Flames Rising PDF Store
DriveThruComics
DriveThruFiction



Home » Purple Duck Games » [PFRPG] Player's Options: Halflings » Reviews
Close
Close
 Quick Find
Browse
 Follow Your Favorites!
NotificationsSign in to get custom notifications of new products!
 Information
See our Quickstart Guide for information on how to get started.

Having Problems?
  • Troubleshooting - go here if you are having technical problems with the site or your products.
  • FAQ - our Frequently Asked Questions page.
  • Device Help - assistance for viewing your purchases on a tablet device.
  • Contact us if none of these answer your questions.

Affiliate System - Click here for information about how you can get money by referring people to Flames Rising PDF Store!

Our Latest Newsletter
Product Reviews
Privacy Policy
How to Sell on Flames Rising PDF Store
Convention Support Program


RSS Feed New Product RSS Feed
Back
Other comments left by this customer:
NeoExodus Chronicles: Weapons of Machinesmith Destruction (PFRPG)
Publisher: LPJ Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2015 03:23:14
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This expansion for LPJr Design's neat Machinesmith-class clocks in at 14 pages, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



We begin with a new greatwork, the constructor - this greatwork occupies the head-slot and can be used to create items instantaneously from thin air. And yes, if you've been following my reviews, you'll realize that the very concept is a hornet's nest - weight-limits, masterwork items, material restrictions, etc. - there is a lot to take into account. Now here's the cincher - the items are fleeting and come with material and weight-restrictions that, believe it or not, prevent abuse. The necessity to know what you want to make prevents the manifestation of fitting keys from thin air (unless the DM is lenient) and the restrictions even manage to maintain the balancing scarcity/price-level of firearms, clockworks etc. - Which renders the greatwork's basic capabilities one impressive feat of design. Kudos!



Now where a basic nod from me becomes a full-blown grin would be with the progression of the upgrades of the greatwork - here, steel and yes, even progressive magic item creation on a temporary basis become possible. If you even remotely think about the very notion, you'll realize the sheer amount of issues this necessarily creates - and will realize what an impressive feat the avoidance of just all of these problems is. The rules presented are so concise, they even take destructible items à la staves of the magi into account - oh, and the upgrades come at times, when the creation of firearms etc. from thin air become more than valid and not unbalancing. The permanent item creation at capstone levels, feat-interaction - this greatwork is a mechanical beauty and should be considered the reference work for crunch like this. Yes, charges etc. are covered. I can't stress enough how much I enjoyed this greatwork and want to stress that yes, this makes non-magic crazy-prepared characters very much within the realm of possibility.



We also receive new machinesmith tricks - analyzers allow for the rerolls of natural 1s, faster motion analysis and a pretty cool idea: Scanning spells from scrolls to cast them on the fly via the analyzer - once again a hornet's nest of design to cover that manages to get expensive components, etc. - all RIGHT! Mechanus augmentations have a different formatting for their header than the other tricks. The tricks here include additional charges, storing and launching drones from the mechanus, adding poison-biting capacity and even providing a rudimentary intelligence - yes, complete with a limited skill- and feat-list. Moebius suits can have crossbows/firearms installed, can provide monk-style improved unarmored strikes and higher level suit-wearers may even dimension door or spell turn.



If you have a moebius weapon, a crit-stunning impact hammer, additional, charge-costing attacks and progressive replacement of str/dex with into for attacks/damage (with multiple taking of the trick providing progressively better replacements) as well as bleed damage and maneuver-enhancers provide for neat tricks. The aforementioned new constructor can create more items, recall them or produce on greater scales - and at high levels , execute mage's disjunction. The augmentations provided for the converter include environmental attunement, short-range fire-novas and high-level time stops.



Of course, we also receive an array of new gadgets - from alchemical sprayer (including improvements and concise mechanics), crank-powered third arms these are just as awesome - and I'm saying that before the more unique options, like deploying melee-turret-style fighting bots, instant-minimoat-creating brass worms, folding horses, flamethrowers, pneumatic launchers and portable cannons enter the fray. What about circular saws? One-man rampage armors? Dune-style water-purification devices? Sound-based stunners? Yeah. Awesome!



The techniques provided include losing prepared prototypes for greater dispel magic or even share their tricks - the techniques herein may be less flashy than the aforementioned options, but they nevertheless are powerful, nifty options. Finally, we also receive numerous new prototypes, some of which utilize the new and concisely-defined construct-subschool - here, we get animated swordsmen and shieldbearers, concussive bombs, emergency stabilizing constructs, electroshock coils for weapons, explosive tips for ammunition, prototypes tailor-made to blow locks apart and even vibro-blade enhancements.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, but the one component I could complain about - the formatting of the titles and subtitles is not consistent. Layout adheres to LPJr Design's beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous full-color art - all original and as beautiful as you'd expect. The pdf's printer-friendly second version is also in full-color - and less than 1 mb! I thought at first something went wrong with my download, but no - fully functional. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



This pdf can be summed up in "Stepping up your game." After the evocative, but rushed and flawed first two machinesmith expansions, I was not looking forward to this one - and oh boy was I wrong! LPJr Design's high-concept books have a surprisingly pervasive way of sneaking into my games, even when I complained to no end regarding a flawed piece of crunch or another - there is usually this sense of pure joy, of high-concept awesomeness in the books. Know what? This one marries this unmitigated joy with crunch mastery of some of the most difficult-to-execute, complex systems for one simply inspired expansion. I am not kidding when I'm saying that this utterly blew me away and that it should be considered a must-own pdf for any user of the machinesmith. Even if you don't use the class, any steampunk/magepunk/whatever-system can benefit from the wealth of riches and precisely-executed crunch. Unless I'm sorely mistaken, this was the first such pdf by Jonathan Palmer I've read (I know him mainly from some Headless Hydra supplements, magic item supplements and the basic machinesmith) - and I definitely want more - Sir, my hat's off to you for this glorious expansion. Same goes for LPJr Design - this level of quality definitely deserves accolades! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - and yes, I am very glad I am able to dish out this verdict - the machinesmith deserves tools of this quality.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeoExodus Chronicles: Weapons of Machinesmith Destruction (PFRPG)
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Urban Dressing: Dwarven Town
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/30/2015 03:21:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of what I'd tentatively call the "new" Urban Dressing-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We begin this supplement with vistas both unique and wondrous - in the towns of the dwaves, one may witness a plethora of sights and sounds mundane and wondrous - from chimney stacks that bear witness to the industrious nature of the stout folk to dwarves strumming the lyres (there is in fact a correlation between music and productivity), the life of a busy settlement breathes from the massive 100-entry strong table - and yes, of course miners, cave-ins, smiths and the like can be met as well. Few things will endear the PCs more to the populace than quenching a dwarf's beard, recently set ablaze or participating in competitions of boulder-throwing - a thoroughly alive place indeed.



The 50 businesses also reflect the industrious nature of the dwarven people - from the obligatory smithies and architects, one can surely learn wondrous feats of engineering, while here, even second-hand equipment adheres to the high quality-standards set by the dwarven folk. Boneminders and etchers offer their services to the discerning clientele and for those PCs looking for something more out of the ordinary - what about ships to travel on lava? This single entry had me come up with essentially a whole culture, a vast set of adventure ideas - "inspired" is indeed the word to use.



Whereas the primary inhabitants of such a town obviously belong to the stout race, from jailed half-orcs (rightfully or due to racial prejudice?) to halfling couriers to half-elven lawyers and pyromaniac elven exiles, the list of 50 notable folk can be described as adhering to the same level of liveliness and diversity one would expect from such a supplement - and yes, fret not -the majority of the entries does cover dwarves!



Finally, 20 hooks provide for ample adventuring material - from dwarven miners lost in the tunnels to dangerous, tunneling worms that destabilize areas to gas explosions and goblin spies, quite an array of diverse options await.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' 2-column b/w-standard and the artwork is thematically fitting b/w-stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions - one optimized for the printer and one optimized for screen-use.



Josh Vogt's Urban Dressing pdf have become a continuous source of joy for my table - the amount of life oozing from them, their unfettered creativity and their quite frankly astounding diversity has taken the weakest of the Dressing-series and brought it to a level that can only be considered inspired in all the right ways. Now racial settlements tend to be a difficult topic, mainly because you have to cater to a race's iconic stereotypes, while still providing a distinct sense of identity. This manages to do just that - in a glorious fashion indeed. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Urban Dressing: Dwarven Town
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Underworld Races: Colliatur
Publisher: AAW Games
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
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Living Monolith
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/29/2015 05:30:12
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!



What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?



The Living Monolith receives d12, full BAB-progression, 2+Int skills per level and good fort- and will-saves as well as proficiency with light armor, simple and martial weapons and shields, but not tower shields.



Okay, so what do these guys get? Well, for once, we receive DR 1/ and a 10% chance to ignore critical hits and sneak attacks at first level, scaling up by +1/+10% at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Which is solid, seeing how in my experience DR tends to be an overvalued commodity. The living monolith also has a finely-carved scarab embedded in his forehead – said scarab not only provides a passive bonus to a bunch of saves, but also can be utilized to enlarge person the monolith. This carries a kind of issue – for once the ability is supernatural, not spell-like – which I do not object to – playtest did show that the bad armor-situation does mitigate somewhat the range received. That being said, I do have an issue with the lack of a CL – seeing how enlarge person’s duration is dependent on that and with SUs providing no default, we have a rules-gap here that ought to be closed – unlimited duration size-increase would be a rather hard pill to swallow, especially considering the lack of options to dispel it. At higher levels, enlarge person is replaced by righteous might, but alas, the problem persists.



Automatic stabilization at 2nd level is nice and at 3rd level, when the lack of armor would start becoming a huge problem, the massive +8 armor bonus granted by ongoing petrification steps right in. Stability and deathwatch/detect evil as well as meld into stone at will are solid and 8th level is okay for disease immunity. Higher-level abilities include planar ally sphinx-calls, tremorsense and talking to the stones once per day – alas, again sans CL. Why not simply go SP, like the high-level statue ability that allows the monolith to weather the ages? The highest levels allow for the questioning of both the living and the dead, while the capstone renders them immortal.



