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5,120 posts. 2,217 reviews. No lists. 1 wishlist.

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

This module clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page inside back cover (which doubles as a picture you can color), 1/2 a page advertisement, leaving 20 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved forward on my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the behest of my patreons.

First of all, before I go into details: This module is intended for a younger audience - basically, this is intended to be a very kid-friendly module - to be more precise, for the age-range of about ~ 6 years. I ran the module in my playtest with a mixed group spanning the ages of 4 - 11 and the players that had most fun were those in the lower ages, so personally, I'd suggest this approximately for ages 4 - 8. The module does take into account the changed requirements of the target demographic - namely by calling out when a good time for a break would be, when to guide them by incorporating suggestions into your "What do you do?"-questions, when to explain the discrepancy between character and player-knowledge...the like. For parents not sure whether their kids can handle "killing" adversaries, an alternate wording is provided as well, with the defeated "returning home." The copious amounts of advice provided are generally not only welcome, they tend to be very sound.

I, for example, wholeheartedly endorse the notion of taking away nonlethal damage penalties in combat encounters and rewarding PCs for doing "what's right" and handing off defeated foes to the proper authorities. It is my experience that kids become pretty adamant about doing "what's right," particularly when bonus XP are on the line - this may sound stupid to adult readers, but it is my firm conviction that acting like this can help kids develop their moral compass. Even distribution of candy/gummibears used as monster-substitutes on the map also is a pretty sound advice, since it prevents instances of jealousy and kill steals, while still providing immediate gratification.

All right! Children/players, in case you're reading this, please jump to the conclusion. No one likes a cheater and I'm going to explain the adventure now. If you continue reading, you'll only make the adventure boring for yourselves and have an unfair advantage that will be noticed by your GM. Please do what's right and jump to the conclusion.




The monastery of the monks of the kneeling wind is a tribute to the elements and, visually inspired by Japanese aesthetics, well-represented by a truly beautiful full-color map. Alas, all things must end, and so did the time of the monks - and after they were gone, the crystal dragon Azhuryx chose this place to rear her precious wyrmling Kurisutaru. Alas, once again, trouble brewed and the mother dragon did not return from a hunt, leaving Kurisutaru terribly bored with the soulbound doll left for him, yet cautious of strangers. One day, Kurisutaru saw a child folding origami and was left overjoyed when he saw dragons among the figures crafted - he thus swooped down to talk with the magical prodigy Azumi, who, in a panic, conjured forth an origami crane (made possible via the new spell) and sent it forth - said crane is what jumpstarts the module in earnest, as the PCs happen to find the origami swan and read the cry for help on it.

In order to reach the monastery, the PCs have to start climbing the mountain (a great way to btw. use the hazard here to explain altitude sickness as they encounter it to the kids for a nice educational interlude) and on site, the exploration can commence - the PCs can for example brave the most huggable earth elemental I can imagine. A Wisteria tree whispers to the PCs that the key to Azumi's location is hidden in the koi pond and indeed, swimming in can yield it. Underwater, the PCs encounter a friendly, awakened koi who breathes bubbles on them and wants to talk to them: He'll give them the key, if they answer a simple riddle. Beyond the moon-viewing tower, there are animated dog statuettes that may attack (impotently) the PCs - less defense and more offense would have probably made this encounter slightly more enjoyable, but that may just be me.

The PCs will also have a chance to test their mettle against the haunt-summoned non-evil undead weapon master of the monks in honorable combat. In the just as lavishly-rendered map of the complex beneath the monastery, a Sudoku-puzzle beckons alongside a friendly haunt testing the PCs whether they can distinguish reality from illusion, while another requires balancing on a rope to swing a an interesting twist, the spectral teachers of the monks may provide guidance in-game to stumped players. Combat-challenges include dealing with the dragon's overprotective soulbound doll and some animated objects.

When the PCs finally happen upon the dragon, they'll think they have a deadly fight on their hands...but Azumi intervenes and the PCs have a chance to make friends with the dragon, the positive modifiers of which btw. also entail playing a game of hide and seek with the dragon...and hopefully convey to him that kidnapping others, no matter how well-intentioned, is not a good way to make friends. In the end, though, capable PCs will probably leave on Azumi's origami riding cranes, with Kurisutaru's friendship bracelet for a fine, tasty dinner at Azumi's house - who now has a friend most unique.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a Japanese-looking, beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The book provides ample of child-friendly artwork from the pen by Jacob Blackmon -more so than in many modules of this size, rendering it a nice, visual treat. The unified and beautiful style also extends to the gorgeous cartography by Travis Hanson, which also features player-friendly versions that you can print out, cut up and hand out to them as they go! Extra kudos for that update!

Jenny Jarzabski and BJ Hensley have already proven that they can make good crunch; however, as it turns out, they can also write captivating modules. "A Friend in Need" is a great first module for the small ones, breathing a bit of the spirit of Hayao Miyazaki's movies and the innocence conveyed therein. It is not perfect, being a freshman offering, with minor hiccups like the somewhat tedious combat versus hardness 8 animated dog statues...but it is still a pretty impressive one. You see, the module does a lot things right: The flavor is child-friendly. Even the spirits of the monks, which may evoke a slight sense of creepiness (in a good way), still provide more aid than hindrance. The challenges are diverse and the inclusion of social encounters, riddles and puzzles make sure that the players actually are challenged in more than one way, which is a good thing in any module, particularly so in one intended for kids.

Now personally, I do believe that even small kids can handle a bit more threat and danger than this module featured (see e.g. the pretty serious themes of fear of loss and reorientation in "My Neighbor Totoro", for comparison), but I will not hold that against the pdf. It should be noted that I ran this with a 4-year-old among the players and the module proved fitting for children this young as well, while the kids in the age-range of 8 and beyond would have liked a bit more grit. Now the good thing here is that, should you not endeavor to cater to a crowd as diverse as I did in my playtest, you'll have no issue slightly increasing the creepy-factor of the benevolent monk-spirits - in my playtest, I added some minor creepy-dressing to them and thus managed to engage the kids even more - if you heed this advice, though, please make sure you know what your players are comfortable with - a tiny scare is okay, but not more.

How to rate this, then? Now that's the tricky part: You see, I very much believe that we need more modules like this. In fact, many more modules.

I have vastly benefited from my roleplaying in both terms of foreign languages, vocabulary, problem-solving and social skills and the sooner we can get such a positive development going, the better. At the same time, I am somewhat hesitant of awarding this per se very good module my highest accolades - it is my firm belief that a slightly more pronounced emphasis on morality (or a slightly more complex hide-and-seek-encounter) could have added that little je-ne-sais-quoi to this already very good module.

Ultimately, we are left with one well-crafted module for young children - hopefully, only the first of many more to come. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars for this freshman offering, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. Congratulations to the authors for an impressive first sojourn that certainly made the children ask for more.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

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

This installment of the chronicle of the gatekeepers campaign serial clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 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, only GMs around? One of the most unique races of NeoExodus would be the Cavians - rat-like humanoids that are all psychics...and that differ radically from any other race by one crucial fact: The race sports a hivemind, which renders them unique and alien in an uncanny way. Large-Biter has news - a group of cavian monks is nearby and may prove vital intelligence on the Vespan's work and the flare of activity of the Nexus gateways. It should soon dawn upon the PCs that there are some racial tensions here - indeed, even before they venture forth towards the Cavians, they'll be confronted by villagers warning them in no undue terms - tensions are flaring and, indeed, this module is about the two disparate groups.

The module tracks every little interaction between both groups, so here's the deal: Teryth's natives are pretty hostile towards the Cavians and thus, each interaction, each wrong word, may provide a mob point; the interaction with the Cavians may yield Diplomacy points alongside information and the PCs better take heed - upon their return to Teryth from the trip to the Cavians, the local populace seems awfully interested in the details of the Cavian's strength, numbers, etc. - and yes, here the PCs better ought to remain unspecific. Now the cool thing here is the following: The points ultimately determine how the final showdown between the two groups turns out - and there are a lot of different, fine-grained results here, with the non-bloodshed ideal case being pretty hard to achieve...but not impossible.

The module also sports one cavian magic item, just fyi.


Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to LPJ Design's elegant 2-column full-color standard for the series and the module comes fully bookmarked and in a second, slightly more printer and mobile phone-friendly version.

Michael McCarthy and Louis Porter Jr. provide one extremely elegant sidetrek here: Focusing on Diplomacy, this humble little module offers a welcome change of pace from the usual adventuring fare, with interesting supplemental rules that render running this one pretty easy. Additionally, this module rewards Diplomacy and bring heroic (i.e. not kill-happy) - it's ideal solution is that no one gets hurt. More importantly, while there are ample skill-checks here, many of the actions and actual points the PCs get depend on roleplaying as opposed to simply rolling a die - a fact that further improves this already cool set-up. I am seriously impressed by this cool, little sidetrek - it is different in all the right ways, fun and a great chance for actual roleplaying to shine. Barring any proper complaints, I can wholeheartedly endorse this fun, uncommon sidetrek, since it exemplifies what you can accomplish with even limited space. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

An review

This module for 13th Age clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page blank inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This was moved ahead in my review-queue due to me receiving a print copy in exchange for a critical, honest review.

We begin this module with a briefing and a selection of the icon patron for the PCs - and, let me state this from the beginning, this section is very detailed: Each of the patron icons and also, each of the antagonist icons you can choose to frame the narrative in, changes the subject matter in subtle ways - though arguably, I'd suggest involving the Dwarf King in some way - you'll note why when reading the module.

And this is the extent to which I can get regarding the module without delving into the SPOILERS. From here on out, only GMs should read on - seriously, even when playing another system, you may want to move on to the conclusion.




All right, so it should come as no surprise that in a highly magical setting like the Dragon Empire, there sooner or later emerges a genius. In the case of the 13th Age, this Leonardo DaVinci-style super-genius would be Inigo Sharpe. However, the brilliant man takes "problematic" to whole new levels. What do I mean by this? well, the man has made a living out of solving (partially) the issues of an Icon and then getting the hell away, leaving shambles and large bills. Yes, he is not a nice guy and while the concepts his inventions would have had for the respective icons are massive, none work as intended/are completed - instead, this brilliant man elected not to put even more power in the icon's hands.

This does not, however, change the fact that, at some point, Inigo had to jump ship time and again - and then, he vanished. At the behest of their patron icon, the PCs have to track down Sharpe..with the only good trail leading to Silver Cove and a burned former partner of Sharpe left to clean up one of his messes. Indeed, the mage Frigin's dome soon comes under siege by some hoodlums, showing the PCs that they are not the only ones on the hunt for Sharpe. The annoyed and frightened mage does have a means of tracking down Sharpe, though - a concealed, magical boat that always returns back to its port of origin, to be activated via a peculiar song.

Thus, the PCs board the vessel, sing...and on it goes. The magical boat brings them right into the ocean, to be more precise, to the eponymous strangling sea. This would be a tightly-interwoven mat of Sargasso, fungi, wrecks and worse, all clumped together to form a floating, unstable place. Navigating the strangling sea's less than reliable: One false step can see you crash through the ground and into the sea that's teeming with lethal predators...and then there would be the inhabitants: The strangling sea features a tribe of degenerate, xenophobic goblins on the verge of becoming something wholly different and these beings, with their psionics-inducing parasites are just one issue. The other factions contain a group of shipwrecked people and a huge metal box, which is an experimental dwarven ship of metal. Oh, and there are, obviously, deadly parasites and flesh-eating fungi to be found here as well in one of the most unique iterations of this trope I've seen in ages.

Finding Inigo here is hard - particularly, since neither the paranoid, hostile dwarves, nor the other factions prove to be friendly: The PC's arrival changes the strangling sea's power-dichotomy, with their boat being a grand prize to be wrestled from the PCs...and the desperation and paranoia of the locals makes sense. Why? Because the strangling sea houses a malevolent, chthonic intellect that drives its inhabitants into desperation, paranoia and even suicide. Yes, darker than you thought, hmm? The brilliant rules-representation of the Strangling Sea, though, is what makes it shine even more: Basically, the Strangling Sea gets a kind of evil relationship die that can further influence PCs in ways most unpleasant. I expected the neat rules for swimming under the sea - I did not expect this awesomeness.

Better yet, the fully mapped sea (player-friendly, just fyi) retains the modularity promised by the set-up: You see, Inigo can be freely placed...and there's a reason for this. The PCs won't simply find the eccentric inventor - unless they are smart: You see, Inigo's "death" was not just perfectly faked...he kind of died. However, he downloaded his personality and mind into a steampunky replacement body...of which only the head remains. So yeah, the goal here is to escape the strangling sea alive, sanity mostly intact, with a severed and still very conscious (and talkative...and extremely abrasive) head of a century's genius... whether their ship is stolen or not, whether they reactivate the massive dwarven ship or not - one way or another, the PCs can hopefully return - to a final encounter that amounts to rugby/American football with Inigo's head. And yes, this encounter, like each and every one in this book, has several cool, unique factors that make it more unique.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, i noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to 13th Age's printer-friendly, elegant 2-column b/w-standard. The original b/w-artworks are copious and nice and the strangling sea's map is neat. The electronic version is fully bookmarked for your convenience. The softcover version comes on glossy, thick high-quality paper.

All right, let's cut this short: GET THIS! This is the 13th Age introduction-module you always wanted: Beyond the absolutely awesome location, the icon-related customization options and the story, this awesome sandbox offers unique, cool encounters galore. Even if you're not playing 13th Age, the creative and well-written module practically demands to be converted into other systems: Robin D. Laws has executed a firework of high-concept awesomeness in these pages that render this a joy to read and the playing experience actually surpasses this still.

The unique use of 13th Age's rules and the diverse selection of foes and scenarios render this sandbox one thing: Superb. If I had one complaint, it would be that I would have loved the module to be longer, for there to be even more madness and time in the Strangling yeah. I literally couldn't get enough of this. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and a must-own recommendation for any fan of 13th Age.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

This free supplement clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with a one-page introduction of the origin of the class. The baleful sorceror gets d6, may not wear armor and are proficient with daggers, short swords, sickles and scimitars. They may also use poison as a thief of the same level and may rebuke, command or destroy undead as a cleric of the same level. This sorceror learns one spell of a higher level every level, though more power can be gained via trafficking with dreaded Tsathag'Kha, putting that control in the GM's hands. The sorceror may also try to cast more potent magic than he can, requiring a save. If he fails, he takes the Constitution-drain of the magic himself and is whisked away by Tsathag'kha's servants to be looted and/or forced to sign a pact in blood.

This power obviously needs some balancing: Baleful Sorcerors of Tsathag'kha can never acquire a familiar, multi-class or be lawful/good. Upon death, his soul is forfeit and there is a 7% chance that the sorceror rises as a lich after dying. These guys do not require spellbooks. Aforementioned Constitution-drain either is equal to the spell-level or as noted in the spell's description, but these may be relegated to willing and unwilling targets, provided blood was drawn by the sorceror, and no more than 1 hour prior to the casting. Constitution recharges at 2 points per hour of uninterrupted rest, but characters below Con 3 must save to avoid systemic shock and subsequent death from the recovery.

The spell-list runs the gamut from magic detection (rolling a bunch of spells into one) to infernal conducts, blackish-purple tentacles, green, ichorous infernos and insta-kill at level 9. I wished the spells had more detailed casting/duration-infos, but ultimately can live with what's here.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a nice two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The pdf has a damn cool b/w-artwork in addition to the full color cover.

Venger As'Nas Satanis provides a solid, nice character kit here; by virtue of the rules being designed to work with several iterations of OSR-rules, the crunchy parts are a bit less precise than what I personally enjoy, but ultimately, the class works with a minimum wok required - and that is pretty impressive. Oh, and it is FREE. FREE is hard to beat indeed and hence, I will award full 5 stars + seal of approval in spite of this minor nitpick for this pdf - well worth the download!

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here.

Part II of my review:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column b/w-standard and the book sports numerous, gorgeous b/w-artworks of the highest caliber. The book's print edition is a nice softcover with glossy covers and high-quality paper. The pdf-version is something I would recommend only to a lesser extent: The lack of bookmarks the electronic version sports constitutes a significant comfort detriment, particularly considering the more spread-out presentation of the rules.

Robin D. Laws' Fear Itself is, and let me state that loud and clear, an EXCELLENT game. At the same time, the GUMSHOE system as depicted herein also represents the most disjointed of the presentations when compared to the other books I've covered and minor rules-ambiguities can be found here and there. While this does not cripple the book, it does detract a bit from its user-friendliness for novices to the system - which is a pity. Why? Because the Fear Itself, as a system, lends itself, like the horror movies it emulates, works best for brief campaigns and one-shots: The lethality of this iteration of GUMSHOE and the scope of the system is geared towards this...or towards prologue/first chapter-style gameplay.

The perfect way to use this book, at least in my opinion, is to lead into a longer campaign: The hapless PCs witness the horrible things about to happen and there we go: After several encounters, they are recruited into the OV, properly trained and now use Esoterrorist-rules, supplemented by some from this book. (And yes, in this instance, I'd slowly unlock the more action-packed spy-rules from Night's Black Agents as the PCs become more and more professional threats to the creatures of the Outer Dark and the vampiric conspiracy...)

Beyond even this use, one can also look at Fear Itself as the ultra-gritty version of GUMSHOE: Want to play a truly low-powered Esoterrorists-game or a Dustier-than-dust-mode Night's Black Agents-game? Scavenge the fleeing rules and the power-level. Even beyond such a model, the psychic powers may be a great addition to your game and the sources of stability/risk factor-mechanics offer A LOT of inspiring material that works just as well in more pulpy contexts. So while the presentation of the rules may not be as refined, the actual rules themselves are inspired in all the right ways.

