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Psionics Augmented: Occultists
Publisher: Dreamscarred Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2017 04:15:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the occult branch of Psionics Augmented clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always, we begin with a brief introduction to the matter at hand, including how to handle campaigns that feature both psionics and psychic magic – and, as a personal aside, designer Forrest heck’s observations regarding the occultist range true with me as well. When I read Occult Adventures back in the day for the first time, I wasn’t immediately smitten by the class – it took a more careful analysis to really appreciate it and by now, I am very fond of it. But I digress.

We begin this pdf with two different archetypes for the occultist class, the first of which would be the govi. Instead of aura sight, these fellows gain a bonus on skill-checks to see through disguises and detect mental control effects equal to ½ their class level. Additionally, possessed and shapeshifted targets within sight of the Govi must succeed a Will-save to prevent the govi from realizing that they are shapeshifters/possessed, respectively. And yes, once successful, the creature is safe for 24 hours – and they’d better be, considering that, thankfully, the DC scales with class levels. Starting at 8th level, the govi gains the signature ability that replaces magic circles, namely sealing techniques. As a full-round action that costs 3 points of mental focus, the govi can exorcise incorporeal undead, possessing creatures, those made by metacreativity, etc. within 30 ft. The target must succeed a Will-save. Cool: Creatures that have not been softened up by damage gain a bonus to the save against this form of being whisked away…into the implement! You see, the govi catches these critters in an implement (an implement can only hold one entity) and they may then proceed to expend mental focus 1/day to force a creature thus caught to reply truthfully. The trap is not perfect, though: The creature retains concisely codified, very limited awareness and keeps healing – upon reaching maximum hit points, it can attempt to break free once every day. Absolutely amazing, cool idea and execution here! At 12th level, the govi gains true seeing (not properly italicized) when carrying an implement with a caught creature inside, replacing binding circles. 16th level allows the govi to spend an additional point of mental focus to attempt a sealing technique as an immediate action instead. Before you’re asking: The govi retains outside contact, but must cast magic circle to use it – good catch!

The second archetype herein would be the shattered mind, who replaces Knowledge (planes) with Knowledge (psionics). The archetype gains access to psionic powers and power points, beginning with a base of 1, upgrading that to up to 128 power points at 20th level. The maximum power level known increases up to 6th level. The governing attribute would be Intelligence and the power list employed would be that of the psion/wilder. Instead of knacks, these fellows get talents and as they employ psionic powers instead of spells, they get access to some alternate focus powers: The Conjure implement is replaced with Create False Implement, which lets you expend 1 point of mental focus to generate a duplicate of a psicrystal implement, which may diverge from the original, but allows you to use the powers stored in that implement; it may, however, not be used to store mental focus or use effects that require it. Secondly, psychic fog is replaced with psionic fog as an alternative. As a standard action, you may expend 1 point of mental focus to generate a cloud of fog, duplicating fog cloud (not italicized) and may not be blown away. At higher levels, the occultist in question may expend more mental focus, duplicating solid fog (again, not italicized), but at a reduced duration. Sacred implements and the penalties they impose on opposed schools instead apply to the manifester level of powers of that school’s equivalent disciplines. This represents an interesting change, as far as I’m concerned, and a relatively subtle balancing trick. Now, I did mention psicrystal implements in the alternate focus powers – unlike normal occultists, shattered minds infuse their implements with a piece of psionic power and a fragment of their mind, beginning play with Psicrystal Affinity (reproduced for your convenience!) as a bonus feat. 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter provde an additional implement school. The implements then are treated as psicrystals, gaining the personality and abilities as normal, but preventing the acquisition of a regular psicrystal. Improved Psicrystal and other feats that alter psicrystal only apply to one of the implements, but she may take these feats multiple times, each time applying them to a new psicrystal implement. Class features interacting with psicrystals only affect a single psicrystal implement of the character’s choice. Shared and hel powers are only held by a single psicrystal implement and they are not shared among the collective of psicrystal implements. Upon creating a psicrystal implement, the shattered mind learns a single power from that school’s equivalent psionic discipline (see the handy table provided) – big kudos: The rules-language takes powers with different levels into account and gets the complex rules ramifications there right. If a given school has multiple equivalents, the archetype must choose one. Powers manifested with implements are treated as being manifested with their minimum manifester level (great cheese-avoidance there!) The base focus powers are granted, as usual.

Okay, that is a massive codification, and an impressive one. 8th level provides scatterbrained: The fragmentation process takes its toll, imposing a -2 penalty to Diplomacy, Intimidate and Perform checks, but also a +1 bonus to saves against effects that detect surface thoughts. The psicrystal implements can use her Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma scores instead of their own and share bonuses granted to the shattered mind by feats, abilities, etc. Starting at 12th level, the shattered mind can expend her psionic focus as a full-round action to assume control over a target carrying a psicrystal implement. This does not require line of sight, but still has a maximum range, allowing for absolutely amazing set ups, particularly since the effects grow more potent the more psicrystal implements the target wears – 4 steps are provided. Damn cool.

16th level provides channel power, even when not within reach and as a capstone, the shattered mind, if killed, is not truly vanquished unless all implements are destroyed, allowing the shattered mind to potentially destroy the mind of unfortunates that find her implements…pretty amazing. I adore the complexity of this archetype and its amazing theme – but there is one RAW problem that can utterly break the balance of the archetype: Psicrystal Containment, aka having the psicrystal carry a spare psionic focus. Since the psicrystal implements allow the archetype to take this feat multiple times, you can amass more psionic focuses than with any other option…and, as any fan of psionics can attest, the psionic focus remains one of the most potent resources. Even a single additional focus is potent. Multiple ones? OUCH. I strongly, strongly suggest for all groups that have a lower power level to expressively prevent this combination – it is OP for all but the most high-powered games and sports a ridiculous combo potential. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Other than this (which will hopefully be nerfed/remedied), I loved this archetype to bits, though! I also was positively surprised to see some nice roleplaying advice for the psicrystal implements – kudos!

Beyond these, we also are introduced to the cryptographer psion archetype, who, instead of the regular discipline abilities gained, instead receives a single implement school of his choice, treating his psion level as occultist levels, though the implement school must correspond to the associated discipline, as featured in the table mentioned. Additionally, the respective psionic implement schools may be chosen, but more on that later. The cryptographer only gains one implement as well as ½ class level + Intelligence modifier, minimum 1, mental focus for use with the implement. 1st level provides the base focus powers, while 2nd level and every 6 levels thereafter provide a focus power from the chosen implement school, using, unless otherwise noted, Intelligence as the governing attribute. As the shattered mind, the cryptographer receives the modified focus powers covered before, if choosing them.

Now, I already mentioned this, so yes, this pdf contains a total of 7 implement schools, each of which corresponds to a psionic discipline; characters with the psionic subtype qualify for this, but when they cast psychic spells instead of manifesting powers, they learn spells from the associated magic school instead.

The 7th path, athanatism, balance-wise problematic for inflicting positive energy damage versus living targets (who have basically no means to resist it), provides a resonant power that provides negative or positive energy resistance. The basic focus power provides a scaling touch attack that deals 1d8, +1d8 points of damage per 2 class levels while psionically focused. These are the combination of negative and positive energy and can’t be resisted by either. sigh I can literally rattle off limited-use abilities that inflict damage that can be resisted. Won’t get near my game. The focus powers include a sickening aura and a pretty cool option that nets you better defense versus incorporeal attacks and lets you lock attackers in semi-corporeal form. Binding a corpse to your shadow is pretty cool and inverting healing effects nearby is damn cool. There is also a spectral projection option and a touch-based save or suck that renders a target BOTH confused and unconscious – it make wake up, though and the ability has a save, so yeah.

Clairsentience provides an initiative boost as a resonant power and a really cool base focus power: As a swift action, you can select a number of squares equal to the mental focus remaining in the implement (with a maximum that increases over the levels) and ignore difficult terrain in them. You may even treat them as though they were not occupied by other creatures and don’t provoke AoOs when moving into or from a selected square, though you may not end movement in such a square and need to be psionically focused to do so. The focus powers include protection from being scried, duplicating remote viewing and combo it with a psychic spell, daze targets, reroll d20s, agin uncanny dodge, etc. – pretty cool.

Metacreativity nets you a scaling AC bonus as a resonant power and an astral guardian as a base focus power – a 1st-level astral construct, which scales in potency with class levels and is limited by mental focus invested. Here’s the thing: You have to expend the psionic focus to call it and can’t regain it while the guardian remains. Big kudos: No servitor-combo-cheese and the ability gets the decreasing mental focus and thus, guardian power after expenditure done right! I already mentioned the false implement, and the other focus powers include ectoplasmic creation, entangling globs of ectoplasm, crowd-control via ectoplasmic pillars and blasts of properly typed and codified shrapnel.

Psychokinesis provides active energy resistance to wearers/holders of the implement and the base focus power lets you expend your psionic focus as a standard action to fire a scaling array of elemental missiles (1 +1 for every two occultist levels, up to 10 and equal to the amount of mental focus remaining) that hit on a ranged touch attack, inflicting damage based on your active energy type. Ouch. Even though the number of missiles will decrease, these are ranged touch attacks, each of which inflicts 1d8 + Intelligence modifier damage of the active energy type. 60 ft. range, sure, but as a standard action that is based on an infinite resource. That outclasses several comparable limited resource psionic powers and spells. No. Just no. This imho needs mental focus expenditure. The focus powers includes columns of energy (which, while dealing small AoE-damage, do cost mental focus), increased movement rate, untyped touch (why untyped?) that can propel targets backwards, shape psychokinesis effects to exclude squares via mental focus expenditure (cool!) or control objects (not italicized).

