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An Endzeitgeist.com review

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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An Endzeitgeist.com review

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.

..

.

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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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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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This expansion for Spheres of Power clocks in at 39 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The supplement begins with the by now traditional flavor-centric introduction before diving into the crunch. This time around, we begin with something rather interesting: Upon gaining a Conjuration sphere companion, you may now choose an archetype for the companion, which follow the usual restrictions. I.e. you can have as many as you’d like, provided they don’t change or modify the same features. 8 different such archetypes are provided and allow you to get an aquatic companion, for example. A companion with a bestial intellect (who does get a free (form) talent) and requires Handle Animal, a familiar-style one, and we get one that makes your companion a kind of mage-lite. Mindless or puppet-style companions are also included, and bipedal companions may become basically warriors. Much to my joy, there also is the Martial Companion option, which allows for synergy with the fantastic Spheres of Might book. All in all, this section is an all but required modification and broadening of options.

Now, this does not mean that the pdf doesn’t offer archetypes – for example, there would be the alter ego vigilante: Instead of a vigilante identity, the alter ego trades places with an extraplanar allay until it’s time to resume social activity. Instead of assuming the identity via the vigilante’s usual rules, the archetype instead makes use of the Conjuration sphere, using class level as caster level, stacking with other CL-sources. The companion can’t have an Int of below 3, and the combined archetypes applied may not have an increased spell point cost. Basic awareness is shared between them, and Link/Greater Link apply, despite planar boundaries. Alter egos begin play with a single bonus (form) talent, and conditions/effects are not shared – when switched out, they run their course, so no poison-cheesing etc. However, once switched out, the other part of the team is otherwise safe. Vigilante talents only apply to the alter ego companion, and social talents may only be used by the character, not the companion. This replaces seamless guise and vigilante specialization and modifies dual identity and vigilante talents, but archetypes that alter the latter may explicitly be combined with this archetype. The companion may cast by taking Con-damage to use Call of the Departed, if any – this is not ideal. Speaking of which: The vigilante appearance-ability sequence leaves me puzzled in conjunction with this archetype – does the alter ego gain the benefits, the companion, or both? I have no idea. Since we now have two entities, these would require clarification to make the archetype work RAW.

The second archetype is the awakener armiger, who requires the use of Spheres of Might. This one receives only 2 customized weapons at 1st level. When customizing weapons, these guys also forge a connection to a spirit. As a full-round action, the awakener can make the spirit manifest, which acts a s a Conjuration sphere companion with the martial companion archetype applied and a CL equal to the class level of the awakener. Thankfully, only one such weapon spirit per awakener may be kept in play, and once summoned, they can’t be called again for 1 hour, preventing abuse by spirit-cycling. The ability also tightly codifies dismissal. Weapon spirits get an additional (form) talent at 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter. Additional customized weapons are gained at 11th and 19th level. Instead of rapid assault, the awakener may expend martial focus as an immediate action upon successfully damaging a creature or executing a successful combat maneuver. Unfortunately, this *does* allow the awakener to ignore the 1-hour cooldown, which ultimately means that I need my bag of kittens to beat up…As at least a minor drawback, this does render the awakener staggered for a round, but still. On the plus side, action economy of a spirit thus called is properly codified. At 10th level, 1/round when dealing damage to a creature with a customized weapon, the hit creature draws an AoO from the weapon spirit. At 15th level, the weapon spirit may instead execute an attack action against the target, which allows for fearsome martial combos! Cool! 20th level renders the duration permanent until dismissed or another spirit is called, and lightning assault no longer requires martial focus expenditure. There also are 3 unique prowesses provided for better weapon spirit flexibility and mental links or sharing a spirit’s knowledge. Apart from the slightly wonky cycling issue that should imho have a longer cooldown, a cool archetype.

The knight-summoner mageknight replaces resist magic and the 1st level talent with the ability to summon a pala/cavalier-ish mount, as codified by the Conjuration sphere. Mystic combat is replaced with a (form) talent for the mount, which may be exchanged as a kind of wild-card trick. At 11th level, this may be used quicker, with spell points as a means to even use it as a free action. Mystic combat’s benefits aren’t wholly lost, though – instead, marked is replaced at 7th level, allowing for the sharing of mystic combat benefits between mount and rider. 2 archetype-specific mystic combat options are also included. The pact master thaumaturge does not gain the casting class feature, nor magic talents from class levels, though his class levels do count as casting class levels for Counterspell etc. Instead, the pact master forms a pact in an 8-hour ritual, granting a pact companion, which may then be called forth with a 1-hour ritual This functions as a companion with CL equal to class level, with CL not stacking with other sources. The pact companion remains for 24 hours and gets a bonus (form) or (type) talent at 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, though a companion still can only have one type. (It should be noted that Undead Creature has been retroactively declared a (type) talent. While within Medium range of the companion, the pact master gains a CL equal to class level, and a magic talent, plus another one at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter. A pact master may retain up to three pacts, and it is suggested that talents granted should correlate to the nature of the companion. This replaces occult knowledge and basically makes the class behave more like a witch/warlock from folklore, one that draws strength from the proximity of otherworldly allies. Extensive adveice for building pact companions is provided, and instead of forbidden lore, the companions can channel energy into the thaumaturge, boosting CL. Cool: Instead of the percentile mechanic, this causes the companion to take Constitution burn – a more elegant mechanic than that employed by e.g. the awakener. The archetype does come with pact invocations to redirect damage to them, share forms, etc. – rather extensive and interesting archetype!

The twinsoul elementalist modifies the elementalist class (D’uhh) and replaces weave energy with Conjuration and Destruction access. The interaction with pre-existing spheres is properly noted, and the companion is known as elemental conduit, who gets the mage archetype and the destruction sphere locked into the chassis. Instead of 2nd level’s combat feat, we get the destructive capacitor ability, which is pretty cool: The twinsoul elementalist can charge the conduit, who then receives temporary spell points and more powerful blasts. Neat one! Favored element is replaced with bonus damage from such charged shots. Cool, meaningful engine tweak. The void wielder armorist replaces summon equipment with a special weapon, the void blade, which may retain the essence of up to two creatures – whenever a creature is slain with it, a fragment of their essence remains in the hungering blade. The void blade may meditate an hour on such an essence, calling forth a duplicate of such a slain being, which behaves as a companion, with CL stacking with other sources. This companion only remains for 1 round per HD of the original creature sans concentration; for 1 spell point, it’s one minute per HD instead. Minor nitpick: Should have a “minimum 1 round/minute”-clause. Other than that, I do consider this to be a flavorful one, as such duplicates can impersonate the original creature rather well…3 signature arsenal tricks allow for further customization, for example for an additional essence stored, harder raising of those you’ve slain, etc. Nice ones!

Beyond these archetypes, we get an arsenal trick to have summoned or bound equipment appear in the hands of a Conjuration companion, and we have a mystic combat for banishing strikes.

The most important aspect of the book, though will probably be, at least for a significant amount of folks, the new base forms. Huge plus: The avian form does not break the low-level flight assumptions! Ooze and orb form are also interesting – particularly since the latter has a distinct and different means of preventing low-level flight exploits. Huge kudos for going the extra mile there and making these feel distinct and different. Finally, there also would be a vermin base form added. We do get a total of almost 30 new talents for the Conjuration sphere, which provide a diverse array of customization options many a player had wanted: There is one that lets you spend an additional spell point to choose another base form for the companion when calling it. There is a means to re-summon vanquished companions with negative levels. Camouflaged companions, granting feats…pretty nice. In a pretty obvious glitch, the Climbing Companion (form) talent does not have its name properly formatted. You can have your companion explode upon being defeated; you can have constructed companions, ones that have adapted to extreme environments. You can have companions with diseases, Mounts (as could be gleaned from the archetype), companions with ki points and monk-y tricks, ooze companions, planar and plant creatures, companions with minor rage, you can bestow swallow whole, increase companion Int, have blood-related companions, companions that act as spell conduits…what about ones with SR or those that come with magical quarterstaffs? Superior senses? You get the idea – this greatly enhances companion versatility. Furthermore, the pdf expands the companion progression table to the lofty heights of 40th caster level!! I know quite a few folks who enjoy super-hero-esque/gestalt-y gameplay that will love this extension.

A total of 8 advanced magic talents can be found as well, with size changes to Fine or Colossal potentially possible, for earth creatures with earth glide, better companion fast healing, summing more companions, having ones that regenerate, and, much to my joy – swarm and troop companions! That being said, these talents are well-placed in the advanced section, in a good example that shows awareness of the different playtsyles and power-levels that the spheres of power system attempts to cater to.

To my further joy, we do get a cool summoning diagram incantation, as well as the summon extraplanar being incantation, both of which certainly retain their usefulness beyond the scope of this book. The pdf also includes, of course, a rather extensive array of feats – Advanced Circles builds on the Diagram advanced talent to quicker diagram creation. (As an aside: Here we can find one of the, alas, couple of instances where formatting isn’t perfect – in this case, a skill-reference is lower case’d.) Very potent and reminiscent of some of the more interesting psionics tricks would be the feat that allows you to pass concentration on to a companion. Destruction specialists may modify their exploding companions with blasts (now this does make for some messed up villain ideas…) and e.g. quicker manifesting for shadow creatures, substituting casting ability score for Cha when determining outsider DCs and haggling with them, companions with poisonous blood or better poison DCs…some cool stuff here! The sphere-specific drawbacks are also rather cool: Not gaining the summon ability, being locked into companion archetypes, requiring concentration for companion presence to be maintained – these allow for some specific and really cool flavors and sharing HD, for example, is another one I really enjoyed. These are fun and evocative – cool enough to make players choosing them for how they fit the themes. The pdf also includes two solid traits and a page of alternate racial traits for the planetouched races, kobolds and snake-blooded races (nagaji vishkanya, etc.). – nice. The equipment section provides a new item class, foldable circles, which do pretty much what you’d expect them to.

Kudos: Since conjuration is one of the notoriously trickier aspects to GM, the pdf does provide some GM advice…and for your convenience, an appendix reprints the more complex and often lesser known swarm and troop subtypes.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. I noticed a couple of hiccups regarding formatting and the like, and a few of the components could have used minor tweaks to make them a bit more precise. Not to the point where things stop working, mind you, but yeah. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the artworks within are mainly color-artworks by Rick Hershey – if you have the Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends supplement, you’ll be familiar with the majority of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Andrew Stoeckle’s take on the Conjuration sphere is one that leaves me torn at a very high level; one the one hand, I consider this pretty much to be an essential expansion for the Conjuration sphere. On the other hand, there are a few hiccups in the admittedly high complexity of the design here, and companions/pets can become rather potent, rather fast. That being said, the engine tweaks presented often do rather interesting things; the drawbacks are intriguing, and there is plenty to love here. If anything, this book had to provide a rather significant amount of material that one would have expected from the base sphere, but couldn’t get due to page-count concerns. As such, the book, as a whole, provided for the most part what I expected to see, and provided the means and flexibility I expected to find. As a whole, I ended up enjoying this pdf, and it may not be mind-blowing, but it is very much a book that Spheres of Power-games using more than basic Conjuration will all but require in the long run. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

The first part of the Future’s Past AP clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

First things first: In a rather helpful notion, the pdf does feature icons to designate the type of NPC/monster faced with helpful glyphs – a neat plus. As often, the module works best for a well-rounded group, and as far as implicit setting is concerned, the module does assume the presence of a galactic coalition of some sort. This component is vague enough to make integration into the ongoing game simple – you can run this AP in pretty much any scifi-context.

This module begins with the PCs tasked to embark on a reconnaissance mission to the eponymous Edge Station, a facility studying rifts in space-time, deep in enemy territory, where the disturbing Druune exist, carrying a potent boon with them: Hybrid items called nodes, which contain a fraction of the potent Central Artificial Intelligence. Each node specializes in two skill checks, which the node enhances. The ship bringing the PCs to the setting of the adventure is fully statted as well. The adventure features read-aloud text for all keyed locales and key moments.

A HUGE plus would be that the adventure does clearly state the rules under which the time travel assumptions that are an integral part of the plotline operate

And this is far as I can explain what happens without going into SPOILERS. Potential players will want to skip ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! During the travel to Edge Station, the PCs experience strange phenomena like a closed loop, random ship system disassembly and the like – these establish tone and help the PCs get accustomed to their fellows, and research/information to be unearthed about the station is also presented…oh, and the Druune? They store information on a cellular level instead of in a central nervous system, are capable of rewriting DNA, and are practically immortal. They can infect targets for horrid consequences, and indeed, Druune infection, a disease with its own custom track, is a serious danger the PCs will encounter. But thankfully, Central AI is a potent ally: 1/round or 1/out of combat minute, the AI can give a PC perfectly-timed advice that allows for the reroll of a d20 roll. It’s just odd that sometimes, a weird déjà-vu event accompanies this whole thing – but then, that’s a great tool for the GM to show the PCs a brief vision of how they would have encountered catastrophic failure.

Anyhow, the approach to Edge Station can be as varied as gaming groups – from force to Disguising the ship to Stealth, there are quite a few cool means of entering Druune space. As an aside – the artworks within this book are stunning, depicting Druune-tech in an almost Giger-esque blending of tech and organic components that shows that they are beyond the Coalition – but their general scavengers and druune-enslaved footsoldiers should not prove to be too much of a hindrance for the PCs. Indeed, the one association you will have nonstop, is that of Dead Space’s Necromorphs – the artworks presented for the Druune-forces are as disturbing as they are inspired.

This is not to say that Edge Station is not one cool environment to explore, mind you: The station, you see, stretches across multiple dimensions, and as such, the PCs will be traversing multiple dimensional rifts, which can have a pretty wide variety of effects, with a table offering 10 different effects, all with meaningful mechanical consequences. Note that these are the effects of *traversing* the rifts – the respective labs make good use of this cool premise by employing a variety of planar traits and unique options to keep things fresh. It also bears mentioning that the station feels alive, in as much as going on High Alert will make things tougher for the PCs. Similarly, the complex does have cool traps that can be disabled via a variety of means, that have the proper EAC/KAC/HP-values, that can be destroyed and bypassed…neural nets and the like make for fitting obstacles, considering how smart the Druune actually are.

From the PC’s perspective, though, Edge Station will be a horror show; humanoids turned into oozes in the attempts of the Druune to elevate the, from their collective intelligence-perspective, horribly stupid humanoids, resulting in clones and the nightmare-fuel-style servants…this will work perfectly as a space-horror adventure. Add planar traits like subjective time to the fray, and we get one damn cool adventure…that can potentially end with a bang. The node realizes that the druune defied Central AI’s predictions – a prototype temporal consciousness teleportation device is in the facility. The node comments that it must deliver this data to Central AI. Then it states that there is a non-zero chance that the PCs are infected with druune-cells. It tells them that they cannot be allowed to leave and forbids investigation of the druune tech, issuing a final task, to destroy the prototype, before going dark.

The Central AI abandoned them. The PCs may be infected, slowly turning into Druune slaves. The node is initiating its self-destruct sequence…and they are stranded in a Druune facility. Now if that’s not an amazing cliffhanger, what is??

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sport a lot of absolutely amazing original full-color artwork. The pdf is fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography deserves special mention: The PC’s ship and the Druune ships they encounter are fully mapped in full color, and the complex they explore similarly comes with a neat full-color maps. Better yet, we get unlabeled, player-friendly versions of these maps, making the module really VTT-friendly and allowing for the use of maps as handouts et al.