The 2 monsters, the implied and extremely compelling Esoterrorists-world and the SUPERB scenario included herein also constitute excellent reasons to get this book. Fear Itself is a thoroughly compelling, excellent book, though one that is slightly more flawed than its brethren. Still, I wouldn't ever want to miss this book and its contents among my library and can whole-heartedly recommend it. While incapable of being able to rate this the full 5 stars due to the slightly confused presentation and the electronic version's lack of bookmarks, I can still rate this 4.5 stars + seal of approval, rounded up...However, only for the print version. The electronic version's lack of bookmarks exacerbates the aforementioned issues and should be considered only 4 stars and loses the seal of approval.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

This installment of the Knowledge Check-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, this is something different. As you all may know, I'm a bit obsessed with languages and sociolects - I've been pretty vocal in my love of the inclusion of slang in Fat Goblin Games' PWYW Carnival of Sinners. This inexpensive book provides essentially a number of words you can use to make your underworld feel more unique. While some of the words are pretty obvious ("bene" meaning "good", for example), there are quite a few intriguing slang words herein: A "Holy Lamb" is, for example, a thoroughly despicable villain; "Jibber the Kibber" is the practice of using a horse and a lantern to make ships run aground. Oh, and "lacing" something means to beat someone.

While some words herein are simply that, others inspire regarding the practice to which they refer: "leggers" e.g. sell low-quality goods, purportedly smuggled goods, and thus avoid repercussions for the bad quality of their merchandise. Knowing about "Hangman's Wages" may also prove useful within the consistency of your game-world.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read, beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork is sparse, but fitting.

Richard D. Bennett provides a damn cool little dictionary here - the practices and words herein can inspire and certainly help you make your depictions of the seedy underbelly of your campaign more exciting. What's here, is certainly awesome, particularly for the low price point. At the same time, I really wished this was longer and that it had some invented, new fluff to account for the different reality of most fantasy settings - words for halflings, goblins, magic and sorcerous pursuits would have been much appreciated, at least by me. What we do get here is a nice glimpse at real world thieves' cant for a low price and as such, this is a nice book - my final verdict hence will clock in at 4 stars.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

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An review

This book clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, so let's get this right out of the way - this one will be brief - why? Because this is a player's guide and it's the school of book that is all about the fluff: We thus begin this player's guide with the PCs entering the city of Endhome - a massive settlement and one of the key locations of the massive "Lost City of Barakus"-mega-adventure. As befitting of people arriving at such a place, the PCs hire a guide, Corlius, who then proceeds to show the PCs the sights and introduce them to the dynamics of Endhome, relevant places and the like: After an extensive and well-written tour through the massive city (including a nice, schematic map of the place), the PCs will find themselves in the King's Road Inn, the place most likely to cater to the adventurer's profession.

As such, here, the PCs will not only be introduced to some crucial NPCs, they also will hear quite an array of rumors that may result in them going forth, checking them out - within the frame narrative of these conversations, the PCs get to know about several of the dangerous and intriguing areas beyond the confines of Endhome's walls - without spoiling the achievement of discovery when the PCs finally explore Barakus - kudos for going this route!

That's not all, though: Players will certainly appreciate the run-down of the places that offer shopping opportunities, a list of notable key persons and even a page of common knowledge and obvious rumors.


Editing and formatting are very good, though one header has a formatting glitch with a relic <n> and a header that is regularly sized. Apart from that, no complaints. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' two-column b/w-standard with nice b/w-artworks and hand-drawn, sketchy schematic maps that spoil nothing. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, though I'd advise in favor of getting this book in paper (the print-version being glossy with high-quality paper) - perhaps one for each player.

Why? Because Vicky Potter's player's guide is not only a good read: This is perhaps one of the most useful player's guides I've read in a while. You see, I played Barakus back in its 3.X-iteration and while I loved this gigantic sandbox, it took a lot of time to set-up: You've probably experienced this yourself: Until the players and PCs have a grip on a wide open sandbox, you'll be doing A LOT of exposition, when everyone at the table would rather be adventuring. This is where this player's guide comes in: Simply hand it to your players, have them read it and there you go - all exposition right out of the way, and in medias res, you can start the discussion of what they want to check out first. This book makes getting to the meat of the module so much easier - sans SPOILING any crucial details. Oh, and it's also a compelling, fun read AND a good reference book for players forgetting the names of important NPC XYZ. This is pretty much a glorious Player's Guide that does its job exceedingly well. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Reviewed first on, the submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here. Cheers!

Endzeitgeist out.

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

So, this time around, we're looking at the Aldori Swordlord - in case you're not familiar with the issue: "Aldori" is closed IP, which means that dueling sword etc. obviously refers to the respective sword. The swordlord as presented here gets full BAB-progression, good Fort-saves, 2+Int skills, proficiency with all weapons (+ the exotic dueling sword) and light armor and weapon finesse at first level. Second level nets Dazzling Display, 3rd Dueling Mastery. 2nd level provides bravery (which means synergy with Bravery-feats - yeah!) with 5-level scaling. Deft Strike is also part of the deal from 1st level onwards and third level nets Steel Net, which is reimagined as a scaling dodge bonus.

4th level provides some bonuses for performance combat and better Dazzling Display-synergy, while 5th level nets better dueling sword specialization that increases every 4 levels thereafter, extending this to maneuvers and the defense against them. Disarming Strike is relegated to 6th level. The original PrC's Steel Net's ability to decrease the penalty for defensive fighting gets fixed - it now also applies to Combat Expertise - kudos here!

9th level provides a cool ability that adds demoralize injuries to crits and maneuvers and even suppress the target's morale bonuses - awesome new ability! Even cooler that, at really high levels, they may negate even more bonuses! Using immediate actions to grant himself 25% chance to negate crits would be unlocked at 10th level (upgrade at 16th level)

Level 11 lets them maintain Dex while using Acrobatics/Climbing alongside from decreased AoO-provoking when standing up from any creatures hit while prone. The class also gets an ability that represents adjusting tactics to an individual foe and counterattack is gained at 15th level.

The highest levels provide DRs and auto-confirms of crits, the latter, obviously, as the capstone.

As always, we get favored class options for the core races and a sample NPC at level 1, 5, 10 and 15 - but we also get advice on making alternate sword lords! Nice!


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

Carl Cramér has done it here - as you all may know, I'm a huge fan of Dreadfox Games' Swordmaster class as a dex-based martial. However, the class is complex and not suited for everyone. Here, Carl Cramér has taken a mediocre PrC with some neat ideas, balanced it tighter and woven a thread of crunchy gold through it - from level one, this one is unique and its inspired tricks continue to evolve throughout the whole class. Balanced and fun, this is the beginner-friendly-duelist class that effortlessly mops the floor with its component PrC -this is inspired and awesome and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval, a perfect example of the potential of this series.

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


Endzeitgeist out.

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

This massive mega-adventure clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 66 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review was moved forward in my reviewing queue due to me receiving a print copy of this book in exchange for an honest, critical and unbiased review.

We begin this module with information on the setting and rules suggested (but not necessarily required). The default setting for this mega-adventure is Razira, a massive, slumbering planetoid beast. This living planet is orbited by two "moons," Vrista and Anu. Vrista keeps Razira in perpetual slumber, whereas Anu, the shadow moon, is home to the legions of the dark - akin to Final Fantasy 8, it is from there that demons and devils enter Razira in regular incursions. As for the past, the empire of snake-men has long since crumbled and now, the planetoid feels much more like a regular world. Divine and arcane magic are pretty much alike and usually tied to a patron - and here, you can choose either arsenic or strychnine: Following the traditions of pulp and horror, the major deities of this world are not particularly friendly: Great K'tulu, Yogsoggoth, insane Azyargoth and the frog-god Tsathag'kha need no introduction, I assume. Ulusek and Lokvaar once were one god that split, now representing two warring factions. Tchort is a brutal lord of fire. Dathlaquatta is a deity of elemental air, law and order and finally, there is Shula, goddess of the moons.

Demons are chaotic, devils are lawful...and elves, both dark and light, are considered to be soulless and pretty much nasty fellows. They are known for dabbling in the material Lyrthum. Weapons made from it do not apply Str, instead allowing for the option to penalize yourself by -2 when attacking to get a second attack at -4. This means the usual penalty assumed is decreased by 2 for each attack. lyrthum also only sports half the penalties for casters. The second material introduced, zorv'lev, infernal steel, is pretty much the opposite. Being pretty heavy, weapons made from it have a minimum Str-score associated...but you triple Str-bonuses for damage purposes with them. To offset this, the material only allows for one attack per round. Furthermore, it doubles weight and casting-related penalties when used as armor. If that seems kind of opaque...then that's not due to me failing to properly sum up the rules-repercussions here - they in fact are less precise than what I expect from rules-information.

Speaking of rules: There are several provided herein: Attributes are assumed to net no bonus at score 9-10, +1/-1 for every 2 above/below that. The module assumes 0 level PCs that start with 4 hit points, rolling the appropriate HD every level, ignoring 1s. Dying is handled thus: 0 HP = unconscious, -1 death. Each level increases the death threshold by 1, meaning a 4th level character dies at -5 HP. The book also assumes a fortune score, rolled with 3d6. A point of fortune can be spent before a roll or after it: Before a roll, it provides +3 per point spent, after a roll only +1. This pool is important when playing this module with the suggested rules - without it, this is an almost unbeatable meatgrinder. Fortune replenishes at the mercy of the GM as roleplaying rewards. More guidelines here on when to refresh would have been appreciated.

Ability-checks are rolled with numerous d6, trying to score below the attribute, with easy tasks being 2d6, difficult ones being 4d6, Saving throws are determined by level: 0-level characters save on a 20, 3rd level chars on a get the idea. Damage-dice are explosive: Rolling the highest damage number lets you reroll the damage and add it to the damage scored, rendering combat deadly and unpredictable. Magic follows different rules as well - a spell can be cast ad infinitum - until it fizzles, then you have to relearn the spell. The book does not codify magic in traditional ways, instead championing a free form magic of improvisation, with the check getting the formula of 1/2 caster level + Int-mod minus spell level. I have no idea how this magic system is supposed to work. Is that a d20-roll? I assume so from the table that sports 1 as a critical failure, 20 as a critical success, but against what? No idea. I recommend skipping this rule - it's opaque and quite frankly, badly written for rules-language. Scrolls and potions are one-use items, wands have a default of 13 charges and double items and the like can end in strange things happening. Instead of XP, the book champions levels by session - level 1 after 1 session, 2 after two more sessions...per se simple. It also suggest the requirement of a trainer, but in the context of this module, that's highly problematic. We'll see later in the SPOILER-section why. On the positive side, choosing a motivation is nice...and I really like the dark secrets table: If you don't like an ability-score your rolled, you may reroll it in exchange for a dark secret...and they are nasty as well as diverse and creative. Basic rules for status and parting shots of killed characters are also talked about.

Initiative is covered by rolling a d20+dex-mod and similar modifiers. 20+ means the character gains a bonus surprise round. Characters who haven't acted get can be hit as +2 and similarly, characters may forego their attacks for +2 hit and damage, while casters may gain that bonus or penalize enemy saves by that much...or increase their free-flow magic. As mentioned before, two-weapon fighting, fighting defensively, out-numbering foes... the like are covered and here, the rules are okay and relatively easy to grasp. You won't find any revolutionary rules here, though, and the book's presentation of them is slightly jumbled - putting them in the middle between setting information and backdrop makes the presentation feel a bit haphazard, which is not a good thing in the context of rules.

It should be noted that the module suggests generating multiple characters - personally, I'd suggest at least 3. This module is lethal. At the same time, I'd strongly advise against heeding the advice of making new characters after one PC dies level 1 - this renders the PC significantly less powerful than his comrades. If you can't handle PC death, this module will break you - this mega-adventure is VERY HARD.

One more thing: See the cover? If that was not ample clue for you: This is a module intended for mature audiences. The artworks inside do sport nudity, demons and the like. If you're sensitive to imagery of naked people about to be sacrificed and the like, if the cover offends you, then this probably is not for you. As a German, I have not been brought up with the taboos regarding sexuality that quite a few American have. (Instead, we have taboos regarding gratuitous violence, but that's another thing altogether - if you're interested in my thoughts on cultural taboos, drop me a line!) In my opinion, sexuality is featured herein, yes, but not in a gratuitous or particularly exploitative manner - it's pretty toned down and can be completely ignored, should you choose to do so. My litmus test for the like tends to involve asking female gamers if they're offended by it - in this case, the unanimous response was "No," alongside a bemoaning of a lack of naked dudes in the artworks (at least on the side of the heterosexual ladies).

All right, let's get into the background and meat of this module! Since this is a review for an adventure, from here on out reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.




All right, only GMs here? Great! The village of Clear Meadows is as peaceful and nice as you can expect from a settlement in Razira: In a hostile world such as this, the village basically is a nexus of calm - all right, it may have its own share of people who want it subsumed by the chaos that roams the place, but as far as this hostile world goes, it is idyllic. Random monsters roaming the planes are provided alongside rumors and some intrigue...but the whole meat is something different. You see, once per year, the denizens of the village collect the unfortunate and throw them into a dungeon to reclaim a powerful sword with a malign intellect, Kalathax the Demon Slayer, a blade rightfully feared by demons, devils and every unclean creature. With only some basic rations and tools, the PCs have to enter the dungeon to hopefully reclaim the sword and defend the town...for a while, before it needs to be returned due to its corrupting influence, for another batch of heroes to get - think of it as a deadly trial by fire. In 3 days, the portcullis will be opened again...and the whole module is, actually, on a timer: This time around, the settlement will be destroyed...unless the PCs can get the blade in 15 days or less. Generally, I do not object to this, but the suggestion of leveling via training does render this strange - we never get information or suggestions on how much time we have to spent training.

The complex does sport some strange sigils that can render the unwary catatonic and is LETHAL. I mean really, really lethal: If you see, for example, a slime: RUN. No, really. One touch and you're dead/turned into a slime/gelatinous cube yourself. So yes, all in all, this one is pretty brutal in the difficulty department - sometimes frustratingly so. In the first level, we have e.g. a portcullis that can separate the party in two - nasty. On this level, the PCs can also find a pair of soulless elves and a carnivorous, fibrous growths...and there would be the repose of a wizard, whose glowing face pronounces doom, Oz-style, on intruders, while a vast swathe of carnivorous maggots needs to be cleared to reach the sarcophagus that contains Kalathax...and for sadistic GMs, the lich that guards it. And yes, this is the very definition of overkill. The level also introduces a character from our world stranded here that can help later...and the level actually is pretty much a great representation of what's awesome...and what's bad with this module.

You see, this book does sport nice b/w-maps for the respective levels. The problem is, though, that, beyond some hiccups regarding the maps (which exist, but remain within the bearable range), the module is extremely annoying in its opacity regarding the connections of levels and the general connections - the maps do not always list them and you won't find "This leads to room C3." - Instead, you have to somehow piece together how everything is supposed to be connected, which is really, really grating. This is by far the most GM-unfriendly book I've run in quite a while in this regard, requiring you to do quite a bunch of work on your own. This little fact alone made me reread a module I had pretty much memorized the first time I read it and it represents a major downside.

On the ambiguous side, the quest is pretty much done at first level - get Kalathax, done. You can run this in a convention slot and it works. However, I sincerely wished the dungeon actually sported some reason for the PCs to delve deeper, some frame narrative. Why? Because the dungeon per se and its ideas are diverse and fun and level 1 is pretty much the most boring of the bunch - yes, a room full of flesh-eating giant maggots that want to eat you while a glowing face pronounces doom constitutes one of the less inspired components.

Let me elaborate: The dungeon level the PCs should access from 1st level (how is, as mentioned above, somewhat opaque), is level 3: Here, worshipers of Ulusek and Lokvaar are wrapped up in a rather nasty microscopic religious war, now inhabiting a crashed alien spaceship that represents a healthy dose of scifi - with voice-automated checkpoints and the like It is also here that 3 elders with psionic powers can be found - willing to teach them, should the PCs complete their respective quests. The level also sports a thankfully not yet activated nuclear warhead the PCs should defuse (religious fanatics in control of nukes? BAD!) as well as a hatch...which can and should be used to defuse the bomb and make level 2 accessible, for that one is flooded. Oh, and, to give you an example on why this book rocks...and kind of sucks: There is an encounter here, with chained abominations and a guy in a white coat titled "Herbert West's Formula" - but unlike the optional lich on level one, we get no stats for the numerous abominations, the Dr., or the effects of the formula. you have this cool encounter...and no idea what's supposed to happen here, what the powers of the foes are...yeah. On the "rock"-side: There is a lethal, mind-raping orange on this level, one that delights in implanting suicide compulsions on its victims. No, this is NOT an auto-correct typo. Orange. Awesome!

Level 2 (and level 4) are defined by green crystals that render magic even more chaotic and unreliable. The soggy 2nd level is home to the worshipers of Yogsoggoth, perpetually at war with the cultists of other dread deities - and home to dangers like water-elementals, vampire toads and the like. Oh, and you may actually be abducted to level 0 of the dungeon, which turns out to be a particularly nasty interplanar gladiatorial game/mini-dungeon, where a LOT of things may insta-gib you and a talking giant venus man-trap may be your only way home.

On level 4, we have a theme mostly in line with classic fantasy - a small clan of exiled dark elves (all lavishly rendered and depicted in detail regarding motivations etc.) provides the main source of the story does a Rambo-style guerrilla warrior hunting the PCs. Oh, and there are insane cannibals. And killer kobolds. A hellraiser-style dressed high-priestess of devils also roams these halls, dressed mostly in chains, spikes and tattoos - though, much like the "nice" slaver that can be found here, she has no combat statistics, which, in her case, may be a bad decision - her artwork makes her look like someone the PCs may wish to eliminate... Oh, and no, there is no reason for those NPCs to be stuck here. Yes, this is old-school, but at least a collapsed tunnel to the underdark or the like would have been appreciated, for I really don't get how all of these guys got past level 5 and 6... On the plus-side: Demo-dragon-spider hybrids. And yes, their artwork is nightmare fuel.

