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Deadly troll hunter makes for a cool guerilla-foe

4/5

This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 6 pages of content for Ichor Humansbane, so who is he?

The latest addition to the Infamous adversary-line, Ichor Humansbane, clocks in at CR 9 and is a surprisingly cunning troll ranger 5. The full-color one-page artwork by Michael Fall of the dread troll is distinctive in its style and does its best to make the creature creepy and indeed, he is. What could have been a boring brute can actually be considered a nigh-unstoppable one-man army at low-to mid levels, easily lending himself to being a dread guerilla-menace who slasher-flick style, could make for a dread foe for a whole party of PCs, even without allies. His knowledge of the terrain he inhabits alongside the very smart combination of magical items he employs make it easy to picture some rather interesting tactics for the troll. Have I mentioned his cape of weeping faces, which he took from his victims - his signature magic item?

It should also be noted that each magic item, his spells, special qualities etc. are all linked to d20pfsrd, making this file very easy to use. On the final page, the whole statblock of Ichor is repeated in a printer-friendly way sans grey-background - very cool and nice to have.

Conclusion:
Formatting and editing are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. The layout adheres to the 2-column standard and the artwork is stunning and not something I would have expected at this price point. The new magic item and basic concept of Ichor are very cool and his stats are rock-solid. One the one hand, I REALLY love this character, the artwork, his unique signature item, the d20pfsrd-support etc. On the other hand, though, Ichor provides not as much content as e.g. the Faces of the tarnished Souk series. A special companion animal or similar allies, with stats, would have made this a perfect 5-star offering. As written, though, he falls a bit short on the content-side for my tastes. My final verdict for Ichor will be a close 4 stars - I almost went 3.5, but he simply deserves the 4 for the smart item combinations and cool artwork.

Endzeitgeist out


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One of the best Mythic Menagerie-books

4/5

This installment of SGG's mini-monster-manuals is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 12 pages of content for the new monsters, so what do we get?

The introduction tells us that we get unusual golems and it should prove to be right:

The very first creature is a CR 7 cactus golem, complete with needles and desiccating attacks. It should be noted that the creature is called both cactus golem and cactus crawler - a minor inconsistency.
On the upper hand, we get construction requirements for all golems in this pdf. All golems are resistant to magic and can be influenced by spells in unusual ways and these are no different - knowledge and fight smarting will help your PCs prevail when they lose in the brute-force department - an approach I really enjoy, as it encourages smart fighting and research. It#s unfortunate that no lore-sections are provided for the respective golems.

The iconic, mass-produced CR 1 Ceramic Soldiers make for nice low-level construct threats, complete with speed bursts and shatter-vulnerability - well done.

The CR 10 Gearwork Golem makes for a grinding clockwork nightmare, sundering weapons and disarming foes while rending anything it comes into contact with - the terrible golem makes for a foe the PCs will truly hate for its signature abilities - fighting these will be a baneful experience for any group.

The next creature is again, a rather low CR (5) golem, and a disturbing one at that, the enveloping hide golem - while not the most ingenious of creatures, it makes for a cool critter.

Two golem-variants are next on the list and both are pure narrative gold - the steed (CR +1) and vault guardian (CR +3) golem variant mini-templates that can be applied to any created creature make for some nice modifications - what about the insane alchemist with a flesh-golem-horse-creature, for example? Very cool!

The CR 12-Prism Golem has some rainbow-associated abilities and anyone who has played any incarnation of D&D knows that this prismatic attacks generally are bad news for those on the receiving end. While I usually like the illustrations of Marc Radle, this particular one is rather ridiculous and not one of his best.

The next golem is just what I want to see - imaginative in design and prose, cool mechanics and somewhat disturbing - the CR 8 Reefstalker is a primitive golem made from the jaws of sharks and its serrated defense and bleeding abilities will ensure a messy, bloody encounter your PCs will remember.

The CR 5 Rustmote Swarm on the other hand is the bane of items and metal golems and making it a swarm is mechanically interesting.

Even cooler golems are up next, though: The CR 6 Still Golem who can intoxicate foes via his scalding, alcoholic steam - that's exactly what I'm looking for in a creature: An original concept married to nice mechanics. Come on, how can you say no to an animated Still?

Finally, the last golem, the Void Golem is another prime example of a cool creature: The CR 18 intelligent being is a sentient rift in space, conjured as a proxy and servitor of its dark masters from the void to assist the apocalyptic cults serving their unknowable ends. Slightly cthulhoid, armed with a deadly array of abilities and malevolent sentience, this golem is another winner.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting could have been better, I noticed inconsistencies and minor typos and glitches, which, while not impeding my ability to use the golems, could have been avoided. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and the b/w-artworks are ok, but didn't make me yell with excitement. The pdf has no bookmarks. Author Sam Hing provides us with a truly excellent array of golems and while some of the golems are not as awesome as others (Cactus and Prsimatic felt a bit bland to me), my only true gripe with this pdf remain the formal glitches I mentioned - for the very low price, we get a stellar offering of cool, imaginative and unique golems that are only marred by the minor glitches and lack of lore sections. My final verdict due to these minor issues will be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform - highly recommended for the fair price.

Endzeitgeist out.


Ok little pdf for the price

3/5

This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover and comes with an extra pdf for SRD and a 1-page extra containing tokens.

The first in a series of monster update products, this pdf offers us 5 monsters that have been updated to PFRPG. The write-ups of the respective monsters come with lore-sections as well as b/w-artworks.
The first monster is the CR 4 Barrow Wight, an undead creature with a keen treasure sense. The statblock mentions a resurrection vulnerability, but not exactly what that entails - while a quick check of the PF-SRD offers results of this quality, a short reprint would have enhanced usability. The insanity gaze special attack does not specify what failing the save entails - while "Insanity" is written there, it's not in italics, which could be seen as a problematic formatting glitch.

The CR 5 Crystalline Horror (a shard-spewing, light-bending humanoid crystalline creature)comes with not one, but two cool signature abilities - neat!

The CR 3 Devil Dog was one of my favorite creatures from the 2nd edition days of old and unfortunately I don't think that the canine's once deadly throat rip ability has been well translated to PFRPG as a bland "can't resurrect coup-de-graced foe" - a special combat maneuver would have been nice.

The poor flyers of old, Dragonnels also make a comeback at CR 6 and retain their cool (albeit somewhat goofy) qualities from the original critters, especially due to nice touches like "Trained Dragonnels rarely eat their riders". While "bad flyer, sometimes crashes" might be funny, the creature lacks a distinct signature ability, something I've come to expect from new creatures. However, they do come with an alternate set of stats for Dinosaur Dragonnels and a mini-block to use them as companions - laudable.

The final new critter would be the CR 3 Kech, primitive ape-like humanoids that pass without a trace and come with a full set of racial abilities, should you wish to create Kesh characters of your own. While once again ok critters, I don't consider the Kech something to write home about.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok, but at this length unnecessary omissions like the vulnerability of the wight and the italics-glitch could and should have been avoided. The b/w-artworks are ok for the price, though nothing to get overly excited about. And that's unfortunately my main gripe - while the pdf is extremely cheap and at this price point, you can't do much wrong, the monsters herein somewhat range in quality - while the Crystalline Horror is exactly the kind of cool creature I'm looking for in a pdf and the Dragonnel made me nostalgic for a hilarious session of my first campaign, the other 3 creatures felt rather bland to me - they just lack the signature quality I've come to expect from new PFRPG-critters. In the end, this may be a very affordable little set of creatures, but not one I could necessarily recommend to everybody - I'd usually rate this lower, but due to the very fair price, my final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3.

Endzeitgeist out.


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THIS...IS...NOT...SPARTAAAA!!!

1/5

This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 23 pages of content for the Spartans.

After a short introduction as well as a short historical story, we are introduced to culture, religion and lifestyle of the Spartans and the peculiarities. This not being an historical exercise, the information is rather sketchy, elaborations are expanded to transform Sparta as a nation into a fantasy realm before introducing the spear-wielding Hoplite class. The class gets d10, a good fort-save, full BAB and no spellcasting. No information on how many skill-points per level the hoplite gets, though, essentially being a MAJOR glitch that makes the class, as written unusable.

Which is a pity, as the class uses the disciple/major disciple mechanic you'll know from e.g. SGG's different genius guide classes. We get 14 disciplines to choose from as well as 8 major disciplines. The class focuses, not surprisingly, on cooperative phalanx-formation, spears and tower shields. Unfortunately, though, neither the capstone ability, nor the rather bland disciplines really caught my interest.

Even worse, they are not balanced among themselves: Would you rather take a bonus feat or rerolls for ALL diseases and poison-saves? Thought so. The information on playing the hoplites and their lore-sections are ok pieces, but nothing to truly write home about.

The next section deals with alternate lass features. We get 2 Barbarian ones centering on being tough as nails, a level 20 bard performance that grants +4 morale bonus to atk, damage, AC and saves. I may be biased but I consider my Northlands-skald capstone much cooler - the Spartan bard's performance feels like a high-level buff and not like a true level 20-capstone.

The new Cavalier order, the order of Lycurgus, is unbalanced to the extreme, gaining an ability at 8th level that prevents the cavalier from being slain and instead drop to 1 HP, regardless of the damage. To add insult to injury, he can use this more often at higher levels.