Okay, I did not tell you, not even in the SPOILER-section, what made me cackle with glee. For the GM, who will get one crucial piece of information in the beginning, this module takes on a whole different dimension that makes it much smarter than it would seem from my above elaboration of its plot. From a player’s perspective, this is one utterly creepy, amazing dark scifi module that really drives home how alien the Druune are, how strange – it oozes Dead Space-y themes and atmosphere, condensing the best of said franchise down in a surprisingly efficient manner. In spite of the seeming brevity, this module has quite a lot of content to offer, and NEVER, not even once, presents a standard encounter or boring design-piece. Here, you can see why Stephen Rowe may well be one of the best designers currently working in the d20-realm: Beyond being a gifted author, he also is an exceedingly talented designer, and it shows here – the blending of mechanics and flavor is seamless, organic, perfect. This is as amazing an introductory scenario as you could expect from an AP and represents a phenomenal kick-off for the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Galaxy Pirates supplements that focus on ships clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the first page of this supplement, we get the stats for the eponymous interceptor, which clocks in as a Tiny tier ½ machine – which obviously has but one crew-member, namely the pilot. As far as defenses are concerned, we have basic 10 shields, mk 4 armor and defenses and a micron heavy power core fueling these. EDIT: Here, my review text may have been misleading for folks who don't know that gyrolasers can fire in broad arcs. I tried to state that the interceptor has only weapons facing the front firing arc. The interceptor has 2 fire linked gyrolasers, and gyrolasers have broad arc, which allows them to fire at -2 to an adjacent firing arc. The ship comes with a brief table of Computer check DCs to know something about the vessel and a VERY brief description of the craft, but not much about its story, design, etc – instead, about ½ of the first page is blank. Some additional fluff would have improved this little fellow and made it stand out.

On the second page, we get a massive, one-page artwork version of the interceptor, which is really neat; we follow this with a page of smaller versions suitable for e.g. paper-mini-construction, and we close the pdf with an aesthetically-pleasing ship-sheet that ahs the interceptor’s details already filled out for you.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a full-color two-column standard with a white background, and, as noted, the artworks provided for the interceptor are great and compelling, and the handout-version, the mini-version and the filled-out sheet show that he authors thought about immediate usefulness at the table – a big plus. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. However, unlike the larger ships, we don’t get a map of the insides of the interceptor, one of the things that really blew me away about e.g. the intermediate cruiser the Eldred manufactured.

Paul Fields and Jim Milligan deliver an interceptor with amazing artworks, ready to use at the table, and for the low price of just a buck, you indeed get your money’s worth. A map would have been sweet, but I don’t hold that against the pdf at this price point, particularly considering the quality of the artwork. That being said, I do hold against it that the interceptor is a bit pale – it could have really used some additional descriptive text to make it stand out more – on the first page, there is ample blank space that could have been used to make this vessel more interesting. As a whole, I consider this to be a solid offering, though personally, it didn’t excite me to the same extent the intermediate cruiser did. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This module, billed as an extended one-shot (or two-shot) clocks in at 70 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 65 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

All righty, first things first: If you’re looking for a one-shot for 7th level, this module can easily be condensed to be a smaller module, should you choose to do that; it’s also important to note that about ½ the page-count of this pdf deals with supplemental material. This may sound like much, but in this case, it generally should e considered to be a plus, as it does offer depth if you choose to dive a bit deeper – at least in theory.

The module does sport well-written read-aloud text for your convenience.

All righty, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. I will denote the end of the SPOILER-section further below, as the supplement does contain a ton of supplemental materials we should discuss. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! The pdf assumes that the PCs are trader-smugglers/for hire with their own Medium starship (the Jack of Diamonds, as an example for the like, should your PCs have none, is provided with full plans and pictures!), and the basic premise is a pretty simple one: The PCs are to pick up goods and deliver them from frosty Niflheim, a mining planet to Port Carthage, which is a rather notorious pirate haven – somewhat akin to Freeport in space, if you will.

We thus join the PCs as they can explode the icy outpost Hvergelmir (including a fully-mapped inn/tavern, player-friendly, I might add!), and as a plus, their contact gets stats. These are incorrect in a variety of ways, but thankfully, they probably won’t impact the game and should be considered to be optional.

Anyhow, the issue of the smuggling is as follows: Hostilities between the MegaCorps and Port Carthage’s pirates have recently escalated, and a corporate navy has basically created a huge dimensional lock-like effect to prevent Drift access as part of the blockade of Port Carthage. Thus, it’s up to the PCs to engage in some old-school, pre-Drift smuggling via the old smuggler’s route, the eponymous Rogue’s Run. Exiting Drift near the begin of the notorious route will have an Adam 12 sector-police patrol (fully mapped and statted) on the PC’s trail. Two statblocks for the police are provided, and the good news is that they are more precise than those provided in the appendices (more on that later); they do have a couple of glitches and lack plusses for skills, and equipment/damage values for melee attacks. In fact, they don’t seem to have melee weapons. Oddly, all seem to have awards for heroism as per the morale line. They seem to have been built with PC-rules, but regardless of whether you look at them with PC-rules or NPC-rules, there are serious glitches here. If correct statblocks matter for you, then this will have you grit your teeth. (As written, they, as level 6 and 8, can be mowed down by PCs without much hassle.) No values are provided to bribe/fool the police.

Now, the first part of the route would be the Hellgate – passing it will take a tool – 1 Hit Point…and on a failed Fort-save after the journey, that loss will be permanent! OUCH! Pretty epic, though: exiting the portal of pulsing flames will have the PCs immediately facing a minefield and a centurion class mine laying vessel – passing the field may rock the vessel, but soon thereafter, the PCs can witness the sight of the Sisters – twin black holes…and, to make matters worse, the minefield#s rocky ride has caused a crate to burst open – and now a crazed assembly ooze is on the loose in the ventilation system! Corralling it into a trap can make for one cool mini-game – and yes, ventilation system maps for the ship are provided! The PCs will also be seen by a star-eater nymph, a ginormous thing that may take the ship for a morsel. It may be dissuaded with some pain, though.

Easily my favorite encounter of the whole module would pertain the Sisters. Their Event horizons spin in opposite clockwise direction – and they can, when timed properly, act as basically a horrid super-catapult. Personally, I made timing this a proper mini-game where the PCs could show their knowledge, and then handed out the cool diagram for passing them as a reward-handout of sorts. I think that this encounter could have used a bit more mechanical meat on its bones. Arriving near Port Carthage, the PCs are contacted by the Cyberian, obviously a pirate vessel, which requests their aid triangulating an out-of-phase corp ship that may be responsible for the Drift-blockade.

Arrival at port carthage will show that the PCs have not been the only ones dealing with crazed oozes, and indeed, the PCs will get a chance to impress the Baroness of Port Carthage in a final conflict with a more…massive ooze, potentially starting a promising career as smugglers/space pirates!

END OF SPOILERS

The first of the aforementioned appendix-sections details the Kronusverse, the implied setting that was introduced in “Dead in Space” – I welcomed the brief introduction provided within, since I don’t yet own that massive book. The ideas presented are pretty interesting: Earth, turns out, is actually a sentient plant, who proceeded to receive an ultimatum from the being now dubbed Kronus, who pronounced a 1-decade countdown: After that, it would destroy any remnants of mankind left on it. Thankfully, humanity had already taken to the stars. After that, the underclass)es) sought freedom from the reign of the MegaCorps and ventured forth into what is now known Colonial Space, to differentiate it from Corporate Space. (Odd here: The first sentence of this section is printed twice.) Beyond even the frontier of Colonial Space lies the stretch, as of now the true frontier of humanity exploring space.

The second appendix gives us a summary o Port carthage (bonus points if you quote Cicero), a station salvaging vessel built into the shell of an asteroid, the slowly turned into basically a planetoid-sized station with the help of assembly oozes. Led by Admiral Baroness Ching Shi as a constitutional monarchy, where your profession and standing determines the amount of votes you get. A kind of pirate constitutional monarchy, if you will. Pretty cool: We not only get more detailed descriptions, we also get a fully mapped version of Port Carthage, with a separate pdf for full one-page-sized maps as well. Indeed, as always with Gamer Printshop, the map-support is extraordinary: The pdf comes with no less than 6 (!!) bonus pdfs containing read-to-print maps. Only one of them, the Outpost Hvergelmir, does have somewhat jarring labels on it – the other ones all could be printed and used as hand-out-style maps, if you want. For me, that is a huge plus.

The pdf does come with 5 pregens, though it should be noted that the formatting of this pregen presentation is very busy and cluttered – it makes more sense to take a sheet and fill them in. Plusses are missing before skills, attributes lack modifiers in brackets, and so on. Spells are not formatted correctly, etc. Personally, these made me twitch and I’ll pretend that they’re not here. Yeah, sorry, but the formatting’s that messy.

Unfortunately, this extends to the next appendix, at least to a degree – here major NPCs (Including a really nice 1-page artwork of Baroness Ching Shi) are provided with full stats. Or rather, half stats. The good new first, the stats are easier to read than those of the pregens – they are not as cluttered and messy. Good news: They generally seem to adhere, for the most part, to the monster/NPC-creation guidelines presented in the Alien Archive, at least when it comes to the basics. Alas, e.g. mastered skills and good skills do not check out for the CRs, offensive/defensive/other abilities are not correctly assigned, there are not enough Languages noted, attack bonuses don’t check out, there is no gear noted and the attack values note BABs that are not correct for the CR-values. Not even remotely. A level 19 envoy notes +23 for melee, +29 for ranged attacks. The Envoy class graft requires the expert base array, and this one clearly states +31 for the high, +29 for the low atk value. No damage or weaponry is given, so you basically look at something like that: “Melee +23”. That’s the entirety. Perception also is nonstandard throughout. There are only 3 of these statblocks, but try as I might, I can only describe them with one word: WRONG.

Thankfully, the author seems to have taken a much closer look regarding the details when it comes to the new ship bays like the assembly ooze reprogramming bay, the asteroid processor, etc., as well as landing claws, an ooze system one-use enhancement – these are genuinely cool and interesting and some armor augmentations from the Starships, Stations and Salvage Guide are reprinted here as well. Alas, the table does lack bay, PCU and BP-costs for ship mines. The entry’s there, just not the proper values – but then, this may be intentional, as their cost is based on capital tracking weaponry and a flexible means of calculating cost. Still, having the full information here would have been nice.

The pdf also includes a section of personal equipment and these tend to be interesting – there, for example, would be a heavy multi tool spanner, which is a cool visual indeed. However, skill-references don’t capitalize them properly, and it does deviate from standards in a couple of ways: For one, the table does not note bulk, requiring the reference of the text. Secondly, add-ons are a lower level than the weapon, which is odd. I am pretty sure that the base damage should be “B”, not “A”, as there is an acid-add-on…which does “B” damage. *sigh* These add-ons are a cool idea, allowing for flexibility. Alas, they don’t state how the critical effects are supposed to interact. I’m pretty sure the item’s melee should not have “explode” as a critical effect. This one really hurt me, as I really like the idea, but the implementation is pretty rough. Not unusable, but it does require some serious fixing by the GM to work in a precise manner.

The two vessels, the CCN Dido and the Geode Survey Rig 23 (with images from the outside for both and full maps for the Geode Survey Rig 23) are tighter, thankfully. (We don’t get tier-ratings for either, though. Five further ships are provided, and we get two more full-page pictures of them, which is rather neat.

The next appendix presents the space pirate base class, who gets 6 Hit Points, 6 + Constitution modifier Stamina per level, 6 + Intelligence modifier skills per level, Charisma as key ability modifier and proficiency in light armor, basic and advanced melee weapons, small arms, long arms and grenades, ¾ BAB-progression and good Reflex and Will-saves. (As an aside: In the table, the “Will” word at the column’s header seems to have drifted to the class abilities.) The class adds a class skill every level (!!), and every other level, you get +1 to that skill. Okay…shouldn’t that, I don’t know, be a free rank or something like that? The ability also contradicts itself, suddenly stating that, at 13th level, you get a second class skill, when RAW, at this point, you’d have already received +12 class skills! The class also receives a unique weapon, which uses the highest attribute modifier (!!) to atk and which receives a fusion equal to the class level and may be used in conjunction with trick attacks at 9th level. Guess who RAW does not receive trick attacks? Bingo. The space pirate. The class comes with an array of talents, tricks of all trades, which basically poach from other classes in some cases. Rules-language and formatting is inconsistent. This class does not operate properly RAW and would have been better off as an archetype. The section also includes a theme, which, at 12th level, lets you take a gear boost, envoy improvisation, mechanic trick or operatives edge. Wait. The latter is a fixed ability. Should that be exploit?? It should also specify that prerequisites other than those contingent on class abilities should still be met.

The bestiary chapter is more interesting – here, we get an vessel-sized assembly ooze (including starship assembly/disassembly-rules), which is pretty neat. If you’re very particular about monsters adhering strictly to the values proposed in the Alien Archive, you may be irked to see that the creatures herein do deviate from the standard values. However, on the plus side, formatting here, while not perfect, is MUCH better than the mess we witnessed for the NPCs and pregens, and from control cube oozes to crazed ones, we get some interesting fellows here.

You can find the conclusion to my review here!


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This massive supplement clocks in at 117 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/introduction, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 110 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as a prioritized review at the request of one of my patreons.

All right, so this is a compilation with new materials added – it collects the first three spotlight-pdfs for new races released by Jon Brazer Enterprises, namely the Half-Faerie Dragon, the Seedling and the Umbral Kobold races. The latter have been released as part of the supplements intended for the Plane of Shadows-related supplements that, alas, much to my chagrin, never kicked off beyond a few initial supplements. Jon Brazer Enterprise’s Shadowfall material is definitely worth checking out.

Now, I have written full reviews for these 3 massive chapters/stand-alone supplements – they do several things right: The seedlings still rank as one of the most balanced plant-PCs out there, and the umbral kobolds do a great job remaining kobolds, while being a better PC-race choice. The book compiles these three sections into new chapters, improving sequence of presentation and the like. However, e.g. the balance-concerns I have about the half-faerie dragon’s breath weapon feat chain (which lets you get a breath weapon that affects targets even if they make their saves) still remains valid – that aspect hasn’t been cleared up. In short, these chapters very much remain compilation-chapters sans further refinement. While understandable, considering that the three racial files range within the upper echelon of quality levels, it’s a missed chance to make them universally laudable files; as written, the rich lore provided and execution renders the races basically a good-to very good selection of tricks. These also take up the lion’s share of the book – 87 pages of the content are devoted to this massive collection of material. So yeah, this would be the tl;DR-version; for your convenience, and since I had to go over the compendium and original files, here would be the compiled information of the 3 reviews, for your convenience.

---------Begin of Review Compilation---------

Half-Faerie Dragons:

. If someone had told me I'd one day review such a book, I would have laughed that person in the face - which is thematically fitting, as few words describe this race's outlook as well as "whimsy". As the superbly amusing monologue that starts this pdf proves, Half-faerie dragons may not be too wise, but damn, they can be fun to play as a race - or can they? Well, let's take a look at the mechanics: Gaining +2 to Int, Dex and Cha, but -2 to Con and Wis, they are fragile. They also get the draconic subtype, slow speed, are small, get darkvision 60 ft., can cast prestidigitation Cha-mod times per day as a spell-like ability, +2 to saves versus paralysis and sleep effects and courtesy of their butterfly wings, +2 to acrobatics and fly-checks. They can also 1/day breathe a cloud of euphoria-inducing gas that staggers and sickens those hit by it, but also makes them immune to fear-effects, making it possibly to use it both offensively and defensively. Generally, the race feels like it belongs to the upper power echelon, but not necessarily in an unhinging way.

Taking a cue from the first book of the series, we go on to get extensive descriptions on the physical characteristics of the race, relations etc. - all in all well-written and compelling and also links the faerie-dragons with wishing. The 5 new traits allow you to customize your half-faerie dragon to be naturally adapt at magic, good at running away from angry tricked larger folk or better at acquiring things. Also, if you want to sparkle, there's a trait for that - just take care you don't become a vampire if you do! (Or wait, THAT would actually be damn funny...). The race also comes with 5 alternate racial traits that exchange draconic resistance for the option to cast disguise self cha-mod times/day, for 1d3 claws and if you also lose the power to use prestidigitation, you can belong to the dragon type. Alternatively, you can just sacrifice your capability of arcane whimsy for +2 to AC or sacrifice your breath weapon for the power to cast sorceror spells at +1 caster level.