The pdf comes with favored class options for the core races and the anpur-race (all solid – especially the human one, which grants limited rogue talents, is VERY interesting!) and the pdf comes with sample NPC builds at 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level. Alas, the sample NPCs use the wrong HD – that ought to be d12, not d10. It’s not hard to adjust the bonus HP, though.



Beyond these, we get a slightly retooled shatterspike and stats for various pieces of mundane equipment – nice bonus!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.



Carl Cramér's Living Monolith is EXACTLY what I’d like him to do in the series – take risks, expand the concepts of the PrCs, expand their focus and rewire them in an awesome way. The Livin Monolith is, hands down, my favorite WPA in the series so far – it is inspired, fun and has a bunch of abilities that could be really nasty, all finetuned with relatively subtle balancing mechanisms. I really like both fluff and execution of the class and it is, hands down, the most inspired in the series so far. That being said, the CL-glitch is annoying indeed and, unless the DM makes a ruling for a limited duration, could be rather unbalanced. It is not a serious glitch, mind you, and any DM with a modicum of experience can make that call, but still – it constitutes a significant, game-impacting oversight. It also is the only reason I can’t rate this 5 stars + seal of approval. I really, really like the living monolith and I sincerely hope that Carl Cramér continues on this design-path, enhancing lame base PrCs with unique, cool options. As provided, for now, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Warrior Prestige Archetype: The Living Monolith
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Mythic Monsters: Emissaries of Evil
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2015 09:18:36
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Mythic Monsters-series clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



As always, we kick off this installment of the Mythic Monsters-series with a supplemental piece of content – which this time around turns out to be nothing less than an awesome, disturbing piece of prose – really liked this flavorful introduction!



After getting thus in the mood for all kinds of nastiness, we dive in head first with the CR 6/MR 2 Achaierai – flinging bites and nigh impenetrable legs enhance this creature in just the right way – so we’re off to a good start. And it does not become worse – or it does, at least from a PC’s point of view. The Ankou (CR 17/MR 7) now is a true force to be reckoned with – in the careful hands of a sadistic DM like yours truly these guys can be rendered nigh-unkillable, thanks to the awesome new shadow double-related trickery they can pull off. The build also utilizes two mythic variants of feats provided for your perusal. Indeed, that is a tendency, for the next creature, the CR 13/MR 5 Dorvae also utilizes such a feat. With an aura of psychic poison and grappling/poison-bite synergy, these beings receive an appropriate lethality upgrade over their non-mythic brethren.



One of my favorite creatures ever, the CR 8/MR 3 hellcat not only receives deadly telepathy to coordinate attacks, they also get a menacing purr – and yes, the imagery is glorious: What is worse than an invisible extraplanar predator seeking to tear you asunder? A group of them, always present and coordinating the attacks launched on the unsuspecting mortal fools...and always, there’s this purring. There’s a classic gothic novel/horror adventure just begging to be constructed around this creature.



Mythic Immortal Ichor (at CR 21/ MR 8) can squeeze through the tiniest of spots, cause acid damage and charm effects…oh, and it can use mythic power to actually friggin’ drown foes. NASTY!!! And yeah, their swarms are nastier as well. The Night Hag (CR 11/MR 4) can use mythic power to make the curse inflicted by her claws permanent and has infectious, carnivorous maggots in her mouth. Yeah! But that is NOT where these gals stop – beyond summoning mythic mounts (with synergy of exactly that installment of this very series), they actually can come back to haunt (and potentially kill!) you in your dreams, forcefully reincarnating into you, killing you in the process. And you thought Freddy was bad news…



Okay, at Cr 6/MR 2, the Shadow Mastiff is just one of what my group calls the “hellhound-wannabe-clan” – i.e. low CR, canine evil outsiders. Thankfully, the mastiff finally receives some distinct, unique tricks – namely shadowporting and becoming a cold-based incorporeal shadowy form – thank you for finally making these poor puppies stand out a bit! At CR 4/MR 1, the Yeth Hounds also belong to this club – and with the stunning, potentially madness-causing cursed critical, they also finally receive some tricks to make them stand out and not feel like “hell Hound minus fire, plus lame fear.”



At the same CR/MR, the Urdefhan with their suicide blasts and lethal swords can also be considered a well-made upgrade of the basic creature. The lowest end of the spectrum, CR and MR-wise, is provided for by the Vargouille at CR 3/MR 1 – which may now execute kisses via mythic power at range – nice idea and a kiss you definitely don’t want to catch! Another, even better example for great low level mythic monster upgrades would be the Soulshriver at the same rating – these guys can attack reflections to cause cha-damage, mirror hop, etc. – and a perfect candidate to show some overly cocky adventurers who’s the boss. A classic example of a creature, which now, even more so than before, can drive whole plots and cut down foes beyond its usual CR when played smart. Superb one!



At CR 15/MR 6, the mythic version of the shining child provides a nice example of a mythic upgrade that can be considered a numerical escalation, an increase in power and flexibility, but at the same time, I felt as though the awesome concept of the base-creature could have provided for some more disturbing abilities than those provided – yes, using mythic power for massive bonus damage is nice and all…but still. Then again, that may just be the fan of the creature speaking.



The original creature of this installment could have been taken, at least from the neat one-page artwork, right from the Fatal Frame/Project Zero-games. The CR 6/MR 2 Maldonado is the discorporate remnant of a fallen angel, forever depending on the bodies of mortals, whose faces it may change. And it IS deadly – I’ve never seen a build so consequently focused on possessing beings – from being able to perform the deed via multiple abilities, sans touch and with various action-types, these guys will be pretty hard to keep out…oh, and yes, it can force rerolls. It can also potentially bypass protection from evil and similar tricks. And its compelling, cool write-up and prose make what otherwise would be another possessing incorporeal creature a) distinct and b) awesome beyond the narrow mechanic focus on being the master-possessor.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice two-column full color standard and the artworks by Mike Lowe are beautiful and very distinct, breathing a sense of appropriate history. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with unobtrusive bookmarks.

This installment is the work of more than the core-team for the series, a quick glimpse at the author-line among the credits-lists reads like this: Jason Nelson, Alistair Rigg, Tom Philips, Mike Welham, Todd Stewart and Sean K. Reynolds. If you’re halfway familiar with designers, you won’t wonder anymore why this installment of the Mythic Monsters-series is literally all-killer, no filler. Even creatures I personally loathe in their original iterations have received a couple of cool tricks that set them distinctly apart from their mundane, lamer brethren. My special applause, though, is reserved for night hag and soul shriver – these two are so inspired, so infinitely cooler, I absolutely adore them – they are the stand-out beasts in an excellent installment that truly deserves the moniker “Legendary” - 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Monsters: Emissaries of Evil
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Gossamer Worlds: GlimmerGloam (Diceless)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/28/2015 09:17:22
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the evocative Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!



So what is GlimmerGloam? The easiest way to describe it, would be to call it a realm of dark, dualistic whimsy – somewhere between the narratives of the realm of the fey and classic tales of Alice, albeit more akin to American McGee’s interpretation. It is a world, where different species of fey abound and the Umbra rules – where counting steps or latent attempts at cartography only result in the very land thwarting your attempts. It is also a place, where the only influence of eidolon manifests in groundhog-dayish repetitions of feuds, where adversaries conveniently killed the night before suddenly exhibit an improbable twin or downright ignore death or decapitation (and it’s rude to point that out, mind you!) – GlimmerGloam, in a nutshell, is insane and you better know what you’re in for.



Thank the stair, there is this nice BungleCat – not akin our classic Cheshire friend, but oh so much worse – much akin to Rite’s classic Smiles-under-the-Bed NPC, this beast may be nice, but seeing things in a different light, more often than not can be taken literally in GlimmerGloam – the realm is defined by a plethora of meanings being assigned in alternating and even simultaneous patterns to EVERYTHING, with lighting conditions often triggering a flux. Hence, the friendly cat may pretty quickly turn into a xenophobic stalker or even a dragon-sized demon-being trying to murder you and everyone that crosses its path – all in good fun, of course. For reliable information, you may instead wish to consult the jabberwock’s severed head, now employed as the realm’s most deadly jack-in-the-box. Much can be gleaned, if you can survive the deadly eye-rays, madness-inducing aura…you know, all in good fun.



Oh, and if you thought the red queen was bad – GlimmerGloam’s fully statted ruler, the white Rabbit Queen, is nothing to sneeze at – with various forms, an intelligent mirror aptly named delirium and a vorpal needle-cum-sword, she makes for a fearsome ruler – in spite of the half-crashed supposed-to-be-floating castle and similar oddities. Oh yeah, have I mentioned that the oddity of the realm also results in actually unique special properties for the realm?



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork consists of glorious full-color pieces that are absolutely gorgeous to behold.



Matt Banach has a gift for providing environments, in which the imagination is incited, runs rampant and his experience with the realm of dreams (as in his Lost in Dream-novel and in the work for Coliseum Morpheuon-related products) and the odd, irrational logic which applies there. This can easily and perfectly be seen in this installment of Gossamer Worlds – when each character and locale not only resounds with literary quotations, but also with symbolic gravitas, we receive a rather interesting supplement full of entwined meanings, evocative connotations conjured forth by clever use of nomenclature and symbols. It’s also a nod towards one of the most influential, creative and complex myths in literature and I love it for that. So do yourself a favor, get this, use it, and if you have it, get your Norton Critical Edition Annotated Alice – with the latter, you can further amp up the already impressive content herein by at least a factor of threleven hundsand! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Gossamer Worlds: GlimmerGloam (Diceless)
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Cyclopean Deeps Volume 1 Swords and Wizardry
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2015 05:32:27
An Endzeitgeist.com review

NOTE: This review mainly pertains to the PFRPG version. The S&W version, with its smaller statblocks, clocks in at fewer pages, but also does not sport the issue of conversion relics - it can be considered a full-blown recommendation for S&W.

