Jan 312012
 

92430[1]

This installment of “The Sinking” from 0one Games is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 9 pages of content, so let’s check out this particular installment, shall we?

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

Righty right, so what exactly is the deal here? When entering the (fully mapped – nice) Merchant Heaven Inn, the PCs have to contend with a small group of mischievous pugwampis and while fighting them, might notice white wisps floating in and sliding into furniture – which promptly attacks! Once the animated objects have been taken care of, all hell breaks loose in the streets: Animated street lamps try to explode on people, animated suits of expensive armors have to be pummeled into submission and even a funeral procession is not safe – a coffin and its recently deceased resident animate as well, as does a carriage that tries to work against its draft horses while the residents are still inside.

The trail of chaos leads to the sinkhole, where the WHOLE STREET animates as a deadly cobblestone golem that might actually kill off one or two PCs and makes for a hard, very memorable final encounter of this action-laden tour-de-force.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting in this installment were quite good, though not perfect. The pdf adheres to a neat, easy to read two column standard and the b/w-artworks are top-quality, as are the maps. The pdf comes with full bookmarks. The mysterious going ons, the chaos, the action-fueled pace of this module – this is the very first scenario of the sinking that manages to expertly evoke a sense of uncomprehending chaos and dread associated with natural disasters and catastrophe-driven movies. It is also by far the most challenging in the line as of yet and PCs who don’t act smart might get cobbled (pardon the pun). I really loved this installment of the Sinking, its mystery and its innovative concept. Add to that the low price and the minor glitches don’t matter that much anymore. Congratulations to author Tom Ganz – this installment gets my full 5 stars!

Endzeitgeist out.

So What’s the NPC Like? is available from:

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Jan 312012
 

98073[1]

This free little adventure from Headless Hydra Games is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/2 a page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 6 1/2 pages of content.

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS.

Still here? All right! The City of Mages has been beset by the forces of the legendary Night Hag for quite some time and one of her most deadly assaults/ insidious plans centred around a terrible creature, a extremely deadly hydra. Now, a henchwoman/hag of the Night Hag has reclaimed the corpse of said legendary monster and returned it to life – unfortunately sans the heads, as they are on display in Mor Aldenn.

It’s up to the Pcs to find the monstrosity and slay it again before it can reclaim its head. Via the Headless Hydra inn and its Tapestry (included as a one-page hand-out – neat!) the PCs journey to the place, kill some skeletons, the hag and battle with the dread HEADLESS HYDRA! (great piece of meta-humour, btw.!) The Headless monstrosity can spew acid from its head-stumps, is surrounded by an extremely virulent aura of disease and had me cackle with glee – lethal, bad-ass, deadly – what more does a DM want?

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The b/w-artworks are beautiful for a free product and the hand-out rocks. The pdf adheres to HHG’s 2-column layout standard and the adventure has no bookmarks. The monster is iconic, you can easily spin an elaborate investigation around the pieces of the creature and the write-up of the final beast is awesome. Iconic, old-world style, an intriguing creature and all for FREE! Author Stefen Styrsky provides us with some fun little, easily expandable encounters and thus my final verdict will be 5 stars + the Endzeitgeist seal of approval – check this out!

Endzeitgeist out.

Death in the Spindleflow Marsh is available here:

rpgnowlogo_sized43433333333333333333[1]
Jan 312012
 

9 Armiger Feats

9 armiger

This pdf from Super Genius Games is 3 pages long, 1 page introduction/front, 1 page SRD, leaving 1 page for the 9 new feats of the Armiger. Let’s check it out!