The cleric's alternate battle blessings feel rather like bardic performances than cleric abilities to me, buffing fighting prowess via a burst of energy. Druids can get a rather bland bonus to survival for resist nature's lure. Fighters can specialize in a particular armor or give up one their bonus feats (one of their defining characteristics) for exploits that are generally a) more powerful (i.e. immunity to charm and compulsion) and b) should have been rather hoplite exclusives, as they detract from the unique feeling of being a Spartan warrior when made available to just about any fighter. Monks (and Rangers) can change evasion for durability, which does essentially the same for fort-based spells and effects and a lame 2 bonus against being nauseated and sickened.

Oracles gets the new mystery of Delphi - which actually is once again an example of the good design NNW is capable of: The oracle is very iconic and the abilities are all recognizable from Greek mythology -nice! Paladins can exchange smite for defensive abilities. The new rogue talents are nothing to write home about and enable the rogues to scavenge from the fighter exploits, further underlining characteristic abilities that enhance the iconicity of classes. Not my cup of tea. Sorcerors get a new bloodline ("Warrior's Blood") that makes you tougher. I'm not sure why a sorceror would take the bloodline, though: It had no truly outstanding power or spell.

Finally, the pdf provides 11 new traits, 3 general ones and 3 per upper and middle social class, while the lower class gets 2 traits. The 2 pages of traits are among the best content in this file.

Conclusion:
Editing is ok, I only noticed a minor glitch. Formatting, though has us without skills for the central base-class of the product, a devastating error that just should not happen. The pdf is bookmarked and comes with a printer-friendly version.

Oh boy. If you're even remotely familiar with Spartan culture and mentality, you won't have too much going for the first couple of pages. The Hoplite base-class unfortunately is unusable as written thanks to the lack of skill points per level in both pdfs and the disciplines feel unbalanced among themselves, offering very weak and very powerful choices. I won't start with the balancing with other classes. The alternate class-features left me cold due to being either unbalanced or bland with the sole exception of the extremely iconic Mystery of Delphi, which will remain the only piece I'll salvage from this pdf.

The traits are nice, but geared toward Sparta's class-system and thus only useful if you plan to implement the whole nation. As a historical perspective, the pdf falls short and does not offer any facts apart from the class-system you could not glean from "accurate" sources like 300. As a pure gaming supplement, I can't recommend it either, as both the spear-feats from KQ and 4WFG's strategists & tacticians offer better and more fulfilling takes on the spear-wielding warrior trope, which is a pity as personally I like them. I wanted this to be good, the hoplite be a winner. Unfortunately, I pronounce a final verdict of FAIL and award 1.5 stars, the 0.5 coming from the mystery, the low price and the traits. Nevertheless, I'll round down to one.

Endzeitgeist out.


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An awesome book on haunts - the worm god's haunts alone are worth the price

5/5

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 10 pages of content, so let's check it out!

Following the format of the haunts-books, we are introduced to the thematically-linked haunts by a well-written introduction of Pers Veilborn. After the well-written prose, we are introduced to different types of haunts: The basic concept is expanded upon by introducing a type of haunt which may be triggered by gazing upon it. Advice on chaining haunts together as associated haunts is also provided.

Dolls or similar items which are possessed have been a staple of fantasy and horror literature and movies for quite some time and the addition of haunts to the objects is something that had to be done sooner or later - I'm just glad T.H. Gulliver did it. The haunts we get span the CRs from 1 to 11 and contain mirrors seeking to trap souls, bloodthirsty beds, wardrobes haunted by a conjurer's wife's deceased lover - you name the creepy stuff, it's there!

If you thought cursed items were bad news, wait till you get a taste of haunted ones! Alternatively, the content of this pdf makes for an excellent addition to mansions, haunted castles or really any location inhabited by civilized humanoids you can conceive, adding further twists to your designs. Even better, the little stories of how the haunts came to existence make for neat little adventure hooks and often inspire narratives of their own. Take the unfaithful conjurer's wife, whose lover was slain by the wizard in her wardrobe via vermin. What if said man's family is haunted by dreams of crawling death, slowly subverting their collective will to live? (Perhaps via another haunt?) To save them, the haunted wardrobe has to be found and purified, but the unfaithfulness of the conjurer's wife and his rage-driven murder first have to confirmed. Worse, what if the two are actually the best defense the town has against marauding threats? Depriving the town of the two by meting out justice might spell doom for the settlement...

My personal favorite's though, are the extremely deadly 3 haunts that make up the "Worm God's Temple", a dark and desolate place devoted to a primal and rather cruel spirit and essentially provide a rough frame for a great adventure in combination with the introductory narrative. Even better, the CR 10 Worm God makes for a ready-made villain and mastermind for said encounter/adventure.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good - I noticed some asterisks where none should be and a superfluous break along some very minor punctuation errors. Layout adheres to the full-color-2-column standard we know from the free Pathways e-zine and the art, albeit stock, has been expertly compiled to render a coherent and fitting ambience to the pdf. T.H. Gulliver has proven time and again a mastery of haunts and traps and this latest installment is no different, providing excellent content at a very affordable price.

However, I do feel that the items, while cool could use further expansion and maintain that 101 of them would have been better than 30, especially due to the quality of the associated haunts. In "#30 Haunts of Ships & Shore", the hauntings could be easily strung together into a whole adventure by providing a frame-work and more associated options. I would have loved to see something similar to expand upon the worm god's dread influence. However, I can scarcely hold the quality of the predecessor against this book - it still is an excellent offering that only falls short of my seal of approval due to the minor glitches and said lacking framework. With them, this would be straight 5 + Endzeitgeist-seal of approval. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars and a hearty recommendation, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. The only question that remains to me is, when we'll see a full-blown horror-adventure or "Super-ECS" by T.H. Gulliver - the talent seems to be there...


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Ok general holy warrior class

3/5

This pdf is 12 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page SRD and credits, leaving 10 1/3 pages of content for the Templar, so let’s check out what the class is all about.

After a brief discussion on the nature of Templars and e.g. Paladins, we are introduced to the class. What are Templars, you ask? Well, they are warriors of a given faith, not necessarily a good or even lawful one, but just any kind of faith and are not beholden to as high moral standards as Paladins. Think of them as the clerics of fighters – devout, yes, but they don’t necessarily have to adhere to a strict moral code. All the people who don’t like codices can take deep breath now. ;)

On to the class: The Templar gets a whopping d12, full BAB, a good fort-save, 4+Int skills per level. The defining two class features of a Templar, though, are the order and faithful talents. The order of a templar usually is determined at character creation – one order per domain a deity has access to.

Each order grants a Templar access to either a bonus skill that becomes a class-skill for the Templar or a bonus feat as well as an order-related special ability that ranges from healing touch to the ability to strengthening certain structures they defend. 34 orders are presented (unless I miscounted) and at higher levels Templars get access to more orders of their deity, learn domain spells associated with their order(s) or get ranger-like foes of certain kinds of unfaithful.

The 10 faithful talents Templars can choose from can be divided in two categories –rather straightforward ones (e.g. proficiency in tower shields and heavy armor) and mantras, of which only one can be active at a given time. Mantras grant minor bonuses or make the Templar immune to e.g. fear while reciting them.

The pdf closes with 3 feats, one to improve domain-usage, access to a domain aligned with your order or the ability to use two mantras at once.

Conclusion:

Editing is top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitch. There’s a formatting error, though, a line that misses a break. Layout adheres to the full-color, 3-column standard. There are no bookmarks here. I bought this book and thought: Hell yeah, holy warriors for everyone! *puts2 bucks into the bad pun jar* Ähem. The mechanic execution of the Templar base-class is a concise and precise as you have come to expect from SGG – however, I nevertheless couldn’t shake a distinct feeling of lack after reading it and thinking long and hard, I’ve come to realize which components of this class actually bug me: The first one would be that the assortment of faithful talents is rather small and their execution lackluster and not too exciting when e.g. compared to shadow assassin, war master, witch hunter etc. The second one would be the orders. While I’m wholly aware that support for all domains would be too much to ask, I would have loved for the concept of subdomains or other domains to at least get some guidelines to design them myself. Furthermore, the domains just feel bland in their presentation and predictable in most of the abilities they grant. When compared to e.g. the domains in Secrets of the Divine Channeler, another domain-centric class, the Templar falls short not due to length, but due to the sheer fact that a bit of fluff here and there, at least some short sentence, can go a long way. Giving Templars of the destruction order the weapon quality “vicious” for their strikes does not constitute an exciting ability in my book. All in all, it’s a well-executed class that somehow, ironically lacks soul – fluff could possibly have made this an excellent book – as written, it’s average and my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Some killer, some filler

3/5

This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 8 pages for the signature spells.

After 3 pages of spell-lists, providing lists for classes like Magus, Alchemist, etc. (NICE!) as well as the basic core classes, we are introduced to the selection of new spells herein. If I have not miscounted, we get 31 new spells, several of which are supposed to be signature spells or certain legendary mages. I really like that premise, as e.g. Bigby's hands will always have fond adherents among my players, as do the Tenser, Rary, Otiluke etc. spells - being a certain mage's work and carrying their distinct style makes them stand out amidst the flood of magic available.