Level 5, imho, is one that has more of a distinct identity than the somewhat clustered levels 2 and 4: Beyond a medusa (with a great artwork), the scene on the cover takes place here - this is the domain of the cult of Great K'tulu - and they're BRUTAL. Beyond the star-spawn, they have a massive slug-beast (rendered in lavish 1-page art, though its statblock lacks the proper formatting)...and Selvah. Selvah, high-priest of K'tulu, is an insanely powerful adversary: Holy symbols in his presence MELT, immediately crippling divine casters. His unholy avenger and other items make him even more deadly: 3d4+7 damage, escalating dice. Suffer. Selvah's schedule is pretty packed, but is clear that stealth and the like should be used as an approach here - otherwise, PCs will die...perhaps the whole party. The cultists and their leader are deadly and their creatures are even more so. Still, this is one of my favorite levels herein.

The final level, level 6, would then have a theme of "hell" - with magma-men, fire elementals and several devils in a precarious stalemate, this is a great place for the PCs to forge infernal alliances to beat tougher foes and then destroy the creatures of the pit. It is also here that PCs may find access to the underdark and talk to odd survivalists. Within these halls, the PCs may also face off versus a friggin' magma dragon - and they may have to. For beyond high-tech security looms the sorcerous-interface AI JCN, which seeks nothing but global annihilation...and has the means to pursue this. So yes, if you want to go post-apocalyptic, here's your choice. If you want to destroy JCN's mainframe, you can do so as well - but you'll have to find a way for the magma to rise...and better be fast regarding evacuation. Oh, and you have to place the room. It's not marked on the map.

Magic-item-wise, a red thread throughout the dungeon would be the shining trapezohedron-like shapes that can be found throughout the dungeon, with unique effects...and yes, they can be used to tie the disparate stories together...flimsily.

The pdf concludes with an author's page and some final pieces of advice.


Editing and formatting on a formal level are good - while there are some glitches here and there, the writing quality is more than solid. Layout adheres to an easy-to-read b/w-two-column standard and the pdf provides solid b/w-cartography, though there are no player-friendly, key-less versions. The artworks deserve special mention: Awesome, original pieces with great, disturbing creatures are in here - show them to players and let them marvel at the adversaries faced. As mentioned above: There is nudity in the artworks, so mature audiences are suggested. I do NOT recommend you getting the electronic version - it has no bookmarks and at this length, navigation is a pretty big deal. If you get it, get it in print - the paper quality and glossy cover/solid overall presentation make this a nice book to have in print.

This is the freshman offering of Venger As'Nas Satanis and Kort'thalis Publishing...and unfortunately, it shows. Liberation of the Demon Slayer showcases the cool things one can see in later modules and is a great herald of the things to come...but it is also a very flawed book. Basically, you have absolutely awesome visuals, monsters and themes - the mood is great and the ideas this book evokes are glorious: If you like dark fantasy, very hard modules and look for a challenge: LotDS provides all of that. At the same time, this mega-adventure is very cobbled together: Beyond very minor themes, you wouldn't lose much by taking the respective levels apart and using them as individual dungeons.

I'm one of the GMs who run modules only unmodified for playtesting purposes and I very much subscribe to the nothing Venger expressed in his GM-advice book, that at least 15% of a module happens at the table, spontaneously. I tend to rewrite modules heavily. Here, though, the module feels very much unfinished in that it requires quite some GM work to properly run - from the issues with the maps to missing stats for potentially lethal encounters, this cannot be run least, not well.

The mechanics this book utilizes are also a LONG SHOT away from the relative refinement of his later works like "Crimson Dragon Slayer." From the fortune-mechanic (all of which can be burned at once for HUGE bonuses) to the needlessly opaque magic rules, the rules provided herein are VERY rough around the edges and something I'd only suggest for expert GMs, particularly since the lack of refreshment guidelines for fortune (beyond level-up) can either render this module extremely hard or almost too easy. The rules-context is pretty flawed and this extends, alas, to where statblocks are presented and where they're ignored - I found no true rhyme or reason for the omission of them regarding certain NPCs, which, again, is something the GM has to cover.

If all of that sounds pretty negative...then because it is. The map-issues and difficulty to determine how everything connects are pretty big strikes against the book and the same can be said about the lack of bookmarks for the electronic version. As mentioned: Get this in print. You'll thank me later and yes, you'll have enough on your plate.

That being said, at the same time, this module is absolutely awesome. What *IS* here, what's not lost in some opacity or one description being applied to multiple rooms, that is simply inspired. If you even remotely like dark fantasy with a serious spicing of Lovecraftian creatures (not horror) and a garnish of scifi, then this will have you cackle with glee: From the potential apocalyptic final boss to the devilish schemes to the super-deadly bosses of level 5, this book delivers in these regards galore. Additionally, if your players are bored by modules being too easy, smack this down. LotDS is the hardest module I've read in ages and certainly not something for the faint of heart - while mostly fair, there are some creatures and traps herein that are truly LETHAL. As in: "You die!" So, if you need a break from current RPGs and their fair, scaling encounters, you might want to take a look: This beast is for the pros. My playtest saw no less than 11 characters perish, often hilariously, sometimes horribly.

LotDS, for me, has oscillated between love and hatred more than most books - on the one reason, I love the set-up, the atmosphere, the vast creativity you can find herein. On the other hand, I loathe the sloppy mechanics, map-glitches and inconsistencies that mark this as a freshman offering. This is a book, I ended up both loving and hating - mainly because all of its issues can be resolved by a good GM. From connections to over-arcing plot-lines, this sandboxy module can provide entertainment beyond most dungeons of this size I've read: It has the spark of creativity and quality prose that tends to trump most shortcomings in such contexts for me. At the same time, I can't rate potential - I can only rate what's here - and what's here is flawed; Not unsalvageable, but pretty flawed nonetheless. I really, really want to rate this highly, but I quite frankly can't. If you're looking for a book to use and play immediately, well, then this is NOT for you. The best way to look at this and enjoy it, would be to think of this as a pretty detailed sketch of a mega-dungeon - you need to complete it; generate the material that ties it together...and work with it, providing the connecting threads for the inspired highlights herein. Then, you will have some fun time - quite a lot, actually, since the book does provide a solid amount of content. If you're looking for a module to read and run as is, then look elsewhere and the same holds true if you're not comfortable tinkering with the mechanics as presented herein.

Ultimately, the flaws weigh heavy here, and try as I might, as much as I want to recommend this, I can't ignore them. They may be partially offset by the leeway this gets as a freshman offering, but they still remain. My final verdict, taking the freshman offering-bonus into account, will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up by a margin to 3...for the print version. For the electronic version...just don't. Books of this size sans bookmarks are a pain. If this would be your first Kort'thalis Publishing book, I'd instead advise you to get one of the later works, like Crimson Dragon Slayer. That being said, fans of dark fantasy and GMs willing to work with this module have a lot of awesome ideas here that can be developed into a glorious dungeon -for both the purposes of the scavenging toolkit and for GMs willing to work with the book, this still constitutes a unique, creative module that has more ideas and unique scenes than some whole series. If the formal flaws don't scare you, then check this out - I'm pretty sure you won't be disappointed on the creativity-side.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to GMS magazine, nerdtrek and posted here and on OBS.

Endzeitgeist out.

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

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

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

This one takes the Skyseeker-PrC and utilizes the ranger chassis - which means full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves, full proficiency with weapons and light + medium armor and shields, Wis-based spellcasting from the ranger's list starting at 4th level and 6+Int skills. 7th level nets heavy armor proficiency.

The class, as presented here, adheres pretty closely to the ranger-frame - favored enemy, progression 3rd level endurance, 1st level track + wild empathy - the dispersal of ranger abilities throughout the levels is pretty solid. 2nd level nets the know direction-based Find Citadel ability - so no, combat style is not part of the deal for this class.

3rd level provides a new ability that immediately makes this version superior to its PrC-iteration - ancestral allies: You choose either companions, allowing her to grant favored enemy bonus to allies, an animal companion or the favored terrain class feature - this level of customization is nice to see and thematically fits the class well. At 4th level, the rune-carved armor is gained and 5th level grants ancestral weapons, with the ability's damage-scaling being dispersed organically throughout the levels of the class. 6th level nets 1/week Commune, +1 use every 6 levels thereafter. 9th level either grants darkvision or expands it, with the second expansion happening at 14th level.

The SR-granting runes of Resistance is gained at 13th level and 16th level offers path of the ancients. The powerful, mettle-like effect Stalwart is gained appropriately late at 17th level and the PrC's capstone Call to Arms can now be found at 18th level. The new capstone allows for full speed tracking, standard action attacks versus favored enemies that operate on save-or-die, including the option to instead drop foes via nonlethal damage.

The pdf, as always, provides solid FCOs for the core-races and this time around, sports a sample dwarf at level 1, 5, 10 and 15. The pdf also has a feat that allows for easier stabilization alongside 1/day crit/sneak negation down to a normal hit.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

The Sun seeker as presented by Carl Cramér here suffers from a downright sucky PrC -I liked its concept, but the execution of the PrC is all over the place and feels confused. This Prestige Archetype does a better job at making the class feel concise and thematically consistent. That being said, I really wished ancestral weapon, the first active signature ability that could be conceivably moved to lower levels, was there - perhaps instead of some ranger abilities. As written, the class takes a LONG time to become truly distinct. While ancestral allies somewhat mitigates this, one might argue that moving it slightly would have been nice, since it essentially mimics ranger abilities. As written rune-carved armor at 4th level is the first truly distinct ability, 5th level offering the first offensive one. In my playtest, this rendered the class, at low levels, pretty much less distinct than it ought to have been. Higher levels somewhat mitigate this, but still - all in all a solid take on the concept, but it falls rather short of Carl's better prestige archetypes. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

This installment of the evocative Gossamer Worlds-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Poseidon's Rapture was a bountiful world like many others - with ages good and bad...and then, Poseidon left...or died...or was abducted. The world's god was gone, and soon after he had abandoned the place, the deluge began - or rather, the lack thereof. Mysteriously, the water did start to rise, swallowing most of the land of this world, forcing civilization beneath the waves - into remnants of former places, ships...

Poseidon's Rapture is literally land-under. Above and below the seas, robbers, pirates and the like roam the waves and a sense of decrepitude suffuses the world - somewhere between high civilization, age of sail and water world in a world of technology adrift and houses feuding over the remnants of erstwhile civilizations.

Beneath the waves, the Cerulean Choir (with full abilities), the abandoned angels of Poseidon, still roam the waters and leviathans glide through the depths - and in the light-less darkness, creatures from the deep roam, once again, with full qualities listed.

From the cities of New Atlantis to the tropic Razor Falls, lavishly rendered and fascinating places to visit, await -and perhaps, you can even take control of the legendary boat Pequod (again, with stats)... As always, this installment ends with a summary of the world's properties and advice on how to use it.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing’s beautiful 2-column full-color standard for LoGaS and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork consists of glorious full-color pieces that are absolutely gorgeous to behold.

Matt Banach's Poseidon's Rapture does fall a bit short of the previous installment on Poetica Mundi - but then again, I expected that. The concept of a water-world is interesting, with the details and depicted houses and their politics providing an intriguing blend. At the same time, i couldn't help but feel as though this could have gone one step further - unlike many other Gossamer Worlds, this one didn't jumpstart my imagination to the usual extent - perhaps due to resources or the like not being that pronounced. Perhaps it's that I would have loved this to go more full-blown bonkers. Then again, this reflects only my personal preferences - perhaps, for you, this does the job. My final verdict, then, will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.

Posted first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS.

Endzeitgeist out.

Part II of my review:


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to an extremely slick, stylish and atmospheric 2-column-b/w-standard and the pdf provides several downright legendary b/w-artworks. The pdf comes with an EPUB and a MOBI-version and a printer-friendly one...but quite frankly, I'd strongly advise you to get the print. The paper is thick and glossy, high-quality and if you're anything like me, this will be used A LOT.

I'm a cthulhu-fanboy and thus, it should come as no surprise that I got Trail of Cthulhu back in the day. My friend Paco got my Night's Black Agents, which is a glorious game. I never got Esoterrorists and wouldn't have bought it - the title and concept didn't particularly appeal to me, so why bother?

My gut-feeling and instinct was never this wrong in my whole reviewer's-career.

This is the best horror-book I've read in years, regardless of setting.

Let me elaborate: After more than 15 years of obsession with vampires and the cthulhu-mythos, both themes have become kind of predictable to me. I *love* both, but at one point, games focusing exclusively on either ultimately become the doom of horror - predictable. We fear what we do not understand. As soon as we get our oomphteenth Mi-Go or Yithian, their horror is lost, they become predictable foes. Similarly, vampires can, in the long run, lose their fascination. This is, ultimately, what made me turn my back on the GUMSHOE-system for a while and the primary reason I did not start reviewing books of the system sooner - I was burned out on the subject matter and so were my players.

Esoterrorists changed that.

You could argue that I've never played a vanilla esoterrorists-game. You'd be right. What I did when this book hit my shelves, was something different: I dusted off Night's Black Agents and added the whole concept of the membrane to the game, introduced entities from the other dark and recruited the agents into the OV, which, of course, was among the organizations the vampires sought to infiltrate. I added creatures of the outer dark and the station duty town to my trail of cthulhu games. And suddenly, they were new - disturbing, fresh and diverse. Beyond resonating with iconic themes and a fresh perspective, this book is not only innovative - it GETS HORROR. No, really. This understands horror to a point that bespeaks not only the vast talent of Robin D. Laws and Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan as writers, it also constitutes an eureka-effect I haven't had in ages - this humble, little book has inspired me to an extent I have not experienced since I first stumbled over Ravenloft and Planescape back in the day. It is incredibly frustrating to me that I cannot properly put the genius of this book into words, cannot convey the level of impact this book's ideas have had on my games.

Don't get me wrong - Night's Black Agents is quite frankly the better game regarding pure mechanics - it's more complex, more diverse and the thriller combat and chase rules are exceedingly smart. But, at least to me, Esoterrorists is a book that's infinitely more compelling because its prose, the concepts provided, are just so incredibly compelling, because they feature the experience of jamais-vu and because the horror presented here actually really strikes home: This is not blood and guts, this is psychologically disturbing in the way that only great horror is - where the true ramifications are slowly build up. This is the antithesis of the jump-scare-movie - this is smart horror that sticks with you.

This is not only a game - Esoterrorists is basically, a gigantic, awesome template that can be applied to just about any horror game you can conceive. It works in a plethora of contexts because its theme resonate with our very basic, human psychology.

It is my firm conviction that this book belongs in the library of any self-respecting GM looking for inspiration regarding horror-settings and how to create compelling set-ups. If you're playing ANY GUMSHOE-game, this book can be considered a vast amplifier: The concepts within this book are so incredibly compelling and fun, they managed to re-ignite my spark for cthulhu-related material by virtue of the means by which you can use the content herein to enhance the world of the mythos.

I haven't been this excited by a book, any book, in a long, long time - even only as an idea-scavenging-ground, this book is superb by any definition of the word. And know what? While my Top ten-list of the year usually is restricted to Pathfinder-supplements, I will grant this one status as a candidate - its contents and ideas are simply too compelling and can be a vast inspiration in ANY context you can conceive. I firmly believe that simply reading this book makes you a better horror-GM, even if you ignore the rules and setting. You won't be surprised, then, that I'll add my EZG Essentials-tag to a book that scores 5 stars + seal of approval, a book that blew my mind.

If horror interests you even in the slightest, if you even tangentially like smart, psychological horror, if you even remotely enjoy Twin Peaks, Silent Hill, The Evil Within, X-Files, Millennium and if you really want some fresh wind in your respective horror of preference, then this book should go right to the top of your to-buy list. It's that good.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and on's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1/2 page blank, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

The Steel Falcon, as presented here, uses the ranger as a base chassis - that means full BAB-progression, d10, 6+Int skills and two good saves, but the class gets full proficiencies. First level nets wild empathy and favored enemy progression starting at first level, progressing at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. As a note: The table lacks the favored enemy entry at 1st level, though one may argued that the prescribed choice "slavers" as a group counts locked by another ability counts as that - so no, not going to bash the pdf for this.

The class gets combat style progression, 3rd level endurance and must take the companion bond variant at 4th level. Steel Falcons add their class level to Profession (sailor) and Survival. 4th level provides +4 versus charm and compulsion and 2nd level nets heroic speech, treated as inspire courage at class level -1. 4th level nets the Steel Falcon a ranger trap, +1 every 4 levels, with 8th level doubling damage, 12th level tripling it and 16th level quadrupling it, maintaining relevance for this ability at higher levels.

5th level nets armor training, 6th a d20-reroll and 7th an upgrade for aid another. Subtle Manipulator is relegated to 11th level and Avoral's Blessing to 13th, while the PrC's capstone, Avoral's Fury, comes into play at 19th level. Chainbreaker is very late to the party - 18th level, at which point that aspect is essentially all but lost to the overall playing experience. That being said, the dispersal of ranger abilities throughout the levels of the class is sound.

The class comes, as always, with nice FCOs for the core-races and a sample character at level 1, 5, 10 and 15.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

Carl Cramér's Steel Falcon has a hard legacy - while I love the organization's concept in Golarion, the Steel Falcon PrC is less than awesome - it simply lacks interesting theme and feels like a pretty disparate array of abilities that thematically fit, but lack a concise crunch base-line. This issue is somewhat mitigated by the class as presented herein...but at the same time, one might argue that this Steel Falcon is a variant ranger whose truly unique abilities only come into play at the higher levels. While it does play different from a base ranger, the difference lies mostly in the details and, when compared to the best in the series, it does feel like its defining traits enter play simply too late - at low levels, there is not that much unique going on here. This is in no way a bad installment, but neither did it blow me away. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Part II of my review:

Apart from the vast diversity of options (none of which are neglected or considered superior), the sheer attention to detail regarding the finer points of conspiracy-creation and the like retain their validity even beyond the confines of this game. Oh, and then there's massive array of supplemental material, the fact that you literally can derive so much awesomeness from this book. If you play GUMSHOE, any GUMSHOE game, and always felt like the engine had more to offer, then you should consider this a must-buy book. If the theme even remotely interests you, well, then this should be considered a unique and rewarding game to play. Night's Black Agents is, by any measure I apply, a superb game. My review may not reflect this 100%, but I tried VERY hard to pick this book apart - but quite frankly, there is nothing worth complaining about. Sure, its combat will never attain 13th Age's or PFRPG's level of complexity. But neither will those systems ever come close to the investigative caliber of this book.

