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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The second installment of the more in-depth look at specific neighborhoods and regions of the city of Languard clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Claustrophobically huddled within the southern part of the city, the region known as “The Shambles” lies close to the Svart, between Cheap Street and Low Gate, an area of narrow, twisting alleyways, tottering buildings and desperation. Here, the city’s poor huddle together in unsanitary, shoddily cobbled-together wooden constructions, with upper levels jutting over alleys, dimming what little sun makes its way down below. 3, sometimes 4 stories high, these structures rise, creating a general atmosphere of a labyrinth, a maze, a hive.

A total of 8 different, new locations are depicted in lavish detail within – as before, each of these places notes the respective people in the locale, depicted in brief, fluff-centric write-ups (usually 2 per locale), and additionally, each of these receives 2 or more adventure hooks to jumpstart adventuring. If there is gold to be spent at one location, it’ll state as much, noting e.g. the buy-in for arm wrestling and prices for drink, and one location even has some minor magic to be purchased.

That would be Kardagg’s discount emporium, where failed adventurers come to sell off their remaining gear. You know, this is really appealing to me. Adventurers are bound to fail often – all those dead guys and gals in dungeons throughout the world speak of this; ditto for “retired” barkeep adventurers. But what about the survivors who realize that gold and glory may not be as glorious, perhaps not worth the trauma adventuring can invariably bring? It’s a small thing, but I very much enjoyed this place.

Veera is similarly pragmatic: Her shop is called “Corpsewear” and certainly makes no excuses or pretenses where her clothes come from. And indeed, I do enjoy this as well – there is a lot of roleplaying potential here, from old legacies to items associated with haunts and the living dead. If you’re more in the mood for aforementioned arm wrestling, then you may want to take a look at “The Broken Elbow”, a rough and tumble tavern known for cheap beer and cheaper women. Not everyone is gracious in defeat, though – and someone may know about Gloamhold…but will only part with information if beaten in arm-wrestling. A small mini-game for arm wrestling would have been nice to see here.

At the intersection of Cheap Street and Cross Street, the crier’s corner sees heavy traffic, with doomsayer Kuura spreading proclamations of doom. A once reputable sage has been affected with a strange ailment that manifests as faint trembles and even mild hallucinations, but what is plaguing the poor fellow? Oh, and if you’re nice to the poor here, they may well warn you of Mongrel Alley – the darkened street, barely touched by the rays of the sun, is home to wild creatures…and, as they say, an unnerving vagrant wrapped in dirty rags. A scrupulous pawnbroker may make for a valuable asset for certain PCs, a foil to others, while “The Stone Cauldron” is never truly emptied of cider, its dubious brew bubbling constantly.

Crows and ravens perch atop a crumbling stone building, with branches of nearby trees hanging overhead; this is the Rookery, where a druid with a penchant and preference for corvids offers a unique service. Finally, there is the well of dreams, where some wishes may well be granted – though in a potentially grisly manner.

It should be noted that we do get a detailed, enlarged map of the region of the city that is “The Shambles”, but no key-less iteration of this enlarged section. That being said, since the city backdrop already offered that, it’s easy enough for players to fill that one out.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has solid, small b/w-artworks and an excerpt of the great map. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, and in two versions – one for screen use, and one intended to be printed out. Kudos!

It is puzzling to see how many people worked on this: the Shambles are penned by Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood, Amber Underwood and Mike Welham – and it is testament to the prowess and skill of al of these authors that this supplement feels, this multitude none withstanding, like a concise and unified whole. Despite of the nature of the Shambles and the intentionally evoked, cobbled together, ramshackle sense the district creates, the entirety still gels together as an organic neighborhood – not only within its own framework, but also within the context of Languard as a whole. In short, this is one amazing little supplement, and well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the first page, we get a brief history of the spells within in the Xa-Osoro system, and it should be noted that the spells within also take the spellcasting classes from the Starfarer’s Companion into account.

The first spell, blackout, is a technomancer-exclusive and comes in one version for all 6 spell levels. This spell makes you attempt a Computers or Engineering check as part of casting it. All items within the spell’s AOE (a 20 ft.-radius centered on you) that are powered or charged, including computers, technological items, etc. immediately stop working as though they had run out of battery charges. The spell’s effects are capped by spell level and DC accomplished, and a handy table presents these, but, in a puzzling layout decision, is on the next page. Why not have it on the same page?? On a really nitpicky side, I would also have welcomed a caveat that prevents this spell from potentially blackout-ing systems required for survival.

Bone spur transfiguration would be a cleric 3, magus 2, wizard 3 or mystic 3 spell, and requires that you touch a hand or prehensile appendage with a melee attack versus KAC. If you hit, you transfigure painful spiked into the appendage, causing 2d8 nonlethal piercing damage at the start of the subject’s turns. Interesting: Movement, including guarded steps, adds more damage, and if the target takes at least 1 point of damage, it’s sickened for 1 round. If a creature is below ½ maximum Hit Points, it’s nauseated instead, which is pretty nasty, condition-wise, and also requires tracking basically a pseudo-bloodied condition. (If I were to really nitpick here, I’d point towards interaction with Stamina, but you get the idea.)

The energy sphere spell is available for wizards at levels 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8, for bard, magus and technomancer at levels 1 – 6. You get to choose one of the five basic energy types (yep, sonic included) and form a sphere of the energy, which may be moved up to 30 ft. as a move action. Dimensions and damage are contingent on spell level, and 3rd (wizard 4th) level begins also applying damage when a creature ends its turn within the sphere’s area. I am pretty sure that the 6th level caveat “A creature cannot be damaged by the sphere more than once per turn.” Should not have just been part of the 6th level text. While that level states that damage also applies when it moves through a critter’s space, it can end up dealing less damage than lower level versions.

Psychosomatic weapon is a second level spell for bard, wizard and mystic spells, and increases the damage caused by +2d6 weapon damage for one round; this is basically an illusion, so Will negates. One important component here, is that the verbiage implies that only you can inflict this damage, when the target, weapon touched, would allow you to buff allies. Clarification would be helpful here.

Slapstick is a spell available at levels 1 – 6 for bard, magus and technomancer, and changes one item with a bulk of not greater than 1 easier to wield. It counts as a basic melee weapon with the thrown (20 ft.) special property, and you use key spellcasting ability modifier instead of Strength to govern atk and damage with it, and damage type is usually kinetic, but subject to GM’s interpretation. The spell is balanced by the weapon’s damage being based on spell level, and 2nd level and all thereafter net Weapon Specialization with it, for +1.5 times CL to damage. Minor nitpick: While this prevents stacking two Weapon Specializations atop each other, the spell probably should only add CL to damage, as the feat usually only nets character level to damage, ½ for small arms and operative melee weaponry. The exception would be natural attacks.

Finally, we have vampiric bite, available for clerics level 1, 2, 4, 5, 7 and 8, and for mystics as level 1-6 spells. This is actually a close-range spells that deals piercing damage and bleed damage, while also bestowing temporary Hit Points, the latter of which may be used to heal damage on a 2-to-1 ratio. Solid one!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are excellent; on a rules-language level, I have a few instances where I can nitpick some details. Nothing horrid, but a few minor clarifications would help. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, the artwork is nice, and apart from the unfortunate decision of dragging blackout’s DC-table to the next page, doesn’t offer much to complain about. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Sasha Hall has certainly come a long way – this is now the second of her pdfs that I consider to be, as a whole, well-crafted. However, in some of the spells have a few rough spots in their details that slightly detract from this pdf’s otherwise precise handling of complex concepts. Hence, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, some notes first: This review is, in a way, not necessarily fair. This pdf has been released quite a while back, and as such, the spells do not note whether they should be made available for the Advanced Class Guide classes or the Occult Adventures classes. In a way, this review is a check of how this held up. The supplement, one could claim, is a continuation of the Transcendent 10-series, which is why I will tag them as such on my home page. In contrast to the designer’s commentary present in said series, we have we have a mixture of brief pieces of fluff, explanations and in-character comments here. Since I really adored some of the rough, but still very much inspired options in the Transcendent 10-series, how do the spells within hold up?

Dead watcher, a spell for level 1 clerics, sorc/wiz and witches, makes a corpse basically a surveillance camera that records what it perceives - cool here: This manages to get the material component and when the opal disintegrates done right. A simple and rewarding spell, though “same acuity as an average person” unfortunately is *not* proper rules-language. I like this, but it needs a bit of polishing. Eyes of the dead does the same for corporeal undead, allowing you to see through them, but has an interesting twist in that the affected creatures may actually not be aware of the sensory hijacking, and you can choose to project hearing or sight – but once both are returned to your body, the spell ends. This is intriguing.

Enfeeble is a sorc/wiz or witch spell at 5th level and is a save-or-suck: The spell reduces Strength and Dexterity to 1. Bizarre: the creature may drop items in excess of the carrying capacity as an immediate action to the floor. Okay. Why would anyone? Also: Creatures and NPCs with a full BAB HD take -4 to the save. This spell sucks and is just not fun.

Mortal advantage is a level 9 spell for clerics, sorcs/wiz and witches, and it‘s rather cool: It forces the touched creature into an incorporeal state and into your body, forcing the target to possess you. The spell is particularly useful versus outsiders etc., and while thus housing the target, you have a much better place for negotiation. Ride the dead, a level 4 spell for the aforementioned full casters, is a variant of magic jar (not properly italicized) that renders you incorporeal and makes you possess an undead creature, which severely limits your options, but allows you to stowaway…and fortify undead thus ridden via channel energy, if available. Tighter explanation of what you can and can’t do while possessing an undead would have been nice here. Scare to death is an 8th level fear and mind-affecting spell that is a conical save or suck that kills you on a failed Fort-save after a failed Will-save. (As such, it probably should also be a death effect.) Additionally, even if you save, you take 1 Constitution damage per round; Fort-saves on subsequent rounds prevent this ability score damage. The verbiage here is a bit confused regarding sequence. I assume that failure on the Will save and success on the Fort-save paralyzes you, but I am honestly not sure.

Terrify, another fear and mind-affecting spell, may be an explanation for this, as this one both panics and then paralyzes the targets, getting the sequence right here. It’s a save or suck, but at level 6, I can live with this one. Touch channel, a level 3 cleric and sorc/wiz spell, lets you deliver touch spells of up to 4th level through the target. Touch spell charges are “treated as though you were holding the charge yourself.” Okay, so does the target hold the charge, or the caster? The greater version is level 7 and extends the maximum level channeled to 9th, but obviously suffers from the same hiccup. (As an aside: The flavor-text here hasn’t been properly italicized, making this a bit confusing. The final spell herein would be turn the tables, which allows a possessed creature another save to, bingo, turn the tables on possessors, which is a rather interesting option.

Conclusion:

Editing is per se good, though there are a few details where the rules-language could be tighter. Formatting is really rough: The pdf sports a bunch of wrongly formatted aspects, including a bunch of missed italicizations. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf uses b/w stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

So, here’s the thing: This is a rather rough pdf. The supplement has quite a bunch of different formal hiccups that shows that it’s an early work. However, Donald J. Decker’s spells actually do still have some rather intriguing components to offer, and with a bit of polish here and there, allow you to tell truly interesting stories, with particularly the possession angles being a rather engaging aspect. As a pdf, this may not be perfect, but at the low price-point, it may be worth checking out if the above concepts sounded interesting to you. My final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 2.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief piece of text that provides a context for Lorefinders within the Xa-Osoro system, we are introduced to the lorefinder chronicler archetype. The archetype gains alternate class features at 2nd, 6th, 8th and 12th level. At 2nd level, we get “knack for knowledge”, which lets you choose 2 skills from a list. In these, you get a +1 insight bonus, add them to the list of class skills and may use them even untrained. The bonus increases by +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter , as well as at 20th level. If you gain an insight bonus from another class feature, you may roll twice and choose the better result, though only 1/day. You may do this an additional time per day for every time the bonus increases. This allows you to take the Extra Knowledge feat as an alternate class feature at 4th and 16th level.