That being said, signature spells need to go beyond just providing benefits - they have to fit a certain theme and feature an iconic quality - so, how do they stand up?

To be frank, the first three spells of this pdf did not excite me: They belong to a set of 4 spells that provide DR 5/alignment. Boring. Brick Wall's Fortitude provides a scaling bonus to fort saves. Not exciting either. There are also similar spells for reflex and will saves. Gaining Dragon Scales (DR, natural armor and associated resistance) is another spell I don't need. There are also two spells to cover one's scent, which I consider useful but not iconic per se.

Fortunately, Halican's 4 spells were up next - they deal with ships, repairing them or creating a hydraulic water burst - now we're talking! These water-related spells fit a characteristic niche, provide neat ideas and follow them. Leighanna's 3 spells, primarily dealing with subtle tactical advances and manipulations also offer some cool options like forcing foes to delay actions - again, neat!

After that, though, we once again get spells that are rather bland - greater variants of mage armor. Riyal's three spells are low-level defensive magic and Rostov's snake themed spells felt nice - though the Snake Strike is overpowered: A level 2 spell that grants an attack action to the creature touched at its highest attack bonus against a target, essentially enabling you to hit via your buddy. Ouch.

Shallan's 4 spells deal with shadows - shadow walls, an area-of-effect enfeeblement attack (10 ft. burst) and a cha-leeching ray sorcerors and other cha-based casters will hate.

The pdf closes with a spell to summon dwarven armor and a wall of leaves.

Users of Herolab should rejoice, for the pdf comes with a .hl-file - great additional support!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to a very printer-friendly, easy-to-read 2-column standard and I really like the covers - I did not like the layout-decision to print the sub-header on the front cover in a rather bland, standard font, though. It somewhat impedes the coolness of the otherwise neat cover. The 2 pieces of b/w-artwork are nice. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and I've already mentioned the herolab support, another plus. Oh boy. It's been quite I while since I was so conflicted about a pdf.

On the one hand, the new spells by mages and their thematic link is neat, as is the support for all the classes. On the other hand, several of the spells are the complete opposite to signature spells, being the epitome of blandness. The "alignment-body" spells and the + x to save spells are terribly uncreative and feel like filler at best. Call me cynical, but they just didn't do it for me. Which is a damn pity: Hallican's, Leighanna's and Riyal's spells felt VERY interesting, iconic and cool to me, making only more apparent that author Dale C. McCoy Jr. CAN write excellent spells. Moreover, none of the spells really felt completely out of line, striking a nice balance between innovation and power.

Let me be frank: This pdf contains some of my new favorite spells. However, it also contains some of my new least favorite spells. The aim of providing signature spells has been partially fulfilled and were I to voice a request, I'd ask for flavor text (spinning little stories around the spells or their creators)as well as getting rid of filler spells in future installments. Improved versions of Mage Armor belong to a book on spell variants, not in one on signature spells.

Unfortunately, not all spells in this pdf belong to the category of kicking ass and taking names unique spells. You should just be aware that not all spells herein are killer or signature spells. The pdf is very affordable, though, and comes with Herolab-support, which somewhat offsets the relatively low amount of content when compared to other spell-centric pdfs. In the end, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform - if you're in it for some cool spells, you won't regret the purchase.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Lack of templates used to create 2 creatures prevents 5 stars

4/5

This mini-monster manual is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 11 pages of content for the new monsters, so what do we get?

The one page introduction makes clear the design-goal of this Mythic Menagerie - to provide the equivalent of an undead court.

The first creature, the Bean Chaointe, already kicks off with everything you want in a monster - the ghostly, banshee-like protectors and scions of hopelessness and despair prove to be both blessing and curse to their families, fiercely protecting their lineage, but also bringing untold sadness. Unique signature abilities make the CR 9 spirit stand out and offer for nice roleplaying incentives.

The CR 12-bloodknight, a vampiric knight who can use cursed items without penalties would make for a cool knight, but I have a problem with his presentation - while it's obvious that the knight features a modification of the vampire-template, no information on the template is given, making it hard for you to create your own bloodknights with e.g. cavalier-levels. Major bummer.

The CR 5 Dark Messenger on the other hand, is again a cool creature with iconic abilities - being the heralds of undead lords, they have a kind of ability-enforced diplomatic immunity and cool abilities.

Next up is the CR 10 Lich Tyrant, a take on the undead sovereign who may be a non-caster and uses a modification of the lich-template. Again, though, the cool concept is essentially squandered by not providing the template used to create the undead ruler, again preventing you from getting more out of the entry than the provided statblock.

The CR 3 Masque Ghouls are a cool servant creature - by day, these ghoulish creatures look like regular folk only to become dread creatures by night, closing the niche of daylight retainers for e.g. vampires. Neat!

The true Star of this pdf, though, would be the CR 15 Night Dragon, an undead dragon. Yeah, I hear you yawn, but hear me: The Night Dragon is actually an enraged genius loci, driven to action and wrathful rampages by the depravity of the inhabitants of the land, making for an interesting creature that goes beyond the expected abilities and provides a nice array of roleplaying possibilities.

The CR 7 Rot Giants is a tough, disturbing creature who can disgorge skeletons of consumed foes and withstand a lot of punishment - a nice rook, to speak in chess-terms.

The final creature is the CR 6 Soul Harvester, a dread, bloated creature with a spiked fist and the ability to consume and burn the souls of the fallen, which eternally strive to break through the skinny confines of its distended belly. Creepy and cool!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good - while I did notice some punctuation glitches, none impeded my ability to understand the content. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and the interior b/w-artwork by Kimagu and Forge Studios deserves special mention, offering very cool images for the foes. The pdf has no bookmarks. Author Sam Hing has provided a lot of cool creatures here and the undead offer us several neat signature abilities that actually make you want to use these undead foes. However, there are some downsides, too, which tarnish an otherwise excellent offering: First of all, we don't get lore sections for the monsters, which is a bit of a pity. Secondly and more importantly, though, the bloodknight and lich tyrant are prime examples of wasted potential - why not provide the template and THEN a sample statblock instead of applying it to a creature and then omitting the template? Without it, it is quite hard (though not impossible) to reverse-engineer the modifications and create your own bloodknights and lich tyrants. This essentially robs two very cool creature variants of their true value for the customer, which is a pity. This installment of Mythic Menageries could have easily been 4.5 or even 5 stars, but due to the glitches and lack of templates, I'll have to rate it down. Make no mistake, it's still a nice purchase for the low price, but due to these minor problems, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4.

Endzeitgeist out.


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I hate my completist's urges

1/5

This pdf is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, 1 page statblock cards, 1 page neat cartoony artwork-cards, leaving 10 pages for the new critters, so let's check them out, shall we?

I really like tongue-in-cheek, jokey takes on material, thus I was looking forward to this pdf - after a short foreword, the CR 18 Autumn King, a jack-o-lantern-style fey-lord made for an appropriately epic introduction to this pdf - while a unique signature ability was absent from his statblock, I nevertheless enjoyed the rather complex statblock of this unusual fey lord.

Unfortunately, the rumor-mongering CR 8 Badalisc can't keep up with this quality - repackaging a Dark Naga, who is not the most exciting critter in itself and slapping a new name on it does not make for either a compelling monster, nor is it a business-practice I condone.

The CR 5 Cobbler Elf, though, again, rocks hard: A nice take on the unintentionally annoying Heinzelmännchen-style fey, they can be both blessing and bane and should be handled with care, lest their well-meant overenthusiastic "improvements" of existing items prove to be an adventurer's undoing.

The CR 7 Dire Flying Reindeer is a cool idea, deriving its flying from a rare combination of herbs fermented in their gullets - a good example of fluff making an otherwise boring statblock palpable.

Next up is the CR 7 Grinj, the take on the keen-hearing creature by Dr. Seuss. perhaps it's due to me being German, but even as a child I never got the appeal of any of Dr. Seuss' characters and considered them to be boring and/or stupid. Unfortunately the statblock does not feature a reason for me to remedy this opinion - while the keen hearing and crafting aptitude are ok, I was not wowed by this critter.

I was downright insulted by the take on The CR 4 Krampus, though: A slight modification of the Yeti, once again repackaged as a new creature and ignoring the mythology to boot, is something I was deeply disappointed by: When I was a child, I was afraid these guys accompanying St. Nicolas would drag me to hell, while this is essentially a horned yeti. Boo.

The dragging-to-hell is done by the one creature apart from the Autumn King I somewhat enjoyed, the whip father, a psychopath-come-holiday-terror who seeks to drag unfortunate fellows to the Abyss. An ok creature thanks to the enchanted signature whip.

The final creature, the Perchta, is a green hag with another name slapped onto her. LAME.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and each creature gets its own artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks. I did like two of the creatures and the stat-cards, but quite frankly, feel ripped off by this purchase - doing a paste-job on monsters is not something I'd personally do and while Cobbler Elf and Autumn King were mechanically cool and provided neat ideas, all the rest of the monsters are either boring or repackaged stuff, not giving enough credit to their mythology. They also don't feature any lore-section. Try as a I might, I can't bring myself to recommend this pdf in any way - if you want monsters, buy some other installment of Mythic Menagerie, they are all vastly superior to this one and any purchase of this pdf serves to support uncreative repackaging of content. Steer clear. My final verdict will be 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1.