Psychometabolism nets temporary hit points in a persistent pool that are carried on from wielder to wielder; these may be replenished via healing, which is pretty neat. The base focus power nets you one or more alternate forms (as disguise self – spell-reference not italicized) and the focus powers include bonuses to Str- and Dex-based checks, bite of the wolf or claws of the beast, DR, metamorphosis, a touch for a touch that can render the target helpless and prone for 1 round on a failed save or alter the appearance of a creature. Psychoportation’s resonant power nets an increasing, minor miss chance that does not stack with concealment. The base focus power is cool – it lets you penalize your own movement speed to make an ally faster – AMAZING! The focus powers include a potent 11th level trick (at 3 mental focus, it’d better be!) to warp space to make all allies within 100 ft., for one round, be treated as though they were in your space – and yes, this gets the interaction with line of sight right. Potent and cool! Swapping places with an ally is nice. I’m not a big fan of untyped damage via a touch, but the mental focus cost at least keeps it limited. Short-range teleport, time hop (not italicized) are okay…but I love twisted path. On a failure, it forces the target to only move diagonally! That’s creative!

Telepathy’s resonant power fortifies against mental intrusion and divulging thoughts/mind reading. The base focus power lets you bond with allies, shifting perceptions to their PoV while psionically focused, with more senses shared at higher levels – cool! The focus powers include boosts to social skills and the ability to implant suggestions. Also cool: An ally bonded to you can be granted an attack by you if you expend 1 point of mental focus. Yes, this does provoke AoOs and, being based on mental focus expenditure, does not invite cheesing. Stopping a creature’s move on a failed save is cool, but the ability fails to specify a range – RAW, it doesn’t even require line of sight or effect. Another power lets you infiltrate the senses of targets hit by your bonded allies, which is cool. Another one lets allies use your senses or establishes a telepathic network between the bonded characters – very cool!

There also are two feats: Soulbound Implements requires enhanced mind blade and one occultist level and lets you stack them for the purpose of the enhancement bonus of the enhanced mind blade. Additionally, you can channel your mind blade with the implements on your person, reducing its enhancement bonus by +1 to tie it to the implement school in question. 1/round when hitting an opponent, you may use a focus power usually activated as a standard action as a free action for +1 mental focus cost and the mind blade may be reduced to +0 sans having to reshape it. Interesting! The second feat, Absolute Focus, alas, is broken. I mean BROKEN. Choose one focus power you know. Expend the psionic focus to reduce the mental focus costs of the power by 1 to a minimum of 0. Say hello to infinite healing via Flesh Mend! Say goodbye to all diseases and epidemics via purge corruption. Single occultist with this talent can end them. Blergh, this needs to die or be at least nerfed to minimum 1.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are on the one hand very good – on the other, there are plenty of missed italicizations. On a rules-language level, we have, for the most part, the level of excellent precision we expect from Dreamscarred Press. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the artworks within are full-color stock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and with a second, more printer-friendly version.

Forrest Heck, with additional design by Kevin Ryan, Adam Boucher and Doug Haworth, delivers a truly impressive pdf; rules-language and design-difficulty-wise, this is one magnificent beast of a pdf. I found myself smiling from ear to ear, time and again, and I really enjoyed many of the options herein. The Containment-focus cheese needs addressing, though if you and your group can agree on not gaming the shattered mind, it otherwise is one amazing monster. The implement schools presented were mostly amazing, though their internal balance is a bit weird. Athanatism’s base touch is too good for an unlimited attack that bypasses everything. Similarly, the use of untyped damage without a clear need strikes me as unnecessary. As written, both athantism and psychokinesis are stronger than the others, to the point where I wouldn’t allow them in most of my games...which is somewhat jarring, considering how well-balanced most of the material herein is. Oh, and Absolute Focus needs to die. It’s a delimiter of the worst sort.

How to rate this, then? I’m really torn. The formatting was a bit worse than what we usually get from DSP. Still better than many comparable files, though. What’s more difficult for me is that I’d love to unanimously recommend the pdf, but the somewhat schizophrenic dual focus makes it harder than I’d like it to be. For the most part, I’d allow this pdf in my games. Barring aforementioned complaints, there is a lot of really cool, well-crafted material within this pdf. At the same time, I do have some serious concerns regarding the power of quite a few options. Have I mentioned that the feat needs to die? …if you don’t mind infinite healing exploits and/or have subscribed to the high-powered Path of War-style gameplay, then you’ll probably love these aspects…but at the same time, you may consider some of the options too well-balanced with regular gameplay. On the other hand, if you enjoy a more conservative power-level when gaming, then you’ll need to be aware and wary of the flexible elemental artillery, etc. In both instances, I’d strongly advise a thorough close reading before implementing (haha!) the content herein.

In the end, I enjoy, yes, even love a lot here, and I hope the aforementioned rough patches will receive re-evaluation. Without these blemishes, the pdf would have been 5 stars + seal. With them in place, however, I cannot go higher than 3.5 stars…though I’ll round up, as this does not deserve being relegated to the 3-star arena; the vast majority of the content, after all, is pretty damn cool.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Psionics Augmented: Occultists
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5E Mini-Dungeon #057: Last Stand of the Forgotten Pirate
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2017 04:12:57

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. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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 are asked by an druid to check up on a former orc pirate, old Gnarltooth, who has been pretty evasive about some obligations, consumed by his obsession with "The Beast", an awakened elasmosaurus, which is lurking nearby, as he has had the beast magically bound. The pdf depicts his little island home - the orc is obviously afraid to face-down the creature. The mundane nature of the orc's life is depicted and provides quite a few options to engage in meaningful roleplaying...but ultimately, the PCs will have to enforce, finally, a confrontation...but they'll need to help...or the battle will be rather short...

Wait, we don’t have elasmosaurus stats in 5E? Well, now we do! The pdf contains the stats for the critter!

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 really nice, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Michael McCarthy's little character study/variant of the Moby Dick trope is a compelling, fun sidetrek that can provide some interesting questions to ponder, an intriguing ally to potentially recruit. In short: This is well worth the fair asking price and also presents a nice, idyllic potential home for the PCs...at least for a while. The 5E-version (not sure who did the conversion) loses nothing of the original module’s appeal, adding the critter stats as a cool bonus…and that should be rewarded: The module is worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #057: Last Stand of the Forgotten Pirate
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5E Mini-Dungeon #056: The Siren's Lament
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/19/2017 04:11:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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!

Sirens rarely find true love and when they do, it rarely ends well; such was the case here. The lover of the siren was a wealthy captain, drowned by the wrath of the Sea King, the siren's father...which broke the siren's heart and drove her to suicide - this complex with its winding passages would be his monument to his rage and remorse. Within this complex remain the remnants of the once proud ship of the captain, guarded by haunts, animated galleon figures. From ghostly tunes to the storms unleashed and a memory child, the PCs can actually find out about this tragedy in both direct and indirect storytelling...but upon witnessing the finale, the complex will flood...with a giant shark...so good luck to the players.

In 5E, the new creature called Phantom Foundling makes for an eerie enhancer to the content – neat, though I think its attack value is off by 1 – at challenge 6, it should be +3 proficiency + 3 Dex-mod for +6, not +5.

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 really nice, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Colin Stricklin delivers big time in this amazing mini-dungeon; the checks make sense, the story is surprisingly strong. The flavor of this dungeon is fantastic and somber, true fantasy and resonates with strong leitmotifs. In short: An amazing mini-dungeon that has been converted rather well to 5e (not sure by whom) – worthy of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #056: The Siren's Lament
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In The Company of Aberrations
Publisher: Rite Publishing
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2017 03:53:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Rite Publishing’s „In the Company of...“-series of playable monsters clocks in at 55 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a MASSIVE 51 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

We begin with a letter, framing the narrative that suffuses the pdf in the tradition of Rite Publishing supplements; the letter is one of resignation this time around, speaking of the horrors that were encountered, and indeed, the formula of the in-character description of the race that makes this series such a joy to read, has been modified here, as aberrations are a significantly less unified topic than previous races covered.

Instead, the content is framed as a report by the Voice of the Vigilant – who has basically possessed one of the unfortunates that encountered the aberrant threats, saving the company that encountered these creatures. This whole, strange channeling is a genius way of maintaining the enjoyable reading experience and blending it with a creeping sense of unease that fits the topic perfectly.

Anyway, since aberrations cover a wide field of different creatures, the report begins by roughly categorizing aberrant threats as cosmic interlopers (including noting the flumphs!), hadopelagic ancients, perversions of nature, reality-displaced entities and subterranean nightmares are discussed – as are warptouched creatures, making for not only a nice reading experience, but also serving as an interesting basic set-up to contemplate prior to making a character.

Now, a big problem for some aberrations would be a non-humanoid physiology – as such, it should come as no surprise that the magic item slot question arises in the context of playable aberrations. This is relevant from a mathematic point of view, considering how item-granted boosts are included in the calculations, particularly at higher levels. The imbued metabolism ability allows such aberrations to swallow magic items to gain their benefits. And yes, the rules-language manages to concisely codify this process and avoids cheesing and still features scaling regarding slot numbers, making the mechanic supremely elegant.

Okay, so let’s go through the respective racial traits! Cosmic interlopers get +2 Int and Wis, -2 Dex, a base speed of 5 ft., a fly speed of 30 ft. (clumsy) (5 ft. base speed), darkvision 60 ft., all-around vision, two tentacle secondary natural attacks at 1d4 and interlopers with an Int of 11 or more gain alter winds and whispering wind 1/day as a SP. They also can expend actions to resist vacuum, which is pretty damn cool. While slightly lopsided regarding base ability score modifiers and studded with low-level flight, the bad maneuverability (hovering works sans check, just fyi) maintains balance here and in fact requires some interesting, potentially even hilarious, tactical scenes at the table. There are two alternate traits that provide alternate racial traits: +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str for domination orbs (beholders, minus the closed content IP) – these guys can fire, 1/day, a spell as a ray from their eye. Cool! The stellar ray would similarly cover the classic ixitxachitl (or flumph…) with a proper stinger that deals acid damage as well. And yep, Small size. Instead of air manipulation, you may choose natural armor or sonic resistance (+ save-bonuses versus certain conditions). The all-around vision may be replaced with better Stealth, constant detect magic or a +2 bonus to Spellcraft to identify spells and +1 to atk versus arcane spellcasters. Instead of the vacuum adaptation, you may 1/day choose to roll twice on Bluff/Diplomacy or better tech-use, including decreased glitch probability. Both the vacuum resistant ability and all-around vision can be exchanged for Wild Talent – yep, psionics compatible!

