Jan 312013
 

110151By Thilo Graf

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content so let’s check this out!

You may notice that this is the longest Dungeon Dressing-pdf so far and that is due to some information overlapping with Dungeon Dressing: Doors. The decision to not let this impede on new page-count is commendable and further proof of the class act that is Creighton Broadhurst. Many other people would have just recycled the old content at the cost of the new one.

That being said, we kick off with rules for door-construction, characteristics, locks and similar protection as well as a short table of door conditions to further modify these. There also is a table of 43 entries to roll for characteristics, which include small doors integrated into the double-doors, sword-shaped iron wands, inlaid black gems etc.

After that we get door decorations with 12 entries for decoration-styles (why the table is based on a d20 instead of a d12, I don’t know) as well as 19 decoration types ranging from images that include runes, images etc. as well as 12 different magical traps common on magical doors ranging from CR 3 to CR 9.

After that, we’ll get a total of 100 entries of dressings and features that include foreboding magic mouths, doors ripped apart by SOMETHING, niches full of melted candle-wax, smashed tiles etc. lend further details to your doors.

Not stopping there, we also get 2 different traps, one a devious magnetic door (at CR 4), which can be modified by adding poisons and monsters. We also get a more traditional weakened ceiling-trap at CR 5.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s 2-column b/w-standard and the 2 artworks of double doors are nice indeed. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out. The pdf is fully bookmarked.

This installment of the Dungeon Dressing-line is yet another solid addition to the series with some rather cool dressings, the maximum usability we’ve come to expect from the product line and all the necessary tools to make double doors stand out more. This pdf, though, in spite of its increased length, has something in common with its predecessor: It lacks something. In my opinion, a short table on how to open double doors (special handles, chains, clockwork mechanisms etc.), hinges etc. would have been the icing on the cake. As provided, I feel justified in rating this 4 stars – a good addition to the series, but not up to its full potential.

Endzeitgeist out.

Dungeon Dressing: Double Doors is available from:

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Jan 312013
 

108197-thumb140[1]By Thilo Graf

This pdf from Headless Hydra Games is 25 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This monster-pdf has an interesting concept – one monster for each type of creature, so let’s take a look!

  • Demon,Baphomian (CR 11): Bovine-skull-headed demons with greater rage. Could have used some rage powers in my opinion, but its write-up specifies at least that they often take barbarian class levels. Also nice: This beast comes with sample treasure.
  • Dinosaur, Saurolophus (CR 5): Aquatic bipedal dinosaur, comes with animal companion stats, but sans signature ability.
  • Dinosaur, Styracosaurus (CR 7): Quadruped huge dinosaur with protective spikes and also animal companion info.
  • Carnelain Dragon (CR 3, 7, 11 and 16): 8-legged, wingless, orange lesser dragons whose breath weapon deals non-lethal starvation damage and str-damage. The great wyrm gets a cool deadly cloud but their artwork inspires less than awe.
  • Giant Earwig (CR 1): Powerful pincers and sickening spittle make these cool. The CR 3 Earwig Swarm lacks a signature ability – come on, why not give them a body-invasion-type trick? That’s why they’re called Earwigs, aren’t they? (And yes, scientifically they don’t do that – come on, this is fantasy!) And the cool side, we also get information on other earwigs of varying sizes.
  • Triune Giants (CR 12): Thought ettins were bad? These giants have three arms, three heads and three elephant-like legs and come with sample treasure and a short list of bag contents.
  • Bloodstone Golems (CR 9): Essentially stone golems charged with negative energy and death throes. Ok, I guess. They come with means of construction and a sample treasure as well.
  • Horada (aka Pyromancer Scarab) (CR 7): Immense beetles with cascading fire emanations and a searing hot carapace? Yes please! The first beast in the book that really excites me.
  • Lililapai (CR 8): These Lilypad fey are another winner: Froglike humanoids with poisonous tongues and the ability to turn those kissed into frogs, these beings make for cool tricksters and twists of the “Frog Prince”-myth. The entry also comes with full stats for Fey Frogs, but these latter stats omit the CR-rating.
  • Fans of Lycanthropes get the werecrocodile and it hits a pet-peeve of mine. I HATE, with a FIERY PASSION, Lycanthropes sans signature abilities. How hard is it to slap an additional power n their bite? Increased threat range? Barrel-rolls? Something like this? I am aware that the standard lycanthrope-build does not necessarily need these, but come on! At least we get stats for both human and hybrid form.
  • Lyskar (CR 6): Also called Matron Ghouls, these undead come with stench, a signature ghoulish plague and the ability to use disguise self. But not at which CL the effect works. Nor is there any information on whether the ability masks the nauseating aura of stench. Lame since essentially their twist is thwarted by the lack of information (and said twist has been done a gazillion times….)
  • Ooze, Molten (CR 6): Burning ooze that may erupt when slain. Nice one, though “burning ooze” has also been done a couple of times.
  • Sanguine Naga (CR 10): These nagas come with negative energy affinity and the power to drain victims of their blood to power their metamagic. Now this one is interesting in that it makes for a great “false vampire”-set-up in an investigation scenario. Neat idea and sound signature abilities.
  • Rust Vine Creeper (CR 4): Metal-detecting creepers that rust your equipment. Nice and a cool alternative to rust monsters!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to HHG’s two-column layout and can be considered beautiful. Each monster gets its own artwork and the artworks can be considered passable for the price-point, though not up to the stellar art we usually get to see in HHG-products. A MAYOR downside for this pdf is the lack of bookmarks – at this length, they are not optional, but expected and required.

This offering of monsters can be deemed solid in almost every way: The ideas run the gamut from lame to neat and 3 of the creatures herein can be considered definite winners. However, there also are multiple creatures whose themes have been done multiple times – and unfortunately, some of them have been done better. Multiple creatures also lack unique signature abilities, which is monster-design-wise a big no-go in my book and adding minor glitches like the Lyskar’s unspecified disguise are problems. This is an ok purchase, but with the lack of bookmarks and aforementioned problems, I feel I can’t go higher than 2.5 stars on this one, rounding up to 3 due to the low price.

Endzeitgeist out.