Favored class options for bard, cleric, druid, paladin, rogue, sorceror, summoner and wizard are provided as well, as is a discussion on Half-Faerie Dragon psychology that includes the Art of the Prank, their approach to technology and magic, love and mating, history and lore etc. - all painting a surprisingly logical, well-presented panorama of an uncommon race to say the least. Oh, by the way, age, height and weight tables are also part of the deal.

Three new racial archetypes are presented after that, with the bookwyrm (for the wizard) replacing his 5th level bonus feat with getting half his class level as bonus to all knowledge-checks and providing the option to make these checks untrained. Thieves with Wings replace uncanny dodge and a rogue talent with gaining the fly-skill as a class skill, the feat to allow them flight as a bonus feat and the flyby attack feat. Butterfly Troubadours may boast of their exploit to the extent where they believe themselves to be actually better, mock foes and subtly weave the usage of his breath weapon into his performance, which is perhaps my favorite piece of rules in this context. This chapter also provides the new faerie dragon bloodline for sorcerers, which allows for befuddling touches, the signature euphoric breath weapon, butterfly wings, swap locations at higher levels with other beings and finally become a Half-faerie Dragon/live up to your full draconic potential. Quite nice about the bloodline: Its abilities take half-faerie dragons also into account and expand their racial powers instead of granting them like the bloodline does for none-half-faerie-dragons. The pdf also includes a new PrC for the race, the Dappled Theurge, who gets d6, 2+Int skills per level 1/2 BAB-progression and medium will-progression. What's interesting about this PrC is that it grants full spellcasting progression to BOTH prepared and spontaneous arcane spellcasting classes, taking a holistic approach to both. Rather interesting is the ability to cast progressively higher (starting at first level and going up to fifth) spells she knows (but need not have the spell prepared) by sacrificing a spontaneous spell slot of one level higher. As a capstone, the class reduces the level-increase of meta-magic applied to spells by half to a minimum of +1 spell level Int-mod/day. A thoroughly interesting design and an intriguing PrC.

A total of 9 racial feats have been included in the book to develop the race further: Temporarily blinding foes with light reflected from your blade, beast-shaping into a faerie-dragon, chameleon scales that allow you to use stealth even when observed and unable to hide, telepathy as a spell-like ability and at 7th level a fly-speed are some of the new options. Breath weapons may be augmented to use them once every 1d4 rounds and via other feats, add the confused effect to the others AND even get an option to make the breath weapon make foes staggered, confused and sickened for 1 round EVEN if they save. And honestly, that is where the pdf kind of underestimates the power-level: We are speaking of a 30 ft cone every 1d4 rounds that has a save of 10+ 1/2 class level + Con-mod and inflicts move OR standard actions (No more full-round actions), -2 to ability, skill checks, saves, atk and damage and the effects of confusion - for 1d6 rounds per application, at least 1 even on a successful save. As a supernatural ability that CAN'T BE DISRUPTED. This is the pay-off of 3 feats. This is insane on so many levels: Once every 4 rounds would be insanely strong even sans the confusion added. Making it apply even if foes save is really, really bad. And offering no way to counter it (it doesn't even count as poison) is just the icing on my personal Broken-rules-cake. Yes, I get that the Con-penalty is significant regarding the DC, but for e.g. martially inclined half-faerie-dragons this mini-feat-tree is rather powerful and unbalanced. Either a fixed limit, getting rid of the effects even on successful saves or a way to counteract the breath weapon are required to salvage this. A feat that lets you cast any prepared spell spontaneously by sacrificing one prepared spell of one level higher would also set off my radar, but its limitation to being usable once per day saves it and makes it an actually rather interesting idea.

Among the new items introduced in this installment, we get a kind of hookah that mixes multiple breaths for a more hilarious story-telling, globes containing bottled breath, swords that deal less damage than similar ones, but count as cold iron and have a threat range of 18-20, timed purse-shaped color-bombs to stain potential thieves, laughing poison, patchwork armors and arrows that essentially are stinking bombs of the most disgusting variety. All in all, cool items!

The pdf also includes write-ups of Half-Faerie Dragon theology and 3 racial deities as well as the new butterfly and wish subdomains and 4 new spells that allow you to conjure up butterfly swarms, plaguing victims with a chaotic (and funny) curse that changes properties each day, conjure a phantom crowd to mock your foes and transform just about anything into a pile of apples or a giant apple. Why? Half-faerie dragons LOVE apples, as the flavor-text in the book shows... Thus, we also get 3 magical apple tree tokens and the "Bag of Awesome", a bag of holding that can vomit forth items in a belch of euphoria-inducing gas, has a tongue-like rope (that can be used for rope tricks) and can blast foes (while in rope-trick-form) with euphoria-gas. There is also a foolish cape and a fitting rakish hat you can use to disappear in - when the fickle magic works...

The two artifacts are also neat: One straight-forward crown and one an artifact-level rod-of-wonders-style item that can summon giant squirrels to do your bidding or rain frozen apples from the sky or turn foes into dark chocolate...

GMs daunted by integrating this race into their campaign will welcome the 4 sample communities (sans settlement statblocks or the like, but full of ideas) as well as the advice given for both players and DMs to avoid turning the inclusion of this race into a kender-fiasco V.2.0. Be sure to read this chapter carefully! We also get sample NPCs, with the first being a straight-forward bard level 1, the second being an illusionist/sorcerer 4/dappled theurge 2 and the final one being truly interesting: At CR 11, the character is a bard 2/fighter 2/oracle 2/ranger 2/rogue 2/sorcerer 2 - a jack-of-all trades, indeed, though one that uses all the broken breath weapon feats.

Seedlings:

Kicking off with in-character journal entries that depict the life of one of the race of seedlings, this book introduces us to the new race called Seedling: These beings get +2 to Con, +2 to Wis, -2 to Dex, low-light vision, +1 natural AC, +2 to con to avoid suffocation, drowning and starvation as they can draw sustenance from photosynthesis, can as a standard-action treeshape (and gain tremorsense 30 ft.), +2 to saves versus mind-affecting effects and paralysis, and 1/ day speak with plants. As you may notice, seedlings get the distinct fluff of being plant-like creatures and appropriate benefits without succumbing to gaining the subtype and its associated benefits, going thus a similar route as RiP's Ironborn did for constructs. If you want more alien plant-beings, I'd point you to Purple Duck Games' Fehr's Ethnology: Xhesa.

The race is extremely detailed and up to current rules-developments: From favored class options, alternate racial traits (which include resistance to fire and electricity, having thorns, hailing from the underdark with darkvision and burrow speed and resistance to disease and poison) to favored class options, all niches are covered. Better yet, I don't have anything to complain about!

In stark contrast to many race-supplements, we get quite extensive pieces of information on seedling-culture-lore and land and of course, also on their takes regarding other races and classes - two thumbs up for these avidly and well-written pieces that make the race stand out and feel integrated into a campaign world, not just some addition. The race also gets two racial archetypes, with the first being the Switcher, a fighter that uses the new weapon of the seedlings, the signature switch whip (which is essentially their hair) and allows it to be used to inflict bleeding damage, ooze a poison that makes its victims flat-footed, grow razor-sharp leaves on the head etc. VERY COOL! The second archetype, the tree spirit druid, is extremely adapt at scrying via trees by focusing senses into trees - again, very cool!

The race also gets an exclusive PrC, the negotiator. The PrC gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB and medium Will-saves as well as a gamut of abilities that allow them to form binding agreements and make them superb "face"-style negotiators. Nice! The 9 new feats allow seedlings to further expand their switch whip powers and also do some interesting things via their rooting-ability, allowing them to better weather assaults and also increase their healing/photosynthesis.

Beyond aforementioned switch whips, we also get a new armor, glow moss and a serum the seedlings use for ritual scarring and healing. Beyond these crunchy bits, we also get a massive genesis-story told in captivating prose, a write-up of their 4 deities (with appropriate domains, subdomains and mysteries - nice indeed!) and 4 cool new spells, themed for plants and seedling flavor and anatomy. Among the new magic items we get explosive seeds, the dread aurora pendant, heartwood, two iconic artifacts (one of which can grow a forest - over night!) and even more:

5 fluff-only community-write-ups (I.e. no settlement-blocks, but ideas galore) provide further ideas for GMS and players alike to capitalize on and the write-up also features extensive advice for DMs to fit this race into a campaign.

Finally, the pdf includes 4 sample seedling characters, using the content herein, all ready to be dropped into your game and spanning CR 1/2 to CR 14.

Part II of my review can be found here!


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

2/5

The third DCC-Halloween module clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ½ a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 19.5 pages. Unlike previous Halloween modules, this one is laid out in standard size, so it’s actually a tad bit longer than the two shorter ones I’ve covered so far. But does quantity mean quality here? Let’s take a look!

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

It should be noted that the final ½ page of the module contains a couple of pregens, in case you have casualties. The module is intended for 4 – 6 first level characters, but it may also be run for quadruple that number 0-level funnel characters. Indeed, I think this may work better as a deadly funnel or one-shot. I strongly suggest the party to include a character with the Animal Trainer occupation, and I REALLY recommend the group to be able to cast Comprehend Languages. You’ll see why later.

The module does provide read-aloud text and a handwave-style abstractions for quick mass-combat resolution for 0-level NPCs. This sidebar is pretty much superfluous as far as the module is concerned

However, before I go into the details, I will pronounce the obligatory SPOILER-warning. The following thoroughly discusses the module. As such, only judges should continue reading.

..

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All right, only judges around? Great! So, this is, as the module acknowledges, a kind of homage/riff on “Shadow over Innsmouth.” It begins in the backwater place named Black Sand Port, where wreckage has a couple of strange survivors of Fu-Lamian descent wash ashore. The greed of the burgomaster’s spurred – and hopefully that of the PCs, as the survivors tell them about Princess Kaeko, who had been aboard their crashed ship. A list of 18 rumors is provided for the region.

It is assumed that the PCs basically steal a boat and get it towards the infamous coral reef known as the eponymous “Devil’s Reef” – and there is a chance to save some survivors. Making their way past the saltwater graveyard created by razor-sharp corals and the sharks that haunt these waters, the PCs enter the jagged landscape, where the boat may take damage if the PCs don’t get the pattern of reefs. A failure damages the boat. How much damage can it take? Well, the boat doesn’t get stats when it’s acquired – these are hidden in a somewhat counter-intuitive manner in the first encounter potentially featuring it.

The coral island does come with random encounters that center mostly on deep ones. There is a deep one caster here with a name, and the island otherwise is pretty brief; there is an onyx pillar topped with a ruby. Touching the pillar shocks you; shooting at the ruby will the pillar fire a lightning bolt at the offender. Hitting the ruby with a ranged attack has a small chance to knock it loose, and touching it after that may provide a flash of insight that is one of the obtuse ways to solve a bottleneck of the adventure – but more on that later.

It would make sense for the PCs to explore the wrecked ship, the Royal Dawn, and the brief exploration of the ship wreck is indeed interesting: Provided the PCs haven’t yet experienced it themselves, they will have heard about it/deduced it: oddly, proximity to the island and exploration seems to make the respective persons undergo a kind of transformation – in 8 steps towards a Deep One Hybrid, with step #8 equaling game-over. This is per se a solid angle. Anyhow, the Royal Dawn shows serious signs of struggle, and exploring it may put the PCs into a dialogue with a statue of Farrin-Shae, the guardian demoness of sorts of the vessel, who might well proceed to animate the slain on board into devil-like looking things that actually are undead. The true treasure of the vessel, though, is actually something the PCs may well slay – the abducted princess had a pet, a so-called psi-spider, and its touch/attempt to communicate causes damage. Animal Trainer AND resisting the impulse to slay it, is one thing that will make the finale/aftermath much easier – provided the critter lives through the module, that is.

Anyhow, back to the isle, as ultimately, exploration of the wreck could conceivably be skipped: On the island, there is a set of lavishly onyx double doors: A piece of b/w-artwork shows a character being fried by them, and the choice to make this artwork is utterly puzzling to me. Why? Well, the door has two dials that may be moved in one of 5 positions. Can’t read Aklo/don’t have aforementioned spell? Well, have fun trying to frickin’ brute-force the doors and being shocked all the time. Two of the runes, provided the PCs can read them, correspond to Celaeno and Polaris. Okay, so what? This looks like a puzzle that was supposed to feature a visual representation…you know, like quite a few Goodman Games DCC-modules offer? Instead, we get a solid, but ultimately useless artwork. Oh, and there are TWO such doors in the module. The second one has a different combination!

The least frustrating approach here is indeed when the players have not learned from being zapped by aforementioned ruby and knocked it down – then, at least they know the combination. This should have been a puzzle, and instead is an exercise in frustration and trial and error. That happens twice. Blergh.

Beyond the doors lies the truth, the reason for the mutation-impulse that has taken a hold of NPCs and PCs alike: The PCs stumble into an Elder Thing lab, where a star-spawn of Cthulhu is kept trapped. Its presence sends a telepathic impulse to the DNA of creatures nearby. But I’m getting ahead of myself: The PCs first have to slog through 3 rooms that are thoroughly linear: A slide must be passed, then a couple of deep one hybrids and a shoggoth await the PCs. And this is where I uttered an exasperated “Really?” – the shoggoth is strong, but still utterly pitiful regarding its power, considering that it’s a frickin’ shoggoth. And, in a grating deviation from DCC-design aesthetics, it can’t be bypassed, has no means to make it easier, nothing to reward smart players. Oh, and running past it is no option. The PCs first have to brute-force the second frickin’ dial-door to proceed. Instead of rewarding capable players, the module suggests wounding the shoggoth. *sigh* Why does it have to be a frickin’ shoggoth?

In the halls beyond that, the PCs can interrupt the hibernation of elder thing scientists and pick them off one by one. Yes, this is about as fun and as redundant as it sounds. The hibernation cells, btw., have a mechanism that locks and floods them. And the module gets drowning rules as established in DCC wrong. How do you prevent drowning? Well, obviously with Reflex saves, right? Because agility totally translates to how long you can hold your breath? WTF. How this one could slip past editors is puzzling to me; it contradicts how drowning works.

The finale has the PCs fight more elder things, fiddle with a console whose functionality they can’t deduce, and thus release one of three tanks – either mad Deep Ones (including the princess),a dead star-spawn, or an alive one. It’s totally luck based what happens. The module has a couple of promising notes for elder thing tech and living glowbug critters…but guess what elder thing tech does? They’re spells in a can. I kid you not. Oh, and good luck if the psi-spider’s not with the PCs – it can snap the deep one corruption out of the princess. Te star spawn of Cthulhu has btw. 14 hit points, and mundane weapons do minimal damage. It’s wounded by experimentation, but still. That’s just sad.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not on the level I’ve come to expect from Goodman Games. On a formal level, the module is tight, but rules-sequence and integrity is pretty compromised in a couple of cases, and there are instances of spells not properly formatted. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. Puzzling: The module’s pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment! The cartography per se is gorgeous, but the wreck’s map has no grid, and we do not get player-friendly versions of the maps.

Are you really, really tired of the Cthulhu-mythos? Do you want to complete the process by which it’ll lose any form of coolness and horror? Do you want to complete the transformation of the creatures into just another type of critter to be slaughtered by your local MurderHobo Inc.? Then this is the module for you! After this, neither shoggoths, nor star-spawn, will ever elicit more than a yawn from your group. It’s also simply badly-designed, blending bad Cthulhu-scenario design with obvious issues with the DCC-rules and design aesthetics that I love so much. There is no rewarding the players for smart playing here – it’s all up to chance and trial and error, ostensibly justified by mythos being weird in the time-honored tradition of bad Cthulhu-scenarios. John Hook’s “Shadow under Devil’s Reef” is not even remotely creepy and feels like a paint-by-the-numbers standard pulp-Cthulhu scenario of the weakest sort, lacking the Appendix N-flavor and heavy metal aesthetics that I expected to see.