If you're looking for a change of pace, for vampires in your GUMSHOE game, for a glorious investigative game, for a rules-expansion of the highest caliber, for any of the above virtues- then there's no way past this book.

My final verdict will be 5 stars + my seal of approval, accompanied by being tagged as an EZG Essential-book for GUMSHOE. Once I've reviewed enough books of the system, I will provide the corresponding Essentials-list.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted on Lou Agresta's RPGaggression and here as well as on OBS.

Endzeitgeist out.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

An review

This massive book clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 46 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Carnivals are awesome...and creepy. The blending of the alien and the familiar, the oscillation of bright light and deepest shadows fascinate, entice. I distinctly recall a sense of kinship when I first saw the more weirder performances and the sense of freedom implied in such a life, despite the hardships, resonates with me on a primal level. In roleplaying games, specifically the various iterations I've played, I did ten to enjoy the modules and supplements dealing with this topic - whether in Ravenloft's by now legendary "carnival"-supplement, in Necromancer Games' "What Evil Lurks" or many others - the theme just won't let go of me.

The first thing you notice upon opening this book is the custom layout - Rick Hershey has crafted a downright beautiful presentation here that perfectly underlines the theme of the book - red curtains, appropriate fonts - presentation-wise, this is a gorgeous book. Content-wise, we begin with an elaboration of the basic set-up of the carnival grounds and what to find there - only to lead into the perhaps most surprising section in the book: Carnival of Sinners gets something right no other supplement dealing with the topic has: It presents, extensively, I might add, a full-blown thieves' cant-ish section of carny-slang: "Pay the bag man and put up the bills for your dukkering services - we gotta proof we're no fireball show!" AWESOME!!!

A total of 5 sample adventure hooks is provided before we move on to the next section, the trooper's gallery, wherein sample NPCs are provided - and boy, oh boy. For one, each of the builds herein has at least one interesting component - whether it's race, archetype'd multiclass - there is something mechanically interesting going on for each character. However, more intriguing than even that would be the fact that each key performer gets more than just the minimum space to shine - each character receives an extensive background story AND a high-quality, custom artwork. Better yet, the concepts and their execution are downright delightfully wicked - the two-headed man's second head, for example, is his eidolon! The carnival's cook also is a particularly nasty sort - you'll see when you get this book...

Things get truly sinister, though, with the troupe of lay-actors, clowns, stable-hands and the like - represented via diverse mook-statblocks (for a reason...), this component of the carnival hides a secret most dire...and awesome.

Obviously, no carnival would be complete without a cabinet of curiosities - and a collection of oddities and usual prizes, partially represented with great artworks, can indeed be considered nice. Going one step beyond, entry-tickets to print out and hand to your players, a sample advertisement poster (lavishly rendered as another hand-out) and a map are provided - the latter of the kind of style which the characters may find themselves while visiting the carnival.

My only gripe here, ultimately boils down to the fact that I would have liked sample games or a sample performance-schedule to be included herein.


Editing and formatting are pretty good - I had no issues in grasping anything herein and there was no undue amount of glitches to be found. Layout and artworks, as mentioned above, are top-notch - this is a beautiful book indeed, with the handouts providing the icing on the aesthetic cake. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Chris Bayes, Eric Hindley, John Bennett, Kalyna Conrad, Lucus Palosaari, Rick Hershey - ladies and gentlemen, you have crafted a great sandbox/set-piece/supplement herein. This book can be used as both an awesome fluff-book to expand a given carnival, as a sand-boxy module to embellish, flesh out and use as you see fit, or just as a delightful scavenging ground for stats, builds and ideas. This massive source-book is well-written, concisely-presented and the carny-slang provided alone, to me, makes this well worth the...

...wait. There was this one component, right? Well, in case you didn't know: This massive, fully illustrated, lovingly-crafted book is actually "Pay what you want." No, I'm not kidding. You can get this big book and then decide whether it was worth your time. Know what? There is no reason to not at least check this one out and, as for my part, this delightfully disturbing sourcebook definitely deserves to be acknowledged. So if you like this sourcebook, please pay for it a price you consider as justified. While not perfect, the love that went into this book is readily apparent and I'm quite honestly a bit baffled to see such a massive book as PWYW. My final verdict for this inspiring set-piece/supplement that doubles as a drop-in sandbox would be 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

An review

This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1/2 a page SRD, leaving us with a 5.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here's the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class - much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, for all who are dissatisfied with how Prestige Classes work in PFRPG - this series is for you.

The pit fighter as depicted herein is a full BAB-class with a good fort-save, d12, 4+Int skills per level - notice something? Yup, this one is based on the barbarian, whose rage (and upgrades) are solidly distributed throughout the class levels along the base lines of the barbarian. Fast movement is also maintained at first level and trap sense, DR...that type of thing's still here.

Where things become unique is with second level - here, the poor equipment ability enters the fray - the pit fighter may ignore the broken condition for one piece of armor or a single weapon for one combat. 4th level sees a bonus of +1 to damage and atk when wielding performance weapons, which scales up by +1 at 10th and 16th level. Performance weapons? Yup, for this class heavily uses the pretty cool performance combat rules from Ultimate Combat - hence also the importance of the 2nd level ability showmanship, which allows the pit fighter to treat any combat as a performance combat 1/day, +1/day for every 6 levels thereafter, with the DC being governed by the CR of the opponent. A handy table lists the DCs by current crowd attitude (yes, your phantom crowd can boo you...)

5th level nets a weapon trick - this translated to Improved Dirty Trick and the option to use performance weapons to perform these. Additionally, 1/round, the pit fighter can combine this effect with damage as though subjected to a regular attack, a theme further expanded at 12th and 18th level. 6th level provides synergy between rage and the roar of the crowd, with 14th level further enhancing this synergy.

The pdf comes with pretty creative FCOs for the core races and a sample half-medusa build for levels 1, 5, 10 and 15. Finally, the pdf does offer a brief non-performance combat-option...but quite frankly, why bother when that's pretty much the heart of the class? Especially since the variant non-performance showmanship can be cheesed to deliver infinite rage by having a crowd of followers gawk at the pit fighter's combat?


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games' printer-friendly two-column standard and has seen some streamlining - from font use to markers, the layout has been improved, so kudos! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and sans art apart from the cover.

Carl Cramér's Pit Fighter is one of the most interesting Prestige Archetypes in my book - the dispersal of abilities and their synergy make the class feel well-rounded; from the get-go, we get rage, but the lack of rage powers means that the class remains distinct from the barbarian, n spite of the less intriguing first level. The lack of dip-exploits and cool synergy with performance combat makes this generally a neat option. I just wished showmanship had a slightly less conservative limit and that the variant rules couldn't be cheesed this easily. With these two being my only, minor complaints, this installment of the series scores a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop. Also posted on at the request of a reader.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

This book clocks in at a total of 124 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page (very detailed) index, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a pretty massive 119 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book was moved on my review-list due to receiving a print-copy for the purpose of writing a critical, unbiased review.

So, this is pretty much a GM's advice and trick book. I don't review this type of book too often, and that has a reason: This may sound arrogant, when it certainly isn't intended to be - I'm a pretty kickass GM. Almost all of my players have GM'd at least 1 campaign and thus, I do believe that their praise and continued attendance has some merit. It has another reason - I read a lot of roleplaying books due to my continuous reviewing. In the end, reading yet another book that tells me how I should run my game, in most cases, leaves me annoyed and bored - most of the time, both. I've read quite a few advice columns and books on the topic that elicited a reaction from me that could be summed up as "That's an advice that engenders sloppy GMing."

Let me elaborate - as you may have surmised from my reviews, I very much am passionate about the internal consistency of a given world. One might say that I tend towards an obsessive stance regarding these components. To give you an example - when I create a settlement the PCs will not just pass by, I name the streets, establish the infrastructure etc. My current campaign-info-books are filled to the brim with names, hooks and investigations. The central narrative of my current main-campaign's storyline hinges on actually deciphering a particularly nasty arcane I created myself. With grammar and all. Yes, I may have gone a bit over board there...but my players love it. What this should tell you about me is left to your own judgment, but the point I try to make is simple: I consider immersion of tantamount importance and this book observes a similar stance. One of the central tenets of this book would be the assertion that we play the game for immersion.

While I maintain that this is not true for everyone, I do believe that it's true for a lot of people, me and my players included. You see, the argument runs like this: There are simply easier ways to derive joy from something - if joy in itself is the task, then RPGs are not the best way to generate the maximum amount. While this does sound sensible, it fails to acknowledge the general assumption of the homo ludens, which (see Johan Huizinga for more on the concept and his intellectual heirs for more...) assumes the act of playing in some way as a cornerstone to culture and a sense of collective identity we exhibit - playing is a central and non-optional component of the conditio humana.

So, while personally, this component does not ring true, the actual voicing of said hypothesis made me contemplate the very hobby itself, which is something I value the book for. If all of my above ramblings seemed like dry ramblings of an academic to you, then probably because they are. However, I should not be remiss to note that the tone of this book is very the opposite. This book is a fun read. No, seriously. I actually completed it in quite a brief period and then starting summing up the claims and tricks, evaluating them and summing them up. It's the latter components that took me long to get done, not the reading of this book.

Before you go on, here's a little warning: If you are offended by drawn nudity in the vein of classic pencil drawings (coupled with e.g. an overabundance of tentacles), if you have particularly fragile sensibilities, then this book may not be for you. Or it may actually be for you. What do I mean by this? Well, the phenomenon of the anti-D&D-craze (which, to my German sensibilities, seems like absurdist real satire) and this witch-hunt's insane movies have resulted in a kind of self-censure among roleplaying games. Granted, this has been mostly revoked as I'm writing this - we may once again call "Devils" devils and "Demons" demons...but still, the rawness is gone. A similar phenomenon can be observed when e.g. watching the superb, original "Wicker Man"-movie and the current iteration of "Not the bees!"-fame back to back - the new one may be more polished and funnier (Nic Cage ftw.!), but the original was downright FRIGHTENING. A lot of the horror of this movie derived from the conflict of a sexually-repressive main-character as focal point for the audience, witnessing a foreign type of culture with the pagan inhabitant's of Summer's Isle. One central component the remake did NOT understand was that the intriguing thing, the feminist message of the original movie, did not lie in an inversion of gendered power-structures - it lay in their dissolution.

The pagan rites depicted in the original Wicker Man portrayed female sexuality as something natural to be cherished - and while the end-game of the movie remains grisly, it is so due to being steeped in Christian sensibilities. The death by fire of the protagonist generates horror because of his unwillingness, because the movie ultimately is subject to the collective of values it produced and thus reinforces them. Still, the disturbing sentiment one is left with, is that of a more egalitarian (paradox, seeing the feudal structure) society - a haven of innocence not in our sense of the word, but in that isle's culture, if you will. This book's aesthetics hearken back in a similar way to a time where self-censure was not a component necessarily assumed as the status quo. Not all pictures herein sport bared breasts - but e.g. the woman, in terror, looking up at tentacle-faced cultists about to sacrifice her? Yeah. Breasts. This does not, at least to me, make the book's aesthetics exploitative - in fact, it may be read as an empowering depiction, as it does not ostracize the depiction of the like. And this extends beyond this topic - it probably is not a coincidence that the author's depiction in one of the artworks above ancient menhirs and a dungeon's entrance sports tentacles and eyes...and is reminiscent of some of the most famous depictions of Aleister Crowley. "Do what thou wilt," on another note, constitutes one of the most grossly misrepresented statements in the history of ethics and theological discourse - but this elaboration has already strayed too far from the topic at hand.

Another way to describe this book that may be closer to those among you less interested in the particulars of intellectual ravings, would be to consider this book as informed by the sensibilities of the less cheesy components of metal and goth subcultures. This book does not shirk highlighting points with Metallica-analogues and the like - which, to me, greatly enhanced the sections in which such were employed. And yes, you will not miss out if you have no love for the like - the explanation provided makes the point clear. More importantly, this book actually is pretty much one of the most sensible approaches to several subjects that often are taboo in gaming - it puts sexuality as a motivation in a context and provides valid and reasonable advice for establishing a consensus on handling this theme in your games without offending your players - essentially, an emphasis on communication is provided and similar advice extends to violence. Quite a LOT of discussions on various boards between offended people could have easily been avoided by simply adhering to this advice...or basic human sense, but the existence of these posts makes it pretty clear to me that such cannot be assumed. So that would be leitmotifs provided herein - but the pieces of advice range further and run a vast gamut of topics: How you can keep the game moving, unobtrusive stalling tactics for the players while you come up with new material or need a break, smart villains, regular breaks from gaming -there are quite a few pieces of advice herein, some of which actually were known to me implicitly, but not explicitly - reading them in black and white on the paper reestablished a consciousness of the respective issue and/or trick. Oh, and here and there, the material manages to be actually hilarious and fun. What I'm trying to say is that this book does not chicken out - and it is not tasteless.

I called this an opinionated book and it certainly is - however, at the same time, it is NOT a prescriptive book - this book does NOT tell you that it represents the one true key to game mastering - it seeks to act, in a way, as a do-it-yourself toolkit-sephiroth to becoming a better game master. Making sure that everyone has a good time, looking snide and comfortable while GMing - all these and infinitely more are covered in here, in ways that generally make them feel very much valid and fun to read.

Now if you're like me, you very much prefer your campaigns on the slightly darker side and spiced in with oddness - whether it's alien technology, unspeakable horrors, etc. - and indeed, beyond campaign and story-themes, the author's own preferences do shine through and advice for such themes and their integration (including time travel) are provided. The latter, btw., is one of the few sections in the book I positively hated - time travel is a very complicated matter and I'm more the "Primer"-school and less the "it'll fix itself"-school regarding its implications and execution. That being said, for the majority of groups, the sentiment expressed herein may be more gainful.

Another section that spoke right from the depths of my convictions would be one that handles failure - both if you, the GM, botch...and if your players fail. You see, quite a few current systems, many of which I love, have this design-concept of failing forward. The plot must go on, if you will. I generally applaud this sentiment from a design-perspective, because it makes investigations less linear and prone to premature failure. There is a downside to this, though - the sentiment results in a misconceived sense of player-entitlement, something that can be seen in inexperienced GUMSHOE groups, for example. The players think they ought to always be able to progress, the GM feels obliged to comply. The result ultimately takes the achievement out of winning a module, uncovering a plot, besting the BBEG's masterplan. This is, contrary to the claims of said groups, NOT the respective system's failure - it is the failure of the group. You see, as a GM, you have the responsibility to, at least at times, not have the PCs fail forward. Have them just fail. Without such hard spots where the players discuss the ramifications of what they uncovered, the achievement is cheapened. I maintain that, from a design-point, the elimination of bottlenecks per se is a more than great innovation in the way adventures are structured - but making the call between the types of failure is what makes a compelling game. So yes, the call to dare to let them fail is something I very much subscribe to - it is my firm belief that, no matter the system, the result will enhance the game in the same way failing forward did - once again, we have a return to basics that were abandoned.

Now, it honestly makes no sense for me to go through the pieces of advice one by one, so instead, I will go on and introduce you to the second part - there are tables upon tables herein - from minor idea-generators to monster-dressing, there is a lot of awesome material here. Now granted - it's not cuddly stuff. The tables themselves represent very much Kort'thalis Publishing's dark fantasy sensibilities, spliced in with horror...and a healthy dose of gonzo and scifi-like elements. While some of the dark secrets(backgrounds sported herein may e.g. have mechanical repercussions, not all of them do - so yes, this book has a lot of cool tables for your convenience. Character motivations for (N)PCs and the like, a quick and dirty means of handling exposure to cosmic horror -there is a LOT to like and love here, particularly if you're looking for a means of making an anti-hero or someone with a dark past. Cheery high-fantasy with unicorns and rainbows may not be a perfect fit, though. The book also contains 3 sample dungeon maps, all blank and sans keys, for your own use...and my favorite component, one I never thought I'd see in such a book - a language's glossary. Yes, this book actually sports a delightfully guttural sample language, with numerous relevant words you can use for your own games - the incantations of those diabolists? They may actually have a sense the PLAYERS can deduce. I absolutely, positively love this one, particularly since the linguist in me considers the morpheme-combinations to be pretty sensible. While I would have loved grammar to accompany the vast array of words, I quite frankly started beaming with glee while reading this! I am aware that I may be the minority here - but seeing this actually in print was thoroughly fulfilling for me.


Editing and formatting are very good - while I noticed some hiccups, for a book of this size, the formal criteria are good enough. The book comes with copious amounts of absolutely awesome b/w-artworks, many of which are inspiring 1-page spreads and the book's layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard.

This will be a controversial book, of that I have no doubt - author Venger As'Nas Satanis did not set out to make a book for everyone - this book is very much a GM's book for the rebels, the rockers, the metal-heads, for the non-public-correctness-crowd that does not slavishly adhere to self-censure, while still being enlightened enough to not discriminate - as mentioned above, this is very much a mature and inclusive book, at least in my interpretation. It constitutes a love-letter, a call to dare to allow roleplaying games to be "evil" (in quotation marks, since this book explicitly warns against persona-playing and shows way out of this experience...) to touch upon such subjects and themes without being exploitative. Personally, I applaud it for that.