Libris Monstrous, Vol 1 is available from:

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Jan 312013
 

107394-thumb140[1]By Thilo Graf

This pdf from Rite Publishing is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with 23 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

So what are simple archetypes? Essentially, they are very short modifications that allow you to wilder in other class territories – in contrast to the more complex archetypes I prefer (which should ideally provide some unique new option at the expense of regular class features), these archetypes are more about small, minor modifications that nevertheless can totally change how a class plays out.

Alchemists may e.g. exchange mutagens for an arcane pool à la magus in exchange for mutagens, replace bombs with channelling energy and spontaneous cure/inflict spell-conversions, sacrifice discoveries for hexes or bombs and mutagens for rage (and select rage powers as discoveries). Where applicable, the gained class-features stack with the classes they originally belong to. Additionally, there’s a small archetype to allow the alchemist to gain the Hybrid (Ex)-quality: Starting at 5th level, you choose an additional favoured class and every time you gain a level in the class, your caster level and number of extracts known increase as if you had gained an alchemist level. Not sure whether I’m a fan of this light version of gestalt-ing, but the limitation of not being able to combine it with other hybrid-archetypes is at least a minor restriction. What makes this (and ALL other hybrid-archetypes) fail, in my humble opinion, is that they don’t demand any form of sacrifice for their benefits. Yes, they are applied to sub-optimal class-combinations and I guess it depends on your stance regarding that, but still, they leave a very sour taste in my mouth.

Barbarians may now opt to instead get Dex-bonuses when raging (having no AC penalty) and there’s one that enhances your Cha raging instead of trap sense. There’s also one that reward not raging with +2 to Str and Con at 11th level, +4 at 20th, replacing greater and mighty rage. Vindictive barbarians are people with anger issues – they can’t rage unprompted, but don’t get fatigued after a rage and we also get a barbarian that enhances worn traditional weapons/armour and be more effective with them.

Bards may become more scholastic at the expense of versatile performance, also walk aforementioned hybrid path, replace bardic knowledge with better sleuthing and replacing your spell selection with the inquisitor’s spell-list or sacrifice loremaster and bardic knowledge for martial training and the magus spell-list or become a fool who may start bardic performances as an immediate action upon botching.

Cavaliers can modify their challenge to last for a shorter duration, but allows him to change targets. They may also become immune to fear at the expense of banner and greater banner, replace banner and tactician (and the greater versions) to gain a bonus to will-saves versus charms, compulsions and fear effects and later inspire rerolls versus on-going effects of the above categories. There also is the option to play a faster rider at the cost of tactician. The coolest one, in my humble opinion, though would be the lame cavalier who gets a crippled landspeed, but may move fast while being prone. VERY cool to play veterans, characters à la Bran etc.

The elemental cleric is what you’d expect, though honestly, I think Rite Publishing’s divine channelled works better when geared towards elements. We also get, again, a hybrid archetype with the same issue of the others, a cleric that is alignment-neutral at the cost of energy dealing no damage. There’s also a cleric with just one domain that gets a mystery and honestly – we don’t need that. Mysteries and their revelations are the domain of the oracle, it’s what makes the class stand out versus the cleric. Overlap is, at least in my game, not intended, especially since the oracle needs the power it gains from them to stand up to the cleric – prepared casting, massive spell selection AND channelling are some hefty advantages. There also is a stern cleric-archetype, who is a hardliner of the chosen alignment, channelling energy that only heals those of his alignment as well as astern gaze.

Druids suffer from a glitch: the Arcane Druid is supposed to read “You cast arcane spells drawn from XYZ-spell-list instead of the druid spell-list” – as written, the ability says “You cast arcane spells drawn from the druid spell list instead of divine spells.”, which makes no sense. Or does it mean that, where applicable, we take the arcane version? What about spells that have no arcane equivalent? Can the druid still cast them? Do his spells count as arcane as opposed to the usual classification as divine? I’m puzzled. I don’t know which spell-list it refers to, rendering the archetype unusable. I GUESS the archetype means that the druid treats his spells as arcane, with spell failure etc. to offset the secondary ability, but honestly, I’m not sure. This needs clarification.

There’s also a druid drawing spells from the cleric’s list, another of those damn hybrid ones as well as a cool one: When summoning nature’s ally, shamanic druids may fall asleep to prolong the duration of the cast and channel spells through the animal, telepathically directing it. Cool! Not so cool: There’s a druid that replaces wild shape with the lycanthrope-template. Read that again. +2 AC, DR 5/silver, +2 Wis, -2 Cha, when in animal form +2 Str and Con PLUS curse and empathy PLUS the special qualities? COME AGAIN? This is broken beyond repair and needs to DIE. Wildshape is NOT worth a CR +1 template.

Fighters get better archetypes, like a manoeuvrability specialist at the cost of weapon training/mastery, 1/day at 3rd level +1/every 4 levels reroll of any save at the cost of all armour training, minor spell-storing at the cost of armour training/mastery, increased saves vs spells and improved skills at the cost of armour training and mastery and a cool one, that allows you to determine special combat feats and grant them to allies threatening the same foe as you do in melee. Neat!

Speaking of neat: Gunslingers get some of the best archetypes herein: There’s an anachronistic gunslinger who gets some temporal anomaly abilities at higher levels as well as a laser gun working only for him, the clockwork repeating crossbow-slinging one for all people who don’t like blackpowder in their fantasy, a gunslinger who can’t use other weapons, but is capable of wielding his gun in melee and a gunslinger sans misfire chance as well as one who has his grit refreshed not by daring and stunts, but by simply resting.

Inquisitors get an arcane archetype that suffers from the same issues as the one for the cleric. They may also opt to forego teamwork feats and solo tactics for access to mercies and lay on hands or touch of corruption and cruelties. They can also opt to gain revelations from oracle mysteries at the cost of domain, stern gaze, solo tactics and teamwork feats and there’s a version who can draw upon the summoner’s spell list instead of the inquisitor’s, this, in contrast with the arcane archetype, works as written.