Endzeitgeist out.


A must for Phantasm-fans; Alchemists and Witches also get their due

3/5

This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page credits, 5 pages SRD, leaving 21 pages of content, so let's take a look at what we get, shall we?

I'm a sucker for horror-themed adventures, critters etc., as most of you will knwo and thus I was more than happy about the first section of this pdf: The CR 12 Black-suited Man along his Flying Spheroid (Cr 4) and Lurker (CR 3) henchmen bring to life the devious creatures from the cult-classic Phantasm-movies, probably one of the few b-horror-movie-franchises I really considered to be creepy. All the signature moves are there: Spheres drilling into foes? Check! Limbs of the tall man turning into monsters? Check! Only the laser-spheroid from the second movie is missing. However, on the layout-side an unfortunate decision has been made: While the sections of the statblocks have been separated into offense, defense, etc., printing the headers bold would make them much easier to read.

Next up is a magical Ouji-board possessed by a shadow demon, who will eventually consume the users. Ok, but nothing too special after the great phantasm-stat-ups.

Then, we get a take on Halloween/Samhain containing PFRPG-updates of several 3.X monsters, to be precise: The pitchfork-wielding Blood Scarecrow (CR 4), the CR 7 undead, foe-slowing Webbed Sentinel, the bottles-inhabiting, tiny undead Necroling (CR 4) and the tendril-sporting CR 7 ragged wraith all have some neat abilities and suffer from the same unfortunate formatting decision that plagued earlier statblocks. Also, while all the creatures did have some kind of ability to set them apart, none really gripped my attention.

We also get a legacy-scythe in the format of the legendary-series, evidently inspired by Masque of the Red Death - if only the abilities of said weapon would be a bit more out of the ordinary - fatigue, death etc. might be fitting, but also are more or less what one would expect.

An adventure-location centering on a black piece of rock that geases people into murdering other and subsequently becoming morlocks has left me singularly unimpressed, both as location, plot-device and in its presentation.

Fans of incantations like yours truly also get their due in this pdf - "The Vengeance" enables you to summon a spirit to exact vengeance upon your foes. Generic, yet supremely useful and a cool plot-device.

Fans of the APG can rejoice, to be precise, the ones of the alchemist: If you ever wanted to blend alchemy and necromancy, the 10 level Master of Life-PrC for the alchemist is just what you've been looking for: d8, 2+Int skills per level, medium ref and will saves, 3/4 BAB-progression and the ability to create more deadly zombie variants via discoveries and a capstone undead transformation - neat! A ready-made NPC is also stated out.

Witches also get some love in the form of 8 new hexes and a new patron, namely vengeance. The hexes felt sufficiently unique and unsettling and the sample witch provided for the new patron is also a nice touch.

As a final, nice critter, we get Ick-Chomp, the vampiric Oytugh (CR 6), whose in-character-written prose is hilarious - a nice finish for the pdf!

As a kind of enhancement, we also get the 2-page City of Graves-pdf, 1 page of which is flavortext for the lands of GOW and 1 page being the SRD.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting could be better - I noticed several glitches, from the non-bold lines separating the statblock sections to minor punctuation errors. The bookmarks, while there, seem to be glitchy as well and not all sections of the pdf (e.g. the Witch patrons) get their own bookmark. The pdf also feels a bit unorganized with monsters e.g. not in their own chapter. Artwork is mostly realistic photo-art, which one has to like.

The respective sections were varying in quality - the support for the APG-classes was great, the incantation neat and the vampiric Otyugh is awesome and the Phantasm-monsters elicited a minor fanboy-gasm on my side, but the legacy scythe, the monsters and the black stone in particular felt rather bland and uninspired to me. I also realize that the Phantasm-beasties might primarily be for people with fond memories of said critters. In the end, this is hard to rate, as it did contain several pieces of content I really enjoyed while others left me dead cold or even bored. While the pdf is very cheap, it also does not provide some genuinely brilliant new piece of content. Add to that the editing and formatting problems and my final verdict would be 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2.

Which the content of the pdf definitely not deserves, as there are some good pieces to be found herein. For fans of Phantasm and if you're looking for the APG-support, you might want to add a star to the final verdict - at this price, you probably won't regret a purchase. As I belong to the latter category of Phantasm-fanboys and am always hungering for more APG support, my verdict will reflect this and be 3 stars -just be aware of my personal preferences here.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Not bad per se, but boring

2/5

This pdf is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisements, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 28 pages of content, so let's check them out!

Following the tradition of NNW's books, we kick off with a nice little story to introduce us to the matter at hand and said matter is magic armors. As with other installments of the ebon vault, we start off with new materials. In contrast to e.g. the "Swords of Legend", though, the materials are rather mundane: Bone, gold, stainless steel. While there are some other materials like djinnsteel and ghoststeel, and they all have their place, none truly wowed me.

13 different mundane enhancements for armors are also provided, offering not only fodder for low-magic campaigns, but also for the small purse - neat! From fur-lined armor to one that can easily be donned and taken off, they all come with a minor price, but definitely rock and range in the affordable price-range of 25 GP to 500 GP.

The main material of the pdf, though, would be the 32 new armor qualities, ranging from a modest +100 GP to the equivalent of +5 bonuses. Unfortunately, this section has completely managed to underwhelm me by providing a plethora of abilities that grant flat-out immunities (something I try to avoid) to self-repairing armors, I have some balance concerns here. The Mage Bane armor makes you completely immune to one spell you can freely choose each day.

Unfortunately we don't get any mechanics or specifications on whether the wearer has to have seen the spell in action or even be aware of its existence in-game. This essentially makes the armor dependent on meta-game knowledge, which in my opinion is an example of bad design.

The +300 GP (+1000 GP per enhancement if the armor is magical) 1-time-use enchantment that grants you a second wind and prevents you from dropping below 1 HP once is one of the most op enchantments ever - cheaper than a scroll. At low to middle levels, this enchantment essentially is an extra life for the wearers. Perhaps that's me, but I won't allow this in my campaign. A 300 GP-enchantment should not enable a thief in an otherwise mundane leather vest to survive a fall from the castle's tower. Or dragon's breath. You get the idea.

Unfortunately, the 12 specific armors. We get, among others, an armor that prevents petrification and can use stone to flesh, an angelic armor of gold and platinum for the truly exalted etc. - essentially the standard fare. The two armors that stood out would be the armor of invulnerability, which makes you utterly impenetrable for any kind of damage against which DR works (which I consider op) and the living chain. This latter is the one armor that really felt cool and evocative to me: A collar with Kython-chains attached that come to life and hurt attackers while not impeding the dexterity of the wearer - while strong, the unique imagery and form of the armor make it compelling.

Unfortunately, the other armors all were "been there, done that"-territory.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed some minor punctuation errors, but nothing to impede my enjoyment of the class. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and the pdf is extensively bookmarked. The artwork is nothing to write home about, but ok. It comes with a printer-friendly version.

Up until now, the "Ebon Vault"-series has continuously provided either intriguing mechanical concepts or evocative items. Unfortunately, this installment of the series falls terribly short of this standard. While the mundane enhancements are useful, most of the content herein just feels run-of-the-mill: From uninspired "You get immunity x"-armors to special qualities that are so damn broken it hurts over to a selection of specific armors that feel general with one notable exception, this pdf is vastly weaker than its much better and more imaginative predecessors. Thinking long and hard and rereading the pdf twice, I find myself hard pressed to recommend this pdf for anything but the mundane enhancements. In the end, my final verdict will be 2 stars, due to the low price. If you want armor and shield qualities that rock, check out RiP's "101 Magical Armor and Shield Properties" and if you want good magical shields, I'd recommend Purple Duck Games' "Legendary Shields" instead.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Actually made me almost like an item-class I despise

5/5

This pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 6 pages of content for the new ioun stones, so let's check them out!

Ioun stones are interesting items - they don't use slots, circle adventurers and thus are quite obvious presences. Mechanically, these stones are challenging to design due to not taking up slots and reviewing them is subsequently not too easy.

Oh yeah, then there are my prejudices against the item class: I consider them boring tools for min-maxers who have already used up all of their slots. I don't like the concept. I think ioun stones are rather bland. So, that out of the way, let's take a look what we get, shall we?

The ioun stones range from a modest 5000 GP to 220500 GP and offer bonuses from modest +1s to CMB/CMD to dealing 6d6 force damages, incorporeal forms and similar bonuses. There are also abilities that grant new feats to their owners and some of the ioun stones improve abilities from the APG-classes, which is nice. I also like that one of the stones looks like an eyeball - creepy!

Some of the abilities are downright cool and iconic, offering us e.g. the option to teleport and releasing electrical bursts from their point of origin to even separating the shadow from the body. Each stone comes with full information on aura, price and construction requirements.