Hedopelagic ancients get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Dex, are medium and have a movement rate of 20 ft., swim speed of 30 ft. They are amphibious, have darkvision 60 ft. and +2 natural armor. They get two secondary tentacle attacks and add +1 to the Dc of their illusions and SPs with the pattern and figment descriptors. Those with a Cha of 11+ also gain 1/day hypnotic pattern as a SP. And yes, they are balanced via the slots once again. There are two variants inclided: Deep spawn gain +2 Str and Con, -2 Int, gaining a primary bite and +4 to saves versus poison and diseases as well as a modified slot-list and the ability to make an angler-fish like dancing lights variant. Cool, if lopsided on the physical. The same holds true for reef menaces, who gain +2 Dex and Con, -2 Cha and is Small. They gain +4 to Stealth while underwater and get tangling tentacles as a natural attack, which do not cause damage, but may trip foes. Fully aquatic beings can be made with the Deep One alternate racial trait and you can replace darkvision with deepsight, doubling range for a total of 120 ft., but only underwater. Big kudos: There is a scaling fast healing alternate racial trait that’s reliant on water and that cannot be cheesed – big kudos! Keen underwater scent, an alternative SP, adaptation to water pressure (and cold resistance 5) and an unnatural aura complement this one. This is as good a time as any to voice my utter delight regarding the bonus and natural attack codification here – the rules are exceedingly precise and well-crafted – kudos!

Next up are perversions of nature gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Intelligence, are medium and have a base speed of 20 ft. that is not reduced by armor or encumbrance. They gain the ability to Hold Breath, +2 natural armor, a primary bite, +2 to saves versus diseases, ingested poisons and effects that apply the nauseated and sickened conditions and a +2 bonus to Perception and Appraise to find hidden objects and determine whether food is spoiled. They also always treat Stealth as a class skill. The first of the two variants provided would be the chitined terror, who gains +2 Str and Con, -2 Cha, is amphibious with a 20 ft. swim speed and two claws. Curse-fused yields +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str and gains 30 ft. movement, but s affected by encumbrance and armor. It also gains a climb speed, immunity to magic sleep and a bonus to saves versus enchantments. With Cha of 11+, these folks also gain darkness 1/day as a SP. And yes, these suites are suitably balanced via exchanged traits. The other alternate racial traits net bonuses of defensive casting, a better carapace, carrion sense, better saves versus divine spells, atk and AC-bonuses versus a subtype of humanoid (bred to exterminate them!) and Improved Grapple via tiny grapple-helping appendages, Extend Spell for transmutations 1/day or sewer camouflage complement this section.

Reality-displaced entities get +2 Int and Cha, -2 Str, may compress up to ¼ their size sans squeezing penalties, get darkvision 60 ft, +1 to saves versus mind-affecting effects, two secondary tentacles and Dr 5/piercing. Alternate ability-suite-wise, we get the Small body snatcher, who gains 40 ft. movement and two weak claws. Minor example of a formatting hiccup here: The creature is affected by protection from evil as though summoned and the spell-reference is not italicized. The body-snatcher can crawl into corpses of vanquished humanoids that exceed its size, helping it offset its nigh non-existent item slots while wearing this meat-suit, which is btw. concisely codified in the rules – damn cool. The untethered gains +2 STr and Int, -2 Dex and gain two pincers as well as +1 to DCs of possession, magic jar, etc., representing something closer to yithians. The other alternate racial traits encompass burrow speed, lesser telepathy the SP to 1/day detect thoughts, being naturally psionic or immediate action grapple escape attempts. Precognitive flashes and the ability to send itself or another creature into the future or the ability to sense effects that distort time complement, as a whole, a damn cool array of tricks.

The subterranean nightmares, per default, gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Cha, are Medium with a speed of 20 ft. that’s not modified by armor or encumbrance, darkvision 120 ft., light sensitivity, +3 natural armor, +4 Stealth while underground, stability, a bite attack and roper-like strands – while these inflict Strength damage, it’s only 1 point, has a save to negate and is iconic; moreover, its limits serve to keep it in check even for conservative games. They also get a variant of woodland stride in subterranean regions, but only for natural terrain. The alternate ability-suites include +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int and fly speed 40 ft. (poor), a secondary tail attack and +1 natural armor bonus. Note that the maneuverability and the modified slot-list does help reign in flight, though some campaigns may still consider this to be potent...but then again, you’re basically playing a cloaker-thing! Hungry worms would be the second ability-suite, +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Intelligence, base speed 30 ft., 20 ft. climb speed, +1 to natural AC, scent and secondary tentacle attacks. The alternate racial traits include burrow speed, Knowledge (dungeoneering) and Survival as class skills, better AC versus rays, SR penetration bonuses, hooks claws, -1 to Will saves in exchange to +1 to the DC of mental ability damage/drain-based abilities used, a Cha-variant of the strands or +1 to the DC of sonic effects – once again, neat!

Finally, we take a look at the most “normal” race – the warptouched, who gain +2 to an ability score of their choice, are Medium with 30 ft. movement, are treated as aberrations for the purpose of spells and effects, gain darkvision 60 ft., +1 to Bluff, Disguise, Knowledge (local), +1 natural AC, two secondary tentacle attacks at 1d4 base damage, +2 to saves versus SPs and SUs of aberrations and they may, as a swift action, suppress their unnatural traits, helping them greatly disguising their nature. The alternate racial traits include unlocking class skills, constant detect aberrations, a 30 ft. swim speed, +1 to atk versus aberrations, two favored class options, Wild Talent, a maw, +2 to natural armor and Intimidate versus humanoids, technological aptitude or being treated as +1 level regarding the use of revelations from the Dark tapestry or Heavens mysteries. While age, height and weight vary wildly between all these aberrations, a sample reference table is still included – kudos! We also get a massive FCO-list that includes psionic classes as well as occult classes – no balance concerns or complaints there. Well done! Okay, so the basic racial traits as a whole are amazing – they are balanced in a rather ingenious way; the options will not break any game and provide meaningful options galore. While I am not the biggest fan of races that grant their ability score bonuses to only physical or mental scores, these make sense here and, more importantly, don’t break any of the races. In short: It’s been a long, long time since I was this impressed with a section of races.

Do the classes hold up? Well, we have a total of four archetypes and, as always, the racial paragon class to cover. Let us begin with the two briefer archetypes, the first of which would be the conduit of the forbidden psychic, who is locked into the dark half or dream psychic disciplines. Instead of detect thoughts, 2nd level causes anyone who seeks to tap into the mind of the conduit to take Wisdom damage and be dazed. 9th level nets 1/day confusion, with the additional option to expend spells to cast it, getting the complex possibility of metamagic feat use in conjunction right. The archetype loses telepathic bond for this. At 17th level, when a confused creature damages itself, the conduit may assume control over it as dominate monster, thankfully with limited daily uses. The second smaller archetype herein would be the Opener of Ways summoner, who gets a modified summon monster list specializing in calling forth void-called beings instead of celestial/infernal ones, with aberrations added to the summon list. The void-called template is btw. also presented here and is, power-wise, approximately on par with the more commonly-used ones. 6th level yields a thought eater familiar that requires being fed spell slots to keep it from roaming, making it an interesting addition that replaces maker’s call and transposition.

A rather complex archetype for the hunter class would be the freak wrangler, who loses all summon nature’s ally spells. Instead of the regular Animal Focus, these guys gain an aberration focus: No less than 16 different foci are presented, basically rewriting the whole class engine with an aberration focus. This also extends to the pet gained: From akata to choker to rust monsters and snallygasters, the archetype features a total of 12 such aberration pets (and yes, rules-wise, they continue behaving like animal companions regarding tricks etc.) – all with their own stats, advancements, etc. big kudos here, this is actually a hunter I’d like to play! A minor complaint: The vampiric mist focus can allow the creature to be healed continuously via feeding it creatures to grapple and bleed dry. Since this is pretty limited and slow, it shouldn’t break the game, though.

Now the racial paragon class would be “That Which Must Not Be”, which, chassis-wise, receives good Will-saves, ¾ BAB-progression, d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and proficiency with simple weapons. The class, unsurprisingly, can gain natural weapons galore, but only may employ a maximum number governed by level, beginning at 3 and scaling up to 7. Now, ability-progression-wise, we have a massive amount of player agenda: At first level, you choose aberrant power – this acts as a kind of bloodline, which unlocks new abilities every 6 levels after 1st and provides the base ability-suite: Mental juggernaut, for example, nets you at-will instigate psychic duel and builds on that as an engine and also features size-increases. Scion of Madness focuses on causing Wisdom damage and confusion and servitors of the Old Ones gain SPs. So these are the basics.

At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the class also gets to choose an abominable weirdness – basically one of the talents of the class, which, if applicable, has its saving throw DCs governed by Charisma. These include better aquatic adaption, acidic blood, gaining attach with certain natural weapons, reflexive negative energy damage, blood-draining feeding tubes, pulling filaments, extra heads or limbs, etc. Flight is suitably locked, minimum-level-wise, and from fortification-style anatomy to natural weapons and a bit of mesmerist poaching or even a phrenic amplification, we have a very wide and cool array of options here. Wanted to extract brains, illithid-style? Well, starting 12th level, you can. Oh, and yes, toxins etc. obviously can also be found. 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter increase natural armor by +1. 9th level eliminates age penalties and eliminates the threat of dying of old age – strange aeons indeed.

