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Feats of Abjuration
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 06:30:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

All right, you know the drill - 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, so let#s take a look!

9 feats for abjuration are provided, so what do they do?

-Abjurant Flux: Prevent the decrease to perceive abjuration spells in close proximity to another, making masking energies easier. Nice, if very specific.
-Abjurer's Abnegation: +2 points of damage for damage-dealing abjurations.
-Arcane Ward: Sacrifice a prepared spell to get the effects of an improved, scaling shield as a supernatural (thus non-dispellable) ability.
-Circles of Resistance: Protection and Magic Circles also grant SR vs alignment-based spells.
-Guarded Spell (Metamagic): +1 spell level allows the spell to cast while taking the total defense option if casting duration is not too long. AWESOME idea.
-Overwhelming Dispel: Add spell focus and its greater cousin to dispel checks; Deal spell-level damage to target if you dispel his spell.
-Resistant Abjurer: Gain resistance 1 to cold, electricity and fire 1 when under the effects of abjurations with save: harmless. Too weak for my tastes.
-Warding Blast: Make arcane blast powered by your ward - expend shield for deadly blast.
-Warding Shield: Make arcane shield powered by your ward - expend the ward shield for better arcane shield.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Arts 2-column, landscape style and the pdf has neither bookmarks, nor artwork and needs neither at this length.
Daron Woodson has delivered quite an array of interesting feats here - while not all are eligible, some indeed can be considered awesome and uncommon regarding their mechanics. While not all rock, the vast majority is cool - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Abjuration
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Feats of Conjuration
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 06:29:55
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the "More Feats"-series is 3 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, this time with 9-conjuration-themed feats!

-Arcane Armorer: Increase armor bonus granted by conjuration (creation) by +1.

-Barrier Spell (Metamagic): When casting spells with a casting duration of 1 round or longer, get 3x spell level SR and the same bonus to AC. +1 spell level.

-Bolstered Health: gain hit points equal to 3x the highest level conjuration (healing) spell you can cast.

-Channel Health: When casting conjuration (healing), roll one die twice and take the higher result. In exchange, become fatigued for 2x spell level rounds. When already fatigued, become exhausted and take non-lethal damage.

-Dimensional Striker: When using dimensional savant to flank yourself, deal +1d6 damage to each flanked opponent. Nice one!

-Dramatic Teleportation: Impose a -4 penalty on foes witnessing you teleport for 1 minute. That one's nasty when combined with teleporting items due to the lack of saves...not too keen on it, but still ok.

-Persistent Summons: Your summoned creatures can't be dispelled by caster levels lower than yours. Cool feat...but take into account the repercussions for your campaign world's logic. Can become problematic.

-Seething Summons: When conjuring creatures while under the effects of a rage, your summons enter the fray as affected by a rage spell. Obviously requires moment of clarity. An ok, if a bit weak feat.

-Wonderworker: When casting divine spells of 6th level or higher, you create a vast display tha can be perceived up to a MILE away and fills an area of 50 ft. times spell level centered on the target of the spell. Allies are inspired, foes demoralized for 1 round and adversaries of HD less than the spell level diametrically opposed to your deity's alignment instead become shaken for 1 round - all sans saves. Per se, a cool idea - but the wonder will turn old fast. the vast visibility range is problematic in my book and the lack of saves is not something I'd enjoy - a longer duration and instead a more limited application could have made this work better.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Art's 2-column no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Daron Woodson has created some unconventional feats herein and the approach to how the respective feats utilize spell-levels should be considered rather interesting. That being said, I also have the notion that the feats tend to be a tad bit off on the balance scale -not by much, mind you, but still - some feel a bit weak, whereas others (especially Persistent Summons) can alter the internal logic of your whole campaign. While not broken per se, I hence can't rate this the full 5 stars and instead will settle on a final verdict of 4 stars - a solid pdf, though one that should see close scrutiny by the prospective DM.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Feats of Conjuration
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The Genius Guide to the Shadow Warrior
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 03:16:20
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



Shadow Warriors are master of fighting with exotic weapons - beyond their proficiency in simple and martial weapons and light and medium armors and shields and in one exotic weapon of the shadow warrior's choice. The class also receives weapon focus in said exotic death-dealing implement and at 2nd level and every level thereafter, the shadow warrior may select an additional exotic weapon to master - and weapon focus applies to these as well, allowing you to easily play a master of an arsenal of weird weapons. Speaking of bonus feats - at 3rd level and every 3 thereafter, the class receives one.



Now beyond these, the class receives d10, 4+Int skills per level, full BAB-progression and good ref and will-saves - not fort-saves. Unusual decision, but personally...I like it. Speaking of which - to represent the "shadow" component, fighting in darkness via Blind Fight and scaling sensory benefits that even end in seeing across planar boundaries to the coexisting Plane of Shadow as a part of the capstone. This affinity also translates into a scaling bonus to skills and initiative in dim illuminations.



Of course, this would be no Rogue Genius Games-class sans a copious amount of talents - the shadow warrior receives one at 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter, but before I give you a brief overview of these, let me mention Dread Tactics - at 4th level, shadow warriors using weapons for which they have weapon focus (i.e. exotic weapons, most likely) deal additional damage that scales from +1d6 to +4d6. Now some shadow talents replace the effect of this damage-increase - a total of 15 such talents are provided and range from passive benefits like evasion to dread tactics dice DR, dread tactics dice as bonus to AoOs and skill checks as a kind of even better mobility, etc. Low-light vision and darkvision, adding damage when using a weapon matching the executed combat maneuver and better two-handed weapon fighting - solid array.



Improved stealth even in broad daylight and better skills in the dark - solid. Starting 10th level, the class receives kind of supernatural tricks -shadow style. The first is granted at 10th level, the second at 19th and they tend to scale either by ability or by ability-type. The shadow styles include calling forth shadow servants, attacking touch attack AC when completely concealed from the target greater invisibility and similar darkness-themed spell-like effects to a small array of proper low level spells, firing str-damaging bolts of shadow or conjuring forth blades of shadow. The capstone allows the shadow warrior to ethereal jaunt or plane shift a limited amount of times per day.



Extensive advice for using these guys in one's game is provided, as are two archetypes - the deathstalker, who replaces the shadow warrior's bonus feats with a limited selection of inquisitions and receives a very limited array of death/necromancy/repose-themed spells of up to 4th level in lieu of dread tactics. The second archetype, the shadowsinger, receives more skills and can conjure forth the shadow of a perished skald to deliver bardic style performances - at the cost of all shadow talents - think of this one essentially as the shadow bard, as dread tactics are postponed to 14th level in favor of more bardic themed options.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and hyperlinked for your convenience. The pdf comes with thematically-fitting stock-art apart from the cover, though this time around the particular artworks have been used in a lot of 3pp publications. That does not make them bad, I just felt obliged to mention that.



Owen K.C. Stephens delivers an interesting take on the master of exotic weapons and his trademark genius does shine within these pages - the mechanics to make the exotic weapon focus work is awesome and tying mechanics to dread tactics makes for one damn cool design approach. I also enjoy the move away from the full-BAB-fort-save combination and the sample characters I made, went over well and efficient. But it felt like it was missing something. After some careful deliberation, I realized what that was - the class has all those cool design-decisions and then doesn't make that much of them - the respective talents more often than not come over as rather conservative, which is by no means a bad thing - but in a class that has these cool, intricate parts that could be tied closer together, they feel a bit like they belonged to a less inspired version of the class.

Now this will read more harsh on paper than it is intended, so I apologize in advance - but this class to me felt half experimental (in the best way), awesome, cool...and half bland. Now don't get me wrong, I *do* like many components here and I *love* what has been done with exotic weapons and dread tactics, but the class does feel a bit like it went half way, then opted for a more conservative, less awesome rest of material. This reads very much like two completely different design-philosophies had been blended and the result is slightly less than it could have been.

A capable DM willing to design additional talents will have a field day here, but those unwilling to add to the selections may make the class feel restricted - the 2 okay, but not particularly inspired multiclass-ish archetypes just don't fill the void that these cool design options have left open, especially since they take away/cripple the most iconic features of the class. Another oversight in my book would be the lack of synergy with the shadow assassin class, which could have yielded some damn cool combinations - focus/dread tactics? Yeah! What about allowing these guys to switch around weapon qualities? The ideas are lurking beneath the lines, but I can't rate the potential - which is exceedingly high. Hence, I can only settle on a final verdict of 4 stars. If you want to tinker with this, design yourself or don't mind more conservative designs that do not realize their full awesome potential, be sure to pick this up right now - for you, this scores even higher.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Genius Guide to the Shadow Warrior
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The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
Publisher: 0one Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/30/2014 03:13:34
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Sinking-mini-modules clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let's take a look!



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



Still here? All right!

With a massive bounty on their heads, courtesy of the Trypus Acadamae, the PCs hopefully have managed to flee the city once again towards their refugee camp, where blood senator Vulgrax may actually prove helpful with the help of the information the PCs have uncovered - the PCs are presented with a blade with weird etchings that may prove to be from the hold the Malchort Cabal operates from/seeks to control - the fabled Panopticon. (And yes, if this does not feature an omni-scrying device, I will be very much disappointed for using cool terminology and then failing to deliver.)



