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Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:35:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages blank after ToC and SRD, respectively (odd), 1 page back cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page reading "appendices" before the SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

So, what is this? Well, have you read Rose of the Prophet? No, well, all right: Basically, it is a system that defines deities and their values, if you will, as an interconnected geometrical shape - which also, by virtue of connections, situates neutral deities as a mix of good and evil -it is basically a way to generate a spatially-consistent model of a pantheon's abstract interactions and, by its spatial depiction, of contextualizing the deities thus.

We have a system for pantheon-creation on our hands here, and one that has an intrinsic value as far as I'm concerned, but we'll get back to that in the conclusion. Before all of that, the pdf actually, like a proper scientific paper, explains and defines its nomenclature. In all brevity: points are corners of the polyhedron, faces are flat surfaces, edges are folds between adjacent faces. All of these are subsumed under the hyperonym "site" and adjacent sites...well are sites adjacent to one another. neighboring sites are defined as sites that require the crossing of an edge. If all of that sounds complicated, it is only due to me being exceedingly brief - visualizing the definitions isn't difficult.

Sites sport a primary and a secondary domain and faces and points are the places where deities can be found in this abstract geometric shape.

So, how do we proceed regarding pantheon-creation? We choose a polyhedron, with the common roleplaying dice all covered - we count sites, points and faces - and if you want to use one of the standard roleplaying dice-shapes, you won't even have to do that, for the pdf lists these in a concise table. Then, we assign a domain to each face and point, group domains and identify, finally, chosen weapons. If the domain breakdown sounds like work, it's not: a) the calculation is really simple and b), the pdf actually takes care of that aspect as well in aforementioned table.

Better yet - this cliff-notes version is explained in surprising detail and in a didactically sound manner. A handy d% table even may take that domain/subdomain/favored weapon choice aspect off your hands, if you just want an easy to use generator...or need a place to start. Roll a couple and then start choosing. Even cooler: If you're using Exalted domains (from Rogue Genius Games' books) or hybrid domains, the pdf has you covered. Interesting here: The pdf observes that most of the dice employed here are duals - i.e. faces and points hold the same spatial relationships - but the human mind does seem to treat these different shapes differently. In my uses of the system, I ended up creating different pantheons with different dice, pointing towards interesting observations regarding the interaction of our spatial conceptions and the way in which we design.

I digress, sorry.

So, this is the base system - it is elegant and surprisingly effective; in contrast to traditional pantheon-building from scratch, it can generate some rather astonishing concepts for deities that are surprisingly different from those we know and quote endlessly. It's uncanny, really - I never noticed how much my knowledge of mythology had shaped design-paradigms I employed in pantheon creation until I used this pdf.

Anyways, the pdf then proceeds to guide us through a step by step process - first, create a simple deity description; then establish setting information and after that, go for the fine details. As an aside that should be evident for anyone using this: Obviously, the *absence" of a deity and domain can can make for an amazing story as well - what happened to those deities? Did they die? Were they banished? The system, while explained for polyhedrons, btw. also works for pretty much any geometric shape you can picture, with only a minimum amount of work - you could conceivably generate uneven shapes, shapes with holes, etc. - all possible, though perhaps slightly more advanced than a vanilla use of the system.

But perhaps you are not yet sold on the use of the engine - well, the pdf does not provide one or two, but 3 fully detailed pantheons for your convenience: We get to know the shu-shi pantheon of halfling deities, based on China (!!!) and the goblin pantheon, both of which sport 3 general groups and the elemental tetrahedron, which sports 4 groups of deities. Each of these deities sports favored weapon, symbols, alignment domains and the fluff for the deity, usually around 100 - 150 words. Beyond the shu-shi being a BRILLIANT idea, the pantheons also showcase their creation, with a filled-out work-sheet depicting the respective polyhedrons and the sheets do an amazing job illustrating how the system works - the correlation between the placement and the respective deities, the way by which the spatial place influences character and design, is uncanny...in a good way.

Wait a second? Work-sheets? Yep, the pdf comes with a second file that contains pdf work-sheets for d20s, d12s, d10s, d8s, alternate d8s, d6s and d4s...oh, AND it comes with an excel spreadsheet as well!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, clean and well-structured two-column standard with blue highlights - it's nothing to write home about, but then again, swirlies, pictures and graphical elements would actually detract from the appeal here. The pd has no artworks, but needs none. The pdf comes with detailed, nested bookmarks for your convenience and the inclusion of worksheets and excel table must be applauded. Minor nitpick: It would have been nice to have the worksheets as form-fillable, but oh well.

Keith Davies' Polyhedral Pantheons have been an amazing experience to review. I can honestly say that I have NEVER reviewed anything like it for a roleplaying game. This brought me back to my days in academia in the most amazing of ways. Perhaps you can relate, if not, let me elaborate: You see, I absolutely relish the feeling when I am presented with an interesting system; then, I ponder it, use it and suddenly, a whole infinity of possibilities, an eureka effect, an unfettering of one's mind from a preconceived notion, happens. What was previously a subconscious, defining and limiting trait suddenly is exposed and abolished in favor of a system that can generate and inspire beyond even its specific thesis.

In short: Science! The ideal of humanist growth. Call me pretentious, but it is my firm conviction that this is the very foundation of what makes roleplaying games so amazing: We constantly have theses about worlds, rules etc. - we experiment with them and modify our canon of shared knowledge. To a degree, we are engaging in a playful variant of scientific experimentation whenever we roll those dice and create new worlds, rules and places. We employ the canon of our accumulated knowledge and even have a sort of peer-review system - among gamers at one's table, among designers and reviewers.