This archetype exclusive feat lets you choose two skills and gained the benefits of the aforementioned class feature, even if the skills usually aren’t on the list. At 6th level, the archetype nets “Epic Tales”, which doubles as the hurry envoy improvisation; if you already have it, you gain another one instead. Same goes for 9th level, where improved hurry is gained. The 12th level ability nets you 1/day summon creature (4th level) as a SP, getting to choose whether you’d do so as a technomancer or mystic. 16th and 20th level upgrade that to 5th and 6th spell level, respectively, and these also net new creatures. For 2 Resolve Points, you can use it an additional time, and if interrupted, the Resolve Points are lost.

The pdf also features 3 new feats in addition to the one mentioned above:

-Deep Pockets: Spend 1 hour to effectively distribute gear, increasing total bulk you can carry by 4, lasting until the next 8-hour break.

-Live to Tell the Tale: 1/day attempt a new saving throw against ongoing conditions against which you failed a saving throw in a previous round, even if the effect would be permanent. This does not affect instantaneous or save-less conditions. You can spend 2 Resolve Points to add knack for knowledge to the result of the save. 6th level allows you to spend 1 Resolve Point to use this ability again after you used it that day. For 3 Resolve Points, you combine the two Resolve-fueled uses of this feat.

-Swift Aid (Combat): use covering fire or harrying fire as a move action. You can also use either as a swift action by spending 1 Resolve Point, but multiple uses of this attack do not stack, but you can provoke one target with multiple bonuses against multiple, different opponents. This does expressively not reduce the action required for feats involving covering or harrying fire. Nice catch!

The pdf concludes with a nice piece of flavor text about lorefinders in the Xa-Osoro system.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this level.

Alexander Augunas and Matt Banach present a rather cool adaptation of the Pathfinder Chronicler to SFRPG – I have no complaints here, and the archetype is actually more interesting than I expected it to be. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a cool (and rather extensive!) contextualization of skittermanders within the Xa-Osoro system, we begin with the skittermander paragon archetype, who receives an alternate class feature at 2nd level: Whenever the paragon spends 1 point of Resolve to take a 10-minute Stamina break, they also regain the daily use of the hyper racial trait. Additionally, skittermander-prereq-feats may be taken as replacement class features at 6th, 12th, or 19th level. Minor nitpick: The pdf reads “0r.”

The pdf includes 8 skittermander feats:

-Boundless Energy: Only for paragons of level 5+. Regains hyper racial trait even sans Resolve expenditure to regain Stamina after a 10 minute break.

-Helpful Hand: Increases aid another, covering and harrying fire bonuses by +1; doesn’t stack with other effects. You can spend 1 Resolve Point to extend a bonus you grant to last until the end of the target’s next turn.

-Hyperactive Leap: Athletics as a class skill, +1 to Acrobatics if you already have it. Always have a running start, and better vertical jumps. Utterly HILARIOUS: While hyper, you get an Ex fly speed that needs to end on solid ground or fall. Basically, I picture skittermanders wiggling their arms like a hummingbird on a sugar-high. XD

-Limitless Leaper: Builds on the previous one; you no longer have to be hyper.

-Mania: Use hyper as a reaction when gaining a morale bonus, taking an extra move action. Alternatively, you can forego this to increase the bonus by +1.

-Reflexive Assistance: Builds on Helping hands: Lets you aid, cover fire, etc. as a reaction when an ally does so. There’s a typo here: “Whenever an ally grants uses the aid another..:” – that “grant” should not be there. The rules language here is pretty complex, but it’s handled well.

-Skitterspider: Builds on climbing master, lets you traverse ceilings and vertical surfaces sans Athletics, as per spider climb. (Spell-reference not italicized.) Upside down climbing does not allow for the use of the run action, but otherwise, you may run while climbing. Note that this is better, since the skittermander can use 4 of its limbs to satisfy the climbing requirements!

-Skittermander Suplex (Combat): Here, something has gone awry with the rules language. “Whenever you successfully renew a grapple against a creature that you were grappling at the start of your turn, dealing damage to the grappled opponent as if you had hit them with an unarmed strike.” Either “dealing” should read “you deal”, or there is a part of a sentence missing here. I assume the former, since the damage is notes as grapple attempt minus opponent’s KAC, minus 8.

The pdf also includes two new biotech augmentations: For arms and a lousy 100 credits, you can get Hideaway Hands, which allows you to retract a pair of arms, which can be really helpful re Disguise. The torso can be enhanced with larva-drool tissue, which reactivates the gland producing the numbing agent of skittermander larvae, allowing you to excrete it as a swift action when renewing a grapple. The foe must save or basically suffers from disadvantage when trying to escape the grapple. The effect is precisely codified regarding type and duration, and it requires the grappler trait and the character must be shirtless or have custom clothing/armor. It can be used again after a rest and a 2 Resolve Point expenditure. Finally, we have a cybertech augmentation, nurse’s eyes, when nets 10 ft. blindsense (life) and better medical skills – such as biological anomalies automatically detected in creatures identified with life Science. I’m not a big fan of the “automatic” here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are still good, but not perfect – there are a few formatting hiccups, and the glitches, alas, can impede rules integrity slightly. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the series, and the artwork is, as always, nice. We have no bookmarks, but need none at this length.

(X) Put a big “X” here if you think that skittermanders should be frickin’ core. They are an amazing race, and I love them to bits. And Alexander Augunas gets them. The flight feat and spider feat with their tactical (and hilarious!) implications alone warrant imho getting this one. That being said, I do think that hyper can, in the long run, potentially become problematic due to SF’s more transparent action economy, so that’s a thing to look out for. But that just as an aside. I did enjoy the vast majority of content within, and as such, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The first installment of the Languard Locations series, which depicts the respective districts of the aforementioned city in more detail, clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The low city if the part closest to the city’s wall, situated South of the Svart, and it is also home to the slum-like shambles and fishshambles, though these districts have their own supplements devoted to them – we’ll return to them in time, in the reviews that cover these quarters.

Anyways, on the very first page, we do receive a version of the city map, an excerpt, that highlights the regions that actually belong to the low city, and here, we also get points of interest duly noted. 12 locations are provided, and, as you could probably glean from the moniker and adjacent quarters, this is not exactly a high-class environment. (Though, as Languard adheres very much to a medieval, gritty Greyhawk-ish aesthetic, city folks still are better off than peasants…)

If you wander these streets, you can find frustrated social climbing jewelers, plagued by repeated break-ins and justifiably paranoid as a result. This would be as well a place as any to note that each every location within this supplement lists its key NPCs in fluff-only descriptions that manage to paint vivid pictures, and the respective locales also featured adventure hooks if gumption and peculiarities of these should not suffice to kick your players into adventuring mode.

The interesting thing about these locales, though, would be their diversity: In the second basement of a nameless tenement, a surprisingly vast, hidden tavern, the Mixing Pot, is hidden, serving as meeting place where both aristocrats and street urchins, the rich and the poor, rub shoulders while enjoying fine brews – and the eel and eggs sound like a dish I’d definitely be willing to try, considering my love for unagi…

Going one step further, the pdf also presents the “Orc’s Head” tavern – a place that sports a carved limestone orc’s head atop the entrance, and one that most assuredly should also work as a great place for adventurers to carouse away their hard-earned gold. More importantly, it’s also a place where the FREE mini-game “The Dragon and the Thief” may be played, and the rules are explained, in case you don’t want to download the free pdf. Finally, and that may be the most important thing here: The tavern (2 floors, cellar PLUS outbuilding!) are fully mapped by none other than Tommi Salama – and the map is player-friendly, making for one amazing handout!

If you know where to look, you may well find a smuggler and fence, and in an aspect all too often sanitized away, the pdf does note that there is actually a dealer in manure here, a refuse collector. And yes, this is relevant for adventuring purposes…. Marja’s House of Sighs, aka the “Moaning Halls” caters to other, worldly desires…and the madam may actually have some use for the PCs…or make a fine antagonist. Sometimes, location trumps skill – all too often, actually. The same may hold true for a healing establishment found within, which does provide brief descriptions of the respective rooms. Yes, there is a waiting room. If you’re more in the mood for a macabre round of drinking, you may want to check out “The Last Sigh” – in view of the cadavers dangling from traitor’s gate…coincidentally also a great place to check out what bounties are currently available…

Often neglected, the living situation actually also is covered here, and the Esoteric Fellowship’s White Tower should be a good reason for magically-inclined PCs to visit this place…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the book sports amazing b/w-cartography, as noted before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and it also is provided in two versions: One optimized for screen-use, one for the printer.

Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez and Amber Underwood provide the level of detail and finesse that elevates Languard’s already impressive City Backdrop file even further. The detailed descriptions of the low city’s surprisingly diverse (and adventuring-relevant) locations breathe a life into these streets that make it very easy to visualize this – with some time, your PCs will be able to say “Oh, and then we ran down the street across the white tower, towards…” – it’s that…in lack of a better word, “tangible.” Languard’s low city feels organic, plausible and diverse, the characters mentioned are interesting, and there is a ton of potential adventuring to be had here. What more could you ask for? An excellent supplement and furious start for the product line, this deserves 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Star Log.EM-installment clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this supplement, as has become the tradition with this series, with a brief note on the tradition of boarding and consequences in the Xa-Osoro system.

After that, we begin with, no surprise there, the boarding rules. Docking or Landing a starship are concisely defined as new Piloting tasks, but invading a space station or enemy ship is another deal. One of the options here would be to breach a starship’s hull: When hitting a starship with a starship weapon that deals at least 1 Hull Point damage, the hull becomes breached until the end of the gunnery phase, after which the breach is automatically sealed. If the enemy ship is hit with an attack or board weapon, the breach instead remains for as long as the weapon remains attached or embedded. Alternatively, adjacent beings (e.g. on the hull with magnetized boots, Dead Space-style), you can use explosives to breach it, using Critical threshold as hardness. As far as weaponry is concerned, the pdf does include adamantine boring drills and claws for direct fire weapons; insertion pods as tracking weapons, intrusion pods as a heavy tracking weapon, and there also is a capital weapon version of pods, and we get a gravity vortex here.

Wait…Board and attach? Yep, the pdf does define these in a concise and sensible manner. Additionally, and much to my joy, these do actually work in conjunction with the ship arms that you could get in the Star Log.EM-pdf on expansion bays. (And no, the latter is not required to make use of the options in this pdf…) Unsurprising, the presence of these weapons, and weapons like claws and drills do mean that a melee range for starship weapons needs to be defined. Which this pdf also does.

Alternatively, you can attempt to override a starship’s docking ports – you can try to override these with Computers – this is a concisely defined new Computers task. PCs acting as boarding parties (with CR-suggestions for resistance faced) are covered. Similarly, if the PCs are more into starship combat, then the new captain action to apprehend boarders can make them lay down their arms – provided your Diplomacy is ace. Science officers can override enemy docking ports during helm phase…and that’s it! Concise, easy to grasp and succinct boarding rules.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, and the artwork presented is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

David N. Ross’ boarding rules are fantastic. They are easy to grasp and painless to implement. Do yourself a favor: Print this, then attach it to your core rules – for that is where these should have been. Starfinder is a young system, but even in its brief existence, I’ve been asked, time and again, for boarding rules. Well, this delivers, and it does so with panache aplomb. 5 stars + seal of approval, plus, this is designated as an EZG Essential for Starfinder. If you’re like me and were always dissatisfied with the lack of means to represent cool boarding scuffles, then this is a pdf you will never want to miss in your games.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, we take a look at the new zenith revelations featured within; as such, these all require being fully attuned. This pdf contains 4 new photon revelations:

-Burst of Life: When fully attuned, spend 1 Resolve Point as a move action or leave photon mode to generate a 10-ft. radius burst that heals twice Solarian class level HP. This upgrades to 3 times class level at 17th level.

-Inner Fire: Nets all allies within 30 ft. that you have line of effect to grant allies +2 to damage, and the ability renders half damage inflicted fire damage, as if affected by the flaming fusion. Additionally, the solarian may leave photon mode as a move action and increase the damage boost bestowed to +1d6+1 for Charisma modifier rounds.

