A Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Compatible TRIBES Supplement by David Posener
The golden hush of midday bakes the rocky slopes of Marred Peak, scorching the hands of the orcish penitents sweltering before their shining prophet, Granalak Searshriek. The orcs, inspired by a visiting, ill-advised missionary, turned to worship the violent, burning aspect of the sun. Guided by divine insight, Searshriek constructs a vast machine of cold iron, imprisoned fey and many-faceted gemstones to harness the noonday sun and tear a hole in reality. This imposing Zenith Engine looms atop the melted rock of Marred Peak, opening a gate into the burning heart of the sun, and threatening to bring endless conflagration into the world.
In the teeming human cities, orcish adherents to Searshriek's damned philosophy infiltrate the hallowed halls of the sun god's faith, spreading the corrupt cancer to the heart of civilization. The secret doctrines of the Eternal Zenith Heresy threaten to undermine the fabric of the church, and cause a violent schism within the ranks, bringing the War of the Burning Light to the cities of man.
This product is a Dual Format PDF. The downloadable ZIP file contains two versions, one optimised for printing and use on a normal computer and one optimised for use on a mobile device such as an iPad.
This ZIP file also contains a separate PDF containing the product's compiled stat blocks enabling the busy GM to build up a handy library of ready-to-go stat blocks.
Download a free sample at ragingswan.com/eternalzenith
This product is 25 pages long. It starts with a cover, credits, ToC and Intro. (6 pages)
Orcs of the Eternal Zenith (9 pages)
It starts off with a history, ecology, lairs, religion, tactics, a tribal lore table, notable people with about a paragraph about them each. Information about a Sun God that is worshiped though in a perverted way. There is also a random encounter table to be used when near one of the lairs. There is two orc racial traits in this book, a new Oracle Curse – Megalomania which is pretty cool, along with 11 new revelations on the twisted Sun god worship though useable for others as well. Two new special feats just for those of this twisted religion. Three new sun based spells and four new magic items include one minor artifact and one cursed item.
Encounters (4 pages)
There is 8 full stat blocks and 5 mini encounters in this section.
Persona (3 pages)
Here is three key NPC's with short histories, goals etc, with full stat blocks for each of them.
It ends with a OGL and ads. (3 page)
Closing thoughts. The art work is black and white, it ranges from meh to ok. Editing and layout is ok. I noticed a few minor mistakes. This has a great history and twist to the tribe which can lead to some unexpected allies among the tribe. There new religion is very cool in the way it takes a good god of the sun and twists it's meanings to fit the evil orcs. It is chalked full of idea's on how to use this in a existing game. I would say easily this is the best of the series to date. So what's my rating? I am giving it a 4.5, take away the few editing errors and this could be a 5 star product.
Trust me, I'm a Succubus.
One of the best TRIBES-supplements, now sans glitches
This installment of Raging Swan's TRIBES-series is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of the front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page ToC (containing a neat rhyme for your bard and e.g. tables like stats by CR etc.), 1 page advice for novice DMs on how to read statblocks, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 16 pages of content for the orcs, so how do the green-skins fare?
The TRIBES-line has delivered time and again classic tribes of humanoids with new twists and the orcs of eternal zenith are no different - when a sun-priest enchanted a holy tome with suggestions to end the orc's eternal cycle of strife, he was captured, tortured and saw his plan come to fruition - in a terrible, twisted way. Today, the orcs of eternal zenith worship an unforgiving, all-consuming sun and those who adopted the new religion are not only trying to infiltrate the church, but have been cured of their light-blindness and seek to bring the sun's furnace to the world in an apocalyptic, all-consuming conflagration. The tribe features rogues, inquisitors and uses burning weapons (especially) chakrams as an homage to their deity.
The tribe utilizes two feats to set weapons ablaze and scorch their foes (which rock), 2 new racial traits and as their chief is an oracle, he gets a cool curse (cackling megalomania - the reason why villains explain their plans!), a new oracle mystery and 11 new revelations and a new final revelation, focused on the power of the sun. 2 of the 3 new spells are sinister and work well, too, although Phototheurgy could use a clearer wording or example - I'm still not sure whether I understood the spell in the way it was intended.