You see, I didn’t even expect this to be creepy in any shape, way or form. It’s not, by the way. Not at all. However, it fails miserably at making the mythos-creatures feel cool, it fails at blending DCC’s heavy metal-influenced aesthetic of fighting against…THINGS with the mythos. It also fails as a spoof. It’s not funny, nor badass. Know who does the whole angle better? Pretty much everyone. For horror, Call of Cthulhu and Trail of Cthulhu are better. For (dark) fantasy adventuring, Paizo and Kobold Press have vastly superior modules, and Fat Goblin Games’ "Shadows over Vathak" setting actually manages to craft a fantasy world that is heavily-influenced by mythos aesthetics without being cliché and redundant. Oh, and if you really want heavy metal aesthetics and weirdness, I’d strongly suggest taking a look at LotFP’s Carcosa or Venger Satanis’ “The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence”. Heck, Venger’s early work, while a bit rough, successfully manages to blend the “OMG, how cool is that”-metal aesthetics, horror and even funny bits and create a cohesive whole. I’d take his flawed, but inspiring “Liberation of the Demon Slayer” over this bore-fest any day of the week.

This sounds harsh, but I was really, really pissed off by this module, by how utterly uninspired and flawed it is. I honestly feel like I wasted my money with it. In stark contrast to the previous Halloween adventures, this is not a dip, but a free-fall regarding quality. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, mainly due to Goodman Games’ high production values, and while I briefly contemplated going 1 star due to the lack of bookmarks and player-friendly maps, I will round up due to in dubio pro reo.

Only buy this if you’re a completionist. If you’re willing to convert modules, there are vastly superior offerings pretty much everywhere.

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

This installment of the Everyman Minis series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what are squishikins? Well they are a new race presented within, a kind of living construct in the shape of a helpful ability to transform themselves into plush. As someone who cherishes his old plush-Kiwi, this made me smile. The squishikins are noted as 2 – 3.5 feet in size and 20 lbs. weight; while no age, height and weight table is provided, in this instance, this information suffices.

Rules-wise, they get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str,a re Small, have normal speed and are constructs with the shapechanger and squishikin subtype. They thankfully don’t get the massive array of construct immunities. They have darkvision 60 ft. and low-light vision and always treat Perception as a class skill. They can transform into a diminutive toy shape, analogue to tree shape sans the bonuses and immunities, but with a +10 racial bonus to Disguise. At 1st level, they choose whether they look like an animal or anthropomorphic humanoid. The former nets a 1d3 primary bite attack; the latter a humanoid subtype with a racial trait of the race to not exceed 3 RP. Polymorph effects chosen make the alternate versions resemble stuffed toys as well. Squishikins can hold their breath 4 times Con-mod round and work sans water for 1 + Con-mod days, sans food for a week before needing to make checks to avoid starvation and dehydration respectively.

It is pretty impressive to see the flavor of the race, expertly crafted, to actually make the concept come alive. We get favored class options for bard, fighter, oracle, paladin and rogue – no problems with them. The pdf sports two feats: Adjustable Size lets you change minor details of your appearance sans the usual penalty and lets you assume sizes between Fine and your form. Improved Facsimile lets you choose an additional benefit, depending on whether you chose animal or humanoid. It may be taken multiple times and provides access to further racial tricks or animal abilities (limited in a smart manner). The pdf also provides a CR +0 simple template to instant-squishikin-ify creatures. Cool!

The pdf provides 3 different class options: The order of the nightguard protects the civilians from the horrors of the night and nets a bonus to weapon damage in dim light or darkness via challenge. Skill-wise, Knowledge (local) and Perception are provided, and the latter do not change while asleep – a potent benefit for squishikins, who already have Perception as class skill hard-baked into their engine. Making a check while asleep lets the cavalier wake up. The order abilities begin with ever ready, which translates to Alertness and Lookout; all allies are treated as having Lookout, which is pretty nifty. Uncanny Reflexes at 8th level net Blind Fight and + being treated as having cavalier level ranks in Perception for Blind Fight prereq’d feats. The ability also nets + Wisdom modifier (min 0) AoOs per round (doesn’t stack with Combat Reflexes, but is treated as such for prerequisite purposes) and the cavalier may substitute Wisdom mod for Dex-mod for Combat Reflex prerequisite feats. 15th level nets blindsense 30 feet, based on audio, which doesn’t work versus incorporeal targets.

The sleepytime trickster mesmerist replaces the 1st level trick with hypnotic lullaby. A target of hypnotic stare may, as a swift action be targeted and must succeed a save of gain the drowsy (mild) condition from the fantastic Everyman Mini: Sleeping Rules, slowly building up to sleep. At 11th level, the mesmerist can target creatures other than those affected by hypnotic stare. At 3rd level, rule minds and touch treatment are replaced with 3 + Cha-mod times per day Sleep tight – a standard action that requires touching a target that’s asleep. On a failed save, the target falls into a slumber so deep he temporarily can’t be awoken. 6th, 10th and 14th level allow for longer increments of duration, with the latter also placing the target in temporal stasis while asleep, while 20th level upgrades sleep to permanent and the mesmerist may have unlimited contiguous sleepers, ending the previous limit on simultaneous sleep tight effects. Love it. At 3rd level, hypnotic stare can get rid of immunity to sleep effects, replacing bold stare.

The third archetype, the toymaker alchemist replaces bombs with a squishikin companion that works like a variant druid companion. Brew Potion and Throw Anything are substituted with Craft Wands, treating alchemist levels as aster levels for the purpose of other crafting feats. This is relevant, in that alchemy is altered to become toymaking, which replaces extracts with knickknacks; these behave like spells in wand form with a single charge and thus qualify for crafting purposes. Extract modifying discoveries instead apply to knickknacks. 2nd level adds all conjuration (summoning) spells from the sorcerer/wizard list and the druid list to his extract list, and such called critters get the aforementioned squishikins template instead of the usual templates. 6th level nets Craft Construct instead of poison use and the 2nd and 6th level discoveries. 3rd level allows the toymaker to heal squishikin subtype quicker 3 + Int-mod times per day and at 6th level, crafting is sped up. At 9th level and every 2 levels thereafter, the archetype chooses a complex construct modification with a CL equal or less class level; as a standard action, the toymaker can touch a squishikin creature, granting it one of the chosen modifications for 10 minutes per class level with 10 minutes per level duration; the companion may be upgraded with these permanently at half the price. This replaces poison resistance and immunity.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-tier on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no glitches, no inconsistencies. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports adorable artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ squishikins are amazing on multiple levels: On a design-level, the pdf manages to do a variety of unique and creative things with the base race – sans making it too strong or weak. The supplemental options have strong themes and creative, complex rules that I thoroughly enjoyed, and the flavor is amazing. The squishikins as a race are amazing for kid-friendly games…and, paradoxically, also for horror games! You can make these super-creepy if you want; that’s not even implied in the wholesome pdf, mind you – it’s just where my twisted mind immediately went…Oh, and the flavor and prose for them also rocks!

In short, this is a superb example of concise race design, and a resounding success on pretty much every level. 5 stars + seal of approval, given without any hesitation!

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

The second Halloween adventure for DCC clocks in at 22 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look! It should be noted that this adventure is laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper when printing this.

This review was requested and sponsored by one of my patreons.

Unlike the previous Halloween-module “They Served Brandolyn Red”, this one begins at the lofty level of 6. It is strongly suggested to have a well-rounded group of characters in order to survive this one. The module comes with plenty of read-aloud text and provides some guidance for conversations.

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

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All right, only judges around? Great! So, the theme of Erblast, i.e. a form of inherited sin that is passed down through the generation, is a potent theme, and one that can have serious repercussions ina fantasy context. Turns out that, unbeknown to the PCs, some ancestors of theirs during the millennia have vanquished the eponymous Sempstress, an entity of pure horror. Said entity has trailed their bloodlines throughout the aeons…and now it’s time for the PCs to pay for the “sins” of their ancestors. And there is nowhere to hide.

Seriously. The module begins with the scene on the cover, where horrible amalgamations of flesh, stitched together in a grotesque para-life, shamble impossibly, from wardrobes, from drawers…any enclosed space, to attack. Hopefully surviving the assault by the horrific things, the PCs can investigate the respective furniture…and they *will* be able to enter drawers, for example – even if they’re too large to fit them. Closing the drawers sees the PCs transported to a nightmare realm of pulsing, stitched together planar fragments, bloated flesh…

Okay, we have to talk about an obvious inspiration here: the dungeon the PCs explore, the prison/fortress of the mighty Sempstress, is nothing short of a genius riff on Silent Hill’s Otherworld. Instead of aesthetics based on metal, rust and flesh, mirroring the dystopian industrial complex and related visions, this module instead takes a step back and basically transports the Otherworld concept one step back through time, tapping into cultural anxieties of stitched together corpses and the like. A strong Frankenstein angle, a realization of church-propaganda horror-scenarios, comes alive within this place, all while retaining the central leitmotif of fear of the flesh, of disfigurement, of bodily integrity.

Breaching the skin of the pulsing, organic and disgusting foyer, the first room of the “House of Tattered Remains”, drives that home from the get-go, with bodily fluids congealing into a twisted, disgusting thing. Quoting Tuzun Thune, windows to elsewhere may be found…and the monsters are so disturbing, they might as well have been taken from Silent Hill, Rule of Rose, or similar games: We have spiders puppeteering corpse-marionettes on an endless-seeming staircase. We have timekeepers that ask for a moment – and if the PCs answer in the affirmative, that’s just what they steal from their minds! Heck, these nasty buggers may strip an unlucky PC of all experience, reverting them to their humble beginnings! This is, difficulty-wise, one of the most brutal DCC-modules I’ve GMed, but it, like all good, hard modules, earns it: The monsters all have a trick (or two) that rewards clever players over high rolls: Observation, smarts and the like are just as important as PC-brawn here: The timekeepers, for example, have a pretty hefty Achilles’ heel; the spider-like spuppeteer-spiders can be noticed, etc. Traversing a bloody ballroom, finding a room where the PCs are threatened by regression to an infantile state, avoiding the sempstress’s scrying devices…the exploration of this nightmarish realm is just fantastic and evocative.

It should also be noted that a gigantic, horrid blob may well be the impetus for a TPK – the “Custodian of Parts”, erstwhile servant of the Sempstress, may actually be the best chance the PCs have to find something that will give them a much-needed angle against the deadly creature – provided the PCs play their cards right and don’t antagonize the…thing. They will need to find “The Bright” – which is somewhere in vats of eyeballs, slimy mucus, marrow…and here, the module becomes meta in an amazing way: It suggests peeled grapes, etc., the creation of an old-school “Halloween Feelbox”…and to have the players grasp for “The Bright”, hidden somewhere in the icky things. So turn of the lights, and have fun!

Did I mention that the metaphysical house’s attic contains animated flesh-dresses, gruesome perversions of the bridal gowns many of us have seen up there, collecting dust? And did I mention that the Sempstress is really tough, that players that don’t play their cards right, will die horribly in the finale? If they get to life that far.

You see, there is one more aspect about this module that I love: Do you know the kid-horror-movie Caroline? How it can be twisted and disturbing for parents and adults? That’s the final blending of ideas here: The transformative aspect. Instead of a mundane sanity engine, or using the corruption-engine, exploration of the house and fighting its denizens will put the PCs eye to eye with the Sempstress’s horrible power of “Unraveling” – they find tiny stitch-marks on their skin; clothing and body fuse, skin becomes translucent, one eye become a doll’s eye or a button-eye…their very presence herein not only subverts their sanity, it actually corrupts their bodily integrity, even when it comes to being…well, organic. And yes, many of these effects do have mechanical effects. When their bodily stability has been reduced to zero, they unravel, like a piece of abruptly unwoven cloth…for a fate that an enterprising judge will make most fearsome indeed!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, bordering on top-notch. The rules-language is super-tight, and I noticed no undue accumulation of glitches of a formal nature. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with amazing and creepy artworks. The 2 pages of maps are beautiful, b/w,…and lack player-friendly versions, which is a big downside as far as I’m concerned. Pity that players won’t get to see it. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks – they could be more detailed.

Michael Curtis delivers in frickin’ spades in this adventure. The breakdown of physical borders and rules, courtesy of the nature of the dungeon, also provides a genius justification and carte blanche for an eclectic series of encounters that still makes sense; the different leitmotifs and themes blend together in an ingenious way that is greater than the sum of its parts: While the comparison to Silent Hill remains most apt in my book, it should be noted that the module has its own identity: Its blending of early/pre-industrial revolution anxieties, childhood fears and Otherworld (-ly) horror runs a the thin tightrope with panache aplomb, generating a vision that is slick, twisted and frankly glorious. I honestly wished that this had been a massive boxed set depicting a much larger realm, but one may dream of horrific realms for DCC, right? This adventure, in spite of its copious Appendix N/Sword & Sorcery quotes, which clearly designate it as having the DCC-style, actually achieves the goal of being a HORROR-module. It is so good, so resounding a success in its atmosphere and flavor, that I’d recommend it sans hesitation as a module that is amazing not only for DCC, but also for other rule-sets. The adventure deserves being experienced and played – in spite of its brevity and the lack of player-friendly maps, this gets 5 stars + seal of approval. It’s one of the best horror modules I’ve analyzed in the last couple of years. If you enjoy horror, don’t miss this short, but oh-so-sweet gold nugget of grimey, sewn-together, gory madness!

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, in case you’re wondering what the levialogi (singular levialogos) are: They are a new creature subtype introduced originally in Paranormal Adventures, originally inspired in a loose manner by the Leviathans from the Supernatural TV-series. However, they are really loosely inspired by them and imho surpassed the source material in that they had a more distinct identity.

There is another aspect to them that renders them remarkable. I a game as offense-focused as PFRPG, they withstand. They endure. They don’t immediately fall apart when confronted with a properly optimized group. Levialogi are both DEADLY and incredibly resilient, making your high-level PCs actually work for once if they want to have even a remote chance of taking one of these fellows down. Add to that great fluff, and we have perhaps my favorite component of the whole Paranormal Adventures book. They are awesome and singular among monsters, in a way that very few types of subtypes are, with perhaps only kaiju and troops having this significant an impact on the base creature.

In short, they are really, really cool. This supplement adds another one to the fray, a critter to challenge even the most powerful of heroes: The hecaviogos clocks in at no less than CR 24. There is no hiding. True seeing and Perception +43. (This guy has a chance to spot the ridiculously powerful magical ethermancer-assassin I have in my game…) Among the constant tricks this fellow has, we are looking at both freedom of movement AND haste. It’s amorphous and immune against all the instant you-lose tricks and exploitable ability score drain/damage tricks. It has almost 550 Hp and invincibility 20. This value acts as BOTH DR and regeneration. Are you seeing what I mean? :D

Okay, add 5 attacks and we also have a nice offense, but where the fellow becomes truly unique is with the mass conversion ability: The hit of a tendril can suspend aging for a year, penalize saves, cause Dex drain, modify memory, major curse…and those are the general tricks. If you own (you should!) the amazing Childhood Adventures or Microsized Adventures supplements, you’ll get two more tricks out of the fellow: For synergy with the former, we have age category manipulation, for the former, we have microsizing targets…oh, and the hecaviogos can also inflict all of that with its gaze. Did I mention the massive array of SPs? Or that, when it possesses someone, it can supersede the target’s body with its own?

The massive flavor text that further explains these horrific twisters of flesh just adds the final flourish to a pdf that oozes the level of panache I expected to find here.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to the new two-column full-color standard of the Everyman Minis-series, and the artwork for the fellow is really cool! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas had a tough job here: I usually end up as disappointed when I have expectations that are this high for a critter. Not so here. With grace and panache aplomb, the author delivers one nigh-unstoppable nightmare that can challenge the most stalwart of groups when played properly. This critter is a perfect example of what can happen when you emphasize quality over quantity, offering a level of coolness only rarely seen in creatures. This gets a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval, awarded without any hesitation.