Now via the lost tunnels in the Vulgrax's old holdings, the PCs may penetrate the fortress of the Malchort -however, they will have to succeed in elementally-themed challenges - from freezing cold subterranean lakes with sea serpents, magma lakes etc. - the challenges per se being simply awesome: They actually require brains as well as brawns to solve and e.g. challenge the player's logic with an AWESOME poem/light-based puzzle. Or the puzzle would be awesome. However, the map actually lacks *some* of the crucial colors required to solve the riddle - the map is supposed to show which squares are which color, but fails to list more than half of them. I am so sorry for the author, but this is utterly sloppy and renders the module unwinnable as written. While *any* DM can just randomly assign colors to squares, rendering this a non-issue, it still is a glitch I cannot let stand.



Finally bypassing a crystal dragon and dread undead guardians, the PCs can penetrate the panopticon through the Darkgate...where the final chapter of The Sinking awaits!



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are per se not bad, but he glaring oversight on a map that renders a puzzle unsolvable as written without the DM using fiat is simply inexcusable. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with cool, original b/w-artworks and 0onegame's great cartography. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked for your convenience.



I am so very sorry for author John Ling. He has delivered an array of solid challenges, which, while in theme being of the "been there, done that" type, in execution, panache and flair more than make up for the classic theme. This module would usually be one I'd recommend - not with the highest accolades, but still - especially for the low price, this is a fun ride with cool ideas and I love it if players need to use their brains as well. But the glitch with the map is beyond severe...it's unpleasant to say the least and for more than one person, it may actually ruin the whole module. Hence, I can't rate this higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 - and only due to a DM being able to relatively easily fix the issue. Otherwise I would have ragequit the review right then and there. Fans of The Sinking still need to get this, of course.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
The Sinking: Locks of the Panopticon
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Panataxia
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 11:44:33
An Endzeitgeist.com review

The latest module by 4 Dollar Dungeons and heir to the SUPERB "Horn of Geryon" is a whopping 70 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 67 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

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

All right, still here? Adrift in the vastness of the astral plane, there is a demi-plane...or a fraction of a planet. Or a sentient construct - whatever its nature may be, it's called Panataxia, it's shaped like a dodecahedron (a D12) and its layout may feel like an underground dungeon/cavern crawl, but it is so much more than that. Panataxia phases throughout worlds, accumulating, whether by accident or design, a diverse set of specimens has accumulated in the tunnels and caverns that suffuse this weird place. Used as an oubliette for a succubus, the place swallows the PCs - and that's about the only thing fixed herein. Panataxia is, genre-wise, the most pure example of an underground sandbox I've seen since Open Design's closed "Empire of Ghouls", but is not a simple regular underdarkish module with a sense of planar flair dumped in. As the extensive (very extensive!) DM-advice suggests, the sheer wonder of subterranean landscapes here is suffused with unique planar properties that work cohesively as one due to the unique nature of the environment.

Due to the strange layout of the environment Panataxia, orientation via north, compasses etc. tend to start becoming a bit problematic and the module does not fail to address concerns like this in the wake of preparing a DM for running this. Speaking of which - we also get a table with encounters, treasures and GP-values - all at the beck and call of your hand. I wish more publishers would include tables like this - it makes running the module much smoother.

Now, I've said that Panatxia is essentially shaped like a dodecahedron - that is not wholly precise, though - that's the meta-array on how the encounters are situated herein. In reality, Panataxia is essentially a sphere with its core removed and a sphere in the center, composed of the solidified nature of all four elements. Now if your players have a scientific bent and tend to experiment (like mine are prone to do), peculiarities of the gravity of Panataxia and the fact that the PCs may actually walk round the whole place in a straight line are all covered - which is just not the extra mile as far as I'm concerned, but rather the extra marathon. And yes, you can ignore many of these miniscule pieces of information if your players don't mind - but they are THERE. While this is still magic, of course, the theory behind this place is as stringently logical as possible - well as logical as a magic environment like this may get.

Now before you turn away, rest assured that these concepts are in no way dry or boring in any way - and the module supports perfectly "regular" play-styles as well, featuring tables for strange effects from damaging walls (including wall harness and HP) etc., wandering monsters etc. And all of this aforementioned information not even takes you past the first 9 pages - so should you choose to ignore all of this background, you still get a HUGE module for the price-point.

But let's get into the module itself, shall we? Arriving in a cavern where the wind flutes through natural holes in the walls and a bat swarm looms, the PCs are faced with a relatively common cavern - so far, so common. Less common: Once a kingdom was determined by law and clock, by a means of indenture and slaving. When the clock (spot the less than subtle tongue-in-cheek subtext), said instrument of oppression, was destroyed, Panataxia took its detritus and so its chute, a ball and part of its weird mechanism still suffuses one cavern as perhaps one of the strangest combinations of foe and hazard I have ever seen. By the way, have I mentioned that the connecting passages that lead from location to location also get their own descriptive details that clever players can use to keep their bearings? Well, yeah, they're there - I told you this was massively detailed, didn't I?

Ever wanted to go full-blown Sméagol on your players? At the shores of an invisible lake (which comes with all necessary swim-checks, nice and collated in a box), the choker Philos would make for a glorious example of a roleplaying encounter that can go either way. As befitting of a planar prison like Panataxia, not all opposition should be considered for immediate execution by 2nd level characters: The PCs have a chance to save an Aeon Paracletus (who makes happy beeping noises if saved in addition to offering bonuses...) from a CR 9 fire elemental. Yes. CR 9. the one chance the players have here would be to properly use the map and tight spaces to escape from the elementals predation - VERY cool and potentially lethal if your players are stupid, but gloriously exciting as well and something almost never seen in gaming. Climbing down into a cavern of mist (which also hides a vampiric mist) may be cool - but what about a cavern with variable, increasing gravity and making the encounter with a shadow so much more lethal - and unique. What about a cavern that could have been taken from an active volcano? One where the character's prowess is determined by mental attributes? What about a halfling-home (of the resident planar explorer/wizard) with a panorama-view of the astral? An arctic goblin druid? And then there's the potential option of being tricked by afore-mentioned succubus into a conflict they can't yet win - hopefully, the PCs are not that gullible.

Have I mentioned a swiss cheese-like cavern that is now the home of a gibbering mouther? Sandmen? We also get the Bestiary-appendix with read-aloud fluff, a list of all monster-rules used, reprints of all spells used, 6 (!!!) pages of hand-out art and there also are maps galore - each and every location herein has been provided in full color both for the DM and the players in separate pdfs included in the deal and this pdf also provides all of these maps as jpegs to print out/use with software.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read two-column standard and the b/w-interior art fits thematically nice - especially for the price. The cartography is also good for the exceedingly low price-point and most importantly, covers each and every locale in detail. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and in two versions - with one being optimized for US-paper-standard and one for A4-standard for Europeans like yours truly - awesome!

"The Horn of Geryon" was a surprise beyond belief for me - a superb, awesome wilderness module if there ever was one - but it could have been a one-of-a-kind phenomenon. Let's get this straight out of the way - it wasn't. Much like it, Panataxia oozes old-school flavor in all the right ways - this is wonder. This is weirdness. This module is players looking with a mix of puzzlement and horror at your screen, not knowing what is going on, sensing the unknown and embarking, wild-eyed on an adventure they can't predict. Beyond even that, Panataxia is HUGE and the text for even connecting tunnels makes this simply glorious. With the archwizard, DMs still have a tool to guide players and lethal encounters are mixed with a spelunking-style that hearkens back in detail as well as in at times unobtrusive tongue-in-cheek humor and in sense of wonder to the Dungeoneer's Survival Guide of old, one of the best books ever released on that topic.

Richard Develyn. Remember this name. Managing to create one superb module is a fortunate occurrence. Actually surpassing it in the next offering is a trend. Managing to capture the essence of what planar adventuring is about, this module ranks among the best planar modules out there - unique, innovative, wondrous places, cool NPCs/monsters, superb terrain hazards - there is NOTHING about this pdf I could complain about. Let me spell it out - with this, Richard Develyn has reached a point where the environment created is on par with the iconic, legendary writing of Greg A. Vaughan. Let that soak in.

And then, there's the price-point. 4 bucks. 4 friggin' bucks. This is a joke. Seriously, I guarantee you won't find a better bang-for-buck ratio anywhere. Panataxia not only should be considered a stellar module that fits into EVERY campaign, it should be considered a hallmark -I couldn't for the life of me name any 2nd level stand-alone PFRPG-module on par with this one.
Not ONE.
Mind you, players will need both brains and brawns to survive this place, but I also guarantee that they will be talking about this weird place for years to come. This module BLEW ME AWAY. Whether for groups preferring a hack-and-slay-style or for those endeavoring to identify and codify environments and delve deep immersion-wise into a given environment, Panataxia delivers in unprecedented level of detail without losing its easy accessibility.

Seriously - get this if wondrous locales and inspired old-schoolish adventuring or excellent sandboxes to develop and play in even remotely interest you. I am thoroughly impressed and delighted by this module - it stands out among all of its competitors and should be considered an absolute must-buy. With this module, 4 Dollar Dungeons has the second module in my list of candidates for the Top Ten of 2013. If it were possible, I'd rate this 6 stars - and since I can't, I'll instead settle on 5 stars + seal of approval.