Beyond these, the class gains another option for players to customize it in a wide variety of ways, namely Alien Heritages. These are also chosen at 1st level and similarly act as a kind of linear ability progression – one ability is gained at first level, the second at 3rd and thereafter, every 4 levels unlock a new one. Once again, if applicable, Charisma acts as the governing attribute for save DCs for these. How many do we get? Well, more than 30 (!!!). That is in addition to the impressive talent array AND the 3 aberrant powers that maintain basic usefulness! The theme here are specific aberrations – there is a flumph heritage, one for beholders (minus IP, but you’ll now what’s meant!), Yithians, phrenic scourges, ropers, neh-thalggus (yep, with braincollecting…), mimics, moon beasts (which, at 11th level, heal when inflicting Wisdom drain, save to negate – not ideal, but limited in its cheesability), aberrations sans easily discernible heritage, intellect devourers (with 1st level psychic stab that is kept balanced by concise limitations), hyakume, heikegani, grindylows, froghemoths, driders – basically, all the iconics are covered and the ability array also covers some of the under-appreciated aberrations for weirdos like yours truly. Particularly impressive would be, at least from a design-perspective, the fact that A LOT of the signature abilities you’d expect are gained rather soon and kept viable, but balanced via concise restrictions that prevent nasty cheeses.

At 20th level, the class gains a unique name and title – and when someone, somewhere mentions it…it KNOWS, making it possible to greater scry the hapless fool…oh, and the poor sod becomes more susceptible to the Thing’s tricks. Worse for your foes, at this level, you are extremely hard to kill, lying dead but dreaming…amazing capstone.

“But endy, what if I don’t want to commit to a full 20-level class?” – Well, the pdf has you covered: The final archetype, the aberrant champion, is basically a catch-all archetype that allows the character to dabble in aberrant power, abominable weakness and alien heritage! Oh, and the archetype can be applied to a metric TON of classes: Beyond psionic classes (including, but not limited to the often overlooked cryptic and dread), we also cover the core and APG-options, ACG- and Occult classes AND some 3pp-classics like the warmaster, the taskshaper and hellion. Big kudos!

The pdf closes with 6 racial feats, which include the option to knock foes prone with grapples, gain an extra weirdness, a bonus to atk and damage versus aberrations with a different alien heritage (slightly unfortunate wording there), an upgrade for tentacle attacks, swift, mind-affecting demoralize via telepathy and a more devastating rend, which thankfully is locked and reserved for the higher levels.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch: Editor Robert N. Emerson has done a phenomenal job. It’s been quite a while since I read a crunch-book this long that is this precise regarding formatting, types, etc. – big kudos! Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, some of which may be known to avid readers of 3pp-material. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Wendall Roy’s latest In the Company installment is a masterpiece, pure and simple. It excels in writing and rules-language, provides a ridiculous amount of bang for buck and does so with panache aplomb. The multi-attack monster is a hard trope to get right and the sheer breadth of aberrations this had to cover is daunting. The fact that this allows you to play a vast array of aberration concepts via both races and class options, tweak them and further enhance the options makes this absolutely amazing.

I am hard to impress at this point. I have seen A LOT. Add to that the fact that I also require races to feel unique and worthwhile enough to integrate them in the first place. Add to that the vast breadth Wendall had to cover. Insert a wide open archetype and a really rewarding racial paragon class with a ton of player agenda and moving parts. By all accounts, this pdf should have stumbled at some point. And I tried pretty hard to find hiccups, flaws in the engine. Apart from the very rare and mostly cosmetic minor glitch, I did not find what I was almost certain would be here. Instead, I found beauty. The options presented herein are potent and tick off a lot of the things I usually complain about, power-level-wise, but when they do, they do so with often subtle, really interesting balancing mechanics to keep them in line.

Beyond being an impressive feat as a writer, this represents an impressive feat as a designer and frankly outclasses even his amazing supplements on dragons and rakshasas, as far as I’m concerned. This is a phenomenal toolkit, which, courtesy of the breadth of options, could carry a whole aberration party. The array of races and wide open archetype, the clever paragon class – this is, in case you haven’t noticed by now, a piece of excellence as far as I’m concerned. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars +seal of approval and I nominate this as a candidate for my Top ten of 2017. If you remotely like aberrations, then get this. (As an aside: GMs, this is also pretty much the ultimate aberration-cultist toolkit…)

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
In The Company of Aberrations
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Wizardzine #1
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome Productions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2017 03:52:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This e-zine clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of SRD, 1 page space for notes, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content. It should be noted that, as in most OSR-supplements, the pages are formatted for booklet-size (6’’ by 9’’, A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this out. Personally, I’d at least contemplate getting the softcover PoD – I based most of review on that. All righty, let’s take a look!

Ah, one more thing, in case that’s relevant to you: The OSR-engine employed would by Labyrinth Lord.

The first, and so far, only, installment of Wizardzine focuses on the theme of water, but does so in a rather interesting manner: We begin with ideas for themes that involve magic and water: How e.g. diviners could specialize in finding sunken treasure, how demonologists or necromancers may be prone to summoning forth things from below…and how vivimancers fit in here. Vivimancers, easily my favorite spellcasting addition to any roleplaying game in ages, are obviously a part of this e-zine’s aesthetic, but rest assured that you do not need to have “The Complete Vivimancer” to make use of this little booklet…though it certainly will whet your taste for it.

In fact, I got this on a whim, and after reading it, I moved on to the vivimancer. Why? Because this pdf does introduce an arch-wizardess, namely Ephenedrine the sirene, mistress of the Isle of Lost Hope and strangely changed by her inscrutable plots. While we do not get full stats or spellbooks for her (she does act as an inspiring backdrop – the spells she researched and created and her domain are depicted in surprisingly concise and creepy prose that ties in with the new content presented within: In her brining cove, vats spew forth her strange brine-spawn servitors and both the bay of mollusks and her coral gardens beckon with alien splendor and danger alike. 8 potential rumors considering her can provide additional sources for inspiration or just act as dressing guidelines for the referee.

The aforementioned brine spawn represents btw. one of the 3 new monsters found herein, with a demon of the depths and the drowned dead representing the others. While none of these, from the names, sound like anything earth-shattering, it is their execution and the well-written information on these critters that makes them work. Well done! It is pretty hard to properly convey how this little booklet manages to conjure forth a concise and consistent atmosphere with its content, but there lies both a palpable sense of a world that has moved on, a taste of the weird and a glorious strangeness in these, something that extends to the 5 magic items: Sure, we have seen vats that create creatures before, but I have rarely seen the process described in such a concise manner, a manner that seems plausible in a delightfully twisted way. Similarly, I have seen gill symbionts before, but never in a manner that made them feel so…detailed, so alive. There are also novel or less classic tropes, though: Like clams that can produce rather nasty magical pearls. An aquarium that shrinks victims…and a paste that can transform you into an aquatic life-form, changing your body when applied to parts of it – these items are not necessarily vivimantic, but they carry with them this general notion of being a believable pseudo-science in a world where magic exists. The feel real, wondrous and dangerous.

There is a palpable sense of the mystical as well. While aquatic adaptation and its reverse fall in the realm of utility spells I expected, and while boiling sphere is pretty much a vanilla damage-spell, calling monsters from the deep makes sense…all of these spells are herein, yes. But what inspired me was castaway, which send a target away if a burst of foam, to be washed ashore at some faraway, remote coast 1d4 days later. If that is not a great angle for the start of a module or even campaign…well, what is? Conjure land creates a small island ex nihilo – but the place created has an unusual feature, of which there are 20: Abandoned settlements, dangerous monsters, strange monoliths…sandboxing gold, right there….oh, and guess what: The land sinks at the duration’s end. Timer included. The proper utility-spells for deep-sea exploration (or simply not drowning, courtesy of buoyancy) – there are some seriously nice tricks here…but, as most of the time in this pdf, the real draw lie in the details.

If you’re a veteran like me, you probably have seen a spell to call forth a ghost ship from the deeps more than once, right? Well, in this book’s version, the spell can be prolonged…at a price most ghastly, which the undead will demand…What about summoning a giant leviathan whale to carry you in its belly? Or about the option to create bio-luminescent plankton? If you’re like me and always disliked how one single spell covered walking on all types of water, then good news – the pdf split this one in two, allowing for finely nuanced tools for the tasks at hand. Ever wanted to feel like you just sunk Atlantis? Well, the level 9 spell herein (which takes a massive ritual to complete) lets you do just that – sink island does, however, require the fulfillment of a variety of really impressive tasks. What about cursing foes, either to hear the dread call of the deep ones or instill convictions to make targets venture across the seas? There are resonance from our own mythology herein and the spells, as a whole, remain just as precise and well-presented as we have come to expect from Necrotic Gnome Productions.

An incredibly helpful sea wizard spell list, random selection options for the referee and aquatic monster summoning tables can also be found herein…but these aren’t my favorite part of the book either. Instead, that honor would fall to the 12 magic tomes depicted herein; grimoires, really. These tomes contain some of the new spells herein, note their authors and language they’re written in and feature extensive descriptions that really made them come to life for me: I could almost smell the lush vellum of Ephenedrine’s Transmutations-grimoire. The tomes act, basically as an in-game treasure, adventuring motivation and they make sense: They have CHARACTER. It’s not just any spell, transcribed from any book your PCs cast…it’s the one the PCs managed to unearth from The “Rituals of the Vasandian Shipwrights.” To keep a long ramble short: I adore how these books add character and contextualization to the spells and how they double as great adventure hooks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly, clean one-column b/w-standard. The artworks are thematically-fitting b/w stock pieces and do a better job than most at establishing a concise theme. Now, here’s a big downside for the electronic version: The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a nasty comfort detriment. Personally, I’d strongly advise getting PoD instead – the softcover is solid and only costs 3 bucks more.

Gavin Norman’s aquatic wizardzine is amazing. I am a jaded bastard of a reviewer and I have seen a metric ton of aquatic spells and supplemental material for a wide variety of systems. This booklet stands apart for three reasons: First of all, its rules-language is precise and poignant. Secondly, its writing is actually good – inspiring even. I found myself intrigued enough to get more of the author’s books, courtesy of its strength. That’s saying something. Thirdly, even when his designs cover classic tropes, they do so in an intriguing manner that resonates with me – it’s hard to properly convey in a review, but it’s the small things that elevate this, the little twists, the pronounced consciousness of the narrative demands and requirements of a roleplaying game. Content-wise, this is excellent indeed.