Magi may now opt to blast foes with wind from their strikes at range (VERY cool), gain especially good synergy with the bard and cast like one, again one of those darned hybrid archetypes, while scholarly magi learn a limited amount of wizard spells at the cost of a multitude of abilities. The Warrior Magus is all about gaining the martial aspects of the class sooner and at the cost of arcane power.

Monks get archetypes with synergy with the rogue-and inquisitor-class as well as an archetype that treats its unarmed strikes as two-handed and is build on vital strike etc., hitting not that often (no flurry), but hard. There is also a short archetype that is all about agility in place of stunning fists and a mage-killer, who may detect magic, see the invisible and gain appropriate bonus feats – my favorite of the monk-paths herein.

Afflicted Oracles suffer from either one of two curses and honestly, I’ve seen the idea been done better in another publication. There’s also an oracle that replaces mysteries and revelations with a bloodline. The blessed oracle, in my opinion, doesn’t get what an oracle is about: Replacing mystery spells and curse with the ability to expend unused spell-slots to grant a bonus to an ally equal to the level of the expended spell. Now don’t get me wrong, I like the ability. But the curse of an oracle is what defines the class more than anything else for me and it is not only a benefit, but also a drawback that, depending on the curse, could mean various differences regarding the relative power-gain. Not my cup of coffee, though this gripe won’t fracture into the final score. There’s also an oracle that can cast druidic spells and yet another of those damn hybrids.

Paladins may opt to become rather trimmed on the lawful side (haven’t seen that one before…), change targets of smite evil, opt to become a multiclass inquisitor/paladin with judgment and smite-synergy, a cavalier/paladin-multiclass with challenge-synergy or take the ranger spell-list instead of your own.

Rangers may opt to only get one favoured terrain, but change that every day (NICE) and the same can be done with favoured enemy – again, neat! There’s AGAIN one of those weird arcane archetypes. There’s also an archetype that counts you as having all spells on your list for activating spell-completion or spell-trigger items and an archetype especially wary of danger, traps and the like.

Rogues get a variety of archetypes that makes them faster, improves combat expertise, exchange temporarily sneak attack for a minor bonus on atk and better feint, but the archetypes require you to get trapfinding as a rogue talent if you want it. There’s also a minor shadowdancing going on, but honestly – we have the PrC for that one.

Sorcerers get again one of those hybrid archetypes, one that allows access to the metamagic adept power at the cost of all bloodline spells, a material eschewing sorcerer at the cost of all bloodline feats, one that instead uses the witch’s spell-list and one that lets you cast spells from wands and staves as if they were on your spell-list.

Summoners may opt to focus on summoning animals, replacing the eidolon with animal companions that also gain later access to minor evolution points. There’s also one that makes disguising the summoned eidolon as mortal easier, yet another of those damn hybrid archetypes, a summoner who replaces his eidolon by adding the advanced template on summoned monsters and counting them as eidolon and one who conjures a shadowy eidolon.

Witches may no opt to use Cha instead of Int and gain social skill competences for the restriction of needing to take the charm-hex, replace patron and familiar with an arcane bond and take combat feats as hexes. Interesting! There’s another hybrid there, btw. Wilderness witches replace patron and familiar with druid spell list and animal companion – why not play a druid then? There’s also a wis-based witch who may opt to cast her spells as divine spells. Yeah, no penalty, nothing. FREE armour-casting everyone! That is just BROKEN.

Wizards suffer from yet another hybrid archetype, get the option to use a witch familiar instead of a spellbook, one with school resistance versus a prohibited school, a wizard that does not gain bonus spells from an arcane school or gain an opposition school, but may opt to change them each day and finally, a wizard/magus-synergy archetype.

The pdf also provides one racial archetype per non-human core-race, available exclusively for the respective races: Dwarves may exchange their favoured class for an extra skill rank a level that must be put into Craft (Weaponsmith) and at 6th level, they get the master craftsman feat. Elves may opt to replace their favoured class by treating all bows as if they had weapon focus and treat their levels as fighter levels for the purposes of the latter versions of the weapon focus/specialization feat-tree. Half-elves may exchange their favoured class option for yet another skill rank per class-level, while halflings can opt to get improved and greater steal. Finally, Half-Orcs may replace the favoured class with +BAB bonus hitpoints.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any typos. What I did notice, though, is that the arcane-archetypes herein universally need a clarification. Layout adheres to RiP’s 2-column standard and the artwork is stock, but fitting. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This pdf admittedly is a hard sell on me – I’m a fan of complex options and complex archetypes, much more so than of the admittedly useful “class x, but with feature of class z”-types found mostly herein. However, as a toolbox, the latter are extremely useful and thus, I was also looking forward to reading this pdf. And on the one hand, author Eric Morton doesn’t disappoint – this is a nice toolbox-collection of simple modifications that allows for a wide variety of class feature combinations. What I don’t get, though, is how the hybrid archetypes could slip by: I get the reasoning: When multiclassing, keep on developing aspects of one class. Got it. But at no expense? Replacing nothing? That’s a power-gain equivalent and above a feat FOR FREE. That’s broken in my book, even if it usually refers to class-combinations that are not that efficient. And worse, it can be found for the majority of classes. Also, the arcane archetypes, again available for many classes need clarification on how exactly they’re supposed to work. While I can GUESS it, I’d like to be sure.

Don’t get me wrong, per se, this book is useful and features some really nice ideas, with especially the gunslinger archetypes and the lame cavalier standing out for me with unique and interesting mechanics. But there is a lot of filler in here as well: With the repetition of the broken hybrid and arcane archetypes and boring been-there-done-that law-instead-of-good-paladins, we get a tad bit less than what the author obviously is capable of. And then there are simply broken ones that crept in here and there like the wis-based, divine casting witch. These are few and far between, though – still: There are enough to, with aforementioned issue, impede the usability of this pdf, not by much, but it does. As it stands, I can’t rate this higher than 3 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Faces of the Tarnished Souk: Nameless Nil, the Beggar of Self is available from:

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Jan 302013
 

107298-thumb140[1]By Thilo Graf

This guide is 7 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 5 1/3 of pages content, so let’s check this out!

