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This installment of the evocative Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
What happens if Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s thesis in Vril, The Power of the Master Race, of a subterranean master-race and their quasi-mystical super-technology was set against a backdrop of genocidal struggle between two competing races and then combined with a classic “you dug too deep” twist, unleashing dread Erebi on the genocidal victors of the struggle? We get one messed up setting. Add to that a sprinkling of hollow earth and H.G Wellsian Time Machine and we have even more of a mess – in the ruined, desolate planet (swallowed by a titanic shadow-like…thing, slowly breaking the world asunder) and its tunnels, survivors, ranging from degenerate morlock to the last surviving racist Übermenschen (the pdf gets the plural wrong - you add –en in the end), fight their desolate and doomed battles against reality-annuling aliens led by a Slenderman-esque figure, while an undead umbragunt may be the last champion of a planet doomed to die.
Hollow Thune is not a nice place, and if the above wasn’t enough, the writing and narrative voice further drives that home – essentially, the pdf not only borrows Bulwer-Lytton’s terminology from another age, but in the emphasis on Germanic Nomenclature and the quoting of concepts like the Black Sun, draws less than subtle parallels with the popularized notion of the Thule society’s mysticism, thus adding a nasty sense of gravitas to the whole setting.
That being said, as a German, I sometimes tire of the whole imagery, mainly since we’re bombarded with the atrocities of the Third Reich in both school curriculum and media and I have a hard time separating games and fun and the popularized stereotype of the Nazivillains from the gruesome realities of history. This pdf made this particular component relatively easy on me – with the clear condemnation of the socal-darwinism exhibited by the destroyed races of Thune, with the clear pointer not at the Third Reich, but at the intellectual streams that existed in literature, culture and intelligentsia of all fields, the pdf manages to evoke the themes, but do so in a thoroughly unique manner that is at once creative and still, very clear in the themes it quotes.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork consists of glorious full-color pieces that are absolutely gorgeous to behold.
Matt Banach’s Hollow Thune could have devolved into an utter mess in the hands of a lesser writer – I have literally seen all components that make up the defining elements of this book in multiple cases, have read Bulwer-Lytton and thanks to my keen interest in history, I am pretty well-versed in the atrocities committed by different nations. Hollow Thune still manages to keep these together, to toe the line between the horrific and fantastic, never falling into the realm of tastelessness. And for that, I applaud it. The whole setting even would make for a great Dark Soul-ish background of a desolate world you slowly explore, a world of lethal adversaries…and once again, I find myself wishing, that this Gossamer World had more room to shine. Oh well, as provided, we get a great installment in the series and yet again, a verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.
Part II of my review:
The spell-chapter does provide a cool rules-clarification for spells utilizing the shadow of the caster and provide, obviously, a significant means of providing shadow/light-control. Interesting for other classes - there are spells herein which interact with e.g. shadow surges, making the latter not just an isolated class feature. Interesting would be terrain control spells to confine targets in e.g. areas of darkness, while shadowy wings that can also be used to attack foes and furthermore, allows for channeling 1/cast - nasty and versatile, but I like it. From the ageing capstone, there are other interesting effects - for example, a complex spell which alters an illusion to allow for the execution of quasi-real attacks via the infusion of shadow stuff - as such area attacks, attacks, energy etc. are covered with unique benefits. There are also lunar prophecies or the option to conjure forth the all-consuming maw of the nightwave. Ways to suppress extraordinary senses would also be an interesting move for spells. However, there also are minor modifications/improved versions, like e.g. a darkness/cold-based variant of flaming sphere. Shadow-based necromancy spell-duplication is also covered, as are chaotic overlaps between planes. I also like the concise definition of shadow length for attacks on a shadow, which reflects its damage to the origin of the caster. A new spell-class to summon evil, horrific creatures also can be found herein. There is also a highly complex class of spells that allows for the conjuration of umbral servants for the nightblades, which essentially act on their own after a nightblade's turn -these are fun, allowing e.g. a called magician to freely apply metamagic to certain spells cast close to it, etc.
The final chapter provides ample new magical weapon/armor qualities and specific items - with artworks depicting them that are downright inspired and rank among the best such I have ever seen in any given supplement - WOW. The twilight reaver scythe looks so badass, I just NEED to show this picture to my players, even without knowing that it's a +2 cold iron keen greater umbral scythe that allows for surge storage on crits...
The pdf also sports a handy two-page index and artist-credits.