That being said, the lack of bookmarks for the electronic version does drag this down a bit and if you’re similarly jaded as I am, you may not end up being as blown away as when perusing e.g. his vivimancer. As a reviewer, I have to take all of these into account. Personally, I consider the pdf to be closer to 5, the softcover closer to 5 stars – which is why my official verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo. Well worth getting for the low and fair asking price.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wizardzine #1
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Purple Mountain: Temple of the Locust Lord (DCC)
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/18/2017 03:50:41

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This conversion of the first installment of Purple Duck's Purple Mountain dungeon is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/patreons-thank you, 2 pages SRD, leaving 29 pages of content for the first level of the dungeon. It should be noted that, like most of the recent Purple Duck games-supplements, the pdf is formatted for digest-booklet size, A5 or about 6’’ by 9’’, which means that, if you print this out, you should be able to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper,

Okay, while Purple Mountain is a mega-dungeon, rest assured that you don’t need to commit to the entirety of the series – this module (and its follow-ups) very much works as a stand-alone adventure and the pdf even provides some guidance for use as both stand-alone module or as part of a mega-dungeon.

Which brings me to another issue that DCC judges will undoubtedly want to have answered: Does this “get” DCC? After all, the system has some seriously different paradigms when compared to both PFRPG and 5e and this module, originally, was published for PFRPG. Let me get that out of the way from the get-go: Yes. For example, the eponymous locust lord, at best something to oppose in PFRPG, has become a patron in this conversion, complete with invoke patron table. (But no unique spellburn or patron taint options, alas.)

Similarly, the PFRPG-version did sport the iconic wayfinder as one object featured – and since DCC has a different aesthetic paradigm when it comes to handing out magic items, it has been purged…but at the same time, if you did actually want the item, you can still find it – fully converted to DCC in the appendices! That’s going the extra mile – big kudos. If you’re like me and have been an ardent follower of PDG’s excellent DCC-offerings, you’ll know the map of the module. It has been used before in the excellent Through the Cotillion of Hours – which, as an aside, was for me one of the moments where DCC-system’s unique aesthetics were perfectly captured.

Structurally, the module is easy to run, to say the least – not only does it sport notes on general dungeon properties like doors, illumination-levels etc., but also notes exits, etc. Similarly, when the pacing begins to lag, you may draw on one of several specific random encounters, which, unsurprisingly, include a variety of magical creepy-crawlies and insectoid threats. Beyond these specific ones, general random encounters can also be found.

That being said, the following review contains SPOILERS, potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here?

All right.

The temple of the locust lord is actually the fortress of manamites under the command of dread Iraksed, once a man, now a collection of squirming worms under his robe. The manamites depicted herein are not simply mites with a prefix latched on – scorpion-riding mini-knights and the plentiful insectoid threats should provide plenty of chances for uppity PCs to perish. The unique form of Iraksed also makes him, just fyi., a perfect recurring villain – he can reform from a single escaped worm…ouch! The horde of vermin under the command of the manamites and their dread master are not limited to oversized versions of common insects or ones with a bit of supernatural flair – the throach, a dread combination of scorpion and cockroach (full-color artwork provided!), which is just as mean-tempered as it is ugly, represents one deadly adversary…and a demon is stalking the halls as well…

But intrepid adventurers can also find some goodies here – provided they are smart and thorough: You never know what a tank of mealworms may hide…. Have I mentioned the magical pools, which may, for weal or woe, change the fortune of the PCs? (Oh, and greedy PCs may find out that giant amoebas can look deceptively like such pools…) Beyond these, it should be noted that the PCs better should have means to deal with traps. And they should keep their eyes peeled. There is one particularly obvious, but dastardly trap – a massive garbage disposal/grinder…which, unfortunately, for the PCs if you’re planning on using this as a mega-dungeon, also constitutes the only way further down…talk about going into the grinder…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I only noticed some very minor glitches, like a “two” that should be a “to” and the like. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly one-column standard with purple highlights. The full-color artworks deserve special note: The pdf sports multiple really nice interior artworks of the monsters by Matt Morrow. (Cover artist is Jacob Blackmon.) The pdf comes with excessive, nested bookmarks and is really easy to navigate. The cartography does its job, but I was a bit bummed that we don’t get a player-friendly, key-less version of it – in an age where many folks play VTTs (and reviewers like yours truly suck at drawing maps), I would have really appreciated having one.

Mark Gedak did not simply have his module converted to DCC. It’s not that easy. Okay, it could be that easy, but you wouldn’t do DCC justice. Instead of converting just the mechanics and slapping a new label on the module, Daniel J. Bishop has gone above and beyond in his conversion efforts. This is, in short, a very well-made translation of the module; to the point where I actually consider it to be superior to its PFRPG-iteration: It feels more dangerous, rawer and more primordial and the challenges herein should test the mettle of adventurers in a fun way. All in all, not much to complain about, apart from the lack of a player’s map and wanting a bit more on the patron. Still, if this is what we can expect from the series, then color me stoked. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up by a tiny margin for going the extra mile in the conversion.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Purple Mountain: Temple of the Locust Lord (DCC)
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Everyman Minis: Deific Passengers
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:55:37

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 3.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All righty, first things first: You need Paranormal Adventures to use this pdf. The content herein represents an expansion for the Vessel class – think of these guys basically as the equivalent of the Demons and Angels from the Supernatural TV Series, with more control for the person hosting them. The class basically represents beings that are possessed by so-called passengers.

A big and intentional hole in the portfolio of the class, at least as far as I’m concerned, is addressed herein. The original vessel class does not have an option to be possessed by a deity as a passenger spirit – considering the diverging levels of omniscience/omnipotence of deities throughout different campaign settings, this makes sense: Direct involvement in the realms of mortals may break a core tenet of your campaign…or, if you’re favoring less powerful divinities that take direct action, it may just be what you wanted.

The alignment of a deity passenger (passenger “statblocks”, i.e. their presentation, is btw. explained) must match that of the vessel (deities are picky) and they are associated with all of the domains of the deity in question. That can be problematic in very low-powered games– deities provide more associated domains than the default 3 that regular passengers offer, representing an upgrade regarding flexibility when choosing the Omen that grants access to one; since omens may not be taken multiple times unless otherwise noted, you can’t just gain domain upon domain, though – you just have a broader selection available, so yeah, this gets a pass in most contexts. The DR is bypassed by the opposed alignment – as a minor complaint, the rules do not specify whether only one alignment axis is relevant here or both: There do exist a couple of DRs that require two axes to bypass. I assume that’s not the case here, but yeah.

Grace boon-wise, the deity passenger gets divine resilience at 3rd level, gaining resistances depending on the deity’s alignment (one is chosen; two more are gained at 6th level and 12th increases one to 10, with level 15 increasing the others to 10 as well); we also gain a +1 bonus to saving throws versus specific effects based on the chosen domain, which increases by +1 at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, capping at +5 at 15th level. Almost a whole page is devoted to listing these by domain and the benefits cover a wide breadth of options: Luck, for example, grants the bonus to saves versus curses and hexes; magic fortifies versus spells, SPs and effects generated by dragons and magical beasts, travel helps versus teleportation and effects that cause Strength damage and also applies to CMD versus being involuntarily moved…honestly, this is impressive. Considering that the bonus is pretty much a vanilla, passive ability, it is rather impressive to note the creative applications here. Kudos!

6th level nets domain as a bonus omen – and no, if you have it already, you don’t get two. 12th level, however, does indeed grant a second domain, including that domain’s divine resilience bonus.

Also at 6th level, when using grace to cast domain spells, CL and DC are increased by +1, which upgrades to +2 at 15th level. 9th level yields Believer’s Boon as a bonus feat, using grace to activate it. 15th level provides reliable passenger’s jaunt to plane shift to the deity’s plane and may carry additional targets with him sans additional grace expenditure. 18th level provides outsider apotheosis as well as the option to cast 6th level or lower cleric spells by spending half the spell’s level in grace and expending a vessel spell slot of the spell’s level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to Everyman gaming’s nice two-column standard with a white background – it is, thus, printer-friendly. The artwork in full-color is neat and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

I was very happy that the deity option was not included in Paranormal Adventures. It has serious ramifications on the way in which a game world’s cosmology and logic works. That being said, I am just as happy that Matt Morris provided this wide-open, yet surprisingly well-balanced optional expansion in this Everyman Mini. This little pdf actually inspired me far more than I expected when I double-clicked on it to open it. After I had read the brief write-up, a whole campaign had taken shape in my mind: Picture a world, where the divine war threatened to tear asunder the fabric of creation. Faced with mutually assured annihilation and very much limited in potency and knowledge, the deities agreed on having their pawns, mortal godkings and leaders fight on their behalf, channeling them, seeking to establish dominance sans destroying all of reality. Thus rose nations, empires, under the guidance of divine lords, with dynasties of vessels groomed for rulership…but what when one empire’s the deity chooses another? What when ALL deities forsaken their dynasties in favor of new blood? How will the established rulers react when upstarts with a divine mandate arise and armies clash?? When the war of propaganda and intrigue boils, fighting for the souls of nations?