That being said, this is very much a book I will use a lot - as mentioned above, the language itself constitutes an awesome selling point to me and the dark secrets and motivations tables with the trademark gonzo elements thrown in render this pretty much a joy to use. It also, unlike most GM-advice books, is quite frankly fun to read.

That being said, a massive issue for this book is that you should absolutely get this in print - the pdf has no bookmarks, which makes navigation of the hefty book a colossal pain and not something I'd advise - the electronic version should be considered to have 2 stars less, since, particularly in such a book that thrives upon quick access of tables and advice, their lack is keenly felt. My print copy, however, is a book I absolutely enjoy and can be considered one of the better GM advice books out there, especially if you're looking for some tables to supplement the darker components of your campaign - have I mentioned the table that lets you determine how the cult leader got his/her position? As such, the print version receives a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This FREE adventure clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let's take a look!

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




All right, only GMs left? Great!

This pdf kicks off with essentially a highly detailed gazetteer of the city of Remballo, which is, btw., fully mapped in nice b/w-cartography. A pronunciation guide for the name, a full settlement statblock - all there. Relevant for this adventure would be to know that Remballo is essentially the home-base of the powerful Borgandy family, who is big in finances - like safe-keeping treasures for adventurers...for a price. I really like this notion, since the logistics of keeping a hoard of dangerous, highly volatile magical items is an often neglected component in adventures I personally like to emphasize.

But back to Remballo - from the local temples to the important tradition of toasting when gambling (also a nod to Chuck Wright, FGG's layout artist and a damn cool guy!) and an inn, this brief gazetteer is pretty well-written and compelling, painting a picture of a commerce-driven town in a time of turmoil, as the protectorate that once guaranteed stability crumbles and new power dynamics arise. But you want to know about the module, right? Well, we begin with one of several hooks - whether contacted by the Borgandy family, by the city watch or another hook, they will have to investigate the area surrounding Dead Fiddler's Square - a neighborhood fully mapped for your convenience. I love the fact that we get a GM and a player-friendly version of this map, though the player-friendly version sports numbers. Why am I not starting my usual rant? Because the numbers are deceptive - they do not pertain to the actual locations, but the number of stories of the houses! This is pretty brilliant and awesome.

The interesting thing here would then be one of the most concisely written investigation set-ups I've seen in quite a while - with a level of detail and a requirement for discreet inquiries and no less than 35 (!!!) investigation locales to check out, all with read-aloud text, mind you, the area is ultimately a glorious micro-sandbox that sports a level of detail scarcely seen in PFRPG-modules. In fact, this is further enhanced by the actual target area sporting an even more detailed room-by-room map - and yes, there is dungeon-exploration to be had as well - ultimately, the different hooks all tie together in a rather round climactic exploration that sports a truly dangerous adversary the PCs will definitely remember - oh, and I've failed to note that the conclusion, when handled properly, leads to connections with the Borgandys, the thieves guilds and the city watch, right? So yes, adventure galore to be had here!


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't spot any glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games' 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Artwork and maps are copious and thematically-fitting b/w.

All right, I'm gonna go right out and say it - a couple of Richard Develyn's (of 4 Dollar Dungeon) modules have all but ruined me for first level modules...because they're that good. When I nowadays read a first level module, it should better be truly remarkable and exceptional in some way. Surprisingly, this FREE module is just such a case. Matt Finch's free-form investigation is AWESOME. The level of detail provided generates an immersion I crave, a level of detail that makes the players feel invested, like they're actually walking the streets of Remballo. The sheer fact that it is relatively non-linear and detailed provides a level of realism scarcely seen, even less so in any free offering. I am quite frankly astounded by this component - usually, I have to sit down and generate x shops, x people, to make investigations not feel like "find the next action-spot to investigate."

This book's approach is glorious and I am of the deep conviction that we need more modules that feature this level of realism. In fact, I'd probably drool and slobber all over a complex investigation in a big city (like, mega-adventure-sized) with this level of detail. Have I btw. mentioned that there are none of the boring level 1-adversary combos to be found herein? Templated foes, multiclass'd enemies...NICE! The player-map depiction is also downright genius.

In one word: I love this module. I got it before the KS went live so I could playtest it and it ran as a stunning success - my players loved it and it proved to be a challenging, very rewarding experience. I can wholeheartedly recommend this module and will award it 5 stars + seal of approval - even if you're not interested in the module itself, it makes for a great neighborhood-sourcebook you could scavenge for your city, adding yet another level of usefulness to this pdf.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here.

Endzeitgeist out.

This bestiary clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 22 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

So, as the introduction (accompanied by a ToC with CRs) specifies, this book constitutes a love-letter to monsters that pay homage to classic horror flicks - not the silver screen of old, but rather to the more recent creatures featured. The advice to let them build up momentum is something I, indeed, with years upon years of horror gaming under my belt, would also advise in favor of. So let's take a look, shall we?

The first creature herein would be the CR 5 Aquamonstrosity, which is interesting in that it obviously is a fish-man creature, yes - but one with a powerful ability: By burning some hit points, these beasts can execute either an additional attack or an additional move action. Alas, the wording stumbles here - the example specifies that the creature can perform a full-round action and a standard action, when this directly contradicts the previous assertion that the creature can only get an additional move action or an additional attack: There are more full-round actions that full attacks. A rather annoying factor that unfortunately can be seen throughout the pdf, would be the fact that the racial modifiers for the respective monsters are not listed, which renders the question whether the skills are correctly calculated an educated guessing game. Granted, not in this instance, but still. At the same time, it is nice to see that the changed action economy's impact on rend has been taken into account regarding the wording of the latter - kudos there!

The carnivorous mantrap with its domination-capability should also ring true as a classic, with the monster's ability to understand languages - in spite of a lack of an Int-score, though I'm not sure I get the omission thereof. Somewhat problematic - the blood drain additional effect does not specify whether it applies to bite and tentacles or only one of these attacks. At CR 3, Grey Invaders get death rays and nitrogen dependency, making their suits important for their efficient functioning. An okay critter, if not a special one.

The CR 7 Jungle Predator obviously would be a direct quote of the beloved scifi-franchise, including at-will fire blasts and invisibility. Oddly, I think there is something missing regarding the iterative attacks - at +11, +4 of which are due to Strength, they should have iterative attacks. Furthermore, the line seems to assume two-weapon fighting, which is dandy with me; alas, then the -2 penalty is missing. At the plus-side, I love the lethal self-destruct upon death. The Killer Clown, at CR 11, obviously is a call out to IT, with an ability to let it "not sink" (why not simply go the water walk-route? As written, the ability makes e.g. interaction with magma and slimes less than obvious - sink or no sink?) and a cool idea - the first kill a day increases the fear points of the creature, granting it bonuses; at 7 fear points, it becomes dormant. This essentially puts a nice timer on the creature and makes its actions make more sense, while also explaining the actions of the beast. It also heals whenever someone fails a Will save against its spells and abilities. Okay, the final form-giant spider (stats in appendix for your convenience) is a bit lame, but the blood-filled balloons...nice touch! And yes, this is a potential TPK for PCs acting less than smart.

Night terrors are manta-ray-like creatures with a barbed tail -and they can decrease lighting conditions, with more abilities overlapping, bringing darkness and a sneak attack that works even when foes have concealment. Interesting one - and +1 point if you can name the inspiration here! AT CR 9, Nightmare Stalkers would be the representation of Freddy et al., with the ability to shake off ongoing effects, change shape and have hallucinatory terrain. At CR 10, the Shark Tornado is odd - it does share several traits with swarms, but does sport deviations from it - due to the creatures in question being medium, the type is "animal", subtyped as swarm. Over all, I really liked this take on the sharknado-concept from a mechanical perspective - why? Granted, mechanically, the troop-subtype may have been the better choice than building a swarm with medium-sized animals. At the same time, the mindless destructive potential of the swarm *DOES* feel like a swarm - so yeah, good with it. The formatting has failed to use the correct font and style for the second half of the statblock's tornado-ability explanation in a slightly annoying formatting glitch, though.

The Snatchoid, obviously, would be a nod to the cult-franchise Tremors - including improves damage on surprise-round grabs - pity we do not get the evolved versions of the life-cycle, though. The Unstoppable Maniac, with the machete as the weapon of choice, would be a nice rendition of Jason etc. - with some resistances, DR and SR, these guys are tough. They can also rise again at 1d8 HP (which is NOT much) upon being killed and yes, they can dimension door. Additionally, they may not be able to run, but they ignore difficult terrain, making it very possible that they catch up to players...sooner or later. Their damage-potential, though, is pitiful at only 1d6+6.


Editing and formatting are okay - while I did notice some minor hiccups, I also noticed quite a few statblocks that sport no grievous issues and in total, this is the most refined monster-book I've seen from Fat Goblin Games so far. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with one downright beautiful original artwork for each creature - absolutely awesome, especially at this low price-point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Author Eric Hindley provides quite a nice array of monsters here - though beyond the minor hiccups, I think this pdf does have a bit of an issue in theme: See, as any Ravenloft or horror-GM can attest, the creature is EVERYTHING in a well-crafted story in the genre; the same holds true for the monster movie genre. We do not cheer for the obnoxious stereotypes that are slaughtered - we like the monster.

The cultural ramifications for this are not as simple as one would think and lead far into the path of analysis - beyond the coming-of-age-imagery, the symbolism of sexual awakening inherent in the narrative is a complex one. And one, quite a few of the beasts herein can support.

At the same time, though, what we have here are arguably center-stage adversaries - bosses. BBEGs. And for that, there's no two ways around it, they sorely lack staying power.

With the notable exception of the Killer Clown, the creatures herein do not have pronounced defense capabilities that would stand in the face of PCs of the respective CR. Additionally, the damage-output of some of them undermines the horror they generate - the Jason and Freddy-iterations especially simply don't do that much damage, with the former lacking the regenerative feed-on-fear capabilities. While this may be me wanting "story"-monsters worthy of their inspirations, my playtest confirmed my suspicions - the creatures are not pitted versus hapless teenagers, but seasoned adventurers and these guys, alas, can make short process of most of the adversaries herein.

Thus, the issue of this pdf lies in a somewhat schizoid focus - on one hand, the creatures should be stars, creature-features if you will; on the other hand, they lack the staying power and capability to deliver on said promise.

The issue in horror roleplaying, especially with d20-rules, is that hit point loss alone is not creepy - it happens all the time. You need the threat of death, of crippling afflictions, of lethal attacks to transport fear to not only the characters, but also to the players. And here, this does not deliver. When some of the creatures in this book attacked, my players lost all respect for them. While in no way a bad supplement, this discrepancy does mar it for me.

Do not treat the monsters herein as though they can carry the final boss fight - instead, I'd suggest a modified appropriation of the concepts and statblocks and enhancing them, should you expect to truly frighten your PCs.

What remains, is a nice little bestiary with gorgeous artworks and a mixed bag of adversaries - not bad, but also short of its potential. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This free teaser for Hypercorps 2099 clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

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




All right, only GMs left? Right! The organic soap corporation R.I.P.E. has a job-offering - and it sounds simple - but your fridge is empty and highjacking the shipment may be the more lucrative job offer - after the deal with Mr. Grey is concluded, a weird bird delivers a counter-offer (on an old piece of paper, included as a hand-out) and, indeed, however the PCs engage the assignment, they will probably see to much - i.e. a nasty, tentacled THING. If they press the matter, things may end up...unpleasantly...

Urban savages will try to get their hands on the shipment in the employ of hyper-otyugh dealer Bazzik, who may or may not prove to be a rather challenging adversary, with multiple lair-specific tricks...and yes, killing the transported monster is another option, though one that can screw their payday. The brief escort-module does feature 4 sample NPCs and 2 pages of nice full-color maps.


Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Hypercorps 2099's two-column full-color standard with solid full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This short escort-sidetrek is a great introduction to the over-the-top-flair of Hypercorps 2099 - while the theme may be similar to other cyberpunk games, Hypercorps 2099 is more light-hearted and yes, downright bonkers - and, at least as far as this brief mission is concerned, it works out pretty well. Mike Myler delivers his trademark levity here and the nice player-friendly maps alone make this worth the download in my book - a solid, nice teaser-sidetrek you can complete in about 2 hours, this does manage to interest me further in the setting - and it's FREE, so yeah - a nice, free, sidetrek worth a final verdict of 5 stars - as a FREE supplement, you can't do much wrong here.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here.

Endzeitgeist out.

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This free pdf for the Hypercorps 2099-KS clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The netjacker base class receives d6, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref and Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons and one exotic weapon of their choice. They also are proficient with light and medium armors and 1st level netjacker begin play with an installed hyperjack and digiboard.

Netjackers are all about controlling robots - when in combat while controlling robots, they take a -3 penalty to AC, which is reduced by 1 at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter. At the beginning of a day, a netjacker chooses either a proxy or drones, both of which are collectively known as robots.

Robots progress with a 3/4 BAB-progression, d10, 6+Int skills per HD, only bad saves, AC-bonuses that scale from +0 to +16, Str/Dex-bonuses that scale up to +6 and scaling upgrade pools and bonus HP for proxies and drones. Proxy upgrade pools scale up from 3 to 26, bonus hp from 2 to 46. Upgrade pools for drones scale up from 1 to 9 and bonus hp from 1 to 24. Proxies act upon your initiative -3, drones at initiative -6. Sharing senses can be accomplished as a standard action -proxies can furthermore act as if properly possessed. Drones, obviously, as less powerful robots, can instead offer more than one active - 1st level netjacker can have 2 active, +1 at 8th and 16th level and possess these drones as well Netjacker receives scaling bonuses to Technology-related skills and at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the netjacker receives a hacking talent. Two sample proxie base forms and two sample drone base forms are provided.

These talents allow for the sabotage of armor, equipment, etc. - personally, I'm not a big fan opposed level checks used - especially since the wording could be read as a fixed value or as an opposing roll - not sure which it is: "The netjacker makes a Use Technology check opposed by a level check (her target's hit dice +1 per 2000bt of the item's value)." - Granted, this is a minor glitch and this a free teaser, so no biggie. Better hoverboarding, becoming invisible to tech - some nice options.

At higher levels, coordinated attacks allow the netjacker to expend actions of robots to grant himself a hyper bonus and further scaling hyper bonuses are interesting. 10th level expands the list of available talents to provide advanced talents and at the capstone, the class gets dual initiative a limited amount of times per day- once in the hypernet, once in the real world.

The final page covers the basic uses of Use Technology.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no undue array of ambiguities and the minor ones I found can still be streamlined. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with thematically-fitting artwork and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Mike Myler's netjacker class is an interesting take on a summoner-ish class without overbearing the battle-field - the lack of durations for the drones/proxies mean that the few robots utilmately will not overburden the battlefield and bog down gameplay unduly. Having had experiences with powerful riggers in Shadowrun, I am very much aware how powerful the sharing of senses with drones etc. can end up being, so ultimately, this ought to become a pretty intriguing class. Generally, the framework provided is solid and looks like it'll be pretty fun -but as written, I can only tentatively provide a verdict - I do not have the full rules, obviously, and thus cannot judge whether this'll prove to be balanced in the end - with Hypercorps 2099 aiming for a different power-level than base PFRPG, I also have no valid frame of reference I could compare this to. The only valid assertion I can make is that this class looks like it's fun and like it *may* be well-balanced with regards to Hypercorps 2099 - that's it. Personally, I think robots should cost something to replace and I also think that explicitly stating when and how you get new ones (I assume upon resting...) would be a good idea, but this being a teaser, I won't bash it for this omission.

This being a free pdf, I still can recommend you check it out and look for yourself whether this does it for you or not. It does look like a solid rigger to me and thus, my final verdict will clock in at a tentative 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Posted first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and posted here.

Endzeitgeist out.

This pdf clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 2 pages of quotes at the back, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 37 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This book went up on my review queue due to me receiving a print copy for the purpose of a fair and critical review.

It is the year 1983 and you pop in this awesome new game into your state of the art Commodore 64, studded with your cutting-edge Ultimax graphics card. You get ready for a truly immersive experience and let your stereo blast a wonderful mix of metal and synthesizer-infused wave-music and then, the unthinkable happens - blue laser beams blast forth from the screen and suddenly, you find yourself within the Crimson Dragon Slayer game, in the world of Thule - a powerful wizard, dying at the entrance of some ominous caves, gives you the brief run-down of the world you found yourself in:

Thule is a savage world, formerly invaded by aliens, then subject to the dread android uprising and plunged into a neo-savage post-apocalyptic bronze age that would feel like home to either Conan or Kull. Yes, Kull. I'll fight anyone bashing the gloriously cheesy movies...but back to the review. No gods can be found in this savage land - only horrific demons, and thus, the one "high" culture remaining, the Valeecians, are drowning their sorrows in excesses of wine, women, drugs and serialized entertainment. The fabled Queen of said realm is supposed to be the most gorgeous beauty in all the lands and only by vanquishing one of the legendary Crimson Dragons, employed by the dread wizard Varkon can one hope to win her hand - or be powerful enough to take her place, if female and/or not inclined to bed the queen. Of course, alternatively, destroying Varkon's legendary scepter or claiming his dread powers would also be options, but that lies far in the future - for now, you are stranded and realize that you don't even necessarily are a human anymore!

If this premise did not at least make you smile a bit, then probably because I failed to convey the subtle humor that suffuses the writing of this basic premise - and the whole book, really. After this intro, character creation is handled - under the header "You mean this game has rules? WTF!?" Yes, this is actually a good read, unlike many rules-books I've read.

