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Endzeitgeist's page

6,589 posts. 2,984 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.


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GReat job there, Alex, and thank you for the shout-out! I hope it'll make folks check out this gem!

I know that particularly samsarans and wayang blew me away and really changed my views on them.

A gem of a book!


Gwyndolin is closer to the deadly-level I'll actually use as written...so thanks!! I'll probably slap some serious kineticist options on him as well. :D


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The revised edition of the massive first expansion for Veranthea clocks in at a whopping 123 pages (for this price-point!), 1 page front cover,1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 117 pages of content - quite a lot, so let's get to it!

Veranthea Codex is a truly massive book - and still, there are a lot of components that simply, by virtue of their unique ideas, deserved more coverage. Well, this would be the first book doing just that. If you require a brief one-sentence summary - think of this as the setting's Inner Sea Gods...though, admittedly, the focus is somewhat different.

In the first chapter, we get information on the respective deities - from ever sleeping Verahnus to Death and the Nightmare Gods - and, much like Inner Sea Gods, we receive information on the priest's role in the respective society, aphorisms, holy texts, holidays, etc. - basically, we get the full fluff-write-ups, though, considering the comparably somewhat lesser page-count, obviously the entries are not as extensive as in Inner Sea Gods - still, what is here can be considered fun and sports information on (anti-)paladins for the respective deities. And yes, this includes paladins with an anti-chaos focus instead of the anti-evil focus, for example. Here, you'll also encounter one of the major improvements of this revised edition: The book now actually contains obediences for each and every deity herein.

If you're looking for full-blown redesigns of aforementioned classes though, you won't find them here. As a nice nod towards the game's traditions, we have a couple of Easter eggs here that should certainly put smiles on the faces of quite a few GMs: Death's holy text, for example, would obviously be the Libris Mortis.

The flavor of these deities is excellent - I will e.g. never stop chuckling when reading about the deity of capitalism that puts a smiling face to the world, purporting to be LG when he's actually LE. (And no, for your info - I am NOT anti-capitalist. Quite the contrary, actually.) Cool regarding new ideas: Wanna sell your soul for random mythic templates? Yup, possible.

The chapter is also suffused by pieces of crunch - nath, as a material, has a low chance of generating wild magic, for example. Another material, Kenta, temporarily becomes harder when it's hit (cool mechanics!) and also increases AC etc. - that being said, for the copious benefits the material provides, it is underpriced. Streas, as a material, is also nice: It converts energy types, though it does confuse "Fire" with "Flame" in a minor hiccup. Wealb is slightly problematic - the material nets you a bonus to damage after being critically hit; while you can kitten the bonus, it is an ineffective strategy...but yeah, I think that could have used a slightly smoother design. There also is an interesting dust that allows for the substitution of Str for the key ability modifier of spellcasting - while I'm not a big fan here, the costs keep this in check. The pdf, while cleaned up in comparison to the first iteration, still features "page @@"-glitches here and there. Both Aleana and Andrletha now receive dedicated paladin-tenets for their knights.

On the plus-side: Studying some of the dread holy texts of Nightmare Gods can cause (conveniently hyperlinked) insanities - but also convey significant bonuses. The pdf now has a note on the recent emergence of psychic magic in Veranthea and a feat that allows cultists to infiltrate other churches and society at large...nice. Worshiping the dread Nightmare Gods can cause serious insanities and mutations for those foolish (or self-destructive) enough to heed their calling. 3 new occult rituals with slightly modified rules have been added for your gibbering delight, causing unpleasant insanities for your adversaries.

The pdf also sports a vast array of player options for the devout, beginning with Religion-traits. These traits generally are pretty powerful, but not in a way that would render then overpowered; as a cosmetic complaint, they should be denoted as subtype (Faith), but its trait subtype is evident, so yeah. For example, gaining +10 to Perception while asleep is interesting. Similarly, extending your darkvision (or getting it) a limited amount of times per day is cool.

The pdf also sports a selection of spells, and they are interesting in some of their concepts: Arcodivinity takes a whole round to cast and emulates an arcane spell of 4th level or lower from the magus or sorc/wiz-spell lists or a divine spell from the cleric/druid-list of 4th level or lower when cast by an arcane caster. This is generally a cool idea, but it should be noted that this has system-immanent hiccups the more spells you allow in your game, allowing for a very strong wild-card spell that may be balanced by the increased spell-level for all but ranger and paladin and the 1 round casting duration, but still - GMs should probably impose some limitations on spell-selection here. The revised edition now has a GM-caveat to acknowledge that, but still - not the biggest fan. In my game, with a ton of options, this will not show up.

Not all spells fall into this high-concept category - blazing insight, for example, allows for an immediate action reroll of Int- or Wis-based skill or attribute checks made in the last round and allows for rolling twice on the reroll. Other spells are pretty intriguing - divinely intoxicated is interesting: Double your spellcasting attribute modifier's time, the target has to roll twice any d20 - and then use the results in the following sequence: Better result, better result, worse result. Capital Capitalist lets you haggle exceedingly well - but the reduced price may result in the merchant decreasing his starting attitude towards you. Forcing targets to reroll damage just caused may be okay, but more interesting would be Gift of Undeath - which provides continuous healing for a couple of minutes...and then slays the imbiber and resurrects him as an undead. Ouch, but it can't be force-fed to unwitting dupes, thankfully...a damn flavorful for fanatic death-cultists! As a very minor complain, making the target "one WILLING living creature would be a bit more elegant for that caveat. Touch of the Alien has been properly balanced and is no longer a broken mess.

The pdf also contains an array of magic items, including a magical lantern and a theurgist's mace - basically a mace that grants you the option to smite 1/day; if the character is a caster, he may smite 2/day spellcasters opposed to your tradition (i.e. arcane casters get smite versus divine casters and vice versa). If a character can cast both types of spells, the character may use the smite 4/day...but here, the update is a bit inconsistent: How does psychic magic interact here? Not 100% sure. This smite penalizes saves versus the wielder's spells and SPs. Still, there are damn cool ideas here - an artifact-level blowgun flute? Yes! A coin that acts as a shuriken and lets you convert metal coins while also enhancing your Sleight of Hand? Yep, pretty awesome. Dreksler's Unending Tap is pretty fun and allows for the conversion of fluid to magical beer. A whip that may petrify foes if they fail the low-DC-save...pretty neat.

The pdf also sports some archetypes - the divine drunkard brawler, for example. When these guys consume alcohol, they accumulate drunk points, which they then can expend to duplicate one of 3 randomly determined effects. The effects are interesting and generally make for a chaotic experience well in tune with Dreksler's nature. The Holy Innovator gunslinger basically is a gunslinger who can utilize contraptions from the Veranthea Codex base book - nice. The paladin-archetype merchanteer is reprinted in this book, complete with tithed healing, magnetic channel and transformation to antipaladin. The Tian Ti-Ang Agent bard can be considered to be the heralds of the mythic vampire lords and as such receive an assortment of interesting vampire-abilities.

Then, however, one of the coolest chapters in the book begins - after the chosen template (CR +1), we get heralds for the gods - all of them! From an impossible slug swarm to more traditional executors of the will of the respective deities, these unique and powerful beings (clocking usually in at around CR 15) make for a truly inspired, interesting chapter and feature appropriate and cool unique tricks as well as information on planar allies available. The 3 immortal demigods of Urethiel, Boris and his entourage are covered/reprinted and we also get the CR 25/MR 10 Sciemaat the shattered, who seeks to repair the shield that once kept the nightmare gods at bay. Similarly, the last irrational Carambal can be found here. H'gal, the grand lich of Proxima Alterra (CR 17/MR 7), on the other hand, was a rather interesting penultimate critter herein. Oh, and the revised version now has full stats for Yawvil, master wizard of Vernathea: CR 37/MR 10. No, that is not a type. He is built with hypercorps rules and a hyperscore of 10, meganaut 2/hypernaut 2 - though you can run him as printed, this means that he does not use the default mythic rules.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting have improved since the original iteration of Radical Pantheon, but still are not perfect - I noticed a few glitches and relics here and there. Layout adheres to Veranthea's two-column full-color standard and the book sports a vast amount of full-color artworks, with new pieces added in. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler, with contributions from Luis Loza, Michael McCarthy and Nicholas J. Giebel, has written a massive expansion here - and while there is some overlap with the content already featured in the Veranthea Codex, there still is ample material herein to justify the very low asking price for this amount of content. The revised edition of radical pantheon sports more information for all the deities, which means, ultimately, that everything feels a bit more concise, that the respective, previously somewhat neglected entities now also shine. So yes, radical pantheon's revised edition is superior to the original iteration. At the same time, however, some of the new pieces of content, while thematically neat, can prove to be a bit problematic. In the end, the book has improved and thus warrants a final verdict of 4.5 stars...but I cannot round up for it.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

@Micah: Most folks prefer having all of their gaming material organized in one library. That is the most common reason for this request. Honestly, unless you have an exclusivity deal with OBS, I'd consider uploading to Paizo as well. It depends very much on the publisher, but there are some that have a stronger following on Paizo than on OBS...and vice versa, of course.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just stumbled over this. Very oool, Zelgadas! Since my current campaign borrows heavily from Dark Souls in one of its main plots, this is really helpful. Keep up the good work!!


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

At the borders of three formerly warring nations, atop a craggy precipice at the edge of known civilization, there is a sturdy keep overlooking the surrounding landscape, a bulwark against raiders and the forces of darkness, steadfast clinging to civilization and providing solace for those nearby, a veritable keep in the borderlands, if you will, awaiting adventurers of stout hearts and valorous mien. This structure is dragonmarch keep, represented in a massive b/w-map that spans a whole page and covers nearby fields and countryside as well.

This rough land lives and stands by the virtue of noble scions that come to these far-away stretches of land to defend the borders, currently under the auspice of Countess Liana Van de Vore (comically misnamed "Can de Vore" once) - whose ancestor, as knowledgeable PCs may know, has slain the red dragon Glitterfang at this very place.

The pdf does provide notes on notable folk and how the general populace here does dress, the local nomenclature, etc. The attention to detail we've come to expect from the series extends to the marketplace-section that presents minor magic for sale here and the local bar - which even comes with sample food and drink prices. As always, we do receive a table of 6 sample events and 6 sample whispers and rumours to add some local color and further adventuring options to the material presented herein. The system neutral version has been thoroughly purged of new-school system-references and only features the classic classes etc. in brief notes.

A political dimension is also part of the location - as a cornerstone of a non-aggression treaty and potential point of interest for 3 kingdoms and the monstrous forces of the wastes, the locale features sufficient flavor...and a curse on a nearby farm is implied as well....all in all, plenty of adventuring potential here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham's dragonmarch keep is a cool environment, though it is somewhat more conservative than most locations penned by him; this is not meant as criticism, mind you - it just means that this location is very easy to implement in one's games...and this, considering its borderlands-theme, is very much what the pdf sets out to do. I ultimately do like this location as a whole, but if you're looking for something novel, then this will perhaps not 100% deliver. This is an excellent, detailed and flavorful representation of the classic theme, but it lacks the one-step-beyond, the je-ne-sais-quoi, the twist, if you will, to catapult it to the realms of excellence. That being said, I firmly believe that the system-neutral iteration of this Place of Power will find quite a lot of fans - after all, it breathes the classic borderlands vibes galore! My final verdict for this pdf will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

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

At the borders of three formerly warring nations, atop a craggy precipice at the edge of known civilization, there is a sturdy keep overlooking the surrounding landscape, a bulwark against raiders and the forces of darkness, steadfast clinging to civilization and providing solace for those nearby, a veritable keep in the borderlands, if you will, awaiting adventurers of stout hearts and valorous mien. This structure is dragonmarch keep, represented in a massive b/w-map that spans a whole page and covers nearby fields and countryside as well.

This rough land lives and stands by the virtue of noble scions that come to these far-away stretches of land to defend the borders, currently under the auspice of Countess Liana Van de Vore (comically misnamed "Can de Vore" once) - whose ancestor, as knowledgeable PCs with the required Intelligence checks may know, has slain the red dragon Glitterfang at this very place.

The pdf does provide notes on notable folk and how the general populace here does dress, the local nomenclature, etc. The attention to detail we've come to expect from the series extends to the marketplace-section that presents minor magic for sale here and the local bar - which even comes with sample food and drink prices. As always, we do receive a table of 6 sample events and 6 sample whispers and rumours to add some local color and further adventuring options to the material presented herein. The 5e-version has the respective characters properly aligned with the NPC-statblocks presented in the core books.

A political dimension is also part of the location - as a cornerstone of a non-aggression treaty and potential point of interest for 3 kingdoms and the monstrous forces of the wastes, the locale features sufficient flavor...and a curse on a nearby farm is implied as well....all in all, plenty of adventuring potential here!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham's dragonmarch keep is a cool environment, though it is somewhat more conservative than most locations penned by him; this is not meant as criticism, mind you - it just means that this location is very easy to implement in one's games...and this, considering its borderlands-theme, is very much what the pdf sets out to do. I ultimately do like this location as a whole, but if you're looking for something novel, then this will perhaps not 100% deliver. This is an excellent, detailed and flavorful representation of the classic theme, but it lacks the one-step-beyond, the je-ne-sais-quoi, the twist, if you will, to catapult it to the realms of excellence. The 5e-conversion is well done, though no marketplace section or replacement for it have been included. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

My frame of reference is the whole Ravenloft-canon, The Bloody Fix, Skinsaw Murders, Hangman's Noose and many more...and you *STILL* managed to nail this incredibly hard. Honestly, this module is master-class. Not because of your prose (which is one of your strengths as a writer) or the characters (which are another strength - I already love your villains!), but because it *plays* differently than most haunted houses. Your plot-device monster is brilliant and the combination of direct and indirect storytelling work seamlessly - players actually get to experience the story, rather than just being told what happens. This is one of the reasons I try to play as many modules as I can - this one actually plays as well as it reads and that's a huge, huge plus!! It's also genuinely creepy in-game AND out-game.