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

The second of the 1-on-1 adventure modules that can act as an optional introduction to Curse of the Crimson Throne clocks in at 48 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

Full Disclosure: I have received this adventure some time ago for the purpose of a fair and unbiased review. Since then, I have accepted the position as lead developer for Legendary Games. I have no stake in this product’s success or lack thereof, as it predates me accepting this position, and I have not worked on it in any capacity, shape, way or form.

Well, first things first: This can be run as a direct sequel to the excellent “Orphans of the Hanged Man”, but it does not necessarily require that you have finished its prequel. The module does come with a full and proper array of player-friendly full-color maps. It is intended for a character of 2nd level, and the adventure comes with a new CR 1 monster, the scroll sentinel,, which is an excellent example for how damn good Legendary Games’ monster design continues to be: The creature has a cool Achilles’ hell and several unique abilities – and it does come with its own illustration. Rather cool!! A pregen is also included in the deal.

Scaling information for 3rd level are included for your convenience, and the module sports copious amounts of read-aloud text to help you evoke a concise atmosphere, including different introductory angles if the PC hasn’t played “Orphans of the Hanged Man.”

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

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the old master thief, alas, finally passes away from old age; however, the Pc being his heir of sorts, does receive a letter that passes the valuable city properties one alias of the Hanged Man had, to the PC. A trip to a helpful forger later, and the PC only has a simple task ahead – slipping these forgeries into the city archives! The set-up for the region where the archives are located is pretty nice, providing benefits and notes for PCs doing their proper legwork casing the joint. No less than 6 (!!!) means of ingress are provided with notes on the checks and things required to get in, and the staff is similarly associated in detail with the default NPC arrays. The vault itself is also impressive, for example regarding monster choice: Pyraustas can be found (though the color of the letters of their header is black when it should be white in one of the rare formatting glitches), a bronze asp (fully statted, templated iron cobra) - and traps.

All of these have something in common that I hope to see in PF 2, when it comes, more often: They can be resolved via ROLEplaying, not just by rolling the dice; indeed, that’s the preferred method! The bronze asp has a particular program that allows for full bypassing, the traps can be turned off or avoided by clever PCs – brute-forcing is always possible, yes, but it’s so much more rewarding to do this the clever way. This heist, by the way, is only the first part of this adventure!

Having secured the inheritance, the PC gets an offer from aforementioned forger to building a smuggler’s network – once more, clever observation, with degrees of success and various different means, allows the PCs to recruit, in one way or another, a variety of colorful characters – by free will or coercion. A ragpicker savant ghoststory teller, grindylows (good if you treated them well in Oprhans…), a philandering customs agent and more all can be found – this is basically a “getting the gang together” type of scenario.

However, things don’t end with the smuggling operation – a rival, a very powerful foe, Jaylin Rinegold, has the warehouse seized…and the last man to cross Ms. Rinegold did not fare well. Some inquiries will point the PC to an alchemist, and then, well, it’ll take the application of both the short-lived alchemical brews, marker dye to counter invisible threats, and the skills acquired so far to make it through Rinegold’s mansion: A schedule and reconnaissance details are included, and a guards and wards spells that confuses targets, shrouds doors and cloaks the hallways in mist makes for a super-exciting high-stakes infiltration. Arcane locked doors and those covered by illusions are appropriately noted with glyphs on the GM map for easy and convenient reference. The hands of the former thief that informed the PC btw. still tip toe as crawling claws through the house, making for an interesting souvenir for the poor man. The infiltration here is not piece of cake – the final boss may *just* be an imp (convenient silver provided nearby…), but a final and pretty challenging effect of the global enchantment can have important information slip through the PC’s grasp…and here, the ministerial seal can be found, allowing for the end of the blockade of all those delightful goods, ending the module with the PC having established themselves as a force to be reckoned with.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard of the Curse of the Crimson Throne plugins, and the pdf comes with nice full-color artworks. The cartography is in full-color as well and features player-friendly versions – big plus! The adventure comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Michael Allen and Matt Goodall provide a glorious one-on-one adventure in this offering: “The Smuggler’s Seal” continues to teach the PC to be smart, observant and provides for plenty of different solutions for the problems faced. The learning process is palpable, and the adventure covers a surprising amount of ground, offering more bang for your buck than you’d imagine. I estimate that this could cover up to 8 or 10 full sessions if you take your time with roleplaying conversations, and few players will finish it in under 4 sessions. This has a ton of material to offer and does the heist genre and its various tropes exceedingly well. So well, in fact, that I really wish for the style to continue. It’s not just the challenges or details – it’s the freedom to tackle problems in different ways, the rewarding of roleplaying over simple good die-rolls, that makes this so fun and exciting. This is a worthy sequel to the excellent predecessor and probably manages to exceed its appeal even. If you’re looking for an excellent heist-y module, look not further! As an aside, while it may require lower level PCs and some tinkering with the challenges, I can see this warrant being used for a group as well. It’s that interesting. This receives 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.


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5/5

This DCC-module clocks in at 26 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 22 pages of content, laid out for 6‘‘ by 9‘‘ (A5), which means that you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper if you need to conserve paper.

This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience, and this being October, I felt that a review of a Halloween adventure would be suitable for the month.

This adventure is designed for 8 – 14 0-level characters and acts as a loosely horror-themed funnel adventure. The pdf recommends at least 2 elven PCs to participate in the game, since the plot does hinge partially on a tale of cultural interaction.

Now, structurally, the adventure is not the most lethal funnel for DCC I have seen, but it is nothing to sneeze at; this is deadly. We do get aptly-written read-aloud text that, regarding the quality of the prose, manages to evoke a concise atmosphere. The cartography, as usual for Goodman Games, is extraordinary, with great artworks supporting the atmosphere evoked by the adventure. The map looks like a fold-out map to me, as it spans two pages, which is neat indeed – I don’t own the physical copy, so I can’t comment on the execution in print. The maps sport hexes and no scale per se, so if that is a kind of thing that irks you, be aware of that. Unfortunately, there is no key-less version of the amazing map for VTT-use or handout use, which means that many players won’t get to see it. They will get to see the cool one-page artwork of the final boss fight, though…

Theme-wise, this is a gothic adventure in theme, with a weird twist added on top; if you enjoy, for example, LotFP’s adventures, then this will suit your tastes. Really cool would be that we get no less than 4 pages of handouts: One shows an artistic representation of a key-encounter’s area; one contains 4 heraldic crests associated with different families – the PCs are assumed to belong to one of these families, and each family comes with a mini-sheet of rumors and background knowledge that will influence certain key events of the module. There also is an artistic representation of the family trees of the respective families. The elven family among these would be the Whitegrass family, and the module takes place as an elven maid, Nala Whitegrass, is marrying Hort Leddy, a mere human – and not everyone is happy.

This is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS; potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only judges around? So, the PCs are all guests at the splendid wedding of Nala and Hort, when, just as they sip wine during the ceremony, horror strikes: Ant men erupt from theearth and proceed to dismember and decapitate the guests of the wedding, and indeed, the groom is decapitated as well…and the combat will need to be survived without most equipment – it’s a celebration, after all! So yeah, from the get-go, acid spitting ant-men make for one weird challenge.

This is also a good place to note that the module, for the most part, manages to perfectly execute the notion of player-skill trumping PC-skill, of careful observation being rewarded. The acidic spittle of the ant-men has a certain smell; and when they die, the smell changes. This actually is a point that will allow observant players to avoid a nasty trap. As the ant-men are defeated, the PCs will notice that the groom’s head’s been taken; the race-based hostility between Whitegrass and Leddy family seems to escalate, and blows are exchanged before the grief-stricken family-members intervene. The bride, meanwhile, is understandably nearly catatonic.

Lotrin Whitegrass, the bride’s father, will proceed to attempt to hire the PCs: The family Vintner, one of the families that the PCs will belong to, had once bested and sealed away ant-men akin to those faced, so the trail of the massacre will have the PCs first explore the Vintner vineyard and find the truth here; in an interesting aside that only perceptive PCs will pick up on, Lotrin also promises to reward the PCs for any remains the PCs might find – not just those of Hort. The family connections add motivation and a theme of erblast, i.e. sins passed down through the generations, to the PCs.

The main leitmotif for the vineyard, as the PCs explore it, is one of dilapidation, decay and corruption: The areas have the PCs encounter somewhat magical grapes, and here, we have a potential TPK creature that may be encountered: There is a plant monster that has sleeping gas, and while the DC is low, it is, at 0th level, a deadly for; same goes for the zombigator that may be found in the depths of an irrigation pool turned putrid mire. The read-aloud text deserves special accolades throughout these encounter areas, as the atmosphere evoked is indeed exceptional.

Now careful exploration of the vineyard may well be of tantamount importance to survive the aforementioned, hand-out supplemented encounter: During their trip through the place, particularly thorough PCs can find love-letters that are entwined with the history of the maiden named Brandolyn, you did lend her name to the eponymous vintage.

You see, the Vintner’s family’s crown achievement would be this phenomenal wine, and it was the last truly stellar one they produced; it is named after the deceased lady of one Gage Vintner…and the letters provide a grisly clue that not all may have been right and proper regarding her untimely demise. Indeed, depending on the family in question, some PCs will encounter flashes of insight, compulsions to blurt forth sentences and the like, telling the tale. You see, Brandolyn and Lotrin Whitegrass the elf had an extra-marital affair, and when Gage found out about it, he killed her in a most heinous of ways: Her skull was crushed in the winery, and indeed, the key-encounter of this whole region would be said winery, where the blood and grief of Bradolyn has suffused the much-cherished, nigh magical wine.

Said wine constitutes an important treasure during the adventure, and the chaotic (table provided) effects of drinking it can provide further clues regarding this story; once the connection between the wine and Brandolyn are unearthed, the PCs may use it to buy themselves a brief respite in what must be called the most brutal of the encounters within: Entering the winery triggers the ghost of Brandolyn to fire tools at the PCs, attempt to possess them to exert a price of vengeance paid in blood by executing Vintners, etc. – the encounter is brutal, suitably so, and indeed, Brandolyn may not be slain or put to rest, unless the PCs solve what’s happened to poor Brandolyn.

A trip to the Vintner family mausoleum on the grounds can be helpful there and provide clues that more is afoot: By examining the respective sarcophagi, the PCs will encounter their first gourd puppet, an undead that is animated by a huge swarm of animated seedlings, which will proceed to attack after the host body having been slain. Bear in mind that we’re still talking 0-level, so that should indeed be a horrific challenge!

Anyways, sooner or later the PCs will have to venture underground, into ant-man territory. PCs remembering the olfactory clues from their previous encounters with ant-men (or those that are lucky!) will have a chance to avoid some primitive traps on the way down. It should be mentioned that there is more than one way to get down here, which is a plus; indeed, it is nice to see this brief adventure attempt to be as nonlinear as possible. Instead of finding an organized resistance of ant-men, the PCs will find a new horror of sorts. While ant-men indeed will try to stop the PCs, they are also likely to encounter the ant-man queen, who has been decapitated just as the groom – ant-men are trying, in a futile and pitiful gesture, to mend their headless queen’s gaping wound with pupae. The things have, ultimately, been enslaved as well; they are, ultimately victims as the humanoids above.

Within the depths of the ant-man lair, the PCs will find the true culprit. Mad and obsessed Frezzo, the groom’s brother-in-law, stands next to a mound of flesh and heads – Samhain, the corpse harvester, an entity drawing sustenance and power from the corpses accumulated. It is this entity disturbing the Vintner’s place, which promptly animated the murderer Gage as another gourd puppet, which constitutes the final boss of this adventure. This also represents one of the few points of criticism I have here, namely that, while the flavor-text notes the possibility for Samhain to animate more un-dead, the like is not represented mechanically. From a structural point of view, rewarding PCs that dealt particularly well with Brandolyn’s ghost would have also made this deadly encounter somewhat more rewarding.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though not as tight as usual for Goodman Games – there are a few instances of attribute-references that have not been capitalized properly, for example. Similarly, the wine cellar region does have a bit of crucial information that should be included in the read-aloud text for PCs to make proper observations not formatted as such; a minor nitpick, but a point that may have an unprepared judge stumble nonetheless. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard and the interior artwork consists of original b/w pieces and is thematically-consistent. The cartography, as usual, is excellent, though the lack of player-friendly versions does constitute a comfort detriment. The pdf comes with basic bookmakrs per region, but not per keyed encounter.

Stephen Newton’s “They Served Brandolyn Red” is a nice weird fantasy/horror-ish module that manages to aptly combine dark fantasy and gothic trappings in a blending that is rewarding to run and experience. The angle of families influencing exposition and how the world interacts with the PCs is a great one, and the module manages to cram A TON of material into its pages; it is a surprisingly concise exercise in adventure writing. (Remember: 6’’ by 9’’/A5-pages, instead of the usual standard-sizes…) That being said, the module feels, to me, like a caged beast in a way: The brevity of the adventure can be considered to be its one true detriment; the family angle focuses more on two of the families than the others, and the tragedy to be unearthed by the PCs, ultimately, is practically jammed down their throats.

Even if you go full-blown murder-hobo mode, there’s a good chance you’ll get to understand everything; that may be a feature or a bug, depending on how you look at it, but I couldn’t help but wonder what the author would have done with 10 more pages to flesh out the mystery, to have the players unearth (and perhaps experience) the past in flashes, piece together what has actually happened…you get what I mean. The trappings of an investigation, of a mystery are here, but they ultimately are sacrificed to the page-count and the demands of the concise narrative.

Don’t get me wrong: This is a great module in pretty much every way, and a capable judge could easily expand the module with a few flourishes here and there to make it truly phenomenal. To make that abundantly clear: I am NOT disappointed by this adventure in any way, shape or form! This is a super-cool, creepy, in-your-face adventure! I just couldn’t help but feel like there was a smarter, more complex adventure here, waiting to be unearthed, one wherein the destinies of the families are more closely entwined with secrets and treachery.

When all’s said and done, then this module should be considered to be a resounding success and a great choice for a starter adventure, or for a Halloween scenario. It is fun and rewarding, deadly, and even if you don’t play DCC, this may well be worth checking out – converting it is super-easy and does not require familiarity with DCC’s more fiddly bits.

As a whole, this represents one fine adventure, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content.

The supplement begins with an explanation of bloodline mutations: Whenever a sorcerer or bloodrager would receive a bloodline power, they may exchange it for one of the mutations within; alternatively, bloodline feats may be swapped for mutations, though prerequisites must be met either way; minimum levels to take the respective mutation are noted for both classes, accounting for the different usefulness for the respective class. Bloodragers may use blood mutations even if they’re not in bloodrage.

All right, the introduction and explanation on the first page out of the way, let’s take a look at the mutations, a total of 10 of which are provided!

-Blood Bath: Whenever you cast a bloodrager/sorc-spell that deals HP damage and affects an area, creatures failing their save also take +1d4 bleed damage. The limit here is that only Spell Focus’d spells or those hearkening from the bloodline are affected by this potent boost. Still, this is one I wouldn’t allow in all my games. High fantasy? Sure. Lower-powered games? Less sure there.

-Blood Blister: Sickens creatures that fail their save versus sorc/bloodrager spells for Cha-mod rounds. Only applies on Spell Focus’d/bloodline spells, and is correctly codified as a pain effect. The minimum levels here are higher than for Blood Bath, which makes the bloodmutation’s potent benefits easier to digest for me.

-Blood Bond: When targeting allies with a sorc/bloodrager spell, you can choose to forma blood bond with one affected ally.. While such a bond is in place, both beneficiaries of Blood Bond gain the Lookout feat while adjacent, and receive the benefits of status (not properly italicized). Only harmless spells may forge a blood bond, and only one may be in place, with new casts allowing for the superseding of previous casts. Nice one, though 9th/12th minimum level may actually be a tad bit conservative for this one.