I’m sorry. I was somewhat spirited away there, but more so than the vessel class previously managed to do, this passenger and its interaction with the base-class actually inspired me! This is a prime example of the amazing things that can be done with small minis, a prime example of a great idea, contained in a deceptively brief, incredibly concise little file. This is glorious – not for all campaigns due to the effects on cosmology…but I can count the times I was this inspired by such a small pdf on one hand. This is excellence. 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Everyman Minis: Deific Passengers
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Town Backdrop: Dulwich
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:54:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley, where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

Now, as always in these settlement supplements, we do get settlement properties for the PFRPG-iterations, though this time around, a couple of plusses (before Economy, Lore and Law) are missing, alongside the +5 before the danger modifier. These represent mostly cosmetic hiccups, but yeah. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street. A big plus: We do get a properly codified marketplace section that mentions locally-sourced, adventuring-relevant items that may be purchased.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gunslingers running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

While the forgotten plusses in the village-stats annoyed me, they are not enough to tarnish this great, evocative town. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich
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Town Backdrop: Dulwich (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:52:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley (as per the writing of this review, only available in PFRPG), where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

The system neutral iteration of this supplement does not sport, obviously, the settlement stats, but it also gets rid of the marketplace, which constitutes of a minor bummer for me – some dressing/hooks/weird items in its stead would have been nice. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. It should be noted for absolute purists, that these fluff-only write-ups do properly note the thief class, but instead of “magic-user”, the notes refer to wizards and clerics. Personally, I don’t mind that, but since one of my readers complained about me not mentioning that once…well, there you have it.

As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gangsters running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

The system neutral version does not have the minor settlement statblock hiccups, but loses its marketplace, which evens, as a whole, things out as far as I’m concerned. Still, considering how much I enjoyed this, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for this review, and for the reviews of the other versions. They are much appreciated!
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:50:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley, where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place – though this module, as per the writing of this review, has not yet been converted to 5e.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

Now, the 5e-version does not have settlement stats and thus, also no missing plusses there, but much to my chagrin, the marketplace section of adventuring-relevant goods to be purchased has been eliminated as well – understandable in the system neutral version, but less so in the 5e-iteration. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. The 5e-version of these folks sports references to the relevant statblocks – no conversion relics.

As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gangsters running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

The 5e-version of this town, as a whole, is just as compelling as the PFRPG and system-neutral iterations, but personally, the lack of a marketplace sans replacement annoyed me a bit. Hence, my final verdict will “only” clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (5e)
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5E Mini-Dungeon #055: Chrome Devils of the Swamp
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:49:03

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. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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!

A fiery comet has fallen into the nearby swamp and rumors abound regarding the strange devils that have ventured forth from its insides. Indeed, within the swamp, the dungeon is composed of a strange alloy, sports an eerie glow...yep, this very much would be a crashed space-ship, with several kind of robots serving as the opposition to be faced by the PCs. Here is something cool: Doors improperly forced open, droids destroyed - all matter, for the AI that is the BB"E"G can result in enemies coming close.

Better yet: While the PFRPG version had some issues in the rules-details, the 5E-conversion remedies these and goes above and beyond: We have robots that are reskins, modified monsters with different traits and proper rules-challenges – this complex works as intended and does so in a fantastic manner that is simply better than the original.

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 decent, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stefanos "The Netlich" Patelis's science-fantasy crawl, in its original version, had all the makings of pure awesome and couldn’t realize them fully; in 5e, whoever has done the conversion, went above and beyond to make the module as amazing as it should be. This is, hands down, one of the best modules in the whole series – if you even remotely like science-fantasy, get this gem!! My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval for this gem.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #055: Chrome Devils of the Swamp
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Liber Xpansion (PFRPG)
Publisher: Amora Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2017 07:41:29

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive expansion for Amora Game’s critically-acclaimed and criminally-underrated Liber Influxus Communis“-tome clocks in at a massive 98 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page thank you, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 91 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

This was a long time coming and the heartfelt dedication in the front of the book to a friend who has passed, Ryan Warrick Cramer, makes for a touching beginning before we take a look at 2 new classes presented in the first chapter.

The first of which would be the adventurer, who gains d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light & medium armors and shields as well as ¾ BAB-progression. The saves of the class are determined at 1st level – may be chosen as good saves and the class also gets to choose 2 + Int-mod skills to add to the list of class skills. They also choose a so-called apprentice skill from Craft and Profession skills available (the skill references have not been properly capitalized) – At 8th level, the adventurer may always take 10 in that skill. At 12th level, the adventurer may always take 20 when using her apprentice skill. 16th level yields bonuses for chosen Profession apprentice skills or automatic masterworks for adventurers that chose Craft – oh, and actually quick non-magical crafting. Instead of using Diplomacy, they may also use the apprentice skill for bargaining at this level.

3rd level yields uncanny dodge, 9th level improved uncanny dodge and 5th level yields solo tactics. At 13th level, the adventurer may 1/day change a rolled 1 on a d20 into a 20 – I assume that is sans action required/as part of the roll, but it would be nice to have that specified. 17th level eliminates the ability score penalties incurred by old age.

You have probably guessed it: Yes, the adventurer is defined by more than these: The class sports several signature abilities, the first of which would be guild training: The adventurer chooses one of 5 different adventurer guilds, a choice that can later not be reversed. The guild chosen determines what is considered to be a Guild Feat for the class as well as the abilities gained by the class. The first of these would be the adventuring guild, who may, as a swift action, grant herself a luck bonus to a variety of rolls 4 + Charisma modifier times per day, which can be maintained as a free action and increases in potency at 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter. Assassins may choose non-combat feats as Guild feats and receive +1d6 sneak attack, increasing that by +1d6 every three levels thereafter. Explorers are very front-heavy, gaining +10 ft. movement rate as well as swim and climb speeds equal to the movement rate, which is too dippable for my tastes. The Herculean guild gets a very restrictive Guild feat list, but increases HD to 10 (does this include 1st level?) and receives an adrenaline rush – basically a more flexible variant of rage that allows for the increase of +4 to a physical ability score, which can be freely divided in increments of +2, with progression of rounds available being adhering once again to a scaling formula. Finally, the woodsman guild gets the ranger traps and associated feats as well as skirmish, which provides a scaling dodge bonus after moving and at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, a scaling damage-boost during rounds he is moving.

Beyond these, the guilds do influence the available talents for the class, which are called advanced guild trainings. Additional advanced guild trainings are gained every 3 levels after 4th and run a wide variety of options. Not all of them are perfectly, executed, though – the option to get a SP with scaling daily uses does not differentiate between spell-lists, for example, and spell-list strength does diverge a bit. Another training deals with called shots and, while good enough, reduction of penalties as the one granted by the talent is usually phrased slightly differently. That being said, these represent mostly cosmetic hiccups – on the plus-side, we have fast stealth, increased speed while mounted, increased initiative while mounted (ouch in mythic gameplay). Interesting: Using Escape Artist instead of Acrobatics to avoid AoOs and for every 5 ranks, he automatically avoids an attack – while very strong, it is limited enough to make it an interesting offering and tying it to ranks prevents abuse…so yeah, nice one! That being said, there is one general talent that is broke: Scrap it. Without requiring an action, you can interpose your shield between an attack – it absorbs ALL damage from the attack, becoming broken. A second use destroys the shield. While the talent states explicitly that the damage thus caused cannot be repaired, this still needs some serious limitation. Get a bucketload of bucklers, end up basically invincible as long as you can take up new shields. Not cool.

Among the guild-specific options, we have evasion, 1/day immediate action use of a standard action, shield allies from Ref-based effects and the like. Assassins can select bleeding attacks, death attacks, HiPS…you get the idea. Explorers are a bit wonky, introducing in one ability the Piloting skill (not how that works…) and skill boosts. Herculean adventurers get limited daily-use instant knockout hits, upgrades for adrenaline rush and the like. Balancing and formatting here is wonky – levels instead of class levels, a talent that adds “1d8 + STR”[sic!] damage to bull rushes– there are some serious hiccups here, some of which influence the integrity of the rules…which is REALLY weird, for at the same time, e.g. an option to mitigate adrenaline rush’s cooldown is presented precisely. Finally, woodsmen get favorite terrain, camouflage and a skirmish upgrade with a d12-table of conditions you can randomly cause – these range from feeble to save-or-suck…and frankly, I think the ability should have been cut up into a tree or offer some scaling for the ability, with the more potent options unlocking later. The guilds btw. also determine the capstone the class gets.

Finally, it should be noted that 2nd level yields best guess, a means to determine a ton of information via Survival.

The second class presented herein would be the gun adept hybrid class, a blend of Bard/magus and gunslinger, who gains d8 HD, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and firearms as well as light armor and does not incur spell failure while in light armor. The class gains spontaneous Charisma-based arcane spellcasting of up to 6th level, drawing spells from the bard’s list, ¾ BAB-progression and good Ref-saves. The class receives Gunsmith at 1st level and uses the gun thus gained as a focus, which allows the class to eschew components with a price of 100 gp or less, but as a kind of bonded object, casting without it is problematic. The arcane gun can be used to fire spells, not unlike my own etherslinger’s design – there are limits here in place, making only spells that require an attack roll (oddly listing cone and line spells in the same line as the attack structure, which is a bit weird since these usually are opposed by a saving throw) and adds the gun’s enhancement bonus as a bonus to spell DC. There is a mitigating risk to this power, though: When channeling a spell through the gun thus and you roll a 1 on the attack roll or a target succeeds a save with a natural 20, the gun becomes broken.

2nd level yields nimble, which increases in power every 4 levels thereafter, with 3rd level netting the option to channel spell levels into bullets, increasing the damage output of the gun by +1d6 per level. sigh Because slingers needed damage boosts. Also weird “magic damage” – considering the plethora of damage types available in PFRPG, this make-belief type is weird to see. And no, this was not for the purpose of DR interaction, for the ability precisely notes the interaction with that component. However, rune bullets do cost +1 gp and etching them while adventuring strains the eyes, providing a penalty to ranged atk. Alchemical bullets cannot be made into rune bullets and firing rune bullets via guns other than the arcane gun increases the misfire rate by 3. 4th level provides the option to have multiple arcane guns – if he instead specializes on one gun, the gun adept gains an x3 multiplier for spell critical, which is very, very potent.

Starting at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the gun adept gets an RBE – a rune bullet effect. There are three categories: Bullet effects add e.g. alignment effects, energy damage, etc. As a minor gripe: The deafening effect of thunder bullets – does the aura center on the target of the bullet or the gun adept? Trick shots provide the utility tricks – counterspell shots, for example – some nice tricks here including soft crowd control with creature drawing/pulling! Thirdly, there are so-called “whiskey” tricks, which affect the gun adept. Contained in this section would be bayonet charges that add a second firing attack to the charge…which is a bit weird, in that it does not precisely codify how firing the gun and charging/AoOs etc. interact. From named bullets to pistol-whipping, there are so interesting options here.