The first book of the two-part Cyclopean Deeps-Saga clocks in at 198 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 192 pages of content, so let's check this out, shall we?



So, let's, for now, process as spoiler-free as possible: Do you remember the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide released for 2nd edition (1e AD&D, if you count that way...)? It's a timeless classic indeed and showcases a significant component of what I consider flawed with most modern underdark/underworld modules. Let me describe it from this venue - have you ever been spelunking? There is an appeal to the hobby that is hard to describe, but I'll try - at the same time, you feel like you have entered a new world, a place where your civilization and all of its comforts do not stretch to. You enter a place wondrous that differs significantly, via all of your senses, from the tactile to the olfactory, from what we are used to - reaching the surface once again can feel a bit like a shock after some time - loud, bright...all those smells. However, accompanying this general sensation, one is (or at least I am!) constantly and keenly aware of insane amounts of solid rock, balancing precariously above one's head - whether as a sense of foreboding or respect, caves and caverns elicit a different perspective. Now, recently AAW Games has captured the proper sense of wonder rather perfectly with their Rise of the Drow saga.



In Rise of the Drow, we saw an unprecedented sense of realism applied to the section of the underdark that is kind of akin to the surface world, if not in environment, then in its social structures - we have dangerous animals, humanoid cultures (most evil) vying for dominance - it's the surface world on crack and the RotD-saga can be counted among the few that managed to instill this sense of wonder in the vivid pictures painted. However, there is another underdark - a place where neither light, nor surface-dwellers usually tread. If you're familiar with the Dark Souls games, think of this as the place that would have come below the lowest, blackest gulch. A place, where even the underworld-denizens fear to tread, a place forlorn and forsaken by the light. Below even Rappan Athuk, thus extends this place, one that can easily be transplanted to any setting - courtesy of there simply being no comparable supplement or module that goes quite that deep - usually, places like this are hinted at in the equivalent of telling the PCs "Don't go there!" So there the fools go - here dwell the things no man has ever laid eyes on, here is the Deep Horizon, here are the Cyclopean Deeps.



If the hex-sporting map is not ample clue - this constitutes a sandbox in the truest sense - that is, this a player-driven, old-school module with ample sample random encounters. Also: Know how old-school sometimes is used as a buzzword? Well, not so here. Indeed, this place is defiantly old-school and LETHAL. Even when compared to Rappan Athuk, the Cyclopean Deeps are deadly - very deadly. So yeah, if your group is looking for a challenge, a module worth winning - this is what you want. How nasty can this place be? Brutal enough to actually require no work on my part to make the module more challenging.

Want an example? All right, but to provide you with one, I'll have to go into SPOILERS. Players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! If you were one of the lucky ones, Rappan Athuk's KS back in the day provided two teasers of this massive module - and one detailed Ques Querax, gateway to the Cyclopean Deeps, wherein strange minotaur golems guard the premises. The local temple sports 3 priests, always in the same position, unmoving, catering to the whims of a strange head - only if you resist the unearthly fear of this place do you receive healing - but you never actually see it cast - upon leaving the temple, the effects suddenly...happen. Curiosity, alas, much like in CoC, may kill the cat, though - and like in the old truism, turn it into a multidimensional horror with puckered tentacles that is coming right for YOU! (Yes, actually trying to find out *how* these guys cast spells may shatter your sanity and provide a neat new career choice as a terrible servant of the mythos. A tavern owned by a denizen of Leng, an intelligent giant slug slaver, a dog-headed perfume-creating alchemist - not only are plenty of these folk EVIL, they also are WEIRD in a rather uncanny, horrific way. And the interesting thing is - this is civilization in these parts. It literally does not become better than this, so the PCs better figure out means of making this place work for them - a dangerous, but moderately secure base is better than none! Have I btw. mentioned the living eye of Gaaros-Uaazath, arguably one of the most powerful and odd entities herein, secretly creating a mind-bending, centipede-like war-machine?



But beyond the gates of Ques Querax, beautiful and precious wonders await - finding e.g. gems worth thousands of gold may be a reason for joy - until you read the entry of said random treasure - it reads "kidney stone." I am not kidding. The book *brims* with these little tidbits - and each and every one is tailor-made to come together in a vista exceedingly tantalizing and disturbing. From chain-bound jack-in-irons giants to mists of concealing, detection-blocking darkmist and the dark stalker/creeper enclave of Izanne, there are politics to be found, and yes, civilization - however, each veneer is distorted and odd, a threat underlying just about every step, every interaction - while never losing the evoked, profound sense of wonder that oozes from each and every encounter - and yes, some purists may scoff at decisions to smack down truly wondrous effects that lie beyond the capacity of spells here and there - but as for me, I love this decision - it drives home the need for care, the sense of magic...well, being truly magical. What level of detail am I referring to? well, what about a whole array of options, should the PCs elect to run across the rooftops of the fully-mapped Izanne? Or perhaps the PC's friendly nigh-ghoul guide wants to sell them some slaves and palanquins from his third cousin - the resounding themes of civilization can be found herein, though they are twisted in a grotesque way - a fact that also is reflected by the copious missions provided - and in the messages, that partially are traps, partially are odd - but ultimately, are different. Unique aberrations and strange folk abound, demons trod the streets and even here, a sense of decrepitude, of civilizations most vile, fallen to magics even worse, suffuses the paragraphs, with details upon details drawing a picture of a world that could be another, a place so wildly different, yet familiar, that it could be considered an escalation of the concept of the uncanny.



What about spellbooks that have been folded into the fourth dimension, pods that may transmit memories, odd, singing crystals - there is a lot of wonderful, enigmatic stuff to be found; and if your players prefer making an impact, the nasty and inscrutable people, from serpentfolk to aboleths, are all actually playing their own games, with subquests, goals and the like handily organized for your convenience. Now if you're not familiar with some old-school rules, you might be surprised to see e.g. a reference to percentile rolls and chances to decipher a lost language - this is a remnant of old-school gaming and should have been updated to PFRPG using the Linguistics-skill. And yes, some remnants like this can be found herein. However, in which other supplement are the players tasked (on an optional basis, of course!) to awaken a death god? Eat energy-bars of strange fungus or find out that the nice magic items they found are powered by energy infusions generated by constant sacrifice of sentient beings? It should also be noted that the NPC-builds, while sporting some straightforward ones, also feature some more complex ones.



But honestly, I don't love this book for its mechanics - but where else can you find human-faced, giant ants, unearthly flowers and air, spatial distortions and ways of thinking (properly explained for the DM) that may seem starkly in contrast to our logic...and have I mentioned the importance of the Leng rubies?



Now if the nomenclature and overall array of options seemed confusing to you, a massive glossary should help. The new monsters herein are copious and weird, as are the short, fluff-only write-ups of the elder things. The appendices also contain the numerous unique items - though, much like in the crunch, there are some examples of old-school mechanics to be found herein - e.g. an artifact that requires you to roll multiple d6s and score below your attribute score. The pdf contains various, cool maps, all of which receive player-friendly versions - and there are hand-outs.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's printer-friendly, two-column b/w-standard and the module comes with A LOT of awesome, unique original b/w-art. The book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the cartography in b/w is neat.



Author Matthew J. Finch delivers quite frankly one of the most imaginative, awesome books in the whole Frog God/Necromancer Games-canon; much like the stellar Dunes of Desolation, this book constitutes a prime example of why I want to see as many new FGG modules as possible. I own all Necromancer Games modules, even the boxed sets, and yes, even the rarities. That being said, I do think that FGG's modules surpass those of NG. Cyclopean Deeps Volume I is such a monument - this book reached a level of imaginative detail, of sheer creativity, that one only finds perhaps once in a blue moon. The literally only comparisons I could draw in that regard would be to the best of FGG-modules or to the 4 Dollar Dungeons-modules by Richard Develyn - and you probably by now realize how much I adore them. That being said, this book is far from perfect; the remnants of the conversion not being carried out properly in all cases do stick out like sore thumbs to me and formally, constitute a blemish that you should be aware of.



Then again, this massive book is intended for experienced DMs and experienced groups - beyond the lethality of the module, the sheer amount of sandboxing, of entwined things going on, means that A DM has to have some experience under the belt to run this. But know what? The complexity doesn't faze me and neither do the conversion relics matter to me - for one, in some cases, one could chalk them up to mechanics simply working differently here as well. On the other, capable DMs can easily fix these minor problems. And none of those minor hiccups matter to me in this case - what would singularly break the neck of lesser books just falls under the rag here - the writing is THIS good. Beyond a level of detail that can only be described as excruciating, there simply is no other module, no other environmental supplement tackling anything like this; the only other underworld sandboxes that approach this in terms of complexity would be the second Act of RotD or the classic Open Design "Empire of Ghouls" and both have a wildly different focus, completely different themes.



This manages to elicit a sense of cultural wonder akin to the writings of the classic titans like Gygax, a breath of the magical and uncanny, while also breathing the spirit of the mythos and classic pulp fiction akin to Howard or Haggard. Cyclopean Deeps managed to evoke something I almost never feel anymore these days - a sense of jamais-vu. This is not yet another rendition of some tired old, much rehearsed tropes - this is the antithesis of exceedingly tired level 1 module with goblins and an ogre or shadow as the final boss. This massive tome breathes more unique ideas in a chapter than some whole series of books. Even when compared to Rappan Athuk et al., this tome dabbles in themes and topics far beyond the focus on demonic entities, creates a sense of wonder and, paradoxically, realism. As odd and alien the vistas portrayed herein are, they still feel uncannily organic, realistic and alive - which drives further home the point of this book being not only unique, but inspired in the very best way.