So, once again - kudos! It's amazing to see prologue, #1 and #2 start to pay off in such a phenomenal manner!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 69 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 63 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

First things first: As before, we receive scaling information, namely the required modifications to run this for 4th level or 6th level characters instead of the 5th-level default. The pdf includes pregens.

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

...

..

.

All right, so Damian's cryptic words at the end of module #2 should bring the PCs to the scorched ruins of his once noble family - unbeknown to anyone, the taint of the Machine has sent his family into the tragic downward spiral that gave rise to his obsession, but the PCs will find out how horrid this haunted place has become. Is Damian a bad guy? This adventure provides the answer, as the PCs explore the massive manor grounds, situated in the noble's district before the city's gates in a freeform horror sandbox.

Basically, you have the massive manor-grounds and while the PCs explore this place, direct and indirect storytelling will allow them to piece together Damian's background story - a tale of woe, of a father gone missing abroad, a mother spiraling into drug-dependency and an abusive stepfather, a monster who covertly hunted humans, one that was ultimately stopped by Damian.

As the PCs explore the manor grounds, they'll bear witness, through cinematic haunts (that do NOT screw over the PCs!) the tragic past of Damian, how his family's downfall came to be, how his illegitimate daughter, whom he loved with all his heart, was slain in a horrid accident that unleashed his sorcerous powers...and how he came to understand the evil festering in Anduria...in short, it shows how a good man can come to employ the horrific methods he was employing in module #2.

Oh, and it is structurally the best module by Pyromaniac Press - in fact, it may very well be one of the best haunted house modules I have read in a long while. You see, this behaves, in a way, like the games of the Clocktower series or Haunting Ground - the grounds are haunted by a basically unbeatable monster, a horrid amalgamation of the souls slain here. This monster can only be hurt by using items that meant something to the constituent souls...and figuring that out is part of the challenge. The M is encouraged to use this monster to put pressure on the PCs, alleviate lulls, etc. - and the suggestions included make this very cinematic. oh, and fret not: The thing is SLOW and DUMB...but about as inexorable as the frickin' Terminator. PCs are encourages by the presence of this threat to alternate between exploration and running, lulls and frantic activity...and from the OTHER threats here to the haunts, all those small clues they can gather can be pieced together to ultimately stop this thing. This makes the module behave in a different way than most and achieves, in combination with Micah Watt's great rose and differentiated character-portrayal, to generate an atmosphere not unlike that of a great survival horror adventure.

...oh, and have I mentioned that the PCs will sooner or later find the breach in the cellar, which will lead to strange subterranean caverns, where dark folk are worshiping an even stranger manta ray-like humanoid...and ultimately, find a strange keystone, whose mere presence seems to generate fugue states...though, at least for now, its wards seem to hold...placed by Damian...mind you...so ultimately, the module, when run successfully, should leave the PCs conflicted about Damian...and seriously contemplate redemption for the man...

There is one item that needs to die a fiery death - an infinite fast healing-granting parasite, which, while sporting a creepy imagery, is not something that makes any sense to me within the context of this AP. Still, that's one item and a limit can be added relatively easily. On the plus-side: If you're a fan of Rusted Iron Games' Deadly Gardens-series, you'll appreciate the crossover options included herein. (And yes, rules-relevant information included.)

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice glaring issues. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the module sports a lot of amazing, gorgeous full-color artworks. The module does come with a printer-friendly version, just fyi. The pdf also comes with amazing full-color maps, and excellent full-color player-friendly high-res maps are included in the deal. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The softcover is nice and a bit darker than the pdf, which acts to the module's benefit as far as I'm concerned.

So, I admittedly love the genre. Pathfinder #2 made me stick with the Pathfinder modules back in the day. That being said, this also means that I have read a metric TON of haunted house modules and this is, frankly, one of the best I have read in a long, long while. You see, a haunted house requires a) detail, b) threats and c) above all, tragedy that you can empathize with. This module delivers all of these in spades. In fact, it could be called the pay-off module for what has gone before; up to this module, we have been setting the stage in various ways - for the AP, the city, the NPCs...and this is where the pay-off begins. And, OH BOY does it hit hard!

The story and portrayal of characters is amazing, the atmosphere genuinely creepy. The plot-device monster and various ways for the PCs to defeat it is genius and manages to ramp up the tension really well. The use of cut-scene-haunts, direct and indirect storytelling all conspire to make this module a really impressive, amazing experience that even jaded ole' me enjoyed. In short: Micah Watt brilliantly showcases his strengths as an author here and the passion obvious on every page means that my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. If this level of quality is an indication of the shape of things to come, I can't wait to see more from this AP!

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 66 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

First things first: As before, we receive scaling information, namely the required modifications to run this for 5th level characters instead of the 6th-level default. The pdf includes pregens.

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

...

..

.

All right, so Damian's cryptic words at the end of module #2 should bring the PCs to the scorched ruins of his once noble family - unbeknown to anyone, the taint of the Machine has sent his family into the tragic downward spiral that gave rise to his obsession, but the PCs will find out how horrid this haunted place has become. Is Damian a bad guy? This adventure provides the answer, as the PCs explore the massive manor grounds, situated in the noble's district before the city's gates in a freeform horror sandbox.

Basically, you have the massive manor grounds and while the PCs explore this place, direct and indirect storytelling will allow them to piece together Damian's background story - a tale of woe, of a father gone missing abroad, a mother spiraling into drug-dependency and an abusive stepfather, a monster who covertly hunted humans, one that was ultimately stopped by Damian.

As the PCs explore the manor grounds, they'll bear witness, through cinematic haunts (think of these as supernatural hauntings/echoes) the tragic past of Damian, how his family's downfall came to be, how his illegitimate daughter, whom he loved with all his heart, was slain in a horrid accident that unleashed his sorcerous powers...and how he came to understand the evil festering in Anduria...in short, it shows how a good man can come to employ the horrific methods he was employing in module #2.

Oh, and it is structurally the best module by Pyromaniac Press - in fact, it may very well be one of the best haunted house modules I have read in a long while. You see, this behaves, in a way, like the games of the Clocktower series or Haunting Ground - the grounds are haunted by a basically unbeatable monster, a horrid amalgamation of the souls slain here. This monster can only be hurt by using items that meant something to the constituent souls...and figuring that out is part of the challenge. The M is encouraged to use this monster to put pressure on the PCs, alleviate lulls, etc. - and the suggestions included make this very cinematic. oh, and fret not: The thing is SLOW and DUMB...but about as inexorable as the frickin' Terminator. PCs are encourages by the presence of this threat to alternate between exploration and running, lulls and frantic activity...and from the OTHER threats here to the haunts, all those small clues they can gather can be pieced together to ultimately stop this thing. This makes the module behave in a different way than most and achieves, in combination with Micah Watt's great rose and differentiated character-portrayal, to generate an atmosphere not unlike that of a great survival horror adventure.

...oh, and have I mentioned that the PCs will sooner or later find the breach in the cellar, which will lead to strange subterranean caverns, where dark folk (and yes, dear 5E-GMs - these have been converted for your perusal!) are worshipping an even stranger manta ray-like humanoid...and ultimately, find a strange keystone, whose mere presence seems to generate fugue states...though, at least for now, its wards seem to hold...placed by Damian...mind you...so ultimately, the module, when run successfully, should leave the PCs conflicted about Damian...and seriously contemplate redemption for the man...

There is one item that needs to die a fiery death - an infinite healing-granting parasite, which, while sporting a creepy imagery, is not something that makes any sense to me within the context of this AP. Doubly so in 5E, which values healing higher. Srsly, broken, needs to die. Still, that's one item and a limit can be added relatively easily. On the plus-side: If you're a fan of Rusted Iron Games' Deadly Gardens-series, you'll appreciate the crossover options included herein.

Conclusion:

Editing is very good, I noticed no serious accumulation of issues. Formatting of statblocks etc. does sport some deviations from the standard, though these are mostly aesthetic. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the module sports a lot of amazing, gorgeous full-color artworks. The module does come with a printer-friendly version, just fyi. The pdf also comes with amazing full-color maps, and excellent full-color player-friendly high-res maps are included in the deal for VTT-users and GMs like yours truly who can't draw. The pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The softcover is nice and a bit darker than the pdf, which acts to the module's benefit as far as I'm concerned.

So, I admittedly love the genre. Pathfinder #2 made me stick with the Pathfinder modules back in the day. That being said, this also means that I have read a metric TON of haunted house modules and this is, frankly, one of the best I have read in a long, long while. You see, a haunted house requires a) detail, b) threats and c) above all, tragedy that you can empathize with. This module delivers all of these in spades. In fact, it could be called the pay-off module for what has gone before; up to this module, we have been setting the stage in various ways - for the AP, the city, the NPCs...and this is where the pay-off begins. And, OH BOY does it hit hard! The story and portrayal of characters is amazing, the atmosphere genuinely creepy. The plot-device monster and various ways for the PCs to defeat it is genius and manages to ramp up the tension really well.- The use of cut-scene-haunts, direct and indirect storytelling all conspire to make this module a really impressive, amazing experience that even jaded ole' me enjoyed.

In short: Micah Watt brilliantly showcases his strengths as an author here and the passion is obvious on every page. Ismael Alvarez has done a nice job in the conversion as well - though I wished he had nerfed the broken parasite accordingly - it is even worse in 5E. As before, the formatting of the statblocks has some minor, aesthetic hiccups...but this should not deter you from getting this. This module is amazing, cool and while the 5E-version is slightly inferior to the PFRPG-version, it's not by much - this still is a glorious haunted house module, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the minor hiccups. If this is what we can expect from the AP, consider me stoked for more!!

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Esoterrorists clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page blank, leaving us with 29 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

...

..

.

All right, still around? Great! So famous financier Jonathan Bentley was recently resurrected from beyond the pale in a rather public manner, at a charity ball of his widow Grace Summerville, and this feat was achieved by the famed psychic Cassandra Madrigal. The OV-agents are sent in with cover identities as investigative reporters. That's the basic premise.

Behind the scenes, resentment has festered between Jonathan and his wife - she was smarter and always one step ahead, the true brains of his enormous success...and thus he faked his death with an esoterrorist drug named Fatalix, which also acts as a drug...if Bentley stops heeding the call of the esoterrorist Dellinger, he'll withhold the drug. Bentley thus has fallen deeply into the control of the movement and the gambit of the esoterrorists (the medium is, obviously, a pawn as well) has paid off - Cassandra has retreated from business to live with her secretly loathsome husband, who has also, in his decadence, sired an illicit child - something that the investigators can find out...and the child is horrifically disfigured and can provide a hint regarding the involvement of the financier and his predicament.

The investigators will find a strange substance used by Cassandra during the ritual in the initial investigation of the big gala; it is this substance that will provide a clue. Cassandra, as mentioned before, is pretty much a well-meaning patsy and ultimately can point the investigators towards a street vendor of the occult and esoterrorist operative, one Vincent Marlowe, and point towards a large-scale order by Bentley financials - and yes, a nice chase may ensue here.

Blissfully unaware of the loathsome character of her husband returned from the dead, Grace can be convinced when faced with evidence (or smart investigators) provides access to the GPS-tracker and thus the PCs can track down Dellinger's sanctuary. Here, an ODE, the dementia larvae and Marlowe prepare for a showdown, while Bentley lies comatose and a journal etc. fills in the undoubtedly at this point numerous blanks. There is still some crucial stuff to decide: There is an antidote, but it can either save Jonathan or his illicit child, not both... and there is still the matter at hand to stop Dellinger's plans for a bigger ritual, on live TV - here, a series of obstacles provide some serious customization - and ultimately may boil down to another dangerous boss fight against an ODE created from a very strange Cassandra. The pdf does mention dealing with the two women harmed by the schemes here and the appendix depicting the dementia larva.

...did you notice something? Yeah, neither the actions of Bentley, nor those of Dellinger, make any sense whatsoever to me. I read the module multiple times and it's REALLY, really hard to make heads or tails of them - hence the sudden, convenient journal-exposition dump. Worse, saving Jonathan suddenly makes him realize his love for Grace? SERIOUSLY? That bit had me frothing at the mouth. And this very public figure faked his death for a whole year, while indulging on sprees of decadence with drugs and hookers? Seriously, this module expects you to buy a lot of BS for a system that is based on logical investigation.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no glaring accumulations of glitches. Layout adheres to a b/w-two-column standard and the pdf sports really nice b/w-artwork and cartography. The pdf I have does not sport bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

I am sorry, I really love Esoterrorists. But Leonard Balsera's Profane Miracles is not a good module, to put it lightly. The motivations of the antagonists are jumbled, its shock-values are for shock only, the whole plan of the antagonists makes no sense whatsoever and the climax violates, to a degree, the summoning paradigms provided by the Summoning Guide. In short, the logic bugs herein not only extend to the meta-level, they can also be found on an in-game level. The exposition-dump that basically jams the whole story down the PC's throats had folks groan at my table, complete with plenty of question marks above their heads. If you just want cheese-and-crackers-no-brains gameplay, this may do something for you...but why are you playing this investigative game then? If you want an actually good, action-packed Esoterrorist module, go for Six-Packed instead - it is much more rewarding and not such a structural mess. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 59 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 53 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, as always, we do receive pregens included in this adventure; furthermore, while intended for characters of 4th level, though scaling information for 5th level heroes are included - for more ideas regarding scaling/structure and sidetrek insertion, the great Campaign Guide has you covered there.