-Blood Enmity: Choose a creature type (and subtype, if applicable) from the ranger list. The choice may be determined by your bloodline, targeting opposed creatures, subject to GM’s approval. Creatures targeted by your Spell Focus’d or bloodline spells that fit the criteria are in for a bit more pain: You either get +1 to the spell’s CL, or +5 to caster level or dispel checks made with it. Cool one!

-Blood Feud: +1 to CL with single target spells if you’ve been hit by an attack, spell, SP or SU that wasn’t harmless by the target. To nitpick: This should specify a maximum duration, like “within the last minute” or somesuch. It’s just +1, but from an aesthetic point of view, it’d have been slightly tighter.

-Blood Lust: +2 to atk with sorc/bloodrager spells that need to hit; if you hit, the bonus lasts for Cha-mod rounds, minimum 1. This one is pretty potent, but has high minimum levels and is kept in check by the bonus type.

-Blood Mist: Gain concealment when you cast a bloodrager/sorc spell, courtesy of blood spray. This lasts for Cha-mod rounds. Minor typo: “This you can’t use this concealment to make Stealth checks.”[sic!] Important caveat, though! Still, this one is available from 1st level (for sorcs) and 4th level for bloodragers and represents a rather potent ability sans limits. I’d probably make this one require an action to activate.

-Blood Spray: Add + Cha-mod to the bleed caused by the blood bath mutation. This one is suitably high-level.

-Blood Surge: When you target yourself with a harmless bloodrager/sorc spell, you either get fast movement, or increase its power by +10 ft. for Cha-mod rounds. (Here, no minimum duration is noted.) Cool one!

-Blood Thirst: When you use a bloodrager or sorc-spell with the polymorph descriptor to gain a bite attack, your bite attack increases its damage output as though you were 1 size category larger. This one is a bit odd, as plenty of bloodlines grant bites – this should probably interact with those as well, right?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level, but not as tight as usual for Everyman Gaming. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard with the nice artwork-border. The artwork presented is nice, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Matt Morris’ bloodline mutations are a fun little supplement; the concept deserves to be expanded further. That being said, due to the wide variety between bloodline powers and feats, it’s hard to judge whether or not you’d consider the respective options to be balanced. As a whole, a few seem to gravitate to the more potent side of things, often courtesy of having arcana-like effects that apply to many or all spells cast. That being said, this is a nice pdf to check out if you’re looking for some nice options for magical bloodlines, and it does have some really cool visuals. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

2/5

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with one page of introduction that also contains a nice kitsune proverb as well as 2 pages of content.

On these pages, we find a total of 5 new feats and a new archetype, so let’s take a look and start with feats!

-Kinetic Felling: When your blast would kill your foes, you can, as an immediate action, accept 1 + a utility wild talent’s burn cost to refrain from killing your foes and leaving them instead stable at Constitution score -1 negative hit points. Opponents get a save versus the talent and take a penalty depending on the overkill by which you’d have killed them. Interesting one from a story-perspective.

-Kinetic Shapechanger: Lets you use kinetic blasts, gather power etc. when polymorphed if the creature lacks hands or prehensile appendages. *Personally*, I’d have tied that to the ability to executed natural attacks, but yeah. That’s aesthetics. Slightly odd: Alternate shapes can hence use the blasts with hands full, while the regular form can’t…that’s a bit strange.

-Kinetic Kyubi: This one is massive. It basically provides a kitsune-themed list of spells and codifies them as a utility wild talents available for each element of the listed level, with a burn cost of 1. Some of these are permanent, and they are treated as psychic magic for spellcasting interaction, with CL equal to kineticist level and save DC adhering to default utility wild talent save DC scaling. Interesting: Higher level options net their lower level brethren. You grow one tail per talent chosen, but otherwise, this has no impact. There is a problem here, and it’s a pretty big one. The verbiage makes, for example overwhelming presence last until you next recover burn. That’s usually a level 9 spell with rounds as duration. Oh, and all of these “unless otherwise noted” cost 1 burn. One has a burn cost of 0, but apart from that, NONE of them have a diverging cost noted. This feat is broken and needs careful reevaluation.

-Blazing Fox Form: Whenever an opponent within 30 ft. makes a melee or ranged attack against you and misses, you can accept 1 point of burn as an immediate action, transform into a Tiny fox, and move up to 50 ft. with perfect fly speed, and if you possess Swift Kitsune Shapechanger, you may also use it as a move or as a free action. This is stated to interact with kineticist class features as an utility wild talent, but does not specify an effective spell level.

-Exploding Fox Form: I get what this tries to do. It builds on the previous feat, which is stated to interact with class features as a utility wild talent, but its verbiage falls apart. “Whenever you use the Blazing Fox Form feat, you can attack one creature who was adjacent to you when you used this ability with your kinetic blast.” Thing is, we didn’t use Blazing Fox Form with the kinetic blast; we were attacked and used it as a response. There is some sort of confusion here. Blasts are not utility wild talents and while some utility wild talents can modify blasts, they don’t have to. This is further complicated by requiring the modification of the blast to be executed by the kinetic blade infusion, which makes the sequence of events somewhat odd.

The archetype contained herein would be the chosen of the clan, who must be non-evil and has a code of conduct. At 1st level, the chosen of the clan can use gather power to transform her body’s vitality into elemental matter as an alternate means to gather power, choosing development or youth. If she uses this ability, she reduces the total burn cost of the next blast or utility wild talent by 2 as a move action, 3 as a standard action. This either increases the age of the character by 1/10th of the minimum age for venerable, rounded up, or decreases age by 1/10th. Odd: Only the becoming younger aspect features the caveat “for every point of burn prevented”, while the other option presents a one-time reduction. Pretty positive that’s an oversight. Changes to age remain for 24 hours, after which the character returns to her true age at the range of 1 year per hour. In short: This ability is intended to work in context with Everyman Gaming’s excellent Childhood Adventures book, but is a bit confused. It can’t kill you/regress you beyond newborn, btw….so once you are an infant or venerable, gather away. Pretty sure that’s an oversight as well.

Starting at 4th level, the kitsune may choose a selection of ninja tricks or feats instead of a utility wild talent, which includes the new feats or “Vulpine Pounce (see below).” Guess what’s not below? Bingo. Vulpine Pounce. 12th level unlocks master tricks, and burn is substituted for ki, with the ability expressly providing the means to use them in conjunction with the gather power tweaks.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, though, this is not up to par for either author Clinton Boomer, or Everyman Gaming. Kineticist rules-language is complex and intricate, but here, we have quite a few stumbles that I usually don’t get to see from them. Layout adheres to a colorful, nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

This pdf left me very disappointed. I like kitsune, and Clinton Boomer’s high-concept design tends to be amazing. Well, nobody can win all the time, and this time, a couple of things have seriously gone wrong. The Fox-feats should simply be utility wild talents; there are inconsistencies in the archetype’s verbiage and the Kyubi feat’s interaction with the kineticist chassis are WEIRD and kinda broken. I wanted to love this little pdf, but frankly, it has a lot of issues for its brevity. I can’t go higher than 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This supplement clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, ¾ of a page empty, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with slightly more than 23 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, first of all, this is indeed what you think it is – we have a play-a-werewolf supplement here on our hands. As such, we begin with a werewolf template that is specifically designed for player-use in mind. This template unapologetically increases CR by +1, which obviously makes sense. The target character gets the shapechanger subtype and +2 natural AC in animal or hybrid form. In wolf form, speed is adjusted to 50 ft., and the character gains +2 Wisdom and +2 to their choice of Strength, Dexterity or Constitution. The template obviously provides change shape, and one of 4 different natural attack choices made upon acquiring the template. These are tightly codified regarding type, but not damage type, where they require defaulting. Anyways, the interesting component here would be that the respective natural attacks increase in potency at higher character levels, adding for example bleed damage to bites, grappling feats to claws, rend and pounce – you get the idea. It is testament to the experience of the designers that thankfully, the pounce like ability is locked behind a sufficiently high minimum required level, showing a deep understanding of subtle nuances of PFRPG’s design paradigms.

Beyond these, the werewolf gets DR 3/-, low-light vision and lycanthropic empathy as well as scent. The origins of the werewolf curse are notably diverse, and as such, being bitten and the associated cursed bite ability, being born with the curse, wearing a pelt, etc. are included. Should you and your players not aim for permanently going for playing as a werewolf, the pdf notes a couple of means to potentially get rid of the condition – from poisonous wolfsbane to silver bullets, the classics are covered.

The pdf then proceeds to note how, ultimately, being a werewolf in a regular fantasy society would affect the psyche of the concerned character; after that, the book dives into one of its more interesting and rewarding aspects, namely the focus on packs: 4 pack rituals are covered, all of which provide a bonus beyond membership for completion, and all of which are tied to a unique and potent teamwork feat: If you belong to the Pack of the Night Wind, you for example get Hide in Plain Sight while within 60 feet of another pack member. That is super-strong and utterly horrifying! More potent Power Attacks with natural attacks, reduced power point costs – some potent tricks here. Very important to note: The alpha, as befitting of pack structures, gains additional benefits from these feats, providing a good mechanical reason to strive to gain the top-dog (pardon the pun) position.

The pdf then proceeds to present no less than 4 high-complexity archetypes, with the first being the moonlight meditant soulknife, which is a means to lose the werewolf curse: The character does gain the shapechanger subtype and a shifting feat (more on that later) at 1st level, replacing the usual bonus feat gained. The mindblade is basically the ability to shield the body of the meditant from moonlight, passively cutting the light into a sheathe of protective light that allows for the generation of ephemeral class and fangs – basically a spectral werewolf sheathe, a disassociated form of the curse worn, with 6th level adding a bite to the base array. This replaces alter form and otherwise works as the soul knife’s form mind blade. Super creative ad cool! This is further enhanced by providing a potent ability that drives home the savagery of werewolf: 5 foot movement as a free action, no AoOs, before each attack made with the aforementioned mind blade. This extends to up to 10 ft. at 4th level and further increases to 15 and 20 ft., respectively, at 8th and 16th level. This is not a 5-foot step, but may be used in conjunction with it. This replaces throw mind blade.

Since the base mind blade has been tweaked, the archetype then also proceeds to modify enhanced mind blade appropriately and excludes potentially problematic blade skills. 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter net scaling DR 1/silver. 4th level allows the projection to provide a shield of temporary hit points, courtesy of the sheathe. The ability also nets a bonus to speed and a deflection bonus to AC…and hitting targets allows you to replenish the pool. *sigh* No, there is nothing preventing infinite healing exploits here. Hand me this bag of kittens, I need to replenish my shield…But wait! You don’t need to beat up kittens. Resting for a minute also replenishes the shield. Which is problematic, as leeching abilities can thus prevent infinite healing from the quickly rejuvenating temporary hit points. A caveat that explicitly disallows such transference may have been in order here. Particularly since, theme-wise, I really enjoyed the visuals here. 5th level allows for quick drawing of these abilities, and 12th level allows for a Str or Dex boost and fly speed, swim speed and climb speed equal to base land speed, the aquatic subtype under water and the benefits of being able to squeeze through areas of half the usual size sans penalties – which replaces but one blade skill and may be a bit overkill. The archetype comes with guidance to increase its power even further, should you prefer extremely high-powered games.

The second archetype would be the silverblade hunter, a fighter archetype that gains +2 skills per level that must be spent on Wis-based skills, which btw. also all are class skills for the fellow. They lose heavy armor and tower shield proficiency for that. They get a special weapon that is treated as mithral at first level, acting as broken for other characters, analogue to the gunslinger. Armor training only applies while wearing mithral armor, but said armor is treated as one category lighter. Weapon training instead applies to all mithral weapons. Thematically interesting tweak!

The unshackled rager bloodrager archetype does not gain a bloodline; at 6th level and every 3 levels thereafter, they choose a feat from a brief list, with 7th and every 3 levels up to 16th level adding a bonus spell to the spells known. This collective is treated as bloodline for the purpose of meeting prerequisites and requirements. Instead of the bloodline power, we begin with a powerful bite attack, or an upgrade thereof; the bloodrage component of the class engine is replaced with lupine frenzy, which may be maintained for 4 + Con-mod rounds per day, +2 for every class level attained thereafter. While in this frenzy, the lupine rager gets +2 to atk and Will-saves and is treated as 2(!!) size categories larger for the purpose of natural weapon damage for the bite attack; considering that the base bite enhancement can already enhance a Medium target’s bite attack to the base damage value of Large, we’d thus arrive at a potential 2d8 bite base damage at level 1. Nasty, particularly if enlarged… The rage also nets -2 to AC and 2 temporary hit points per HD and basically behaves as bloodrage. The archetype really becomes interesting at 4th level, when the archetype learns to delay the onset of up to 1/4th maximum hit points damage, which is really interesting and tightly codified. This obviously replaces the 4th level bloodline power, with the 8th level power replaced by gaining the trip special quality. The 12th level power is replaced with freedom of movement while in lupine frenzy. At 16th level, the archetype may reduce delayed damage via inflicted bite attack damage, which is appropriate at this level. The usual rage upgrades at 11th, 17th and 20th level have been adjusted appropriately to account for the changed engine, and the capstone allows the bloodrager to truly become unstoppable, allowing them to use rounds of lupine frenzy to take actions they’d otherwise be denied from conditions et al. You know, apart from system mastery allowing first level characters to be a bit too good for my tastes, this is a really cool and fun archetype!

However, the most complex archetype herein may well be the wild huntsmaster dread, who gains Survival as a class skill and the collective ability, with scaling range and the 15th and 19th level upgrades for plane-spanning and planar-boundaries transcending range. The important tweak, though, would be the hunting pack: Replacing devastating touch, the archetype basically can fill empty slots in the collective with the hunting pack, up to 1 slot, plus 1 per 4 class levels. This takes a full-round action, and the pack members act on the initiative count of the dread. The size of the pack, Charisma modifier of the wild huntsmaster and class level determine the stats of the pack. The pack behaves, in a way, like a spectral haze of 5 ft.-spaces through which they can act, requiring direction by the wild huntsmaster. Combat feats are shared, a statblock is provided – you’ve understood it at this point probably: The pack behaves somewhat akin to the troop subtype with direction and the like reminiscent of the mechanics of much-beloved classes like tinker or general. The theme of the spectral pack is enhanced with an ability to sense fear, tracking, spirit of many…and the latter adds an augment to all network descriptor powers. Terrors may be channeled through the pack, telepathy, bites suppressing fear immunity (and later, mind-affecting effects)…and at 11th level, the archetype can infuse collective members with the pack’s spirits, making them temporarily werewolves! The capstone, finally, can force targets hit to be forced to join the hunt! This archetype is an A+ example of masterclass, complex design and warrants getting the pdf all on its own. Seriously. Plays smoothly, is powerful, yet not overburdening…just one amazing archetype oozing flavor and style.

The pdf provides 3 prestige classes, with the first two spanning 5 levels: The formless master needs BAB +4, 3 shifting feats, and gets 4 + Int skills, d8 HD, ¾ BAB-progression, ½ Fort- and Ref-save progression and 3 levels provide further class feature progressions. Every uneven level nets a bonus shifting feat. The first level ability allows for minor shapechanges to disguise themselves, 2nd level nets +5 ft. reach; 4th level adds a physical attribute bonus while affected by a shift, and 5th level allows for the extension of shifting feat durations.

What do shifting feats do? They are added to the bonus feat lists of shpaechangers, as granted by class levels. I.e. as bloodline feats etc. Shifting is a swift action and you get ½ character level + Con-mod (min 1) shifts per day. The interesting thing about these would be that there are multiple effects per shifting feat, allowing for control over the duration: You could have the benefits for 10 minutes, for example, or for just 2 rounds, with the latter increasing in power, obviously. There is another cool aspect here: The shifting feats increase in power the more of them you get, with 3 and 5 shifting feats being thresholds. Chameleon Shift, for example, gets rid of the -.5 penalty when attempting to move more than half speed while hiding, with 5 shifting feats allowing for hiding while observed. The latter can be potentially gained a bit soon for my tastes, so beware there. A total of 13 such feats are provided and make for a compelling and interesting way to enhance shapeshifters. The pdf also sports a new race trait, which is pretty damn cool – beyond a skill boost, you can smell badly hurt creatures and under the full moon’s light, you can even deathwatch them. Pretty damn cool!