The formal hiccups here and there might annoy you, but if you are missing out on this monumentally inspired world/setting-building due to them, you are depriving yourself of perhaps one of the most captivating reads I've had in any iteration of a d20-based system. And if you don't mind some old-school remnants or perhaps even enjoy them, then this should be considered a true milestone. I've been struggling with myself for quite a long time on how to rate this book, but as far as I'm concerned, the vast imaginative potential this book offers trumps just about any minor blemish or criticism you could field against it; to the point, where complaining would seem disingenuous and downright petty-minded. There are few books of this size that have managed to captivate me to this extent during the whole lecture of them and this massive sandbox should be considered a must-have addition to any DM looking for the deep below - even as disparate encounters and for the purposes of scavenging elements, this book is well worth the asking price. I thus remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, a nomination for the Top Ten of 2014, a longing for Vol. 2 and the regret that I am too poor to get this glorious tome in print.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cyclopean Deeps Volume 1 Swords and Wizardry
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Cyclopean Deeps Volume 1 Pathfinder
Publisher: Frog God Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2015 05:29:37
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first book of the two-part Cyclopean Deeps-Saga clocks in at 198 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 192 pages of content, so let's check this out, shall we?



So, let's, for now, process as spoiler-free as possible: Do you remember the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide released for 2nd edition (1e AD&D, if you count that way...)? It's a timeless classic indeed and showcases a significant component of what I consider flawed with most modern underdark/underworld modules. Let me describe it from this venue - have you ever been spelunking? There is an appeal to the hobby that is hard to describe, but I'll try - at the same time, you feel like you have entered a new world, a place where your civilization and all of its comforts do not stretch to. You enter a place wondrous that differs significantly, via all of your senses, from the tactile to the olfactory, from what we are used to - reaching the surface once again can feel a bit like a shock after some time - loud, bright...all those smells. However, accompanying this general sensation, one is (or at least I am!) constantly and keenly aware of insane amounts of solid rock, balancing precariously above one's head - whether as a sense of foreboding or respect, caves and caverns elicit a different perspective. Now, recently AAW Games has captured the proper sense of wonder rather perfectly with their Rise of the Drow saga.



In Rise of the Drow, we saw an unprecedented sense of realism applied to the section of the underdark that is kind of akin to the surface world, if not in environment, then in its social structures - we have dangerous animals, humanoid cultures (most evil) vying for dominance - it's the surface world on crack and the RotD-saga can be counted among the few that managed to instill this sense of wonder in the vivid pictures painted. However, there is another underdark - a place where neither light, nor surface-dwellers usually tread. If you're familiar with the Dark Souls games, think of this as the place that would have come below the lowest, blackest gulch. A place, where even the underworld-denizens fear to tread, a place forlorn and forsaken by the light. Below even Rappan Athuk, thus extends this place, one that can easily be transplanted to any setting - courtesy of there simply being no comparable supplement or module that goes quite that deep - usually, places like this are hinted at in the equivalent of telling the PCs "Don't go there!" So there the fools go - here dwell the things no man has ever laid eyes on, here is the Deep Horizon, here are the Cyclopean Deeps.



If the hex-sporting map is not ample clue - this constitutes a sandbox in the truest sense - that is, this a player-driven, old-school module with ample sample random encounters. Also: Know how old-school sometimes is used as a buzzword? Well, not so here. Indeed, this place is defiantly old-school and LETHAL. Even when compared to Rappan Athuk, the Cyclopean Deeps are deadly - very deadly. So yeah, if your group is looking for a challenge, a module worth winning - this is what you want. How nasty can this place be? Brutal enough to actually require no work on my part to make the module more challenging.

Want an example? All right, but to provide you with one, I'll have to go into SPOILERS. Players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here? All right! If you were one of the lucky ones, Rappan Athuk's KS back in the day provided two teasers of this massive module - and one detailed Ques Querax, gateway to the Cyclopean Deeps, wherein strange minotaur golems guard the premises. The local temple sports 3 priests, always in the same position, unmoving, catering to the whims of a strange head - only if you resist the unearthly fear of this place do you receive healing - but you never actually see it cast - upon leaving the temple, the effects suddenly...happen. Curiosity, alas, much like in CoC, may kill the cat, though - and like in the old truism, turn it into a multidimensional horror with puckered tentacles that is coming right for YOU! (Yes, actually trying to find out *how* these guys cast spells may shatter your sanity and provide a neat new career choice as a terrible servant of the mythos. A tavern owned by a denizen of Leng, an intelligent giant slug slaver, a dog-headed perfume-creating alchemist - not only are plenty of these folk EVIL, they also are WEIRD in a rather uncanny, horrific way. And the interesting thing is - this is civilization in these parts. It literally does not become better than this, so the PCs better figure out means of making this place work for them - a dangerous, but moderately secure base is better than none! Have I btw. mentioned the living eye of Gaaros-Uaazath, arguably one of the most powerful and odd entities herein, secretly creating a mind-bending, centipede-like war-machine?



But beyond the gates of Ques Querax, beautiful and precious wonders await - finding e.g. gems worth thousands of gold may be a reason for joy - until you read the entry of said random treasure - it reads "kidney stone." I am not kidding. The book *brims* with these little tidbits - and each and every one is tailor-made to come together in a vista exceedingly tantalizing and disturbing. From chain-bound jack-in-irons giants to mists of concealing, detection-blocking darkmist and the dark stalker/creeper enclave of Izanne, there are politics to be found, and yes, civilization - however, each veneer is distorted and odd, a threat underlying just about every step, every interaction - while never losing the evoked, profound sense of wonder that oozes from each and every encounter - and yes, some purists may scoff at decisions to smack down truly wondrous effects that lie beyond the capacity of spells here and there - but as for me, I love this decision - it drives home the need for care, the sense of magic...well, being truly magical. What level of detail am I referring to? well, what about a whole array of options, should the PCs elect to run across the rooftops of the fully-mapped Izanne? Or perhaps the PC's friendly nigh-ghoul guide wants to sell them some slaves and palanquins from his third cousin - the resounding themes of civilization can be found herein, though they are twisted in a grotesque way - a fact that also is reflected by the copious missions provided - and in the messages, that partially are traps, partially are odd - but ultimately, are different. Unique aberrations and strange folk abound, demons trod the streets and even here, a sense of decrepitude, of civilizations most vile, fallen to magics even worse, suffuses the paragraphs, with details upon details drawing a picture of a world that could be another, a place so wildly different, yet familiar, that it could be considered an escalation of the concept of the uncanny.



What about spellbooks that have been folded into the fourth dimension, pods that may transmit memories, odd, singing crystals - there is a lot of wonderful, enigmatic stuff to be found; and if your players prefer making an impact, the nasty and inscrutable people, from serpentfolk to aboleths, are all actually playing their own games, with subquests, goals and the like handily organized for your convenience. Now if you're not familiar with some old-school rules, you might be surprised to see e.g. a reference to percentile rolls and chances to decipher a lost language - this is a remnant of old-school gaming and should have been updated to PFRPG using the Linguistics-skill. And yes, some remnants like this can be found herein. However, in which other supplement are the players tasked (on an optional basis, of course!) to awaken a death god? Eat energy-bars of strange fungus or find out that the nice magic items they found are powered by energy infusions generated by constant sacrifice of sentient beings? It should also be noted that the NPC-builds, while sporting some straightforward ones, also feature some more complex ones.



But honestly, I don't love this book for its mechanics - but where else can you find human-faced, giant ants, unearthly flowers and air, spatial distortions and ways of thinking (properly explained for the DM) that may seem starkly in contrast to our logic...and have I mentioned the importance of the Leng rubies?



Now if the nomenclature and overall array of options seemed confusing to you, a massive glossary should help. The new monsters herein are copious and weird, as are the short, fluff-only write-ups of the elder things. The appendices also contain the numerous unique items - though, much like in the crunch, there are some examples of old-school mechanics to be found herein - e.g. an artifact that requires you to roll multiple d6s and score below your attribute score. The pdf contains various, cool maps, all of which receive player-friendly versions - and there are hand-outs.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to FGG's printer-friendly, two-column b/w-standard and the module comes with A LOT of awesome, unique original b/w-art. The book comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the cartography in b/w is neat.



Author Matthew J. Finch delivers quite frankly one of the most imaginative, awesome books in the whole Frog God/Necromancer Games-canon; much like the stellar Dunes of Desolation, this book constitutes a prime example of why I want to see as many new FGG modules as possible. I own all Necromancer Games modules, even the boxed sets, and yes, even the rarities. That being said, I do think that FGG's modules surpass those of NG. Cyclopean Deeps Volume I is such a monument - this book reached a level of imaginative detail, of sheer creativity, that one only finds perhaps once in a blue moon. The literally only comparisons I could draw in that regard would be to the best of FGG-modules or to the 4 Dollar Dungeons-modules by Richard Develyn - and you probably by now realize how much I adore them. That being said, this book is far from perfect; the remnants of the conversion not being carried out properly in all cases do stick out like sore thumbs to me and formally, constitute a blemish that you should be aware of.



Then again, this massive book is intended for experienced DMs and experienced groups - beyond the lethality of the module, the sheer amount of sandboxing, of entwined things going on, means that A DM has to have some experience under the belt to run this. But know what? The complexity doesn't faze me and neither do the conversion relics matter to me - for one, in some cases, one could chalk them up to mechanics simply working differently here as well. On the other, capable DMs can easily fix these minor problems. And none of those minor hiccups matter to me in this case - what would singularly break the neck of lesser books just falls under the rag here - the writing is THIS good. Beyond a level of detail that can only be described as excruciating, there simply is no other module, no other environmental supplement tackling anything like this; the only other underworld sandboxes that approach this in terms of complexity would be the second Act of RotD or the classic Open Design "Empire of Ghouls" and both have a wildly different focus, completely different themes.