It is astounding to me, then, that this pdf manages to so thoroughly blow my mind. While it has sample pantheons, I am hesitant to call it a supplement - this is a tool, but not one that expands an existent line of thought, but one that applies a unique concept in a didactically sound manner and thus expands one's horizon. I know, I know. The above sounds dry. I don't want to lie - it kinda is...until you actually use it and realize something.

The pantheons we grew up with, from Greek to Norse to the Forgotten Realms and beyond...they operate by similar tropes and rules and, by employing this system, you have a geometric shape, which, by virtue of its existence, can generate basically an infinite amount of deities and relationship-structures that transcend these notions. The one limiting factor is no longer there - the conception of hegemonic pantheons is replaced with a highly fluid and diverse, extremely hackable process that eliminates easily and reliably the shackles we unwittingly place upon our own imagination.

As mentioned before, creating blank spaces, modifying shapes etc. and the domain-selection itself can all be used to add basically infinite possibilities to the system. And the results of these uses will provide plenty of surprises that can get the creative juices flowing in ways I have not seen in a long time.

Even better: Guess what? Even while this has been written for PFRPG, actually, it can be used for pretty much any system you'd want to use. Replace domains with abstract concepts, virtues, sins...and you can conceivably generate your own system of morality, deific interactions and the like, regardless of system employed.

Which brings me to the statement above, when I mentioned an intrinsic value: This humble pdf, to me, is an eye-opener, a glorious tool and a great way to jumpstart one's imagination. The main draw here does not lie within flowery prose or tight math - this, in short, has value because of its IDEA. Because, like the best of ideas, it generates a cascade, an infinite oscillation of inspiration.

I could ramble on for days about how this pdf changed how I think about the pantheon aspect of world and culture-building, but then again, you probably already have realized it: If you want a ready to go pantheon, this delivers, yes - but you're missing out on the best this has to offer if that's all you want. This is a tool for creators, for designers, for the inspired, for those that want their horizons expanded.

This is an absolutely glorious, amazing tool. I adore it. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and this gets my EZG Essentials tag as a must-own GM-design-tool. It also, unsurprisingly, qualifies for my Top Ten of 2017. Seriously. Get this. Think about it...and then realize that you'll never design pantheons the same way.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Explorations: Polyhedral Pantheons
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Everyman Minis: The Skinsuit Ritual
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:33:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Everyman Gaming's minis-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, so first things first: This is an occult ritual. I assume that you have Occult Adventures on hand (If not...why?? It's literally one of the best books Paizo has ever made!) and thus know how occult rituals work.

All righty, so, the ritual herein would be a level 8 and represents an evil polymorph effect. As befitting of a proper ritual, the materials required are delightfully exotic: Living steel buttons? hag's hair twine and boiled calamus root, licorice and lilacs? A sewing needle made from keketar bones? HECK YES, this breathes flavor in the components/focus line - big time. So, backlash is deadly - the ritual causes the hapless caster's skin to slough off...oh, and if you botch it, you may well be transformed by the 4d6 Cha drain into a doppelgänger. The primary caster also develops a delusion, fugue and mania pertaining the ritual's target...so risky, yes.

The main draw here and what makes this AMAZING, though, would be the in-depth description of the ritual itself - basically, you sew the buttons on the target...and then things get icky...you see, you transform the target, LITERALLY into a skinsuit you can wear. Yes, dear readers - that actually means that we get a potentially more concise version of the ritual employed in Second Darkness back in the day...and we actually get a polymorph effect that lasts longer than a combat...oh, but one word of warning for the potential evil-doers out there - one button amiss...and your disguise falls.

Still, seriously, if you're a GM and can't weave a glorious plot from this, then I don't know how to help you. This is seriously amazing and inspiring.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming's two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice piece of art by maestro Blackmon. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas delivers big time here: This ritual is amazing, flavorful and inspiring - even if you do not play PFRPG and e.g. prefer OSR or DCC, the pdf provides some seriously delightfully twisted inspiration. I love this. It's a perfect example of how amazing a ritual can be - 5 stars + seal of approval. Get this asap!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: The Skinsuit Ritual
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The Ytroth Larvae of the Scarsea Cliffs
Publisher: Ideagonk
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/29/2017 04:31:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module is system-neutral and clocks in at 2 pages - all content. Structure-wise, we have a basic 3 locations - each of which sports a brief read-aloud text, a more detailed elaboration of the respective area and then a couple of different dangers that the GM can use. Creatures are explained, with notes like "medium damage, high health", notes on "moves" and "impulses." Additionally, each of the 3 sections sports sample treasures (using gold standard, just fyi).

All right, and this would be as far as I can go sans going into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! Let me paraphrase a part of the setting the scene section:

"To the South there are twisting, jagged ravines covering the barren earth like lashes on the back of a whipped prisoner. The lands provide no crops or lumber...[...]...Crawling up from the bowels of the earth are the chitinous and undulating Ytroth Larvae, devouring and churning up the ancient stone below. They rest like colossal cicadas against the cliffs. Within their stomachs and hearts have accumulated the riches and artifacts of civilizations long dead."