EDIT: This and Horn of Geryon shared my no.1 spot of my Top Ten of 2013. That good.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Panataxia
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The Horn of Geryon
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 11:42:03
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure is 65 pages long, 2 pages front cover/editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 61 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

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

Still here? All right! It all starts with a missing rabbit. No, seriously. When the rather difficult daughter of a retired adventurer turned innkeeper misses her rabbit, he asks the PCs to investigate and, providing the distracting child can be persuaded to let the PCs snoop through her things (her interference actually makes the job harder – VERY cool!), they will find that a bauble has gone missing alongside the pet. The trail leads the PCs to a warehouse and it is here I’d like to mention one peculiarity of this module: The maps. While not particularly awesome, the fact that just about every major location is detailed not only in the module, but also as a separate jpg that makes for a nice player-friendly hand-out is a big factor on the plus-side. What about the warehouse? Well, turns out the culprit is one nasty druid named Alydon, who sent his snake companion to retrieve the bauble – the animal just couldn’t let the fluffy food just be! Alydon and his thugs are currently trying to “persuade” a local captain to get them to a certain island. It should be noted that we get a buff-suite and rather extensive tactics for Alydon, adding to the massive skill-DC-tables that help in the beginning investigation.
In the aftermath of the quarrel, the PCs will find yet another of the strange baubles – as well as a treasure map that also features a rhyme that will help the PCs decipher what to do – both again replicated as a jpg-hand-out. But how to reach a remote island at this level? Thankfully, they have just rescued a captain and thus, the PCs can board the Astrid to get to the island of Snakero. The tropical island was once a playing ground of Geryon, who led the local kobold tribes in a vast game to almost exterminate themselves while squabbling over the baubles called Hydra Eyes, 2 of which now are in the PC’s possession.

The sea-journey aboard the Astrid, a vessel with 4 (!!!) full color maps (again, with player-friendly versions) is AWESOME. From the mutated rats, chances to deal with diseases, minor lightning elementals accompanying a storm to bad dreams, the journey should be remarkable and would make a great way to e.g. enhance adventures à la “Journeys to the West” even if you don’t plan on running the module.

After 7 days, the Astrid reaches the island and the captain tells the PCs he’ll return twice for them at specific dates – after that, he’ll assume they’re dead. The island of Snakero is a great case of nomen est omen and offers a variety of dangerous serpentine life as well as a great, concise table of travel speeds that provides a godsend, easy help for the Dm to track movement and time. GLORIOUS and something I wish all modules with any amount of wilderness featured. Wandering monster tables, skills it takes to scavenge food and water would be expected – where the module starts breathing this magical sense of wonder, all too often absent from modern modules, is with the allies – from a lucky pelican that actually will provide quite a boon (great synergy with real life mythology) and a monkey (who may or may not give his life to prevent a particularly nasty ambush) to a well-endowed, but not particularly bright mermaid, the PCs will have some nice means of…ehem…interacting with the locals. Especially cool – not all of these interactions are required; there is no catch unless you absolutely want there to be one. This breaks the “everything is connected”-assumption and makes the module feels more…alive. Speaking of alive – the degenerate descendants of the kobold tribes of once still inhabit the island and the tactics of them are WORTHY! They fight dirty and smart – and oh so glorious. Poison-darts, cower below the water surface while breathing through reeds, summoned beasts, deadly ambushes – the environmentally-relevant combat encounters will test not only the mettle of the PCs, but also the brains of the players, which is EXACTLY what so many modules get wrong.

Presentation-wise, the exploration of the island is a sandbox in the truest and best form – the aforementioned encounters should provide for a lot of things to do alongside e.g. dealing with malaria and, of course, the Ordeals: Spread throughout the island, there are temples – one devoted to Geryon’s supremacy over the respective elemental lords and home to an hydra eye each. Every temple again comes with a full-color map that also is featured as a player-friendly map – and yes, e.g. wall hp/hardness are included! The respective shrines will scare the players and manage to evoke a sense of danger as well as explorer’s awe – the PCs may see the stones a medusa has left in the earth shrine before they find her remains the caryatid column guardian, for example. Or take the shrine of air, which is a small volcanic cauldron, only accessible from the main island when the tide is low – worse, the caldera is suffused by sulphuric mists that obscure everything inside and make for great hunting grounds for the giant constrictor snake living there. If your PCs are dumb, they’ll die here. Wait, why? Well, I mentioned tides, didn’t I? Turns out the mists clear depending on the tide and tables make this easy to recall for the DM.

But wait, you’ll say, do I have to track tides? Yes, for this module features 10 pages of tide tracking and food consumption-sheets for all the time the PCs spend on Snakero. Adventure-writers out there: Read this. Look at it. THEN COPY IT. These sheets are the difference between tedious tracking and easily looking it up and will feature in ALL my future island/coastal explorations. Better, they are not simply a backdrop/relevant for this one shrine, the tides also greatly influence the type of challenge the PCs will find in the shrine of water – as that one floods completely at high tide, but houses dangerous animals on low tide… The fire shrine is also awesome – toxic fume/heat build up, a maze full of hot mud lakes and flammable gas make exploring these caverns and the foe inside, an advanced thoqqua so rewarding I consider it one of my very favorite locations in ANY first level module I’ve read for any iteration of a d20-based game. Yes. That good.

As soon as the PCs have picked up the different eyes, they’ll have the tools to access the temple of Geryon, which is a stone 1 to 10-Hydra in the island’s central lake – yes, it rises from the water, NOT an island. In order to open the door, the PCs will have to scale the stone hydra-heads rising from the waves and set the eyes into the stone irises of the hydra-heads. As the 200 ton stone door slides open, the PCs may get inside the temple and face its guardian – a variant hydra that fights rather democratically and not to maximum efficiency, but which should still make for a massive challenge for the PCs. Worse yet for them – upon defeating the beast, the door will crush down in one round, the eyes will pop from the sockets and the PCs will be sealed inside. Now escaping via a variety of means is covered – from toppling Geryon’s statue and climbing out and various other means, the PCs will have some options...if one of them managed to get outside, he might even manage to find the eyeballs and set them back in – which, however, will trash the temple for good, for a suitably climactic finale. To once again show you the amount of details crammed into these pages: It is mentioned how many rations of meat the Hydra yields… Hopefully the PCs don’t succumb to the predators of the island while waiting for their trip home – now that they have wrestled the Horn of Geryon (by the way: Not the true horn, of course, but valuable nonetheless!) from the serpentine hell-hole of Snakero…

All spells used by spellcasters in the module have been reprinted in an appendix, as have been fluff-only descriptions of all monsters/adversaries included. A glossary of rules-terms, feats etc. provides even the most inexperienced of DMs with rules-information for just about any particular tactical option without requiring the DM to consult additional books and beyond the GENIUS tide/food-tracking sheets. The 12 pieces of artwork in the module have been reproduced in their own appendix to print out and show to your players, making for yet another great way to make “Horn of Geryon” more rewarding.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting re top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a crisp, easy-to read, superbly organized standard that makes running the module with an absolute minimum of preparation time not only feasible, but rather easy. The concise table of challenges and rewards also makes customizing the module rather simple with regards to reward/challenge-levels. The pdf is fully bookmarked and the pdf comes in two versions – one optimized to be printed out in a4-format and one optimized for letterpack (US)-paper standards, meaning that Europeans like yours truly get a printed out format that is nicely suited to our paper-size. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks, 10 jpg-player-handout maps, additional 2 player handouts (which are slightly lacking in the resolution department and could be a bit more crisp) and is VERY easy to run overall.

There are not enough wilderness adventures out there. In spite of their popularity, when compared to dungeons and urban modules, wilderness modules often get the short end of the stick – which is a pity, for when I think about 2nd edition and old-school gaming, the environment, the epic journeys through locations like the Desert of Desolation or the jungles of Maztica are what made a LOT of the glorious sense of wonder associated in retrospective with old-school modules. This module captures that sense of excitement, that sense of wonder, danger and challenge that made me get into roleplaying games in the first place. Suffused with subtle humor, details galore, puzzles that don’t feel artificial or might not be even seen as puzzles and studded with just about every comfort a DM could want, this module offers a window back into this peculiar way of crafting modules, one that evokes the sense of wonder associated with e.g. the first tomb raider game or aforementioned classics. Going even beyond that, its mastery in both writing and mood-crafting surpasses just about every module in the Dungeon Crawl Classics 3.X-line and is on par and perhaps even beyond Frog God Games.

Yes. That good.
Author Richard Develyn has managed to meld superb ease of mastering with stellar writing in a grand voyage to the heyday of wonder, excitement and danger – survival, tides and the best environmental encounters I’ve read in any PFRPG-module make this a challenge that raises the bar for any wilderness module out there. Yes, the story is not that awe-inspiring, but it doesn’t have to be. If I were to complain about one thing, it would be the relatively low-res handouts jpgs, but then again, this pdf also comes at a price-point that is almost insane for this level of quality.

Want to really know how good this is? It’s so good that I consider it on par with Raging Swan Press’ Retribution, my all-time favorite PFRPG 1st level module. Where Retribution is story-driven, the Horn of Geryon exhibits a mastery of the genre of wilderness modules that has me craving more. “The Firemaker” was good – the “Horn of Geryon” is a whole different beast. Any DM of Freeport, Razor Coast, Skull and Shackles (and perhaps Serpent Skull) – GET THIS. And other DMs – get this as well. If you even remotely have a soft spot for a sense of wonder, for having your preparation time minimized (who doesn’t?) and for those of you who like humanoids that act INTELLIGENT, shell out the extremely fair 4 bucks. This module is iconic in all the right ways: Smart, witty, clever, easy to run, challenging, deadly, unique – in one word:

Glorious.