The module also takes off the shackles of the AP - it represents the first free-form module in the AP, in fact, we have an investigation on our hands (on that also may have the PCs meet more movers and shakers of the AP)...but more on that below!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, the PCs are walking down a street...and witness a catatonic man, potentially soon to fall victim to congregating psychic motes. After having dealt with the supernatural pests, the PCs will have a mystery on their hands...one that will lead them, sooner or later, to the Explorer's Guild - and, unbeknown to them, in contact with one of the most powerful entities in the city, but that just as an aside. (And yes, I'm not being more specific here for a reason...) - it seems like someone is targeting explorers, namely a subsect of the guild devoted to hedonism. The investigation will also put the PCs in contact with the hospices, hinting at the healing capabilities of the city being...well...less than ideal.

It seems like "blanks" have been popping up and so, it is up to the PCs to investigate the strange occurrences. This would be as good a place as any to note a peculiarity of the module I at once love and wish it was even more pronounced: The antagonists take heed of the local talk and the more the PCs ask around during their legwork, the more attention they'll attract...and the more deadly the final encounters will be: Very sneaky PCs may find almost no resistance, whereas PCs botching this section may well witness a seriously twisted array of traps.

Ultimately, the trail puts the PCs on the trail of the strange drug "Bliss" (stats are provided...and they note an "alchemical penalty - which is a bit odd to my sensibilities and getting through withdrawal is pretty easy...) - and from here on out, the PCs may find addicts being drained by strange creatures - a chase ensues and the PCs get a chance to kill the creature...but who sent it? The being, none too smart, may spill the beans and it may partially lead to a curiously absent Luther Mendel of the Botanical Society (more on that in the optional module "The Gourd", contained in the Campaign Guide) - but in the end, the trail leads to Damian, the kind alchemist the PCs met at the end of the prologue...which is a bit odd. After all, he didn't feel evil, right? Well, his dangerous apprentices and a whole tower rigged to explode may beg to differ...and the finale pits the PCs against Damian, while Triast, commander of the Seekers crashes the party...and worse, a gigantic tentacle monster attacks from below, making the finale a free-for-all with two very powerful NPCs...and while none wants to really kill the PCs, that can be a bit problematic, particularly considering that Damian *needs* to escape and will do so in a kind of cutscene. That...can be somewhat problematic. Speaking of which: The brooch that is somewhat problematic in its wording in PFRPG works better in the 5e-version.

Speaking of the conversion: The conversion by Ismael Alvarez actually fixes the damage type oversights in the PFRPG-version...and it deserves special applause for the fact that it codifies PFRPG's alchemist abilities in a meaningful and concise manner in 5e for the NPCs featured herein. While not 100% perfect, it's pretty close...so yeah, kudos indeed there - and since those are NPCoptions, it works! Even better: Guess what: The chase, represented in the amazing side-view of this one block of houses, with different height-levels etc. - it has been converted. Yes, this actually has chase-rules for 5e and an extensive explanation of how the process works!! Seriously, big kudos!

That being said, the mystery of the memory thieves is seemingly solved and Damian's cryptic parting words, implying that the tentacle monster would be a reason why he can't stop, hint at worse things afoot...and prompt the initial motivation for module #3...

Conclusion:

Editing is better in 5e than in the PFRPG-version - the damage types are concise, teh rules-language well-made. Formatting in statblocks once again does diverge a bit from standards - things that should be italicized aren't, but apart from that, the pdf goes the extra mile here. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and is really, really nice. The copious amounts of full-color artwork make the module aesthetically-pleasing and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. PURE AMAZING: The chase comes with a high-res side-view representation that you can slowly unveil AND the maps of the relevant places come with player-friendly versions as high-res jpgs - sans traps etc. BIG kudos there! The pdfs come fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is really nice, as always with Pyromaniac Press.

Micah Watt's "Ignorance is Bliss" puts down the kiddie gloves. This investigation hints at the darker themes, makes the sidetreks in the Campaign Guide viable further routes of inquiry and finally provides some freedom, offering a wide variety of angles to pursue and options to consider. I *really* like how "asking around" and the actions of the PCs influence the module's outcome; I love the chase...but at the same time, from a plot perspective, I think that it would have made sense to feature the two antagonists in the final encounter in module #1 as well - if the PCs have not played the prologue, they will have NO relationship with the BB-Not-so-evil-G. That is a pretty significant potential stumbling stone. Similarly, after establishing the importance of travel options in adventure #1, I would have loved to see that matter a bit more, but that may be me.

You know what's rather impressive? The conversion herein goes the extra mile in several cases and while it is not 100% perfect, the attention to detail and care is rather nice to see, impressive even! So yeah, for what it is, I do consider the 5e-version to be slightly better this time around, also thanks to Ismael Alvarez going the extra mile. That being said, unfortunately, I still can't rate this the full five stars, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second part of the What Lies Beyond Reason AP clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 51 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now, as always, we do receive pregens included in this adventure; furthermore, while intended for characters of 4th level, though scaling information for 5th level heroes are included - for more ideas regarding scaling/structure and sidetrek insertion, the great Campaign Guide has you covered there.

The module also takes off the shackles of the AP - it represents the first free-form module in the AP, in fact, we have an investigation on our hands (on that also may have the PCs meet more movers and shakers of the AP)...but more on that below!

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

...

..

.

All right, still here? Great! So, the PCs are walking down a street...and witness a catatonic man, potentially soon to fall victim to congregating psychic motes. After having dealt with the supernatural pests, the PCs will have a mystery on their hands...one that will lead them, sooner or later, to the Explorer's Guild - and, unbeknown to them, in contact with one of the most powerful entities in the city, but that just as an aside. (And yes, I'm not being more specific here for a reason...) - it seems like someone is targeting explorers, namely a subsect of the guild devoted to hedonism. The investigation will also put the PCs in contact with the hospices, hinting at the healing capabilities of the city being...well...less than ideal.

It seems like "blanks" have been popping up and so, it is up to the PCs to investigate the strange occurrences. This would be as good a place as any to note a peculiarity of the module I at once love and wish it was even more pronounced: The antagonists take heed of the local talk and the more the PCs ask around during their legwork, the more attention they'll attract...and the more deadly the final encounters will be: Very sneaky PCs may find almost no resistance, whereas PCs botching this section may well witness a seriously twisted array of traps.

Ultimately, the trail puts the PCs on the trail of the strange drug "Bliss" - and from here on out, the PCs may find addicts being drained by strange creatures - a chase ensues and the PCs get a chance to kill the creature...but who sent it? The being, none too smart, may spill the beans and it may partially lead to a curiously absent Luther Mendel of the Botanical Society (more on that in the optional module "The Gourd", contained in the Campaign Guide) - but in the end, the trail leads to Damian, the kind alchemist the PCs met at the end of the prologue...which is a bit odd. After all, he didn't feel evil, right? Well, his dangerous apprentices and a whole tower rigged to explode may beg to differ...and the finale pits the PCs against Damian, while Triast, commander of the Seekers crashes the party...and worse, a gigantic tentacle monster attacks from below, making the finale a free-for-all with two very powerful NPCs...and while none wants to really kill the PCs, that can be a bit problematic, particularly considering that Damian *needs* to escape and will do so in a kind of cutscene. That...can be somewhat problematic. Speaking of which: There is a broken brooch magic item here - I'd *STRONGLY* suggest GMs not handing it out - while its visuals are nice, its benefits are very potent

That being said, the mystery of the memory thieves is seemingly solved and Damian's cryptic parting words, implying that the tentacle monster would be a reason why he can't stop, hint at worse things afoot...and prompt the initial motivation for module #3...

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good, though the rules-language of e.g. the magic item isn't perfect and minor hiccups like improperly-formatted traps can be found. Cases of e.g. what obviously should be fire damage lacking the "fire" type can also be found. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and is really, really nice. The copious amounts of full-color artwork make the module aesthetically-pleasing and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. PURE AMAZING: The chase comes with a high-res side-view representation that you can slowly unveil AND the maps of the relevant places come with player-friendly versions as high-res jpgs - sans traps etc. BIG kudos there! The pdfs come fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks and the softcover is really nice, as always with Pyromaniac Press.

Micah Watt's "Ignorance is Bliss" puts down the kiddie gloves. This investigation hints at the darker themes, makes the sidetreks in the Campaign Guide viable further routes of inquiry and finally provides some freedom, offering a wide variety of angles to pursue and options to consider. I *really* like how "asking around" and the actions of the PCs influence the module's outcome; I love the chase...but at the same time, from a plot perspective, I think that it would have made sense to feature the two antagonists in the final encounter in module #1 as well - if the PCs have not played the prologue, they will have NO relationship with the BB-Not-so-evil-G. That is a pretty significant potential stumbling stone. Similarly, after establishing the importance of travel options in adventure #1, I would have loved to see that matter a bit more, but that may be me. Ultimately, this is a cool module and represents a transition in themes and does so rather well. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the "What Lies Beyond Reason AP" (if you don't count the optional prologue) clocks in at 61 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This has been moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

All right, while intended for 2nd level, it should be noted that scaling information for level 3 are included; similarly, if you dislike magical airships/basic steamtech, the module does mention how to deal with that. (It should be noted that more detailed theme-tweaking advice can be found in the impressive Campaign Guide). The pdf comes with pregens.

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

...

..

.

All right, so this module is...structurally another railroad and cognizant of this fact. That being said, it is radically different from the prologue and it arguably functions in a completely different manner. Since the PCs have arrived in the vast metropolis of Anduria, this module could be considered to be a massive "setting the stage"-experience - it is a "show/play, don't tell"-style approach to familiarizing the players as well as the PCs with the city and, before you put this down, rest assured that later modules are more freeform.

Okay, so we rejoin the PCs after they have rejuvenated from their ordeal in the prologue and meet up (in a tavern - a cliché acknowledged by the module), they are contacted by a weird man named Thaddeus Billargo, an almost Elon Musk-ish merchant/visionary who hires them to get a shipment from the PTC (Peregrine Trade Consortium - think of them as a kind of nasty trade conglomerate) - he had a falling-out with the company and hence needs capable PCs to handle the job. He also grants a weird, blue flower to the PCs. The job seems simple and the deadline is generous, even though the PCs have to travel quite a bit through the metropolis to reach the PTC. Emphasis, obviously, should be placed on "seems".

You see, when I stated that this is a "setting the stage type of module", I was referring to two aspects: This, for one, introduces interesting locations and a general knowledge of the city and also establishes a base-line of contacts/dramatis personae. The timeline mentioned will become rather important, as the PCs choose their respective travel method: From going on foot/carriage) to taking ships through the channel to using air ships or hippogriffon chariots (!!!), en route travel encounters galore are included - and those you don't end up using can be employed/scaled later...and yes, these are pretty cool. Unlike in the PFRPG-version, I can't complain about an absence of vehicle-stats here. On the way, the PCs will also be introduced to the methods of the seekers of Asmodeus (and have a chance to foil them at their own game) and may be drawn into the machinations of a bored (and rather nasty) aristocrat... That being said, the travel time summaries etc. are pretty cool!

But back to the plot: The PTC, characterized by some serious bureaucracy and not too compliant, is stone-walling the PCs...but, you see, the nasty and rather devious bureaucrat in charge of their paperwork is missing his assistant, who hasn't shown up/quit for a while, all in favor of a dame called Lysenese, one of the ladies working as scholars/high-class escorts/prostitutes at the Celestial Scriptorium. The PCs will grace this unique institution with their presence next, and here, they'll encounter the sentient adamantine golem Adam, blissfully ignorant of the ways of mortals and a kind of tabula rasa regarding knowledge and social interaction, at least apart from basic personality...a potentially potent ally, though also one that can cause serious trouble. The lady tells the PCs that she has tried to dissuade the love-struck PTC-clerk Trevel Antivar, but in one of the discourse-only sessions, she had mentioned a fabled flower that supposedly blooms within a local landmark, the tower of the rose: This tower looks like it has been overgrown, kudzu-style, by razor-sharp thorns and traversing the narrow planks to the top of the tower will be interesting...as will be getting down inside...where, ultimately, the PCs will descend through the tower into the sewers and meet "The Entity" -a swarm-intelligence that seems to be able to assume control over a wide variety of beings...including the missing (and severely wounded) Trevel.