Character-creation is very much traditional 3d6 for the 6 attributes Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Willpower and Charisma. Ability-scores range from 0 to 18 and provide a range of penalties and benefits ranging from - 2 to +2. Strength influences melee damage. Dexterity influences AC. Constitution influences bonus hit points per level. Intelligence influences languages known. Willpower directly influences how easily a target can be assaulted by a wizard - low scores translate to bonuses versus the character and vice versa. Charisma attracts followers and interns and obviously, your chances of getting laid. Massive tables allow you to choose previous occupations and a 3-part name-generator table provides the hilariously cheesy names - one of my players, a red-haired woman, got "Slaughter Haunt Strawberry" and almost fell off her char laughing.

The currency in Thule would be cyber crowns and all character begin play with 3d10. Characters also start the game at level 0, gaining their racial traits: Humans get +2 to two ability scores of their choosing and 10 HP. Elves get +2 Cha and Will, get an advantage when making a good impression and are resistant to the enthrall spell. Infernal Elves, essentially half-demonic elves, get +1 Int, Will and Dex and may choose a demonic patron, regardless of spellcasting ability. Both elven types get 6 starting HP. Dwarves get +2 Str and Con and 8 HP. Halflings get +4 Dex, -2 Str and may reroll 1/day a natural 1 in a non-combat situation. They get 4 HP. Robots get +4 Int and cast spells via Int, not Will and cannot be used for Will by other casters (more on that later). They get 8 HP. Reptilians get +4 Str and Dex, -4 Cha and are bad at diplomacy etc. They may attack unarmed for 1d6 damage and get 12 HP. Pixie fairy Princesses, all of them female and all of them princesses (how that works, no one knows...) get +4 Dex and Cha, -4 Str and have an advantage in convincing folks. They get 4 HP. Crystalline creatures get +2 Willpower and count as double when used to power spellcasting and take only half damage from lasers. they get 12 HP -and obviously are a good commodity for all evil sorceror tyrants out there. Finally, the book provides rules for making hybrids of the races. Do I consider the races herein perfectly balanced? No, but their unique benefits and drawbacks can be used by a good Dragon Master (this game's term for the GM) to make them all work out.

Crimson Dragon Slayer (CDS for short in this review) knows 4 base classes. When a class levels up, you roll the class HD and add the result to your hit points. Warriors have d10 and when they hit a target in melee, they may continue to attack targets in melee range until they miss. Wizards get d6 and can utilize magic and alchemy (more on magic later) and can only use daggers and staves. 5th level wizards get either a unique spell or item, creating more at a rate of one per level. Thieves can use short swords, daggers, slings, whips, clubs and crossbows. Thieves can skip their turn to attack in the following round with double the attack dice pool. At 3rd level, they can opt to become assassins or spell scoundrels - spell scoundrels act as wizards at -2 levels. Assassins can 1/day perform a death strike (2/day at 7th and 3/day at 10th level) - if they hit, it's con-based save or die. Thieves have d8. Finally, rangers have d8 and can produce healing moss in the forest, talk Lassie-style to animals and may use long swords, short swords, daggers, bows, slings, spears and polearms. At 3rd level, they can choose to become shamans or defenders - shamans can transform into a fox, deer, raccoon, badger, turkey or twin ferrets 1/day for level rounds. Defenders may protect allies within 10 ft with their shields or magic cloaks.

The game uses dice pools - d6s per level per day. These can be refreshed by resting, though recharging requires some sort of sexual gratification. Alignment is grouped in good, evil, neutral - simple. To attempt an action, you roll 6-sided dice and only take a look at the highest number - except 6s - each 6 grants a so-called dominance. These provide additional benefits that you may choose - the more, the more bonuses you can choose. A round is 20 second long. Struggling actions get 1d6. Average actions get 2d6, Easy ones 3d6. Advantages and disadvantages cancel each other out. Occasionally, you get super-disadvantages (1d6, take the lesser) or super-advantages (4d6). Special occasions can even grant 5d6, but should be accompanied by some awesome scifi/fantasy/80's reference and finally, the cap is 6d6...unless you're 10th level or a dragon - then, this is god mode.

Results are as follows: 6 is a critical success; 5 is a success, 4 is a partial success, 3 is a partial failure, 2 is a failure, 1 is a critical failure. Dominances allow you to perform special stunts, penalize foes, grant your next rolls a bonus, initiate side benefits, reroll weapon damage or add a second attack. Speaking of side benefits - these range from disarming foes to impressing fair maidens, spell durations are doubled - you get the idea. Upon reaching 0 HP r below, a character must make a death saving throw, with the dice pool being based on Con as per the regular dice pool rules. Oh, and yes, 4 sixes mean you regain full health. Somehow. And a 1 reflects a horrible death that can stun all onlookers.

Weapons are simple: Bladed weapons have exploding dice rules - i.e. max damage is rolled again and added together. Blunt weapons stun targets on max damage. Ranged weapons receive a penalty to dice pool versus more distant foes. Two-handed weapons let you reroll 1s rolled in damage. A massive list is provided, ranging from daggers to sonic switchblades and napalm grenades.

Armor Class, or AC, acts as DR. Ac starts at zero (unless your Dex is so low you take a penalty - which would mean you get MORE damage!) - the higher, the better. Cover reduces the dice pools used to attack the target. Shields stack with armor and are VERY useful in this system. Good armor does cancel out dex-bonuses, though. Default movement is 50 ft. per round, 40 ft. in chainmail, 30 ft. in scalemail and 20 ft. in platemail.

Initiative is simple: Flee or Charge first, then ranged weapons, then melee and natural weapons, then spellcasters. HP replenish after 8 hours of rest. Tending to another's wounds in battle takes a full rounds worth of actions and replenishes a single HD and can only be done once per victim until a short or long rest is taken. Experience and level-gain is tied to deeds your character must perform in-game.

Magic is simple: Each spell costs its level in willpower. Wizards may cast higher level spells, but at thrice the cost. Wizards may also use other creatures - by spilling their blood and touching it, they can siphon willpower from the creature at the rate of 1 per round and they may only store their level worth of these points. 0 willpower = unconscious for 8 hours. This means the more spells a character casts, the less willpower he'll have to resist spells himself. 3 spells per level are provided, from 0 to 9, ranging from basic detect magic to defensive force-fields, phantasm-style deadly silver balls to the cube of coitus that helps with seduction, the ice cream phantom servant (in three flavors!), great balls of fire, cylinders of fubar and finally, Power Word: Just F&!#in' Die Already! 10th level nets you Wish, obviously.

An array of magical items can also be found within these pages and a short gazetteer on prominent individuals the character may know, some information on the demon lords like Tsathag'kha or K'tulu etc. are provided. Monsters have half their HD as dice pool for attacks. Other OSR-system monsters detract 10 from AC in CDS and add it vice versa.

And that's all - all the rules required to play - simple indeed.

The pdf also sports a small introductory module, the aptly-named caverns of carnage. So, from here on out, the review will contain SPOILERS. Players should jump to the conclusion.




The caverns of carnage are essentially an old-school dungeon crawl in the friggin' best of ways. There's not much of a story going on, but we did not miss it for even a second. Why? Because the hilarious premise of the system, the writing that made reading the rules actually a pleasant experience, blooms to full-blown awesome-triple-plus levels here. If you have no humor, steer clear. If you do, you'll laugh more than you'll have in ages playing, as horror and comedy oscillate in a spectacle that is just FUN. What do I mean by this? The module is unabashedly, wonderfully, bonkers in the way that a self-ironic heavy metal cheese is. The random encounters include grey invaders, unholy things with too many tentacles (which may cause the characters to s~!! their pants), androgynous cigarette.smoking men that may prove to be Ziggy Stardust, Surf-Nazis and *drum-roll* PSYCHOTIC CARE-BEARS that can transform you into one of their own.

The PCs can also save gorgeous women from being sacrificed to demons (and yes, there are guidelines to which of the saviors they'll be attracted to...) - coincidentally, in my playtest,a female player scored all of them and had a total blast. So no, I do not consider this sexist - it's not mean-spirited in any way. But back to being bonkers - there is an AI-Smiley of Doom to be found herein alongside a hidden grub that just waits to bite off 1d4 fingers. Caveman-orgies, skeletal mermaids, portals into post-nuclear wastelands, including mad scavengers, demonic spider gods, cannibal zombie ninjas, a literally deadly tangerine dream, a deadly Rubix cube...there is not ONE encounter here that does not sport something utterly awesome. Oh, and there is a truly unique one that not only may net permanent bonuses (including extra lives!) that had me actually get a laughing fit - friggin' cthulhoid pacman-maze. Yes, there is a nasty maze wherein nice pretzels etc. provide bonuses while ghosts haunt you and a deadly gigantic Pacman wants to destroy you! WAKKA-WAKKA-WAKKA!!!

At the end of our playtest, we all had laughed so much, some of us had sore muscles on the following day.

The pdf also provides a nice character-sheet.


Editing and formatting are not perfect, but still can be considered very good. Layout adheres to an easy to read two-column b/w-standard and sports A LOT of gorgeous, classic Conan-artworks as well as thematically perfectly fitting original pieces. The pdf does have layers so you can make it more printer-friendly still, but alas, it does not have bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment.

The softcover copy has a nice, glossy cover and is well-crafted -no complaints there!

When the author Venger As'Nas Satanis contacted me, I did honestly not expect much - I shrugged, sent my usual disclaimer regarding books, that I do dish out bad ratings unlike some reviewers, etc. - and promptly forgot about the matter in the daily hustle and bustle of reviewing. Then, one day, this big box with plenty of books arrived at my home and I started reading. OSR rules are nothing new to me and I use them once in a while to take a break, so yeah - again, no big expectations.

I understood almost immediately that this was not what I had expected. For once, I enjoyed reading rules. No seriously - while they could be slightly better structured here and there, as presented, they still are easy to grasp to explain them in 10 minutes, roll up characters and start playing. The system itself, isn't perfectly balanced and it's not exactly a stroke of genius or brilliant innovation - so the crunch itself is slightly above average. But roleplaying games are more than just the numbers.

The writing of the world, the blending of science-fiction and fantasy, is just downright awesome and the adventure included in this pdf is simply inspired - unlike some gory grimdark settings, this does depict a dark world, yes - but at the same time, Thule is a realm of awesomeness, where no concept is too outrageous. This book is gloriously invested in some of my favorite concepts, it resonates with a gleeful, tongue-in-cheek humor that mirrors what is awesome about movies like Heavy Metal F.A.K.K. 2 - this is utterly unapologetic cheese that manages to skirt the very close line between taking itself too seriously and not serious enough: The world and dungeon, in spite of their numerous references, still feel concise - they make sense, and left me utterly stoked to read more. This book was like reading my first Conan comic-book for the first time again, then mixing in my favorite games and scifi-novels to me - and brought my table excessive amounts of joy. So yes, the writing is absolutely superb - and unlike many "Metal"-settings, it never is mean-spirited, grimdark or bleak - it is just FUN.

Now if the premise is something that does not sound awesome to you, then this probably is not for you; if you don't have humor and get acne when reading the price of a space station among the possible things to buy (instead of going HELL YEAH!), if you're offended by curses here and there or by the aesthetics, then this may not be for you - but you'd be missing out. Unlike e.g. Lamentation of the Flame Princess' extremely bleak dark fantasy/horror (yes, will review some of those as well!), this book is never truly dark - it is a celebration of pulp aesthetics and tropes, of the 80s, of nerd-culture and it actually made my players want to play the module a second time. So yes, you'd definitely be missing something.

Now, as much as I'd like to, the base system, racial balance etc. make it impossible for me to rate this book as high as I'd like to - the components even out at 4 stars. BUT: I enjoyed this so much, both reading, re-reading and playing it, that I'll gladly slap my seal of approval on this bad boy - if the gloriously over-the-topness I tried to convey in some way, any way, appeals to you, then check this out! If your humor is like mine and you have managed to keep that pubescent geeky boy/girl inside you alive, I'm pretty positive you will have as much of a blast with this as I did.

And yes, I will review the other books as well...

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

Endzeitgeist out.

The 50th installment of Rite Publishing's FREE e-zine clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 11 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial/ToC, leaving us with 30 pages of free content, so let's take a look, shall we?

We begin this installment with David Paul's editorial recapping the journey of the magazine so far before we are introduced to Steven D. Russell's new template - the grandmaster creature. At CR +4, it renders the target lawful and allows for the creature in question to assemble a cabal of creatures that can be teleported to the grandmaster creature by uttering their name. When calling the cabal, the grandmaster also receives a significant buff -better yet, the cabal receives essentially mini-templates - brute, genius, mystic and sniper all provide multiple unique abilities for the cabal members with the respective designated roles. Finally, disparaging remarks can be uttered as swift action debuffs for foes and the level 15 hobgoblin war master used as a sample creature can be considered a fun foe to throw at your players. A great template indeed!

Raging Swan Press mastermind Creighton Broadhurst also has something nice for us - a nice dressing article that provides no less than 20 sample things your PCs may find in a pit as well as 20 things to be found in a sea cave - nice! And yes, you should get GM's Miscellany: Dungeon Dressing and GM's Miscellany: Wilderness Dressing, my number one choices of best product of 2014 - they indeed will enrich your game!

Thereafter, we dive into Elton Robb's first article covering the Leviathan Archipelago - the Questhaven setting's tropical/(under-)water-themed regions. Utilizing concise terminology, we are introduced to the concept of Light Zones, going on to explain the undersea topography and concepts like photic and aphotic zones in a concise and easily understood manner. Benthic Zones and their respective categories are also covered herein, with water pressure and currents also being noted. Bends and various means of covering pressure and its dangers have also been provided. Oh, what's that? You already have Cerulean Seas, the definite resource for underwater adventuring? Great, then you'll be excited to hear that this series endeavors to provide full-blown synergy with those races and rules. And yes, this has only further enhanced my vast anticipation of Questhaven and makes me look forward to the cultures hinted at in future installments!

Speaking of Questhaven - Steven D. Russell does provide a write up of Our Mother of Many Ways, a deity of both wine and inspiration, knowledge and madness, associated with hyenas. With the two nice subdomains, inspiration and prophecy, the well-written article receives some nice crunch back-up. 3 feats that allow you to convey retributive madness afflictions or make wine into a lethal poison - ouch! I'm very weary of a feat that lets you 3/day activate revelations with an activation of 1 round or less as a swift action -with a lack of prerequisites and a very broad focus, this feat can result in some rather powerful combos and personally, I allow too many sources to consider it a smart idea. The article also provides a rather interesting Paladin archetype - the Joyous Brother/Sister - essentially a chaotic good paladin with an aura of hope. These guys replace spells with wine-filled barbarian rage and may, at higher level, grant this euphoria-induced state to allies via the expenditure of uses of smite evil. The archetype is well-crafted and unique and comes with its own creed - neat!

David Paul showcases hereafter some of his Forest Spells (review coming soon!) before we get an interview with Owen K.C. Stephens - designers, take a look!

After this, we get a showcase of some of the best 3pp-products out there, with highly-rated product-reviews by Trev W. and yours truly before Jacob Blackmon's Path Less Travelled webcomic ends the book on an upbeat note.


Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to Rite Publishing's two-column full-color standard with some nice full-color and stock-art pieces inside. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

It's been a while since I've reviewed free products, mainly because I think my readers can easily verify for themselves what they like or don't like. With the sheer amount of books to cover, I try to tackle those first and thus, alas and much to my chagrin, I had less time than I would have liked to devote to Pathways-reviews.

Personally, I always enjoy my free monthly Pathways fix and I always gladly find my reviews published there. There usually is something awesome in each issue and quite a few articles in the magazine's history have made their way into my game. So yes, this is nice content FOR FREE. That's very hard to beat, you know - and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

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

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

This massive book clocks in at 201 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front-cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC,1 blank page at the end, leaving us with 195 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

This massive core-book for the revised edition of Eldritch Roleplaying (ERP) begins with an introduction that sums up several of the virtues of this system - adequately so, I should mention. At the same time, though, personally, I felt this component to be somewhat overblown, much like a sales-pitch when the very presence of the book clearly does not necessitate this component - this may be a personal pet-peeve of mine, but I do not think games should try to tell their readers how awesome they are and instead stand on the virtue of their own merits - but let's see whether this works, shall we?

The default assumption of this system is a world of fantasy, obviously. We begin with a glossary of terms and what they mean - since the following review will make excessive use of them, I'll give you the brief run-down:

-Ability: This specifies a skill or innate capacity.

-Ability Branch: A single component of an ability tree, specifying Specialties and Masteries. An ability check is made via such a branch, with no more than one roll of the basic tier, plus one specialty, plus one mastery.

-Ability Check: Each such check involves one ability branch, rolling up to 3 dice to beat the target number.

-Ability Tree: Base ability + all branches. Tier 1 denotes base abilities, tier 2 denotes specialties and each specialty further branches off into different masteries, which constitute tier 3.

-Base Tier: First tier, always has a single die (from d4 to d12)

-Branch Rank: Term used to establish general competence in an ability branch. Just add max values and check the table.

-Character Points: Point-buy for abilities.

-Damage Reduction: Reduce threat points before the active defense pool.

-Defense Pool: Number of points used to mitigate or cancel threats

-Defense, Active: Using active DP to mitigate one attack via the corresponding ability.

-Defense, Passive: One passive defense pool or fortitude.

-Die-rank: Value of any creature's single die of an ability tree tier; ranges from d3 to d20 and includes d14, d16 and d18.

-Max Value (MV): Highest die-result possible with a given die or die combination.

-Needed Number (NN): Measure for spellcasting difficulty.

-Restricted/unrestricted Ability: Restricted abilities can't be used without having at least a certain die-rank, most of the time, a d4. Consider this the ability to only use certain abilities when "trained" in them.

-Special maneuvers: Combat maneuvers, essentially.

-Threat Points: Measurement of the potential harm from a specific ability branch - the damage potential from which active defenses etc. are detracted to determine the actually inflicted harm.

So, to sum it up - we have a system that is very much skill-based, using a combination of dice over specializations and pitting rolls vs. rolls, with minor fixed value modifications, kind of like a variant of Shadowrun that utilizes more die-types over increasing numbers of d6s.