Stoked yet? Yeah, guess where the PCs are going? The first location would be the maw, where parasitic scrapworms, corpses of failed Ytroth miners and sudden convulsions and flexing jaws may spell doom for those brave or foolhardy enough to dive into the larvae's titanic jaws. Within the stomach, beyond the esophagus, there are guthawks circling the insides and bug-like tinsniffers are dangerous as well...oh, and have I mentioned the acid lake undercurrents constantly changing the topography? Via a rend in the stomach, the PCs can make their way through a coagulated tunnel to the heart, where molefolk bloodcultists roam and heart valves or spasms may prove fatal for those tiny fools crawling through the place...a fact well known to the degenerate molefolk...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups beyond minor punctuation hiccups. Layout adheres to a 3-column horizontal landscape format and the pdf sports 3 nice, thematically-fitting pieces of stock-art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. It also has no cartography, but once again, doesn't need it courtesy of the amazing prose.

Karl Scheer's humble pdf shows that you do not need rules, nor room or word-count to deliver something truly amazing. Heck, it doesn't even have branching paths and still is amazing! The environment is awesome, the complications cool and the prose is absolutely inspiring. The pdf is inspiring and costs a lousy single buck - and there are very few such small dungeons/adventures that come close to this in quality. Need one gaming day worth of an amazing environment, glorious prose and fun? Look no further. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Ytroth Larvae of the Scarsea Cliffs
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Bad Myrmidon
Publisher: Neoplastic Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:10:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page encouragement, leaving us with 48 pages of content. These have been formatted for booklet-size (A5 or, approximately 6'' by 9''), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper. I tried it and the text remained legible. The PoD-version sports the hex-map, which in the pdf is inside, on the back, in color.

Why encouragement? Well, yes, this module was originally penned for the benefit of Mandy Morbid, with artwork by Gennifer Bone and Wayne Snyder, cartography by Dyson Logos and content mainly by Rafael Chandler, though James Edward Raggi IV did write one of the hexes.

It should be noted that this module is intended for adults and sports some non-graphic, but pretty explicit descriptions. Easily offended folks should probably not play this.

All right, that out of the way, this module takes place in a weird and fantastic Greece, setting-wise, to be more specific, the island of Leuke. Fans of NGR should have a relatively easy time adapting this. Rules-wise, we have descending AC, HD notes instead of THACOs or the like and saves orienting on classes - "saves as fighter" - you know the drill. Whatever OSR-system you're using, you should have a pretty easy time using this booklet.

Now, this is, to an extent, the story of Achilles and Penthesilea...or rather, it's aftermath. In order to explain more, though, I'll have to go deep into SPOILER territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only referees around? Great! Achilles fell in love during the Trojan war, but Agamemnon took his "maid" and he subsequently decided to ditch the war - Patroclus disguised as Achilles fought the war...and Achilles was pretty happy: All the glory, none of the risk - what's not to like? Patroclus, however, died and Achilles, not the bravest and a pragmatic, took a gazillion of magic items and defeated Penthesilea. After the war, he spread his artifacts in certain safe-houses, temples if you will - guarded by his faithful disciples...who are every bit as cowardly and pragmatic as Achilles himself. Leuke is the place of such a temple.

The first part of this module would be a hexcrawl and it serves to introduce the messed up power-struggle the PCs find themselves in: You see, the myrmidons of Achilles are under attack - the amazons have come to wreak bloody vengeance upon them. Worse, Penthesilea and her sisters all have returned as undead and have no compunctions slaughtering anyone in their way. Exploring the hexes of this island, the PCs can find a colony that practice a combination of polyamory, ritual mutilation and rhaphanidosis. If you don't know what the latter is...I did. It's...unpleasant and a picture that's hard to exorcise from one's head. Quasi-mythological creatures like hawk-boars that well could have existed, animal/human hybrids, strange totems and more can be found: A maddened settler leader responsible for a massacre, GIs that fell through time and space, blood-vines and a murderous sword containing the soul of Polyxena are just some of the things PCs can encounter - have I mentioned the demon lord in love with a furrier? The hex that is the disorienting playing ground of a trickster god? The ancient sorceress awaiting reincarnation into one of her daughters...and torture. Demons, myrmidons, amazons - if it moves, it may well deserve being run through...this is a hell-hole of an island.

The most gleefully disgusting bastard would be a greasy, fat old man, ostensibly a priest, who prides himself in having broken his "brides for sale" - even if the PCs agree to pay his price, he wants to watch the consummation of the marriage...and if the PCs go through with it, they'll get massive bonuses...but either way, if the PCs are halfway decent beings, they'll run the sod through and nurse the brides back to health...and guess what? That's a really, really smart move: These characters are actually damn strong assets! (as in: the lowest level is 9th...) Speaking of not all being as it looks: There actually is a lich-demon, who f not slighted, is really helpful and benevolent! Have I mentioned the hag that slaughtered a village and is now selling bread made from the ground bones? Told you: Hell hole.

And no, I have not even begun listing every hex's unpleasant surprises! The second part of the module would be the exploration of the temple of Achilles, a 26-room-dungeon, where the behavior of myrmidons and the truth of Achilles' behavior can be unearthed by the PC. If they are not killed by Talos...and if they can get past the deadly traps. Heck, they may even be warned if they can decipher an anagram that may provide the clue to defeat Penthesilea...if they do not run afoul of her sisters. Oh, and tinkering with magic can be...unpleasant. Reversed gravity and collecting floating platinum pieces may have dire results. Have I mentioned the gravity/time-distortion. The leader of the myrmidons is avoiding death at all costs, like his idol...ostensibly until the PCs find his craven behind...for, ultimately, all of these guys and gals probably make even hardened murder-hobos look like shining paladins...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read one-column b/w-standard with over-the-top b/w-drawings - and yep, the amazons often are scantily clad or nude, but depicted in a very cartoony manner. The pdf per se has no bookmarks, which would constitute a comfort-detriment...however, Dak Ultimak contributed actually a version with full and excruciatingly-detailed bookmarks. The cover and hexcrawl map in color are included as high-res jpgs. We don't get a player-friendly, key-less version of the dungeon-map, which is a comfort-detriment.