This pdf kicks off with a variety of different pieces of advice to properly handle haunts without overtaxing them. Beyond standard haunts, we also get options to expand the areas they cover, haunted objects and moving locations. On the pure gold side of crunch, we also get trigger variables that allow the Dm to create haunts that e.g. only show up every anniversary, randomly or add resistance and more hp to haunts – an interesting, concise little haunt-toolkit.

We also get 3 new different haunts, with the first one being the CR 4 Bruja Cauldron! Coming into existence by boiling a dead hag in a cauldron and consuming here, this cauldron grants access to the evil eye hex. Advice on similar 1st level ability-duplicating haunts is given as well. The second haunt clocks in at CR 8 and is a haunt that uses CMB to perform a manoeuvre, to precise, to drown its victim. Again, we are provided advice on creating similar haunts in the vein.

The final new haunt is the most complex one and presents us with a laboratory – one that is haunted and slowly but steadily churns out golems! Furthermore, the lab can fuse its components to create golems that defend it from those seeking to destroy it – narrative gold and, again, coming with rules-information to create similar “creature factory”-haunts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to SGG’s landscape 3-column format and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a pity.

This pdf is in its core a great toolkit to create some haunts with new, unique mechanics and should be considered a nice set of options for the Dm to make haunts more versatile and less predictable. Honestly, I really like this pdf – enough to consider it 5 stars+ seal of approval-material – were it not for the pdf’s brevity. Haunt-wise, we also saw expanded mechanics for haunts in T.H. Gulliver’s acclaimed “#30-Haunt”-series by Rite Publishing and while both are cool and complement each other, this Genius Guide feels like it is on the very short side. While the content is top-notch, I can’t help but feel that we should get 2 or 3 pages more, perhaps a couple of haunts more and this would be glorious. As presented, it feels slightly too short in comparison to aforementioned series (though the series by T.H. Gulliver is all about great haunts, not necessarily their creation). My final verdict will thus be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

The Genius Guide to Horrific Haunts is available from:

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Jan 302013
 

107843By Thilo Graf

This module is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 12 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

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

All right, still here? After having saved a child in the direct sequel, the PCs are hired for the job at hand – either by a priest who had a vision or the local law enforcement, to take down an evil relic. Both get fully written flavour-texts, which is an ok touch, though both are somewhat formulaic. The place the PCs are supposed to clear out is a kobold hunting ground, a mine that once was a dragon’s den. The thing is…well. This place isn’t made so that a dragon would fit in any place. And there is no mining shaft, no mining equipment etc. – instead, this is simply a dungeon that is…well…there. Because. Challenges to overcome include a bat swarm, a swinging axe trap, a pit trap, a pit with an invisible wall halfway across, combat versus 5 kobolds, one of which is a sorcerer and finally a showdown with a gibbering mouther guarding the idol -how the dragon’s skeleton got to the idol is anyone’s guess. Polymorph, I gather. Still, not logical. Oh, the idol in question – it gets no stats. Destroying the idol would have been a cool way to get rid of the mouther.

The complex gets an ok bare-bones map and encounters get bigger maps of the respective rooms, but lack player-friendly versions.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok – I noticed some minor glitches, but nothing too serious.

I refuse to write my rant again, so here you go: All of the things wrong with the previous module are also wrong with this one. Foes don’t use the environment. No running battle or intruder response by the kobolds. The traps are boring and trite. The final battle could have been cool, but isn’t. There’s a dragon skeleton lying around and nothing happens with it. WHY? Come on! Animate it. Make it difficult terrain. Anything. Anything even slightly creative to make the combat memorable. Nothing. Hiring is cliché, and the narrative of the module is just as formulaic as the one of its predecessor. The pdf has no bookmarks, no artworks, no printer-friendly version, no player maps and is overpriced. And the amazingly amateurish, fugly, eye-sore-inducing layout (see Dark Totem I for a rant/list on what’s wrong with that…short story: Everything.) is still here.

This is a bad, boring module that has barely the most rudimentary story, a dungeon that makes no sense, dumb foes and no saving graces. The kobolds could have easily made for a dynamic, interesting hit-and-run-dungeon, but instead they cover up in one room and wait for the slaughter of their kind. *shakes the head* A sliver of potential is there, but not much. At least, the now reduced price helps making the module more appealing.

In the end, though, 0onegames’ Sinking has the superior production values and better maps, scenarios etc. than this. Due to the low price, though, I’ll round up my final verdict of 1.5 stars up to 2 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

Adventures in Awesfur – The Dark Totem pt.2: The Dead Dragon’s Den is available from:

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Jan 302013
 

107585-thumb140[1]By Thilo Graf

This pdf from Zombie Sky Press is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page editorial, 1 page SRD/blank space apart from a couple of lines, leaving ~ 17 2/3 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

The second installment of the “Mysteries”-series was funded via a mini-kickstarter some time ago and introduces us to the Sacred Necromancer, who gets d8, 3/4 BAB-progression, 4+ Int skills per level, good fort-saves (uncommon for a primary caster) and spellcasting access of up to 9th level, with a maximum of 6 slots per level. Spellcasting is interesting in that it works via Charisma and spontaneous, but is limited similar to the spellcasting of the Yamabushi: The class gets access to all spells of the necromancy-school, be they divine or arcane, but must choose each day which spells they “know” this day. Additionally, the Sacred Necromancers get proficiency with light armours and don’t incur a spell-failure when casting in light armour. Sacred Necromancers don’t need a divine focus to cast divine spells, his spells are considered both arcane and divine and they cast as if using the eschew materials feat and gain up to +9d6 channel energy, with its use for damage or healing being prescribed by the respective calling of the class.

“Calling”? Yes. Essentially a sub-class that is chosen at first level and grants access to a certain variety of abilities specific to the calling – if you’re familiar with them, the callings essentially work like the archetypes in Super Genius Games’ anachronistic adventurers-line. (Not to be confused with common archetypes). Each calling thus has a connection to the forces of life and death and may chose whispers (essentially talents) based on the callings. Additionally, there are fields to further customize the character.