If I could, I’d immediately, without hesitation, rank this 6 stars. We need more wilderness modules of this quality, more of this wonder, of this excitement, of this design philosophy. If you even remotely like Frog God Games modules, old-school-style or if you’re remotely curious what all those grognards are talking about when they complain about a lacking sense of wonder in those new modules, then this is an absolute must-buy.

And yes, if 2013 does not spoil me completely with mind-bogglingly good releases, this one will feature on my Top-Ten-list. It is not often I get to enjoy a module as much as I did this one. Far more scarce is the module I feel the NEED to run in my campaign. This one, I’ll run come hell or high water (pardon the pun!). Adventure-writers, take a peek. This is how it’s done. Final rating? 5 stars and seal of approval and the status of sharing the throne of my favorite PFRPG-1st-level module. Here’s to hoping we’ll get more wilderness modules from 4 Dollar Dungeons.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Horn of Geryon
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The Firemaker
Publisher: Four Dollar Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/29/2014 11:40:09
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is 39 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ¾ of a page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 35 ¼ pages of content, so let’s check this out!

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

All right, still here? The village of Pig’s Trotter is your typically (un-)friendly backwater village – peaceful, distrustful of strangers and featuring a pig-based economy. All would be well, were it not for strange incursions from the nearby forest – pigs get slaughtered and though the village is located in the middle of civilized lands, humanoids like goblins and worse are sighted. A job for adventurers, to be sure! Doing some research in town might be helpful and the fully mapped village is provided n quite some detail, including a settlement statblock. Also, a layout peculiarity I actually like is introduced: Where applicable, all DCs with short pieces of information on what they are for are collected at the end of each room/location, collecting all rules-relevant bits and pieces in one place. Nice!

It should quickly become apparent that the PCs will have to track the goblins back through the forest and before we get into the action, there’s yet another thing to be aware of: The amount of notes for the DM: Drawing your attention to particularly nasty tricks, potentially lethal traps as well as the VERY extensive and detailed information that helps adjust rewards via a table is commendable indeed and makes running the module with relatively short prep-time a possibility. Again, kudos!

In classic modules, a sometimes distinct and oftentimes macabre component was part of the gaming experience, as was a certain anything-goes mentality and one of the most refreshing things about this module is that it breathes this spirit. You see, the source of the incursions is a tribe of pyromaniac goblins with its allies, under the command of one Ifrit sorcerer named Kalza. While I still could froth at the mouth at Paizo getting the mythology of the term “Ifrit” wrong, this is not the module’s fault, so back to it: The fire planetouched sorcerer has ventured forth to an abandoned mining operation of a clan of dwarves, where once mithril was excavated and smelted down. To properly conserve resources, these dwarves have bound a fire elemental, which they conveniently forgot in the old place and which has since then turned mad. Kalza seeks a way to turn this as of yet bound creature into a companion. The dwarven mining complex is surprisingly 3d in layout and features several interesting features, one of which would be a rotund that allows access to all 4 levels of the dungeon.

Interspersed throughout the levels, the PCs may meet goblins playing skull-ball, a zombie wyrmling, a psychotic bugbear, a young ogrekin (whom they may command to stand in the corner when confronted with parental authority – though he’s bigger than the PCs and carries a nasty greatsword) and his mother, an ogress that ate her son’s father since the hobgoblin failed to maintain her. It should be noted that the dungeon features a kind of ecology that explains what people do and while it can be run as static, you could easily make this a dynamic environment – guidelines for NPC behavior are part of the deal. Speaking of which: If the PCs confront the ogress with the death of her son (e.g. by throwing his head at her – and if your players are like mine, you know they’re capable of doing something like this!) – she is first taken aback and then gets a frenzied morale bonus. Minor? Yes, but reactions like that make environments stand out and characters believable.

Now the ultimate goal beyond the exploration of the dungeon would of course be the defeat of the ifrit and the elemental – perhaps the PCs even manage to get some mithril out of the ground! I’ve mentioned old-school writing and another favorite of mine is a quite deadly trap: While recognizable and telegraphed in advance, there’s a pit-trap that is almost guaranteed to kill whoever falls in. On the interesting side is how it’s covered: With paper painted like the floor – prodding the ground with a stick/carefully working your way forward automatically finds the trap, even if perception-checks failed. Call me grognard, but in the days of old, we saw more often puzzles, traps and hazards that could be avoided/disarmed/moved around by just acting smart instead of (only) relying on die-rolls. As long as the rolls are still there to represent character-expertise versus player-competence and as long as they make sense, I applaud solutions like this and would like to see more in the future.

When all’s done in the complex, the PCs will btw. also have a route to further adventures in the underdark open. The module also offers a 3-page index of reprints of spells used in the module and 4 pages of glossary that covers rules from catching fire to undead traits and should make running the module especially for less experienced DMs easier. There also are 4 full-color (though less detailed) versions of the maps of the complex with grids. The final 4 pages collect the artwork as a kind of player-hand-outs.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – I noticed punctuation errors, lower case letters that should have been upper case and minor misuses of words. Nothing that would detract from understanding the module, though, and all belong to the world of minor glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard with statblocks being shaded reddish. The b/w-artworks are nice stock art and I welcome the decision to collect the relevant skill-DCs, as it makes running the module easier. The pdf is also rather printer-friendly, not succumbing to the parchment-background disease and instead opting for a printer-friendly white background. The pdf sports extensive bookmarks and comes in two versions: One optimized to be printed out in us letterpack format and one optimized for A4, which is a great service to Europeans like yours truly and duly appreciated. The module also comes with 8 jpegs – 4 depicting the simple versions of the dungeon-maps and 4 depicting the more detailed versions. What really bugs me with the cartography is not its quality (though it is nothing to write home about, it serves its purpose and I’ve seen MUCH worse…), but the fact that ALL versions are studded with numbers denoting the respective rooms, which makes it impossible for me to hand them out to my players sans breaking immersion – a version of the maps sans numbers would have been much appreciated.

Honestly, I didn’t expect too much from this module, but it proved to be a pleasant surprise – not due to antagonists, story or anything like that – honestly, these components are not the module’s strengths. The strengths lie in author Richard Develyn’s subtle humor that suffuses the module without making it ridiculous, in its details that make it come alive. Not only via front presentation, but also in style, it remembered me of the better installments of Goodman Games DCC-series for 3.X. While I did not enjoy the series universally (having been more a Necromancer Games fanboy myself), it did provide us with some interesting modules then, though not all were of superb quality. Is this a good module, then? Yes, I think by virtue of its relatively interesting dungeon-design and its characters, it stands out as an above-average offering that should delight some of you.

As much as I like the module’s go-play approach, it should be noted, though, that minus maps, glossary and appendix, its page-count is much less impressive, at roughly 21 pages – still respectable, though I can’t help but feel that some sort of proper epilogue/catharsis to the module would have been in order – something to make its end feel less abrupt. Another minor issue is that some creatures are named in the fluff/DM’s text, but when they just use a monster’s stats straight from the bestiary, the statblocks don’t sport this name. Minor, yes, but a slight inconvenience that is only relevant due to the otherwise extremely user-friendly presentation. I also would have liked to see slightly more terrain-use by the respective combatants, but in contrast to some other modules out there, we at least get some of that.
When all is said and done, this is a nice freshman-offering with an old-school flair for a fair price and thus my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Firemaker
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GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:56:18
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive tome clocks in at 399 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 3 pages of short author bios (which should be included in any roleplaying game supplement - seriously, help the talented folk that craft these books get all the recognition they can!), 1 page advice on how to read statblocks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with no less than 388 (!!!) pages of content, making this one of the longest books I've ever reviewed, so let's take a look, shall we?



When I reviewed "Shadowed Keep of the Borderlands" and similar adventures by Raging Swan Press (if you haven't checked these out - get them!), the one thing that caught my eye the most was the sheer brutal amount of details - you know, terrain features, things to actually do, that rendered them so...alive. Concise. Believable. The details mostly absent from many new-school modules, the level of detail lost in many a module since the 3.X days in favor of long statblocks. Well, the series that spawned from the genius realization that details are important would be the Dressing-lines, which contain some of the most ridiculously useful information for any DM you can find - not only for Pathfinder, but for any system.



This is not all that made Raging Swan press modules stand out - remember those dungeons where monsters were placed with neither rhyme, nor reason, wondering how the dragon got into the dungeon etc. - and the annoying rationale "MAGIC!"? Well, this book can be considered the ultimate rebuttal to this type of sloppy design - providing concise information on how to craft intricate dungeons that actually make sense. Basic observations from "Who amde the dungeon?" and "For what purpose?" to former roles it may have had to who actually knows about these tidbits of lore are only the tip of the ice-berg: Considering food and water, access, predators and the like, making good unoccupied rooms that tell stories. Every DM and especially any worldsmith should check these out. Advice on handling a dungeon's physicality (vertical shafts, terrain threats etc.) are provided alongside special considerations for mega-dungeon design and even alternate dungeon designs (of which one can now find a new series by RSP...) - the advice provided here is presented so concisely, it could be deemed a proper checklist for making good dungeons, one that any DM should take a long, hard look at.