So, Rafael Chandler has written a nightmarish vista of a truly vile place in a mythological Greece...that is pretty much all killer, no filler. This is really dark, but it is dark in a winking, gleeful manner. The oddball and weird components serve as nice counterpoints and there is another thing: It has seldom felt so good to murderhobo. I'm big into roleplaying solutions, investigations, the like. Here, saying "Fuck it!" at one point and just killing off everyone felt actually rather justified. There is no gray area here, no doubts - just vile bastards that need a good whacking with the pointy end of the muderhobo stick.

If you're looking for family-friendly fun, look elsewhere.

If you're looking for a really dark and messed up, but also really fun old-school module, however, then this delivers in spades.

Oh, and it's FREE. Not even PWYW, but FREE. It's really, really hard to argue with that price, particularly considering the quality of the module: In sheer content, creativity and professional depiction, this blows a lot commercial modules completely out of the water. So get it NOW! Better yet, there is a PoD-version for at-cost printing. I kid you not. I actually got it. Because I enjoy this blend of the messed up and creative and because I had a glorious time running this. It's not for everyone, sure, but if you like LotFP, DCC, etc., then this is definitely worth checking out.

Again, it's FREE. And better than many, many commercial modules. Even just for hacking hexes or scavenging dungeon-rooms/traps, this is well worth taking a look at. This would, even if it wasn't free, probably rank at 4.5 or 5 stars on my scale - as a FREE offering, it represents one of the best free books I have ever had the pleasure to review. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Bad Myrmidon
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Monster Menagerie: Troops
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:07:21

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rogue Genius Games' Monster Menagerie-series clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, let me state something from the get-go: I LOVE the troop subtype. I always hated that mobs of low-level commoners and soldiers sucked so much and the troop subtype keeps these low-level threats viable and simulates the "advantage in numbers"-aspect. As you may have noticed, I tend to enjoy a somewhat gritty and high-challenge playstyle and troops help immensely in that regard - hence, I'd be lying if I said I didn't look forward to this pdf. But what exactly do we get?

Well, we start with a full recap of the troop subtype, which is really appreciated and from there, move on to the CR 9 centaur warband...and here, you'll notice that, yes, these troops have a plethora of signature abilities: The centaurs, for example, can deafen foes with their thundering approach, rain AoE arrows on squares at range and even heal on the fly - amazing and adds some serious depth to the troop!

Eternal misfits and mascots of PFRPG, the gleefully inept goblin raiding party at CR 5 is fearsome to behold: They can fire the looted belongings of homes as ranged, fiery bombardments and their goblin war chants (see Pathfinder #1 for a sample...) bolster morale. Of course, they're goblins and thus, much like Warhammer's morale checks, they have a chance of...not behaving exactly as planned, with the chances of gobbos wandering away...and yes, that is a level 1 boos fight I'd love to run: PCs using their guerilla tactics to draw gobbos out of formation? HECK YEAH!!

Perhaps you've been playing Way of the Wicked and arrived at book #6. If you're like me and have serious doubts that the PCs will encounter an appropriate challenge (GMs of book #6 know what I'm talking about...) - then may I introduce the heavenly host? At CR 18, the armies of Mount Celestia can unleash channel energy...and with Alignment Channel and Channel Smite as well as their protective capabilities, they are one incredibly tough nut to crack and showcase well why the heavens haven't fallen to the demonic or infernal hordes.

We're not even close to done. CR 17, all amazing: May I introduce the legion of the damned? Oh boy, if you thought undead lost their scariness at high levels, think again: These fellows can beckon black tentacles-like corpse hands from the ground to ensnare foes; their very TOUCH causes the loss of Con and, sadistically, the save to end it is Fort. Worse: Their miasma hampers healing and they LITERALLY can't be stopped by anything in their inexorable march. Imagine me grinning my most sardonic, sadistic GM-smile right now...

At CR 6, a mite rumpus is driven by hatred for gnomes and dwarves and may fire volleys of darts (with a nice cooldown mechanic)...oh, and their SPs...are really hard to break and they actually doom those nearby!

At CR 7, the classic peasant mob is not missing from the file either...and they gain strength/heal when reducing foes to less than half HP, hurl torches and may swiftly demoralize and ever scare away foes...oh, and their defense is better than you'd expect. Love them! The same CR, just fyi, would be the secret police squad that it perfect for a crackdown on low-level PC's illegal operations - with improved chances to resist being lied to and the ability to take foes alive and secure targets, they make for an amazing storytelling tool. Huge kudos!

The CR 11 sahuagin frenzy inherits blood frenzy and adds steal to those damaged, pillaging the unfortunates that stand against them. With ranged volleys and the ability to speak with sharks, we have a nice, concise troop here as well.

Wanna go full-on Isengard? Cr 15 Treant Grove. 'Nuff said. Oh, okay, just because I love you folks: These guys can hammer down with crippling blows (Str and Dex damage on failed saves) and their entangle actually damages those caught in it. And oh boy, don't you want to be in an edifice that has offended the radical trees...and no, you also don't want to find yourself in a position where you run from them in a forest. PAIN, I tell you!