Finally, legacy item lovers like yours truly get an intelligent ion stone called the master's finch, complete with lore section and means of destruction.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, while I noticed 2 minor glitches, none impeded my understanding of the content. The pdf comes with bookmarks and layout adheres to the new 2-column-RiP-standard. I'm not the biggest fan of ioun stones apart from their usage by archmages like Karzoug and subsequently was a bit skeptical whether I'd enjoy this installment of RiP's #30 series, but author Robert N. Emerson did a great job of providing ioun stones that go beyond boring bonus-stacking. While not all offer truly unique and imaginative abilities, most of them actually do and the APG-support is greatly appreciated. The legacy item is a nice cherry on top for me and should provide for entertaining roleplaying -an illusion-casting ioun stones with the personality of a trained finch makes for a neat companion/item to have.

Please keep in mind that I'm not the biggest fan of ioun stones and that I consider the standard ones to be boring as hell when I'm saying that some of them felt a bit like filler. I would have loved to e.g. see Witch-ioun stones look like fetishes and have more that don't look like sparkling gems - after all, the item-class could easily encompass other cosmetic looks. However, this pdf somewhat remedied my prejudices against this class of item and I can actually see myself using several of these stones, resulting in a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Disappointing sequel to a great first pdf

2/5

This pdf is 11 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial and SRD, leaving 9 1/3 pages of content for the new runic feats, so do they hold up to the first installment?

The feats herein generally belong to either the runic or the runebound kind - runic feats are limited with regards to the amount you can take as well as the number of runic feats that are simultaneously active while runebound feats do not increase in power, but not how many are actively drafted. Retraining and learning these runes are covered in this pdf as well and the rules are clear and concisely presented and interaction with the rune domain is also covered. The content is stand-alone, but uses the same mechanic as the first runic feats book and is thus compatible with its predecessor.

We get 6 runic feats, 16 runebound feats and two general ones - one of them enables you to have an additional rune active while the other increases the amount of times you can draft runes per day.

Where do I start? I have a problem with this pdf. In fact, I have several. The first would be that the feats feel unbalanced, even with their limited rune-uses per day.

On a fluff-perspective, the first pdf on runic feats always felt...well...runic. This one presents mechanics, but while they do work, the benefits don't feel like they belong to said runes - there's a disconnection going on there. Take the archmage runic feat (Prereq 17 in casting attribute, caster level 9) that lets you cast two spells with casting time 1 standard action or less simultaneously, though at the cost in caster-level strength. Wait, wut?

Yep, you read right. While the decrease in caster level is ok, casting 2 spells simultaneously still is a capstone ability in my opinion, not something to be gained by a petty feat. The Chakra-feat(s) are more prime examples of design that can easily be exploited, as you can take it multiple times, choose a chakra, and wear two items simultaneously, enabling you to e.g. wear two belts, magic lenses AND goggles, etc.

Absolutely prone to being abused and...well, doesn't feel runic. Unfortunately, from increased caster levels to the ability to initiate combat maneuvers sans AoO or via spells, the runes are ok, but don't feel like they are runes, but rather like they were just another set of magical feats. Gone are the unique design choices of the predecessor, the reliance on bad stats and capitalization of these stats as roleplaying catalysts with at least minor advantages.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the three-column SGG-standard and the artwork is fair. The pdf sports no bookmarks. I'm not entirely sure how to rate this pdf - on the one hand, I do have balance-concerns for several of the feats and I do think they lend themselves to abuse. On the other hand, none of them are op as written. On the one hand, there is nothing explicitly wrong with these new options as feats. On the other, though, they just don't feel like runic feats. The pdf has somewhat lost focus and try as I might, I can't put the benefits of the feats and them being runes into a valid correlation.

What made them unique in the predecessor, unfortunately, is gone and the lack of fluff (which I surprisingly seldom miss)in most SGG-books works detrimental in this instance, robbing the feats of the one way in which a sense of coherence apart from pure mechanics could have been evoked as a theme. When all is said and done, I have to admit I was sorely disappointed by this pdf. If you're just out for some X uses per day, powerful feats, this pdf might be 3 stars for you - be sure to know your players and scan through it to prevent abuse, though. If you, however, like me, loved the first pdf and want more of the same style, you'll unfortunately be sorely disappointed. My final verdict will thus be 2.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Nice sequel with a bit of a power creep

4/5

This pdf is 10 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 8 1/3 pages content, so let's check them out!

Instead of providing new spells that are only marginally different from existing ones, this pdf offers so-called variants, i.e. spells that work "just like spell xyz" with some modifications. To give you an example, a melee-version of magic missile that does more damage, but needs a touch attack. Some modifications are combinations of spells or offer more complex deviations from their source-spells.

On the plus-side, this enables the pdf to provide more content than we otherwise would get. On the down-side, this also means that you need to have to original spell ready and cobble together the source-spell's and the variant's information.

In this second offering, once again the classes from the APG get their fair due, receiving a lot of cool modifications. The Magus-class thankfully also gets some love, but the Ultimate Magic support is also something that may have unfortunately had a bit detrimental influence to this pdf's quality - while the universally lauded Magus-class and its support is greatly appreciated, some of the spells of UM are of the ridiculously overpowered category and this power-creep is reflected in their variants in this pdf.

There are some spell-variants herein, too, that I wouldn't touch with a 10-foot-pole: Saber of Light lets you ignore all hardness and DR (!!!) and grants you the Deflect Arrow feat. Brewer, Scrivener and Retune Wand let you change how an item works. Need a spraying color wand but only have a magic missile one ready? There we go. You have a potion of stoneskin, but need healing? Just cast the spell and your potion changes While offering a lot of flexibility, this essentially changes very basic assumptions on how a magical economy and these items work and could hence lead to severe logic repercussions. Beware!

Don't be fooled, though: The vast majority of the variants actually serve some interesting, cool purpose and offer fluff and options via their names and the classes to which they're offered. From the howling agony-based Inquisition-spell to the superbly cool Eye of Doom, the ultimate scrying tool to remote-cast your foes to oblivion, this pdf offers a lot of neat ideas.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 3-column SGG-standard, but unfortunately we get no bookmarks, which would have been very useful in navigating the spell variants. The artwork deserves a special mention, as the pieces are gorgeous. On the content-side, I can say that I absolutely LOVE how the pdf offers support for the APG-classes and the Magus.

On the other hand, though, I'm lazy and just don't like the concept of searching together two sources of spells and combining them - looking up the particulars of a certain spell is annoying enough as it is -adding to it does not necessarily improve the flow of the game. I won't hold that against the pdf, though, as it is part of the design-goal of the pdf. I nevertheless maintain, though, that d20pfsrd hyperlinks or at least bookmarks would go a long way to make this series more user-friendly.

Combine this with the couple of spells that are wise open to abuse and change the fundamental dynamics of how your campaign-world might work and we get my verdict: While this pdf is still a good buy with a lot of content, it is at least partially problematic and leaves something to be desired with regards to user-friendliness. Thus, my final verdict will be 4 stars.


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Very useful spell variants

5/5

This pdf is 10 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page SRD/editorial, leaving 8 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look at this compilation of slightly modified and reskinned spells!
This selection of spells is rather interesting, as it does not necessarily add brand new, innovative spell, but rather variants of known ones. To offer an example, there is a spell called “magic mace” that works as magic missile, but has a range of touch and deals d8 instead of d4. That’s about the information you’ll get, i.e., if you want to use the variants, you’ll have to have the spells they refer to ready. While enabling this pdf in the first place, this unfortunately also can be a burden on the DM, who has to research the original spells. Interaction between referred spells can be quite complex, too, as e.g. in “Analogue”, which creates a clone and lets the clone act as a simulacrum.
It should be noted, that thankfully the new classes from the APG all get their due in this pdf, from alchemists to inquisitors to some nice exclusive Oracle-spells, they all get their due.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 3-column standard and I have to commend the full-color artworks: They just rock!
I didn’t expect to see these awesome pieces in such a cheap pdf – kudos to the artists! I have to admit that I’m not that into the spell variant concept and rather enjoy having my spells all set and done so I don’t have to skim through additional books. However, this pdf offers an awesome bang-for-buck-ratio – for the low price you’ll get a lot of magic that really enriches your game. On the other hand, the nature of this pdf also limits the variations to being close to other spells. While this is restricting, at least the variants don’t pretend to be wholly new spells. While I’m somewhat loathe to rate this pdf that high due to not liking to have to look for the specific spell information, in face of the low price, awesome artwork and per se, very cool content, I’ll settle for 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.


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Excellent material for combative debates

4/5

This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, leaving 21 pages of content for the new debate rules presented herein.

Debate rules? Yep. I know you're thinking: Do we really need them? Essentially, I tend to agree and rather enjoy soft rules, i.e. roleplaying the argument. However, there ARE instances, where conflicting opinions of players and foes make for encounters where consensus is not an option and two great speakers vie for an audience - be it a city's council, a state's senate, a trial with a jury - there are instances where you need something crunchy to determine how well the PCs fare against another argumentation. While I would not substitute (as the file recommends) die-rolls for RP, I'd have the players rp their strategy and then add die-rolls, but that's just me.

How does this system work, then, and does it manage to capture the excitement of a heated debate that could determine the course of nations?