-Lunar Shift: As a move action, choose a creature in close range and choose one of the 4 core energy types (sonic is excluded). You reduce the resistance to that energy type by 5, minimum 0, for class level rounds. Creatures without resistance instead gain vulnerability (ouch), but this is balanced by having duration only be 1 round. 14th level adds a second energy type, or you can reduce one energy resistance by 10. At 17th level, two may be reduced by 10, or one by 15, but you can only ever bestow one vulnerability. Really cool!

-Umbral Aura: As a move action, gain a gaze attack with a 10 ft.-range that blinds target until the start of your next turn, dazzled on a successful save instead. Duration increases at 13th level, and 17th level excludes allies from the effect.

The pdf also features 4 graviton zenith revelations:

-Collapse Point: Create a gravity point within line of sight and medium range; creatures within 10 ft. must succeed a Reflex save or be entangled and pulled towards the point, moving in initiative order from highest to lowest. They also take 2d8 + Cha mod bludgeoning damage, which increases by +1d8 for every 3 solarian levels beyond 9th. 17th level lets you either increase the radius or exclude a limited number of creatures. This effect lasts until the start of the next turn and the solarian’s immune to the effect. Neat one!

-Gravity Barrier: 10 ft. spherical barrier centered on solarian that lasts for Cha-mod rounds. This barrier pushes creatures away if they fail a Fort-save. Successfully saving mitigates the forced movement to an AC bonus that doesn’t stack with cover and 17th level increases radius.

-Gravity Wave: As a standard action, generate a 30-foot conical wave that pushes or knocks prone targets on a failed Fort-save. Distance of this push increases by 10 ft. for every 3 solarian class levels beyond 9th. Hitting a solid object that prevents movement nets 2d6 kinetic damage per 10 ft. the creature would have been pushed before knocking the target prone. What’s that, you ask? The GM chooses the correct damage type from the physical ones, depending on the object the target is shoved into! Elegant solution for this rules-language conundrum!

-Quantum Release: By spending 1 Resolve Point or leaving graviton mode, you may take an additional move action. Thankfully, no more often than once per round. The ability takes no action on your turn, and is a reaction otherwise – and, important, it may only be used once per round. Since the skittermander’s hyper ability exists, this should be pretty safe as far as future-proofing is concerned, but combo-ing skittermander tricks with this can be potentially pretty brutal.

This is not how the pdf ends, though: Instead, we get detailed notes on the most famous solarians in the Xa-Osoro system: There would be Collapse, anti-capitalist assassin of oligarchs, the samsaran teacher contemplator Valshavan, who notoriously hates the press, a kyubi paragon kitsune solarian, and more – pretty cool NPC background stories/concepts!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups in either the formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series with a white background, and the full-color artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Luis Loza delivers an impressive, fun little supplement that delivers some rewarding tools for solarians to use, often tackling complex concepts, and executing them rather well. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars – definitely recommended for fans of the solarian class!!

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive settlement supplement clocks in at 29 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, in case you didn’t get that immediately: This is basically the MUCH bigger brother of the beloved Village Backdrops-series, and this time around, we take a look at the “crown jewel” of sorts of the Duchy of Ashlar, the region that serves as a rough geographic backdrop for many of Raging Swan Press’ more recent supplements.

Housing a population of almost 8000 souls, Languard is a relatively cosmopolitan city for the region, with approximately 1/8th of the population belonging to the classic humanoid player-races. The city does include notes on the lie of the land (interesting to note: That’s the British version of “lay of the land”), and, as we’ve come to expect from Raging Swan Press’ settlement supplements, it does come with lore pertaining the settlement that the PCs may just know. Dressing habits, appearances and local nomenclature are covered as well.

Oh, and in the PFRPG-version, we do actually get the proper city statblock information. It should also be noted that we get a nice magic item marketplace section.

Present in every iteration of this supplement would be something that put a HUGE smile on my face: Tommi Salama’s excellent b/w-cartography if provided in not one, but two versions – one that sports labels and keys, and one that is fully player-friendly! Yep, you can print out or use the city map as is sans fuss in VTTs! HUGE kudos and thanks for that!

Now, it has been a tradition in these settlement supplements, that we should get some whispers and rumors, right? Well, this time around, we get a whole page, chockfull with hooks, correct and false information…and yes, these are surprisingly diverse. More bodies fished from the aptly-named Svart (which btw. translates to “Black”), rumors that provide connections in an unobtrusive manner with villages…rather cool!

Here’s the thing, though – most city supplements have an issue regarding the organization of content. Languard is very smart here: Letters denote types of location (“T” stands for “Temple”, for example), and also uses this approach to denote that some place belongs to one of the different quarters the city houses. “F”, to give you another example, means that the place can be found in the “Fishshambles.” Locations are listed by quarter, as well as by type, all on one page, which makes it rather easy to always know where what is. The pdf devotes a lot of loving care to talk about these immediately useful places, from the fortifications to the respective places. The quarters list the respective notable NPCs in fluff-only descriptions where they’re most likely to be encountered, and every quarter gets its own dressing/event table to add local flavor to the respective environments and set them apart from one another.

Beyond notes on the daily life in noisy and rather grimy Languard, we also get notes on the taxes and tariffs levied in the city – an aspect all too often neglected and forgotten. Law is covered as well as all those aspects of city life that the PCs may encounter. The pdf even provides information on accommodations, food and drink prices…and goes one step further, providing designated adventure hooks to pursue, in the exceedingly unlikely case that just exploring this place won’t suffice to yield a plethora of adventures. Did I mention the human ethnicity that is discriminated against, the Takolen, who suspiciously often live near the water? The notes on means to get your PCs to Gloamhold, if they’re in the mood for a massive dungeon? From politicking to slumming, from grime and grit to cults and dangers, Languard has a ton to offer. Did I mention the guilds?

Oh, and did I mention that the city supplement comes with a handy one-page handout, the Player#s Guide to Languard? Give your players the page and map and you’re pretty much set to go, no need for hour-long explanatory rambling, no annoying need to skim through the book to eliminate possible spoilers. This is as user-friendly as can be!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The cartography by Tommi Salama is excellent. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use, and one intended to be printed out (YEAH!). The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Creighton Broadhurst succeeds at a rather impressive task: To provide an overview of a massive city in just a few pages, to depict the complexities of daily life and the differences in tone and character of the different quarters; you will not confuse any of those locations with one another, and the pdf contains enough hooks, dressing and ideas to make Languard come to life…and best of all, there is actually a whole series devoted to going into depth regarding the individual sections of the city. Guess what I’ll be covering next? ;) Anyhow, this supplement succeeds in presenting an overview of a city that breathes old-school vibes, that feels positively medieval. Languard sports this gritty, Greyhawk-ish vibe I enjoy; the same atmosphere that you got from the grimy cities depicted in the Witcher novels. All in all, this is an awesome city supplement, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval. (As an aside – this is my favorite of the 3 versions.)

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief introduction, including the role of the mythos in the context of the Xa-Osoro system, we dive right into the new connection, which has Intimidate and Mysticism as associated skills. As far as the spells are concerned, it should be noted that you do require Starfarer’s Companion to make use of this supplement – all spells granted by the connection are drawn from that book. Annoyingly, none of them have been properly italicized.

The first level ability, contagious whispers, allows you to use the mindlink class feature with a range of 30 feet instead of touch. Additionally, the save changes from Will (harmless) to Will – as the mystic can project horrifying revelations to the target, rendering a target shaken and sickened for mystic levels rounds. This would be utterly OP, were it not for the 1/day per target limitation of the mindlink class feature. 3rd level nets you summon creature via the expenditure of 1 Resolve Point, with 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter increasing the spell level. Formatting here does sport a few minor hiccups: Spell-reference not italicized and a “See page $” remnant. As a balancing factor, you can only have one of these in effect at a given time – oh, and the creature needs to have the eldritch graft.

What’s that? Well, we actually get the eldritch summoning graft here, with traits differentiation between below and above CR 7. NICE! Big kudos for the graft inclusion here. The 6th level ability lets the mystic’s spells and powers ignore fear immunity, with targets instead gaining +4 to saves. Cool: This is further differentiated: Stronger creatures in relation to the mystic’s CR instead get a +8 bonus, preventing anti-boss abuse, and versus CR+3 or higher than mystic level, the ability ceases to work altogether. Additionally, Intimidate, if exceeding DC by +5 or more, may also ignore fear immunity, and once more, we get differentiated treating of this aspect of the ability. 9th level nets Adaptive Fighting, and eldritch creatures summoned via the 3rd level power get the Adaptive Fighting feat- Multiple creatures have to have the same feat. If you know summon creature, you may use Resolve to apply it to summoned creatures as well. The spell, once more, is not italicized correctly.

At 12th level, we have immunity to fear and mind-influencing effects, and all creatures linked in the telepathic bond get +2 (untyped – should be typed) to saves versus fear and mind-affecting effects. You also get a free telepathic bond with creatures called forth with the 3rd level ability – this does not count towards the maximum. At 15th level, all critters critically hit by you or a creature summoned forth are shaken for mystic level rounds, frightened if already shaken. This is a critical effect and thankfully thus explicitly excludes the option to stack it atop another critical effect. The 18th level power lets you 1/day spend 1 Resolve Point to execute a 10-minute ritual that may not be combined with Stamina replenishment. At the conclusion, you get an eldritch summon, save that it lasts for 24 hours. Thankfully, once more, this caps at one critter. The pdf also contains two new spells. Corrupt insight is a mystic spell for levels 1 – 6 and is pretty damn fun: It basically strips insight bonuses away and replaces them at higher spell levels with penalties, with 3rd spell level starting to pile a debuff on failed checks and attack rolls that feature the bonus type. This is really clever, and its higher levels are not simply an escalation of numbers. Like it! The second spell would be glimpse terror, which allows you to strike fear in the heart of lower CR critters by virtue of opening a pretty scary hole in space, from which…things…can be glimpsed, with key ability spellcasting modifier as a cap preventing cheesing of the spell.

Conclusion:

Editing is very strong on a formal and rules-language level. Alas, formatting is weaker than usual for Everyman gaming, sporting a surprising amount of avoidable formatting hiccups. Layout adheres to the nice and aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has a nice artwork. It features no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Sasha Hall’s mythos connection wasn’t a pdf I looked forward to reviewing; for the most part, the mythos-class options often feel dull, and it’s very easy to phone them in. I am exceedingly happy to report that this is NOT the case here. With a pronounced consciousness of potential long-term issues evident, an intricate entwinement with the mystic’s rules and precise rules-language, the mythos connection actually is a really cool little supplement! From the graft to the spells, it is evident that the author cares – she has actually crafted a connection I’d not only allow; I do consider it to be a fun rendition of the concept. The reliance on the Starfarer Companion spells is not ideal as far as I’m concerned, but as a whole, I do enjoy this supplement. As such, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

This massive supplement clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page TOC (which also features a list of Spheres from Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In case you didn’t know already: This book basically represents a crossover-supplement between Drop Dead Studios’ critically-acclaimed Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might books, and as such, I assume familiarity with both of them in this review.

This review was recently moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

The pdf starts after a brief introduction to the matter at hand, with three new base classes, which make use of the Blended Training feature – this denotes that the character is treated as possessing Combat Training as a base class feature. The first of these would be the prodigy, who has d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref-and Will-saves and proficiency with simple weapons as well as light armor and bucklers. If this is the very first level in any class taken, the prodigy also receives a martial tradition of their choice. Prodigies are Mid-Casters and may choose which of the three mental ability score modifiers they take as casting ability modifier, and as such, they do get 2 bonus talents and a casting tradition. Prodigies have blended training, which means that they get a combat or magic talent whenever they gain a class level, and the class uses the casting ability modifier chosen as practitioner modifier as well. They begin with a caster level of 0 and increase that to 15 over the course of the 20 class levels; essentially, their CL-progression mirrors the BAB-progression.