Now you may already know that this book collects the numerous Dungeon Dressing-pdfs in one handy tome - but do you realize the extent of what is in here? The following installments are collected herein: Altars, Archways, Bridges, Captives, Ceilings, Chests, Corpses, Doom Paintings, Doors, Double Doors, Dungeon Entrances, Dungeon names, Fiendish Traps I + II, Floors, Fountains, Gates & Portals, Goblin's Pockets, Legends I + II, Mundane Chest Contents, Pits, Pools, Portcullises, Sarcophagi, Secret Doors, Simple Magic Traps, Stair, Statues, Tapestries, Thrones, Trapdoors, Walls and Wells. Additionally, the 3 "So what's the Riddle like, anyways?" are part of the deal and an extensive excerpt from the immensely useful "All that Glimemrs"-compilation has also been provided, sporting a total of 20 treasure hoards at your disposal - after all, dungeons need treasure!



Now you probably have seen that one coming - but I have written reviews for ALL OF THE ABOVE. Yeah. Looking at it from my current vantage point, I feel somewhat OCD...be that as it may, you can easily look up all those reviews, so no, I won't repeat myself and cover all of these again. Even if I did, the resulting review would probably clock in at more than 20 pages, so yeah.



What I *do* focus on here would be the new content provided - let's begin with new Fiendish Traps, shall we? A total of 3 new ones of these nasty, complex traps are provided, making essentially "Fiendish Traps III" a part of the deal here. The first here makes for an exceedingly smart trapped puzzle-lock for an undead (or similar creature's) lair: Different alcoves contain different skulls, with each skull representing one of the bare necessities of life - hunger, thirst, etc. - in order to open the vault door, all traps have to be triggered at the same time, resulting in magic-induced thirst, famine, suffocation and an attack by an animate dream...Ouch and oh so iconic and cool! The defense-hallway sporting poisonous gas and fetchling snipers is nasty as well, as is the traps that is a variant of the classic endless falls, which also adds a temporal distortion to the whole deal - awesome!



Now one of the most overlooked and easiest way to make a dungeon not work is to not get the illumination/sight-question of the inhabitants right. Sans darkvision, inhabitants better have some sort of way to provide for sight - and since this one is also combat-relevant, it will come up - I guaranteed it. Hence, we have one of the most useful DM-cheat-sheets of the whole series in this new chapter, providing everything you need to know in that regard rules-wise at one glance. Want to know how this goes even faster - whether braziers, candelabras (1 page each), fireplaces (2 pages), lanterns, magical lights, torch sconces (all 1 page) - the book actually provides so much variation, you'll never need to reply with "ehem...there are torches." ever again - detailed, versatile and downright brilliant, this chapter is glorious in its evocative details, even before the 2 new light-based traps.



Now of course, one can note that the topics of the book mentioned above do not cover every potentiality of dungeon exploration or design - hence, the book also covers carpets and rugs, evidence left by previous explorers (foreshadow those hostile NPC-groups!), grafitti,, junk and rubbish, mirrors, eeerie atmospheres (!!!), clothes and possessions, strange magical affects, strange smells, strange sounds, specialized priest's and wizard's chests, provisions, mirrors, odds and sundries, clothes and miscellaneous possessions and YES! LOCKS! The oversight of all door-pdfs now receive their own table! Each of these new tables is at least one page strong, with several covering 2 pages and the locks coming with DC/cost/quality-cheat-sheet mini-table. Wow. Just wow.



It should be noted that, for your convenience, the book also provides 2 pages of index for traps by CR ( with the CR covering the range from None to 15 and providing page numbers) and statblocks by CR (ranging from 1/2 to 9, also with page numbers) for easier navigation.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are thoroughly impressive - I have seldom seen a book of this size with this high quality in these two regards - top-notch and awesome. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' two-column b/w-standard and the pdf can be considered printer-friendly. Artwork is fitting b/w and the pdf comes in two versions, one to be printed out and one for screen use. But unless you went full-blown tablet, I'd suggest you get the gorgeous hardcover - I have it and its binding is professional and both paper and glossy cover make this tome a beauty of elegance indeed.



The authors Ben Armitage, Alexander Augunas, Aaron Bailey, John Bennett, Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Erwin, James Graham, Brian Gregory, Eric Hindley, Ben Kent, Thomas King, Greg Marks, Andrew J. Martin, Jacob W. Michaels, Julian Neale, Chad Perrin, David Posener, Brian Ratcliff, Pierre van Rooden, Liz Smith, Josh Vogt, Mike Welham can be proud indeed - why? Because this book is a milestone.



I'm not engaging in hyperbole when I say that this belongs in the arsenal of every DM - period. I had the individual pdfs before and I used them - quite extensively, mind you, but this is something different. Sit down with it and start rolling - in less than 30 minutes you'll have an extremely detailed dungeon at your fingertips, with players not realizing that the complex you created not stemming from a professional module, but from your pen. That is, they may realize it, since this book renders your dungeons memorable, awesome and makes SENSE.



Much like the superb "Wilderness Dressing"-book, the organization in this tome is one of the subtle, yet downright brilliant components - the arrangement of the components may be neat - but there's something apart from that which makes this work so much better than its component pdfs. Beyond collecting all in one handy tome, this book eliminates the small blank spaces left by the component pdfs - the small odds and ends, the carpets, the locks - what has been missing before now is simply there.



Another scenario - you've bought a module and like the dungeon, but it feels sterile, perhaps due to page-count not sufficing? Use this book and in less than 10 minutes, you'll potentially have a dungeons your players will talk about for years to come.



I've beaten around the bush long enough - not only for Pathfinder, but for just about any fantasy-system, this massive book is a godsend. If you have a dungeon, you need this book - it's simple as that. I've been using it in my game ever since I got my greedy hands on it and the sheer massive amount of content and awesomeness in this book is enough to make dungeons feel alive once again. Yes, not all components are super-duper-mega-awesome, but that fact remains that the majority *is* just that - and that the sum here is so much more than its component parts.



This is one of those very few mile-stone supplements that simply offer no reason not to get them - the extremely fair, low price point (for this amount of content!) adding a significant, further dimension to the awesomeness that is this book. I wouldn't ever want to miss this glorious tome and



I'm running out of superlatives fast - so let's end this -this book is a must-have.



An instant classic.



One of the most useful books I've ever had the pleasure to review.



If you don't have this book, it's high time you'll add it to your library. I guarantee that you'll love this - and if that's not enough, Raging Swan Press does have a money back guarantee if you're not satisfied.



This book is a hot contender for the number 1 spot of my Top Ten of 2014. My final verdict is 5 stars + seal of approval - the maximum of my scale and had I any other scale, it would score that high still. This book henceforth also is part of the books I consider essential for any campaign - hence, it receives the "EZG Essential"-descriptor.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing
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Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha
Publisher: Mór Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:53:28
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This campaign guide clocks in at 84 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 77 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So this is the campaign guide (essentially a gazetteer) to the world of Aeliode, in which Mór Games' impressive "Plight of the Tuatha"-saga takes place - we had so far been spoon-fed quite an array of intriguing tidbits and pieces, but this book constitutes the first extensive look at the world, so does it hold up?



Well, first of all, it should be noted that Tim Paul's cartography of the world, provided once in a one-page and once in a two-page version, is compelling - a world of two continents, with a third, ice-cold continent at the North Pole, the cartography delivers - beautiful, compelling and a first nod at the things to come, for the original full-color artworks herein manage to uphold this level of quality.



Now usually, campaign setting kick off with races and this one does something somewhat different - we start with the great empires - essentially, we are introduced to the Avitian empire, its latest acquisitions and the other major power-players. Now here's the smart thing regarding this presentation - the roles of the races are different from place to place. Aforementioned empire has for example waged war against the dwarves and subjugated them, taking the nobles prisoner, while their subjects were allowed to remain - hence the former lower classes remain "free", while the erstwhile nobility has been groomed into prized accountants, butlers and high-class servants, prohibited from growing or adorning their beards.

Different elven ethnicities and e.g. gnomes besieged by a divinely ordained pogrom, ever paranoid for the shapechangers that seek to end their race provide ample opportunities to flesh out clash of cultures-scenarios, while also providing alternate racial traits for different ethnicities. The elves of the ancient forests of Tir Ydrail, for example, tend to have darkvision instead of low-light vision. Now add to that the fact that the Roman-empire inspired empire has relatively recently been subject to the split-off of the Ceravossian Republic, who seeks a return to the republic as opposed to the Avitian cult of the emperor and we have, alone from the constellation of nations, a massive potential for compelling storytelling.

Want an example for how compelling story-telling is here? To a gnome, "showing your true colors" means cutting yourself to show that your blood is red and you're not a shape-changer...mind you, whether this custom is based solely on superstition or not is very much left for the DM to decide...