But let’s return to the PrCs for now: The second one would be the Greater Werewolf, who gets full BAB-progression, ½ Fort-save progression, 2 class feature progression steps, d10 HD, 4 + Int skills and some really easy to meet prerequisites. The PRc adds class level to the DR gained by the template, nets +2 to Wisdom and Iron Will at 1st level, and at 2nd level, nets at-will charm animal as an extraordinary ability regarding to creatures affected by lycanthropic empathy. 3rd level allows for free action form change, even a 1/round change when it#s not the greater werewolf’s turn. 4th level allows the PrC to get another natural weapon upgrade from the template, and 5th level nets regeneration 5/silver.

The final PrC, the varsärk, covers 10 levels and gets d10 HD,, requiring BAB+6 and Multiattack, and gaining 4 + Int skills per levels, full BAB-progression and ½ Fort- and Ref-save progression, with 8 of the levels providing class feature progressions. The PRC requires totem rage powers, bloodrage, raging songs etc. and basically embodies the rage of the wolf, with cold damage upgrade to natural attacks, scaling beast shapes, endure elements – you guessed it: This is the winter wolf champion! Cool (haha) one!

The pdf closes with 4 spells: Curse of the beast and its greater version do pretty much what you’d expect them to, and the same goes for detect shapechanger. As an aside: I’m no big fan of such low-level detect-spells, with this one in particular somewhat trivializing shapechanger presence and their intrinsic horror. Finally, lunar healing nets you fast healing 1 for a minute.

Part II of my review can be found here!


An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This module clocks in at 57 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page backer-thanks, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 50 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5)so let’s take a look!

This adventure is intended for a group of characters level 1 – 2, and one could argue that pretty much any party composition could be capable of besting it. In fact, this module could, theoretically, be run for a single character, but I’ll elaborate on that later. The ruleset used would be, no surprise there, LotFP (Lamentations of the Flame Princess), but, as always, translation to other old-school systems is pretty easy.

As far as difficulty is concerned, this may be one of the more forgiving LotFP-modules; in fact, I’d argue that it is one of the fairest, perhaps the fairest of the LotFP-modules. Save or suck, whether earned or not, or the like does not greatly influence the design-paradigm employed within. Instead, this is very much an adventure, where the greed of the PCs and players ultimately determines the difficulty and consequences of the adventure. It should be noted that the adventure has fallout potential that can change the course of campaigns, but more on that later.

My review is primarily based on the softcover of the module; one of my patreons donated the funds to acquire it for the purpose of a review at my convenience. I chose this time of the year for obvious reasons – this is a unique change of pace as far as horror-adventures are concerned.

I also own the pdf, and while the pdf is layered, there is, alas, no option to render the maps player-friendly, i.e. get rid of the keys denoting keyed encounters or the like. That being said, handing out a map to the players, in this instance, would be super counter-productive due to the whole angle of the adventure, so this, for once, gets a pass in that regard. The map does note places where the structures are instable and can be collapsed for brief respites from the threats within. More on that later. The layers in the pdf do allow you to turn off images and background and make it more printer-friendly, should you choose to print it.

It should be noted that this is NOT an adventure that you can easily run spontaneously – there is no read-aloud text, and the module demands that a referee is rather familiar with the peculiarities of the dungeon-complex featured within. Having to look up stuff can, in this instance, be even more of a mood-killer than usual, so if you plan to run this, do your prep-work, and do it thoroughly. If you have an excellent memory or are a veteran referee, then you should have no serious issues running this.

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

Okay, only referees around? Great!

So, the PCs are on their way to some place in the English country-side, but the module may, with a bit of reskinning, easily relocated to another place; there are rumors of a heresy or cult or somesuch, and the thus the PCs visit an old country church, where Reverend Elroy Bacon lives. This church is fully mapped and sports some interesting and creative artworks on display – while these are only described, they can provide a bit of a nice levity before the module turns dark.

You see, the rumors of the cult here? They’re, in a way, a kind of double-bluff: Yes, there is a “cult” of sorts, but it’s actually just a front for a secret religious order that conceals a great shame for Christianity, namely the true fate of none other than Augustine of Canterbury. Contrary to popular belief, the missionary did not die 604 AD. Paralyzed via poison, he was buried alive and then re-excavated from the lightless depths of his grave, only to be transformed into a horrid, shapeless mockery of his erstwhile form – the eponymous God That Crawls. It is a form of esprit de l’escalier that this transformation turned the man basically immune to the ravages of time. The conspiracy that began as pagan punishment became a cult, and when the Normans came, the cult was found, the goal, obviously, to keep the truth of Augustine’s state from ever coming to light.

Yeah. This does not bode well for the PCs. It should also be noted that clever PCs can find documents in the reverends room that, in a subtle manner, show the PCs how deep the conspiracy actually goes – these permits stretch back for years, and indeed, signatories are noted on a massive 2-page list. In another module, not even one would be given, so kudos for the obsessive attention to detail here! Now, the beginning of the module hinges on the PCs going down into the catacombs of the church, the place where the God That Crawls, looms, and a couple of simple deception angles are provided – this, in a way, represents a bottleneck for the referee to navigate, and the options, from drugged wine to force, could work, but depending on the paranoia level of your players, this may actually be the hardest part to pull off. Hence, my suggestion: Make the reverend own up to the catacombs being forbidden and warded, and hold a mass to “sanctify” the PCs so they don’t trigger the wards; all the villagers will proudly gaze upon the intrepid explorers, as they partake in drugged wine during the mass, only to have them wake at the bottom of the pit. This contextualizes the whole experience and appeals to player-ego, which may work for some PCs. Otherwise, another suggestion would be to have the villagers and reverend create a deliberate opening for infiltration. Both, at least to me, are a bit more subtle and likely to work than the suggestions presented, but that may just be me. After almost 20 years of suffering through my often sadistic GMing, my players are a tad bit paranoid, but I digress.

The dungeon presented is a remarkable, catacomb-like maze with tight tunnels and cells, spanning no less than 3 levels. In the print version, the map is on a fold-out in the back, with a stunning artwork of none other than Jason Rainville on the back. The bottom of the pit is covered in slime, for that is what the God That Crawls has become – a nigh-unstoppable slimy moloch that oozes through the claustrophobic tunnels. Stairs and ladders connect the three levels in a ton of connection points, and this is where the module becomes basically a survival-loot-run: The God That Crawls can theoretically be slain by feeding it clerics and thus reducing its regeneration, but that is EXTREMELY unlikely; the more likely outcome here would be that the PCs will be running. A LOT.

As such, the modules lists the modalities of running from the god, navigating stairs and traps and the like, in great detail, and provides two means for the referee to simulate the presence of the God That Crawls – one that has him spawn in, while the other meticulously tracks its movements. Which one you prefer is a matter of personal taste. I gravitate towards the harder choice of having him tracked properly, but your mileage may vary.

Now, if the villagers managed to drug/capture/fool the PCs, they will begin a ruckus to alert the creature pretty much immediately – and form then onwards, it’ll be the PLAYERS, not the PCs, who determine the difficulty of the adventure. You see, there are A TON of treasure caches denoted by Christian symbols – but breaking these open increases the chance of alerting the God That Crawls. (And yes, a generator is provided for these.)

In a way, this is akin to games like the Clocktower franchise or Haunting Ground when executed properly, as the God That Crawls shows up, resulting in panic and frantic escape. That being said, there is one point of criticism I have here: The God That Crawls is not a particularly interesting chase monster. There is one note of it reacting to mass by swaying in trance, but that’s about it. It doesn’t have unique reactions to certain areas, it doesn’t have unique set-piece reactions beyond follow and consume. Now, I get why that’s the case – it makes it a singularly determined and alien force, and it allows for some breathing room regarding the second leitmotif of the adventure, one that is not explicitly spelled out anywhere in the text of the module, or other reviews.

The God That Crawls, essentially, is an implacable and indestructible warden of sorts. Beyond the mundane treasure-caches, there are plenty of rooms here that contain evil, or at least extremely problematic, items. In a way, while reading this, I had this one impulse: “This is basically an SCP containment facility, fantasy edition!” There are a lot of rooms here that contain items that could be considered to be heretical and even deadly. There is, for example a gem in Null Space beyond a mirror, which may well se a character trapped there forever; there is a pin that makes a disgusting tumor grow slowly, which then proceeds to become a monster under its former host’s command. There is an invisible chair, a room that can make a silver coins gold, there are cursed statuettes that can garner obedience… and there is the spear of Longinus, which is surprisingly weak-sauce for such an artifact. It bypasses all immunities and armor, sure, but it also makes you anathema to the divine…so think well before picking it up. There is a text that could ignite horrific forms of anti-Semitism if circulated, courtesy of its despicable lies; there is a diamond that increases in worth if fed with blood…you get the idea.

Two of the items contained in this dungeon deserve special mention, with the first being the chariot of unreality, just the axle, actually. It’s magic, engulf a chariot affixed in flames, and may pull the PCs beyond space and time! And yes, the item actually comes with a warning. A spelled out warning. In game. If the PCs still go and do it…their problem. Anyway, the chariot may have the PCs vanish – if that happens, their character sheets are put in letters, which are then to be placed around public places. If they are returned, the PCs get XP, if not, the PCs are forever lost. Now, it should be obvious that this is a meta-item and somewhat experimental. I wouldn’t use this approach in e.g. New York City or the like, but yeah – it’s interesting. The chariot can also evaporate PCs if they take a specific amount of damage – reacting to that with humor is intended to be rewarded, which is a nice idea.

The second item would be The Book. Its write-up is a whole 6 pages long, and it is one of the most twisted, genuinely creepy artifacts I have ever encountered in a roleplaying game. It has been separated into different parts, so-called signatures, and these do contain a whole array of rather potent and unique spells; writing on it states that it must be assembled or kept apart and researching it…well, is nigh impossible. Why? Because The Book corrupts information. The more signatures are assembled, the more deadly it becomes, as everything starts unraveling – the item can well destroy all of existence, corrupting math, planes and the like. Beginning the process of assembly, having it fall into an enemy’s hands and then stopping it would be an amazing, utterly horrific campaign of apocalyptic proportions. I adore it. Unfortunately, I adore it more than pretty much anything else in the module.

In a way, the module may be too successful at its SCP-angle for its own good. The creepy and dangerous items with the God That Crawls as a kind of warden make for a super-unique angle, but one that would make more sense, at least to me, in the Vatican or a similarly heavily fortified place, framed by a heist narrative. The vast impact of the items and their religious significance in a couple of cases ultimately mean that it was a bit hard for me to suspend my disbelief regarding how they ended up so comparatively poorly guarded.

They also, in a way, dilute the focus, away from the survival horror aspect of the constant threat of the God That Crawls. The magical items and their cool angles stand in no true relation to the God That Crawls, and while PCs will probably experiment with a few of them/take them with them, the two focuses of the adventure never wholly align. Don’t get me wrong: They don’t impede each other in a crucial manner, and in a way, the dangerous items represent the true price to be gained here, but still. A sense of disjunction never wholly left me. That being said, this may well never actually come up in play for your group, as the whole containment site angle is very much a place that the players are not guaranteed to find or explore in detail.

Groups that find them, that are excited by the items may well consider the God That Crawls to be a nuisance of sorts, while paranoid/careful groups may well only encounter one or two, or even none of the items prior to escaping. Granted, most of these items are separated from the God’s roaming grounds by a chasm that it can’t cross, allowing for plenty of experimentation, but ultimately, the items, to me, somewhat diluted the frantic pace of the adventure.

If you manage to get the God That Crawls hunting the PCs done right, if you manage to incite the panic this module goes for, then the items will be less of a point of interest. This, in a way, ties in regarding my previous observation – the God That Crawls, in lack of a better term, doesn’t have a particularly compelling “AI”; adding a couple of “scripted” encounters is easy and should not overexert the prowess of any referee. Still, adding a couple of unique behavior patterns to keep up the pressure would have made the creature more compelling, at least for me. To give you an example: Within aforementioned chasm, there are mini-gods, split off over the century from the horrid slime-thing. They can’t, RAW, escape, but having conditions to free them would have made this more interesting – as would having the God That Crawls exhibit a kind of animal cunning, a couple of unique responses. The module, for example, allows the PCs to initiate collapses to get a respite from the God That Crawls – making the creature affect, at least potentially, the integrity of the complex, making it cut off PC routes and the like, would have added a whole new realization of terror here. Granted, once more that is easy enough to implement, but yeah.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I noticed no grievous glitches on either levels. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard and manages to present quite a lot of content per page. The artworks by Jason Rainville are excellent, top-tier – no surprise there. The cartography by Devin Night is also full-color and neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the softcover print version is a nice book.

James Edward Raggi IV’s “The God That Crawls” is a module I wrestled with for a while. It plays better than it reads, courtesy of the smart design of the complex, and it requires some serious prep-work by the GM to become familiar with the complex and the plethora of stairs and ladders connecting the levels. It does reward the referee for doing so with the best execution of its trope I have seen in quite a long while, though. This is a good module, one could even argue it to be great. However, as discussed in the SPOILER-section above, it doesn’t feel as “whole” as e.g. “Death Frost Doom”, “The Grinding Gear” and some other early modules penned by the author. It has all the trademarks you’d expect: Lavish attention to detail, a bit of meta-game shenanigans, horrific stuff that can happen to the PCs, a focus on player-agenda over character-agenda, a focus on letting the greed of players/PCs dictate, in a way, the difficulty of the adventure…it’s all there. This module, in spite of my nitpicking above, is one that is definitely worth owning.

Nevertheless, I couldn’t shake that feeling, that, with a big more unique set-pieces pertaining the primary antagonist within, with a tighter focus or a more expansive scope, this could have been legendary. With a couple more pages to add a few unique reactions for the main antagonist, this could have been even better, a masterpiece; with a couple of mini-puzzles beyond navigation, this could have made for a longer and truly nerve-wracking


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

4/5

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

After a brief text that contextualizes dragon disciples within the Xa-Osoro system as a setting that’s shared by Everyman Gaming and Rogue Genius Games, we are introduced to the Dragon Disciple archetype, which nets key abilities at 2nd and 6th level. It may not be added to a dragon with the dragon graft or template or to a construct, and if you have a class that sports a bloodline or heritage-themed ability, said ability must be dragon-themed, if possible.

The second level ability is draconic form. You choose one dragon template graft, and 1/day may manifest draconic form as a swift action. While in this form, you gain the benefits of draconic manifestations. You get one draconic manifestation at the start, and may use the Expanded Draconic Form feat, which nets you another one. If you have this class feature, you may choose Expanded Draconic Form as an alternate class feature at 4th, 9th, 12th and 18th level. The special line notes that archetype may get this feat as an alternate ability at 6th level and every 6 levels thereafter, as well as 9th – so, which one is the correct first one? 4th or 6th level?. Draconic form lasts for key ability modifier + ½ level. Starting at 6th level, you may spend 1 Resolve Point to use the draconic form once more before having to rest first.

The draconic manifestations provide a breath weapon, blindsense, shape change, expanded darkvision, draconic resistances, limited flight (with level appropriate unlock), natural weapons or a small boost to AC. Breath weapon thankfully has a Stamina-regain cooldown. At 9th level, the more potent draconic manifestations are unlocked. Here, burrow, climb or swim speed, DR, icewalking, better draconic resistances, sense through, SR, sound mimicry and both woodland and swamp stride may be found. It should be noted that your graft needs to be able to get these, so no undue cherry-picking.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level, with the one minor level inconsistency as the only relevant tarnishing. The full-color artwork is nice and layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas does a pretty damn neat job translating the dragon disciple to SFRPG. Mechanically sound, solid and fun, it is not too restrictive, but manages to keep the options presented in check as well. All in all, a rather nice option, well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This installment of the Star Log-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!