Essentially, the system used takes the mechanics of combat and applies them to debates via some simple steps: Debates are broken up into rounds and said rounds consist of 1 action, which may be divided into 2 half-actions. Initiative is rolled as usual (though personally, I'd house-rule Int instead of Dex as the modifier - after all, physical flexibility is not that important in a debate...) and "social combat" is resolved. All participants have debate-points, which essentially are a combination of Con and Cha-modifiers. A Character with Con 14 and Cha 18 would hence have 6 Debate Points, which correspond to HP. Debate Defense corresponds to armor class and is determined by adding 10 to the average of the character's social skills (Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate and Perform (oratory)), making sure that social skill-focused characters are tough nuts to crack.

Each skill has several assigned debate attack maneuvers and can add their modifiers to their skill-checks when attempting to attack the foe. The recipient of such a verbal attack then has to will-save vs. the attacker's skill-modifier plus any maneuver damage bonus. If successful, he takes no damage, but should he fail, he takes one debate point of damage. Should the recipient of such an attack fail his will-save by more than 10, he loses 2 points instead of one. Critical hits are also covered, as are limited debates like a trial.

35 maneuvers are presented herein and many of them offer additional risks and rewards in a given discussion/debate, making for a wide variety of potential strategies to deplete the foes debate points and shore up/temporarily gain your own. Given the relative scarcity of debate points when compared to HP, strategy is king here and even the most stubborn of bards will be hard-pressed to stand their own vs. people with the barrister-feat, which opens up a whole plethora of otherwise unavailable maneuvers. It should be noted, though, that as written nothing keeps your PCs from using inappropriate maneuvers, but as rules for all eventualities are impossible to conceive, this responsibility upon the DM's shoulders can easily be born.

Next, we get new uses for both the appraise and diplomacy skills as well as 22 new feats that deal with trials, debates and even escape plans and cover information networks etc. While several of the feats provide social skill bonuses in certain situations, others deal with cool ideas like said information networks or the ability, to assess a room of people via conversation and focus on e.g. internal disputes or agendas or the ability to weasel, politician-style, into a position the audience agrees with.

Following up is the obligatory magic and magic items section of the book: 17 new spells that enable you to force subjects to write confessions, place cryptic, invisible marks to convey hidden messages, forget specific facts, conjure huge images from bonfires to programmed instructions, the subtlety and elegance of most of these spells might make for very compelling strategies and intrigues, indeed. One of the spells, though, is definitely going to my banned-list: Absorb Knowledge lets you absorb knowledge from books etc. and keep it indefinitely in your brain. While you can only absorb 10 pages per caster level, this spell makes it far too easy to learn information and, in spite of some restrictions with regards to magic writing, poses some potentially huge consequences for how wizards e.g. study. Apart from this one spell, though, I liked all of them, as most of them are what I like to call "smart" spells, i.e. spells that are not used to bash one's head in, but rather could be used to spread rumors, tarnish reputations or use magic in creative ways.

Surprisingly, the items keep up this excellent quality: From gems used to record words, clockwork-bird alarm-constructs and the literal fly on the wall, which is essentially a magical miniature espionage-drone, to courier's pouches and invisible blades to pens that only write for owners and gold coins that can only be seen by loyal servants of a given ruler, these items provide for very cool twists on espionage/infiltration/courtly intrigue settings.

The pdf also comes with a 42-page pdf, 2 pages front cover, 4 pages SRD & credits, providing spell-deck-style cards for all the debate maneuvers - nice bonus!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok, I did notice some minor formatting glitches like bold words that should just be printed regularly, missing "Prerequisite: None"-lines and minor editing glitches like a superfluous "that". Layout adheres to a simple 2-column standard and artwork is public domain. All in all, I was positively surprised by this pdf - the rules are smart, easy to implement (the only part being a bit of a hassle is averaging the skill-modifiers) and provide for exciting, interesting and tactic-driven debates. The spells and magic items, while not directly tied to the new rules, are also very neat and offer some truly imaginative, cool items and spells that would e.g. in "A Song of Ice & Fire"-style environments see a LOT of use. Even in other settings, any group with emphasis on roleplaying would definitely find something to scavenge, even when they don't use the debate system. I do have some minor gripes: The minor formal glitches are not enough to truly detract from the overall quality, but I do think the pdf fell a bit short of its potential: There is only one feat (Barrister) that opens up new combat maneuvers, ignoring the potential there - a general, a disreputable sleazeball, a politician, a jester; a diplomat; there are many cool types of great speakers who would make for neat maneuver-trees. As written the barrister-feat makes the maneuvers a two-class hierarchy that has the barrister in the clear advantage over e.g. politicians sans the feat. Barrister vs. politician or war-hero would have been awesome and I'd love to see the rules expanded. Some of the feats that could have been used for that are rather filler and only provide minor skill-bonuses, offering not a lot of incentives to take them. If said additional career-paths would have been used instead of providing some filler and if the glitches were not there, I'd immediately say that this is a contender for my top 10 of 2011-list, but due to these minor blemishes, the pdf remains a good file instead of an excellent one. My final verdict for the pdf will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


The best installment of the "Legendary..." series to date

4/5

This pdf is 35 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial/ToC, 3 pages SRD, leaving 30 1/2 pages of content, so let's check out those scaling shields!

Legendary items are a concept I generally like - the scaling items, which combat commoditization of magical equipment and offer a way for players to get attached to and rewarded for using signature weapons et al., are in my humble opinion one of the best approaches to magic items. The first 3 installments of the "Legendary..."-series have provided us with ample weapons and even with several neat miscellaneous items and while they all had their merits and come at very fair prices, they also had their minor points of criticism. So, how does Marc Radle's take on shields hold up?

On the narrative side, the shields come with several interesting, yet easy to insert background stories and most of them feature some interesting twist. From the shield of good rulers (Sovereign's Shield) which I somehow expected, over lycanthrope's shields to druid's shields that let you call Roc-like ravens at 20th level, shields that are rather geared towards paladins/cavaliers and even a shield for magi. Which is nothing new per se, but the series enjoys a definite improvement over its predecessors - the abilities tend to go beyond just adding standard qualities/ X times per day spellcasting/bonus feats, instead providing almost always at least one signature ability that is unique - especially the capstone abilities released at 20th level are often both ingenious and innovative.

It should also be noted that some of Rite Publishing's stellar "101 Magical Shield and Armor Qualities" have found their way into the creation of these magic items, providing some neat qualities that go beyond the rank and file of magic item qualities. While all necessary pieces of rules-information are provided herein, I nevertheless urge you to check out the RiP-file as well - if only for inspiration.

Rules-information is a nice cue, as the pdf provides reprints of the respective spells the shields enable you to cast, making the items comfortable to hand out to your PCs and the pdf easy to use. Where applicable, statblocks (e.g. for afore-mentioned giant raven) are provided as well. all in all, we get 14 nifty magical shields, all of which might find their niche in my campaign.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are ok, but there are some glitches here and there: E.g. that the Sovereign's Shield's reprint of a spell features the text of Protection from Chaos, but the header of Protection from good. There also are some minor punctuation glitches and I noticed some wordings that could have been more precise. Layout adheres to the clean and concise 2-column standard and the b/w-artworks for the shields (also provided by author Marc Radle) are awesome and not something I would have expected at this low and fair price point. The pdf comes with bookmarks. The shields per se are nice additions to a given campaign and offer several iconic abilities that will enrich your game, both via their fluff and crunch. However, the minor editing glitches keep this pdf from being a truly stellar offering - as presented, it still remains a fair, cool purchase that is just short of being a 5-star-file. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Neat free stuff

4/5

The latest installment of RiP's free e-zine is 44 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 19 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 22 pages of content, so let's check out what we get, shall we?

The e-zine kicks off with one page of editorial prior to offering us the dread CR+5 Hero Killer template along its sample dread Remorhaz-creature (CR 12), which is also featured on the cover and gets a one-page version of its artwork - neat! It should also be noted that the creature offers some nice in-character narration to further convey its mindset as well as a lore section and 4 monster feats. I think the template is by Steven D. Russell, but I'm not entirely sure. Anyways, Kudos.

Next up is master of haunts T.H. Gullivers contribution to this month's issue, providing 3 neat new haunts to terrorize your PCs.

An new monster, the Potion Weird ( CR 8 ), also is included and makes for a neat adversary, though the final sentence is cut off.

Steven D. Russell provides 10 magical armor and shield qualities from his excellent 101-pdf on them, so if you're on the edge about purchasing the pdf, check them out.

Next up is a quite informative and actually at times amusing interview with Lou Agresta - be sure to check it out.

Finally, there's an extensive selection of reviews by Dawn Fischer, Dark Mistress, Shane O' Connor and yours truly.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are ok: I noticed some glitches like the cut-off sentence and the missing author's name for the template. Layout adheres to RiP's 2-column standard and is beautiful. The original artwork of the Remorhaz rocks and all in all, you get some nifty pieces of content for free -what's not to like? Unfortunately there are no bookmarks. Well, while I enjoyed the interview, I did get the impression that there is not as much content in this installment of Pathways as in the predecessors. While I'm not one to complain about free content, I maintain that the other installments of Pathways are better suited to give you an impression of what Rite Publishing has to offer. That being said, if this is your first Pathways, why haven't you downloaded them? Anyways, my final verdict will be 4 stars - neat free content.


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An nice little elemental magic book with some subpar parts

3/5

This pdf is 13 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page SRD & editorial, leaving 11 1/3 pages of new content for air magic, so let’s check it out!