The first-level signature ability of the class would be sequence. If you’re familiar with Dreadfox Games’ classic Swordmaster or Interjection Games’ momentum-based engines, you may start smiling now: A sequence has three components: An opener, links, and a finisher. The maximum length of a sequence would be 4 + 1 link per 3 class levels. Only one sequence may be in effect at a given time, and whenever the prodigy begins their turn without having added a link since the beginning of their last turn, the sequence loses one link – so it doesn’t immediately crumble when your attack pattern briefly interrupted, when you whip out a healing potion, etc. Becoming dazed, dead, etc. does terminate an ongoing sequence – at least until 14th level, when the ability is upgraded. Sequences may not be started prior to rolling initiative and end automatically 1 round after combat has ceased. Openers begin new sequences, and attacks, critical hits, defeating a creature with a CR equal to or greater than ½ character level or restoring hit points to an ally or removing ability damage/drain or a list of negative conditions also qualifies. As does successfully executing a combat maneuver, having a creature fail a save versus your sphere-effects or using the reflect class feature. Also, features with the (open) tag can act as openers.

Successfully performing a link action increases the prodigy’s active sequence by 1 link, but no action may ever add more than 1 link at once. Openers act as link components after a sequence has already been established. Link actions include expending martial focus as a free action, moving into a hostile creature’s threatened space and sheathing/drawing a weapon as part of that movement…or what about making a touch attack that deals no damage, but generates a link? Disengaging from the adversary, foregoing an AoO, saving against a non-harmless effect, making a concentration check – and no, these are not all options! Finally, almost a whole column is devoted to finishers, which include bonuses to skill checks, a surge of temporary hit points or a bonus to MSB. Those would be the basics. Things get really exciting when you realize that a sufficient amount of links unlocks more impressive options – like a single swift action attack, or an attack action (remember, attack =/= attack action, and attack actions are much better in Spheres of Might!) as a move action…or, well, what about quicker sphere-casts. Once more, some options with the (finish) tag can also act as finishers.

Does this sound complex? Yeah, at first – but it’s actually pretty simple and super-elegant. And it establishes a fun and exciting combo-engine AT FIRST LEVEL. This, ladies and gentlemen, would btw. be one of the rare instances of me using allcaps being a good thing. Oh, and I haven’t even told you about the coolest thing: Depending on your sphere-choice for martial tricks, you get additional sequence options!! This means that you have a super-wide differentiation not only between sphere-choices, but also that the prodigy will play differently depending on spheres chosen and different from other classes that get access to these spheres.

While a prodigy has an active sequence, they get an insight bonus to atk and damage as well as CL equal to ½ the length of the current sequence, minimum 1. At 2nd level, the class may, as a standard action, gain a martial or magic talent for 1 minute. The prodigy must know the base sphere and meet any prerequisites and may use it 3 + ½ class level times. Only one such wildcard talent may be in effect at a given time. At 5th level, this upgrades to two talents and one may act as a prerequisite for the other. 8th level improves the action economy of the ability. At 10th level, an ally may be granted such a talent. 13th level expands that further to 3 talents and a better action economy, with 17th level finally providing the apex of that ability sequence.

Also at 2nd level, the prodigy adds the second massive customization boost, with Imbue Spellcasting. As part of starting a sequence, this effect may be started, and only one such effect may be applied at a given time. The effect is contingent on one of the spheres known, and it unlocks special finishers associated with the respective sphere. Chose Alteration? What about +1 trait applied to blank form or shapeshift as the imbue benefit…and TENTACLE SWARM as a finisher!! That one would be a multi-target trip based on number of links in the sequence. Come on, that is so epic, do I even need to continue writing this review? All right, all right. What about Conjuration’s Conjure Army finisher, which generates a whole array of companions that last for exactly one attack before vanishing. Yes, it has limitations, yes, it gets flanking interaction and the prevention of abuse right. If this ability was hug-able, it’d hug it. Debris fields, arsenal creation, classic anvil-dropping, spheres of darkness, reanimation… This frickin’ engine…know how reading this felt to me? It felt like someone had taken all those cool ideas mired in some classes, all those “OMG, how cool is that”-combo-moments and baked them into an inspired, cohesive whole. This is ridiculously amazing.

3rd level nets the ability to choose a so-called steady skill when regaining spell points, which then always qualifies for taking 10. At 11th level, this skill may be changed in a more flexible manner, and at 19th level, skills can basically be juggled. At 7th level, the prodigy may expend martial focus as an immediate action to attempt to reflect sphere effects, spells or SPs back to the originator – though the prodigy is then staggered…at least until 16th level, where the ability improves. 20th level nets a start of casting ability modifier links when starting a sequence and delimits the wild-card talent gain – you can have as many at a given time as you can pay for in daily uses.

To give you insight into my frame of mind when first reading this pdf, at this point in time, my response was:

“…buy this book. Srsly, buy it now. Even if the rest of the book was utter garbage, this class alone would warrant the asking price on its own.”

Now, after having had more time to take apart this fellow…I’d probably allcaps the statement above. The prodigy is one of the most amazing, fun classes I know. This is masterclass design.

The second class, the sage, gets d6 HD, ½ BAB-progression, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and a martial tradition if this is the first level. The class gets ¼ class level AC bonus + Wisdom modifier, monk-style, and has all good saves. The class also gets 1/2 combat talent progression. Sages are proficient practitioners and use Wisdom as practitioner modifier. The sage begins play with Chi Gong, which is measured in d6s. the sage begins with 1d6 and adds another 1d6 at 3rd level and every 2 levels thereafter. This allows the sage to execute touch attacks, treating this attack form as a light weapon. The chi gong dice determine the amount of piercing damage these attacks inflict. This may also be used to heal creatures up to half their maximum hit points. Which can’t be cheesed without even trying. Hand me a half-dead kitten, a siphoning ability – bingo. Infinite healing.

Come on. This is really sloppy – it would have been so easy to implement a limitation here that prevents such an abuse. This ruins and disqualifies the class for me and a significant amount of tables out there.

And seriously, the class deserved better. 1st level, 8th and 16th net esoteric training, which allows for debuffing via chi gong, ally enhancement or comboing their touches with combat maneuvers – or fire blasts of ki. Basically, a more magical monk debuffer/buffer, which is such a cool angle! The class also gets a ki pool (class level + Wisdom modifier) and may meditate to gain a pool of surge-style dice that may be applied to ability and skill checks as well as to saves or to bolster his CMD.

The class also treats the Spheres engine in a unique manner: At 1st level and every 2 levels thereafter, the sage gets a bonus combat or magic talent of his choice, being treated as a High Caster and using Wisdom as key ability score, ki as a spell point substitute. 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter provide esotery, the class talents of this fellow, which once more tap into sphere-aesthetics and provide some really cool combos There are a ton of these, and 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter net a Skill Focus. The capstone is governed by the esoteric techniques known. This would be a truly amazing addition to the game, and you can fix it easily enough, but its infinite healing exploit left a super-sour taste in my mouth.

The third class would be the troubadour, who gains d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, ¾ BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves as well as 1/2 martial talent progression. Troubadours get proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and bucklers as well as a Martial Tradition if this is the first level in any class. These fellows are Low Casters using Charisma as governing ability modifier, and they are proficiency combatants. They get class level + Charisma modifier spell pool and in addition to the 2 bonus talents, they gain a magic talent at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

While in the base persona, a troubadour gets +1 o all saves, (bonus type properly codified) and increases that at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter by +1. What’s a persona? Okay, think of this as basically the vigilante’s dual identity, though alignment has to be close to that of the character, and while these imitate other races, they don’t bestow racial powers. Personas may be blended with Disguise, and the maximum number of personas begins at 2 and improves to 6. And yes, this does come with vigilante interaction notes. Each persona has its own array of unique abilities and trope; a trope benefit is gained at 1st level, as well as access to a list of persona-quirks; the first of these is gained at 3rd level, with every 2 levels thereafter providing another one. These include an inspiration pool, benefits for failing checks (when embodying the Fool), bardic tricks, cleric-y options…you get the idea.

In addition to these, the class also gains actor training at 2nd level and ever y 2 levels thereafter, offering a massive blending of vigilante-ish tricks, options to fool devices or spells and similar abilities associated with the bardic and roguish side of things. Disguise and Bluff bonuses, quick change, successful lying – these guys can make for the perfect social chameleon and actually manage to be a really cool and compelling class. I really liked these fellows! (As an aside: If you’re running a 1-on-1 game – this class allows a single character, provided he has enough time to change personas, to fill the roles of all key party-members, making it an excellent choice for 1-on-1 gaming.)

Beyond these three class, we get a pretty massive archetypes-chapter: Armigers can choose to become antiquarians, using d8 HD and hedgewitch BAB with a small spell point pool – basically an armiger with a bit of spellcasting and magic-synergy with lightning assault, as well as two unique prowesses. The Bladewalker archetype for the armiger is a Warp specialist who can port to targets damaged. Armorists can choose for a Spheres of Might engine tweak; Commanders can become dreadlords, focusing on Death sphere synergy and getting a unique, rather…öhem, peculiar network of contacts. You know, the usual…grave robbers, cultists, necromancers, vampires…the friendly folks you’ll find hanging around the crypts or in Rappan Athuk’s cantina…

Eliciters get the new empathic duelist archetype, who may choose combat talents instead of magic talents. These guys establish empathic links with targets in charm-range, and can use this link to gain insight into their foes, translating to better mano-à-mano prowess. Hedgewitches and mageknights get pretty straightforward Spheres of Might-synergy archetypes, and magi may elect to become mystics – this complex archetype basically removes the entire core of the magus, making the class instead act as a sphere-casting practitioner. Impressive! (And more fun!) The Scholar is reliant on advanced Conjuration talents and is basically a summoning specialist. Sentinel dimensional defenders would be another archetype that makes good use of its Warp sphere access. The martial shifter is another practitioner engine tweak, and the mirrored soul summoner does for the summoner pretty much the same as the mystic did for the magus: It removes and tweaks the core class features of the class to instead employ the spheres-engine. The final archetype herein would be the surprisingly complex vector symbiat, which would be a telekinetic combatant that will scratch the itch for many different comic book hero build – these fellows have Telekinesis and may enter kinetic overload, which taps into synergy effects with the Brute, Wrestling and Scoundrel spheres. This one is pretty damn cool!

The next chapter provides a metric ton of synergy class talents and abilities to allow for further blending of Spheres of Power and Spheres of Might, and we do get 2 companion options. The feat-section provides further options, including extra X ones, brief boosts to CL when defeating significant foes, penalizing foes whose blood you have, synergy of summoning companions and tactics…We also get a page of favored class options for the core races as well as aasimar, tiefling, orc, goblin and hobgoblin.

The penultimate chapter, though, would probably be the one that most folks wanted to see: Unified traditions. These basically are a tradition that acts as both casting and martial tradition, and we not only get a significant amount of them, we also get concise guidelines to make them. Arcane archers, crusaders and death knights, street mages and reapers…this chapter may not be the longest, but it’s undoubtedly the one that will inspire the creative folks out there.

The final chapter presents sample NPCs, including brief background stories for all 3 new classes – one NPC at CR 5, and one at CR 8 is presented for each of the 2 new classes.

Part II of my review can be found here!


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the introductory page, we receive a new shifter aspect, originally penned by Alexander Augunas for the Know Direction network – that would be the Eagle Aspect, which enhances Cha as per minor form; major form includes good flight, bit and claws and Dazzling Display/Weapon Focus (claw), which synergizes if you have them. Dazzling Display’s action economy also improves.

The first page of the pdf is devoted to druid wild shape variants: These act as though they altered wild shape, though a maximum of one such variant may be applied. Some have prerequisites that must be met by 4th level to choose that option, and later losing the prerequisite also deprives of the option of assuming that shape.

Evolved shape nets a 3 point evolution pool that increases by 1 at 6th level and every 2 levels thereafter, and which thankfully comes with a cap. Fey shape allows for 6th level druids and higher to assume forms based on fey form spells, but eliminates the option to assume elemental forms. Alternatively, 6th level onwards can potentially allow for vermin shape I and later, its sequential improvements. This one also replaces the ability to take elemental forms.

Instead of assuming plant shapes, druids may opt for an ooze form-based variant at 8th level onwards. Minor nitpick: here,a cut copy paste remnant once erroneously refers to fey form. Preternatural wild shape also prevents the assuming of plant forms and kicks in at 8th level, allowing the druid to shape into magical beasts – nice: This gets the spell situation right.

Wild Shape Finesse is really interesting – that shape variant nets you Weapon Finesse for the shape’s duration, and later a damage boost with a natural weapon that is thus finesse’d (yep, codified properly) but prevents the druid form assuming Large or taller sizes of creatures with a Dex of less than 14.