Now apart from political and secular concerns for a character's identity, the deities of Aeliode deserve special consideration - first of all, they may take an active role in the campaign's plot; Secondly, they stem from various pantheons and are generally diverse - taking a cue from Midgard's concept of masks of the gods, they do not sport alignments, being considered above paltry mortal moral concerns, though a typical alignment for worshippers is provided. Even the rather devious or quite simply mad divinities (each of which receives his/her own symbol, by the way) have some kind of revealing quality, with the arguably "most evil" deity falling rather close to what trickster deities in real world religions have wrought. Now interesting would be a distinction among deities - multi-planar deities are the pre-world-creation gods -they span multiple realities and even in death (in one case), make their influence known -here, the classic notion of the world being crafted from the body of a slain deity is reflected. This original sin or "Erblast", if you will, also resulted in the first divine murderer being cursed with what amounts to schizophrenia, but more on this later. Aeliode is not restricted towards these deities - indeed, mortals can attain divinity, though these types of gods are restricted to the prime material plane - which adds the very real possibility of high-level PCs embarking to the planes to slay a god a possibility. Below these, there is another type of deity, one that has a limited area of influence - within the domain of the god (or saint) s/he/it may wield powers extraordinaire, but beyond it, their powers do weaken.

Why is this important? Well, first of all, you can take a cue from Ravenloft regarding story-weaving and this premise. Secondly, the importance of one's heritage and ancestor cults is emphasized as a very distinct option -while not as powerful as true deities and limited in the spells granted, the sheer fact that it works (and that the emperor of Avitian has decreed himself to be a god and worshipped...) provides quite an array of cool options that would tie-in nicely with the classic "Requiem for a God"-style material. Now another interesting concept would be that of an enslaved pantheon - outlawed and defeated, the "Gods of Sorrow", who are anything but evil, make for an interesting option to provide scenarios and metaplot.



Now the entries also provide so-called minor rituals - these can be performed to have a very small chance of attracting the attention of a deity, with the precise effects being left mostly to the DM. Now where the writing in this book hits its undeniable high point is in the creation myth that is provided - here, the scholar can rejoice, for yes, the fully narrated myth can stand its ground. Both in wording and footnotes provided, the concise illusion of a believable genesis myth is provided, depicting the aforementioned original sin and the resulting curse, while in its writing providing even more hooks and ideas to develop heresies around. Now the first murderer-deity (and unwitting creator of the world as they know it), once known as Ocheas, then as Volund was cursed for his unwitting slaying of the mother of creation, cursed with a duality and a new personality, the aspect of Balar - forever changing between the two personalities, his fall also resulted in the creation of the new race herein - the so-called Fomoire. Close to humans, they sport inhuman ability-traits, variyng heights (they may be large!) and should be considered in their violent, yet organized behavior the main threat for civilized nations and the elves in particular - who disperse if more than 10.000 are left in a land, for too high concentrations of them tend to attract the Fomoire... While perhaps a small thing, the fact that they need to drink salt water like other races require fresh water adds a damn cool dimension to the race...and if you haven't noticed it, these guys could be considered a mix of guys from the iron isles, bacchantes and the fomorians - awesome. Oh, and actually balanced.



Now thankfully, Aeliode does not have "common", so some attention to detail is given to languages and secret languages. A new 10-level PrC is also provided with the skald, who receives d10, full BAB-progression, good ref and will-save progression, full spellcasting progression and 4+Int skills per level. These guys can identify monsters per knowledge skills, receiving bonuses and also may wilder spell-selection wise in both bard and druid lists. Personally, I'm not sold on these guys - they receive too much - full BAB, good HD, full spellcasting with increased lists - and honestly, no cool abilities to set them apart. The skald should be required to pay for the increased martial prowess and spell-lists with more than 2 paltry skill points per level. For the first time in a supplement by Mór Games, I have to say that I won't allow this PrC near my table.



The book also introduces a new skill, interrogate, to obtain information and provides rules for so-called "Wars of Words." How do these work? Well essentially, they are a way to codify those endless discussions/roleplaying discussions some groups (mine including) are wont to indulge in. They are performed one-on-one. Each character receives a resolve point score of 5 + int, cha and wis-mod and a very limited array of wit-points, with which s/he can modify throws - the latter is based on level + bonus wit points that scale upwards with increasing levels. The fact that a character receives level wit points could have been more clearly emphasized in the rules here. That being said, each participant selects in secrecy one of various general strategies that have a damage and a defense assigned, which then are revealed to the discussing partners. The partners then start fighting, with the victor reduced to half points meaning a compromise is required. I really enjoyed this system, though it does require additional material - more options and especially the option to properly run it in discussions with more than two participants - while group discussions are mentioned, the suggested solution is rather unsatisfactory, but due to space concerns, the brevity is understandable.



Now what works perfectly is the renown-system that determines access to prestigious places and organizations, while at the same time requiring different celebrations in different lands. On the downside, the more famous, the easier obtaining knowledge about the character is... gaining renown is handled with concise, cool mechanics and fluff - kudos!



Now there is also a third cool system introduced - emergences. these are essentially story-benefits that can be obtained and lost -from breathing water to being able to eat just about anything, rituals, quests, achievements, curses and blessings - emergences are a powerful tool to portray the change of a character,. a glorious story-telling device and perhaps the strongest innovation of the book.



Beyond exceedingly cool, flavorful traits, we also are introduced to an array of damn cool NPCs with high-quality artworks to supplement your Imperiums game. Now a book steeped in so much world lore, we also receive an uncommon 6th chapter - containing 6 typical recipes for the diverse regions. Real recipes. And they actually deliver rather tasty results (at least the Paella-recipe did) - though one recipe should probably not be attempted - it's rather cruel and thematically fitting for the setting, but not for real world reproduction.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not as good as in the other Mór Games-supplements - I noticed a couple of easily avoidable blank-space-glitches etc. Not many and not crucial ones, but they're there. Layout adheres to Mór Games' beautiful two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with gorgeous original full-color artworks galore - production-wise, this definitely is a premium product. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the print-version comes on quality paper and the colors remain true - a quality softcover.



William Moomaw's Aeliode has charmed me, I admit to that. The world-weaving of this world is awesome, superb even. The world jumps from the page, feels alive and compelling. Know how good the writing is? I actually, after staring at files and texts all day, took this one to bed with me because I simply didn't want to put it away. I can't wait for more insights into this world and the things to come for it. So that aspect is definitely one that can be ranked among the apex of products and well worth 5 stars +seal of approval. However, roleplaying games are fluff and crunch - art and craft. And in the craftsmanship-department, the relative inexperience becomes somewhat evident. While the new race, the actually relevant traits and the renown system are awesome, the Prestige Class is unbalanced and, sorry to be so blunt -boring. The poor skald needs some unique tricks and balancing. The War of Words makes for a great basic system, but one that could use some finetuning and especially a revision that allows for discussions with multiple participants - it does show promise, but it feels somewhat unpolished.



Now these gripes apply to the minority of the content herein and I'd e.g. be game for a whole book of emergences, more renown benefits etc. - the content that does work, which is the majority, is awesome and this book should be considered a great gazetteer, a promise of the glorious things that hopefully are to come, with enough space to develop all the cool ideas herein. Though it breaks my heart in the face of the GLORIOUS writing, I can't rate this book higher than 4 stars -but still, if you want to see a Roman/Gaelic campaign setting that makes sense, that is different in texture and style, then this should be considered a must-buy.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Campaign Guide: Plight of the Tuatha
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You're Gonna Die Screaming
Publisher: Misfit Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 13:47:00
An Endzeitgeist.com

This Pay-what-you-want-optimization guide clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so what exactly do we get here?



Firts of all - this is exactly what it says on the tin - an optimization guide. In case you're not familiar with these, usually, a color code of Red, Green, Blue and Purple is applied to skills, feats, spells etc.pp. to denote at a glance the feasibility of options available.



That being said, personally, I'm not too big a fan of optimization to the oomphteenth degree, mainly because some of my players *are* into it - adhering strictly to these can get in the way of making a character rounded, if you adhere too strictly to a guide. Those little touches like your PC being a baker's boy - they don't contribute to the combat capabilities and thus are often left by the wayside. Rogue Genius Games proposed bonus skills per level for exactly such "non-relevant" skills and introducing this house-rule into my game helped quite a bit.



That out of the way, the more pressing question on your mind will probably be "Why play a commoner?" And the pdf delivers answers - in brevity, here are *my* answers, for I have actually already pulled off this stunt. 1) The challenge. My players are extremely capable and taking away all those class features makes for a very challenging game-play less based on system mastery and more on guerrilla warfare and player smarts. 2) Get a perspective. I do like my main campaign (the non playtesting one) gritty and beyond 15-point-buy, players are wont to forget *why* those commoners keep on buggering them to kill threat xyz - even 15-point-buy heroes are exactly that - HEROES. This means they have so much more capabilities to deal with threats than average joe. Playing a commoner can make that apparent and drive home the reason why those guys don't deal with threats themselves. 3) Go for a tactics-high game. Every item, every purchase in a commoner game is relevant - each little bonus precious. 4) A change of pace. The PCs have been captured and those guys they saved time and again may now be their only hope - as an alternative to a TPK, the "PCs are captured"-scenario that has the players save their characters via commoners is better because the adversary not necessarily has underestimated the PCs, but failed to take those nameless, faceless losers into account - and that, ladies and gentlemen, is rather easy to justify and believe...



So these are my basic suggestions, so what does the pdf offer - well, essentially an optimization break down of attributes, core races, skills - one by one, with feasible and well-thought suggestions. It should also be noted that general combat styles (as in not-style-feats) receive their break-downs - suddenly those light crossbows and halfling slingstaffs don't look so bad anymore, don't they? Fascinating, what a few lacking attributes, feats and proficiencies can do...