The pdf kicks off by making clear the distinction between air and storm and introducing us to the concept of offensive air magic as well as providing spell-lists for the 16 new spells. From cyclone walls to disease-carrying foehn-winds, warm Chinooks and cold Khazris and spells that bull rush the enemy via pummeling forces of air to the devastating storm-of-the-century-spell that uses a Typhon to potentially obliterate a whole area, the spells can be considered well-designed, though none of them truly astounded me or blew me away. *EZG puts 2 bucks into the bad pun box*

The pdf also offers additional material in the form of a wind domain (utilizing the new spells, elemental form – boring), a druid archetype who exchanges wild shape for weather control via spell-like abilities and get air elemental companions (again, rather bland).

The next archetype is the Air master, a monk who sacrifices his Ki-pool for access to spells with the [air]-descriptor. He casts these spels as divine spells, but with the limitation of arcane spell failure chance and each spell can only be cast once per day. I like the idea, but unfortunately, while it is mentioned that the spells are cast as divine spells, but with arcane spell failure, we don’t know for sure the key-ability for his casting, nor whether he has to prepare spells or can cast them spontaneously, thus rendering this archetype rather problematic. Sorcerors get a new bloodline and wizards a new specialization.

Finally, we get a simple template to add flight to creatures and 2 new feats, one making it possible to ignore verbal components while casting and the other adding bonuses to CMB/CMD when using air-spells.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the three-column standard, artworks are ok, but nothing to write home about and, finally, the pdf has no bookmarks. I was really looking forward to this file, finally wind-magic would get its due. I was looking forward to winds like razors, elementally-ladden winds, buffeting spells to control the battlefield etc. After the excellent spells from the first compendium, I had high hopes and they were not all in vain – I really liked all the spells herein. However: I didn’t consider a single one of them to be truly special or ingenious. In a way, the content is predictable and this unfortunately is especially true for the class-options presented after the spells – The domain and the storm-lord were rather bland and predictable in their abilities to me, as was the wizard specialization, which, in my opinion, is not needed by anybody. The Monk-archetype would have been awesome, had its rules been concise and precisely worded with regards to spellcasting. Come on, how do you botch that? An Archetype with primary feature spellcasting and this of all abilities is not precise…

The sorceror’s bloodline, on the other hand, is what the air-bloodline should have been and focuses on flying, djinn-like style and can even jaunt a bit on the wind – the bloodline ranks among the finest I’ve seen in quite a while and has somewhat reignited my excitement for them. Kudos! Nevertheless, a large section of this pdf left me underwhelmed and the monk archetype is a sad blunder, costing this pdf another star. Thus, my final verdict will be 3 stars – solid product with some great and subpar sections that is worth the low price.

Endzeitgeist out.


The Otyugh-bloodline rocks - cool creature

4/5

This installment of the Otyughnomicon-series is 8 pages long, 1 page of which is devoted to tokens of bears and the Otyugh-variant, leaving 7 pages of content.

After a short introduction discussing the magical beast/aberration-controversy surrounding the otyugh, we are introduced to the new Northern Waste-template (CR +1), which adds some survival-abilities as well as icy touch and the ability to create mini-blizzards. I liked the template and, following the example of the first pdf, we get two versions of northern waste otyughs, one based on GOW and one on PFRPG-core, both of which clock in at CR 5.

Additionally, a sample tribe featuring Mok-Tak, a northern waste otyugh barbarian barbarian (CR 10), a otyugh druid (CR 9) and polar bear companions. The additional material does not stop there, though:

6 new spells appropriate for the oytughs are presented and they are quite cool, providing deadly options to create ambushes and become truly lethal predators of the icy north. For the rather...grimy, a new and aptly-written sorceror bloodline for the otyugh is provided along 5 deadly pestilence-centered bloodline spells.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and is rather printer-friendly. The artworks are neat for the low price and the new template is ok. The sample tribe was nice and the spells are mostly cool and come with information for APG-spell-lists, which is nice. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and the sorceror bloodline is among the finest I've seen in quite a while. When all's said and done, I did prefer this installment to the first one and consider it a bit superior, but I think it still has some room for improvement - some truly ingenious signature abilities would be nice. Thus, my final verdict will be 4 stars - a good buy for the very fair price.

Endzeitgeist out.


Neat Otyugh, template and Pugwampi tribe

4/5

This supplement comes as 3 pdfs - 1 6-page SRD-pdf, 1 1-page pdf containing the monsters and characters as tokens and 1 6-page pdf which contains the actual content.

Otyughs are strange creatures, somewhere in-between aberration and magical beast and this first installment of the Otyughnomicon-series offers some ways to expand upon them:

This one, as the title suggested, offers us the wyvern-spawn template (CR +1), which grants among other bonuses, of course, the signature deadly poison of the wyvern. A sample CR 5 Otyugh is also presented in two variants - the Grand OGL Wiki and Core-rules get their own respective statblocks. Neat! I actually did prefer the GOW-version, as it has more abilities, but to each his own.

The pdf provides more, though, by adding a sample encounter in a mining town called electrum delve (which comes with a town statblock)- there, the PCs will not only have to deal with the wyvern spawn, but also with a tribe of unluck-causing Pugwampi-gremlins, featuring statblocks for their rank-and-file soldiers, their druids (and baboon companions) as well as their war-leaders. Did I mention their trained stirges or the quiver of spider poison they also have? Nice little sidetrek.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are ok, I did notice some minor editing glitches, which, at this length, could have been avoided, I didn't notice any glitches. The 2-column-layout is printer-friendly and mostly b/w with some purple accents you can easily print out as black. The b/w-artworks are quite neat for this low price-point, so kudos for that! The pdf also features extensive bookmarks. I did like the tokens and the fact that we get two variants for the otyugh in regard and the added encounter is nice. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. While the bang-for-buck-ratio of this little pdf is plain awesome and you get a lot of content for the extremely fair price, the content nevertheless did not exactly blow me away - thus, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars rounded up to 4 due to the fair price.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Dream a little Dream for me...

5/5

This pdf is 16 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial and SRD, leaving 14 1/3 pages of content for the magic of dreams, so let’s check it out!

The underrepresented realm of dreams and their power are the focus of this Genius Guide and, after a short introduction that mentions Lovecraft’s Dreamlands as inspiration (that does bode well indeed!), we are introduced to the new [dreaming]-descriptor, which denotes spells that only affect sleeping creatures. Additionally, only a limited amount of dreaming-spells can affect the same creature, hinting at a rather beneficial, buffing nature of said spells.
Surprisingly, though, the pdf does not start with a discussion of spells, but rather an entry on the dreamscape, the physical demi-plane of dreams where waking world and dream mingle. Concise and cool rules are presented for forays into the realm of dreams and some of the limitations and peculiarities are quite profound and may stymie some PCs until they have learned the rules of this mutable place. My first thought upon reading this pdf was “Coliseum Morpheuon” – while not explicitly designed that way, I’m quite sure that a campaign featuring the plane of dreams might benefit from scavenging some of the ideas herein.

Next up are 13 new spells. “Doze” lets you remain alert while sleeping, there are greater and lesser variants of the classic dream-spell and doze enables non-sleeping characters to sleep and dream (though elves do dream and don’t need this one). “Fell Sleep” is a combination of deeper slumber and some nightmares that leave the enemy shaken. The “Lucid Dreamer”-spell is necessary for maximum functionality of PCs in the dream-scape. The true stars of this pdf, though, are “Morpheus”, which lets you teleport via your dreams (and take others with you!),” Oneirmancy” which lets you witness another’s dreams and thus gain a deeper understanding of them and “Phantasos”, which lets you conjure up non-magical dream-items – very cool and a lot of potential for creative problem-solving.

I didn’t have a problem with a single spell in this pdf. In fact, I liked them ALL. Now let’s take a look whether the additional material holds up!

The new sleep domain is a solid addition, its nap ability granting a full rest if a target sleeps at least one hour. It’s ok, though I would have loved some sandmanish abilities to complement it. The new dreamscape bloodline is mechanically interesting, as it essentially grants the sorcerer the ability to use evocations and later conjurations in more or less the same manner as with shadow evocation and conjuration respectively and finally making them much more real. The new wizard specialist focuses on nightmares and is a rather jaded practitioner of his fear-inducing craft, getting SR against [fear]-spells and effects.

Next up are two templates, the dreamlander (CR +0), who is a native to the realm of dreams and the Nocnista, who is a dreamlander that can physically hurt sleepers from their dreams, much like famous boogeyman Freddy Krüger.

The pdf closes with a list of suggested reading/viewing that easily explains why the ideas in this pdf are so well-crafted.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the three-column standard, artwork is stock-art and the pdf has no bookmarks. I’m all excited for this pdf: The spells rock, the templates are cool, the dreamscape-ideas are cool and can easily be merged with other rules. The alternate class options all have at least one ability I liked, though they are somewhat less brilliant than the spells. For the low price you a get a lot of awesome quality material and yours truly doesn’t have anything to complain about but the fact that I want more!

My final verdict will be 5 stars.
Endzeitgeist out.


Neat legacy items, though only with 5 levels of abilities instead of 10

4/5

This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover/editorial/ToC, 7 1/2 pages of SRD, leaving 19 1/2 pages of content for the magical items, so let's check them out!