  • Armoured Hulk: Gain armour check penalty as bonus to CMD vs. bull rush, drag, grapple, reposition, overrun and trip.
  • Brace for Impact: Treat all 1-and 2-handed weapons as braced. If you brace, you get +2 to attack to roll and AC.
  • Hard to Kill: Convert limited amounts of damage into non-lethal damage. This is in addition to the DR the Armiger gets.
  • Helmed Confidence: Gain a bonus to will-saves when wearing a helmet.
  • Push back: If you resist a selection of combat manoeuvres, you may make an attack of opportunity/shield bash.
  • Shield Crush: deal more damage with shield bashes and threaten more criticals with the shields.
  • Shield Parry: Gain more Ac-bonus when using combat expertise with shields.
  • Shrug it off: Use your tower shield to get limited amounts of temporary hit points.
  • Soak it up: Retroactively adds hp for all class levels and future levels and change HD you gain in future levels: d12 e.g. becomes 1d8+4. However, it is not explained how this ability interacts with the armiger’s “always at least 6 points on a d12”-rule, which is somewhat of a pity.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. layout adheres to SGG’S 3-column-standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but neither does it need them. I did enjoy these feats, although the Armiger-class probably won’t ever be my favorite. What somewhat bugs me, is that “Soak it up” needs a clarification, otherwise it actually makes the Armiger (d12+ Con-mod, at least 6+con-mod) WEAKER: 1d8+4+con-mod may result in having less HP than before! This being a major hick-up, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

#1 With a Bullet Point: 9 Armiger Feats is available from:

rpgnowlogo_sized43433333333333333333[1]
Jan 302012
 

The Untold Undead

This is 1 page front cover, 1 page paper stands of ghouls from Clerics of the Midwest.

Wow. My degree of nerdiness has officially reached a point, that surpasses even “has no life” and potentially devolves into absorbing the life of other people, only to come out with zero. Why? Because I’m typing this, but let me elaborate:

This pdf makes me reconsider my hobby, my life, everything – after having stared in the badly-made-cgi-faces that seem to come, quality-wise, straight from the age of Ultima 7’s ending sequence, nothing will ever be the same. One model has been given different colours for convenience’s sake, both male and female.

The blank faces, the arthritic pose that makes you want to help them rather than run away, the white, clinically clean finger-nails that fall so extremely flat of being believable claws make these creatures look like victims of an addiction to cosmetic surgery, which would also explain the female model’s black eyes, which are absent from the male’s, who instead sneers the quintessential constipated sneer of an undead whose gastric tract has seen no regular motion in weeks. Both his and her poses seem to suggest that they are trying to squeeze out something, but what? I have no clue.

I managed to skip a dead-fetus-joke there, mainly because I don’t know whether these things ever had the ability to give birth, after all, regular races usually don’t turn neon pink, garish orange, nickelodeon gack-green or blue like a smurf. Smurf. That’s it! These are undead ghoul SMURFS seen through the prism of a care-bears rainbow-ray: They don’t want to eat your flesh, they only have problems with their bowel movements. By the way, let’s play the game “guess the color of their teeth”!

Pink is easy! (Hint: The male smokes!)

Male yellow, female white.

Orange? (The girl ate too many carrots…)

Yep, yellow.

Now it’s getting interesting! Orange Male?

GREEN! Yep.

The green chick has white teeth, but what color has the green guy’s gum?

….

Correct! Blue!

And our dear undead smurfs?

….

Female Blue, Male…PINK!

Because everyone knows that Ghouls aren’t white, fleshy or even darkened, moldy and decayed, but rather constipated smurfs that put too much lipstick on/subsist on a diet of cosmetic products.

There you go. I just provided you with all fun, every tiny bit of utility that can be squeezed from this 14 megs-big turd of a file. You’re welcome, only promise me one thing – stay away from the undead smurfs. On the other hand…perhaps this is a propaganda pamphlet of the cosmetic industry that subconsciously wants you to start using AND eating their products in order to sell more? I don’t know, I don’t care and I’ve devoted more time to writing this review than the creators to their file.

0 stars, unfortunately depicted as 1.

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Jan 302012
 

Van Graaf’s Journal of Adventuring

van graaf

This pdf from Mongoose Publishing is 142 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 137 pages of content, so let’s check out what Van Graaf’s tome has to say about adventuring…

Adventuring is a broad topic and thus it is only expected that not all bases will be covered and the first area covered would be a section on gearing up – an alternative system for mundane little items is presented – essentially, a rummage-through-clothes check to find items you didn’t have on your character sheet. If your players don’t enjoy planning their items all the time, this system might make them happy. The new mundane items are actually quite cool and consist of a lot of bits and pieces that could easily be overlooked. A new system for carrying equipment is presented as well – essentially, e.g. items on the back take longer to get and every character e.g. has a carrying slot on the thighs, back, shoulders, etc. Implementation of the system leads to more planning and more realistic Pcs, but could, depending on player-type, lead to annoyance due to bogging down play. However, not all is great in this chapter: There is an extensive amount of space devoted to suggested things to take along on an adventurous trip through any given terrain. While the idea is nice, the information provided is mostly of the “D’uh”-type – i.e. logical things that just didn’t need to be spelled out.