For fans of the creepy or the playful at the same time, the CR 1 toy soldier brigade plays well with the classic Ravenloft-modules. These guys can duplicate a variant of entangle that may knock you prone, are experts at disguising themselves...and, being (toy) soldiers, they are disciplined: Huge plus: Construction notes included!

At CR 15, the warparty of the Fell hunt would be a take on the classic wild hunt trope, but with an emphasis on the cold - -with icewalking, weapons of ice and phantom steeds, they make for a deadly foe...and they have a nice weakness savvy players can exploit.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games' two-column full-color standard with multiple original Jacob Blackmon artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My heartfelt congratulations to Jacob W. Michaels! At this point, I have seen a metric TON of critters and, in spite of my admittedly pronounced soft spot for troops, I am also an incredibly spoiled bastard: LG's Mythic Monsters-series, for example, has set the level of what I expect originality-wise from monsters very, very high. This delivers. BIG TIME. I am not kidding when I'm saying that this is, hands down, my favorite book in the whole series AND my favorite book from Jacob's pen. This is one amazing, no filler, all killer monster book - even old concepts like the hunt get their unique twists. The builds are challenging and cool and inspire by their very rules. This is, in short, excellence. The only reason this is not a Top Ten candidate is that it's too short - I want MOARRR!!! Feed the greedy reviewer-prick! Kidding aside, this is a must-own book. Get it. 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation or complaints!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monster Menagerie: Troops
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5E Mini-Dungeon #010: Candelabra Towers
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:05:45

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

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

...wait...there's...I haven't...Yep! My memory is not betraying me: I have never seen this module before! #10 of PFRPG's mini-dungeons was called "Ghastardly Deeds"! This is a completely new module, designed for 5E!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

Rising 85 feet from the ground, the mists brought the mysterious towers to the city...but when the watch tried to enter the complex, they were faced with lightning bolts...and soon tehreafter, the area surrounding the city started turning into lava-like pits of boiling mud!! Action must be taken...enter the PCs! But guess what? Even getting near the towers is a harrowing proposal and once the PCs get close, 1d4 hazards to randomly determine defenses/hazards add a nice dynamic to the approach!

Within the place, the PCs will have to scale several shafts and open latches into the top of the towers - and each of them contains a powerful elemental...while one of the towers contains a control device that may unleash those creatures...and, as mysteriously as it appeared, as mysteriously will it fade away once again...but who sent the tower? Where did it come from, where did it go? Well, looks like you have your sequel adventure cut out for you, right? ;)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

Woa. I...am pretty blown away. This module is so simple in its premise, but it plays very, very well. The defenses and hustle to the adventure-location is deadly and rewarding, the dungeon leitmotif pronounced and the sense of the fantastic and weird, the mysterious, actually shines through here. I really like this mini-dungeon! And, to be honest, the set-up of this dungeon is so simple, it can be played in mind's eye-mode sans issues, so, for once, I am not going to penalize Rory Toma's offering here. I really liked this and consider it perhaps one of the best modules he made - well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #010: Candelabra Towers
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5E Mini-Dungeon #008: Carrionholme
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:04:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

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

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

Jonathan Ely's Carrionholme has an evocative title, cool adversaries and a premise I enjoy. At the same time, it does something the format, alas, has no room for - waste words. The reference to other swamp-dwellers unrelated to the complex is pretty long and eats the words that could have been used to provide the unique terrain-features this dungeon practically demands. So, dungeon in the middle of the swamp...why is there no water? No mud? Quicksand? A component of decrepitude, of decay? This mini-dungeon could be so much more unique. As written, it could be literally anywhere and lacks the component that anchors it as a complex as a unique dungeon. While not bad in any way per se, the overall experience of running this one proved my points valid - without modification, it is generic; add some terrain and you get awesomeness. The conversion by Kyle Crider is solid, but unfortunately didn't add much regarding the passive Perception mechanics herein, which, considering the power of the foes and traps, could have made this work better in 5e than in PFRPG.

Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #008: Carrionholme
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5E Mini-Dungeon #009: Tiikeri's Revenge
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/26/2017 06:02:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

The PCs have been contracted by a sect of local fanatics on the verge of eradicating weretigers, dangerous lycanthropes (coincidentally, those guys are mostly neutral, but never mind...) - arriving at the locale, the folk tell the PCs that the shrine's been closed for some time...which does not bode well. Exploring the complex, the PCs not only will have to find the various, hidden keys (which a handy table tracks, including Str and Dex DCs to deal with the individual doors!!!), they'll also quickly realize that NOT all is well here - information on the fanatics can be unearthed and what they find shows clearly that some kind of doom has befallen this place. Deadly traps and creatures room the halls and bespeak the revenge wrecked upon the incompetent clergy, visited upon them by Tiikeri, the rakshasa they brought into their midst, who, unsurprisingly, withstood the cleansing rituals and doubles as the big bad boss. It should be noted that the treasure, here mostly in the shape of a sun blade and a horn of blasting, can be considered to be appropriate for the challenge posed by the module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Stephen Yeardley does it again - this mini-dungeon is awesome and every DM worth his salt can expand this even further. It breathes the flair of the exotic, of pulp, offers even a tinge of moral conflict - this is awesome. Even better yet, hyperlinking is concise and Kyle Crider has done a great job translating this to 5E, losing nothing of its original appeal. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #009: Tiikeri's Revenge
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5E Mini-Dungeon #006: Abandoned Shrine
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2017 10:09:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map doesn't sport any deceptive trap icons or traps - kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity...but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can't draw maps.