It should be noted that even non-recommended styles d receive concise break-downs of options to make them work. Traits mainly are glanced over, with highlights pointed out.. Beyond these options, advice on granting at least a bit of starting gold, weapon-selection and magical/mundane items rounds out this pdf.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Misfit Studios' two-column full-color standard with artworks ranging from b/w to full-color and being stock as far as I could tell. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



This is intended as a teaser and first introduction to the matter at hand for author J. M. Perkin's "The Adequate Commoner" kickstarter to making commoners not suck...so much. As an optimization Guide, it does a decent job and is actually a good read, though you should be aware that it does not go through all options available at the level of detail found in some guides online - it can be considered a basic optimization guide that is well-written and actually fun to read. It offers smart advice for truly low-power-level gaming and as such can be considered a well-crafted book. This being a "Pay what you want"-file, it can be obtained for free, though I do suggest some sort of donation. But how much? Basically, this guide is good at what it is intended to do - it's a teaser, a help, an introduction and does that job well. If you have expected a full-blown, ultra-detailed 100+page guide of covered options, well, then this pdf does not deliver - surprise.



What it's intended to do, it does well and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 pages, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
You're Gonna Die Screaming
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Legendary Classes: Illuminatus (PFRPG)
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 03:53:39
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 37 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is the chaos illuminate or Illuminatus? First of all, the class would need to be non-lawful. It receives d6,4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, 1/2 BAB-progression, good ref and will-saves and spellcasting of up to 9th level via a unique spell-list. Speaking of spellcasting - while it does work via cha and spontaneous, the casting works different than for any other class - Illuminati don't cast regular spells, rather learning to cast so-called wonders instead. Each wonder is associated with a d8-throw: Wonders are cast as a standard action with V, S and F -F? Yes, for to cast spells an illuminate requires a so-called implement, which they not only require to cast wonders, but also to use marvels, the first of which they acquire at 2nd level, +1 every 6 levels thereafter, depending on the implements the illuminate uses. Marvels are full-round action and of a varying ability type, hence adhering to different base-rules - save-wise, these adhere to the 10 +1/2 class level + cha-mod formula.



What about the chaos-aspect, you ask? Well, it's simple - each casting of a wonder is accompanied by a roll of d8, with a 7 or 8 meaning that the respective illuminate can control the wonder to produce any effect. Otherwise, the illuminate has no control over the effect the wonder produces. However, the illuminate *does* have control on where the spells resulting from the wonders go off, allowing for a certain modicum of control. It should be noted that metamagic and item-use purposes et al have been covered in the system..and that this is not where the class ends.



The illuminate also receive a 1/day reroll of a d20, +1 re-roll at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 3+cha-mod times per day, the illuminate may also re-roll wonder-rolls or re-draw cards for abilities of magical item purposes (which adhere to a chaotic rule-set akin to that of casting wonders...) , should you choose to utilize cards when playing the class.



Now at 4th, 6th, 10th, 12th, 16th and 18th level, the illuminatus receives a so-called attainment, which essentially can be considered as the talents of the class, with the list being expanded by greater attainments at 10th level and even more with superior attainments, which are unlocked at 16th level. Attainments generally can range from reliable spell-like abilities (with interesting mechanics, like a 1-hour cool-down) and also contain interesting options that allow for a kind of primal flux (a wonder like fluctuation), duplication of an effect by subsequent re-castings of wonders on rounds following an individual cast. The attainments provided are extremely diverse and allow for quite a different array of builds, more so than one would expect from such a class.



Now in Purple Duck Games' awesome tradition, we receive more favored class options than in any other supplement - psionic races, dragonkin, Fehr's Ethnology-races, ARG-races - heck, even living ghuls and grindylow are covered. The FCOs span more than two pages - yeah, rather neat! Two thumbs up!



Now I already mentioned implements - these are important beyond acting as a focus, also influence, somewhat like bloodlines, the selection of wonders available to the illuminate -from books to bottles, cards etc., a total of 8 such complex suites being provided, the implements also defining the capstone marvels. The respective spell-lists of illuminati are hence all micro-tables of 6 possible spell-effects that are provided by school - for each spell-level. Mishap-effects, extensions of class abilities, chaotic metamagic and increased control over wonders can all be achieved with the selection of new feats. Unlike many similar supplements, the feats more often than not, do not require illuminatus class levels, allowing other classes to dabble in chaotic powers.



Speaking of which - the opportunity and wonder cleric subdomains, 3 mishap-centric rogue talents, the primordial wildblooded sorceror mutation and the arcane experimenter wizard archetype make sure that chaotic magic that is less predictable does not remain the providence of the illuminatus. Warping magic and adding mishaps as injury to the insult of having your spells dispelled, generating wild magic zones - the new spells herein do come in a nice variety and magic items like coins that either summon good or evil outsiders and knucklebones that generate catastrophes also add a bit of excitement to the game.



Beyond even these supplemental pieces of information, we actually do receive 2 universal mythic tier abilities to influence fates and duplicate mythic spells with wonders - and we also receive support for groups utilizing hero points in the guise of 3 unique attainments in addition to the vast array provided, as well as one exclusive subdomain. Finally, a sample character of 1st level completes this extensive, massive class book.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to PDG's printer-friendly 2-column b/w-standard with purple accents and the pdf does sport some thematically-fitting full color artworks, though you may know some of these from other sources. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.



Author David Nicholas Ross tries his hand at one of the more complex themes one can tackle regarding spellcasting - getting chaos magic right. On the one hand, you want a system that by design, delivers unexpected results, while still maintaining enough control to keep the class useful and relevant in game. Balancing the wonders and the associated spells among them must have been a rather challenging endeavor and the addition of attainment and their structuring in 3 different classes of power-levels as well as the abilities granted by implements allow for an array of different options to properly exert *some* control over the playing field. Beyond being mechanically interesting and innovative, the class delivers supplemental content galore that goes above and beyond making the concepts feasible for just about every world. Small fluff-boxes, feats and chaotic caster-level adjustments, mishaps - all these add another, neat dimension to the topic at hand and help bring the unpredictability back into magic. The illuminatus is a great class with cool options and one that is actually more complex than one would expect - the moving parts are neatly tied together, the class is easy to grasp and difficult to master and there are not that many classes of this high caliber out there. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval - add some chaos into your magic and make it feel magical and weird again!


Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Legendary Classes: Illuminatus (PFRPG)
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Underworld Races: Drow
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/08/2014 03:52:40
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19 pages of content, so let's take a look!



We kick off this installment of the Underworld Races with a general subterranean origin-myth for the races that inhabit the lightless depth of Aventyr - which can, coincidentally, be introduced with relative ease into other settings. Now part of this myth is the origin of the most famous of subterranean, evil races - the drow. The dichotomy and splitting of the elven races takes a more classic turn in the example of Aventyr than in Golarion's take on being drow. The association with spiders and poison in the prominence of the Goddess Naraneus, a matriarchal society -all classic elements one may or may not like are in here.



In a nice twist, female and male drow receive different minor modifications to their skill sets and the favored class options provided are nice as well, though personally, I would have loved to see a gender-divide there as well. In a slightly problematic formatting decision, there are no new racial rules immediately following the header that announces them and we instead follow up with information on new equipment - either something got cut out here or the formatting is problematic.



Now drow receive some rather awesome alchemical items that massively influence the fighting styles of drow - from web shackles to webbing that may attach weapons via webbing to arms (great versus disarming or after throwing weapons) to the special ink and paper drow use make for cool options. Shadowy water that increases the potency of the stealthy drow, soldier's rations and mage hand-utilizing gloves.



A total of 6 racial feats provide drow with further tricks -requiring less sustenance, receiving bonuses versus a specific target who managed to elude your wrath, a grudge-feat versus surface elves and one to master feinting with drow weapons make for nice ideas - especially arachnid acrobatics is cool - for an acrobatics-check, the drow temporarily receives a climb speed - yes, spiderman would be jealous.



The pdf also provides a new domain, the drow domain - the domain abilities allow the cleric to sheathe weapons in negative energy and take damage to improve the senses of the cleric - which per se is a cool ability. Taking damage for improved sight is cool...alas, as soon as a drow is undead, this ability has the unintended consequence of being a free, unlimited, if slow, healing option. Granted, since the duration of the improved sight is tied to the damage taken, the sight component becomes nigh useless, but who'd care?



This domain also provides a grand total of 9 new exclusive spells that allow you to render targets flat-footed for one round, clothe yourself in shadow or step through the shadows and even provide some protection against light-based attacks. What about making high-level undead that retain some of the capabilities of the deceased's capabilities while they still had their mortal coil. The level nine spell is particularly nasty in the negative energy, ability damage and regular damage the spell deals - still (with leeching), the amount feels somewhat less than what I would have expected at ninth level - especially since the ribbons require touch attacks.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches, though a couple of bolding and similar minor glitches can be found herein. Layout adheres to a drop-dead-gorgeous two-column full-color standard with rocky borders and awesome graphic elements, making this a beautiful, if not very printer-friendly pdf. The plentiful original pieces of full color artwork throughout the pdf are nice. The pdf also comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.