This manages to elicit a sense of cultural wonder akin to the writings of the classic titans like Gygax, a breath of the magical and uncanny, while also breathing the spirit of the mythos and classic pulp fiction akin to Howard or Haggard. Cyclopean Deeps managed to evoke something I almost never feel anymore these days - a sense of jamais-vu. This is not yet another rendition of some tired old, much rehearsed tropes - this is the antithesis of exceedingly tired level 1 module with goblins and an ogre or shadow as the final boss. This massive tome breathes more unique ideas in a chapter than some whole series of books. Even when compared to Rappan Athuk et al., this tome dabbles in themes and topics far beyond the focus on demonic entities, creates a sense of wonder and, paradoxically, realism. As odd and alien the vistas portrayed herein are, they still feel uncannily organic, realistic and alive - which drives further home the point of this book being not only unique, but inspired in the very best way.



The formal hiccups here and there might annoy you, but if you are missing out on this monumentally inspired world/setting-building due to them, you are depriving yourself of perhaps one of the most captivating reads I've had in any iteration of a d20-based system. And if you don't mind some old-school remnants or perhaps even enjoy them, then this should be considered a true milestone. I've been struggling with myself for quite a long time on how to rate this book, but as far as I'm concerned, the vast imaginative potential this book offers trumps just about any minor blemish or criticism you could field against it; to the point, where complaining would seem disingenuous and downright petty-minded. There are few books of this size that have managed to captivate me to this extent during the whole lecture of them and this massive sandbox should be considered a must-have addition to any DM looking for the deep below - even as disparate encounters and for the purposes of scavenging elements, this book is well worth the asking price. I thus remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, a nomination for the Top Ten of 2014, a longing for Vol. 2 and the regret that I am too poor to get this glorious tome in print.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cyclopean Deeps Volume 1 Pathfinder
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Demon Cults 1: The Emerald Order
Publisher: Kobold Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/27/2015 05:28:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press' Demon Cults-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 10 1/3 pages of content, so let's take a look!



"A Demon Cult? Urgh." If that was your response, then you're pretty much like me and over-saturated by bland "doing it for evil's sake"-idiot-plot-device adversaries. Thankfully, Kobold Press seems to have taken up the mantle to make secret societies and organizations no longer suck and actually have a distinct identity - at least that's the goal. So can the Emerald Order fulfill it?



Well, for once, the Emerald Order is not actually a Demon Cult - worshiping Thoth-Hermes and having deciphered the secrets within the Emerald Tablets, the members have managed to attain increased magical prowess - alas, as per the truism, power corrupts and the Emerald Order, in the time-honored tradition of secret societies, is exerting significant influence of the bodies politic in the realms wherein they have established themselves. Guided in that endeavor are they by their fully statted CR 15 sample character, the middle-aged master of the order, who sports no less than all ten levels of the new PrC, but more on that soon. The statblock is nice to see, though AC the non-flat-footed AC seems to be off by 1 point - now the statblock itself remains functional for the DM and hence, I won't complain too much about such minor hiccups.



The PrC covers 10 levels and is called Disciple of Emerald Esoterica. It requires 2nd level spellcasting and 3 ranks in some skills for relative early access, making the fluffy requirement of acknowledgment by the order to most important component. Formally, the PrC nets d6, 6+Int skills, 1/2 BAB-progression, 1/2 will-save progression and full spellcasting progression. The abilities themselves, sporting colorful names like "Key of Wisdom" and the like, deserve special mention -aforementioned first ability allows for the stacking with cleric levels for ability purposes or skill bonuses to wis-based skills that increase based on ranks akin to lesser skill focus-style benefits. Similar benefits are provided for arcane casters and oracles at higher levels (the latter working out surprisingly well re balancing builds) and beyond that, each level nets some sort of limited spell-like abilities than scale in their daily uses per day. Resistances can also be found herein among the abilities granted and disciples may, at higher levels, act in surprise rounds and later even learn e.g. final revelations, bloodline abilities et al. or, yes, grand discoveries. A basic glance will show you that this renders them accessible much sooner, which means that yes, imho you should keep this PrC out of player-hands...UNLESS you actually want them to enjoy those apex-level tricks for longer. It should also be noted that the order learns to chip away emeralds from the artifact-level tablets (which get a full write-up) to make a DR-granting ioun stone and that over all, its rules-language is pretty precise. Several SP-granting abilities sport a duality-theme, which is nice, but doesn't really mitigate the fact that these aren't as cool as e.g. the forewarned ability versus surprise rounds mentioned before - I would have loved some more esoteric abilities here - ironic, considering the focus of the order. And yes, the PrC, generally, can be considered rather solid.



Furthermore, disciples may create the Smaragdine golems, unerring trackers and magic absorbing sentinels - that, much like aforementioned leader, receive a glorious, high-standard visual representation in a beautiful piece of artwork. Where the pdf truly fills its role, though, would imho be in its numerous adventure suggestions involving the order, all grouped handily by APL - these range from kingdom-destabilization to polymorphing afflictions and should drive home rather well the diverse methods employed by this cabal. I loved this section and each, but one of the hooks has its first sentence bolded, thus allowing you to take in the premise of the hook at a glance! Fans of Midgard should also be aware that there is indeed a box helping you use the order within the context of said world.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches apart from one unimportant bolding missing among the hooks. Layout adheres to a modification of Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard, with the borders evoking the theme of the gorgeous front cover. The original pieces of artwork are drop-dead gorgeous. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Jeff Lee's Emerald Order is a surprising first choice for a Demon Cult in that is feels more like an esoteric order as popularized by the pulp novels - the pdf manages to quote he themes of implied supremacy, of strange orders offering powers beyond the ken of the uninitiated and thus creates an organization that can be considered interesting indeed. Now while I'd be rather careful about allowing PCs to take the PrC herein, the added edge my provide interesting mechanics and while not suitable for every campaign, I can see an order PC working in some campaigns - rather well, actually!



Now this installment may not be perfect, but it is a more interesting book than I imagined - while I'd expect fame/reputation mechanics for cults and organizations intended for player use, as a mostly NPC-focused order that could potentially double as a player-expansion, I will not hold this omission against the pdf. I would have liked somewhat more detailed information on suggested resources at the order's command, on how they handle threats and the policies of the cabal, but that is my personal preference - there are a lot of ways to run such conspiracies and while a general inkling of the like is provided, the non-alignment-specific nature of the order (though they are strongly geared towards evil, the PrC is not...knowledge itself is neutral...) means that here, a bunch of cool choices and options at their behest could have been highlighted - don't get me wrong - this stuff is hinted at and generally covered, yes - I just wished the pdf was slightly more concrete and the same goes for the means of advancement within the order's hierarchy This is me nagging, though. The Emerald Order is a cool organization, one that oozes the spirit of pulp and classic weird fiction and for the low asking price, you receive a nice organization to throw into your games.



When all is said and done, this can be considered a good first installment of the series and one that makes me look forward to the other installments, which I will cover as well...and rather soon! My final verdict for this one will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform since it over all feels to me like it could have gotten slightly more out of the order's awesome visuals and style.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Demon Cults 1: The Emerald Order
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Path of Villains
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/24/2015 04:46:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second book in Legendary Games' Mythic Paths-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 3 pages of how-to-use/introduction, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let us take a look, shall we?



So, a good villain - every DM knows that the opposition is just as important as the heroes - and personally, my love for them can probably be attributed to reading too many great stories as a child: Batman is cool, but the Joker? He's just awesome. Superman? Nice, but Lex Luthor is damn impressive as well...what's Spidey sans Venom or Doc Oc? Yeah, so what we have here would be a handy assortment of guidelines for DMs to help ensure that their villains are just like that - memorable.



Now unlike what you'd expect, we essentially get a so-called villain path - which is essentially a virtual path that can just be used to supplement the usual path of your villains - i.e., yes, any mythic villain can scavenge these, even if s/he/it already has the Dual Path ability. However, it *is*treated as a path for the purposes of path-modifying feats. Got that? Now here's the cincher - there is a different suggested table for villains with mythic tiers and one for villains with mythic ranks -and yes, handily internally linked lists of abilities by tier are provided - one click and the pdf jumps to the ability - extremely comfortable to use! As a note for designers - while it's not as important for homebrew DMs (though they'll appreciate it) - each ability also sports the place and format for the statblock! Nice, since it maintains consistency!



Know those times when you are tempted to fudge the dice? When a player's lucky crit kills off your BBEG when it shouldn't? Well, what about reflexive revival? Not enough? What about returning from the grave a day after being slain? Yes, these are damn cool abilities! Not enough? What about revival as a vampire, revenant or similar, dead and nasty creature? Reflexive fast healing, mythic power-theft, storing mythic power in backup simulacra or clones... oh yeah. What about a deal that may see outsiders coming to claim the soul after the villain's demise? Or perhaps, your villain can talk to the living even after death, instructing them with the details required for his glorious return?



Using mythic power to make superb escapes (including drinking potions and temporary mobility-enhancing feats) and to negate damage are also great to ensure your villain survives a defeat - but ignoring abilities that would prevent an AOO will make your players hate them. Glorious! In cool synergy with mythic monsters, gaining a crowflight carriage is pretty neat! Being impervious to non-mythic, otherwise defense-bypassing tricks is also something neat - just gloat into that paladin's face as his smite evil poofs harmlessly against his defenses. Want to a reincarnation of an ancient evil? You can! Or perhaps, your villains need an additional trick to get rid of debuffs à la bleed, confused, etc. - what about a mythic power-based counterspell that also works with abilities which allow the villain to negate certain things? Yeah, pretty much awesome.



Also absolutely awesome - utterly breaking the mind of captives, turning them into your slaves, beholden as per the vow of obedience feat - the concise, easy mechanics for this help what can be considered massive, diamond-studded, narrative gold. Speaking of which - if the PCs are foolish enough to tackle a villain with "Triumph of the Will" by outnumbering him, they'll quickly notice that his annoying trick to reroll and force rerolls just got even worse - nice rationale for "I have to do this alone!" Oh yeah, capstone villains can reduce even those immune to fear to cowering heaps.. Have I mentioned the option to counter the expenditure of mythic power, best graced with a "Two can play this game!", "Denied!", "Your tricks can't stop me!" or similar phrase. Glorious!