The pdf also includes 4 different variants of shifter aspects: the minor aspects of a shifter aspect may be replaced. Animal spirit aspect is cool and lets you partially ignore difficult terrain. This should probably specify that only non-damaging difficult terrain is meant…or am I wrong? Later, this nets freedom of movement and the ability to move through creatures and plants. The aspect does reduce speed by 10 ft., though. Graceful aspect is basically the Weapon Finesse variant here, with Shifter’s Edge instead granted if you already have the feat. Mutation Aspect nets you a 2-point evolution pool, which increases at the usual levels (8th and 15th) – and yes, this prevents multi aspect cheesing, thankfully. Shifter adaptation nets you access to an animal aspect whose minor aspect your replaced with this one, chosen from the major form grants and thankfully, limited. The rules-verbiage here is brutal – kudos for getting that one right!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, apart froma cosmetic hiccup, I noticed no serious guffaws. Layout adheres to everyman gaming’s two-column full-color standard with a white background, and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

David N. Ross is a veteran designer of impressive skill, and it shows here – the wild shape variants are potent without being overbearing, and the rules-operations are tight and well-executed. All in all, a great supplement for anyone who wants more customization options for the shifter, or weirder druids. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/explanation, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, so the notion of animal companion archetypes, if you haven’t stumbled across it in some shape or form, is pretty self-explanatory – these are basically archetypes to customize your companions, as per Ultimate Wilderness.

Elemental spawns replace evasion with a scaling resistance to one of the 4 basic elements at 3rd level, and at 9th, multiattack is replaced with a dding the corresponding special weapon property (e.g. corrosive for acid) to natural attacks; this upgrades to the respective burst at 15th level. Cool one! Empath companions get Diplomacy and Sense Motive and gains +1 skill rank per HD that must be invested in these. It also gain empathic link, but replaces shared spells. Devotion is replaced with a morale bonus versus negative emotion effects that is shared by companion and master, and 15th level nets at-will telepathic bond with the master. Really cool one – I call this one “magical Lassie” and that’s pretty much how I’ll use it.

God-touched conduit represents a deity-touched animal that has a code and will not obey instructions to violate it. The animal gets Believer’s Boon, and must choose a domain power associated with the deity. At 6th level, the HD act as cleric levels for the purpose of the domain power, and it may use the power more often. This replaces share spells and devotion. 3rd level lets the animal cast a domain spell of up to 1/3 HD spell level as a SP 1/day, and the ability also tackles companions that could cast spells. The ability replaces evasion. Instead of improved evasion, we get plane shift 1/day, self and master only, to the deity’s plane. Cool! Hidden Ally replaces share spells with the ability for the ally to at-will disguise itself as an inconspicuous critter. AMAZING!

Performer nets entertain as a bonus trick, and adds Perform to class skills and list of skills that the creature can have ranks in, and may substitute Perform for another skill it has ranks on. The creature also gains Entertaining Companion, replacing the 1st level bonus trick and share spells. 6th level replaces devotion with Enthralling Companion. These are two new feats herein: Entertaining Companion makes the animal a great distraction for hapless folks; Enthralling Companion builds on that and allow folks to potentially slip away.

The pointer archetype replaces share spells and devotion with bonus feats for expert tracking. Beyond the two feats already mentioned, there are three more: Contingent Commands is GENIUS and allows you to “program” the companion in 25 words – e.g. “Defend while I am paralyzed.” This feat is a must-have! Keen Tracker lets the animal use Perception instead of Survival to track. Finally, Unusual Intelligence is a great Lassie-supplement feat: Increased Int, and the animal can read and understand its master’s languages! Another winner!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, and is sufficiently printer-friendly. The artwork is nice, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Matt Morris’ animal companion archetypes are really cool and add a whole lot of flavor to companions. The feats include two must-own “why haven’t these been done sooner” gems, and as a whole, this is well worth getting. Come on, you know you want your companion to go full-blown Lassie!! Love it! 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The new feats within are:

-Aspect Unity: requires animal focus; nets +1 to Ref and +2 to initiative when you and an ally within 60 ft. emulate the same focus.

-Aspect Harmony: Builds on the previous feat, increases bonuses granted by the aspect, but not the prereq feat, by +50%.

-Coordinated Grapple: Nets you basically advantage (roll twice, take better result) to initiate, but not to maintain grapples versus targets threatened by character + ally with the feat.

-Coordinated Pounce: High-level feat building on Coordinated Charge; even though called pounce, it actually behaves more like Vital Strike and provides synergy with those types of feats.

-Coordinated Rend: Okay, this one can be interesting: When hitting a creature you and an ally threaten twice or more during a turn, the ally gets a free attack as an immediate action., but only at ½ Strength-mod to damage, regardless of other abilities.

-Coordinated Tie Up: Builds on Coordinated Grapple and allows an ally to aid, decreasing the DC to tie up creatures without pinning them by 5. This is really cool, if situational. Still, I can totally see this as a great feat to award/use in conjunction with archetypes.

-Go for the Eyes: Nets an increased bonus to atk for both, if the character or ally has higher ground, and the target is treated as dazzled. Interesting one.

-Intimidating Menace: When an ally successfully Power Attacks a target, you can attempt to intimidate at +2 to demoralize as an immediate action; has really cool optional Dazzling Display synergy, and is better when the ally crits. Nice one.

-Mounted Disengage: When an ally negates a hit with Mounted Combat while adjacent to you, you may use an immediate action to move away. Really neat!

-Pack Defenses: Total defense increases for adjacent allies, up to Wis-mod.

-Retributive Strike: Immediate action counterstrike when an ally with the feat is brought to 0 HP; +4 to crit confirm and increased multiplier for the attack. The latter should probably cap at x4.

-Scent Seekers: Cool: Allows two beings with scent to automatically pinpoint sources. Will see a ton of use in my monsters.

-Swimming Diversion: Atk bonuses while one target is swimming; +1 more if the foe’s swimming as well.

-Toppling Opening: Okay, this one is brutal: If the target’s tripped, it becomes flat-footed against the other user of that feat until the end of the next turn. OUCH!

-Trampling Opening: Adds AoO to the unfortunate being trampled. Neat!

The pdf also features 3 hunter feats:

-Pack Evasion: Requires mouse aspect; when you and animal companiona re subjected to a Ref-save prompting effect, you may, as an immediate action, switch to mouse aspect. Gets use interaction right. Neat one!!

-Pack Flexibility: Lets animal share in teamwork feats granted by martial flexibility. Cool for the relevant builds and helps them stand out!

-Raise Master: 1/day, a companion can use breath of life, with an extended period where it may be cast. Neat!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the clean and easy to read 2-column full-color standard with white background. The artwork is nice and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Luis Loza’s Animal Teamwork feats run the gamut from being very potent to being very circumstantial, but they do have in common that they add something and allow for a couple of teamwork tricks that I really enjoyed seeing. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I do feel that this is closer to 4 than 5; hence, I will round down.

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

Mini-Adventure:

This mini-adventure is intended for 4 level 3 PCs, and comes with a nice full-color map. No player-friendly version is included. Really cool: We get two variant/unique-y creatures that are NOT featured on the monster-card! Kudos for going the extra mile here.

This being the review of the adventure section, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, a shuttle has actually crashed on Mien, and it’ll be up to the PCs to mount the rescue! As the PCs scan the region and zoom over the jungle, they’ll soon note the wreck – and that the survivors have fled. And the PCs will be in a place to meet the fine specimen that caused the survivors to run…to a temple of the Saltu, where the PCs can find ancient tech, deadly enemies, and finally free the missing crew members. The terrain/temple per se is a bit less remarkable and the final encounter is a bit out of left field, but the bonus critters rock.

Solid mini-adventure. 4 stars.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

Okay, I’m going to deviate slightly from my usual formula, due to the unique structure of this series. The Star System series by AAW Games is customer-friendly, in that you can get the whole star system, or just the component that interests you: Just want a new race? You can get just the race and ignore the rest. This is made possible by a card-like presentation akin to what we know from the company’s super-popular mini-dungeons series. You can just get one card, or the whole set.

Each star system consists of 6 different such cards, meaning you’ll get a page-count of 12 pages. In order to facilitate posting the reviews for these component pdfs without having to rewrite my review time and again and losing time to cut-copy-pasting etc., I’m going to structure this review of the complete set accordingly.

Since I will base my reviews on the collected sets, I will provide an overall conclusion etc. at the bottom. This star system was written in its entirety by Michael O. Holland.

The star system components are:

Planet:

As always, we get a neat artwork that shows all planets and their relative location in the sun system, with the star in question f this system being a yellow dwarf. The planet closest to the sun is super hot, and the one farthest from the sun has a poisonous atmosphere. The Main seat of life here, though, would be Mien, the world of the Lamertans. The surface and jungles of this world are surprisingly deadly, and the lamertans haven’t yet learned the importance of keeping data close to your chest. 4 brief sample fluff NPC-write ups and 2 hooks complement this one. I like the notion of a race recently “abandoned” by their masters, but I can’t really picture Lamerta settlements and the like – they don’t seem to be on the surface, but a bit more detail here would have been nice.

Solid, if not super-exciting. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Race:

The new race presented within this star system set would be the Lamerta, who are Small, 4-armed humanoids with low light vision and a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics, Computers and Engineering. They also can move unimpeded through nonmagical difficult terrain in jungles and forests, and if they have two free hands, they get their land speed as climb speed. The comparative power-increase the latter represents over e.g. the kasathas is offset by them getting only 2 HP. Ability-score modifier-wise, we have +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con. The race seems to have been engineered by the mysterious Saltu, and the write-up per se is solid. They come with a solid artwork and all sections you’d expect, minus the “Playing a Lamerta”-sidebar that core rules races would have offered.

All in all, a decent race, if not one that really intrigued me. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Character Options:

Here, we have a new theme, the lawman, which nets +1 to Con, reduces the DC of Culture checks to recall law enforcement/judicial facts by 5 and lets the characters choose Diplomacy or Intimidate as class skill. 6th level nets +2 to Perception checks as part of a criminal investigation, as well as +2 to skill checks of skills in which you have no ranks, provided you undertake the check as part of an investigation. This explicitly does not allow for trained-only skill-use. 12th level lets you 1/week call in a favor for one item or expert service, of up to an item level of your character level +1, and you’re expected to return the goods/reciprocate. Nice one! 18th level lets you 2/day mull over the details or clues of an investigation to regain 1 Resolve Point; this takes 10 minutes and doesn’t qualify for regaining Stamina. One of the cooler themes out there

The second page of this card contains new spells: bio-blast is a level 1 mystic spell that nets a 2d6 acid cone, which leaves a short-lived residue of acidic sludge. Leap is available as a 1st level mystic and technomancer spell, which lets you execute horizontal or vertical leaps up to twice your size sans running start or Athletics-requirements. Technomancers can cast the 2nd level plasma whip spell, which nets you a burning monowhip that you’re treated as proficient with, inflicting scaling fire damage. At 3rd spell level, technomancers can cast energy aegis, which nets +6 to EAC, later upgrading to +8 and +10, at 9th and 18th CL, respectively. Phase shift is available as both a 3rd level mystic and technomancer spell nets a +10 bonus to Stealth and concealment, making this a kind of cross between invisibility and displacement, but at a lesser degree. On a design-perspective, I think that phase shift’s bonus should be tied to the four states of awareness mechanic. Not the biggest fan here.

Verdict: 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the theme. The spells alone would have been closer to 3.

Equipment:

We have three new ships here: We get the Seria tier 1 Tiny fighter, a tier 7 explorer and a tier 9 bulk freighter. Liked these. The section also comes with the wingsuit, which is basically a base-jumping suit, at mk 2 with thrusters (neat!) and defoliant grenades in 4 levels make sense in the jungles of the system. The card also provides a neatly-illustrated hybrid item, the stealth cloak, which does what it says on the tin.

Solid selection. 4 stars.