Starting at 7th level, fighter feats may be chosen as bonus feats, with 12th level providing another one. 9th level allows for the imbuing of a spell in a rune bullet, causing a “duel[sic!] effect” – there are some more typos here and the ability isn’t, alas, as concise as I’d like it to be. The bonus damage caused by rune bullets in such a case is reduced, at least until 19th level.

15th level provides an AoO for the gun adept whenever a spell within reach (should be RANGE) of the gun is cast; this is executed after the spell’s “complete” – whatever that means. I get what this is supposed to do, but RAW, it does not work. 20th level provides auto-crit for arcane gun, spells and rune bullets (WTF) and an increased critical multiplier. Double WTF. Even for 20th level, that’s overkill. At the same time, the rune bullet crafting process is depicted in surprising detail, so kudos.

All in all, the gun adept makes for a take on the trope that almost gets it right – the ideas, chassis etc. are cool, but the damage-escalation is BRUTAL and it does not help that the class fails to limit the spells that can be channeled through the gun to class spells. A good rules-editor fixing some aspects of this could have made it into one of the best gunslinger-options, but RAW it is, pardon the bad pun, a pretty raw offering. …yeah, will punch myself for this one later.

Anyways, that’s it for the first chapter of the book – hereafter, we dive into archetypes and class options, starting with Michael Sayre’s great Battle Lord. The Dual Specialist would be a meaningful engine-tweak, which loses divine aura, dual command and some combat drills in favor of being able to gain training benefits from a specialty he did not choose. Warchiefs would be a Cha-based chaotic variant of the class – instead of associating bonus feats with combat drills, he employs rage powers to grant to allies – who, alas, may not execute Dex and Int-based skills while the drill is active. Dual command is moved to 16th level and 8th instead yields a +4 morale bonus to Strength and +2 to Will-saves for allies affected by drills – however, no three-fold command. The archetype also gains a variant capstone…and is really cool, potent and mechanically PRECISE. The final archetype for the class would be the zealot, who is Wisdom-based and exchanges 4th and 16th level’s combat drills for channel energy, with 5th level providing Channel Smite and 16th level adding negative effects to channel smite. Meaningful, fun engine-tweak – and once again, precise and well-made.

The Conduit gets a full-blown alternate class version, the siphon, who, instead of absorbing magic, basically acts as an absorbing battery for psionics. As a minor complaint here – last time I checked, there was no psionic damage type. The rays they can fire from absorbed energy increase their ranges, with higher levels providing means to expend siphoned power points to activate unique talents – Pretty cool: These get unique displays, enhancing the flavor component here. I am, as a whole, pretty excited by this variant – and in a really cool twist, 10th level provides an important choice that radically alters how the class plays – either the base engine is retained, or the class changes how it works by gaining access to the option to absorb latent energy of nearby psionics – as a whole, an impressive variant that includes proper rules-language for interaction with psionic items etc. There are some minor hiccups on an editing point, with e.g. “longer” missing from “no ages or requires sleep…”

Metamorphs get a variety of new evolutions that include integrated blasters for construct phenotypes, blood drain, energy drain, jinxs, gliding, powerful leaps, with e.g. jinx building on exceptional luck. An upgrade for sores should imho have a cool-down or cap to prevent the spamming of poisonous spores. Nice, on the other hand – some Technology Guide support here! A new feat lets you expend vitality surges to temporarily gain an evolution worth 1 point per 5 levels (should probably be metamorph levels). The Bionicist archetype would btw. be the dedicated Technology Guide option for the class. The blob is cooler – an ooze metamorph, who gains basically fortification-style abilities and the higher level option to spawn oozelings – basically damaging terrain that can, at higher levels, be used for short-range teleportation. Doopelmorphs would be, in case you were wondering, metamorphs that focus on doppelganger-style human impersonation. Ever-changing metamorphs may change their forms daily, but has less evolution points. Necromorphs replace vitality surge with the option to gain a temporary hit point pool in addition to other temporary hit points, explicitly stacking – this is extremely cheesable, effectively doubling your hit points. While the temporary hit points are not tied to damage, but to positive hit points reduced, this only means you’ll need more kittens to suck dry when recharging your shield…and the temp hit point maximum thus gained is btw. = maximum hit points. Yeah, not gonna happen in my game.

The mnemonic section begins with a bit of errata (which not in the base book?) and comes with two archetypes. The first would be the Dan Tien, who uses Int instead of Str to determine unarmed strike damage output. Instead of the signature memory theft and wipe, the class gains the option to enter into a battle trance that provides a means to increase damage and atk as well as threat range (RAW stacks with other effects, which is something I don’t tend to enjoy) – the ability does not add the benefit to crit confirmations and instead rewards multiple critical hits with stacking untyped bonuses. I’d be complaining much louder here, if the trance had no succinct cap per day. Instead of photographic reflexes, we get an ability intended to mimic other attacks, which becomes problematic with attack-like abilities, natural attacks and the like. The class also gets a thought strike-based parry, defensive roll, etc. Solid, as a whole, though it did not blow me away. The second archetype, the sensei, replaces photographic reflexes with the ability to impart copied moves to allies – the wording that the ability is basically renamed here and that the uses still are used as resource could have been a bit clearer here. When using retraining rules, the sensei can also be really quick and helpful as a kind of omni-teacher.

Mystics gets new talents, both increased ranges and advanced talents that e.g. include flame-based propulsion. The class, alas, hasn’t aged too well, with the release of the kineticist since then…The dual energy tricks available here are okay, though. The extensionist is a basic engine tweak and sports a couple of sentences, where the structure seems to be wonky. “she must decided[sic!]” and the like. The Musha-Chie archetype is a psionic mystic, basically a psychic warrior crossover, who gets to use ki as power points, among other things. Not bad, but also not the most impressive of crossover options.

The pauper class was the weakest in the original LIC, and this book does help a bit, providing three proper guiding means to determine the gain of hope and despair with concise paths. The absolver archetype can gain despair by listening to sorrow or hope when delivering motivational speeches – this is pretty roleplaying-based, but yeah. On a more annoying note: assumption of sins fails to specify whether it is powered by hope or despair. Cool: They can transfer negative conditions and later provide atonements, for example. The conduit of futures is weird, being able to share their hope and despair abilities with nearby allies. While the rules-language is okay, it could be more precise here. Mastermind paupers are despair specialists, rationalists get emotion and logic pools (though not much beyond that is done with the cool concept) and taleweavers have pretty much free control of whether to gain hope or despair…which begs to question why to use the base class in the first place.

The survivor gets new tactics to add in surprise rounds or poach some adventurer tricks. The contender archetype loses the safe passage options to ally aiding. He also gains the option to substitute a scaling damage for unarmed strikes or grapples – though the formatting here is not as it should be, sporting cosmetic deviations. The archetype may use safe passage uses to suspend a scaling array of negative conditions…and unfortunately taps into the somewhat problematic herculean adventurer abilities, while also gaining a few new tricks to choose from.

The synergist begins with an errata (again –should be in the base book) as well as two archetypes: The echo declares a member of her cast as foil and chooses success or failure, basing synergy points on the performance of that foil, with higher levels providing more foils. Instead of complementary skills, nearby ability score modifiers of allies may be used and when multiple members of the cast roll the same number for a skill check or attack roll, the echo gains a bonus – which is pretty creative! All in all, one of the more interesting archetypes herein. Vagarist casts gain bonuses when failing as a whole, penalties when succeeding as a whole, comparing total combat performance. Via schadenfreude, they may base synergy on failures of foes in a surprisingly complex, interesting engine-tweak, which also extends to vagaries and subsequent abilities – once again, a rather interesting option that changes how the class works in a meaningful manner. The umbra’s missing smoke demiplane has been reproduced herein as well.

The warloghe class gains new taboos to provide some spellcasting – I assume for the choice made to enter a binding pact, since the spellcasting option already has spell access (and the binding pact option can use it…) There is a pretty cool option to animate terrain to provide creepy distractions that can be directed and even cause damage…it has a DC sans noting for what and is “damaging (1d6 hit points)” –that is not rules-language. Similar issues extend to poltergeist hurling of objects, which fail to specify if the attack roll required is ranged or melee. 3 twisted spirits are provided: The bhuta, who gets summon nature’s ally SPs and wild shape (boring), the poltergeist, which grants thematic spell options and shadow, which is the most complex of the 3, granting a shadow companion and providing an array of pretty interesting options. The class also comes with the twisted husk archetype, who gains basically a nasty, possessed armor and slightly increased martial prowess – a rather nice archetype, as a whole, though it loses the spirit binding options.

The new warsmith designs have some cool visuals: What about making nails etc. glow red hot? Yeah, cool…but the pdf fails to clarify the action economy of the design – the ability-group does not have a default, using attacks, skill uses, etc. as reference and basis for active abilities in the original…unfortunately, not the only design suffering from this. That being said: While such hiccups annoy the heck out of me, at the same time, this gets killing folks with the shrapnel of sundered weapons (!!!), in conjunction with edifice recognition, right. Highly complex operation and it works. Even has the anti-abuse caveat. Anatomist warsmiths get sneak attack as well as some field healing style abilities and sports solid, non-magical healing. Gunsmiths replace edifice recognition and Improved Sunder with an experimental firearm and learn to modify the firearm to have a larger capacity, operate recoilless, fire rune bullets. The ironclad takes plates and connects them to his body, getting armor-rules right there. No idea what this “bashing damage” the archetype references is supposed to be, though. The new designs complement the archetype with alloyed skin, an enchantable arm that can be used as both shield and weapon at once…Runesmiths have one unbolded ability that should be bolded – it states that the archetype uses Wisdom as governing attribute. The archetype also gains runes which may be learned in lieu of designs. The runes are interesting and well-presented as a whole.

