mini-Dungeon #002: Hobgoblin Lair
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/17/2015 03:29:28
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!



Herein, we receive the seasonal home of a bunch of goblinoid raiders led by a bugbear - as such, the place is rigged with an array of basic, conservative traps - and yes, their home does hide an old, Dwarven shrine. The details provided for the rooms per se are captivating, but on the downside, we do not receive stats for the boss Gorg (a bugbear warrior 2), so you'll need to do some quick stats.



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.



Beyond the lack of stats ( which are inherent in the format - I get that; But we could use a hyperlink to such a source) for the BBeG, this pdf represents, alas, what I feared to see from the series - while the pdf does provide more details than I would have expected from a two-page mini-dungeon, it also falls short of evoking a unique atmosphere. Jonathan Ely creates a solid goblinoid camp, with the traps you'd expect, but does not manage to create a truly evocative environment. This remains yet another low-level mini-goblin-themed dungeon - great if you need a small complex on the fly, otherwise pretty unremarkable. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars - whether you round up or down depends heavily on whether you want such a pretty vanilla goblinoid camp or not - in the former case, round up, in the latter, round down. While personally, I got nothing from this pdf, I'll round up here due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mini-Dungeon #002: Hobgoblin Lair
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B22: Serpents of Fickle Fortune
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/10/2015 04:45:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clock in at 34 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC/editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's check this out!



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

...

..

.

Still here? All right! There once was a time when most mega-modules sported some sort of artifact on which the story hinged - a practice that has since then become less common. Well, here we have a module that draws upon these venerable tropes - and an interesting artifact, with the Knucklebones of Fickle Fortune. The city of Arefast is about to become much more interesting - for unbeknown to most mortals (and immortals, for that matter), the knucklebones of fickle fortune receive a background story of rather interesting repercussions herein - the gravitas of which the PCs are bound to find out when they are about to confront the composer-turned-crimelord Sir Joffrey Curwen - who has recently "acquired" just such a knucklebone. Whether because he's also stolen something the PCs require or due to some other hook (plenty of which are provided), the module begins pretty fluently with a confrontation of the crimelord in his abandoned, dilapidated theatre-hideout - which btw. sports a surprising tactical depth and interesting hazards - as well as a gorgeous full-color map, presented both for DMs and players.



During the combat, someone, potentially even the PCs, may be the ones to roll the d20 - and score a 21. Not all is well with the forces of universal law, as the sabotaged artifact allows an array of voidworms (including the powerful protean mastermind) to enter the city - and fittingly, chaos breaks loose. In an explosion of chaotic light, the serpentine masters of chaos disperse and take with them the artifact - and that is only the beginning. With a valid rip in reality, warpwaves with significant and creative influences blast through the city with partially even funny consequences:



Whether it is chaotic weasels that refuse to attack female characters, a fullblown caturday of all cats taking to the streets in vast swarms - so what to do? Best get in contact with the knucklebone's former owner, who is just as stumped, but asks the PCs...well...to roll the thing again. Alas, for that, they must have the die and first avoid being slain in the instigated collapse/assassination attempt on the cross-shaped bridge of their meeting. The former owner Huronir thereafter contacts the PCs via sending-spells (including hilarious complaints about the spell's word-limit...) and sooner or later, Curwen, should he survive, will make his move....and if he doesn't, a nod to Mike Myler's cult kobold-whistleblower Weaky Leeks might help... Rather interesting - the opposition is not sleeping and acting upon the capacities one expects from smart foes - like tracking the buyer's market for axiomatic weapons available in the city and systematically eradicating the magic items designed to stop them. On the plus-side, this allows a DM exceedingly easy control over what weapons to provide for the PCs as they hopefully prevent the destruction of the magical items.



While all of this may sound incredibly urgent, the tempo is defined by the PCs and aforementioned warpwaves and odd occurences should drive home a sense of urgency - even before the PCs realize that their triumphes are short-lived when the knucklebone isn't destroyed - the vanquished proteans may simply re-enter the city after a brief reformation period of a couple of days, allowing for yet another hidden means for the DM to increase or decrease the difficulty on the fly. Have I mentioned the option to enjoy a playful duel to the death for the protean's amusement with the reprogrammed clockwork soldiers of the town's square, featuring the confidently-named "Slaughterlord"? While all of this is going on, the PCs are collecting fragments - which they can use via e.g. locate object to seek out the climax and true location of the knucklebone. Nice to see some awareness for the capabilities of higher level PCs.



In order to end the chaotic fluxes, the PCs will have to enter the city's progressive civic timepiece, a massive clock-tower (provided in a stunning full-color map!), and make their way past corrupted inveitables and the last of the protean incursion - the former while being mocked for their oh-so-efficient axiomatic weaponry. Hilarious! Oh, and btw., much like many encounters, tactically smart PCs are required - the final boss, much like most encounters herein, can be considered a kind of puzzle - the smarter your players act, the better - and in the end, they may refute the protean's "freedom" by making an offering to the die. Oh, and proteans are chaotic, not evil - even if slain, the proteans may actually raise the PCs from the dead since they were so amusing. (Which btw. also reflects in the read-aloud text, which is delightfully belittling to those stubborn hominids...)



The module also provides a small, two-page mini-gazetteer of Arefast, a new type of protean, rules for the fragments/less knucklebones of fickle fortune and, as mentioned, player-friendly maps.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed nothing more serious than missing blank spaces. Layout adheres to a gorgeous,e asy-to-read standard and comes with ample original full-color art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Jared Jeanquart delivers one glorious module here - suffused with a subtle sense of humor (which you can ignore, should you choose to), ample suggestions for modification by the DM. The opposition is, befitting of their nature, playful and oscillating between the ridiculous and the amoral. The module's internal "logic", scoff at the adversaries may at that term, is much more concise than in most modules you can get, the means for expansion vast. Arefast as a city is an inspired backdrop as well - and had me, quite frankly, stoked for more. My one complaint for this great module is that I want to know more about this interesting city and its unique locations and personalities! This is the first module by Mr. Jeanquart I've read and it has me asking for more - this is fun, exciting, has interesting and smart encounters and features foes that have too long waited for their chance to shine - final verdict? 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
B22: Serpents of Fickle Fortune
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