Monsters:

We get two new monsters here: At Cr 3, the Large , green and delightfully-illustrated grunk worm, who sports acidic bile…oh, and hitting it with kinetic damage may splatter slimy blood full of larvae on targets. The worms also get grab. Nice critter, like it! The second critter, also beautifully illustrated, would be the CR 5 Axarak plant. It is superb at camouflage, but emits a telltale methane scent. The plant can roll its own, dead leaves in bizarre leaf-bombs and may root/uproot itself. Damn cool critter!!

Neat array! 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Mini-Adventure:

This mini-adventure is intended for 4 level 3 PCs, and comes with a nice full-color map. No player-friendly version is included. Really cool: We get two variant/unique-y creatures that are NOT featured on the monster-card! Kudos for going the extra mile here.

This being the review of the adventure section, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, a shuttle has actually crashed on Mien, and it’ll be up to the PCs to mount the rescue! As the PCs scan the region and zoom over the jungle, they’ll soon note the wreck – and that the survivors have fled. And the PCs will be in a place to meet the fine specimen that caused the survivors to run…to a temple of the Saltu, where the PCs can find ancient tech, deadly enemies, and finally free the missing crew members. The terrain/temple per se is a bit less remarkable and the final encounter is a bit out of left field, but the bonus critters rock.

Solid mini-adventure. 4 stars.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, at least for the most part. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the collection sports quite a few rather nice artworks – particularly the monsters get neat art. The pdf version of the collected set has, unlike Querritix, no bookmarks for each card.

Michael O. Holland’s Star System is interesting regarding a lot of its premises, though it probably does suffer a bit from the race’s culture not coming across as that interesting. This is somewhat mitigated by the cool critters, but as a whole, I consider this to be slightly weaker than Querritix. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

Equipment:

We have three new ships here: We get the Seria tier 1 Tiny fighter, a tier 7 explorer and a tier 9 bulk freighter. Liked these. The section also comes with the wingsuit, which is basically a base-jumping suit, at mk 2 with thrusters (neat!) and defoliant grenades in 4 levels make sense in the jungles of the system. The card also provides a neatly-illustrated hybrid item, the stealth cloak, which does what it says on the tin.

Solid selection. 4 stars.


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5/5

Monsters:

We get two new monsters here: At Cr 3, the Large , green and delightfully-illustrated grunk worm, who sports acidic bile…oh, and hitting it with kinetic damage may splatter slimy blood full of larvae on targets. The worms also get grab. Nice critter, like it! The second critter, also beautifully illustrated, would be the CR 5 Axarak plant. It is superb at camouflage, but emits a telltale methane scent. The plant can roll its own, dead leaves in bizarre leaf-bombs and may root/uproot itself. Damn cool critter!!

Neat array! 4.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.


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4/5

Character Options:

Here, we have a new theme, the lawman, which nets +1 to Con, reduces the DC of Culture checks to recall law enforcement/judicial facts by 5 and lets the characters choose Diplomacy or Intimidate as class skill. 6th level nets +2 to Perception checks as part of a criminal investigation, as well as +2 to skill checks of skills in which you have no ranks, provided you undertake the check as part of an investigation. This explicitly does not allow for trained-only skill-use. 12th level lets you 1/week call in a favor for one item or expert service, of up to an item level of your character level +1, and you’re expected to return the goods/reciprocate. Nice one! 18th level lets you 2/day mull over the details or clues of an investigation to regain 1 Resolve Point; this takes 10 minutes and doesn’t qualify for regaining Stamina. One of the cooler themes out there

The second page of this card contains new spells: bio-blast is a level 1 mystic spell that nets a 2d6 acid cone, which leaves a short-lived residue of acidic sludge. Leap is available as a 1st level mystic and technomancer spell, which lets you execute horizontal or vertical leaps up to twice your size sans running start or Athletics-requirements. Technomancers can cast the 2nd level plasma whip spell, which nets you a burning monowhip that you’re treated as proficient with, inflicting scaling fire damage. At 3rd spell level, technomancers can cast energy aegis, which nets +6 to EAC, later upgrading to +8 and +10, at 9th and 18th CL, respectively. Phase shift is available as both a 3rd level mystic and technomancer spell nets a +10 bonus to Stealth and concealment, making this a kind of cross between invisibility and displacement, but at a lesser degree. On a design-perspective, I think that phase shift’s bonus should be tied to the four states of awareness mechanic. Not the biggest fan here.

Verdict: 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the theme. The spells alone would have been closer to 3.

Endzeitgeist out.


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3/5

Race:

The new race presented within this star system set would be the Lamerta, who are Small, 4-armed humanoids with low light vision and a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics, Computers and Engineering. They also can move unimpeded through nonmagical difficult terrain in jungles and forests, and if they have two free hands, they get their land speed as climb speed. The comparative power-increase the latter represents over e.g. the kasathas is offset by them getting only 2 HP. Ability-score modifier-wise, we have +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con. The race seems to have been engineered by the mysterious Saltu, and the write-up per se is solid. They come with a solid artwork and all sections you’d expect, minus the “Playing a Lamerta”-sidebar that core rules races would have offered.

All in all, a decent race, if not one that really intrigued me. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.


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3/5

Planet:

As always, we get a neat artwork that shows all planets and their relative location in the sun system, with the star in question f this system being a yellow dwarf. The planet closest to the sun is super hot, and the one farthest from the sun has a poisonous atmosphere. The Main seat of life here, though, would be Mien, the world of the Lamertans. The surface and jungles of this world are surprisingly deadly, and the lamertans haven’t yet learned the importance of keeping data close to your chest. 4 brief sample fluff NPC-write ups and 2 hooks complement this one. I like the notion of a race recently “abandoned” by their masters, but I can’t really picture Lamerta settlements and the like – they don’t seem to be on the surface, but a bit more detail here would have been nice.

Solid, if not super-exciting. 3.5 stars, rounded down.


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4/5

This module clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 41 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This is a high fantasy adventure for characters level 7 – 8, and takes place in a town steeped in magical academia – the city Bellek. We get a proper settlement statblock for the town, and the magical nature of the place is emphasized throughout: A whole list of magical alcohol for the obligatory starting tavern, for example, has been provided. As a minor nitpick, there are a few inconsistencies in their rules, though these remain largely cosmetic and don’t impede functionality. (Electrical instead of electricity damage, for example.) The starting angle has a couple of hooks provided, and the module does not come with cartography for the town or locations visited. The module pretty heavily references the NPC Codex for less crucial foes/NPCs, so having that, or the SRD-pages ready is suggested. If you own the Liber Influxus Communis, you’ll be interested to hear that the mnemonic class features somewhat prominently in this module. If you don’t have it, fret now, for all relevant information is provided.

All right, you know how this goes – from here on, the SPOILERS will reign, as I discuss the module in detail. Potential players should definitely jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? As the PCs arrive in town, they’ll spot the guards sweating in winter armor – and indeed, as they explore the spire of knowledge, they’ll have an…interesting time, as anything short of a DC 10 Stealth check will be met with shushing sounds – and the PCs may well be escorted out of the place after 5 failed consecutive checks. This can be hilarious for your group, but be careful when running this RAW, as it could similarly frustrate players. Anyways, at the top of the spire, the PCs get to meet Hirsli Aptal, a mindchemist who may have a brilliant mind – but also has puzzling news: obviously, the keenest minds, particularly nobles et al., have recently been struck by an odd wave of amnesia, and Hirsli is beginning to suffer exactly the same slips of memory. Something is amiss, and PCs willing to investigate the matter get a badge that should help during the investigation. (Btw.: Attacking her is a bad idea – book golem…)

Investigating Aptal manor, the PCs can find a secret passage in the treasury that leads into the tomb of Ipo Aisun-Aiji, a mnemonic from days gone past that sacrificed himself to end the threat of a horrid entity – Mitk’. Alas, as often the case, Mitk’ wasn’t destroyed, and has since found a mad apprentice/prophet of sorts in the eleven oracle Kit Mha, who has placed clues that allowed Hirsli to break the cipher of the Kitabu Mitk’ – a grimoires now hidden below, ready to be unleashed upon the adventurers. The tomb of Iso Aisun-Aiji is btw. a magical labyrinth full of yithians and the like – now maps or puzzle helps solve the maze, which is a bit of a downside – particularly since failing a skill check and traveling willy-nilly can cause ability score damage. As written, this is a clear example of PC skill over player skill use.

Returning the book to Hirsli, she creates a concoction that cures the amnesia – and that’s it, right? Wrong. The PCs do get to meet King Halfviti (lol), and in the aftermath of a feast, an assassination will be carried out – hinting that not all is well, and indeed, a mysterious killer named Kurtaric manages to (probably) get away. Thing is, there is an invasion looming, and 3 nearby settlements, and thus, the PCs are sent out to gather armies, while the old killer attempts to strike if an opportunity presents itself – but not all is as it seems: The old warrior finally opts for parley, and just as he talks, he is struck dead – and with his death, his ritual fails: the old mnemonic attempted to isolate and contain the spread of the idea of Mitk’, eradicating the idea the PCs helped to inadvertently spread.

The game is on, as Mitk’, as a deadly idea of sorts, now has reached critical saturation – a war for ideas, fought with mass combat rules, against the gruesome vergeten –and, obviously, Mitk’! Ultimately, the PCs may, courtesy of special (and seriously potent for the level) weapons, triumph – these special weapons, oddly, have no value, but instead use a charge-like mechanic and quickly decrease in power. Still, it’s something to keep an eye on.

The pdf comes with extensive statblocks and army stats.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. I noticed a couple of minor hiccups, though no game-breakers per se. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard with few colors and a white background – the module is pretty printer-friendly. The interior artwork is a blending of nice original pieces and fitting stock art, in full color and b/w, respectively. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. No cartography is provided, which is a slight comfort detriment.

This module, penned by Mike Myler and Christopher Kugler, is per se amazing in many ways – the ambition and story is grand, and particularly the climax can be amazing – if you draw the battle-field, etc. The module also suffers a bit from its scope and what it can accomplish in it – this feels like a trilogy of adventures, jammed together into one: Act I, the investigation and dungeon – the latter of which is pretty much glossed over and could have used a more rewarding solution. Act II, as the gathering of forces – the traveling and locations could have used more time to develop the threat amassed…and thirdly, the showdown, which has all the makings of an epic finale. The third act works best here, but even it could have used a bit more room to shine. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed this module, but it does require some serious fleshing out by the GM to truly realize its potential. And I really, really wished it didn’t rush things like it did. As provided, the narrative weak points are the exposition dumps at certain stages, which, to me, felt like a necessity for the sake of remaining briefer than the material would have warranted. This module is not bad, not by a long shot – but, frustratingly, it has all the ingredients of being a great epic, condensed to a briefer presentation form that slightly hurts the module.

That being said, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. If you don’t mind doing lots of fleshing out, then this might make for a grand and rather epic experience for you and yours!

Endzeitgeist out.


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2/5

This installment of the Advanced Adventures-series clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The first 7.5 pages of this supplement depict the region of the Skathernes and the village of White Dragon Run – and yes, this section is identical to what we got back in the first Advanced Adventures-booklet, leaving us with 9.5 pages of new material. The suggested levels have been raised to 2 – 5 for this return to the Skathernes to account for the challenges presented by the new environments. Now, as always for the series, we have OSRIC as the default old-school rule-set, and as always for the series, we deviate from the conventions and have magic weapons not italicized, but bolded, and similarly, spells are not italicized either, but bolded – most of the time. I did notice instances where they’re italicized instead. A smart and well-rounded group is definitely recommended, and PCs and players should know when to run. The pdf does not offer read-aloud text for its environments.

If you hoped that this would be a true sequel, and adventure that would build on the events and areas featured in the first White Dragon Run, well, then I’ll have to disappoint you.

In case you haven’t read my review of White Dragon Run, here is the breakdown of the wilderness region and how it operates. If you have read my review of White Dragon Run #1, skip ahead.