The second chapter, rules of engagement, provides us with a cool idea – party tactics that can be learned via several weeks/months of training that grant you and your allies bonuses when e.g. luring foes into ambushes. I really enjoyed the idea and its presentation. Unfortunately, though, the chapter contains much, much filler, providing an exhaustive, bland description of first, basic roles in the party and secondly, how classes view other classes. This information is so superfluous, words fail to describe the sheer obsoleteness of the section, constituting a blatant way of upping the page-count. Even worse, and this is problem of the whole book, it completely ignores the classes from the APG, UM and UC, somewhat making it feel overall as if it has not been written for PFRPG, but is rather a rehash of a 3.5-book. The fact that synergy-bonuses are mentioned further gives credence to this nagging suspicion, as does the fact that e.g. rage powers, bloodlines etc. are not discussed at all. More annoyingly, this chapter of the book also contains general, bland tactics and ways to deal with enemies by general types. Do we really need a discussion on the very basics of any form of investigation/reconnaissance? This is information that belongs to a starter-kit, not a book like this.

Chapter 3, entitled “intelligent spellcasting” organizes spells by purpose (which is handy to have) and provides us with sample spell-lists. A LOT of sample spell-lists. However, the utility of said lists is greatly compromised by the lack of APG, UM and UC-support, making this whole chapter, at least for me, rather useless.

Thankfully, the final chapter once again has some actually useful new rules, dealing with home bases of adventuring groups. Rules for provisions and upkeep as well as discipline etc. are covered, as are different types of bases. I would have preferred a tighter synergy with the Kingmaker or the Jade Regent-rules, though. Nothing is wrong with the content of this chapter.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok – I did notice some relics, punctuation errors etc. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column standard. The b/w-artworks are nothing to write home about and nowhere near the quality of the cover. The pdf comes without any bookmarks, which, at this length, is simply unacceptable – navigating a pdf of over 100 pages sans bookmarks in this day and age is a sign of bad production values and simply sloppy.

While I was reading this book, I couldn’t help but feel that the content is a cobbled together rehash of 3.5-rules components that has not even been updated to the new realities of PFRPG – no APG, no UM, no UC-support is just weak. Furthermore, the redundant and boring, basic character-class/roles discussions never once mention archetypes or any of the innovations PFRPG brought to the table. And then, there’s the price. Essentially, this book asks you to shell out A LOT of money for an un-bookmarked pdf that contains obviously reprinted information that has not been updated. Blatantly boring filler-material abounds and the utility of the spell-lists (by the way: Over 20 pages!) is questionable.

Quite frankly, while the equipment and base-upkeep rules are not bad, I feel insulted by this pdf. It’s advice is patronizing, it’s content often redundant or simply not something ANY roleplayer but absolute beginners needs spelled out. In fact, I’d wager that even novices don’t need the pieces of advice herein. Add to that the lack of bookmarks and not only the scarce, but actually rather good components in here can salvage this book. I can’t recommend this pdf to anyone – especially at the ridiculously high price. If the items intrigued you and you want an equipment book, I’d much rather recommend 4 Wind Fantasy Gaming’s Luven-book. My final verdict will be a harsh, somewhat annoyed 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1. Steer clear of this book!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

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Jan 302012
 

The Spirit of the White Wyvern

spirit

This adventure from 0one Gamesis 34 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 29 pages of content for the adventure, so let’s check it out!

I’ll start with my usual disclaimer: This being an adventure-review, it contains SPOILERS. Players might wish to jump to the conclusion!

The “Spirit of the White Wyvern” takes place at aforementioned inn, located some place in your campaign setting, preferably at some trade route. As one would come to expect from 0onegames, the inn features a detailed, excellent map – but what takes place over the course of this adventure? Well, it turns out the inn is run by a former adventurer who managed to cross a powerful cabal of evildoers and is hiding here from them – thanks to the divination-thwarting property of the inn, he had managed to elude their grasp and hide an artefact from them.