All right, so, as always, we begin this with a contextualization of the subject matter at hand regarding the shared and implied setting of the Xa-Osoro galaxy, summarizing two popular starship manufacturers in a nice piece of fluff.

The pdf contains a total of 8 different expansion bays, which feature a proper table with PCU required noted alongside BP cost. One of these, the Null-Space Hold, comes in 3 Mks and basically applies the same tech as the null-space chamber, allowing for the creation of 2, 4 and 8 additional expansion bays, respectively. Big plus: The write-up thankfully notes that e.g. bays requiring external walls can’t be installed, and neither may these be cheesed – you can’t build null-space chambers or holds within null-space holds.

The hydroponic bay provide food and water, making space trips more sustainable and cost efficient, and also helps you slightly reduce Life Science and Medicine costs thanks to your herbal medicines. The luxury suit[sic!] is probably missing an “e” at the end, being a premium recreation area. The table knows three different levels of extraordinary living quarters for the rich, super-rich and ultra-rich. ;)

The robotics control center has its reach and carrying capacity determined by ship size, as it includes dexterous, exterior-facing robotic arms that allow the operator to perform tasks outside the starship without leaving it. The more arms you have, the more robotic arms you can control at once, so definite advantage for ksathas and skittermanders. Computers, Piloting, Sleight of Hand may be used for the arms. Attacks and a small table of suggested skill DC modifiers complement this one. Really cool.

The security center basically dislodges the security system from that of the ship, requiring infiltration to hack it. Solar wings come in the normal version that does what you’d expect, as well as a magical one, levitation solar wings, which allows for aerial sailing, requiring no time to turn on its thrusters, and may into orbit in normal and low-gravity planetoids sans requiring thrusters. Stellar Simulators help the crew analyzing phenomena and navigation, and telepathic resonators, which come in 3 different types, which allow for the broadcast of telepathy use via screen: Basically, viewing a creature in range of the resonator allows for communication, and even f the target is not seen, there’s a chance the mental signal goes through, provided it’s in range.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with a nice artwork, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

David N. Ross’ expansion bays provide a couple of really cool bays that add a couple of options I’ve been waiting for; there are quite a bunch of fun options herein, more than one would assume! This is a really neat little pdf. Well worth getting, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

Ladies and gentlemen, gather round, as we elucidate upon this latest adventure entertainment provided for your edification by Fat Goblin Games. It covers a total of 28 pages, with a total of 4 of the pages being devoted to the paraphernalia of such tomes, thus making the totality of the content span 24 pages.

In case your undoubtedly busy schedules should have prevented you from crafting sample dramatic characters, no less than 6 of these have been provided for your immediate enjoyment. These include lavish pieces of artwork and photography and some guidance to properly depict these fine individuals of, as a whole, more or less proper breeding and education, in the entertainment to commence. These individuals are obviously presented in proper hand-out format, as well as in a form that collates the more mundane information in a few pages, as is proper: After all, the host should have an idea of the capabilities and peculiarities of the dramatic characters.

Now, obviously only the most dastardly scoundrel of questionable morale would engage in the heinous behavior of reading an adventure entertainment’s pages with the intent of participating in it as a player. However, as a reviewer, I feel it is my duty to inform hosts properly and thus, I will have to discuss the subject matter within these pages. I do strongly encourage all individuals of upright morals and proper standing to avoid reading the following. Instead, let me bid you adieu for now – we will see each other in the conclusion. Hosts, on the other hand, should very much continue reading, this section, so profanely littered with what the common man considers to be SPOILERS in today’s parlance.

..

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Are only hosts left at this point? Marvelous! We begin this adventure entertainment with an alphabetical list of the dramatis personae, with full ability-sets included – for the dramatic characters will have plenty of interaction opportunity as they board the Duchess Elizabeth (yep, named after Sissi, empress of hearts) on her maiden journey on the Paris-München-Wien (funnily called Paris-München-Vienna in a bit of a linguistic inconsistency) express line – propelled forward by the revolutionary, eponymous Babbage’s engine in record time; it should be noted that this adventure entertainment is for once not based on the notes of Tom Olam – and while this may sound sacrilegious to some, Grandmaster Stephen Kenson’s notes do act as a more than adequate substitution.

So, the dramatic characters are witnesses and guests of the maiden voyage of the Duchess Elizabeth and they will have a chance to prove their proper upbringing and defend Professor Reinhard from some lower class ruffians – upon doing so, they will have an easy means/hook to get aboard, in the case the host has not yet provided such an angle to pursue. The Professor’s daughter/son (gender depending on the host’s decision, as Alan/Aileen acts as a love-interest) also joins them and they explain the reason for the professor’s presence: The Automated Telegraphic Punched Card Shuffler, a device crucial to the speedy and remote operation of the eponymous babbage’s engine powering the train.

Speaking of trains – alas, it should be noted that the adventure entertainment assumes a degree of familiarity with trains of our age; neither an overview or map, nor a closer depiction is provided, as it acts only as a backdrop for the inevitable arrival of some dastardly scoundrels hell-bent on attempting to kidnap the professor…which, after a scuffle, results in the train’s entire car being stolen via the massive airship that he dastardly villain of this tale commands. Apologies, my dear hosts, for I am getting ahead of myself, failing to note that the train can act as a perfect way to introduce some of the famous individuals of our age – from Arsène Lupin to Mark Twain, there are more than a few famous individuals on board, though these colorful persons and their involvement in the proceedings to come ultimately depend on the needs of the host.

I was elaborating on the villain of this dastardly ploy, correct? Well, one Lord Anton Dire, undoubtedly of questionable breeding, lord of a tin-pot Germano-Slavic micro-nation, has managed to construct this airship, courtesy of a strange material called Radium -and he considers Babbage’s engine to be one step towards his imminent rise to power. The whole capture of the draatic characters, alas, lacks crucial freedom for the respective guests entertained; it is simply assumed that they are overwhelmed and brought into the hidden hangar of aforementioned lord – at this point, I distinctly recalled Mr. Olam telling of a series of tales of a man named “Bond”, projected in mving images, not unlike those generated by a laterna magica; the similarities are peculiar indeed, including an all but moustache-twirling villain-monologue.

The inevitable escape of the dramatic characters from the map-less base of the archfiend is, alas, once again glossed over. This can prove puzzling, to say the least, for we are living in an age of high adventure and it is hard to picture something as adventurous as climbing outside of a train car, hijacked by evil forces unknown, to bring righteous battle to the adversaries…but I digress. The escape is supposed to be relatively easy for the dramatic characters, though I do consider it to be similarly lacking in depth – while Lord Dire does adhere to at least basic premises of honorable conduct, I nevertheless found myself to be a bit flustered here: The adventure entertainment does try to justify the lack of a map for the baron’s fortress, but considering the tropes of espionage, a proper means to plan for the dramatic characters would have greatly enhanced the experience here. It is also puzzling how a lord like Dire can obviously not even contemplate dueling with dramatic characters of proper standing that demand satisfaction – the whole idea has not even briefly been touched upon.

Ultimately, the dramatic characters will have to attempt to pursue the Reinhards and the Baron onto his flying platform (which receives the proper statistics for use in the Grand Game), where the villain escapes with the younger Reinhard as hostage on an ornithopter – and potentially, an interesting chase begins, concluding this brief adventure entertainment with a well-written epilogue.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to a beautiful, elegant 2-column full-color standard and the artworks constitute a wonderfully chosen blend of period piece photography and fitting art. The electronic format sports navigation helpers, commonly referred to as bookmarks, for your convenience.

Grandmaster Stephen Kenson and Mister J Gray provide an adventure entertainment, which structurally mirrors the means of propulsion that is at the center of the proceedings depicted: To put it bluntly, this is a railroad. If an engagement of your higher faculties is what you are looking for, then I do suggest “Firearms & Margarine” instead – which, to me, is the vastly superior offering. Why? Well, this, as the pedestrians would call it, thrill-ride sprints from evocative scene to evocative scene and paints in gorgeous colors a vision that makes great use of the unique peculiarities of this gorgeous world of ours; alas, while the prose paints the proceedings of the plot in poignant highlights, the details that are expected, if we remain within the metaphor employed, remain sketches that are not filled out.

As long as the dramatic characters follow the linear structure of the plot, this works brilliantly, beautifully; however, there are plenty of times when the proposed course of action may not necessarily make sense from the dramatic character’s perspective. Here, the illusion of choice is very thin indeed and as a whole, even in the more open sections of this offering, the host will have to engage in A LOT of improvisation. To cut my lengthy and undoubtedly, sufficiently verbose analysis short: This adventure entertainment buckles under the weight of its own ideas and simply does not spend enough time and pages to adequately develop the respective scenes. As long as you can maintain a brisk pace and the dramatic characters cooperate, all’s well…but there are plenty of potential hiccups if they start tugging at the very thin curtain that’s hiding the wizard. As long as the host maintains the hasty pace, it feels like a sequence of highlights and can work as such.

All of these criticisms may not apply to some groups out there, but for me, this left me dissatisfied on a high level – with about twice the pages allotted for the details and a less breackneck pace, this could have easily went down in the annals as a true masterpiece. In its current state, however, I cannot rate this adventure higher than 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo. If your group prefers action, then you should round up as well; if you’re like me and prefer Castle Falkenstein of a more versatile, cerebral bent, then round down instead.

I bid you adieu for now, mesdames et messieurs,

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

5/5

This supplemental rules-pdf for Castle Falkenstein clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ ½ page of SRD, leaving us with 8.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, after a brief framing narration by Tom Olam (which resurfaces in the respective sub-chapters), we begin with the first of several tweaks to the base engine of Castle Falkenstein – in this instance, we’re introduced to the Specialization variant: Instead of general Ability capabilities, the system allows you to take a Good or Great ability and trade it in for Specializations, a number equal to ½ the value of the traded ability, with Good being worth 3, Great being worth 4 specializations. Specializations can be applied to any Ability in which the character is Poor or Average – the specialization increases the Ability by one step for the purpose of performing Feats that relate to the Specialization in question. Thankfully, a massive table (greater than 1 page!) provides sample specializations and also provides synergy with the great Tarot Variation suits – so no, you’re not left guessing regarding how narrow you should design Specializations. It should also be noted that compatibility with Comme Il Faut is maintained.

The second variation featured within the pdf would be the divorce variation, which once again features compatibility with the Tarot Variation. Each Ability is governed by a playing card suit, but with this variation, the Abilities allow for players making an argument of why a given suit may apply its bonus to a given task – in two variations: Half and full value. There is some value in this – you will probably be able to perform at an increased efficiency. However, while the Host remains the final arbitrator of what you can do, I really don’t like this one – it smells of FATE and competitive BSing to me, but, obviously, your mileage may vary and thankfully, we are the final instance that decides which of the rules herein to use and which not to – this will find its fans and it makes the game easier and while, as a person, I don’t care for it, as a reviewer, I can appreciate its appeal.

The final variation would be the improvement variation: In this variation, dramatic characters improve by spending Improvement Points. Hosts are guided in detail: You determine Deeds during the adventure, a kind of important waypoint and determine an Improvement Point value for such Deeds. Beyond the confines of adventures, dramatic characters may try to earn Improvement Points via Resolutions, which can be completed, but take time to complete, with each character getting one of these – the Resolutions can be similarly broken down into Deeds, with samples provided. The resolution allows, in a way, for downtime activity: Players really invested in their Dramatic Characters can thus be rewarded for e.g. writing copious amounts of prose – or you can simply control character power thus or provide an illusion of cohesion beyond the confines of the gaming sessions.

Once earned, Improvement Points can be spent to improve Abilities (cost being equal to the Ability’s new value). When also using Specializations, they can be used to purchase Specializations, which cost 6 points. An alternate for faster growth of dramatic characters can also be found, with decreased costs – and since the metrics are pretty simple, tweaking the variation remains very simple. If you’re concerned about justifying Improvement in-game, the pdf does provide guidance in that arena.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to fat Goblin Games’ elegant, really neat 2-column full-color artwork. The pdf features fitting stock-art and sports no bookmarks – due to its brevity, it does get a pass there.

Mister J Gray LOVES Castle Falkenstein – as much becomes evident in every single of his supplements. The means by which this establishes a continuity with the venerable original Castle Falkenstein books is amazing, and so is the quality. The variant rules presented herein for a measly buck allow you to tweak the playing experience very well and net an interesting array of customization options for the game. I hope the Talsorian-crew reads these reviews and lets the Fat Goblin Games-crew update the Castle Falkenstein-core books in a new edition – if anything, all these variations really make me crave a big, new and shiny book. This is a fun offering, it is VERY inexpensive and thus gains a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

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!

We begin this supplement with the by now traditional contextualization of the Yroometji within the frame of the Xa-Osoro galaxy, the evocative setting shared by Rogue Genius Games and Everyman Gaming, beginning the pdf of a flavorful note. We then proceed to get the racial information on the Yroometji regarding their physical descriptions, home world, etc. In case you didn’t know: We’re talking about kangaroo-folk here, which is a damn fine concept! The only flavor aspect not covered here would be the “Playing as…” sidebar that the core book races have, where brief preconceptions and clichés pertaining the race and its perception are noted.

Yroometji, rules-wise, are Medium humanoids with the yroometji subtype (no subtype graft included in this one) and have a base speed of 30 feet. They get +2 Str and Cha, -2 Int and low-light vision. Yroometji get a +2 racial bonus on Athletics checks and add it to their list of class skills. They are treated as having a running start for jumping purposes, and while jumping, may move as though they were flying with average maneuverability, which is a *REALLY* cool angle to represent jumping and unique tricks. They get 1d3 lethal damage causing natural attacks, and don’t treat unarmed strikes as archaic; starting at 3rd level, they add 1.5 times their character level to these attacks. They also have a pouch, and may store 1 cubic foot or items weighing up to 1 bulk in total in the pouch. Items may be transferred to and fro from pouch to hand and vice versa as a swift action, and may empty their pouch to the floor as a move action. Really cool!

…however, know what’s missing? Yep. The HP-value. I assume from the chassis that 4 or 6 may be intended, but I’m not sure.

On the plus-side, the pdf does introduce the null-space expander, which comes in 4 different mk-levels. This augmentation lets you fit even more stuff in your pouch and is concisely priced and codified. (And it’s so cool! Picture it: Drawing forth a ladder or 10-foot-pole from the pouch? Hilarious!)

The pdf closes with a new spell, the second level pouch ally, which is available to the mystic, as well as the legacy classes wizard, cleric and bard from Starfarer’s Companion. You need to be a marsupial to cast the spell, or have an equivalent pouch via an augmentation or somesuch. By casting this spell, you shrink a creature within one size category to 1/16th of their size and 1/4000 of their mass and transfer the creature into your pouch. Gear is left behind, and the target slumbers and is subjected to a state of lucid dreaming. It is nourished by you, and automatically stabilizes, and replenishes Stamina, Hit Points etc. as if resting, though at an accelerated rate. The target counts as 1 bulk, is basically live bubble’d while in the pouch, and if you die, the spell ends. The spell even gets the conditions for reemerging targets right. Total winner! I can see the sheltering bodyguard, the motherly medic and a wide variety of unique concepts based on the spell. Huge kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, with the notable exception of the HP value missing, the one big strike against this pdf. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the artwork by Jacob Blackmon makes the yroometji look kickass! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ yroometji are cooler than their Pathfinder brethren: The unique tweak on their jumps is amazing and creative and the spell and augmentations are winners indeed. This usually would be a 4.5 or 5-star file. However, the missing HP value, at least for now, deprives me of the option to pronounce the recommendation I’d otherwise utter regarding this pdf. It’s a small thing, and not something that should deter most GMs, but I can’t go higher than 3.5 stars for these guys – at least for now. I can’t justify rounding up, though. Everyman Gaming has a track-record of updating files, though, so once this glitch’s been taken care of, consider this to be a 4.5 or 5 star-file instead; same goes if you’re willing to just make a call on the HP-value.

Endzeitgeist out.


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