----------Begin of Hexcrawl/wilderness-discussion-----------

“White Dragon Run” is a departure from what we’ve seen so far in the series, in that it is essentially a hex-crawl wilderness sandbox. In case you don’t know what that is – the adventurers basically travel through the wilderness, encountering beasts and finding unique areas, dungeons, etc. – it’s basically a form of free exploration through a region, somewhat akin to an open-world game. The respective regions surrounding the village of White Dragon Run show that it’s a borderlands type of village, in that it’s pretty much the last stop before the wilds. In the Southwest, Lathergrave (or Lathargrave – depending on whether you believe text or map) Forest can be food; North of the village would be the Mimir Woods, East to South-West of it the Auranas Woods. Between these, the rivers have cut into plains, and beyond the latter forest, there would be the hills known as “The Skaths” that grant the region its name: The Skathernes. In the West, beyond these hills, the majestic Mountains of Xur arise.

Auranas and Mimir Woods share a table of random encounters, with a mix of humanoids and minor fey taking up the majority of the entries, with a few zombies and the obligatory wolves sprinkled in. These forests are dangerous indeed, and stand in sharp contrast to the significantly less lethal La/ethergrave Forest, where the most outré encounter would be giant blowflies. Ew! The first two forests also get their own table of random encounters for the night time, where you won’t encounter fey, but where some of the more dangerous predators and humanoids roam in larger numbers.

That is not to say that the vicinity of the eponymous river that provided the name for the village is safe – quite the contrary! Crocodiles, giant poisonous frogs and large packs of wolves render the area beyond 1 mile of the village very dangerous…but the Skaths are actually even tougher: Here, pretty significant raiding parties can be found, and at night (the Skaths also get separate daytime and nighttime tables), the undead roam in dangerous quantities. The wilderness section also comes with a mini-generator of sorts that lets you sprinkle in dead bodies, random camps and ruins throughout the landscape. It should be noted that PCs should think twice before exploring ruins – they are either occupied or haunted 50% of the time, and both translate to some seriously tough challenges. 1d3 wights or a poltergeist can and will TPK a group of careless adventurers.

While these tables may not look like much, they do play better than they read and facilitate emergent storytelling – encountering 2-16 wolves at night can result in a TPK if the PCs aren’t smart and you roll up a lot of wolves; similarly, stumbling into multiple quicklings in the Mimir Woods can be a rather humbling experience…and when 2nd level adventurers encounter a band of 8 worgs in the Skaths, they’d better have a plan B ready…or replacement characters. So yes, these encounter-tables paint a picture of a harsh environment, and do so rather well.

The village of White Dragon Run itself is fully mapped (no player-friendly, unlabeled map included), and comes with a total of 20 rumors. The village is defended by a garrison (and you get a list of HP so you can track who falls) that keeps the dangers of the wilderness at bay, led by Sir Kallan, who is also the de facto leader of the Triune that governs the village: In his absence, the Triune can’t meet. The other members would be Landan, a paladin, and Janra, the village’s cleric – these two do have appointed replacements, should they not be able to attend a Triune meeting. Cool, btw.: Janra has the Wide Book of Genth, a valuable tome, and the back of the module does contain an appendix with some fully-presented excerpts from it! Nice one! The village also has its resident magician, who is commonly known as “Smoke”, and the village does have its jeweler, a retired soldier, a shop – you get the idea. Nice here: percentile chances for having things in stock are provided.

I also really enjoyed that every single building in town actually gets notes for how it’s constructed, the condition it’s in, the number of occupants and occupations of the folks that live there. It may be a small thing, but it can really aid the GM to bring the village to life.

One building is fully mapped, and that, no surprises there, would be the one that is most crucial for most adventurers: The tavern. The “Twelve Toes Inn and Tavern” (so named because the proprietor indeed has twelve toes!) is the pulsing heart of sorts of the settlement, and it does note the chances of meeting a given NPC with a percentile value for daytime and nighttime as well.

As a whole, while White Dragon Run certainly may not be the most extraordinary village out there, it manages to feel plausible, with the percentile charts, random encounter tables for the wilderness and details provided rendering this part of the supplement a success. It’s not a genre-changer or the like, but it is a well-presented execution of a classic environment.

----------End of Hexcrawl/wilderness-discussion-----------

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS – from here on out, I will proceed to discuss the new set-piece environments found within this supplement. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, this adventure states that it has 4 new encounter-areas. To quote the description:

“White Dragon Run II contains four new locations in the Skathernes: The Sane Hermit, The Rainbow In The Dark, the rare and unusual Ambulatory Tower, and the deadly Temple of the Snake God.”

That is simply incorrect. The first one is a non-hostile ex-adventurer half-elf druid. You can meet him. That’s it. That’s not a full locale or encounter-area, that’s an NPC.

Yes, this really pissed me off.

That being said, this NPC can tie in with the first of the new locales, the so-called “Ambulatory Tower.” This tower sports a really cool idea: Basically, it’s part of a planes-spanning structure that is kinda-alive; a type of feeding tube that is a heat sink of sorts for the quasi-alive structure – the presence of undead in the area is thus explained rather well, and an influx of zombies can make for a neat hook to get the PCs involved. The creatures encountered within are consequently not quite right, representing an immune response of sorts of the entity: First, they will be grotesque and less potent, but with each subsequent sojourn into the tower, its guardians will improve, losing penalties and gaining bonuses. A wandering monster table is provided, and each room has a leitmotif of sorts that the GM can use as guidance for potentially changed challenges and the like. This makes the tower an interesting place to explore – but I wished that this was also represented by the dungeon itself: Prohibitively short, it only spans 8 rooms and is super-linear. There is but one way, and while terrain-use and themes are strong, the same can’t necessarily be said for the overall structure. The facsimile of the dragon as a final boss here is certainly deadly. On the plus-side, the “heart” of this tower may indeed be destroyed by clever PCs, even without the high-level options it’d usually take, though chances are good that they may need to stock up…and return. Which, of course, means facing new and tougher foes! Even if the tower is vanquished, escape is interesting: The players have to, with closed eyes, describe their way out! Even though it is this linear, I found myself enjoying this small dungeon much more than I expected to. It’s fun, challenging and interesting.

The second new mini-dungeon presented within would be the “Rainbow in the Dark”, a cavern with 4 keyed locations that is currently inhabited by a tribe of rather potent bugbears (and a currently hibernating cave-fisher, for an extra chaos infusion) – inside, there is a magical quartz that, once per day, is hit by a beam of light, creating magical light that can grant permanent boons! Pretty cool! As an aside, I do think that this amazing premise could have carried more, but I digress.

The third mini-dungeon is the longest one: 17 keyed locations can be found, which once more are thoroughly linear. Utterly baffling: The random encounter chart for the Mountains of Xur is included here, in the back, instead of where it belongs, in the front, next to the others. As an aside – the table is, even for the White Dragon Run-wilderness, a deadly challenge, and should be handled with care. I’d suggest level 5, and even then, things can go haywire pretty badly. Then again, at this point, the PCs have had some experience with deadly wilderness encounters. This third mini-dungeon is called “Temple of the Snake God” and features two “new” monsters – serpent-people called “Serpentians” (distinguished as lowblood, high blood and chosen) and shadow weirds, a snake like life-form from the plane of shadow that attempts to paralyze targets and rag them into shadow pools. The dungeon has two easy riddles I’ve seen before, a fountain that changes color (Why? Because, I guess.), snakes, and new magic item-wise, there is a spell-in-a-can ring (boring) and arrows that cause additional damage via poison and that turn into harmless snakes upon being fired. You may well call me hipster, but I’ve seen the snake-men angle done so many times, it’s hard to impress me with it – and I’ve seen it done better rather often. In the absence of Sword & Sorcery themes around White Dragon Run, you may appreciate it if you’re more of a genre-fan than I am (And I love me some Sword & Sorcery…), but personally, I did not feel like it fit into the area particularly well. It feels like a foreign object to me, and not in a good way. It’s a challenging dungeon, I’ll give it that much, but it’s less interesting and atmospheric than the other mini-dungeons herein or the Gray Temple from module #1.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the classic two-column b/w-standard of the series, and the b/w-artworks are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is solid and b/w, but no player-friendly versions are provided.

James C. Boney, Joseph Browning and Joseph A. Mohr returning to White Dragon Run could have been so much more. This could have expanded and further developed the themes in the first module, it could have been a true sequel. Instead, it feels like a parallel version. The Mountains of Xur random encounters being in the entry for a mini-dungeon did annoy me to an extent; similarly, I think the module’s advertisement is false, as there are only 3 true encounter-areas/complexes – adding a single NPC camping in the wilds does not for a new location make. Encountering a pretty generic retired-adventurer-druid in his camp is not a “location”, particularly if there is no map, no adventuring, no interaction points to be had. It’s basically a random encounter. Heck, the module suggests using him as such.

That being said, 2 of the three new locales are really interesting, cool and sport potent challenges and unique visuals. I wish I could say the same about the third, which feels like it just jams a pretty unremarkable execution of a classic Sword & Sorcery trope I usually enjoy into a region, where it doesn’t necessarily fit. I sincerely wished that the first two locations had received the page-count spent on this one instead. I should also note that the absence of an easier dungeon, with all 3 of the new ones being tougher, de facto renders this suitable for level 4 – 5 characters, for the most part. The only content suitable for lower level characters would be running into critters in the wild. Not sure if that qualifies for you or not.

How to rate this, then? Honestly, if you already have White Dragon Run, you may want to think twice before getting this. The two cool mini-dungeons that I really enjoyed span a grand total of 4 pages plus one paragraph; the rest is reused content from the first White Dragon Run, and the underwhelming final mini-dungeon. Honestly, I’m kinda sad for the 2 cool locations – had they been in #1, or had the Gray Temple been featured herein, we’d be looking at a much stronger offering all-around. As written, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this one – I paid full price for this, and beyond the advertisement being patently false, I also consider the suggested level range problematic. Dear authors of the ambulatory tower and the rainbow in the dark – I liked what you brought to the table! Consider your parts of this module to be good and worthwhile.

That being said, if you already have White Dragon Run #1, you’ll probably want to skip this. If you don’t own #1, then you may want to get it – provided you have some ideas/modules that can bring the PCs to levels 4 – 5, as White Dragon Run II has nothing but reprinted wilderness encounters to offer for levels 2 – 3.

How should I rate this? Well, ultimately, I’d usually rate this akin to its predecessor: The inspired locations, put together, almost reach the same keyed encounter count as the rather lackluster final one, offsetting that one somewhat. However, the challenges posed are more on the higher level range and offer less for lower level PCs than in the first module, so I’d detract half a star for a 3-star rating.

That’s what I’d usually do. But this module falsely advertised that it offered 4 new locations. I can stomach almost half of the module being a reprint from #1, no problem. I really HATE it when a supplement’s advertisement and description blatantly lies to the customer. Hence, this loses another star for a final verdict of 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This Advanced Adventure-installment clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

Now, as always for the series, we have OSRIC as the default old-school rule-set, and as always for the series, we deviate from the conventions and have magic weapons not italicized, but bolded, and similarly, spells are not italicized either, but bolded. The adventure is intended for level 2 – 4 characters, and a smart and well-rounded group is definitely recommended. The pdf does not offer read-aloud text for its environments.

That being said, “White Dragon Run” is a departure from what we’ve seen so far in the series, in that it is essentially a hex-crawl wilderness sandbox. In case you don’t know what that is – the adventurers basically travel through the wilderness, encountering beasts and finding unique areas, dungeons, etc. – it’s basically a form of free exploration through a region, somewhat akin to an open-world game. The respective regions surrounding the village of White Dragon Run show that it’s a borderlands type of village, in that it’s pretty much the last stop before the wilds. In the Southwest, Lathergrave (or Lathargrave – depending on whether you believe text or map) Forest can be food; North of the village would be the Mimir Woods, East to South-West of it the Auranas Woods. Between these, the rivers have cut into plains, and beyond the latter forest, there would be the hills known as “The Skaths” that grant the region its name: The Skathernes. In the West, beyond these hills, the majestic Mountains of Xur arise.

Auranas and Mimir Woods share a table of random encounters, with a mix of humanoids and minor fey taking up the majority of the entries, with a few zombies and the obligatory wolves sprinkled in. These forests are dangerous indeed, and stand in sharp contrast to the significantly less lethal La/ethergrave Forest, where the most outré encounter would be giant blowflies. Ew! The first two forests also get their own table of random encounters for the night time, where you won’t encounter fey, but where some of the more dangerous predators and humanoids roam in larger numbers.