Character creation is simple: You have 30 character points. Assigning age and sex is free and you can modify the value by taking advantages (at cost) or disadvantages (increasing your character points). It should be noted that adolescence is considered to take for all races to reach - while I get the streamlining rationale, such a factor inherently makes me wonder how the "better" races have not yet developed a more stable population

Each race MUST buy the minimum ranks in certain abilities associated with them, which range from 15 (dwarves) to 4 (humans) and racial advantages, if appropriate - all dwarves must expend the 3 character points for night vision, for example. While the individual abilities and costs are provided, a quick glance also shows you the total value, including the modifications of the compulsory advantages/disadvantages hard-coded into the race. Over all, the ability-package as presented makes the races work pretty well and choosing them rather simple - at the same time, the restrictions imposed here by a lack of racial customization directly contradicts the assertion of supreme control over character concepts claimed in the slightly overblown introduction, but that just as a snarky side-note to emphasize why I consider intros like that undue.

The advantages and disadvantages provided run a pretty broad gamut of abilities, again, bringing Shadowrun to mind, just instead of the modification of dice-pool sizes, we have the die-step improvements. This allows for e.g. magical defense that allows a caster to extend it to physical attacks in two steps, with the more costly version also applying to ranged attacks. Subtle casting, attractiveness and similar benefits can be gained as well. Personally, I really enjoyed and loathed one particular advantage at the same time: Literacy. It always galls me in any fantasy setting, when the default assumption is that people can read - it's an obvious anachronism not supported by the infrastructure in most areas. So yes, kudos for including that.

Being able to read and write ALL languages for one meager character point more, though, actually sabotages quite a few narratives - from strange languages to deciphering ancient tongues, this advantage counters quite a few potential plots, thus rendering its upgrade problematic. Now here would be as good a place as any to mention the easy customization capacities of this system - are you like me and utterly loathe this concept? Just modify the advantage to instead apply on a point per language basis. Want discrepancies in fluency and capacity? Build your own ability-tree. The system is ridiculously easy to modify in these finer components without breaking it, a huge plus when it comes to modifying it to apply to different settings, something you will want to do -but more on that later.

From darkvision (here called Night Vision) to underworld contacts, the advantages are generally solid. Among the disadvantages, one can find addictions, compulsions, missing limbs - you get the idea.

Abilities, as mentioned above, are governed by the size of the die: Unrestricted abilities begin at d4 and cost a cumulative +2 character points to increase. Restricted abilities cost 2 character points to get to d4-size and subsequent costs of die-size minus two for the respective rank. (D12 costs 10 character points, for example.)

On a didactic side, the presentation of the values of character points it takes to rank up is pretty much more opaque than it should be: As presented, one can read the process as the cost depicted representing the total cost of character points or as the cost to increase from the previous rank - while one can deduce the correct way from the examples provided in the book, I had exactly that issue come up during character generation for playtesting, with different players having different opinions. Abilities are noted as P (Primary), S (Support), R (Restricted) and U (Unrestricted). While we get a short list, I can't help but feel that a proper table would have been preferable here.

Magic items, buffs etc. that sport a +1 to a given ability increase the die-size by +1. In a nice idea, characters can also pursue occupations as an optional general orientation that codifies the character as being, more or less aligned with the role of a given "class." It should be noted that this is more of a cosmetic accumulation of traditional nomenclature than a description of the capabilities of the character as a whole deal package.

Next up would be the calculation of the character's defense pools, of which there are two: Active Defense and Passive Defense. Active Defense includes parrying, dodging, agility and unarmed combat and can incorporate static DR via shields. Passive Defense is determined by Fortitude and includes DR via armor, if applicable. The Defense Pool calculations are dead simple - add up the maximum values of the ability tree, including all specialties and masteries. Once again, the basic explanation of the features, alas, could have been more concise - as presented, the basic step leaves you wondering whether active defense accumulates and adds parrying etc. or not - only by delving deeper into the grit of the system does this opacity become resolved, which, once again, presents a thoroughly unnecessary confusion-barrier for novices to the rules that could have been rectified by one simple sentence providing clearer rules language.

Starting equipment and character concept are determined in conjunction with the GM, with suggestions for general, broad roles provided for the individual character roles - melee types for example receive a weapon, armor, shield and steed, whereas rogues get thieves' tools, light armor and a weapon. Currency substitutes "crowns" for "Dollars" or "Euros." Equipment, especially mundane equipment, is pretty much glossed over by the system, claiming it does not require the level of detail etc. - we will return to this claim later.

First, we'll now take a look at the action resolution system: This is actually as simple as opposing rolls get - you roll the dice and if there is active opponent, both applicable rolls are compared, with specialties and masteries adding their die-sizes to the fray if applicable: Let's say you have someone specialized in Stealth, a subcategory of Skullduggery, with a Mastery in Urban environments - he'd add all 3 to an ability check when sneaking around in an urban environment, but as soon as the character would seek to apply his skillset in the wilderness, he'd only receive the dice from basic Skullduggery and Stealth, but not the bonus for Urban Mastery.

On a downside, I do believe the example provided, which I have here consciously quoted, would have benefited from actually stating that it is opposed by Perception - while pretty much self-evident, clear opposition-structures, especially when explaining the base system, do help. At the same time, the way in which whether a specialty or mastery applies is explained can be considered exceedingly concise, so kudos there. Challenges imposed by the GM follow a similar structure - the GM selects a set of dice to describe the general difficulty, rolls them and compares them to the player's roll. Here, I have a slight issue with the game - the good-roll-makes-possible-syndrome. it is a matter of taste, but the most difficult tasks are set at 3d12 -and yes, these can be nigh impossible. At the same time, though, a character who is lucky can achieve things the GM considered beyond him.

While, once again, easily modifiable via static DCs or GM-fiat, the general inclination of this swingy assumption of dice vs. dice means that you'll have a relatively pronounced luck-factor when tackling such challenges - theoretically, you may beat the set-up with a paltry d4. Yes, the chance of this happening is pretty paltry (as anyone with even a cursory understanding of math should know, but I *have* seen rolls like that - more than one...) - so ultimately, whether you consider this a bug or a feature ultimately depends on your personal inclinations. The undeniable benefit of this would obviously be something that works its way through the whole system - namely that you never become truly invincible to paltry/low-level threats. Yes, it becomes increasingly unlikely that you fall to them, but the chance still exists, which is a component that personally appeals as much to me as the swingy distribution does not.

What very much appeals to me and tends to find its way into all of my games in one way or another, would be the pretty concise and easy to use degrees of success and failure that further enhance the randomness factor and reward/punish the respective rolls. Oh, since I failed to mention this - if in doubt, resolutions tend to favor the defender, which is an interesting component that makes generally defensively-inclined characters work better than in similar systems of e.g. the d20-basis.

In case you wondered, btw. - weapons and equipment and fighting also follow all of these rules, with the ability melee weapons leading into very broad weapon groups specialties and particular weapon type masteries, which, in practice, makes surprising amounts of sense. Speaking of combat, let's take a closer look, all right?

I already mentioned the different defense pools available (and should note that this system makes shields actually relevant and mechanically distinct, which I do enjoy immensely!), so how does initiative work? A round is 15 second long, with a descending order of battle phases, scaling via Agility's ability down from d12 to d4 in 5 phases, with each phase taking 3 seconds. Creatures with an even higher or lower Agility take their corresponding place in the initiative order and act before (or after, in the latter case) the others. A creature gets exactly one action per round, which can be used to take actions, cast spells, activate magic items or use special abilities. Initiative is governed by the ability tree of Agility, Reflexes and Reaction Time, with equipment further potentially modifying this value. But what if creatures act in the same phase? Here, envision my smile evaporating - fixed order: PC, exceptional creatures, standard creatures, minor creatures. This suggestion allows you to metagame the "named" NPCs out of a crowd and makes no sense within the world - and as such, I loathe it, in spite of the inclusion of NPCs/special creatures having the option to be treated as PCs. Ties between foes and PCs are always won by the PC, another component I'd personally switch on its head, but that ultimately remains my forte because I'm a mean, mean GM Thankfully, a GM can easily, once again, devise a modification of the suggested system to remedy just about every component of the system as presented herein.

But what about surprise? There is a distinction between simple and total surprise, with the latter locking the defending characters out of their active pool defense pools -OUCH. Simple surprise only takes away your action in the surprise round. A character may move 18 yards + MV Agility per round, more if the character incurs a penalty, with masteries further enhancing this. Oddly, the penalty incurred by faster movement makes surprising sense in in-game dramaturgy. Interesting here - the actual feasibility of defensive characters. The D-pools a character has deplete over the course of a combat and simulate fatigue, much like the ones in the classic German old-school RPG Midgard - once they are depleted, you take damage to fortitude, so there's a difference to Midgard here. At 0 fortitude you drop unconscious, at minus MV fortitude, you die. So that's how you die. But how do you make creatures die?

I already mentioned the threat pool: This is weapon/magic pillar + weapon group (and bonuses)/spell type + specific weapon/spell mastery. Note that some spells may bypass specific defenses fielded against them, increasing the required roll. It should be noted that no two defense pools can be combined - you either try to dodge or parry, for example - not both. Willpower is used to resist non-physical threats. Dual-wielding characters incur a battle phase penalty and yes, there are simple rules for attacks of opportunity, here called opportune attacks. Interesting here: A character may sacrifice a specialty or mastery to add its MV to the associated defense pool. While not engaged in hand-to-hand or melee, a character may revitalize, regaining 20% of all D-pools. D-pools are tied to encounters, which I LOATHE - you're all by now aware of why "per-encounter" anything ultimate lands on my "oh why"-list; they make no sense. At the same time, though, the system presented here does have the easy option for the GM to customize this limit away and replace it with a fixed duration of rest etc. - in fact, I'd suggest such a system for pretty much any strenuous activity beyond combat, but again - that's my preference and not something that impacts the review.

Magic in the system is separated into 7 so-called pillars: Alteration, Arcanum, Conjuration, Elementalism, Illusion, Invocation and Psychogenics. Failure to roll the needed number of the spell to be cast may incur unpleasant effects for the caster, so there is a certain sense of unpredictability inherent in the system, one further enhanced by the basic set-up of swinging distribution of the dice-results inherent in the system. Saving throws are either based directly on willpower and its follow-ups or directly on fortitude. It should also be noted that quite a few spells have essentially built-in metamagic, with modifications to the NN. It should also be noted that aforementioned degrees of failure-philosophy also applies to the general rules of spellcasting. In order to allow for a broad array of customization and homebrewing, what amounts to a DIY-spell-building kit with sample effects and NNs provide a surprisingly concise amount of guidance for the GM and trigger summonings, casting spells as rituals etc. all can be found among the options presented here. It should be noted that, while each pillar receives its array of spells, the focus here lies on the toolkit.

I've been talking quite a bit about "GM this and GM that" -well, instead of XP as another resource to track, ERP directly awards character points, cutting out the middleman, so to speak. An elegant solution within the confines of this system. Traps and creature development are also covered with concise rules and plenty of examples for the GM to choose from, alongside tables of generic treasure. Much like 13th Age, monsters are provided in a plentiful array and sport very simple statblocks that do not feature much beyond type, threat dice, extra attacks, DR, HP, Saves and Agility ranks - a minimalistic approach, though at the other side of things. Where monsters in 13th Age derived their rules-symmetry from the lack of swinging dice, the beasts in ERP derive their rules-symmetry from the fact that they swing just as much as PCs do. From classic horses to Lilith herself, the section covers quite some ground, though ultimately, you should not expect too much from the variety of the monsters themselves - vampires may have vampiric bite or hypnotic gaze, yes, but that is all that remains codified - the rest is left to the GM.

Also, much like 13th Age, ERP does feature a kind of primer of a sample campaign setting, with the default world of Ainerêve, whose morphological nomenclature I enjoyed as much as the Tennyson-reference leading into the chapter. And indeed, the somewhat linguistically-versed GM will not be surprised by a rather interesting component of this setting: For one, the world coexists undetectably with ours, as a kind of shadow. More importantly, the dream-connotation is further enhanced by a presumed mutability of lands - folk beliefs, convictions and ideologies transform the world and have significant power, with proximity in establishment being governed by conceptual and ideological nearness. This is at once brilliant, but at the same time also somewhat reductive in that it organizes the world in a fashion that is easier to structure - over all, the world still manages to feel pretty concise in its make-up and depiction, with sample NPCs, information on local law etc. being sported for many in ample details, going so far as to produce a pronunciation guide, nomenclature etc., with ample random name-generators. As awesome as the world is as a conception and as strongly as it might resonate with me and the themes of real world mythology, I still felt myself slogging through the campaign world's information - this is not a bad world and its premise is utterly AWESOME - but what was crafted from the premise pretty much disappointed me as a rather vanilla fantasy world - hence my assertion in the beginning that you'll want to apply your own modifications regarding the campaign setting.

The book also sports handy GM two-page cheat-sheets and 2 page character-sheets, which are horizontally aligned.

Now before I jump to the conclusion, what is missing here? 1) Encumbrance. The stance here is "encumbrance is not fun", meaning you can carry tons of stuff around/potentially generating the Christmas Tree syndrome. Sample poisons/diseases - while provided as hazards, some examples would have been nice and virulence tec. does not feature - the two components exist pretty much in a half-defined limbo that leaves much in the GM's hands, in spite of plenty of interaction with spells and abilities. I also think the system does require non-battle fatigue systems for weather/exposure etc. - once again, yes, they can be devised by the GM, but I still feel they deserve more focus.


Editing and formatting are okay, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of glitches herein. Especially formatting, quite honestly, annoyed me. Obvious bullet-point lists are simple lists, which detracts from the readability. And personally, my eyes glaze over when I read the statblocks. Why? Because of the overabundance of ">." You see, "Ability > Specialty > Mastery" is the format and whenever I looked at such a sign, I felt the layout-need to actually insert an arrow-graphic. It may just be me, though. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard that still retains a pretty printer-friendly basis, so that's nice. The artwork...well. It exists. It neither adheres to a uniform standard or style, nor did I consider the pieces particularly nice. It doesn't get better than the cover, so art-fanatics may not want to get this for the aesthetic values.

Dan Cross and Randall Petras have crafted an interesting system here - one that is governed by chaos and swinging results, yes, but also one that is pretty transparent in its rules. In fact, ERP is ridiculously easy to learn once you have someone explain it to you - or are an experienced roleplayer. The book, alas, is pretty much as "eldritch" in the beginning as its name implies - the first explanations and sequence of rules-presentations is NOT simple, nor didactically well-chosen in all occasions, which made running this more frustrating that it really should be - for it's actually easy! When I read the book for the first time, I saw the claim of "easy character generation" and thought "Yeah right! I have no idea what's going on!" - the key-word here is patience. The sequence of rules-presentation is not particularly well-chosen, so if you don't let that frustrate you, ERP actually *IS* so easy to grasp and run - you just have to get past the annoying introduction and to the point where all the pools are actually concisely explained.

Now if the above review wasn't ample clue - I intensely dislike a plethora of design-decisions, not from a reviewer's perspective, but from a personal one, so no, I am not going to bash the system for it. This dislike never extends to the base mechanics, mind you, but rather to many of the details - and here, the genius component of this roleplaying system shine: This is perhaps one of the most easily customizable systems I've seen in quite a while. Don't like terrain-rules being swingy? Replace with fixed values. Don't enjoy the tilting of the scales in favor of the PCs to give them a slight mathematical edge in the game of swinging dice vs. swinging dice? Eliminate it in favor of more lethality. This system is extremely customizable and makes defense worthwhile while providing a combat that is streamlined. In my experience, it is NOT necessarily faster than other systems, though - why? Because rolling competing throws of the dice does take up time that cannot be reduced. (Ask anyone who's ever played a game featuring them...) Yes, you will not be flipping rule-books much and look for obscure rule xyz, but still - obscure rules can be learned, whereas the rolling of the dice versus another always takes the same time.

In fact, this is my second attempt at writing a conclusion, since my first was focused on demolishing the introductory text - and the game does not deserve this. As much as many design decisions rub me the wrong way, as much as I consider the setting's potential unrealized and as much as I dislike the simple monsters, all of that ultimately does not matter that much. Why? Because anyone halfway versed in crunch-design or houseruling material can customize the hell out of this system, which ultimately is the huge strength of what is presented here - the mathematical elegance of chance and the simplicity of the system's swinging numbers translate to a game that transcends the limitations of its imho subpar presentation and slight didactic hiccups.

Know what I honestly did not expect, especially considering how much I do not like the setting? I actually found myself enjoying this system - it feels like a great framework. one that can use expansions, polish and a nicer "coat" (layout + art), one that can use expansions to deal with detailed alchemy, necromancy etc. While not absent from this book, the traditions of the like imho can certainly use a more refined and explicit depiction in future publications. Now I won't use this all the time - the swinginess of results, while endearing for some narratives and stories, ends up annoying me as much as permanently running the cruise-control monsters of 13th Age. But I will return to ERP in the future. It is an interesting system and, if what I wrote, if the customization, is what you're looking for, then be sure to take a look at this. My final verdict, in spite of gripes and some opacity in the presentation, will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4. Why? Because to me, l good content and basic structure trumps a nice polish and because I thoroughly appreciate the versatility of this system.

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

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

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS. Cheers!

This expansion for the tinker clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As the pdf observes, this pdf offers options for lower levels tinkers - though this time around, a minimum of 3rd level to get properly started. It should also be mentioned that this pdf links up with rules in the SUPERB tinker-expansion Happy Little Automatons, which every fan of the class should have.