Now, the manner of how which Radiant Soul, mistress of the scriptorium's researching capabilities are noted is somewhat odd and while generally, the 5e-material has been converted rather well, e.g. the bladeleaf hazard is still missing its damage type, which is a pretty big deal in 5e's rules-terminology. Another weakness of the 5e-version would be that all stats-blocks have instances where they deviate in formatting from the established conventions, with italicizations missing and the like. Not to an extent where it's bad, mind you - e.g. damaging objects and similar things all have been properly covered, but personally, it does irk me a bit. The same can be said about a magic item included, which slightly deviates from the formatting conventions.

To free Trevel from the entity's grasp, the PCs will have to eliminate a powerful otyugh - who makes for a brutal boss in 5e! This frees Trevel, but he is still love-struck and convinced that bringing Lysenese the flower will grant him her favor - a fool's errand, but deductive PCs may realize that the blue flower gained in the beginning is just that sought-after flower. Getting Trevel to pull back will yield the PC's the favor of the scriptorium. Ultimately, one way or another, Trevel will return and help against the insidious bureaucrat, thus freeing the goods...and concluding this interesting, not so simple job!

Conclusion:

Editing is very good, though formatting can be considered to be in need of a bit of improvement - the pdf does deviate from established 5e-formatting in a few places. Layout adheres to a professional and well-made two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The softcover is nice and has neat colors and sports A LOT of really nice full-color artworks. The adventure comes with an archive that contains the maps in a player-friendly, key-less version - big kudos!! The electronic version is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Micah Watt's "A Simple Job" is a surprisingly kind-natured and upbeat module: While a bit of the weird can be found, it is very subdued and generally paints a positive, nice and fantastic picture of the eternal city: The characters even can encounter some seriously funny scenes - Adam e.g. inquiring whether PCs are not properly "equipped" to deal with the ladies and similarly non-explicit quips, a generally upbeat mood and some high-fantasy wonder all conspire to make this module feel like a nice and flavorful introduction to the city and its traveling, with the free-form travel encounters (mapped, btw.!) adding some GM-control there.

As of the 5e-version, Ismael Alvarez has done an excellent job for the most part - while I could find a couple of hiccups, the important bits have been carefully and thoroughly converted in a rather nice manner. This can be considered to be a good conversion.

That being said, this is still a railroad in the vein of Ultima 7-questlines, where quest upon quest is heaped upon another in a linear manner. The respective vignettes are nice, yes, but if your players are like mine, they may not be too happy with this aspect. It does speak for the module's quality that the vignettes, locations and NPCs can somewhat counteract this structural deficiency, but in the end, a good railroad still remains a railroad. This is a good one, but setting up two relatively linear modules, back to back, isn't the best idea - it works here, but I was pretty happy to see #2 deviate from this formula. It should be noted that the 5E-version of this module is BRUTAL and NOT for the faint of heart. The boss has over 100 hp! Whether you like that or not depends on the group; personally, I love the challenge and it is an encounter that can be somewhat controlled by the PCs, but in comparison to PFRPG, it is a noticeable difficulty spike...one that means that the module doesn't "peter out", but also one that will have some players shocked.

The rating? Well, this ultimately is a good module - it sports a lot of prose and read-aloud text, evocative locales and introduces some seriously cool NPCs...but ultimately, I can't go higher than 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform. *PERSONALLY*, I actually like the 5E-version better. The brutal final boss adds a serious touch of pain to the module that I was kinda missing in PFRPG...but that can go both ways and some groups may consider this to be a bit much, so GMs, take care there.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of the "What Lies Beyond Reason AP" (if you don't count the optional prologue) clocks in at 61 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 55 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This has been moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

All right, while intended for 2nd level, it should be noted that scaling information for level 3 are included; similarly, if you dislike magical airships/basic steamtech, the module does mention how to deal with that. (It should be noted that more detailed theme-tweaking advice can be found in the impressive Campaign Guide). The pdf comes with pregens.

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

...

..

.

All right, so this module is...structurally another railroad and cognizant of this fact. That being said, it is radically different from the prologue and it arguably functions in a completely different manner. Since the PCs have arrived in the vast metropolis of Anduria, this module could be considered to be a massive "setting the stage"-experience - it is a "show/play, don't tell"-style approach to familiarizing the players as well as the PCs with the city and, before you put this down, rest assured that later modules are more freeform.

Okay, so we rejoin the PCs after they have rejuvenated from their ordeal in the prologue and meet up (in a tavern - a cliché acknowledged by the module), they are contacted by a weird man named Thaddeus Billargo, an almost Elon Musk-ish merchant/visionary who hires them to get a shipment from the PTC (Peregrine Trade Consortium - think of them as a kind of nasty trade conglomerate) - he had a falling-out with the company and hence needs capable PCs to handle the job. He also grants a weird, blue flower to the PCs. The job seems simple and the deadline is generous, even though the PCs have to travel quite a bit through the metropolis to reach the PTC. Emphasis, obviously, should be placed on "seems".

You see, when I stated that this is a "setting the stage type of module", I was referring to two aspects: This, for one, introduces interesting locations and a general knowledge of the city and also establishes a base-line of contacts/dramatis personae. The timeline mentioned will become rather important, as the PCs choose their respective travel method: From going on foot/carriage) to taking ships through the channel to using air ships or hippogriffon chariots (!!!), en route travel encounters galore are included - and those you don't end up using can be employed/scaled later...and yes, these are pretty cool. On a nitpicky side, the uncommon vehicles could have used some proper vehicle stats. On the way, the PCs will also be introduced to the methods of the seekers of Asmodeus (and have a chance to foil them at their own game) and may be drawn into the machinations of a bored (and rather nasty) aristocrat... That being said, the travel time summaries etc. are pretty cool!

But back to the plot: The PTC, characterized by some serious bureaucracy and not too compliant, is stone-walling the PCs...but, you see, the nasty and rather devious bureaucrat in charge of their paperwork is missing his assistant, who hasn't shown up/quit for a while, all in favor of a dame called Lysenese, one of the ladies working as scholars/high-class escorts/prostitutes at the Celestial Scriptorium. The PCs will grace this unique institution with their presence next, and here, they'll encounter the sentient adamantine golem Adam, blissfully ignorant of the ways of mortals and a kind of tabula rasa regarding knowledge and social interaction, at least apart from basic personality...a potentially potent ally, though also one that can cause serious trouble. The lady tells the PCs that she has tried to dissuade the love-struck PTC-clerk Trevel Antivar, but in one of the discourse-only sessions, she had mentioned a fabled flower that supposedly blooms within a local landmark, the tower of the rose: This tower looks like it has been overgrown, kudzu-style, by razor-sharp thorns and traversing the narrow planks to the top of the tower will be interesting...as will be getting down inside...where, ultimately, the PCs will descend through the tower into the sewers and meet "The Entity" -a swarm-intelligence that seems to be able to assume control over a wide variety of beings...including the missing (and severely wounded) Trevel.

This would be another place to insert an observation - the bladeleaf hazard does not have its damage type properly codified and it honestly could be a bit more precise in its presentation; it may just be a minor thing, but such small hiccups do show up.

To free him from the entity's grasp, the PCs will have to eliminate a powerful otyugh. This frees Trevel, but he is still love-struck and convinced that bringing Lysenese the flower will grant him her favor - a fool's errand, but deductive PCs may realize that the blue flower gained in the beginning is just that sought-after flower. Getting Trevel to pull back will yield the PC's the favor of the scriptorium. Ultimately, one way or another, Trevel will return and help against the insidious bureaucrat, thus freeing the goods...and concluding this interesting, not so simple job!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no particularly grievous glitches, though the absence of vehicle stats etc. is a bit jarring. Layout adheres to a professional and well-made two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The softcover is nice and has neat colors and sports A LOT of really nice full-color artworks. The adventure comes with an archive that contains the maps in a player-friendly, key-less version - big kudos!! The electronic version is fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Micah Watt's "A Simple Job" is a surprisingly kind-natured and upbeat module: While a bit of the weird can be found, it is very subdued and generally paints a positive, nice and fantastic picture of the eternal city: The characters even can encounter some seriously funny scenes - Adam e.g. inquiring whether PCs are not properly "equipped" to deal with the ladies and similarly non-explicit quips, a generally upbeat mood and some high-fantasy wonder all conspire to make this module feel like a nice and flavorful introduction to the city and its traveling, with the free-form travel encounters (mapped, btw.!) adding some GM-control there.

That being said, this is still a railroad in the vein of Ultima 7-questlines, where quest upon quest is heaped upon another in a linear manner. The respective vignettes are nice, yes, but if your players are like mine, they may not be too happy with this aspect. It does speak for the module's quality that the vignettes, locations and NPCs can somewhat counteract this structural deficiency, but in the end, a good railroad still remains a railroad. This is a good one, but setting up two relatively linear modules, back to back, isn't the best idea - it works here, but I was pretty happy to see #2 deviate from this formula. The rating? Well, this ultimately is a good module - it sports a lot of prose and read-aloud text, evocative locales and introduces some seriously cool NPCs...but ultimately, I can't go higher than 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Aye, I absolutely adored this one!! :D Glorious job!


An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive campaign setting/hexcrawl clocks in at 283 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 4 pages of index (VERY USEFUL!), leaving us with 274 pages of content, so let's take a look!

It should be noted that the inside of the covers, respectively, contain gorgeous full-color hex-maps - inside the front cover, we get an overview, while inside the back cover, we gain an in-depth hex-crawl of one such hex, highlighting the sheer VASTNESS of Carcosa. As you can surmise, I actually own the hardcover, namely the second printing, which was provided by a generous patreon for the purposes of reviewing it at my convenience. I subsequently based my review mainly on the print edition, though it should be noted that maps etc. are all included in the pdf-version. The print-version's pages btw. have a very nice greenish-yellow, unhealthy-looking tint that is not consistent throughout the book; some sections are almost grey, some are greenish, some a bit more yellowish...this book looks almost alive, and in a twisted, twisted way. (And no, to my knowledge, there is no system behind these colors, at least none I could make out.) It should be noted that the pages are formatted for the A5 (6'' by 9'')-size of paper, so, if your eyesight's good enough, you can squeeze up to 4 pages on a regular sheet when printing this, but honestly, I'd suggest getting print here.

All right, so what is this book? Well, if you're not as well-versed in the OSR-scene, this book can conceivably be called one of the most influential books in that area, a book that imho defined how many of the different weird settings out there have been designed. For one, it is an incredibly hackable book - while there are rules herein, they are very rules-lite. As in: S&W, LL or LotFP look complex and detailed in comparison. These rules generally tie in with the setting and supplement it in several ways, but can, for the most part, be exchanged, tweaked or ignored - it is a vast plus of this book that pretty much nothing herein really requires that you use it with the rules presented within; adapting this to an OSR-setting, 5e or PFRPG just requires a bit of statting and that's it - the draw here lies within the idea, at least for me.

But let me start the review-proper the same way the book does:

Along the shore the cloud waves break,

The twin suns sink behind the lake,

The shadows lengthen

In Carcosa.

Strange is the night where black stars rise,

And strange moons circle through the skies,

But stranger still is

Lost Carcosa.

Songs that the Hyades shall sing,

Where flap the tatters of the King,

Must die unheard in

Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead,

Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed

Shall dry and die in

Lost Carcosa.

-Robert W. Chambers

If you can read these lines sans a shudder, sans them gnawing into your brain, then kudos - to me, these lines are very much like a song that encapsulates the themes herein. That being said, the tone evoked here is grim; and while Carcosa is intended for mature audiences, it is actually not necessarily as dark as you'd imagine.

Let me elaborate: Carcosa is a world, where no elves or other Tolkienesque critters exist - instead, there are different races of men, with varying skin-colors that range from obsidian-black to translucent and also encompass the colors yale, ulfire and dolm -and yes, these are somewhat explained...and our inability to properly conceive them just adds a perfect piece of flavor to the proceedings.

Rules-wise, Carcosa assumes AC 12 as basis and an ascending AC and calls, at various times, for the random determination of dice to roll: Basically you roll a d20 and the higher you roll, the higher the dice you'll use - minimum d4, maximum d12. This procedure is used for combat as well, and, surprisingly, for hit points: You roll hit dice number of dice each combat anew: So one combat, you may be really tough...and during another...not so much. When hit dice are depleted, they are taken by the referee, which simulates, to a degree, wounding. It should come as no surprise to the adept number-cruncher that this system generates rather swingy performances; while this may fit to the opium/fever-dream-style haze that makes up so much of this setting's flair, it proved, at least for me and my group, not rewarding and was pretty much the first rules-component to get kicked out.

Carcosa, at least as written, knows three alignments - Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic, and they don't say anything about ethics: Lawful characters are generally opposed to the Great Old Ones, Chaotic characters generally serve them. That's it. Simple. Speaking of simple: Carcosa knows a staggering 2 classes: Fighter and sorceror. And no, sorcerors don't get to fling spells - instead, sorcerors can find rituals to enslave, banish, torment or otherwise interact with the Great Old Ones...and yes, conjure them. Basically, they have their very own ritual engine, but more on that later. Each ritual, just fyi, carries a risk of unnatural aging...with the exception of banishment rituals.

If you have very high mental attributes, you also have a small percentile chance of having access to psionics - there are 8 such powers and a d4 determines each day how many he has available. Psionics may be used 1/day, plus an additional time per day at every odd level, capping at 5 daily uses at 9th level. Rules-lite fans may applaud the lack of range for mindblasts and similar options, but personally, I prefer the crisp clarity of LotFP, S&W, LL, etc. - in short: The powers are not very well codified from a rules-analysis perspective. If you have access to another psionics sourcebook, I'd suggest using that instead, as what is here can be considered to be an afterthought.