So what are the callings? The first would be the Chirurgeon, who can channel negative energy and use it only to heal his undead creations. They can choose from 6 whispers, which allow him to create neutral mindless undead (VIA SCIENCE!) and enhance them via construction points when performing a ritual on them. They may also buff allies (or foes) with a risky field experimentation (roll 3d4, 1 on a 1d4 is a penalty, the other 3 being bonuses, each die-roll influencing a physical attribute), treat “cure”-spells as necromancy-spells (i.e. add them to their spell-list), temporarily return creatures to life (who act as if confused, but may be guided via Cha-checks), spread sickness and contagion and gain a monster companion, which you can evolve à la Frankenstein. You also get a whisper that deals electricity damage via touch, but heals your monstrous companion. The Chirurgeon’s capstone is granting full-blown sentience to their creature and created undead.

The second calling is the exorcist, who can only channel positive energy and use it for damage. Suited for combat versus outsiders and undead, they get improving protection and opt to halve their channel energy to harm undead and heal allies at higher levels. Furthermore, they may choose from 9 whispers dealing with matters of possession and breaking free of mental control, damaging outsiders via channeling and the effect to temporarily make areas and rooms safe from outsiders and undead and their magical prowess by erecting a sacred barrier via channel energy. The capstone allows you to use imprisonment and up to 20 rounds of freedom of movement per day.

The Journeyman of the Pale Path can channel negative energy and either heal or harm with it and even combine healing undead with damaging the living. They may choose from 7 specific whispers dealing with some rather cool options: The dampening of healing spells, for example, is a really deadly affair, as is adding bleed to channel damage, erect walls of negative energy, cause your minions to explode, cadaverous explosion-style and instill frenzy or tactics into your undead. The capstone makes you a lich. The calling also comes with its reverse version, the Journeyman of the Vibrant Path and a formatting peculiarity: The bracketed text that comments on the reversed powers of the Vibrant Path is of a different font and font-size, leading to a strangely disjointed look and being an obvious formatting glitch that definitely should have been caught.

Next up is the Psychopomp, who channels positive energy exclusively for healing and deals with the spiritual side of the topics, choosing from a total of 7 whispers. It should be noted that Psychopomps gain additional powers over the levels that increases your spellcasting prowess via the powers of the ancients. From gaining access to an oracle mystery, 1/month breath of life yourself as an immediate action and gaining bonuses due to your communion with spirits. At 20th level, you become indestructible by all but a god – reforming in a place of your choice after 1d4+1 days in a location at least 10 miles away from the site of death. Epic!

The Revenant channels negative energy for purposes of dealing damage, can choose from 9 whispers and…well. Are Undead. And gain all the undead immunities apart from the one to mind-influencing effects. Not gonna happen in my game. ever. While PFRPG has made undead less op, they still are stronger than regular characters – by quite a stretch. And the slightly weaker whispers in no way are enough to balance out the insane power-gain the undead subtype grants the character. Broken in my book and desperately needs a balancing factor like the classic revenants single-minded focus on revenge, undead weaknesses etc..

We also get 4 different fields to customize your sacred necromancers. The first being the Animist with 7 more whispers that rock: When some creature with a soul dies, you can delay its ascension and harness the soul to heal allies by reflecting on its joy in life or increase your spellcasting prowess or buff allies. Nice. Eaters of the Dead gain 6 whispers and can craft bone talismans from vanquished foes (possibly scavenging-potential here with SGG’s Death Knight and Death Mage) as well as the power to devour essences to gain fast healing . Really disturbing and iconic: Eat the flesh of a foe to take said foe’s appearance! Yes! And by eating foes, you can even detect their thoughts! Grisly, creepy, awesome! For the adherents of the old 3.5 Pale Master-class, we also get a self-experimenting field with 4 new whispers that allow you to augment your eyes and gain access to alchemist discoveries via your body-grafting. The final field deals with Thaumaturgy and ROCKS. The ability to damage yourself and deal twice the amount to foes via touch attacks by Blood Oath is incredibly cool (think of the cool, desperate gambits you could do), gain bonuses to social skills, the option to geas foes and the option to dismiss outsiders whose names you know – great way of implementing the good ol’ arcane feeling of mysticism into a useful ability.

Now, beyond the class, we also are introduced to Mokuren “Ren” Kamura (whom you may recall from the “Red Jack”-pdf) in all her foxblooded rogue 3/Sacred Necromancer 10-splendor, fully statted with a beautiful artwork. Beyond this neat bonus-character, we also get 3 new feats:

  • Extra Fox Tail: Choose a fox magic feat and an additional fox tail to enhance your foxblooded powers.
  • Extra Whisper: Self-explanatory.
  • Turn Living: Turns living like Turn Undead turns undead.

The pdf closes with the fox-blooded simple template and it should be noted that there is also a spell-list precompiled for the Sacred Necromancer, which is nice to start, but depending on the number of books you use, might need massive additions.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are the weak-points of this pdf: I noticed some obvious glitches in formatting, which, while not detracting from my understanding of the product, detracted from its otherwise very professional look. Layout adheres to ZSP’s 3-column landscape format and the full-color artworks herein are awesome and deserve praise. The pdf is backgroundless and printer-friendly and comes with a massive array of bookmarks to help you navigate the file. Super Genius Games, take heed – class-pdfs with bookmarks are just easier to use.

Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to either reading or reviewing this. Why? Because I don’t like necromancers to be kindhearted. I want them garish, gritty, dirty and creepy – and “sacred” didn’t really point me in that direction. Furthermore, there already is Marc Radle’s rather well-designed White Necromancer from KQ (and possibly soon, Open Design’s New Paths-line). So yeah, I was looking forward to at best seeing a repetitive design. And instead, we actually get a very clever class: The combination of fields, callings and whispers with scaling bonuses and versatile abilities mixed in allows for supreme customization and makes the design-choices feel exciting, balanced and iconic.