Speaking of which - what about receiving 1 + 1/2 tier swift/immediate actions per round? In the hands of the right class, this ability alone may help one villain stand against a significant majority of foes...Love it!



And if the villain one day has to die - what about dishing out a massive hereditary curse? And yes, that one can imho also spawn campaigns!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with various nice pieces of full-color art, though Legendary Games-fans will know them from previous offerings. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and has handy internal links for maximum comfort in navigation.



All right, let's face it - PFRPG is geared more towards dishing out damage, less so taking it - defenses and staying alive are harder than dealing obscene amounts of damage, an issue exacerbated by the numerical escalation that is part of the mythic rules. This pdf is the answer (or at least one possible answer!) - with a huge array of awesome, flavorful abilities that increase the villain's staying power, help keeping the BBEG alive and even provide Plan Bs when he's slain, this pdf, as a toolkit, is not only useful for mythic games, but also for regular ones - though in either case, I wholeheartedly enjoyed the diversity and vast power of the respective tricks herein. While I'd generally wouldn't recommend putting this into player-hands due to a plethora of extremely powerful tricks made to offset the odds between party vs. one guy + henchmen, there is one example, where I would not want to miss this - WotW #6, endgame. Negate the "limiter" introduced by the story and let the PCs with their contingencies duke it out -no harm done: If they die, after all, they can always come back...



In one word - this pdf offers the favorite tricks of all our fiction and comic book villains - superb escape stunts, powerful options to fight another day, superb planning and yes, even heel-turning good allies of PCS...this is THE mythic villain's toolbox and should be considered a must-get purchase for any DM running a mythic game - your carefully crafted adversaries will last longer and garner more loathing, more influence, more power with the tools herein. I love this book and as such, I will rate it 5 stars +seal of approval - congrats to Jason Nelson and Clinton J. Boomer! Note, however, that I do NOT consider it a good idea to hand this over to player hands unless in very specific circumstances - these options are exceedingly powerful and made for the DM to cackle with glee.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Path of Villains
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

B04: The Cave Beast's Hoard
Publisher: AAW Games
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
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Perplexing Puzzles #2: Puzzle Chests
Publisher: Interjection Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/22/2015 05:52:24
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive pdf clocks in at 62 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 59 (!!!) pages of content, so let's take a look!



So, we've all been there - the ONE player who plays the skill-monkey isn't here. We're all waiting. There's this one player who's late to the gig, and without him, the PCs can't simply plunder their hard-earned loot.



We've all been there and now, instead of twiddling collective thumbs, we have this rather cool supplement. Or perhaps, you're looking for a way to challenge the brains of your PCs - I know mine love the change of pace a good puzzle brings, something mostly lost on most new-school modules. So how do these work?



Each puzzle lock is represented by one or more lines of d6s that show a certain number of eyes as a starting configuration. There also is a target configuration to open the chest. The goal is to change the starting configuration to the target configuration via set of moves. Each chest has a valid set of moves like e.g. 1, 2 -> 3, 4. Dice on the left side of the arrow are the input, those on the right side are the output. Any combination of the numbers shown as input is acceptable, as long as the first number is left of the second number. The input is removed from the sequence of numbers shown and the output is added in from the right. This may sound complex here, but it actually isn't when seen with visual representations of the dice.



Each of the puzzle boxes comes with its own sheet - said sheet not only has a detailed, dressing/so what's the chest-like description, but also a second page that handily sums up the target moves to win for the DM, should you be not that proficient with puzzles like this. Going one step beyond, suggested sample treasure and stats (hp, weight and hardness) are provided for each chest - including additional treasure of a rather iconic and unique nature - even "just" mundane items receive some unique representations.



Now beyond this initial configuration, suggested XP-values and CRs for the chests are provided - which obviously can be enhanced by traps. You see, certain combinations and chests may have moves and configurations that reset the chest and/or trigger a trap. If a short contemplation wasn't enough to hint at this - this system is so simple and elegant, yet downright brilliant, I've been using the hell out of it. Making your own puzzle chests with this is so easy, it's not even funny - and the added complexity you can add is nigh infinite - from certain sequence numbers adding or detracting from the number of output dice (to represent e.g. chests that open like origami flowers or close upon themselves) to ones that change everything - this system is exceedingly elegant and brilliant.



Oh, and the chests tell stories - beyond the description handed to the players, skills can be sued to glean more information and hints for the chest and yes, frustrated players may brute force them, but where's the fun in that? Optional special rules for resets and yes, some unique magical weapons can also be found herein - but that should not detract from the fact that this system works perfectly in ANY roleplaying system - I currently use it, for example, as a means of representing magical "hacking" into a quasi-atlantean civilization's devices. The chests? I scavenged them and their treasures for other components of my game.



It should be noted that, while the 20 base chests range from child's play to difficult, there also are 7 advanced chests - and these are EVIL. With complex special rules, multiple rows of dice , rows that may not be modified and only indirectly changed - yes, these are brain-teasers indeed and provide more inspiration than you can shake a stick at.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good. Layout adheres toa printer-friendly two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for oen's convenience. Artwork consists of origami-shapes and the pdf's chest-sheets are concise, easy to grasp and printer-friendly to boot.



I ADORE this book. Its system is used all the time in my home-game and my players enjoy the diversion and challenge this brings. It also doubles as an inspired little treasure book. So why did it take me forever to review this? Well, there are some glitches herein. Number 3, for example, is glitchy and lists the wrong legal moves. The correct moves should be:

1 -> 2

2 -> 3

3 -> 4

4 -> 1



This is not bad in my book. It took me about 1 minute to deduce them. But it is a flaw and one I hoped would be rectified so I could write the glowing recommendation this deserves. Alas, the pdf did not sell - at all. And reality hit. I do not fault Bradley Crouch for not investing even more time in this, but I figured, you should be aware of that - this is NOT a perfect pdf.

The plus-side, though, would be that this pdf now is FREE. Yes, you can actually download this massive, 50+ page book for free. Even if you only scavenge the dressing, the items etc., this is worth the download. Getting such an inspired, easy to use and easier even to expand puzzle system for free is even better. And completely offsets aforementioned flaws for me. I don't often write reviews of free products anymore, mainly since there doesn't seem to be a big interest in them (and I can barely keep up with the commercial ones!), but this is something PFRPG needs in my book:



A challenge for the brain.

A fun diversion.

A neat mini-game.

A call-back to the time when modules featured the like (and riddles!) more often. I wished this had sold more units - it deserves to see support. And it deserves it now, even more. So, let me urge you: Take a look. Download this. Try it out. Puzzles can be exceedingly fun and we all have to wait for that one player stuck in traffic once in a while...don't we?



As a free product, this is stellar - even with its flaws, and well-worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Perplexing Puzzles #2: Puzzle Chests
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Mythic Options: Core Mythic Class Features
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/22/2015 05:49:56
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Mythic Options-pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what are mythic class features? In a nutshell, they are the upgrades of class features, count as 1st tier universal path abilities and can be taken in lieu of a mythic feat. They require a character to have the base class feature to take them, so no weaseling around the prereqs. Simple, right? Yeah, thought so too!



This pdf then goes on to present the mythic upgrades of class features for all the core classes - and yes, if you already have a certain pdf that does just that for the rogue, RGG has you covered and you should have received this - which is downright superb customer service indeed!



The Barbarian, for example, covers a vast array of rage powers with mythic upgrades herein -which e.g. include extending fearless rage to allies and also interesting rules choices that go beyond what one normally can execute - adding via Mythic Quick Reflexes a second AoO, tier times per rage, to the attacks executed against a target for moving out of the barb's space, for example, is a very interesting instance where the rule of maximum AoOs is broken in a controlled and interesting manner - nice!



Now the capstone Mighty Rage may be a bit much - autoconfirming all crits in rage and, with mighty swing, declare one hit to be a crit per rage is pretty nasty...but then again, that is 20th level mythic gameplay...Still, very much feels like a bit too much to me - also since it kind of points you towards high-crit-builds, which isn't necessarily the direction one would expect from a barbarian.



The bard's mythic class features obviously cover the performances and adding breath of life to the soothing performance should be commended here - neat one indeed! The high-level jack-of-all-trades, which provides tier as ranks in all skills can be considered another very powerful example - which I generally LIKE for the bard - it fits. But at the same time, the existence of this ability somewhat invalidates spreading skills for other classes, so not sure whether I'm sold on the unlimited nature of this one's execution. I think, I would have gone for a tier-dependant wild-card with tier- or power-based uses instead.



Clerics can have their aura enhanced to provide SR against one of the opposing alignment components - which makes sense in so many ways, it's not even funny - kudos! The different domain powers covered are neat as well, though a typo that confused "attach" with "attack" had me stumble for a second. I also don't get why the air domain, which grants mistsight by anything but the mentioning of murk, does not simply grant this mythic ability - introducing this second set just causes potential confusion between the two. And yes, this is me being a nitpicky prick, I know.



Druids can have mythic abilities added to their companions and even receive a temporary feat of the form the druid chooses to wildshape into - the latter being at once awesome and very powerful - but here, I am not complaining, since the design decision just makes all kinds of sense to me. Timeless body, while not that game-relevant, should also be commended - amping up a lifespan to almost a millennium? Heck yeah, hugging trees suddenly sounds so much more compelling! ;P (And yes, the Monk's timeless body is different and less potent - though I do think, streamlining them into the same ability wouldn't have been unreasonable - think of the myths of the longlived, mystical senseis...)