Mike Myler & Julian Neale's drow-sourcebook provides some nice options and especially the items herein can be considered truly awesome. The information on the society, items and some of the tricks the drow offer here are universally compelling and cool...but that being said, the domain just isn't inspiring. It's not bad, but neither is it glorious. While greatness can be found here, e.g. in the weapon webbing, the arachnid acrobatics etc., the pdf is a bit on the short end and for that; I do think that e.g. a glorious beast like the dvergr's underminer or similar truly mind-boggling content would have helped this pdf. As written, it is a good, if not particularly remarkable book on drow and well worth a final verdict of 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Underworld Races: Drow
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101 Not So Random Encounters: Forest Kingdom (PFRPG)
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:40:26
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with a more than massive array of 45 pages, so let's take a look!



The 101 Not So Random Encounters-series has been a delight to read - beyond just adding certain creatures, it provides iconic creatures and NPCs, ranging throughout the CRs (in this case from CR 23 to CR 1/3). The basic, central benefit of these encounters, though, would be that they essentially tell a story that is linked, should you choose to use them in conjunction.



While the statblock of the CR 23 Vine creature hamadryad druid 8, Vessa Broadleaf, may be a glorious build, what makes this book awesome goes beyond that - she essentially is the mastermind behind the conspiracy of which the respective encounters are components and each of the individual encounters tie in with others, making this essentially a massive, huge collection of diverse encounters that, by design can be woven into a tapestry of a campaign...or a subplot thereof.



Which brings me to the second component of this pdf one should know about - the campaign-spanning meta-plot implied by these encounters ties in perfectly with Kingmaker - this is an AP-plug-in if ever there was one. Especially in Kingmaker, this makes sense - with a metaplot that takes a backseat in favor of Kingdom-building rules, the interwoven encounters, when applied to the AP, net a sense of cohesion of the metaplot that is not particularly pronounced in the otherwise great AP.



Now don't get me wrong - the massive conspiracy (which I try to avoid spoiling in this review), can stand on its own - this supplement essentially delivers enough plot to act as a whole, full-blown campaign. Now another thing I can tell you without spoiling the awesome writing, would be the fact that not all encounters belong to the same monolithic entity of an organization - rather than that, some of the creatures herein are generally opposed to one another, with an array of them serving as foils and red herrings for the true end-game of the hamadryad.



Beyond a neat assortment of cool encounters and fluff-only write-ups, we also, quite often, in fact, receive cool and relatively complex statblocks...and unique creatures. What about Mandragora swarms? Or the dread irlgaunt? What about an accelerated giant swamp eel or the Blodeunwedd with their allergen auras? Fiendish plants that collapse into brown mold? It should also be noted that a two-page appendix reprints e.g. Black Rots and Living Lakes for those not owning ToHC, making the pdf rather user-friendly.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RiP's 2-column full-color standard, with nice borders of a thematically-fitting extract of stock art. The pdf comes with a plethora of different full color artworks that fit the theme. I have not seen any of the artworks before in other publications, so kudos for that.



Mike Welham's massive collection of encounters is perhaps the single most inexpensive, easy way to make the Kingmaker AP more awesome - and its essentially a rough draft for a whole AP in one neat book. It's functionality does not end there, though, for thankfully the ideas for these glorious encounters can easily be scavenged for just about any woodland/forest/swampy environment, taken apart - even on their own, the encounters rock. I did my very best to prevent spoiling the meat of these awesome encounters, but rest assured this collection is simply glorious - and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval . This vastly improves Kingmaker et al. and should be considered one of the best bang-for-buck-ratios to improve an AP.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
101 Not So Random Encounters: Forest Kingdom (PFRPG)
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Faerie Mysteries
Publisher: Legendary Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:37:27
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 2 pages of introduction/editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?



One problem fey-based modules have when faced with my standards regarding fey is that the creatures ought to be familiar, yet weird, strange, yet familiar - and that a sense of otherworldly timelessness ought to pervade an encounter with fey - something rather difficult (at least from what I've seen...) to accomplish. The introduction and the respective concerns shows a concern for that otherworldly intrusion into reality we consider weird, of what makes fey strange and dangerous -and the rules follow up:



A new type of hazard is introduced to represent this weirdness, so-called fey impulses, which are categorized into 3 types, from rumors, to ripples and ruptures, each adheres to a different severity, with rumors being similar to figments and glamers and the more powerful fey impulses also influencing the mind of those subjected to them. Akin to traps or haunts, fey impulses may be quenched before they manifest, only they do require a different resource - enchantments and illusions, as the types of magic mostly associated with fey, are instead used to represent the forces to quell the fey impulse and, much like a haunt, it may re-manifest unless it is defeated for good.



Now such a system of course needs comprehensive guidelines for the DM to implement and this delivers in spades in that regard, without expecting the DM to do all the work - from CR 1/2 to CR 10, quite an array of options is provided - from a bridge automatically extolling its tithe to a dread hangman's tree emitting waves of all-encompassing despair to a maze in a maze (be sure to read Shirley Jackson's modern classic "The Sundial" for a great idea on how to narrate this one's effect...), the respective impulses are awesome, but by no means everything contained within these pages.



A total of 22 events with codified rules are contained herein - think of these as either bullet-point encounters or even adventures -from nods to "The Great God Pan" to essentially a Rybalka's narrative in a box to a mansion inhabited by a possible bride to the fey to a fey's version of Neddful Things - the ideas contained in these pages are massive and extensive and all but the most burnt-out DMs ought to be inspired by one or more of these - and my skirting around the peculiars of these (and the impulses) is intentional: I do not want to spoil these.



Faeire Creatures ought to be unpredictable, and thus we also are introduced to some variants - take the blackthorn dryad, who is essentially a dryad/kyton mix (including cool, unique signature abilities), the beautiful Green Hag variant Harionna who may fight with dread hooks embedded in her hair (!!!) or the Stormkarl Nixie, bound to a waterfall and emitting those that hear his laments - and yes, fellow aficionados of Scandinavian myths might be grinning right now.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games' elegant 2-column full-color standard for Kingmaker plug-ins, though it should be noted that this supplement, more than others, can enrich just about every campaign. The copious amounts of awesome full color artworks are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and hyperlinked, here and there even to inspiring reading material.



I did not expect to like this. After the somewhat mediocre Faerie Passions, I postponed reviewing this to kingdom come and when one patron made a generous donation on my site and asked me to review a couple of Mythic Minis and Mythic Monsters, I made these my priority for LG-files. Well, here I am now and Todd Stewart, Jason Nelson and Alistair Rigg have actually done it - this is one exceedingly glorious, awesome supplement, a hazard toolbox par excellence that is intelligent, cool and iconic - a supplement that can enrich ANY module featuring fey. Breathing the proper sense of weirdness, fey impulses are a simple idea that is easy to grasp and brilliant at the same time, with both toolkit and samples given being just awesome. The variant creatures make for nice icings on this awesome cake and while personally, I would have loved to see even more impulses, I won't hold this against the pdf. Any DM running e.g. "Courts of the Shadow Fey" or similar glorious fey-themed modules should consider this a must-have purchase - 5 stars + seal of approval, given without even a the slightest hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Faerie Mysteries
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Alternate Dungeons: Mystic Groves
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/07/2014 08:35:06
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' new Alternate Dungeon-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!



So what is this? Well, we've all been there - the oomphteenth cavern/dungeon/mine is only so exciting to explore - sometimes, one needs a change of scenery - and exactly that would be the task of this pdf - it begins with the general scene-setting: Whether by the powers of druids, fey or what have you not - mystic groves are essentially forest dungeons that require special considerations - like flight, the dimension and location of trees, etc. - something the pdf manages to address nicely, while also providing additional complications like making the dungeon sport a confounding haze that limits sight, render the trees intelligent (and the dungeon thus mobile...ouch!) etc.



Beyond these basic considerations, the tracking, underbush, natural hazards, a table of detection DCs to be noticed by wandering monsters while fighting - the advice given is concise, solid and helps prevent glaring oversights that might otherwise have resulted in face-palm-worthy moments.



Now suggestions for appropriate treasure in the guise of materials and alchemical ingredients are provided alongside 3 suggested functions to serve as the reason why the place exists in the first place. Now the cool thing about the dressing table would be that suggested DCs to harvest them are provided - 40-entry-strong (plus an entry for roll twice/thrice) can be found here - from fruit growing animals to crystalline growths to animals being born here with DR, the respective entries have more tie-ins with mechanics than in the dressing-pdfs - which is a good thing in this context.



beyond these, we also receive quite an extensive list of suggested adversaries to use to populate the grove, while suggested traps (including two new ones) allow you to further modify the dungeon alongside glyph of warding-duplicating mold and similar hazards. Should you require further inspiration- while one should probably be called "BLightbringer", not "BRightbringer", the three general hooks are nice.



Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, but not as flawless as I've come to expect from Raging Swan Press. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with nice b/w-artworks as well as fully bookmarked. Additionally, you receive two versions, one optimized for screen-use, one optimized for the printer.



Alexander Augunas' Mystic Groves are cool - the general idea-kit/tool.kit provided herein make constructing a truly uncommon dungeon relatively easy on the DM and the wealth of ideas is pronounced and nice. However, as an early installment in the series, I also feel that this pdf could have used an additional piece or two - expanded terrain-features to drop in, especially efficient tactics (by PCs and adversaries) to be wary of - something like this. As written, this is an inspiring little toolkit, but one that falls a bit short of perfection and what it could have been. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alternate Dungeons: Mystic Groves
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