I really like the basic idea of the "Legendary..."-series, as weapons and items that scale with levels combat the tendency of magic item inflation and rather support PCs keeping their tools and unlocking new powers. Legendary items require set conditions to attune them to owners and come with additional minor rules. The first brooch, an espionage-tool used by elves and drow, comes for example with a CR 6 new creature, the witchwyrd. The items all come with 5 levels of power that are progressively unlocked in contrast to the 10 levels of powers featured in earlier installments of the "Legendary..."-series.

The range of new items is quite interesting: For example, there's a spellbook that enables the owner to prepare spells even when separated from the wizard. From a carpet to travel the worlds, a harp to raise the dead, a magical hat, a discordant horn (with 3 new spells as well as the song domain), a phase-spider turned living cloak (again, with a new spell), a soldier's bag of holding, to sublime boots (again, with a new spell), we get a neat variety of new items.

There also is a stone that works as a combined ioun stone to a deadly pair of goggles that help by providing the deadly accuracy of raptors and come with a second progression and even the wings of an ascended devil who found redemption - the items presented herein offer some interesting new abilities and come with interesting background stories.

Conclusion:
Editing is ok - I noticed some minor editing glitches. Formatting is top-notch. Layout adheres to the classic two-column standard and the b/w-artwork is ok for the low price. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. In contrast to the other "Legendary..."-pdfs, we only get 5 abilities per item, which is kind of a pity. Additionally, while I did like the items, none of them really blew me away - while cool, none featured an idea that is breathtakingly unique. I'd usually rate this pdf 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3, but due to the very low and fair price, I will round up instead for a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Very customizable and cool race, now with optional thirst for blood

5/5

This pdf is 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of the front cover, 2 pages editorial and ToC, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 27 pages of content for the new Dhampir playable race.

As those of you who follow my reviews might know, I have very particular ideas about how vampires should be presented and quite frankly, more often than not, I don't think that they are aptly presented. Raging Swan Press's Brethren of the Crimson Altar, though, got it right and subsequently I was looking forward to this take on the half-breeds, all the while keeping my fingers crossed that we wouldn't get a another race of Tanis-like emo-half-breeds.

After two pages of fluff introducing the race, we are presented with the crunch of the dhampir and we're in for a treat: The half-vampiric scions of darkness come with a whole set of modular abilities: They get two sets of attribute modifiers to choose from, +2 Str or Dex, +2 Cha and -2 Con, low-light AND darkvision (offset by light sensitivity), a bonus against mind-affecting magic/diseases and to bluff and perception and are healed by negative energy and harmed by positive energy and can detect undead. I'm not comfortable with one of their benefits, though: Resist Level Drain lets them ignore the detrimental effects of level drain (while still possibly dying from it) and recover from them without a saving throw. Depending on the campaign, this ability can be very powerful.

I already mentioned the modularity of the class, but not the extent: You get to choose from 12 choices that range from aforementioned perception and bluff bonuses to fangs, 8 possible sets of +2 bonuses against e.g. ability drain, death effects etc. to choose from, 4 weaknesses like light sensitivity and 12 spell-like abilities ranging from faster healing to spider climb.
Beyond these crunchy tables to customize your dhampir, we also get 2 d8-tables of sample backgrounds to explain how you were conceived and whether your mother or father was the vampire. Suffice to say, most are rather unpleasant...
Friends of traits get 8 new ones and extensive coverage is provided for dhampir adventurers - all the classes from the APG, the magus and the ninja and samurai are covered. Only the poor gunslinger has been left uncovered, which I consider a pity - gunslingers need love, too!

On the class feature side, we get 2 subdomains, 2 oracle revelations for the bones mystery, a new rogue talent and a major rogue talent, a variant of the undead bloodline and 2 very cool hexes for the witch. We also get 10 new alternate favored class options and all in all, I did not have a problem with any of the options presented.
There also are 9 so-called heritage-feats that essentially are dhampir-exclusive and further capitalize on the nature of the half-breeds, my favorite being the ability to substitute the onyx from create (greater) undead with the dhampir's blood. neat!

Finally, there's an extremely useful d%-table with disconcerting cosmetic features that betray the dhampir's tainted heritage - very cool.
Next up are sample dhampir characters: From a CR 10 antipaladin to Cr 1/2 rogues and sorcerers, we 7 stat-blocks for 11 characters, some of which use the same statblock. The characters all get the RSP-NPC-treatment and come with mannerisms, hooks, distinguishing features etc.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. The usually flawless 2-column b/w-standard of the layout by RSP has one particularity in this pdf that irked me a bit: While the sample dhampirs that use the same statblock get their same as a sub-header, dhampirs with an exclusive statblock don't get their name as a header. I gather that this saves space, but it also feels weirdly inconsistent - something I'm not used to in RSP's otherwise stellar and elegant layout. The b/artworks range from fair to ok and the pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with a version that has been optimized for e-readers. While the writing by Landon Bellavia is concise and very good and the dhampir offers a plethora of options to represent heritage from different bloodlines, I maintain that the pdf has some shortcomings that blemish an otherwise excellent offering:

We don't get information on races like elves, dwarves etc. - while I get that the default assumption is of a human parent, I nevertheless would have enjoyed some minor sidebox or similar information to create elven or gnomish dhampirs and how they differ from human ones.

The pdf has been expanded with a web-enhancement that adds the thirst of blood as an optional balancing factor for rather conservative DMs and the age, height and weight tables have been added. Minor balancing concerns have been addressed. This is stellar support that has to be commended and rewarded - With many of my points of criticism gone, I'll correct my final verdict to 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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Not as epic as I would have hoped for

4/5

This installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar series is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page of SRD, leaving 34 pages of content, so let's take a good look at the conclusion to the venture into the dread temple-city of Orcus!

This being an adventure review, the following contains massive
SPOILERS
so please, potential players, stop reading.

Still here? All right! The foundations of infamy detail the plateau of the city that has originally been reserved for the upper class and the clergy and it was at this center of the city that the legendary citadel of Orcus vanished. This area is supposed to be wicked, and damn, wicked it is! The Tower Gate leading into the part of the city is a beautifully complex and deadly trap waiting to crush, pierce and kill your PCs. Better yet, the tower gets its own one-page map. Nice!

Next up on the list of locations provided is the so-called cold dell, where the nobles of the city once had their bodies interred. As befitting of the wicked ruling caste, they do not rest easy in their graves and undead abound. The dell also gets its one-page map.
Next up on the iconic locales is the troll stone, a petrified troll-lord who sends out a telepathic call for help and tries to use one of the disciples to erode his prison - once the Pcs have taken the statue, they'll ahve to deal with trolls. A lot of trolls. (See the lower city for information on this)

Oh yeah, then there's the maze, a VERY convoluted area of street-building gone horribly wrong that is patrolled by many flying creatures, necessitating either combat prowess on part of the PCs or survival skills. On the other hand, if they've come this far, both can be expected. I would have really loved to see a map here rather than the abstract confusion that is resolved via dice, but oh well.

Then there's the High Church - the place of worship for the decadent and corrupt elite of the city, whose demonic inhabitants bow to one of the major adversaries of the city, the vrock Plaguebone. The huge army of ghasts and the mummy lord and his entourage that can be found in the crypts make for even more deadly sparring partners. The church also gets 4 pages of maps, depicting both its inside and outside and contains another one of the disciples.
The last section of the temple-city is also detailed herein - the plateau of the demon prince that contains both the remaining servants of a fallen dragon and the place where the 9 disciples can conjure back the legendary citadel of Orcus, whose reappearance is breathtakingly described, thus concluding the second part of the Slumbering Tsar saga.

The pdf concludes with 2 entries for magic items (one of which being the disciples), both of which get their artworks as well as the map appendix.

Conclusion:
Formatting is top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. I did notice an instance of an upper case letter too much, but not enough to detract a star for editing glitches. The pdf is extensively bookmarked. Layout adheres to the beautiful b/w-two-column standard of the series and the maps, once again, come with the used parchment look and grids and once again, I would have loved to see some gridless, player-friendly versions to print out, cut up and hand to my players. Apart from that, well...this installment of the temple-city somewhat underwhelmed me at a very high level: I would have expected something unique, something special, a final guardian of the disciples, possibly divine intervention from the forces of heaven to warn the PCs (offering some rp-opportunities...), a maze that is a bit more original, something along those lines. Additionally, this being the finale of this part of the saga, its stand-alone qualities are not as pronounced as in other installments. If you're looking for a single file, the crooked tower would be a better choice. Finale...perhaps that's it: I would have loved to see some final encounter accompanying the return of the citadel, a kind of battle worthy of the monumental reintroduction of the evil sinkhole in which the PCs summon the place, something analogue to the dragon Malerix guarding the city of Tsar in ST:D3. Perhaps if some additional pages were included, the climax would be more epic, this is after all, the shortest of the ST-parts since the first.

For everyone following the series, this is nevertheless an excellent conclusion to the temple-city arc and thus a must-buy. For people just looking to scavenge bits and pieces, I'd refer you to another part. Not the best installment of the series, but still a good buy, my final verdict will be 4 stars.


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