Mythic fighter and rogue class features have already been covered by yours truly, so I'm going to skip them, which renders the monk the next on our list. Here, we have a cool, but also potentially very problematic option - adding additional flurry attacks to the single attack that can be used as an attack action. Yes, this means tier-based scaling of the amount of attacks the monk can execute with one attack - and while the pdf gets interaction with Vital Strike, haste, etc. right, I was still left kind of worried - primarily, because the pdf does not explicitly states that adding the extra attack imposes the penalty of flurrying -it can be gleaned from the context, yes, but still, I feel that the pdf, to avoid misunderstandings, could have spelled that one out slightly clearer. Again, me nitpicking, I guess.



The paladin's features provide a neat set of numerical escalations, with especially receiving the archon's aura of menace, powered by mythic power, being pretty cool - especially, if you're thinking about some angel-specific feats and tricks that could be used by the paladin this way...just thinking aloud for the eventual release of Mythic Monsters: Angels, mind you! Now free mythic power-based switching of mercies may be a bit too much for my tastes, but depending on your personal preferences, you may not mind that one. Other than these, we have steed-enhancers, increased aura-ranges - all in all, solid, but pretty powerful.



Rangers may 1/day insta-retrain combat-style feats and receive all the numerical boons you'd expect. Here would be as good as place as any to complain about mythic evasion, which allows you to expend mythic power to halve damage you receive. Its explaining sentence refers to rangers in some of its non-ranger-iterations and provides said example: "Thus the ranger could use mythic evasion to halve the damage you take from a poison if he failed his save, but not any damage the poison deals after its initial effect." Why am I complaining about this? Because it has nothing to do with evasion any more - it's the evasion-mettle-super-hybrid, usable for any damage source, even those sans save. This is, even for mythic games, crazy strong - yes, it uses a limited resource, but not a particularly rare one. I showed this one to my players and the unanimous consent was that the ability would be pretty much a must-have trick for the eligible classes - so many ways to avoid death. Note: If you do allow this ability, I'd strongly suggest from refraining to add any item, ability or the like that can store mythic power for further use. (Yes, they exist...) Why did I not complain about that for the rogue? Because the rogue can use the ability. Same goes for the monk. But the ranger? Here, a more limited ability would definitely have been in order! On the plus-side, the rogue's mythic sneak attack now is streamlined and unambiguously functional.



The Sorceror's mythic bloodline ability deserves special mention in my book, mainly because it does provide you a formula that can be utilized to add it to bloodlines not explicitly used in this pdf - these general guidelines are hard to craft and I applaud their inclusion herein. Spellcasting as a defining class feature for wizards now allows for limited poaching in other spell-lists and upgrading spellbooks to grant the benefits of specialists also feels pretty awesome - this makes the trope of the archmage missing his divination book make much more sense... Oh, and generally, familiar upgrades can be considered overdue.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of glitches, though none of the crippling variety. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is thematically-fitting stock and the pdf sports hyperlinks, though oddly some abilities lack hyperlinks to the more obscure (and thus needed) mythic abilities. A minor point, though.



This one's odd - on the one hand, I wouldn't want to miss this pdf in any of my mythic games. On the other, I would never flat-out allow all of the content herein. The pdf sports at the same time Owen K.C. Stephens' superb ability to craft solid rules with gloriously streamlined abilities that can be scavenged to add new pieces yourself, while on the other sporting numerous small discrepancies that add up - mistsight in anything but name may be okay...but why is there this odd discrepancy between the two timeless body-abilities, while the exceedingly strong mythic evasion remains unnerfed for the very powerful ranger-class? (As mentioned above - fitting for rogue and monk...but rangers?)

There are quite a few of these small hiccups here, so much that they add up - but alone, they wouldn't be considered a detriment. And then there's the elephant in the room: The simple truth that all of these class features use the same resource - while obviously providing VAST discrepancies in individual power-levels. You can min-max pretty hardcore with this mythic upgrades, with the power-levels ranging from okay/situational/nice to must-have-powerful, bordering on OP, even for mythic games. So yes, I consider this a must-have supplement for mythic rules, but only for the DM, who ought to carefully consider which of these mythic class features to introduce to the game and which to leave out. In the end, this pdf feels like it could have used some more streamlining, an additional editorial pass - as provided, it is a book containing greatness, yes, but also one that remains ultimately flawed with it not even remotely bothering with balancing the class features by the amount of investiture that unlocks them, thus creating a serious flaw in the very basic mechanic underlying these mythic class features. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3, while still coming with an explicit recommendation for the discerning DM.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Options: Core Mythic Class Features
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Mythic Minis 48: Mythic Gloves and Bracers
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/22/2015 05:45:48
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the deal - 4 pages - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages content, let's go!



-Arcanamach's Vambrace: Magic Vestment that counts as mithril; characters with Arcane Strike may use that bonus to CMD instead of as a bonus to damage and also enhances Arcane Strike-powered aid another. Additionally, the weapon wielded counts as silver and magic and the bonuses granted by the feat may be extended to allies when attacking the same creature. Mythic characters get improved action-economy and numerical escalation. Pretty interesting design!



-Razor Couters: Add damage and bleed to unarmed attacks as swift action; When fighting defensively, this damage can also be caused as an immediate action. Additionally, the item can be commanded to launch wounding shuriken, with the amount launched depending on the action used. Mythic characters inflict bleed that is difficult to heal - pretty damn cool!



-Errant's Gage: When using challenge, smite or the like, using this item provides for an increase in potency of the ability and mythic characters see even more significant bonuses - like it!



-Felonious Fingerless Gloves: These gloves are well-glamered and easy to hide, helping with all kinds of roguish behavior and increase the effective level for trap-related abilities and rogue talents based on level. Mythic characters may even reroll Disable Device or Sleight of Hand-checks when using mythic power. Finally, tricksters gain the crime spree ability - straightforward, but nice.



-Serpentiginous Gloves: Pernicious and accelerate poison (alas, non-scaling DC) - but the touch-delivery crunch works well, so that's a plus. Oddly, the hyperlinks for aforementioned effects render the letter a larger font, which looks a tad odd. Mythic power can be used to animate the fingers of the gloves like vipers to deliver poison effects - solid, I guess, but the fixed DC is pretty weak and low.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from the font-hiccup, which does not influence the crunch and thus, not the rating. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.



Jason Nelson's gloves and bracers range from the very cool to the rather limited and can be considered worthwhile additions to a campaign, though ones that perhaps are not per se mandatory - the items are well-crafted and juggle complex mechanics, but did not 100% blow me away. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Mythic Minis 48: Mythic Gloves and Bracers
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Dance Macabre
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/21/2015 09:41:43
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 90 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 86 pages of content, so let's take a look!



Now the first thing, before anything else, you should know that this literally is the only book you need to run the module - no switching to thousands of different books, not a full bag of supplemental material - this module provides more supplemental material than you can shake a stick at: First, we get all spells used in the book; then, there would be the rules-reference section, which includes all those handy special abilities, from ability drain to breath weapons, handily explained for your convenience. The same goes for magical items, btw. And yes, there even is a nice array of animal tricks explained for your convenience, rendering this module exceedingly comfortable to run. Beyond even that, though, we get something you can use even when not running the module - the bestiary-section does provide ample Knowledge DC-checks to deduce information on the respective creatures featured in the module. Oh, and the module does sport all artwork handily collated at the back of the book in the form of a collated appendix, allowing you to print it out as a kind of look-see-artwork-booklet.

Think that takes up too much space? Let me assure you, it doesn't - the module, even after that, clocks in at a massive 52 pages - there is *A LOT* of content to be covered. It should also be noted that this module, like all 4$D-modules, does provide handy lists of CR, adversary, XP and treasure for each relevant encounter, including options for extra treasure, depending on your playstyle (and extra PCs - up to +2 PCs are thus supported without you having to do ANYTHING). You should also be aware of the vast amounts of maps - while not necessarily beauties, I've seen worse and EVERY relevant location is covered - the sheer amount of maps provided deserves applause, especially since they also come with high-res jpegs and player-friendly iterations.



It should also be noted that the unique town herein does sport an extra mini-gazetteer for the players and that a clue-flow-chart helps running the module.



So far for the formal criteria, now let's take a look at the module itself, shall we?



Now before we dive in, this is the SPOILER-WARNING. Potential players should immediately jump to the conclusion. Seriously, you will be so sorry if you spoil this one for yourself.

...

..

.

All right, so this module begins common enough - a drunk father and ratcatcher, bereft of his daughters (who have chosen the adventurer-lifestyle) have recently taken off and the grief-stricken father immediately tries to pick a fight with the PCs. However that works, in the end, the PCs will have been tasked by the man to track down his daughters and ensure their safety - and the trail leads into the aptly-named twisted moorland. Now if you have played the supreme "Journey to Cathreay", you'll immediately realize the sheer massive amount of detail you can expect from 4$D wilderness trips - and this module does feature just that - random weather-tables (with all relevant rules), random encounter chances by time - the level of detail is staggering and from lone guest-houses to the farm where the two adventurers hang out (sans the daughters, mind you, and very much hostile...), the level of detail provided is interesting indeed - take e.g. a druidic stone circle, where the devout PC may acquire a temporary elemental servant - not required by the story in any way, but it does add the sense of cohesiveness and realism to the magical world depicted herein.



Now whether on friendly or hostile terms with aforementioned adventurers, the PCs sooner of later will make the acquaintance of a dryad of a forest most dilapidated and desolate, who ahs struck a deal to ensure her survival - and in case you haven't noticed, yes, there is a subtle theme at work here, but more on that later. Her combat tactics come with a level of detail scarcely seen, and from TPKing to less lethal failure scenarios and the like, the encounter with the pragmatic, corrupt dryad offers quite an array of different options. Now, alternatively, the PCs may have found among the adventurer's belongings a call for help in clearing out an evil temple or have been bluffed by them - in either way, the temple is just another elaborate anti-adventurer trap, much like the dryad's gambit. If this does not look to exciting so far, rest assured that the way in which this is handled is superb - and the level of detail provided here is staggering as well - take a skeleton with a foreign pterodactyl bone rattling in its rip cage - and yes, this is a curious and intriguing foreshadowing of the things to come.