Unfortunately, some time ago a traveling minstrel has been killed in the undisclosed vicinity of the inn and haunts the place ever since, becoming a kind of oddity and mascot that draws more attention and crowds than the proprietor would like. Thus, the PCs are recruited to put the harmless, benevolent and yet tortured spirit to rest. Over the course of their stay, the agents of the evil cabal have already infiltrated the inn and seeks to enlist the aid of the PCs as well. In the following sequence of events, kidnap attempts, lies and attacks by several humanoid strike-squads, the PCs will be hard-pressed to protect the inn and its staff and guests. In the end, the owner will probably have to relocate and the PCs will have a inn – with or without the spirit, for securing a large enough audience to finally show off his masterpiece to might just be a more taxing task than anticipated, but that’s beyond the scope of this adventure. It should be noted that each and every character and creature gets his/her/its own statblock.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are actually very good, I only noticed one minor punctuation glitch, netting the adventure top-scores in this particular department. Layout adheres to an elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the artworks are b/w and absolutely top-notch as well. The pdf is extensively bookmarked. On to the content: I like the use of an actually interesting red herring to cover up what has been truly going on and how the structure of the adventure is interesting. I would have loved a map without a map key to print out for my players, though. I have but one central gripe with this module, though it weighs quite a lot, at least for me: As interesting as the cast of characters is, the conflict between two factions could have been more exciting. The antagonists have not the most intriguing agenda and feel like card box cut outs – while the generic nature of both organizations featured herein makes integration of them into any given campaign easy, the also feel extremely bland as a consequence.

I also would have loved the ultimate fate of the spirit to have an encounter/representation. While the adventure is not bad, it is also not one that blew me away. My players waltzed through it in one session, which is also something you should be aware of. I’m not sure why, but as I read it and when I dmed it, the only thing this adventure delivered for me personally was an overwhelming sense of “meh”. An interesting build-up essentially goes nowhere, the potential of the neat characters is more or less squandered as the adventure devolves and becomes a slugfest, of which I’ve quite frankly seen better ones. The interesting components remain mostly un(-der)developed and the potential the whole set-up has remains bland in its execution of tropes I’ve seen and read done better. Thus, I consider this adventure to be 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for not being bad, but somewhat boring. Mechanically, there’s nothing wrong here and if you’re looking for a tavern-sourcebook, this might even be 4 stars for you. As an adventure, though, it fails in my opinion. My final verdict will thus be 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Jan 292012
 

Sorceror’s Options: Beyond Bloodlines

beyond

This pdf from Super Genius Games is 11 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD, leaving 9 1/3 pages of content for the sorcerer.

Sorcerers have become much more iconic in PFRPG than in the 3.5 days of old, thanks to a massive support of their bloodline-class features. Unfortunately, most of the support centred on providing only these. This genius guide seeks to bring more diverse options for the sorcerer and begins by introducing a new concept, so-called arcane endowments. These can be taken instead of feats and correspond roughly in power to a feat or oracle revelation. 18 arcane endowments are presented and mostly cover quite interesting and iconic options: From sacrificing spell slots to heal yourself and end detrimental conditions to using your Cha-mod instead of Int for knowledge skills, adding spells from other spell-lists and limited, albeit more versatile uses of metamagic spell forming to a limited sideboard of additional spells that are somewhat reminiscent of a DIY-domain, the options are versatile, iconic and ooze sorcerer flair and panache.

Much to my excitement, we also get 10 new spells exclusive for the sorcerer. I think that with the 3 arcane base-classes, we desperately need more class-specific spells to make them more distinct and Beyond Bloodlines delivers with the sanguine spells that prematurely and temporarily unlock bloodline powers or even lend them to others, a symbol-spell based on your bloodline bonus spells and the very powerful and cool transfiguration that changes your spellcaster-list and lets you draw from another kind of spellcaster. Very cool!