We have three new invention types herein - compartments and fireworks. Compartment inventions are introduced to streamline the compartment-questions provided in previous installments that featured some sort of fuel/etc. Fireworks-inventions are special inventions that occupy space in a given compartment as though they were goods - they thus need compartment space and may, important, NOT be launched by hand, only by the respective invention. Fireworks have a range of 30 ft., max 150 ft. and they are executed against grid intersections (AC 5) and may target occupied and unoccupied intersections, thus deviating from splash weapons, though occupied intersections are treated as ranged fire into melee, including potential for penalty negation via Precise Shot. Intersections sans walls etc. also have their AC increased. On a miss, we determine how it missed, also providing concise rules for determining z-axis issues when shot into the air (or into a pit).

Finally, there would be propellant inventions, which modify all fireworks in a given compartment at the time of deployment; only one propellant can be added per compartment.

All right, got that? We thus gain 3 new innovations: One that negates the chance of fireworks exploding when going unlaunched, one that increases capacity of all compartments by +1 as though they were improved compartments for the purpose of holding different substances and one that lets you break the "only one propellant"-rule and allows you to add 2 in a single compartment.

And then, we have inventions - and at this point, anyone who has ever made a tinker starts cackling with glee, mainly because the by now beautifully customizable system benefits from the expansions made so far: Take e.g. Alphas that contains vast amounts of fireworks that furthermore has an increased propellant capacity, increasing the value of the fireworks stored by the alpha.

The base for fireworks would be firework tubes or hot pockets, reloading from a chosen compartment as a move action, launching them as a directed attack, with potential options to fire multiple fireworks and synergy with Rapid Reload and Rapid Shot. Hot Pockets may be used to prime fireworks and fire them all at once as a directed attack, though primed fireworks continuously decrease their maximum range and may even explode in the automaton if the tinker fails to direct the attack, making the base system work essentially like a pretty interesting game of action-economy conversion and set-ups. And yes, e.g. The Late Bloomer can be used to increase the radius of launched fireworks, while a propellant may be added to increase the range of fireworks - a potential synergy with another range-increasing tube-modification.

Even general fireworks end up having something interesting going for them, with AC-penalizing caustic fireworks, propellants that may dazzle those adjacent to the flight or fireworks that contains hundreds of angry spiders (!!!)?

Want something cooler? What about a propellant that makes it hard for undead to cross the exhaust-line left by a rocket for smart terrain control? Or ones that contain entangling good? What about a glitterdust-y emission of tracer particles? Have I mention condition stacking, damage to adjacent creatures in the flight path? Oh yeah!

Oh, and btw. - yes, the pdf has a list of which inventions get the compartment-subtype. Kudos!


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Interjection Games' two-column b/w-standard and sports thematically fitting b/w-artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks and does not necessarily require them at this length.

The last Remedial tinkering-expansion by Bradley Crouch was absolutely AWESOME in that it not only provided great low-level tricks, its combo-set-up potential was thoroughly inspired. Now, one can say pretty much the same for the content herein, with one minor gripe on my end: It quite frankly took me longer than I would have liked to piece together how exactly fireworks are launched - a slightly more concise explanation in the beginning would have certainly helped here.

That being said, not only do the fireworks here work how they should and in a mechanically distinct way, they also sport a damn cool array of combo potentials. Now I might grumble a bit here, but then there's one more thing to consider: This is FREE. It costs zilch, zero, nada, nothing - and who am I to nitpick on a quality, fun and simply interesting expansion that is free to boot? All in all, I'm glad I can now add this cool array of options to my tinkers, though I certainly wished that a) this was longer and b), it explained the process of launching fireworks in a slightly more concise manner. That being said, this is still a great expansion and one that requires literally zero investment from you - well worth a final verdict of 5 stars +seal of approval.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here and on OBS and's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

2 people marked this as a favorite.

An review

This pdf clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

So, in case you're not 100% sure - yes, this is an April's Fools product. And yes, I'm reviewing it in August. Sad, but better late than never, right? So this begins with a basic, humorous introduction of poles - both in the game worlds and in real life. Let me go on a slight tangent here: If you do not know 10-foot-poles, they are perhaps the source of more anecdotes and prevented PC-death in old-school gaming than any other item. They also are the punch-line of more dirty jokes than rods of lordly might - and in case you're new school and never got see their awesomeness in action, take a look at 2 pages of long (and surprisingly viable!) suggestions on how to use these poles and potentially prevent your character's death - you'll never want to leave your home without your trusty pole.



I'm sorry. I'll put a buck in the groaner joke jar. So, during the years, 10-foot poles, their usefulness undisputed and tried and tested by more adventurers in varying degrees of success, have obviously spawned an array of variants, many of which can be found herein - from butterfly nets with which you can capture those annoying pixies to balancing poles, there are quite a few nice variants to be found - of course, including the 11-foot pole for the customer who goes one step beyond. This also includes folding poles and the combat ladder - an exotic weapon with the brace, blocking, disarm, grapple, monk, performance, reach and trip qualities. Overpowered? Perhaps. But -6 to atk and CMB when using it sober are at least some nice drawbacks. I just wished the basic drunkeness rules of PFRPG were better. If you actually plan on using this weapon, I'd strongly suggest using it with Raging Swan Press' rules for barroom brawls and tie it to the hammered condition featured in that book. Technology Guide-based hydraulic poles, vermin attracting giant toothpicks, stilts - the mundane objects herein, while not always perfectly balanced, generally fall within the purview of being rather well-crafted indeed.

Of course, some poles are magical, they grow when... Ouch. Yes, I'll stop. Sorry. Must be the summer heat BBQing my brain. *puts another dime in the groaner jar* Here, we can find bandolier containing toothpicks that can extend to proper poles; Decoy poles with hats etc. on top that act as protection from arrows. Poles with continuous flames on top; those that behave like a compass needle pr one that can be transformed in a cat with a limited movement radius. No, this pun was not one of my creation! What about a robe containing multiple useful poles? Hej, my clothes...OUCH. Yes, I'll stop.

One step beyond these, there also are cursed poles - petulant ones that refuse to properly modify; magnetic ones...or what about the pole-ka, which is best combined with playing Weird Al instrumentals irl? Yes, the poles here are genuinely funny. What about an intelligent limbo pole that acts as a one-way portal through walls...if you can limbo under it, becoming progressively harder? There even are mythic poles herein, and I'm not talking about...Ouch. *puts another one in the jar*

What about the Staff of Sun Wukong (aka Son Goku?) Yes, cool. The giant stick bug, which may also act as a familiar, makes for a nice additional creature, before we dive into the new bard archetype, the pole dancer. Pole dancers replace bardic knowledge with a battle dance - with the effects only affecting the pole dancer and initiation actions required scaling. They also are masters of fighting with ten-foot poles, gaining dex to atk and damage with them and allowing them to treat the weapons as other types regarding damage. The overall slight decrease in power is offset by an increased capacity to use alluring abilities and the ability to substitute Perform (Dance) for Acrobatics, making them save that skill-investment.

At higher levels, battle dancing pole dancers are treated as hasted and in an interesting way, they may quicken spells by expending move actions while casting spells. Powerful defensive dances that heal damage and moving while making attacks and the capstone nets an attack versus all foes in range during any point of a move. The pole dancer is an interesting archetype I very much like concept-wise. At the same time, it suffers from some issues - it is not clear whether battle dance is gained in addition to bardic performance or replaces it - I assume the latter, since the former would be pretty OP. Conversely, I assume the battle dances have a round-cap akin to performance, but the ability doesn't specify it, which is a pity. Some of the other abilities also sport minor ambiguities that can be problematic, the most glaring component here would be the absence of weapon statistics for the 10-foot pole. I assume an improvised large weapon, but I'm not sure. On a nitpicky side, the archetype also switches genders mid-sentence, which I consider supremely annoying.


Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - some entries sport font-changes and there are some minor hiccups in the rules-language here and there. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color two-column standard with nice, stock artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a detriment regarding the convenient use of this pdf in my book.

Quite a team has worked on this one: Ismael Alvarez, Jeff Gomez, J. Gray, garrett Guilotte, Kiel Woeell, Taylor Hubler, Lucus Palosaari, Matt Roth, Jessie Staffler, Jeffrey Swank - surprisingly, now, this does not translate to a feeling of disparate voices.

I did not expect much from this book and was positively surprised - yes, this is a joke offering; and yes, not all content herein may be perfect. But this book actually manages to be something only a few roleplaying books achieve - genuinely funny. Beyond this rare achievement, portal limbo poles are a stroke of genius and quite a few other ideas herein a delightful, playful and, best of all - feel magical. Whimsical even. While, alas, due to aforementioned glitches and minor hiccups, I can't rate this among the highest echelons of my rating system, this still very much is a good, and more importantly, fun offering and thus well worth a final verdict of 4 stars - oh, and you can get it as a "Pay what you want"-book, so no reason not to check this out!

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMs magazine and posted here on OBS and's shop. Cheers!

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

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

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

3 people marked this as a favorite.

This was moved up on my queue at the request of my players.

The prologue-adventure for Legendary Games' Sword and Planet-AP clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial introduction leaving us with 32 pages of content, so let's take a look, shall we?

While this module is designed to act as a prequel for the massive Legendary Planet AP, it also easily works on its own. The following being a review of an adventure, the following does contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.




All right, still here? Whether to reclaim family property, at the behest of a seer or due to some other hook, the PCs find that their first journey has brought them to the otherwise pretty unremarkable village of Holver's Ferry (fully mapped, btw.) - but even at the ferry leading into the town, across a swift river leading into lake Shimmermere - alas, the drunken ferryman has no good fate in store: While he tried to quarantine the village, he failed - and he is about to pay the price, as psychotic villagers hack him apart. Oh yes, enter the PCs. Unresponsive and clearly driven mad, the PCs have to defeat the bloodthirsty villagers in a thematic callback that made me remember Resident Evil 4 - in all the right ways. Crossing the river one way or another, the impression that Holver's Ferry has been hit by some tragedy pretty much becomes apparent.

A sense of apocalyptic dread, piece by piece, encounter by encounter, will slowly seep into the consciousness of PCs and players alike, as a depressed widow endeavors to commit suicide, as they explore abandoned houses that look like their inhabitants have simply evaporated - something is odd. Hanged people dangle from the town's sacred oak and child survivors hide from anyone out there. The local inn shows signs of struggle, of desperate defense - and a man who had locked himself in, now just as bloodthirsty and dangerous as the first farmers encounetred. Things have become so bad that even goblinoids have entered the village. The priest is insane and burning undead can be found among the village's houses - a sense of grim doom has come to Holver's Ferry, and as the PCs find the halfling berserker (berserker Zimm - boy did I laugh when reading that one!), the gnome apothecary who retained his wits or draw the conclusions due to the hints left in the sheriff's office - the dread mystery needs to be solved.

This sandboxy horror section is well-presented and offer multiple means to draw the PCs further into the topics, whereafter the trail leads towards the Orphanage of mother Oddle. You see, what has happened here is an unlikely and far-out scenario: An invader from another world has engineered a mind-reprogramming bio weapon, the eponymous assimilation strain. Alas, the targeted viral strain's first iteration proved to yield a temporary, highly infectious burn-out rate and chaotic, terrible symptoms - the ones the PCs have witnessed firsthand in the horror at the town. The dread invader, a vanguard of the planned invasion, has since perfected a better strain of the virus and infected one powerful lumberjack, Silam Oddle - controlled by a disgusting, black tumor-like lump at the back of his neck, the PCs can save him, yes - but perhaps they have to take the poor man down. Beyond that, have I mentioned that his mother's mummified remains still remain in her room? Yes, creepy.

Rexel, the gnome alchemist, in the meanwhile, has probably gone missing, abducted by an adherer made from the remains of the town's erstwhile, missing sheriff. The trail leads towards Arvarenhode Manor's ruins, where the catacombs await under the rubble - provided the PCs can best the deadly creatures inhabiting the upper part of the ruins (the 4 areas of which are btw. the only ones not mapped - the catacombs themselves sport, once again, a neat full-color map). In the catacombs, the PCs may save Rexel, battle the adherer and navigate a complex inhabited by a cool, uncommon selection of adversaries, with thematically-awesome descriptions and rooms. Finally, defeating the xoraphond creature behind the dread conflict ends the jagladine empire's invasion plan, while also providing a first taste of the things to come. The pdf concludes with alien technology (Technology Guide-compatible) and the new creature and two templates provided.


Editing and formatting are very good - apart from some minor typos, I noticed nothing significant that detracts from my experience. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column standard that is still pretty printer-friendly, with copious amounts of full-color high-quality artworks for each major player in the storyline. It should also be noted that the layout does not try to generate more pages by wide margins - there is a lot of information on each page, making the module more detailed and longer than you'd expect from most modules of this page-count - in my playtest, it took my exceedingly fast group 2 sessions to clear this module. About 90% of 32-page modules tend to be finished in 1 session, so yeah - quite a bunch of content. Cartography is beautiful and plentiful - though my only gripe with this module would be that I would have LOVED to see play-friendly maps included; you know, the ones without keys and hotspots so you can cut out the dungeon map and hand it to your players, so you can just take the village map, slap it on the table and ask where the PCs head. The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Tom Phillips has, slowly but surely, become one of my go-to authors regarding any scenario that provides horror, challenge and mystery - he knows his craft. Add Neil Spicer and the duo has created one awesome, damn cool low-level module that is challenging, potentially a bit disturbing and interesting. With a diverse, uncommon array of enemies that never falls into the bland 1st level routines, a mix of sandbox and dungeon-exploration, this module provides quite a bunch of cool ideas. The best component of this module, to me, is a more ephemeral one, though: The pacing of this module is impeccable. Horror and mystery, both as genres, hinge on timing and means of creating suspense, of build-ups and gradual escalation -and this module gets this component perfectly.

As a GM, you can obviously just spoon-feed the information to your PCs via various proxies, but not only are there multiple ways of unearthing the truth, there are several red herrings - and in my playtest, I kept as much information as possible opaque, making my players draw the conclusions themselves. Now if the players get stumped, you still have several means of putting them on track within the logic of the module. Furthermore, the module has ample instances wherein heroes can be heroes and actually save lives - an approach I always welcome in modules.

I honestly did not expect the prologue to Legendary Planet to be a mystery, much less one that is this good; whether played for weirdness or downright horror, this module makes clear from the get-go that it's not your standard fantasy fare. But only in hindsight. As a piece of advice: Don't tell your players necessarily that this will be a sword & planet module. There are several themes that make for delightful red herrings in the hands of a capable GM, making the realization of what is truly going on have even more of an impact.

The assimilation strain is an excellent module and a furious first in the series, one that makes me very happy I've been able to back the kickstarter. With great production values and content that must be considered awesome, this module is a great way to kick off the AP, one that has me stoked to see what's in store for us. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

As per the writing of this review, the Assimilation Strain is not available yet to the general public - however, you can get it before its public release by backing the post-kickstarter funding of the Legendary Planet AP (and make the final book even more awesome) - here is the link to LG's page and how to get in!

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here. Will post it at the product's page in the usual places once it becomes available to the general public.

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

Reviewed first on, hen submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted ehre, on OBS and's shop.

Our favorite goblin merchant of items both wondrous and weird is back, this time at 14 pages, with the cover doubling as introduction, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Each of the items herein comes with a well-written piece of introductory prose as well as an adventure hook, both helping to root the items in the lore of the game. The first items would pair a pair of deadly cesti/warhammer, both providing very powerful synergy-effects for magi, including a new enhancement that adds a stagger/daze/stun-effect to spellstrike-criticals, with severity scaling up according to the critical modifiers. Speaking of powerful items - what about a plate that increases the range threatened by 10 ft.? Yeah, OUCH! 50+K value may be much, but the benefits definitely outweigh that...thankfully, this only extends to movement-provoked AoOs...interesting. The plate also allows you to use up your movement as part of these AoOs (so you don't have to swat at thin air), utilizing movement rate of the next round as a resource - pretty smart.

A fire-themed variant of shocking grasp with a splash-dazzle added in makes for an interesting variant spell. At 2nd level, an improved entangle that causes damage and potentially bleed could be slightly clearer regarding whether the bleed damage is in addition, though one can argue that's the intent. Worms of light that cause Con-drain bleed at high levels provide one spooky imagery, and yes, they can effect undead, with modified wording. A canned trapsmith is a small, cute mechanical construct that can spot and disable traps autonomously. A pair of goggles that can not only perceive certain auras, but also make the visible to those not wearing them, may be interesting for some people.

A spell that increases damage-output versus creatures suffering from perception-impeding spells and effects is an interesting one in that it combines spellcasting, conditions and attacks/sneak attacks. Now where the pdf becomes glorious would be with the bandoleer of distractions, which consists a significant array of unique - from prone-knocking balls of fur to animal-frightening whistles, this item is made of awesome and win!

If you're like me and enjoy rock throwing monsters, what amounts to an enchanted orb that can cause earthquakes and the like as well as acting as a nasty piece of ammunition will be right up your alley. *cough* Giant Slayer Ap */cough* And yes, weight = 216 lbs. - player will have fun trying to haul this piece of loot around...

The final item herein would be the cremated ashes of a loremaster, which help identifying command words and items and by rubbing them on one's eyes, one can apply the wisdom of the ancients temporarily to one's own Perception.


Editing and formatting on a fromal level are top-notch, with the notable exception of italicization often being not implemented perfectly. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf provides copious full-color representations of the items in question - nice to see! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Wendall Roy knows his craftsmanship -while the pricing of a bunch of items herein feel a bit too liberal and low for my conservative tastes in that regard, the items themselves and their prose/hooks deliver - why? because not one is just a lame variant of accumulation of benefits. Instead, they come with unique, mechanically-relevant bonuses and often, complex rules-language that properly makes these qualities work. Indeed, this is one of the best little magic item books I've seen in a while - though, balance-wise, I'd still consider omitting my seal of approval, especially due to the added italicization oversights. But on the other hand, this pdf's items are, in part, gleefully bonkers and some are downright stupefying - they're FUN. They actually feel magical, unique, more than the sum of some bland bonuses - and for that, in spite of the minor flaws, I'll gladly rate this 5 stars + seal of approval.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

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