Thankfully, this is the point where the rather subpar components of the rules-section end, for we receive precise effects various lotus-types...and space alien technology.

It is here that I feel I should talk about what Carcosa is: Do you know this mythic age of snake-men and weird skies that Sword & Sorcery novels like to allude to? Where everything was at once alien and advanced, yet almost stone-age primeval? That, to a degree, is Carcosa. The Great Old Ones roam the world, Shub-Niggurath's endless spawns inhabit the vast fields of Carcosa and entities are broken to the will of mortals, heeding their destructive call...if they do not break the mortals first. Carcosa is also a land where basically a science-fiction space alien civilization once crashed, with relics of strange devices, crashed ships, remnants of their tech, all littering the fields. This is, to a degree, a science-fantasy setting.

At the same time, Carcosa is a land of grotesque protoplasmic colossi, of dinosaurs and savage things, of civilizations with wildly diverging developments, held together by mastery or lack thereof of the mighty Great Old Ones; the technology of the mysterious Great Race representing another aspect of tech, namely the cthulhoid one, where technology is hazardous, extremely mighty and not made for humans. with flavorful artifacts like the spatial transference void, living monoliths and fecund protoplasmic pits begging to b inserted into any game, regardless of rules employed. So that would be the first aspect I'd very much consider a must-scavenge component.

The second would be the aforementioned sorcerous rituals - a total of 32 pages is devoted to these, all denoting their function in a handy formatting decision. Called The Lurker Amidst the Obsidian Ruins? You may need to torment the entity with "The Oozing Column" to get it to do your bidding! Here's the thing: Many of these rituals require rare and evocative components, some are tied to specific locales and...non-banishing rituals require often absolutely atrocious deeds. Control over these entities requires absolutely horrendously vile acts that should make such decisions very much a difficult endeavor, the obvious dangers of failure none withstanding. This may also be one of the reasons this is denoted as adult content...but if you do look for a concise collection of vile rituals for bad guys to use in your game, look no further than here - the chapter is twisted gold, gleaming in an unhealthy yale!

The next 36 pages of content are devoted to a massive bestiary of entities - from protoplamsic oozes to the Great Old Ones, we get stats for all of them...at least the basics. You know, Hit Dice, AC, No appearing and alignment as well as move rate. Psionics are noted, where applicable and the brief respective texts note special abilities and the like. Amazing: Great Old Ones that can be conjured, tormented, banished, controlled etc. also note their respective associated rituals, which makes this section, layout-wise, surprisingly user-friendly. Big kudos there! While the classics of the Mythos are included, I personally enjoyed the new ones featured herein more intriguing - the Shambler of the Endless Night or the Putrescent Stench, for example.

Now, I did mention that this was, beyond a campaign-kit, basically a colossal hex-crawl, right? 120 pages, to be more precise. Let that sink in. Even if I wanted to provide a highlight-reel here, I'd frankly not be capable of properly depicting the vast amount of adventures to be had in this massive section; these pages literally provide enough potential gaming material for YEARS. Even if your players will never set foot on Carcosa, this section once again proves to be a thoroughly compelling, amazing collection of the strange and wondrous. 20 sample spawn of Shub-Niggurath, a primer on humanity in Carcosa and random encounter tables complement this section before we arrive at a massive Spawn of Shub-Niggurath-generator...and, similarly scavenge-worthy would be the impressive space alien tech generator, the robot generator...and have I mentioned that the book actually codifies the different sorcerous rituals by use in its own appendix?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch and really impressive, particularly for a book of this size. Layout adheres, as mentioned before, to a greenish/yellowish sickly page-color and a 1-column standard, with really evocative and copious original b/w-artworks by Rich Longmore. If that sort of thing annoys you, let it be known that bare breasts, human sacrifice and the like can be found among the artworks - never in a gratuitous manner, but yeah - this is a book for adults. The cartography by Robert Altbauer in full-color is amazing and the purple tone chosen for the ground further enhances the sense of weirdness. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with detailed, nested bookmarks. The hardcover print-version is obviously made to last and with its sickly green cover, fits the theme rather well.

So, have you figured it out? Carcosa is a radical departure from fantasy dipping toes into " a bit" of mythos; it's also a radical departure from anything even resembling Tolkienesque fantasy and oh boy, is it better off for it! Carcosa reads, even nowadays, like an inspiring breath of dolm air, as Geoffrey McKinney weaves a yarn like a near-death fever-dream, like an opium-haze; horrific and enticing, suffused with a primal beauty, but also a land of savage horror, where colossal power may be gained by those willing to commit atrocities...at least until they are devoured. Carcosa is majestic in its imaginative vision and in the sheer detail it offers - it should come as no surprise from the above that I was horribly unimpressed by the rules-aspect of this book and frankly wished it had simply used one of the big OSR-rules-sets.

But then again, that is not how I'll ever use this book. Yes, I'll run Carcosa as a setting sooner or later, but for now, all of its ideas have this uncanny tendency to worm their way into my games, regardless of system employed. The rituals, described in horrid detail, the entities, the artifacts, the locations that are sure to invade PC-dreams of even those not on this planet...there are very few books that have ever managed to influence me...and other creative folks, to this extent.

I am late to the party, I know. But I've written this review mainly to showcase not the flaws of this book, but to highlight its indisputable value, regardless of system or even genre used. Heck, you can have a great change of pace while running a Traveller-game by having the PCs crash there! And yes, you'll see "Someone has obviously read Carcosa" in quite a few reviews to come - this book's influence transcends system-boundaries and, to an extent, genres. Heck, it spawns adventures left and right! Kort'thalis Publishing's "The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence", for example, just BEGS to be inserted into Carcosa...or act as a gateway to this wretched, wondrous place. Carcosa exists n a weird flux between fantasy, science-fiction, space-opera, horror and sword and sorcery and manages to sit there, upon this metaphorical Lake Hali of systems, confidently, proud, majestic...and utterly, utterly weird.

In short: This is a piece of gaming material that should imho be part of the collection of any self-respecting GM that can handle the mature themes, which may be dark, yes - but to me, the setting never felt that way. Instead, my prevalent feeling was one of wild-eyed wonder...and there are not that many books that can claim having accomplished this. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, unsurprisingly...with one caveat. If you're looking for hard rules, if you're not looking for something to hack apart and make your own, then this may not be as useful for you; in such a case, detract a star. Everyone else should, at the very least, check out the pdf of this ulfire gem of a tome.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive Campaign Guide/companion tome for the "What Lies Beyond Reason"-AP clocks in at an impressive 137 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 130 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy for the purpose of a far and unbiased review.

Well, first of all, let us define what this book represents: This is basically a GM Guide, a deluxe-expansion edition for the AP that, while not strictly necessary, does greatly enhance the experience, as it elucidates the overall plot, its peculiarities and the themes of the AP. In short: It makes the experience of running and playing the AP more rewarding. It also, formula-wise, goes a significant step beyond what I would have expected from it.

In an aptly-written, massive section of introductory prose, we witness here, directly, the original catastrophe that put the events of the AP in motion...which poses a conundrum for me as a reviewer, for this section alone can SPOIL a significant part of the campaign....but it also ties in with many of the customization options provided herein....hence, let's remain silent on this topic, at least for now, and look at the spoiler-free sections of this guide.

First of all, this is a helping hand for the GM - it includes the stats of the BBEG and also features basically a mini-bestiary for the creatures in the AP, ranging from the previously-mentioned Psychic Motes to more dangerous and strange adversaries. It should be noted that, while not perfect, the stats generally are solidly build and make NPCs and monsters generally come to life. Fans of Rusted Iron Games and the Deadly Gardens series will certainly appreciate Russ Brown's handiwork in some of the creatures featured within. It should be noted that NPCs and creatures make good use of some fantastic 3pp-resources, properly credited not only in the SRD, but also in the text - big kudos there!

Beyond this, the pdf also takes a look at the massive cast of characters that may or may not live through the end of the prologue-adventure "Difficult Circumstances" and yields suggestions regarding the way these contacts and their relationship towards the PCs may develop, for good or ill. The attention to detail provided here is pretty interesting and impressive to witness, but speaking of detail: The massive metropolis of Anduria, aka The Eternal City, is depicted in a massive, lavishly-detailed gazetteer that includes maps of the respective districts and a lot of information beyond that allotted to the players.

Of course, a city is defined not only by its architecture or physical relics, but also by their people and hence, an optional reputation system is provided: This allows for the separate tracking of fame and infamy of the PCs - actions and consequences. Scrupulous grave-robbing can yield a reputation for being greedy, for example. While not required, this generally adds a nice touch to the procedings and taps into the district structure of the metropolis. It should be noted that the book also contains a metric ton of rumors, signs and foreshadowing that the GM can employ, adding even more immersion to the proceedings.

While we're at the subject of themes - the guide explains the function of the respective antagonists encountered during the AP and how they reflect/interact with the PCs - in short, it notes on how they are not necessarily meant for slaying, and that redemption is an actual possibility for almost everyone. The AP generates, in spite of taking place in a distinctly high-fantasy city, a general aesthetic of shades of gray morality with only few antagonists truly being "evil". This brings me to another theme that is important: While Anduria is exceedingly high-fantasy in many of its aspects, it is a city very much defined by a curious hesitation when it comes to religions - something that is actually concisely explained for the GM and an aspect that makes the plot work actually better than one would think at first. While a god, Rhion Barakar, patron saint of long shots and lost causes, takes an interest in the proceedings (yeah, does not bode well for those PCs, right?), death in this AP is quite possibly permanent and PCs raising the dead will soon see themselves hounded and beset on all fronts...a process logically defined and explained.

Speaking of themes: In a general absence of clearly defined lines of good and evil and within a city that comes with guards, potential punishments for crimes, etc., the mature themes used within the AP get EXTENSIVE consideration - and the AP is so much better off for it: There is e.g. a place that is a combination of a sage's library and an intellectual bordello/high-class escort service...but how explicit you make this is all up to you. Writing-wise, this is PG 13, and the same can be said about the themes of addiction, violence and insanity that all are leitmotifs to a certain degree, but never devolve into a truly explicit manner. The guidance regarding player-sensibilities help immensely here and do a great job helping the GM to customize the campaign.

Speaking of which: One of the crucial leitmotifs of the campaign is one that is a bit of a matter of taste...and it can be completely excluded from the campaign...or emphasized with specific signs and portents. The book also contains several set-piece encounters/sidetrek modules and guidance regarding the use of different XP-progressions - including an option to include the superb "Key to Marina" into the sequence.

...and it is here, ultimately, that I have not recourse but to go into SPOILERS, if I want to continue discussing this book. PLAYERS BEWARE. The following contains SPOILERS for the WHOLE CAMPAIGN. Do not read ahead unless you want to GM this AP!!

...

..

.

All right, still here? Don't say I did not warn you! So, the skepticism towards the divine in the city? It has a very good reason. You see, a couple of incarnations of the eternal city before, the demi-god Aether almost brought doom upon the world. He was taking the city by storm, courtesy of him being a god you could touch, but unbeknown to his faithful, he was insane, as the megalomaniacal introductory chapter so perfectly illustrates: In his travels, he has been touched by the Outer Dark, namely R'lyeh, and while it broke his mind, he recovered, obsessed with bringing the city back...and in conjunction with the regular world. Under Anduria, there lies a chthonic Machine of titanic proportions, leaking vileness and power...and Aether succeeded in activating the titanic device, courtesy of a deal with none other than Asmodeus...as he was ripping the souls from his betrayed faithful, the lord of Hell struck with guile. Having sown seeds of doubt, Aether's high priestess, stunned by his madness and betrayal, assassinated her divine lord...and thus, the tragedy began, for her spirit, doomed and confined to the city's bloodlines, has been guiding the fortunes of the city ever since, as she, in her divine punishment and insanity, seeks to make amends. Meanwhile, Aether's soul slipped away, escaping Asmodeus' grasp - which is why the Seekers, Asmodean loan-sharks and hunters have been created...and it explains how they could become basically a kind of second city watch...and it explains the resentment towards the gods that still exists in the enlightened metropolis, even though this horrid event lies buried in the past.

As you may have noted, this all implies, to a degree, an existence of the mythos and cthulhiana - and if you're like me and a bit oversaturated in that regard or just unsure whether you want to use this angle, rest assure that the guide provides all the information required to get rid of it...or enforce it further, all depending on your tastes.

While the book does contain a summary of the campaign's plot and advice on handling the NPCs, I am not going to dive deeper into spoilers there...instead, let us talk about the sidetreks, all right? The first would be a pretty generic sidetrek, in case the PCs incur a debt to an NPC at one point. The second and third one are basically mini-dungeons - expansions, to be more precise: During adventure #1 and #2 of the AP (reviews forthcoming!), enterprising GMs may very well face the option of PCs astute PCs exploring the tunnels below the city, leading towards the machine...if they realize their presence. Where another AP would just leave that to the GM with a shrug, we get two really challenging and potentially lethal sidetreks into this strange environment, foreshadowing the shape of things to come and engaging in some seriously impressive indirect storytelling there. Chances are that most groups won't find these, sure...but their inclusion bespeaks the passion and vision that went into this.