Editing and formatting are excellent - I noticed no significant issues while reading this - none. The 2-column full-color layout used in this book is GORGEOUS. I mean it. This is one of the most beautiful roleplaying book I've seen any 3pp produce, an impression also underlined by the GLORIOUS original full-color artwork by Jasmine Mackey, Bryon Oshihiro, Danielle Sands, Al Savell, Nicoleta Stavarache and Trevor Verges - the artworks, from vistas to spells to characters adhere to a glorious style that is uniform and concise. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that this book, in visual, aesthetic quality, could have been a Paizo-book. It's that beautiful. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, but I'd sincerely advise you to get this in print - unlike quite a few PODs, there is no big chance of an errata invalidating this book. This book looks better than quite a few kickstarted books I could name. Yes, THAT beautiful.
What a furious first offering! This is quite frankly the best first offering of crunch I've seen a novice designer produce in ages. Last year saw plenty of adventures of newcomers providing an extremely high quality, but new crunch tends to require most designers some time to get right. Well, this is Ascension Games' first product and it does NOT require any leniency on my part. Author (and layout/editor!) Christopher Moore seems to not only be able to edit his own texts, quite a feat, imho, he also provides a level of professionalism with regards to rules-language one sees scarcely, almost never among novices. The language is so precise, it can be considered on par with the errata'd, good Paizo-books. Beyond that, this pdf offered a level of system-mastery and a level of awareness of obscurer rules I quite frankly almost never get to see. While I have some personal gripes against one component or another herein, none really hold up on a professional level and boil down to personal preferences; number-wise, including extensive playtests, this book held up admiringly well. Few books can claim to withstand this level of deep scrutiny to such an extent, especially considering the level of interaction with obscure and complex elements among the design elements. I was positively surprised to see all of this - but where the book shines most is with the material that takes chances and provides things to do that no other spell or system can achieve - it is the unique effects, which stand out and while I absolutely adore the coverage of just about anything one could ask for in sucha context, I still would have loved to see even more of the inspired, unique effects that can be found herein.
Remember, this is just me being an utterly spoiled bastard of a reviewer - this book is, without engaging in hyperbole, up to the level of crunch-mastery exhibited usually only by established, experienced crunch-masters and blends this with production-values out of this world, visually more on par with Paizo than what you'd expect from a 3pp, much less a new one sans a KS providing the funds. This is a hugely impressive book that catapulted Ascension Games to the landscape of my table and to my radar; I can't help but be excited about the things to come and more such supplements and I certainly hope we'll see more material for the Nightblade - the class is inspired and fun and clearly, its potential is not yet tapped. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given without the slightest hesitation, falling short of becoming a candidate for my top ten of 2015 only by a tiny margin. Still, this is thoroughly, exceedingly, impressive. Congratulations to the Ascension Games-team - you have impressed a jaded reviewer.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted on Lou Agresta's RPGaggression, here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.
@Kryzbyn: My reviews ALWAYS hit endzeitgeist.com before any other site - after all, I have to provide an incentive for people to take a look at my site, right? And personally, I loathe: "Here's a blurb, click here to check my review"-reviews, so that felt fairest to me - no hassle if one doesn't want to wait, quickest access to reviews if you check my site. :)
Also: Thanks for the linkage!
My dear readers!
Next week will see the fruit of my patron's collective generosity, as I start to come to the reviews that YOU asked for - i.e., so far "More Raging Swan Press, more Vathak-supplements"! Expect to see a lot of both next week.
To give you an update, playtesting of the LIC is progressing nicely and will continue this week-end.
The prioritized review for May asked for by Rite Publishing, the Kaiju Codex, will also hit site next week. If you are a patron eligible to a prioritized review, please let me know - the sooner I know, the sooner I can move it up my pile!
Also, I figured I'd provide you a list of what reviews I've published and finalized in the brief time since I've started my patreon, to show you that I am not slacking. ;)
I will continue to track my reviews this way and show you what YOU made possible! You will note a rather significant influx of work-intense reviews here - many big crunchy books that take time...and there are more to come! So once again, thank you for your support and enjoy your week-end!
Here's the list:
Rite Publishing - Gossamer Worlds: Glimmer Gloam
I remain yours,
Ladies and gentlemen,
While I was posting the reviews for today, a wonderful lady has catapulted the EZG-patreon over the third milestone! O__O
I am not exaggerating when I'm saying that this was only something I have dreamed about; fantasized in some moments about such a goal - and then discarded the notion. I did not dare to dream that so many of you fine folks would support me. I am exceedingly stunned and motivated to continue to bring you the quality reviews you deserve! You and your support, even if it is just spreading the word, means the world to me. Thank you, from the bottom of my now significantly less cynical heart!