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

What formerly was a shrine devoted to a cult of assassins and their foul deity, now hosts an array of nasty gang members and their ogre boss. The complex itself is pretty straightforward and would be rather conservative in its own place. However, blending skeletal minotaurs and remnants of the cult with the new gang-inhabitants makes the dungeon feel interesting and less predictable. A modified gang member on the basis of ogre stats is nice and hyperlinking is generally consistent, though a decanter of endless water, for example, hasn't been hyperlinked.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Brian Wiborg Mønster delivers an interesting little mini-dungeon, which, on paper, may look none too impressive. In play, the small dungeon felt more dynamic than I would have expected and the brief statblock modification shorthands render this one pretty much plug-and-play-ish, beyond even the other mini-dungeons. It is also a mini-dungeon that was converted well by Kyle Crider and one that, theme-wise, feels more fitting in 5e than in PFRPG - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #006: Abandoned Shrine
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The Rune of Hope
Publisher: Storm Bunny Studios
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2017 04:41:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module for Rhûne clocks in at 87 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 3 pages short story/advertisement (actually worth reading!), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 80 pages of content - a massive amount!

All right, first things first: The mythic sidebar/support from "Into the Pale Tower" is maintained herein; if you've been playing the anti-tech side of the Rhûne factions (via The Ælven Agenda), then...you'll actually have a different intro, gaining specialized Aodain Shrouds. While transition from this angle takes a bit more finesse for the GM, it is very much feasible - though perhaps the coolest way to play this would be to play BOTH previous modules with different characters...that way, if one group gets wiped/defeated, the second can pick up the pieces...and if all fails, you can use the PCs from one of the modules as NPCs...Just my 2 cents, of course! If you've been using the factions from "Into the Pale Tower", they won't play a big role here, though that is bound to change in the third module.

All righty, that out of the way, let's dive into the module - and that means that, from here on out, there are a lot of SPOILERS: Those of you who want to play this should jump to the conclusion!

...

..

.

Only GMs around? Great! So, while the PCs were trying to stop the plot in the Pale Tower, Northgard has been besieged by the barbarian hordes at the service of the eternal winter - the Thrall Lords are making a big move it seems - and Northgard has been in better shape, with commander Dorthgar and key officers having been afflicted by the dread rage fever...which renders open warfare a problematic idea. In his incapacitation, the commander's daughter tries her best to hold the ford together.

So, no matter which prequel is used, we can begin- the Pcs are greeted by refugees...and warlike barbarians won't wait to make their introductions either -sending their famished thralls at the PCs, which should make abundantly clear that these folks and the servants of the Thrall lords in general, should not be trifled with. Finally arriving at the pier where the White Jarl awaits, the PCs will have to contend with the damaged pier and the deadly frigus zombie, who is about to make short notice of the vessel unless the PCs intervene - it is also here that the racial tensions and alien mindset of the automata are showcased, but ultimately, the PCs need to make their way to Northdown on board of the ship - past the plague blockade...and they better survive the thugs sent by Grey Navash...

Knight-Commander Ullsteinnr is not particularly pleased and a combination of Black Hand agent-provocateurs, the nearby hordes and the zeitgeist make Union City not the nicest place to be - the trail that may provide salvation, though, leads to Mikill Bókasafnið (Literally "The Great Library" -love the linguistic consistence the setting often manages to employ!!) - where the PCs will have to explore the complex, searching for a means to deal with the plague...and the magical defenses of parts of the library, so here's to hoping they don't torch the place...and the trail leads to speaking with a glitterfane. If the PCs play their cards right, the missionary may yield the correct information - but the trail leads to Caol, several days away...and with time being of the essence, THE airship (remember the lore of The Sun's Gem from the CS - that's a HUGE honor!) is the only way...but even en route there, the PCs will have to withstand yet another agent of their foes. The crew down to half strength, the journey on board of the legendary vessel (fully statted!) is not under the best of signs...

...and indeed, if the PCs failed to do their homework, they'll be up for a rude awakening when clockwork swarms activate on board...and a mutated, ghastly, huge undead swan gorged on necromantic energies also seeks to take down the ship. If the PCs are grounded due to damage at one point, they may run afoul of ælven patrols and indeed, the pdf concisely covers the option for ælves to resolve this before the attack escalates.

The PCs now finally arrive at Caol - and the full-color maps are ridiculously glorious, gorgeous, amazing. Drool-worthy. The alien glitterfane and their glitterswarms make for an...interesting experience...but ultimately, the PCs will have to convince Vella Lightwing, cleric of Alnara, to grant them access to the chalice: PCs should be up to their best behavior, for not only the formal trials posed by the glitterfane must be mastered: The PC's conduct impacts seriously the support they receive: Favor points are tracked. And yes, there are tricks to the trials of harmony, compassion...and finally, they will encounter glitterfane who are less nice, including a radical renegade oracle...and how the PCs deal with them will make a major impact...and yes, roleplaying is rewarded over just bashing brains in.

Once again, though, the PCs are not at the end of their journey - they will have to brave the wilderness trail (and the lavishly-depicted en-route encounters, complete with glorious full-color maps) to approach Drowned Karthæn, desolate ruins where mutated leshy, decaying tentacles and worse roam the streets of this nightmarish locale -and the PCs have to make their way down below into the royal quarter, which doubles as a creepy, ghostly dungeon, where creature-placement, details, haunts and the like conspire as a great example of indirect storytelling...and have I mentioned the savage ghast raging cannibal? or the mighty skergrafa construct? This section could come straight out of a Dark Souls/Bloodborne-game and that is meant as a true compliment: Have I mentioned the rune-cursed coral colony? In a lesser adventure-series, this act would be a stand-alone module! And the final boss-fight is EPIC. Thus, with the rune Laguz secured, the Pcs will probably want to return post-haste from these darkened halls.