This is not where the pdf stops, however - after adventure #2, Luther Mendel (nice nomenclature there!), associate of Damian and master of the Academy of Natural Magic seems curiously absent...but not if you're using this book, for none other than Richard Develyn of 4 Dollar Dungeons, one of the best adventure-writers I know, provides a fully-mapped module here, one that focuses on the humanoid plant-species of Ghorans and the fact that Mendel has found a Gourd that seems to be an aberrations to the Ghorans...and these beings are a bit paranoid, as they are considered to be somewhat of a delicacy for some humanoids...Thus, the PCs in this module will have to prevent a series on attacks on the academy...only to see Luther present a rapidly-growing humanoid who is learning at a vastly accelerated race...and who is basically becoming one of the PCs...only better in every way. This duplicate, "Pat", is actually the second such seed, as the first has replaced Luther...you see, this being, which also is manipulating the Ghorans, to an extent, ultimately poses a difficult conundrum for the PCs...and even the players: It can replace the PC with a superior double...one that the player gets to play...but the ethics in game should be disturbing, to say the least: It is pretty clear that the germination process will kill the original...so what will it be?

It should be noted that this is the cliff-notes version of the module and does not do it justice...but the weirdness and profound creepiness of the whole set-up gets a resounding thumbs up from me - as far as I'm concerned, this and the customization options alone make this worth the asking price.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and a rules-language level; while I noticed glitches in both, these generally were not pronounced enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of the campaign guide. Layout adheres to a really nice and professional 2-column full-color standard and the book features quite a lot of REALLY nice full-color artworks (same quality as the one you see on the cover...). The pdf btw. comes with a second, more printer-friendly version - big kudos there! Cartography is in full-color as well and comes with all relevant maps, in lavish full-color and, better yet, key-less, player-friendly versions, perfect for use with VTTs. Big, big kudos. E.g. a park, with a plethora of different plants and leaf-colors and -structures makes clear that these have been made with surprising attention to detail. The titanic, high-res overview map of the metropolis is similarly appreciated. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though, frankly, I'd suggest getting the softcover - the campaign guide makes for a nice, unobtrusive book to flip open while running one of the modules and the book is nice enough to warrant getting.

Micah Watt's "What Lies Beyond Reason" is an extremely ambitious AP; while the prologue did hint at that, it is this book that makes this fact abundantly clear. The impressive aspect here, though, would be that, at least for now, I can say that it looks like it'll work out! You see, the city and its history, themes, all of that...it makes sense. The customization options are helpful and the culture grown here has its roots deeply secluded away from prying eyes...but the PCs will find them, sooner or later. The prose is excellent as far as I'm concerned - when you can write a book, include monsters by Russ brown and a module by Richard Develyn, and manage to not look like an totally green amateur while doing so, then you obviously have talent.

The customization options for the city also really put a smile on my face: Don't like airships? No problem, can be cut. Don't like *leitmotif mentioned in SPOILER-section*? You can reskin that and/or get rid of it. These considerations, the advice given and the way in which this handles the whole NPC-presentation and explanation make this a really compelling book - more than one adventure-writer would certainly benefit from taking a couple of the design-tenets into account: You see, while challenging, the AP is all about consequences...and if the PCs behave stupidly, they may well reap a horrid, horrid comeuppance. This, in short, shares A LOT of my own aesthetics and expectations in design; the roleplaying focus is pronounced and the seemingly clashing themes actually blend together. In short: This is a rather impressive book and certainly one I'd wholeheartedly recommend - also as a possible means of gauging whether the AP will interest you. (And yes, I am pretty sure it will!) - After reading this, I found myself infinitely more excited about the AP than I was after the linear prologue...though even that module gains a lot by contextualizing it...but you'll see.

What I'm trying to say is this: Get this and support this AP. I am pretty convinced that we'll get to see a lot of really, really awesome modules from this saga! While this may not be 100% perfect, it is an amazing, flavorful book and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An ENdzeitgeist.com review

This massive Campaign Guide/companion tome for the "What Lies Beyond Reason"-AP clocks in at an impressive 138 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 131 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved up in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy for the purpose of a far and unbiased review.

Well, first of all, let us define what this book represents: This is basically a GM Guide, a deluxe-expansion edition for the AP that, while not strictly necessary, does greatly enhance the experience, as it elucidates the overall plot, its peculiarities and the themes of the AP. In short: It makes the experience of running and playing the AP more rewarding. It also, formula-wise, goes a significant step beyond what I would have expected from it.

In an aptly-written, massive section of introductory prose, we witness here, directly, the original catastrophe that put the events of the AP in motion...which poses a conundrum for me as a reviewer, for this section alone can SPOIL a significant part of the campaign....but it also ties in with many of the customization options provided herein....hence, let's remain silent on this topic, at least for now, and look at the spoiler-free sections of this guide.

First of all, this is a helping hand for the GM - it includes the stats of the BBEG and also features basically a mini-bestiary for the creatures in the AP, ranging from the previously-mentioned Psychic Motes to more dangerous and strange adversaries. It should be noted that, while not perfect, the stats generally are solidly build and make NPCs and monsters generally come to life. Fans of Rusted Iron Games and the Deadly Gardens series will certainly appreciate Russ Brown's handiwork in some of the creatures featured within. The conversion to 5e of these rules-relevant aspects, however, is a bit of a double-edged sword - if one takes, for example, a quick glance at the Ghoran-race featured in one of the optional sidetreks, one will note formatting discrepancies from the standard that, alas, carry over to the monster statblocks. Natural armor for a PC race and its interaction with armors etc. would have warranted more discussion as well - while not bad per se, this can lead to a bit of confusion before precedence cases are consulted.

Beyond this, the pdf also takes a look at the massive cast of characters that may or may not live through the end of the prologue-adventure "Difficult Circumstances" and yields suggestions regarding the way these contacts and their relationship towards the PCs may develop, for good or ill. The attention to detail provided here is pretty interesting and impressive to witness, but speaking of detail: The massive metropolis of Anduria, aka The Eternal City, is depicted in a massive, lavishly-detailed gazetteer that includes maps of the respective districts and a lot of information beyond that allotted to the players. It should be noted that the book also contains a metric ton of rumors, signs and foreshadowing that the GM can employ, adding even more immersion to the proceedings.

Of course, a city is defined not only by its architecture or physical relics, but also by their people and hence, an optional reputation system is provided: This allows for the separate tracking of fame and infamy of the PCs - actions and consequences. Scrupulous grave-robbing can yield a reputation for being greedy, for example. While not required, this generally adds a nice touch to the proceedings and taps into the district structure of the metropolis - or at least, it did so for Pathfinder. It is pretty evident that this section has not been properly translated - typed penalties, a lot of small number-accounting...for 5e, this system seems woefully inadequate. That's a rather significant downside there...but on the plus-side, we also have some conversion aspects that really work well: When NPCs use cool material from Tribality Publishing (properly acknowledged in the text itself, beyond the SRD!) and when we get an urban spell-.list for circle of the land druids, we can see that there is some serious care to be found here. Similarly, damage types saves etc. generally make sense, so yeah - while not perfect, the conversion can be called good in many regards even very good.

While we're at the subject of themes - the guide explains the function of the respective antagonists encountered during the AP and how they reflect/interact with the PCs - in short, it notes on how they are not necessarily meant for slaying, and that redemption is an actual possibility for almost everyone. The AP generates, in spite of taking place in a distinctly high-fantasy city, a general aesthetic of shades of gray morality with only few antagonists truly being "evil". This brings me to another theme that is important: While Anduria is exceedingly high-fantasy in many of its aspects, it is a city very much defined by a curious hesitation when it comes to religions - something that is actually concisely explained for the GM and an aspect that makes the plot work actually better than one would think at first. While a god, Rhion Barakar, patron saint of long shots and lost causes, takes an interest in the proceedings (yeah, does not bode well for those PCs, right?), death in this AP is quite possibly permanent and PCs raising the dead will soon see themselves hounded and beset on all fronts...a process logically defined and explained.

Speaking of themes: In a general absence of clearly defined lines of good and evil and within a city that comes with guards, potential punishments for crimes, etc., the mature themes used within the AP get EXTENSIVE consideration - and the AP is so much better off for it: There is e.g. a place that is a combination of a sage's library and an intellectual bordello/high-class escort service...but how explicit you make this is all up to you. Writing-wise, this is PG 13, and the same can be said about the themes of addiction, violence and insanity that all are leitmotifs to a certain degree, but never devolve into a truly explicit manner. The guidance regarding player-sensibilities help immensely here and do a great job helping the GM to customize the campaign.

Speaking of which: One of the crucial leitmotifs of the campaign is one that is a bit of a matter of taste...and it can be completely excluded from the campaign...or emphasized with specific signs and portents. The book also contains several set-piece encounters/sidetrek modules. Since 5e does not have the variant XP-progressions, that section is a bit condensed here.

...and it is here, ultimately, that I have not recourse but to go into SPOILERS, if I want to continue discussing this book. PLAYERS BEWARE. The following contains SPOILERS for the WHOLE CAMPAIGN. Do not read ahead unless you want to GM this AP!!

...

..

.

All right, still here? Don't say I did not warn you! So, the skepticism towards the divine in the city? It has a very good reason. You see, a couple of incarnations of the eternal city before, the demi-god Aether almost brought doom upon the world. He was taking the city by storm, courtesy of him being a god you could touch, but unbeknown to his faithful, he was insane, as the megalomaniacal introductory chapter so perfectly illustrates: In his travels, he has been touched by the Outer Dark, namely R'lyeh, and while it broke his mind, he recovered, obsessed with bringing the city back...and in conjunction with the regular world. Under Anduria, there lies a chthonic Machine of titanic proportions, leaking vileness and power...and Aether succeeded in activating the titanic device, courtesy of a deal with none other than Asmodeus...as he was ripping the souls from his betrayed faithful, the lord of Hell struck with guile. Having sown seeds of doubt, Aether's high priestess, stunned by his madness and betrayal, assassinated her divine lord...and thus, the tragedy began, for her spirit, doomed and confined to the city's bloodlines, has been guiding the fortunes of the city ever since, as she, in her divine punishment and insanity, seeks to make amends. Meanwhile, Aether's soul slipped away, escaping Asmodeus' grasp - which is why the Seekers, Asmodean loan-sharks and hunters have been created...and it explains how they could become basically a kind of second city watch...and it explains the resentment towards the gods that still exists in the enlightened metropolis, even though this horrid event lies buried in the past.

As you may have noted, this all implies, to a degree, an existence of the mythos and cthulhiana - and if you're like me and a bit oversaturated in that regard or just unsure whether you want to use this angle, rest assure that the guide provides all the information required to get rid of it...or enforce it further, all depending on your tastes.

While the book does contain a summary of the campaign's plot and advice on handling the NPCs, I am not going to dive deeper into spoilers there...instead, let us talk about the sidetreks, all right? The first would be a pretty generic sidetrek, in case the PCs incur a debt to an NPC at one point. The second and third one are basically mini-dungeons - expansions, to be more precise: During adventure #1 and #2 of the AP (reviews forthcoming!), enterprising GMs may very well face the option of PCs astute PCs exploring the tunnels below the city, leading towards the machine...if they realize their presence. Where another AP would just leave that to the GM with a shrug, we get two really challenging and potentially lethal sidetreks into this strange environment, foreshadowing the shape of things to come and engaging in some seriously impressive indirect storytelling there. Chances are that most groups won't find these, sure...but their inclusion bespeaks the passion and vision that went into this.

This is not where the pdf stops, however - after adventure #2, Luther Mendel (nice nomenclature there!), associate of Damian and master of the Academy of Natural Magic seems curiously absent...but not if you're using this book, for none other than Richard Develyn of 4 Dollar Dungeons, one of the best adventure-writers I know, provides a fully-mapped module here, one that focuses on the humanoid plant-species of Ghorans and the fact that Mendel has found a Gourd that seems to be an aberrations to the Ghorans...and these beings are a bit paranoid, as they are considered to be somewhat of a delicacy for some humanoids...Thus, the PCs in this module will have to prevent a series on attacks on the academy...only to see Luther present a rapidly-growing humanoid who is learning at a vastly accelerated race...and who is basically becoming one of the PCs...only better in every way. This duplicate, "Pat", is actually the second such seed, as the first has replaced Luther...you see, this being, which also is manipulating the Ghorans, to an extent, ultimately poses a difficult conundrum for the PCs...and even the players: It can replace the PC with a superior double...one that the player gets to play...but the ethics in game should be disturbing, to say the least: It is pretty clear that the germination process will kill the original...so what will it be?

It should be noted that this is the cliff-notes version of the module and does not do it justice...but the weirdness and profound creepiness of the whole set-up gets a resounding thumbs up from me - as far as I'm concerned, this and the customization options alone make this worth the asking price.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good, though some parts of the formatting and some of the 5E-conversion bits feel like they do not live up to the PFRPG-version. They are good, mind you, and my complaints are, in many cases, rather esoteric and aesthetic, but as a whole, the formal criteria of the PFRPG-version felt a bit tighter to me. Layout adheres to a really nice and professional 2-column full-color standard and the book features quite a lot of REALLY nice full-color artworks (same quality as the one you see on the cover...). The pdf btw. comes with a second, more printer-friendly version - big kudos there! Cartography is in full-color as well and comes with all relevant maps, in lavish full-color and, better yet, key-less, player-friendly versions, perfect for use with VTTs. Big, big kudos. E.g. a park, with a plethora of different plants and leaf-colors and -structures makes clear that these have been made with surprising attention to detail. The titanic, high-res overview map of the metropolis is similarly appreciated. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, though, frankly, I'd suggest getting the softcover - the campaign guide makes for a nice, unobtrusive book to flip open while running one of the modules and the book is nice enough to warrant getting.