HOWEVER. And, unfortunately, it’s a big however, the pdf also suffers from a problem that already plagued the Yamabushi: The total access to all spells of the necromancy-school means that, depending on the amount of spell-publications you use, the class experiences massive power gains. Presume e.g. Rite Publishing’s “1001 Spells”, Necromancer of the Northwest’s “Advanced Arcana”-pdfs, Dreadfox Games’ Grimoire Mortalitas and BAM – instant power-up! Wizards have to find and learn the spells, sorcerers have a limited selection. Sacred Necromancers? Nothing. No advice is given for the DM on how to properly handle this versatility and deal with the new options, which is a problem inherent in the design-choice and the one thing that can potentially utterly break the class-balance. Secondly, there is the Revenant. What a cool concept. What an utterly amateurish execution. Undead PCs are mostly bad ideas balance-wise- (And yes, speaking from experience – I had a character that once was pure and good fall to becoming a fanatic that willingly turned into a vampire to prolong her life and establish a vampiric theocracy based on her twisted vision of her once RG-faith after inciting a holy war…and succeed.). Undead, even in Pathfinder, are MUCH STRONGER THAN LIVING CHARACTERS. They need balancing factors. And the Revenant HAS NONE. Diddly-squat. How can such a blunder happen? Need I recite the list of immunities? And don’t come with the “fluff-penalty”-non-argument of ostracism. That can be solved via disguise, magic etc. This NEEDS balancing factors. Desperately.

Now, how to rate this? Until I got to the Revenant, I was looking forward to all-out recommending this pdf. However, the flaws conspire to drag down a pdf that could easily have been 5 star+ seal of approval material. With just a bit more editing to get rid of the obvious glitches. With just a few paragraphs (there’s enough blank space on the last page!) on handling expanded spell-selections via other 3pp-publications and future Paizo-books. And this needs a solid redesign of the revenant-calling (The drawbacks are what defines the undead that gives this the name!!!!) – as written, the calling is broken as all hell.

Damn, this one is so hard to rate: The good parts are 5 star + seal material, but damn, damn, damn – the minor glitches, the spell-list issue and most of all, the revenant that needs massive redesign are factors I cannot ignore when issuing my final verdict. As much as it pains me and wrenches my heart, I can in no good conscience rate this otherwise stellar pdf as high as I want to – it just feels like it was rushed out in the end and would have needed another week. My final verdict will be a 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 with an encouragement to check this out nevertheless. If the revenant is fixed/you don’t take that calling into account, this would score a whole star more. I hope I may update my verdict of the pdf soon to the rating the class deserves.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jan 292013
 

106393By Thilo Graf

This pdf from Purple Duck Games is 36 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages SRD, 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 30 pages of content for new legendary items, so let’s check these out!

If by now you don’t know what legendary items and pieces of equipment are, you should definitely check out Purple Duck Games’ whole product range – they essentially are weapons, armours, shields and miscellaneous items that are not your run-of-the-mill magic Walmart-crap, but unique items that improve with your character-levels, gaining new and often unique powers. If you are familiar with the 3.5-book Weapons of Legacy by WotC, think Weapons of Legacy minus penalties and suckage.

All right, this general introduction out of the way, the items usually improve every second character level, though the first slew of non-combat items provided by PDG only had 5 improvement-steps instead of 10. Now how do these new ones hold up in direct comparison? Well, we’re off to a good start with an item so iconic I was actually asking myself why no-one bothered to do it before -we get an enchanted broom for witches! The Broom enhances flying acrobatics, improves hex-DCs and finally even allows witches to form coven sans hags. Very cool! It should also be noted that each item in this book is lavishly illustrated in full color, with the broom being no exception and looking rather awesome. The crusader’s banner, its fluff rooted in Prophyra’s NewGod-war, is also interesting in that its properties are a collection of knight’s pennon and lord’s banner-abilities – unique abilities instead of collecting several others would have been preferable, though – as written, the item lacks a unique signature ability that sets it distinctly apart.

Next is the Eye of Plaetius, a crystal ball that provides us with all the divinatory needs we’d expect to see (get it? *EZG puts 2 bucks in the bad pun jar*) and while its fluff is again interesting, the ball allows the user to combine e.g. telepathy and true seeing with scrying, which allows for nice gaslighting options for sadistic DMs. The item also grants access to the new “Sun’s Brilliance”-spell, essentially a lesser type of daylight. Now the Favor of Kalashi is interesting in all ways: This quiver not only comes with nice fluff, produces ammunition etc., it also grants the user the option to deal elemental damage and grants a pool of hunter’s points the bearer can use to temporarily enhance ranged weapons (even stacking on pre-existing plusses!) and add the equivalent of progressively better enhancements to the respective ranged weapons. Nice ideas, mechanically solid and cool. Neat!

We also get a flagon that starts off as a decanter of endless water and later allows its wielder to produce sweet wine or oil, and later even tidal waves and the summoning of water elementals. Two spells granted by the item are part of the deal – including the option to summon a fully statted water dragon that even gets a neat full color artwork. For campaigns in the far north, the boots of Giald should not be left under the polar bear-rug – after all, they allow the user to raise igloos and even castles of ice! Beware of Dwarven Ice Wights, though! And what about a hat of tricks that may later gate things and beings in?

There is also a sinister necromancer’s cauldron that may raise the dead (though its use should drive sweat to e.g. paladin brows), but where the items kick into full gear is with the Mechanism of Torl that kicks off as a new vehicle (again, with all required stats) and develops into two other vehicles, one of which is an apparatus of the crab and there also are special abilities. EPIC WIN!

The boots called Orphan’s Rise are all about acrobatics, agility, tightrope mastery etc. – and perhaps it’s me, but I immediately had a Dickens-style-story in the back of my head after reading the entry – beyond that, the boots are a godsend for catburglars.

There also are halfling gloves that deflect arrows and make all weapons return to the owner as if they possessed the quality. And then, there’s the Rod of Bound Chaos, which deserves special elaboration: Working as both a weapon and an improving rod of wonders, this weapon spans more than 3 pages with random enhancements beyond the versatility of the of basic item-classes it’s based on, all but ensuring that the weapon is not the same on any given day. Have I mentioned the vampire’s cloak that allows all the iconic vampiric hovering and flying and multiple bat-related abilities? Or the horn that can summon the legendary boar of the Great Hunt, Goldenmane?

Finally, we get a severed hand that improves hand-related spells.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s 2-column standard and the full color artworks deserve special mention – at this price-point, the items are rivalled only by LPJr Design’s Treasures of NeoExodus-line. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and it should be mentioned that it is relatively printer-friendly, sans background.