The chalice's power sends the PCs straight through Nachtland (German for Nightland, just fyi), a shadow-plane like double where the PCs can metaphysically combat the rage fever in a more direct manner...however, the shadowy version of Northgard is inhabited by dread elementals of void and fire...and worse...and yes, we once again get an absolutely phenomenal map - in a version for Nachtland and a regular one - double-kudos. In order to save Northgard, the PCs will have to defeat a horrid giant, who is primed to actually enter Midgard...and tear Northgard asunder with his mythic power.

Still, the aftermath is grim and it seems like Northgard is bound to fall....but how this saga plays out, well, we'll have to wait for module #3 to determine that!

The pdf also provides stats for the magic items and monsters introduced herein.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting...are actually really good this time around! I noticed no "see page x"-remnants, no hiccups in that way - big plus and kudos for improving that aspect. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with a white background, somewhat akin to the one employed in Ælven Agenda, but more refined. So yeah, we're back to a more printer-friendly look than "Into the Pale Tower"'s sepia-tinted standard. The full-color artworks are GLORIOUS. The same holds true for the copious, lavish cartography. Now, unfortunately, we don't get player-friendly versions of the maps, but unlike in the previous module, by the structure etc. of this one, that aspect is a bit less jarring - for the most part, you can use the maps presented, go mind's eye or duplicate them quicker - the absence hurts, yes, but hurts a bit less. Another big downside is something you probably expected: Once again, alas, we get NO BOOKMARKS. This constitutes a serious comfort detriment. We also don't have a print-option, so yeah, alas, there is no alternative: The best way, at this point, to run this, is printing it out. Here's to hoping the whole series gets PoD soon! The pdf comes with a smaller lite-version for electronic devices.

Will Cooper, Joshua Kitchens & Jaye Sonia are obviously a winning team. Ben McFarland and Mike Myler provided additional design...and the result is a GLORIOUS module. I mean it. Bringing the two wildly different storylines of the previous modules together is damn cool. The module has a sense of urgency, excellent production values and a lot of different challenges to overcome: Different themes are concisely linked, there is something to be done for every type of character and the atmosphere is generally amazing. This is, in short, a fantastic module.

That being said, the lack of bookmarks and player maps does hurt this a bit...if the module existed in a print version, I'd point to it as the way to go, but yeah - as a reviewer, I have to penalize this for their lack, in spite of adoring the module. Still, considering all, I do still feel like I have to wholeheartedly recommend this - which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down...but I'll still add my seal of approval to it. I wholeheartedly hope that the Storm Bunnies add the player maps and bookmarks and/or print options, though - I want this whole series of adventures in print!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Rune of Hope
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Guarding Galaxy XXX
Publisher: Kort'thalis Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2017 04:40:14

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This modules, formerly known as Guardians of Galaxy XXX, clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page full-color artwork doubling as back cover, 1/2 page editorial, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This module is intended for use with Kort'thalis Publishing's Alpha Blue RPG, which centers on capturing the aesthetics of 70s and 80s scifi-porn-parodies. As such, the usual disclaimer regarding adult topics applies. If you're not familiar with the system and its tropes and themes, I have reviewed the 3 core supplements for it and assume familiarity with the respective rules in this review. These reviews would also be a nice place to ascertain whether or not you'll be comfortable with the explicit content.

All right, that disclaimer out of the way, let's dive right in - this means that, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, still around? Only SDMs here? Great! So, the players are accidentally awakened from cryosleep, due to a malfunction of their pod-series. You see, a man named Kaufman wanted to awaken a soldier called Rory - who listens, as do the PCs, to the briefing...only to nonchalantly go back to sleep...so it'll be up to the ragtag band of spacers to save Galaxy XXX from certain doom...that is, after one of them got a call via the conveniently retro cellphone attached to the cryopod, promising phone-sex. This is Alpha Blue, after all.

After that, the PCs go into decontamination. Which sports a 1 in 6 chance to die due to a fleshmelting allergic reaction. No save. Yeah, that's just frustrating and needlessly dickish. It's not even funny. In the locker room after decontamination, the PCs, if they're crafty, can witness peep-hole style voyeurism and then, it's time to suit up. Just as the PCs are being briefed, they witness a man succumbing to a grape soda, which turns him into a tentacle monster, the first combat here.

After this encounter, the PCs meet three hipster space wizards who propose a slave-trade and try to recruit the PCs to deliver the doomsday device for them instead. Then, it's time to man a space craft - and suddenly, the PCs get a communiqué from the Targons. After that, we'll have ship-to-ship combat (not the strongest suite of Alpha Blue) and, no matter how it goes, the PCs will end up on P'oon's orbit. On the planet, the PCs will meet the gangster J'aemz Khaan, who take the PCs to his bunker - turns out, there are gigantic desert worms attracted by rhythmic beats. The man is also allied with a nasty dark zedi named Obsidian Shadow. The doomsday device is close and if the PCs don't interfere, the villains will get it - once they're both dead, it'll be up to the PCs to figure out what to do next. Much like Slippery When Wet, the module ends rather abruptly.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no severe issues. Layout adheres to a nice two-column standard with colored veins in the background. The pdf sports nice b/w-artworks - nothing to complain in the aesthetics department. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience - kudos for going the extra mile there!