Either way, the investigation sooner or later will bring the PCs to the aptly-named town of Twisted Bridge, where a special kind of evil flourishes. The town is not a poor place; in fact, it is quite wealthy (and fully statted). However, it is a town rules by egotism and passivity- we have a macabre blending of gillmen working menial labor and a kind of aristocratic upper class, sneering at the irrelevant, marginalized people that do not belong to the illustrious crowd of the village's people - here, everyone is in only for themselves and their immediate friends and family. Mind you, this is not a depiction of a town that is suppressed or "kill 'em all"-vile - it can be considered almost a subtle satire of a mentality that is all too real in our very world. Sounds too dreary? Players not into subtle, unobtrusive social commentary? No problem, just spring on them the top-hat wearing deinonychus currently running a errand for his master and they'll be right back in the fold. And yes, this is one of the colorful sight &sound-style random encounters form the table. On a mechanical level, the mentality that considers "evil" behavior a matter of discussion and the townsfolk's fun when looking at paladins whirling from all the evil they can detect is not only rationale and concise, it makes surprising sense and adds a whole new spin on the black-white-morality conundrums.



Twisted bridge itself is not only mapped, but also sports what essentially amounts to a lavishly-detailed gazetteer-section that had me reminisce about the weird cities in 3.X's Scarred Lands, though, obviously, in less depth, Twisted Bridge definitely can be considered a town so unique and dripping with flavor and tangible magic, it exudes an allure that is difficult to describe - from undine sorcerors to lizardmen, from chocolatiers to female-only hair-saloons (aptly and humorously named "Rapunzel"), twisted bridge equally breathes a sense of decadence and wonder, of despicable passivity and carelessness and intoxicating wonders - and allows one to easily see how one can be sucked into the moral choices such a lifestyle may engender. The massive investigation-potential and related clues definitely allow for one glorious free-form investigation, set against one of the most compelling backdrops I've seen in quite a while.



The trail of the girl's horses, though, can sooner or later be tracked to a farm - where matrons grow narcotics to allow the people in town to sedate their children, should they act up - have I mentioned, that, much like many a good fantasy or scifi novel, this module can be enjoyed on a consumerist perspective and still has some serious social commentary going for, should you be so inclined as to delve into it, all without shoving an ideology down your throat? Among the narcotics-inducing plants, though, jack-o-lanterns loom, including a moderately intelligent one, with whom the PCs can talk, alternating quickly between settings of potentially psychedelic horror and abject comedy - oh and then there is a level of detail that borders on the ridiculous, the ridiculously awesome, that is - the fields actually note which plants are grown where: From chai to chilies, the handout provides the detailed notes on this. Yes. *That* is a realism that can only be described as staggering -and whether you use it or not, it does add immensely to the sense of immersion. The trail, then, leads to the cathedral of bone, the macabre abode of the town's de facto dhampir-ruler and aforementioned, top-hat wearing dinosaur companion. There *is* a macabre axe-beak skeleton to be found here, but whether or not hostilities break out depends very much on the PC's actions - and yes, the reason *why* a friggin' axe-beak skeleton is here, is also given - and the pterodactyl bone mentioned before may give the PCs away, so let's hope their investigation skills are on par.



Among the weird places to be found (potentially via the nasty adventurers), an alchemist (vivisectionist) and the way golem he created as an automaton to sate the depraved desires of the townsfolk can also make for interesting encounters, the latter even for a potential cohort of the oddest kind. Tzitzimitle, the main antagonist of the module, currently resides in a clock tower most unusual - in that e.g. it sports a pool that is inhabited by piranha-level voracious, bad-tempered killer-goldfish. No, I'm not kidding. This is a thing - and it is glorious. My players actually started laughing as their PCs started to be chomped by the little buggers. The exploration of the tower, alas, yields no satisfactory results (apart from further leads and the satisfaction of destroying clockwork creatures and braving the traps with which the place has been laden) - and so, a further stop along the way may be the massive Necropolis of the town, where the bored, amoral gargoyle Gabriel, a picturebook sociopath, awaits - alongside Enya, one of the kidnapped girls, who is currently trapped within a mausoleum that is both warded and dangerously unstable - and hence, rescuing her will prove to be difficult.



Have I mentioned, that her statements (or the alchemist's investigation) can lead them to essentially the same goals, namely the sewers, where the whispers of the dead abound and a worm-that-walks, the gaoler of Enya, provide further evidence of the horrible things to come: And it is at the very latest here that the pieces will *click* together - Tzitzimitl, an exceedingly powerful oracle (level 10) who has gleaned the circumstances of his death, but not the particulars, has entered an unholy alliance with a powerful wraith named Yetaxa - with combined efforts, they have not only engineered all those nasty anti-adventurer traps the PCs had to face; they have also introduced a truly decadent festival to the town, wherein the living dance with the wraiths under the control of Yetaxa - at the low price of just one innocent to be wraithified per festival - and who cares about strangers? Hence, the first of the daughters, alas has already been transformed by Yetaxa in the general rehearsal of the last festival -for today, shall be different. Wraiths cannot endure the sunlight, but a total eclipse renders a festival today possible - and also the only way in which Tzitzimitl's prophecy of his own doom could come to pass - hence, he has engineered this rather elaborate plot to prevent just that.



Alas, the festival, detailed with a concise timeline and hearkening to a carnival, through a glass darkly, proceeds - and provides the PCs with an option to save Enya - provided they have been smart enough to provide her with an amulet they can acquire, which renders her impervious to Yetaxa's cruel attempts of transferring her to undeath - so, in a finale both decadent and epic, the PCs will have to destroy Yetaxa in the catacombs - success frees the wraith and spawn from his control, resulting in a massacre and the prophesized death of Yetaxa, while also putting the PCs in dire peril, as they are shepherded into a dead end by now free, vast amounts of undead - only to be saved alongside Enya by the rays of the sun emerging from beyond the eclipse - and yes, if played right, this *is* one hell of a finale that also sees a town made uninhabitable by the undead - as well as killing the powerful Tzitzimitl and setting him up for potential sequels as a new undead threat to face!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though I noticed a couple of minor typos, though the pdf has cleaned up and fixed the worst offenders immediately. Layout adheres to 4$D's printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one for the US-paper-format, one in A4 for Europeans like yours truly - love that! The artwork provided is copious and I have seen none of the neat, old-school b/w-art before - really nice! The cover, as always, is also breathing the spirit of old-school awesomeness. The cartography is functional, as are the handouts, and make up for not being the most beautiful being provided for just about EVERYTHING.



Okay, let me get one thing out of the way - my complaint about the typos above, now mitigated by the immediacy of them being fixed? That is the only negative thing I can say about this module. At this point, all of the following things are a given: 1) Whenever Richard Develyn releases a module, my players want to play it asap, even if it means putting the main-campaign on hold. 2) I actually go to these modules when I require a break from reviewing; when I'm frustrated and need a reminder of why I actually do it. 3) Every module has a radically different style.



All of these hold true with Dance Macabre - even though formally, like "The Key to Marina", it can be considered an investigation module. Alas, the way in which it works is pretty much radically different - less of a scavenger hunt, more of a detective tale, it reminded me in the best of ways of the first Gabriel Knight game in the atmosphere it evokes - what we have here can be called a blending of far-out fantasy with the underrepresented panache of proper, fantastic Southern Gothic. From the themes provided to the imagery evoked, the glorious sense of decadence oozes from each and every pore of the module - you can play this as pure entertainment...or emphasize the striking themes it evokes: If you want it to, this module can serve as a social commentary and a rallying cry against indifference and cold-heartedness.


The absurd amount of details provided help running the module immensely, and so does the flow-chart, though novice DMs still should read the whole module before trying to run it - this one is very much free-form in its flow. The true genius here, at least in my onion, would be the blending of the horrific and the absurd, of horror and comedy - and the optional nature of either. A competent DM can easily ramp up the comedy factor and make this module genuinely funny. Or utterly horrific. I ran this module twice prior to writing this review; the first time emphasizing a Ravenloftesque sense of horror for my mature players - and it worked perfectly. The second time around, I mastered this with a mixed group that contained some kids - and emphasized the fun and odd parts. Yes, there are some dark elements here, but nothing kids (talking about the 8 - 12-range) can't handle - make e.g. the courtesan a menial laborer à la Cinderella and we maintain the message, but make the theme child-friendly - cosmetic reskin and that's it. One of them surprised me when she mentioned that she had understood that fear of death can lead one to horrible choices, that one should instead do good and that the town exhibited traits of our own society - and that payback for such a behavior might come in some guise or another. Subtle themes, clearly understood - yes, this can actually be played as a morality play with some educational value.



Southern Gothic horror, absurd, but still exciting comedy or a means of teaching about the world - the module provides a lot of playstyles - and it ran completely differently both times I ran it, so it has replay value to boot! I *ADORE* this module. It is unique in every sense of the word and sports yet another facet of Richard's capacity that sets him apart as one of the few authors who push the boundaries and raise the level in the art of adventure writing. And yes, this module, in my opinion, can be called art...or proper literature. It is excellent and while the odd typo here and there may be slightly annoying; it is mainly due to the exceedingly high level of quality of the whole book this catches one's eye. Still, I implore you to get this awesome piece of adventure-writing. It is unique in all the right ways and acts as one glorious example of what adventures could be beyond rolling dice and slaying monsters. Highly modular, versatile and with replay-vale, oozing with details, this module once again receives my highest honors - 5 stars + seal of approval and since this was released in 2014, candidate for my Top ten of 2014-status.



Do NOT let this one slip by!

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Dance Macabre
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

Displaying 1 to 15 (of 1730 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 ...  [Next >>] 
Back
You must be logged in to rate this
0 items
Powered by DrivethruRPG