Now while this week did not see too many "big" reviews, behind the scenes, I've been cranking away like a madman, finishing some freelancing assignments and doing extensive analysis of some BIG and work-intense books - the Dragon Companion's blocks, for example, were capital W level work. More are to come, ladies and gentlemen, and next week will see quite a bunch of bigger reviews - Path of Shadows, for example, will see a second playtest round this week-end, since I noticed some moving parts I need to see in action and the same holds true for certain Iron Titans. ;)
I also wanted to thank you for talking to me, spreading the word, for being awesome and I look forward and enjoy taking your suggestions and listen to what YOU want to see reviewed!
As an aside: Tomorrow is a holiday in Germany and I'll be spending the day, for once, not in front of the screen and instead go out - live, for the first time in months, without a gnawing existential anxiety at the back of my head - all thanks to YOU! You probably can't fathom how much that is worth to me! Regularly scheduled reviews will resume next Monday!
I remain, honestly humbled and happy,
Thank you, everyone - this patreon indeed allows me to weather the transition I'm going through regarding my employment situation and look for proper jobs without having to resort to exploitative jobs or fearing whether I can pay the rent.
And yes, i am aware that there are bound to be fluctuations and the like - but I never would have believed that an outpouring of support like this would even be in the realm of possibility. I'm humbled beyond believe by this community. Thank you, each and every one of you - for each share, for each buck. Thank you.
F*** man, sorry to hear that. You're a pillar and a constructive influence for the community. Don't give up hope, though - as someone who has had significant health issues for most of his life, I can empathize. On the plus-side - modern medicine is making progress in leaps and bounds, so you may very well be lucky - so hang in there!!
I just woke up, did some chores and then opened my account - holy cow. I've been grinning like CRAZY. Literally, like a madmen. Then, I went outside for a second and took a couple of deep breaths. Then I returned and starter rolling will saves to disbelieve the illusion.
Holy moly. I am stupefied. I honestly expected cicadas chirping and tumbleweeds rolling - not this level of support. Wow. Just wow. Words fail me and my first reaction would simply be: "You're the best!!!"
Seeing how that is not adequate to describe my level of gratitude and capture the state of euphoria, I am just using the paltry words of gratitude available:
Thank you, every one of you.
From the bottom of my heart.
EDIT: Thanks for catching the typo, OSW - fixed!
Ladies and gentlemen,
apologies for the intrusion.
As you all may be aware, my situation is not particularly rosy to say the least - I've been asking around the boards, on my page, etc. for a quite long time and since the consensus was this step and since I'm always open to listen to you and your suggestions, there is now finally...
I have also endeavored to answer all questions you may have, so please, consider taking a look at the patreon, and also please consider reading the Q&A here on my site - whether and in what form my reviews continue to exist very much depends on you!
Even if you can't pledge (or don't want to), please consider spreading the word about my patreon!
Thank you for your kind consideration and all the support over the years,
Part II of my review:
Southern Gothic horror, absurd, but still exciting comedy or a means of teaching about the world - the module provides a lot of playstyles - and it ran completely differently both times I ran it, so it has replay value to boot! I *ADORE* this module. It is unique in every sense of the word and sports yet another facet of Richard's capacity that sets him apart as one of the few authors who push the boundaries and raise the level in the art of adventure writing. And yes, this module, in my opinion, can be called art...or proper literature. It is excellent and while the odd typo here and there may be slightly annoying; it is mainly due to the exceedingly high level of quality of the whole book this catches one's eye. Still, I implore you to get this awesome piece of adventure-writing. It is unique in all the right ways and acts as one glorious example of what adventures could be beyond rolling dice and slaying monsters. Highly modular, versatile and with replay-vale, oozing with details, this module once again receives my highest honors - 5 stars + seal of approval and since this was released in 2014, candidate for my Top ten of 2014-status.
Do NOT let this one slip by!
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and on d20pfsrd.com's shop.
See, that makes me happy - it means I at least partially managed to achieve a modicum of consistency and fixed criteria. :)
My reviews always show up first on endzeitgeist.com, then are submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and the day after that (or Mondays, in the case of Fridays), I post them on Paizo, OBS, etc. So yeah, today, the review will hit this site.