WOW! The Legendary Series never fails to satisfy my constant hunger for more of these neat items and this one in particular has some items that teem with creativity, iconicity and coolness without resorting to tried, true and boring territory. The mutable vehicle in particular is pure gold – every adventurer group should have one! Now while I’m still not a fan of the 5-level progression of many of these items, there also can be found several in here that adhere to the 10-level standard and thus, I won’t hold it against the pdf: Better 5 good abilities than 10 with a 50%-bland-quote.

I’m happy to report that this pdf fails utterly in being bland, though – instead providing us with one of the best instalments of the legendary-series released so far. Author Josh McCrowell did a great job and only due to the banner e.g. falling slightly short of what it could have been (it’s still good) will omit my seal of approval. My final verdict thus clocks in at a very easily given 5 stars and an all-out purchase-recommendation.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jan 292013
 

108832-thumb140[1]By Thilo Graf

This pdf from Super Genius Games is 15 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/front cover, leaving us with 13 1/3 pages of content for the Riven Mage, so let’s check out this new base-class!

So what is the Riven Mage? The riven mage gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armour, shields and all good save-progressions.

Riven Mages cast different spells, raw magical powers called Rivenspells – they cast these via a pool called flux that starts off as a humble 2 points + Int-modifier flux points to cast their rivenspells, up to a maximum of a base 168 flux points at 20th level. Now, if you’re familiar with SGG’s gish-class Archon, you may know the basic concept of rivenspells, but more on that later. What is crucial to riven mages is the option to once per day regain ALL flux by meditating 15 minutes instead of resting for 8 hours, making the class more suitable for long adventure days with longer downtimes. They may enhance their rivenspells by spending additional flux points up to 1/2 class-level +1.

At first level, Riven Mages may choose from 6 different Riven Paths that grant the riven mage a bonus on a save, additional class skills and e.g. abilities like trafinding. At 12th level, they may act as if they had access to select spells for prerequisite crafting, spell triggers etc. At 2nd level and every 5 levels after that, the Riven Mage may also attune to a form of energy damage, opting to change her rivenspell damage to the chosen energy and adding her int-bonus to the damage of the modified rivenspell. They may also specialize in a particular rivenspell to cut flux-cost in half. As a capstone, they may use their flux points to make saves and mitigate received damage.

We get a total of 41 Rivenspells in the pdf, all of which come with a minimum-cost of flux and a minimum rivencaster level as well as e.g. required paths to take them etc. . Here a blatant and sloppy cosmetic glitch can be found: About half of the rivenspells list “Rivencaster 1” as prerequisite, the other half list “Rivencaster level 1” – now just about any editor should have caught this one. While not tragic, it detracts from a solidified look of the pdf, if not from its rules. The rivenspells represent more crude applications of magic than regular spells and as such usually can be made to last longer or gain increased powers by spending additional flux points. Far Sight e.g. gains an improved sensor-range and the Morph rivenspell allows the rivencaster to e.g. gain scent, but become blind, a fly-speed, but at the expense of arms etc. They may also throw arcanely-imbued weapon, charged with flux.

The class also comes with 3 different feats, one to get extra flux, one for an extra rivenspell and one to further optimize flux-expenditure regarding one rivenspell. The pdf also includes an alternative of the Archon focused wholly on rivenspells, the Rivener, which turns out to be not only a complex archetype, but actually one that makes the Archon-class stand out much more by replacing their spellcasting with rivencasting. It’s a bit weird that two abilities specify that they replace the same ability, though.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not up to the usually flawless standard by SGG – I noticed several glitches and inconsistencies, much more than I’m used from regarding SGG, including some minor formatting issues – nothing too serious, though. Layout adheres to SGG’s 3-column, landscape standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks – neat!

The Riven Mage per se is a very cool class and a concept I hope authors Carl Gilchrist and Owen K.C. Stephens will expand with more rivenspells. The class is not only solid, it is essentially a good take on a warlock-style class that can blast foes with arcane energy, support via rivenspells, but never attain the versatility of full spell-casters. All in all, a solid, cool blaster-class that suffers slightly from editing glitches. Thus, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jan 292013
 

109633-thumb140[1]By Thilo Graf

This pdf from Adventureaweek.com is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 34 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

Still here? All right!

One year ago, the most luxurious place in Rybalka, the lodge, burned down and took ambassador Kor Valdritch and his whole retinue to a fiery death. Investigations showed evidence of Vikmordere terrorists and concluded thus the investigation. One year later, the reconstruction of the famous lodge is complete, in spite of the weird occurrences happening around it, the strange lights, the sabotaged endeavors to recreate it. 3 days from now, the Klavekian prince will visit Rybalka – that’s the time-frame the PCs have to stop the lodge’s hauntings. Suurmaja Samson, owner of the lodge and mayor as well NEED this issue resolved and especially the latter’s weird dreams about an imminent assassination of the prince should drive home that the PCs should not squander their precious time. Furthermore, a mysterious undead-hunting agent from the nation of Mohkba approaches the PCs and asks them to look for a crystal ball while investigating, as well as providing further rewards.

By the way: This module really deserves being called an investigation: The neighboring families, dialogue with them, perceptions, sense motive – many clues can be unearthed and should be – for example the rather interesting miniature carvings of the lodge that seem to be in quite a variety of houses. After initial surveys, the PCs can find aforementioned agent wounded and telling them about Vikmordere waiting at the lodge. Sooner or later, the PCs have to explore the lodge, possibly multiple times, for daylight and night feature different apparitions and potentially dangerous combats: The Vikmordere and spirits in the lodge turn out to be the culprits of the hauntings, masterminded by the supposedly deceased ambassador, who has been gathering information and manipulated the people of Rybalka in a brilliant, yet sadistic infiltration that feature the clever use of specially treated crystals and baby mimics (!!!). As a highly intelligent opponent, his tactics as well as HOW he could generate such a vast deception should make for the truly rewarding finale when the PCs confront him and hopefully manage to pierce the vast amount of nasty tactical tricks and escape plans the ambassador has. If they fail, he may not only get away with important data, the lodge will also burn down again to cover his tracks. On the interesting side, he is also an illusionist and for a long time, perhaps the first one I’ve read about who actually has tactics worthy of a) his Int-score and b) his status as the BbeG. What his mission is about, though, remains a mystery, at least for now.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches, just a few minor typos here and there. Layout has been revised and refined further from AaW’s previous standard and is easier to read, more concise in its presentation and makes reading the module quite easy on the eyes – kudos for the continued improvement! The pdf comes with ok artworks and a drop-dead-gorgeous map of the lodge, also in a player-friendly version. The pdf is fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks. As per the writing of this review, the herolab files for this module have not yet been provided. With the new layout, no printer-friendly version is part of the deal, but the module is still printer-friendly enough in its layout to not require a downgrade.