The pdf does not stop there, but instead provides us with three alternate classes/archetypes, one of which is simple, one medium in complexity and one quite complex: The Bedreven is the complex one and offers us a variant of the sorcerer that casts via a spell-pool and is more versatile than the sorcerer, but at the cost of some raw power. If you’ve read my review of “New Arcane Discoveries” and my praise for the Zauberer-archetype therein, you can imagine that my praise for this one is no less pronounced. To make it short, the Bedreven is worth the price of the pdf alone. The Scourge is a kind of sorcerous bard that does not use the bard’s spell-list, but the sorcerer’s and pays for this advantage with less skills. It’s another take on the gish-type and not a bad one. Not one I’d recommend either, though. The Strega, the final archetype, is rather simple and gains limited access to some hexes, which blurs the class-lines and does not appeal to me that much, but oh well.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – although I did notice minor punctuation errors, nothing grievous caught my attention. The pdf comes with neat artworks (some of which stock as far as I could tell), no bookmarks and layout adheres to the 3-column standard by SGG. Sorcerer’s Options is what I cherish about Super Genius Games in a nutshell – while they mostly lack fluff, they often produce awesome crunch, concisely presented for an affordable price. Beyond Bloodlines enriches the sorcerer beyond its usual support and I’m sincerely hoping we’ll get to see more pdfs like this one for other classes. My final verdict for this excellent little supplement will be 5 stars plus seal of approval.

Check it out here!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

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Jan 292012
 

Mythic Menagerie: Faeries of the Fringe

mythfae

This installment of the Mythic Menagerie-series from Super Genius Games is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page introduction, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 12 pages of content for the new fey, so let’s check them out!

The first new creature herein is the Charnel-kin (CR 4) is a disturbing undead fey that can reanimate bodies via a kiss and shares some undead qualities. Sorry, but I’ve seen the undead-fey-angle done better.

The next one would be the Caith Sith (CR 2), essentially a disease-carrying fey-cat with a cool weakness.

Number 3 is the first fey I really enjoyed – the CR 8 Gahonga is a stone creature that can have rocks explode – kudos for a cool way to dispatch it, a neat signature ability and for simply being an original creature.

The CR 2 Glade Maiden is a good fey that is essentially tied to a glade and has a halo of butterflies and the ability to create hallucinogenic pollen.

The CR 6 Night Swan is another fey associated with darkness and undeath and comes with a formatting error: Undead Kin is cut-copy-pasted from the Charnel-kin. While I like the idea of a deadly swan-creature, I do think that it and the charnel-kin combined could have made for an interesting critter – as written, I did not enjoy either.

The CR 10 River Mother is an aquatic, serpentine fey that drowns and then resurrects/enslaves her victims. The idea of the creature is quite ingenious and the signature abilities rock, but the appearance of yet another female/serpent-creature somewhat felt boring – with a more far-out appearance, this one might be awesome – mechanically, it sure is.

The Waterbaby (CR 3) is disturbing – aquatic half-kelp-like fey with a cry that makes people kill each other makes for an iconic and disturbing fey creature.

Speaking of iconic: Beetles that work as arrow-heads and fly back to their owners are simply awesome and the Nathair-rope-like weapons are cool weapons for the fey folk. Three of the 6 new feats are devoted to the weapon and the other 3 provide neat customization options for your fey. The pdf also includes two new spells, one to call creatures from fangs and one to attack via razor-sharp bird swarms! Great ideas!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok, though I noticed a rather obvious formatting glitch that could easily have been caught and some further hick-ups. The pdf adheres to the 2-column standard, has no bookmarks and the b/w-artworks are ok, though none reach the quality of e.g. Demonic Harlots or Covens of Chaos. I love fey from the bottom of my heart and really wanted to love this pdf – unfortunately, it more or less disappointed me. While by no means bad, I do consider ZSP’s take on fey ore exciting and in the end only three of the fey truly felt like fey to me – the others could be undead, magical beasts, aberrations etc. While grounded in real-world mythology, a further detour to less-known mythologies might have proven fruitful for the endeavour of providing truly far-out fey. I’m still waiting for one book to capture the brilliance of 3.5’s Van Richten’s Guide to the Shadow Fey. While the additional material rocks, I’ve been missing cooler beasts with more far-out abilities than “Energy Drain” and “Reviving Dead” – especially the Black Swan had potential galore and fell painfully flat. My verdict – above average, but not a pdf that blew me away – 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.