EDIT:The wording has been made clearer - no more problem!
To make matters worse for the puny humans, the orcs have a unique shield + chakram (with neat artworks) and have constructed a doomsday device via their salamander-ally that shifts the local climate and can lead to the elemental plane of fire. Have I mentioned that the device is fueled by fey?
With all this searing brightness, the former shaman of the orcs might make for an unlikely ally for the PCs and is thus included as well in the pdf alongside a female war-maiden of the tribe who might make for a new (albeit also evil) war-chief. All named NPCs get mannerisms, distinguishing features etc. in the best tradition of the TRIBES-line.
This pdf comes with a separate pdf that catalogues all the statblocks for use with the Raging Swan statblock library.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, the glitches have been taken care of. Layout adheres to RSP's elegant two-column standard and features some neat b/w-artworks. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and a version optimized for use with e-readers. The Orcs of the Eternal Zenith are resplendent in every way - iconic, evil, unique, cool and most of all: Easy to use and yet different from your run-of-the-mill greenskin. I honestly didn't expect too much, but I can easily see a whole series of adventures or even a whole campaign revolving around taking these brutes down and leading them back to old, more chaotic and less apocalyptic ways.
EDIT: The typos have been corrected, wording on Phototheurgy has been clarifies as well - I upgrade my review to 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval!
Includes Orcs and Eternal Zeniths - Product as Advertized!
This is a 22 page pdf (plus front and back cover). Content "starts" at page 6 and ends on page 20; it's proceeded by a title page, summary, credits, table of contents, and "reading stats block" section, and followed by the OGL. The product is about an extended tribe of sun-worshipping orcs. Art throughout the book is black and white; I'm not much of an art critic, but it seemed to suit the text well, and added visual appeal.
It opens with a discussion of the orc's transformation into sun-worshippers, including addressing the fact that sun-gods are typically more "good"-oriented than orcs. It's an interesting, plausible background that leaves a number of ways characters could become involved in the story. It then goes on to detail the orcs' (somewhat successful) efforts to worship the sun, and how it's shaped the tribe's society. It also includes a sampling of more Orc names - always handy!
Details on the orc's communal lair follow, including a minor artifact the orcs are creating called the Zenith Engine. No map of the orc's lair is included, but details on the general layout and rooms to include are there. Next are notes about the tribe's combat tactics (and post-combat rituals), and a list of some of the more 'influential' orcs in the tribe. Wrapping up this section is a list of possible encounters with the tribe, and the terrain in which you might encounter them.
Next is the rules material, including alternate racial traits for orcs; a new Oracle Curse and Mystery; two new feats; three new spells; two new magical items; and the rules for the aforementioned Zenith Engine. All the new rules material seem like strong choices, without being overly better than existing choices (although Phototheurgy, one of the spells, seems potentially too powerful, while Lesion seems quite weak).
The book ends with eight simple stat blocks for average orc tribe members, and 3 complete NPCs, with more detailed backgrounds. The NPCs are interesting and well-written, although I'd personally have rather seen more information on Gnawfowl, the tribe's (female) fiercest warrior than their last shaman (although it was nice to see a witch stat block).
Overall, the book was well worth the price; the tribe's background was interesting, and contained easily useable elements for nearly any DM's table. It's not "ready to go out of the box", exactly, but that doesn't seem to have been the idea - it's more a jumping-off point for DMs to come up with their own extensions and ideas. I'm pretty confident in saying that, after buying Orcs of the Eternal Zenith, players at my table are likely to encounter at least one tribe of sun-worshipping orcs, and that makes the product great to me.
In terms of improvements, I think even a rough map of the orc's lair would have been appreciated, or - as mentioned above - more details on Gnawfowl, the most interesting character in the book (although that's probably personal preference).
Final rating: 5 stars - as long as you remember you're buying "ideas" (good ones!) and not an "adventure".