Micah Watt's "What Lies Beyond Reason" is an extremely ambitious AP; while the prologue did hint at that, it is this book that makes this fact abundantly clear. The impressive aspect here, though, would be that, at least for now, I can say that it looks like it'll work out! You see, the city and its history, themes, all of that...it makes sense. The customization options are helpful and the culture grown here has its roots deeply secluded away from prying eyes...but the PCs will find them, sooner or later. The prose is excellent as far as I'm concerned - when you can write a book, include monsters by Russ brown and a module by Richard Develyn, and manage to not look like an totally green amateur while doing so, then you obviously have talent.

The customization options for the city also really put a smile on my face: Don't like airships? No problem, can be cut. Don't like *leitmotif mentioned in SPOILER-section*? You can reskin that and/or get rid of it. These considerations, the advice given and the way in which this handles the whole NPC-presentation and explanation make this a really compelling book - more than one adventure-writer would certainly benefit from taking a couple of the design-tenets into account: You see, while challenging, the AP is all about consequences...and if the PCs behave stupidly, they may well reap a horrid, horrid comeuppance. This, in short, shares A LOT of my own aesthetics and expectations in design; the roleplaying focus is pronounced and the seemingly clashing themes actually blend together. In short: This is a rather impressive book and certainly one I'd wholeheartedly recommend - also as a possible means of gauging whether the AP will interest you. (And yes, I am pretty sure it will!) - After reading this, I found myself infinitely more excited about the AP than I was after the linear prologue...though even that module gains a lot by contextualizing it...but you'll see.

What I'm trying to say is this: Get this and support this AP. The complaints I do have regarding 5E are, in many cases cosmetic and the "Gourd"-adventure alone may make this worth getting. The extensive and amazing player-map support also really helps and the AP, at least from what I can discern after having played its first 4 modules and the material herein, is worth supporting. While I can't rate the per se lovingly-made 5E-version as highly as the PFRPG-iteration, this is still an impressive book - hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeistcom, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, amazon, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As has become the tradition in the series, we kick this off with a selection of remarkable NPCs to encounter within the given environment - this time around, these folks, as befitting of the environment, include destitute homeless folks, folks nursing a grudge versus off-duty soldiers, a cat burglar sans sense of smell, wererats not yet aware of their condition and even a vampire - all in all, an inspiring collection from the benevolent to the malevolent.

We move on from these NPCs to find 10 minor locales in the sewer - old iron-bound doors pierce walls, passages connect, masses of rubbish and detritus accumulate and walkways may crumble away - all in all, a welcome collection of information to add flavor to the sewer. Slightly weird - the entries run from 11. to 20., instead of from 1. to 10.

We supplement this with 20 pieces of customized dungeon dressing for sewers, which range from the expected (worse stench, rusted iron lantern forgotten on a hook) to thin walls where one can hear murmurs and strange tracks of serpentine (or tentacle-y?) things. These entries are obviously created to enable the enterprising GM to use them as hooks for encounters, and stories.

If you require something with a bit more immediate oomph, I'd suggest checking out the 20 minor events - these include hearing the rumbling of heavy carts above or muted splashes, being doused in a thick glob of slime...and have I mentioned the foaming wave of excrement flowing down? Yeah, EW, but oh so fitting! And yes, pockets of flammable gas. Take care!

But why venture there? Well, sewers tend to be where the missing and lost items show up, so a total of 20 entries should prove to be helpful there and make it slightly more worthwhile for the PCs. A leafless tree-branch with a silver necklace makes for a straight-forward loot that inspires, while piles of fresh bricks and mason equipment pose a different reaction...why are they here? The PCs are bound to find out...right?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there!

Creighton Broadhurst knows his craft. Sewers have a bit of a bad reputation in video games and TTRPGs, but for the most part, to me, undeservedly so: From vermin to intrigue to diseases and hazards, there is a ton of amazing things you can do with the environment and this humble pdf helps add those flourishes. If you're, for example, playing Gaming Paper's excellent "Edgewater's Folly", then this can add quite a bit of flavor to the proceedings.

At the very latest when the PCs see an island of congealed muck float by, topped with a red-eyed rat, they'll almost be able to smell the grime. thankfully only almost, though! All in all, this is a fun, well-crafted dressing-file, well worth 5 stars.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second of Dreamscarred Press' April's Fools-releases clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this one with a new 5-level PrC, the chessmaster, who needs 5 ranks in several skills, BAB +4 and the collective class feature to qualify. The PrC gains d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level and doesn't gain additional weapon or armor proficiencies. BAB-wise, we get a 3/4 progression as well as Ref and Will-saves that improve to +3 over the course of the PrC. 4 of the 5 levels yield manifesting progression and levels in the class stack for the purpose of the collective's power. The base ability of the chessmaster is very, very strong: As a standard action, a member of the collective gains a benefit from Astral Construct Menu A, with 3rd level unlocking menu B and 5th level unlocking menu C - these last for one round per prestige class level, which is the literally only reason I am not screaming hellfire right now.

At the beginning of combat when rolling initiative, the collective may move 10 ft. as a free action. This movement does not count as having taken an action, but does provoke AoOs from eligible targets. 2nd level provides the immensely powerful castling ability - swap two members of the collective as a move action. It is codified as a teleportation effect, but does NOT provoke AoOs. Yep, that's infinite switcheroo. Oioioi. At 3rd level, the PrC gets En Passant: As a standard action, the chessmaster may designate a foe: If the foe leaves the space, he leaves behind a phantom afterimage - hitting this image inflicts damage to the foe. This lasts only for one round, but oh boy. At 4th level, the chessmaster may declare stalemate as an immediate action when an ally rolls an opposed check, but before results are made known. Both rolls are treated as the higher result. Also at this level, as a standard action, the chessmaster chooses an ally: A foe charged by this ally may not move until the beginning of the chessmaster's next turn. An ally may not be reused for a pin for one minute after use. At 5th level, the PrC learns checkmate, which is pretty amazing: Designate an ally and a foe - the ally must be able to act before the foe in the initiative order. The ally may immediately move their speed and take a standard action. If the foe is killed or reduced to 0 hp, the foe is temporal stasis'd. If not, the ally returns to his space, all results of the action undone. This also has a 1 minute cooldown.

A very potent PrC and conceptually awesome; at its power-level, I'd consider it suitable for Path of War power-level gameplay. Regular campaigns should think long and hard about its extremely potent powers before allowing it, though.

Next up would be an expansion for the Monster Classes-series, namely the owlbear. Base race-wise, these are magical beasts with +2 Str and Con, -2 Int, Medium, have low-light vision and darkvision 60 ft., +1 natural AC, are quadrupeds,...and really cool: The pdf specifies the ITEM SLOTS of the creature...and we get an age, height and weight table! Big effin' plus and makes me hope for the series' current revision! The monster class presented for the owlbear covers 5 levels and sports full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, d4 claws at 1st level, d4 bite at second (both upgraded to d6 at 4th level), +2 natural armor at 2nd and 5th level,, scent at 2nd and an upgrade to Large size at 4th level. 5th level yields grab. Attribute bonus-wise, we get, +6 Str, +2 Dex, +6 Con, +2 Wis, for a total of 16 points gained over 5 levels, which is pretty potent. There are 4 feats for owlbears included: Arctic Adaption nets +5 Stealth in snowy areas and cold resistance 5 as well as a swim speed of 30 ft. - which is A LOT for one feat. Deep Adaptation nets darkvision to 120 ft., blindsight 60 ft. and eyeless if you take it a second time. Fruss Variety net fly speed 30 ft. with poor maneuverability and prolonged flight fatigues the owlbear. Great Hook-Claws net a climb speed of 20 ft. as well as a claw damage die upgrade by one step. All in all, very potent feats - but shouldn't the varieties be mutually-exclusive or is the potentially blind, white, flapping owlbear intended?

Race-wise, we are introduced to the longcatfolk, who gain +2 Dex and Wis, -2 Con, and they are treated as one size smaller when making an opposed check that takes size modifiers or special size modifiers into account, provided this would be beneficial to the longcatfolk, and they may squeeze through smaller spaces, replacing sprinter. 1/round, they can choose an adjacent 5-ft.-square and count as occupying that square for flanking purposes and once during that round, at -2 penalty, they can attack from that square, replacing natural hunter. The Munchkin catfolk gets +2 Cha and Int, -2 Con, is Small, slow and gains +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Perform, replacing natural hunter. Attitudes may be shifted by them an additional time, replacing sprinter.

Grippli may choose from two alternate racial traits: Bloodfrogs increase the Dc to still bleeding by +10 and even magical healing attempts to remove bleeding requires a CL-check to succeed. This replaces camouflage and swamp strider. Steelfrog nets a +6 armor bonus, but also a maximum Dexterity (should be capitalized) bonus of +3 and a -3 armor check penalty due to calcified skin. The skin may be enhanced as armor, replacing camouflage. Kitsune may choose "None of that weeaboo crap, either: They lose change shape and agile, but get +2 to Intimidate and may Intimidate as a move action - if they later gain the ability to intimidate as a move or swift action, they increase that to a free action...which probably should still have a cap per round. Dodo Tengu gain +2 Int and Cha, -4 Wis, gain the graveblood subtype and +4 to initiative, as the pdf specifies, "for some reason", replacing sneaky...which is too strong in my book. Emu tengus get +2 Str and Int, -2 Wis and powerful build, which replaces swordtrained and gifted linguist. They also get sprinter instead of sneaky, i.e. 40 ft. movement and Run as a bonus feat.

The Potoo has the following text: "What. God. No, this is a terrible idea. Why would you PLAY this thing? It looks like a g#&&%@n muppet." XD Trait-wise, we have +2 Wis and Dex, -4 Cha, +4 to sight-based Perception, +2 to none-sight-based Perception instead of sneaky. +2 to Bluff and Diplomacy to convince other creatures they're harmless, -2 to Diplomacy in grave circumstances (the ability's called "Oh My God It Sounds Just AS Dumb" for a reason...) and +4 to Disguise checks to impersonate a log and may do so as an immediate action. This replaces swordtrained. And yes, I actually laughed out loud here. The shoebill tengu gets +2 Dex and Con, -2 Cha, slow and steady, never take an Intimidate penalty for failure instead of gifted linguistic...and instead of swordtrained, they ignore ALL DIFFICULT TERRAIN. Wtf?

Fans of Path of War can take the new Damaged Glassware feat - initiators with two maneuvers from Shattered Mirror and Riven Hourglass gain an interesting option: When initiating a riven hourglass maneuver while within a shattered mirror stance, choose one target of the strike in its range. All squares within 10 ft. of the target are filled with glass shards, even if the strike misses. These shards vanish after one hour and gain an enhancement bonus to atk and damage equal to the level of the strike used and bypass DR as though they were a weapon with the strike level's enhancement bonus.

The psionic power false veil generates a veil that can be formed on any open chakra, which may be invested with essence, acting as a dupe. The cat-tastrophy level 9 spell affects a 1-mile radius area generating 1d100 + CL cats per round, with the cats potentially being focused on one square. Creatures slain erupt in even more housecats. Oh, and it may be made permanent. But only kind of. When the Focus cat's ears of wood are worn. Hilarious and made me go WTF in a good way rather hard. Recall Embarrassment is a debuff and animalfolk, lycanthropes etc. may appreciate the headpat cantrip and its greater level 1 version. Speaking of cantrips: Poser casters will love unlimited power while other may like the shadow puppet cantrip. Pun-tastic: Tailful Polymorph- which grows a tail. The greater one nets you more variety in the pseudo-animalistic features you wish to bestow.

Fans of akashic mysteries will appreciate the drunkard's sash, which prevents alcohol penalties, and drinking something nets twice character level temporary hit points, which may only be gained once per round and last one minute and may net essence invested in DR /-. Binding it to the waist nets bonuses depending on the substance consumed; Alcohol nets +2 Str, Tea + 2 Dex...etc. - these bonuses, intriguingly, are tied to the presence of remaining temporary hit points. I am not too keen on the nigh-infinite temporary hit points, but whether I'd consider that problematic would depend on the respective campaign.

Bottles or kegs of endless alcohol would make any tavern ridiculous; classic rulings binders provide +2 to Spellcraft and help identify spells untrained. Oh, and yes, there is a monster manual-equivalent (lol). The Familiar's familiar is fun in that one sentence manages to cram the word "familiar", in a rules-relevant manner, mind you, no less than 12 (!!!) times...and gets the italicizations right, showcasing well why formatting matters. Kudos! It gets even more absurd with the familiar's familiar's familiar -21 times in one sentence. Yes, that is my type of humor. Yes, I am weird. Marobo is, surprise, a magic, automated cleaning device and come with a greater variety. While a sidebar notes that they can be used as familiars, they lack the stats for that. Plushie Powder shrinks a deceased creature down to Tiny size and makes it a plushie...and there is an infinite bag variant...talk about adding insult to injury.