Venger As'Nas Satanis delivers a fun little module - sure, it has nothing to do with "Guardians of the Galaxy", but that holds true for more than one scifi-porn-parody, so no complaints in that regard. Now, I totally understand that I am, ultimately, a huge ass here - this is a FREE module, so what are you waiting for? If you like Alpha Blue, you can certainly use this pdf! On a neutral, structural analysis side, I think that the end of the module is rather sudden. The middle finger that is the decontamination also isn't exactly my idea of fun, but yeah. Structurally, this isn't the best module - it is, however, a proper and fully-detailed, short module, which makes it superior to all the adventure-sketches usually found in the Alpha Blue supplements - you can just open this pdf and play, which makes it great for convention-style gaming. It's not perfect, but it's hard to argue with FREE. Considering that, I arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars - a good offering for fans of Alpha Blue.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Guarding Galaxy XXX
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Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2017 04:36:07

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground - this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs...but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers...and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired...and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature - but this time around, we also get a marketplace (with custom-priced, lesser magic items for sale - these should not break anyone's sense of immersion, considering how this is basically an adventurer's homebase...), ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive. The noted class-lines for the respective NPCs make use of the proper terms like magic-user and thief, so no complaints there.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he's this highly regarded - the man KNOWS what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it's concept is so old and done, it doesn't have this novelty I tend to crave...which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme.

In fact, Tumbledown Inn may actually work best in this iteration - it resonates with the old Greyhawk and Judge's Guild flavor and feels like a perfect drop-in for old-school campaigns. It is unpretentious, yes, but it perfectly captures the feeling and flavor of these regions...and OSR-fans will most certainly experience this warm smile slowly manifesting on their faces. In short: Unlike in PFRPG or 5E, I am not missing the extra crunchy bits here and thus, my verdict for this version, will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn (SNE)
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Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2017 04:34:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground - this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs...but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers...and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired...and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature - but this time around, we also get a marketplace (yes, dear 5E fans - you don't miss out this time around - there actually are a few lesser magic items for sale!), ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive. That being said, here in this section, the 5E-version partially uses generic NPC stats (guards, knights, etc. - you know the drill) and partially notes character classes with levels - I don't object to that, but it's something to bear in mind. There is one hiccup here, with what should be a "rogue 6" referred to as a "thief 6", though

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer - kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press' patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he's this highly regarded - the man KNOWS what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it's concept is so old and done, it doesn't have this novelty I tend to crave...which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme. While not 100% perfect, this conversion makes for an interesting and well-wrought supplement for a more than fair price-point. Hence, this very much deserves the full 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn (5e)
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5E Mini-Dungeon #007: The Pententieyrie
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/25/2017 04:32:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! Something went wrong with the jpg and tif-maps, though: One sports the trap icons, but not the secret doors...and the other sports secret doors noted by the deceptive "S"...but not the trap icons. This makes neither the GM, nor the player maps work ideally.

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

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

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

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

At the same time, this mini-dungeon does lose a bit of its charm in Kyle Crider's translation: It references subdual damage, which does not exist in 5e, and while the hyperlinks are well-made this time around, the lack of a direct flight-based skill in 5e takes a bit away from the complex's unique original property. Add to that the hiccup in the VTTs and we have a conceptually strong pdf hampered by a couple of minor factors - still a good offering, though. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #007: The Pententieyrie
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5E Mini-Dungeon #001: Buried Council Chambers
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 05/24/2017 09:22:22

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains...drumroll a .jpg-version and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that's pretty amazing! The dungeon's number-less version of the map does come with iterations sans the deceptive "S" denoting secret doors, but the secret rooms have not been retouched/covered, so players will still know where to look...but then again, 2 bucks for print, 1 buck for pdf.

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

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

This mini-dungeon depicts, surprise, the ruined council chambers, sunk by an odd cataclysm, and as such, does sport a massive dome, wherein magical riddles can be found (quite a few, actually!) as well as the suffocated, now undead remains of the tragedy. Rooms that provided for the heating and cooling add a nice sense of the magical society that inhabited these halls, while surprisingly interesting items (a ring that melts in warm climates, for example and duplicates boots of the winterlands!) complement a nice mini-crawl. That being said, the 5e-iteration does sport one aspect I am not that happy with - the pdf's hyperlinks are not always that consistent and e.g. the pink rhomboid ioun stone found, would probably be better off called Fortitude ioun stone - having to read the entry for the item-class is a bit tedious. Not a big complaint, mind you, just something I noticed. Also, as a very rare magic item, it may be a bit soon to dump such a potent treasure in the PC's lap.

The one structural downside of this module would be the lack of an explanation for ingress beyond finding the opening in the dome's ceiling - while it makes sense, the people herein died from lack of oxygen. Breaking through would have been the icing on the cake - and making the long isolation and thus gathered gasses additional hazards that could have further improved a pretty impressive mini-module.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is nice to have, but I wished it came with covered up secret rooms. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

Jonathan G. Nelson knows how to craft truly unique, alive cultures and this knack for indirect storytelling even translates to this exceedingly limited format - pretty impressive! With the exception of the nitpicks mentioned above, this module should be considered a great example for a short, sweet sidetrek. Kyle Crider did a nice job translating the dungeon and while this may not be perfect, it is a worthwhile file. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #001: Buried Council Chambers
Click to show product description

Add to Flames Rising PDF Store Order

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