If you haven’t noticed by now – no, we do not get new demiurge options, alas.

The book does contain several options for non-LIC-classes – the armiger magus provides minor boosts via the inscription of his crest and also gets a nice arcane heraldry ability – flavorful, but I wish it did something more interesting with its idea of using the special mark that denotes the weaponry. Battle sapper rangers are pretty damn cool, gaining the ability to place satchels of explosives that have been tightly and concisely defined, representing the trope rather well. Like it! Battle Sorceror…wait. Sound familiar? Yep, the book contains the archetypes from the Prepare for War Basic Training Manual, though not all of them.

I’m not going to go through all of these in detail once more. Ironskin slayers get d4 sneak attacks, but may target creatures benefiting from concealment with sneak and they basically represent heavy armor-wearing slayers that retain some mobility. The qigong ninja is pretty self-explanatory. Sleep peddler witches are locked into dreaming as patron and get a pretty OP ability: At-will standard action sleep – which also provides healing for willing targets if they sleep long enough. Problem – this is clearly supposed to be a hex, but not designated as such – hence activation and range are opaque. Basically a better slumber hex. Yeah, not sold.

The book also provides a massive array of new feats for extra class feature uses, etc. Some are pretty strong – like Follow Through, which nets you an AoO against another foe upon missing with an attack. Meditation feats from Amora Game’s stand-alone releases have also been included here. Alas, their rules language hasn’t been cleaned up.

The last chapter is devoted to prestige classes, collecting several previously released options like the beast hunter, breaker, centurion, meta adept, tavern brawler, toxicologist. There are new 10-level PrCs herein, but considering the epic length this review already sports, I’ll be pretty brief

The forged is basically a construct-apotheosis guy. He is decent, though e.g. “bashing” damage and similar hiccups can be found – and I’ve seen this done before in a variety of more flexible ways. Ki Scions are pretty solid elemental monks. Long Gunners can be utterly OP, treating their sniper shots as an automatic critical threat. It also scales up critical multiplier insanely high – x6 at level 10. OP and ridiculous damage-escalation. Finally, the wild shot is basically a pistol specialist. The section also suffers from more editing glitches and instances of improper declinations and the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the issues of this book, at least in significant sections. As the work of many authors, the different skill-levels and rules-language precision of the authors become very much evident when reading this book. There are some aspects, where highly complex abilities work precisely and to the point…and then, something simple is botched. This may also be due to inconsistent rules-editing, perhaps focusing only on the complicated parts. I don’t know and I frankly haven’t seen this before. "Inconsistent" is probably the best way to describe this. There is no way past noticing that this is a serious detriment for the book. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid pieces of full-color stock art. Big minus in the comfort department – the pdf has NO BOOKMARKS. For a book of this size, that is a jarring, jarring downside.

Greg LaRose, Adam Boucher, Andrew Boucher, Brian Moran, Christie Hollie, Ismael Alvarez, Justin Ragan, Kevin Bond, Ryan Bond, Michael Sayre, Morgan Boehringer, Sasha Hall and Wojciech Gruchala’s Liber Xpansion is a book I waited for with baited breath. In fact, one reason you haven’t seen this review sooner was that I was hoping for at least the bookmarks to be included. Or for another editing pass.

…damn. I LOVE the Liber Influxus Communis. I so wanted to love this as well. When I saw the “Ultimate Psionics Compatible”-logo on this book, my mind went BOOM! The possibilities! Tactician/battlelord-crossovers! Dread or cryptic mnemonics! Marksman battlelords! Oh, and all the untapped potential of LIC’s classes! Hybrid-y options for standard classes, expansions…there is a whole, vast world of untapped potential in these cool engines.

Some of the options in this book manage to reach these lofty expectations, providing nice, new material in the precision I wanted to see. The bad news is that the pdf doesn’t reach these levels of quality and coolness too often. While the LIC pretty much blew me away all the time, this book mostly felt like “only” a good expansion…when it worked. The inclusion of the previously-released material is nice, but I frankly wished these files had received another editing pass on both a rules- and proofing-level.

The good news here is that, generally, the material works – you won’t have to guess (often) how something is supposed to work and the adventurer class, while not perfect and with its own hiccups, can be considered to be mostly solid…but much like the gun adept and the rest of the book, it feels like…it almost got it right. This, to me, feels like a marathon, where you falter on the final stretch. As a rules-dev, I can literally see what it’d take to make this whole book be a good, perhaps even a very good offering. It is so damn close it breaks my heart. If you’re feeling up to the task, try your hand – it’s not an expensive book for the page-count, after all.

Still, this is a very flawed book…only, it’s not consistently flawed. Some parts of it are. The typos, proofing hiccups, rules-glitches, they are not persistent or constant, but they accumulate. On the other hand, we have some gems, even some innovation herein – though not even close to the extent that the LIC provided these. The whole book, ultimately, falls short of its vast promise.

…that being said, I have a responsibility to my readers and I can’t just close my eyes to the copious amounts of lack that define formal aspects of the book.

The lack of further refinement for the previously-released, compiled material, the lack of bookmarks for a book of this size, the lack of precise and unifying rules-language editing (you can’t tell me that “+ STR” in a text doesn’t stick out like a sore thumb; or that copy-replacing “bashing damage” for “bludgeoning damage” is a big deal) – there, the book falters.

This review breaks my heart. The adventurer on its own would be a 3.5 or 4-star class as is, it has all the makings of a 5-star-class if its few hiccups get cleaned up. Similarly, there are options herein worthy of 4 or 5 stars…but also a lot that simply does not live up to this level.

Do yourself a favor and get Liber Influxus Communis. It is a great, creative book full of cool, advanced classes by some of the most talented 3pp-designers. From Survivor to Demiurge, there is something for everyone, for those that prefer simple classes to those that enjoy super-complex monsters. It is inspired in all the right ways and I really cherish my print copy.

As for this book, I can’t unanimously recommend it – if you really liked the LIC and feel up to the task of doing some tinkering, you may get some cool stuff out of this…but I can’t rate this higher than 2.5 stars…and frankly, I should round down. However, there are some pieces of content herein that simply do not deserve this – it is for these gems that I will round up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Liber Xpansion (PFRPG)
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5E Mini-Dungeon #054: Uneasy Rests the Crown'd Head
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2017 07:39:17

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. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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 is a direct sequel of "Ne'er Trust the White Wolf's Tameness", but works perfectly as a standalone offering. The PCs venture down into a sinkhole, only to find an air membrane on water that can cling to the PCs, providing 60 minutes of air... -1 minute per round of strenuous activity, so they should better manage their precious air supplies......oh, and the less minutes remain, the more is their visibility impeded, which adds a really cool tactical option to the whole proceedings!

Now, the PCs can engage in plentiful 3D-combat here, as the complex is new and intended to be nothing less than the start of a new aboleth outpost, created by two brethren of this loathsome race. These critters, alas, have not been hyperlinked, but that as an aside – aquatic treants and the like make for interesting and very lethal foes. From a breach to the elemental plane of water and its guardian to other watery foes, traps, merrows and finally, the potentially maddening battle against the bosses, this is a diverse, challenging and extremely evocative mini-dungeon.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and solid, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley's excursion to the realms below the waves here is fantastic: It provides the means for interesting and rarely faced foes in a thoroughly fantastic environment. The air/vision mechanic is well worth scavenging and could carry a whole mega-adventure complex...in fact, that's what I'll use it for! It is impressive how much flavor and coolness the author has once again squeezed out of these precious few words - and how much fun. That being said, while I adore many choices herein, the module does lose a bit of its strong flavor in the conversion (no idea who did it), which is why this will “only” get 5 stars – well worth checking out if you’re looking for a challenge!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #054: Uneasy Rests the Crown'd Head
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5E Mini-Dungeon #053: Ne'er Trust The White Wolf's Tameness
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2017 07:37:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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 can be run as a sequel to "Look not with Thine Eyes, but Thine Mind", but works just as well on its own. The PCs continue their descent into the bowels of the earth, teleporting into a lethal trap, where multiple, deadly guardians must be bested to escape the "Wolf's Eyes" - a kind of guarded teleport trap. “Everything is ceramic”, the module states – which is cool. I’m less enamored with “relevant check DC 10” – looks like a conversion relic to me.

Free of this challenging gauntlet of rooms and its powerful golems and swarms, the PCs have to make their way through the lethal traps of "the wolf's jaw" - and from here on out, things only get more foreboding, as remnants of horrific fates, 4 random encounters you may or may not use, and a terribly injured group of adventurers speak of worse things awaiting in "the wolf's mind" - a part of the complex where the way leads further below. The 5E-version also comes with a rather cool creature, the Iron Lector – neat!

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 decent, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley sports a nice quasi-puzzle, some challenging traps and foes and a thematically concise and interesting mini-dungeon here. No complaints, well worth getting - 5 stars, and the 5E-bonus critter makes for a cool added bonus. Once again, I cannot comment on who has done the conversion here.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #053: Ne'er Trust The White Wolf's Tameness
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5E Mini-Dungeon #052: Look Not With Thine Eyes But Thine Mind
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 09/14/2017 07:36:00

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. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

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 can be played as a sequel to "There are more Things in the Planes and the Earth", but it works perfectly fine on its own as well. After having braved the weird complex and witnessed an elder thing talking to Formians, the PCs now explore a complex where the insectoid creatures represent the none-too-pleasant opposition - random events are provided as well, 4 to be more precise, Wait, Formians? Yep – stats for warriors and workers of the classic critters are provided – kudos, though the formian’s Stinger is one off regarding its damage-value.

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 decent, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me. Really annoying glitch: The text on page #2 is half transparent, making it a strain on the eyes.

Stephen Yeardley's latest installments of this sequence of loosely connected mini-dungeons has a diverse and fun array of foes, a neat atmosphere and generally makes for a cool exploration. That being said, the strange layout glitch on page #2 is less than pleasant to read through. The 5E-conversion, otherwise, has been handled well, though I can’t comment on who did it. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #052: Look Not With Thine Eyes But Thine Mind
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