Finally, we get the highly customizable pocket assistant - basically a magical smart phone that can be fitted with a wide variety of apps: Daniel's Roster (Craig's List), locate myself or Necromancy MOVE, which appropriately, traps SOULS, make for some interesting options that made me smile.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good and really impressive for a PWYW-kinda-joke product, on both a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf has no artworks (but funny lines that explain why...) and comes with a second, more printer-friendly version. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Adam Boucher, Anthony Cappel, Katia Oakes, Jacob Karpel, Jeffrey Swank and Patrick Miller have created an interesting pdf here: As we've come to expect from Dreamscarred Press, the rules-language is crisp and the respective concepts are depicted in a creative and fun manner. At the same time, it should be noted that the power-level of the options herein is generally pretty high - not all of them, mind you, but I'd strongly encourage checking very closely whether or not to include some of these in low or medium-powered games. At the same time, this is a) PWYW and b) a really *FUNNY* book that gets some actual mileage out of its funny components...and that's something to be applauded...and it's the intention of the book. Plus, high-powered campaigns will probably enjoy this VERY MUCH. While not for everyone, this does have its raison d'être and is worth downloading -at the very least, you'll get a chuckle out of it (The Potoo made me laugh SO HARD!) and you can decide relatively easily whether or not it is for you. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to NErdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Wanted to bump this over the non-revised version


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.


If you do, let me know so I can post the reviews there as well! And oh boy, I love this one!!


An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of Green Devil Face clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let's take a look! It should be noted that the layout of this pdf makes it possible to fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, being generally intended for an A5/ 6'' by 9''-standard.

We begin this pdf with "A Rather Unfair Trap" -a pool of water with a submerged cage containing a ruby. Touching the ruby switches places, potentially drowning the victim. Such a victim then slowly dissolves and the liquid changes the brain into a new ruby.

Next up are two d30-tables - one for effects of a natural 20 and one for effects of a natural 1. Some do feel a bit weird to me: Like the option for your allies to gain all your XP in that session - how is that in any way, shape or form related to fumbles? How does one 1 prevent the whole party from taking offensive actions? These, in short, are simply not good and feel random at best.

The next article depicts a new character advancement technique: 1d6 hit points, +1 attack bonus, +2 AC, 15 in all saves. Press attack nets +1 attack bonus -4 AC, while defensive attacks invert those modifications. On a level-up, you roll d10s twice. A player can alternatively roll one d12 - 11 and 12 net a total of 4 different bonus effects. These can, thus, generate ridiculously high defensive AC options for fighters who emphasize offense, a lack of new spell slots for casters, etc. - as a whole, I do not consider this method rewarding as presented. 8 tables are provided, in case you're interested in the system.

Next up would be an alternate XP-progression: You roll 1d6 after an adventure and add/detract modifiers: If the roll exceeds the current level, the character gains a level. Being reduced to 0 hp, being a sole survivor and the like are positive modifiers, while a lack of PC deaths actually detracts 1 from the tally. lack of gained treasure and not having to roll a saving throw also are detrimental factors, with the latter basically actively penalizing smart players. Not a fan.

The next article is "What's up with that Cult?" - a generator of various small tables to generate the basics for a cult. The generator isn't bad, but painfully generic. One can do better with e.g. Raging Swan Press' offerings or by hand-crafting one. Thankfully, the second generator for being stranded on a shore fares a bit better - while also generic, the respective entries come with more detail and features encounters, events, weather, messages in bottles, strangenesses and the like - I actually really liked this one.

12 different entries that explain the Loch Ness monster provide some nice ideas - giant zombie leech, for example. Just sayin' And yep, this one is nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. layout adheres to a 1-column or 2-column standard, depending on the article, is b/w and pretty printer-friendly. The pdf lacks artworks and bookmarks, but at this price-point, that's okay.

James Edward Raggi IV is a talented author and designer, but this one feels like the (bad) B-sides collection of his rules-design scrapbook: The alternate progression-mechanics and crit/fumble systems are just bad ideas that remove any cohesion from the game. I can't see any value in them, apart from "It's random and deadly, yo - and that's totally OSR, right?" My own reply there would be "No", but I bet someone out there will like this. Personally, I loathe how arbitrary they dish out benefits and penalties - they are great ways to simulate playing with a really sucky GM who tells you "You can't act, dude - your wizard buddy rolled a 1!" So yeah, these components are pretty much the epitome of unfun for me. The wreckage generator, trap and Loch Ness table help remedying the file at least a bit, but, as a whole, this is the one Green Devil Face I'd strongly suggest skipping. Even at the low price-point, I don't consider this worth getting. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


More to come! :)


1 person marked this as a favorite.

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief sidetrek module by Pyromaniac Press, first of the Encounter-series-pdfs, clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin this with a cliff-notes version of the dungeon-specifics - where to best place it regarding terrain, climate, etc., room height, doors and illumination and the pdf also includes hard stats for the doors featured herein. A variety of 3 different hooks provide nice lead-ins for the module. The cartography deserves special mention - rendered in full color, it is really nice to look at and comes, better yet, with a high-res, key-less player-map version. A secret door "S" has been concealed on the map, which generally works well, but keen-eyed players may still see it - still, the effort alone is to be applauded and a very minor black brush-job (literally 20 seconds) takes care of that.

As the PCs approach the complex, they will hear strange, howling sounds, which will hamper communication and perception within several areas, already pointing towards the importance of terrain in the module - as far as I'm concerned, a big plus. Speaking of plusses: The pdf sports well-written prose and read-aloud texts for each of the regions - a relevant boon for GMs who are less versed in maintaining a coherent atmosphere.

...And honestly, that's as far as I can go without getting deep into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, this dungeon is very much a protracted boss fight, if you will: The eponymous lava queen is a variant medusa, infused with the forces of both earth and fire, and as such, she has elementals and mephits under her command - and the PCs probably stumble right into her gallery.

This would be a perfect point in time to quote the pdf, for the prose here is exquisite: "Sure enough a closer examination of the statues reveals them to be roughly shaped humanoids. They appear to be carved from cracked volcanic rock, but rather than being smooth like cooled magma, they have rough surfaces that crumble to sharp chunks and slivers if touched. The rock also leaves behind a fine ash that seems to cling tenaciously to surfaces (and creatures).[...] All of them have expressions of anguish on their faces, and the howling emanates from their open mouths. The largest sources of light are emitted from empty eye sockets, mouths and

ears, while the odd crack in their ‘bodies’ lets out a little illumination." Come on, that is frickin' amazing!

And yes, witnessing this horrific scene can render PCs shaken - nice to see some proper use of conditions there! The tactics of the lava queen are potent indeed and her abode has been constructed with the obvious intent of defending the place! Searing hot air currents and a new creature (think "magma-squid" with fiery rends and a fatiguing aura...and lava jets) await here - and worse yet, the lava queen has an artifact, the Eye of Imix, which can bathe the wielder in flames and heal him - but also renders subjects to its powers helpless. It first fatigues, targets, then exhausts them and if you use its maximum uses, may even kill the wielder. I do have two complaints here: 1) The artifact lacks a suggested means of destruction and 2) and in the revised iteration of this pdf, the previously slightly opaque wording for its offensive use has been cleaned up. Speaking of which: The artifact now comes with a proper destruction method -kudos there! On the plus-side, the healing effect is not cheesable, which is a definite plus...and not sure whether you'd want to carry around an artifact that lets an evil elemental deity know your whereabouts...

The lava queen herself is btw. a unique medusa with a blistering aura, lava-like blood and no, she cannot be petrified via her own gaze...oh, and she can fling balls of lava. Big plus: The previous iteration had some obvious hiccups in the statblock that have been cleaned up. Kudos!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - no complaints there. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf features really impressive full-color artworks for the queen and the critter, with in particular the glorious cover-artwork making this potentially worthwhile for art-aficionados. Cartography leaves nothing to be desired, as far as I'm concerned. The pdf has basic bookmarks to front and back cover and editorial, but at this length, that's still okay.

Micah Watt's Lair of the Lava Queen is an extremely flavorful sidetrek dungeon with impressive production values for the price. I adore the flavor, I love the prose and the revised version takes care of pretty much all my complaints that remained. Russ Brown's critter, the magma-squid, is btw really cool..

And then there's the fact of the bang-for-buck-ratio: This pdf is really, really cheap. As in: Ridiculously cheap for what it offers. 2 bucks. The art and map alone and the critter are pretty much worth investing the time to briefly tinker with the map- if you're like me, that will take 20 seconds, tops, tops....and leaves you with an AMAZING villain in an evocative complex that practically demands being inserted into the game.

My only remaining complaint with this iteration of the sidetrek remains the small, barely perceptible "S" on the map...and that is most certainly no reason to skip this. In short: Now the sidetrek is just as amazing in PFRPG as it is in the 5e-version and thus gets a final verdict of 5 stars, + seal of approval.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

This brief sidetrek module by Pyromaniac Press, first of the Encounter-series-pdfs, clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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

We begin this with a cliff-notes version of the dungeon-specifics - where to best place it regarding terrain, climate, etc., room height, doors and illumination and the pdf also includes hard stats for the doors featured herein. A variety of 3 different hooks provide nice lead-ins for the module. The cartography deserves special mention - rendered in full color, it is really nice to look at and comes, better yet, with a high-res, key-less player-map version. A secret door "S" has been concealed on the map, which generally works well, but keen-eyed players may still see it - still, the effort alone is to be applauded and a very minor black brush-job (literally 20 seconds) takes care of that.

As the PCs approach the complex, they will hear strange, howling sounds, which will hamper communication and impose disadvantage on Wisdom (Perception) checks and lower passive perception (nice catch!) within several areas, already pointing towards the importance of terrain in the module - as far as I'm concerned, a big plus. Speaking of plusses: The pdf sports well-written prose and read-aloud texts for each of the regions - a relevant boon for GMs who are less versed in maintaining a coherent atmosphere.

...And honestly, that's as far as I can go without getting deep into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, this dungeon is very much a protracted boss fight, if you will: The eponymous lava queen is a variant medusa, infused with the forces of both earth and fire, and as such, she has elementals and mephits under her command - and the PCs probably stumble right into her gallery.

This would be a perfect point in time to quote the pdf, for the prose here is exquisite: "Sure enough a closer examination of the statues reveals them to be roughly shaped humanoids. They appear to be carved from cracked volcanic rock, but rather than being smooth like cooled magma, they have rough surfaces that crumble to sharp chunks and slivers if touched. The rock also leaves behind a fine ash that seems to cling tenaciously to surfaces (and creatures).[...] All of them have expressions of anguish on their faces, and the howling emanates from their open mouths. The largest sources of light are emitted from empty eye sockets, mouths and

ears, while the odd crack in their ‘bodies’ lets out a little illumination." Come on, that is frickin' amazing!

And yes, witnessing this horrific scene can render PCs frightened on a failed Charisma save (nice one - 5e tends to tie Charisma to resolve, so this makes sense to me!) - nice to see some proper use of conditions there! The tactics of the lava queen are potent indeed and her abode has been constructed with the obvious intent of defending the place! Searing hot air currents and a new creature (think challenge 9 "magma-squid" with fiery rends and a fatiguing aura...and lava jets) await here. Cool - the creature can stack exhaustion levels on the PCs, but thankfully caps at 3. Also nice: The conversion done here not only mirrors the aesthetic statblock formatting of 5e, it also gets the creature right. No glitches, apart from a single missing blank space...and that's aesthetics.

Worse yet for the PCs, the lava queen has an artifact, the eye of Imix, which can bathe the wielder in flames and heal him - but also renders subjects to its powers incapacitated. It also heaps exhaustion-levels of the user and may even kill the wielder - but the healing as such cannot be cheesed. It should be noted that previous ambiguities in the rules-language of the artifact have been cleaned up and it also sports a proper means of destruction now. On the plus-side, the healing effect is not cheesable, which is a definite plus...and not sure whether you'd want to carry around an artifact that lets an evil elemental deity know your whereabouts...

The lava queen herself is btw. a unique medusa with a blistering aura, lava-like blood and no, she cannot be petrified via her own gaze...oh, and she can fling balls of lava. She is a potent, evocative and deadly boss with smart tactics and some nice staying power.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level - no complaints there. On a rules-language level, I have no complaints either. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf features really impressive full-color artworks for the queen and the critter, with in particular the glorious cover-artwork making this potentially worthwhile for art-aficionados. Cartography leaves nothing to be desired, as far as I'm concerned. The pdf has basic bookmarks to front and back cover and editorial, but at this length, that's still okay.

Micah Watt's Lair of the Lava Queen is an extremely flavorful sidetrek dungeon with impressive production values for the price. I adore the flavor, I love the prose and the author has, almost immediately, fixed the issues I had with the artifact: Now that is caring about both products and customers - big plus! In short: This is a truly impressive sidetrek!

And then there's the fact of the bang-for-buck-ratio: This pdf is really, really cheap. As in: Ridiculously cheap for what it offers. 2 bucks. The art and map alone and the critter are pretty much worth investing the time to briefly tinker with the map.

The 5e-version, even further streamlined by now, is at this point a ridiculous steal for the low price-point and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + my seal of approval.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.


Beat me to it, ultimate punch. My reviews are always properly fitted with links on endzeitgeist.com., just fyi! :D


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, amazon, etc.

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