That is not to say that the vicinity of the eponymous river that provided the name for the village is safe – quite the contrary! Crocodiles, giant poisonous frogs and large packs of wolves render the area beyond 1 mile of the village very dangerous…but the Skaths are actually even tougher: Here, pretty significant raiding parties can be found, and at night (the Skaths also get separate daytime and nighttime tables), the undead roam in dangerous quantities. The wilderness section also comes with a mini-generator of sorts that lets you sprinkle in dead bodies, random camps and ruins throughout the landscape. No random encounters table is provided for the Mountains of Xur, and it should be noted that PCs should think twice before exploring ruins – they are either occupied or haunted 50% of the time, and both translate to some seriously tough challenges. 1d3 wights or a poltergeist can and will TPK a group of careless adventurers.

While these tables may not look like much, they do play better than they read and facilitate emergent storytelling – encountering 2-16 wolves at night can result in a TPK if the PCs aren’t smart and you roll up a lot of wolves; similarly, stumbling into multiple quicklings in the Mimir Woods can be a rather humbling experience…and when 2nd level adventurers encounter a band of 8 worgs in the Skaths, they’d better have a plan B ready…or replacement characters. So yes, these encounter-tables paint a picture of a harsh environment, and do so rather well.

The village of White Dragon Run itself is fully mapped (no player-friendly, unlabeled map included), and comes with a total of 20 rumors. The village is defended by a garrison (and you get a list of HP so you can track who falls) that keeps the dangers of the wilderness at bay, led by Sir Kallan, who is also the de facto leader of the Triune that governs the village: In his absence, the Triune can’t meet. The other members would be Landan, a paladin, and Janra, the village’s cleric – these two do have appointed replacements, should they not be able to attend a Triune meeting. Cool, btw.: Janra has the Wide Book of Genth, a valuable tome, and the back of the module does contain an appendix with some fully-presented excerpts from it! Nice one! The village also has its resident magician, who is commonly known as “Smoke”, and the village does have its jeweler, a retired soldier, a shop – you get the idea. Nice here: percentile chances for having things in stock are provided.

I also really enjoyed that every single building in town actually gets notes for how it’s constructed, the condition it’s in, the number of occupants and occupations of the folks that live there. It may be a small thing, but it can really aid the GM to bring the village to life.

One building is fully mapped, and that, no surprises there, would be the one that is most crucial for most adventurers: The tavern. The “Twelve Toes Inn and Tavern” (so named because the proprietor indeed has twelve toes!) is the pulsing heart of sorts of the settlement, and it does note the chances of meeting a given NPC with a percentile value for daytime and nighttime as well.

As a whole, while White Dragon Run certainly may not be the most extraordinary village out there, it manages to feel plausible, with the percentile charts, random encounter tables for the wilderness and details provided rendering this part of the supplement a success. It’s not a genre-changer or the like, but it is a well-presented execution of a classic environment.

The last 5.5 pages of the module, then, do present two more detailed locations – small dungeons, if you will.

In order to discuss these, I need to go into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should hjump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! The first of these would be the “Gray Temple”, and abandoned edifice to the evil god Gaevud, a ruin of a granite structure somewhere in the Skaths. Today, vermin nest there, and this is represented by the random encounter table provided, which features giant lizards, giant rats, huge spiders and giant ticks, as well as a couple of humanoids. Indeed, the outer chapel, pretty much the first encounter-area of the temple, already has the potential to have the PCs surprised by no less than 8 giant spiders. If you haven’t learned to be careful via the dangerous wilds, this will drive it home. All in all, this is basically an exploration of an old ruin – though there are plenty of mundane pieces of equipment to still be scavenged herein – which is great for the notoriously-broke low-level adventurer…oh, and particularly perceptive PCs may well find a hidden room that hasn’t yet been looted and found…though, alas, the undead occupants may well object to it being looted… I liked the sense of dilapidation that this complex sported – it is something we don’t get to see that often. At the same time, I do feel that this would have benefited a bit more from some details regarding the long-vanished religion; more details for the iconography etc. to be spliced into the ever-present ruin….but that may have been intentional here.

The second complex presented would be The Forgotten Outpost – an underground complex that once served as a waystation for the Count’s men. A decade ago, it was overrun and sacked by humanoids, and today, it acts as a haven for a particularly vicious band of brigands. Clearing them from the outpost to potentially make it usable once more could really help the PCs getting Sir Kallan’s favor. Bandit HP are provided in a way that makes it easy to check them off, and the complex itself is a straight-forward extermination mission, unburdened by much in the way of hazards or the like…for the first 12 rooms, that is. A slight criticism would be that the bandits remain comparably pale – they don’t really have a proper response strategy or the like – compared to Advanced Adventures: The Curse of the Witch Head”, that aspect is weaker than I hoped it’d be. The interesting aspect of this complex is one that the PCs can potentially miss – there are quite a few rooms that haven’t been found by bandits, hidden by secret doors. Here, a forgotten, undead menace looms, and a room that is haunted can make for a rather creepy experience. I did like this (and the option to find a significant weapon cache) here, but as a whole, the complex still is basically something most GMs could improvise.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-level, with the by now almost traditional formatting deviations. Layout adheres to the old-school, two-column b/w-standards of the series that evoke a proper, old-school flair. The artworks within are b/w and rather nice indeed, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is solid and b/w, but no player-friendly versions are provided.

James C. Boney’s “White Dragon Run” is a challenging little hexcrawl that can provide a surprising amount of game sessions. Courtesy of the danger of the wilderness, there are quite a lot of stories that will simply happen organically. And chances aren’t bad, particularly if you tackle this at 2nd level, that one or more PCs…or groups of PCs, will find their grisly ends in the Skathernes. The challenge is a central part of the appeal here, and indeed, the village is also well-presented. While I would have enjoyed a bit more conflict-potential to be baked into the settlement, as presented it makes for a point of light, for a fragile haven, and fills its role in that regard nicely. The hex-crawling section of this module, in short, should be considered to be a success, particularly for those among us that enjoy a down to earth and somewhat gritty aesthetic. I like that not everything is cluttered with magical things here – it grounds the experience and makes encountering the fantastic more remarkable.

That being said, the two mini-dungeons provided in the back of the book fall a bit short of what I have seen the author produce so far. The first dungeon does succeed at its goal, and while it’s not the most remarkable of places, it turned out to be enjoyable. In direct comparison, the second mini-dungeon feels like the less inspired, low level lite-version of his really enjoyable and cool “Curse of the Witch Head.” With a defense strategy for the adversaries, and perhaps a slightly more meaningful impact for finding the less obvious parts of it, this could have been a much more compelling expedition. So yeah, in direct comparison, the two brief dungeons did not exactly blow me away.

How to rate this, then? See, here things get a bit tricky. While I did enjoy the settlement and rather deadly wilderness, the two mini-dungeons included are simply less exciting. And when compared to other adventures that have received 4 stars from yours truly, this simply isn’t wholly there – it needed that little bit, that extra oomph in the dungeons, perhaps a couple of mini-quests in village and wilderness, to truly shine. As such, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform – a solid release on the positive side of things.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The second part of the Future’s Past AP clocks in at 21 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement (somewhat to my annoyance in the middle of the module), 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

It should be noted that, as before, the module does come with expertly crafted monsters with glyphs denoting their general role. The module starts pretty much immediately where Part #1 left off, and, as before, has proper stats for pretty much everything, read-aloud text where you’d expect it to be, etc..

The following contains MASSIVE SPOILERS for the end of the first module in the series, as well as for the entirety of this adventure. As such, I STRONGLY urge anyone wo wants to play this adventure to skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, things look pretty hopeless for the PCs: They are stranded on Edge Station in Druune space, probably infected by Druune cells that will probably mutate them into disturbing Necromorph-like monstrosities enslaved by the Druune, and their powerful Central AI has deserted them. The final orders of the AI were to destroy the prototype timemachine the Druune developed – and it’s up to the PCs to decide on whether to follow this suicidal command and martyr themselves, or attempt to use it.

Indeed, an extremely dangerous mission has just become outright suicidal, as the PCs are bereft of Central AI’s exceedingly potent guidance – but in its stead, something else has taken the place of a global effect: You see, across infinite realities, the PCs have perished, failed, died. Again and again and again…until one of them got through, sending a part of the PC’s consciousness back through time, allowing the PC to have limited control over the time-stream via visions, ideas, etc. Set against the backdrop of Druune-cells subverting the consciousness of PCs, this should not simply be a form of fate favoring the PCs (and a means for the GM to help out, if they get stuck), but also represent a constant source of paranoia. This is incredibly clever from a narrative point of view. I adore it! Better yet: If the PCs figure out what’s going on, they can use this to a somewhat chaotic, but utterly unique effect – thematically, it’s a great continuation and escalation of both in-game and meta-game practices of module #1…and I could well spend another page extolling the virtues of how much sense this makes. Suffice to say, I love it. And yes, Druune infection is ALSO part of the atmospheric themes going on here.

The most sensible reaction for most PCs will probably be attempting to simply take their space ship and get the hell out – but Central Ai has hacked the docking station’s module and sent their craft hurtling into space. Worse, the outside of the station is covered in Druune remnant swarms, one of the new monsters within.

Whether they want to heed Central AI’s suicidal commands or use the time-machine, the PCs will have to dive deeper into Edge Station, and indeed, the pdf does note information that the PCs can glean by doing their legwork here. Leaving the lab-section, the PCs get to deal with the offices of the now Druune-enslaved populace – full of hazards and a dark theme reminiscent, once more – at least from a player’s perspective, of the fantastic space horror that the first Dead Space game managed to evoke. (You know, before EA made the franchise a sucky action-game that no one wanted…) Genuinely creepy whispers from victims in various stages of Druune transformation, a rudimentary and imperfectly-sealed hole that may suck PCs into vacuum…and yes, the Druune infection can be transmitted by some of the traps found within. Horrid gestalt things, a technogolem spreading Druune-infection…the atmosphere is pretty much pitch-perfect.

Clever PCs can find experimental Druune weapons, a 3d-copy machine…and yes, copies of creatures may be made…with potentially…öhem…interesting consequences. It is in the depths of the complex, past all of that, where things take a turn for another one of the games that really blew me away: SOMA. You see, the Druune have found a way to transfer consciousness between beings (yes, PCs could use that to, e.g., lose their Druune-infection-ridden bodies…but it’d trap the consciousness in that body…so yeah, anyone up for doing some nasty things to the duplicates you may have made?

Oh, and ultimately, the PCs will reach the Druune, see the PC that made it – the one that helped them get so far, that proceeded to kill himself to avoid assimilation by the Druune, and thus presented the chance the PCs took: A vision takes a hold of the time traveler PC, one that explains a lot, one that actually sent shivers down my spine. I am not exaggerating. This reveal, which I deliberately did not spoil in my review of module #1, is just brilliant. After this, we get the final boss fight, including unique temporal distortion effects, – and then, a travel back through time. To another body, as the PCs can only project their consciousness back through time. It’s 3 days before first contact with the Druune. Time’s ticking.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports a bunch of truly amazing, original full-color artworks. The cartography is in full-color as well, and comes with player-friendly versions, ensuring that you can use them as handouts and VTT-functionality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

And here I was, thinking that Stephen Rowe, a masterclass designer and storyteller, had delivered an excellent adventure in #1 of this AP. It’s baffling. It really is. After a module that was exceedingly hard to follow up on, this actually manages to surpass the first module. The craftsmanship and artistry is just as amazing as before, but it’s the extremely efficient use of paranoia, with distinct science-fiction themes, that is frankly, a class of its own. I am not engaging in hyperbole when I’m saying that this module, in its pages, manages to tackle more exciting themes than many whole campaigns. Blending questions of transhumanism and what constitutes identity with time-travel, adding a complex and truly intelligent plot, and topping it off with a reveal that WILL leave your players slack-jawed and truly stunned/mind-blown? This module does it all, and is a perfect example of quality over quantity. This is master-class storytelling and adventure design. 5 stars + seal of approval, and this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018. It’s this good. If the AP can retain this level of brilliant writing, then we’re looking at a masterpiece for the ages.

Endzeitgeist out.


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