I really liked this module for its clever antagonist, his brilliant plan and how his strategy is described. While DMs should definitely read again what his array of magical options can do, in the hands of a capable DM, this module can be a truly memorable experience, also thanks to the rather detailed social investigation in the beginning that helps DMs weak in that regard. The night/day-difference also is rather cool and concise in its presentation, offering several interesting scenes that could be easily be further enhanced by DMs that can wield the main antagonist well. All in all a cool investigation with a smart BbEG that I haven’t seen done this way before. Hence also a hearty recommendation with a final verdict of 5 stars, only omitting my seal of approval since I would have loved to see the initial investigation expanded slightly more. Still, one of the best, most uncommon AaW-modules I’ve read so far.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jan 292013
 

107648By Thilo Graf

This companion-tome to the Kobold Press-project “Journeys to the West” is 48 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

The pdf kicks off with memorable NPCs to add to your campaign, for example Ernst “Goldtooth” Galway (Rogue[Pirate] 13), who hides a grim secret, Evain “Sea-Bellows” Saol, a Sea Singer and his druidess gnome wife Ré Saol – pirates that actually can be considered a reliable good guy. Or take Keng Hakon, archivist/oracle from Kathay, whose massive flotilla still scours the seas. And Rushara the raven, the mysterious mistress of the “Seastrider” is looking for gold, yes, but also for memories…and not her own.

Beyond these mid-level famous rapscallions, we also get a selection of more low-level individuals, though that does not mean that they are less interesting – The Oracle called “The Brine Pauper” could definitely hail from the Iron Isles – his artwork alone made me think “What is dead may never die.” And if they get hurt, well, just entreat your PCs to a visit at the friendly white necromancer…troll-lady! Or take a brilliant idea: A dragon who uses his own body to carry premium cargo, essentially working as a one-reptile air mail system! Of course, an evil siren, a pirate haunted by strange, cursed (or are they?) magic items, a sahuagin-scoundrel, a kobold druid and his pet snake and a rogue morphoi are also in this book, providing us all in all with a gamut of interesting characters, cool ideas and plenty of hooks for them to add them to your campaign.

Next up is a section that details the Island of Palau Kelaparan, where, as legends have it, the demon-lord Mechuiti entered the world and where his cannibal pygmies reign supreme with their demonic allies. Coming in the form of a sketchy description by areas, detailing crunchy environmental features and ideas by major locations as well as featuring sample traps, 3 fully statted sample NPCs as well as an encounter-table. The second Island included in the deal would be Umbrascara, which, as the name suggests, is close the realms of shadows and essentially has rather suffered from an influx of both shadow fey and intruders via the phenomenon called Darktide. Umbrascara feels more like a gazetteer than of a shortened adventure-location, making for an interesting contrast with the first island. What’s also cool is that we get 3 different other ports of call in a gazetteer-style, almost player-friendly write-up. If you’re like me and were a fan of the 3.5-setting, you may like that the upcoming SpirosBlaak-setting-update by Misfit Studios seems to be an official part of the Midgard world via this book – for there’s a write-up here! Now that’s cool! What I kind of missed was a similar nod to Freeport, but I still hope we’ll get to see the Open Design-project some time and anchor the city of pirates in Midgard.

Speaking of good write-ups – we also get 3 distinct different pirate bands, tables of driftgood, CR 4 mandrill-headed evil humanoids, Cr 1 rum gremlins and more importantly: Ship-templates!

YES! Thank you so much! We get the amphibious, dragon turtle, fiendish, flying fish (short term fly over land!), nautilus and arthropod and keel-sung ships and, what can I say, they ROCK and cover iconic things that should have been covered before. This is simply stellar! Two thumbs up for these!

The new spells herein are also rather nice, though there are some fillers in here, like elemental surge, but we also get a spell to enhance a ship’s hardness and generally, I don’t have anything to complain about the new spells. Among the new magic items, we get one particular book that will never see use in my game and which I already didn’t like in the design-process: The manual of island survival provides 10 different spells that help with survival, essentially taking away island survival problems and the investment of spells into it. However, we also get a sail of wonder and enchanted figureheads as well as an enchanted plumage. There also are 3 new traits.

And then, the sourcebook becomes all-out awesome: Using rules analogues to the runes of the Northlands-supplement, we are introduced to 6 Aboleth Glyphs and 11 feats dealing with them, marrying content from sunken empires and northlands and expanding it. I LOVE it! We also get concise advice on Glyph creation, a three-step, rather complex and cool Thalassic creature-template and even the thalassic bloodline. Damn, I wished we got a whole sourcebook on this delightfully twisted topic!

The pdf closes with a 2-page map of the Western Ocean.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout is beautiful, full color and adheres to a 2-column standard. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the full color and b/w-artworks adhere to the highest standard you could ask for.

The characters and locations are awesome, the locations iconic, the Aboleth Glyph magic genius and the new islands rock. However, this pdf is not perfect, as much as I’d love to proclaim it to be. The islands get no maps, which is a minor bummer and the cool NPCs are all rather simple builds. Their fluff is great, but build-wise we don’t get cool templated foes or complex adversaries. While the ship-templates are nice, I wished that there was perhaps a unique vehicle for the characters. The spells per se, while nice, didn’t blow me out of the water. Well, at least the pdf didn’t fall into the Spell/feat-glut-trap and instead focuses on useful, exciting content and good organization write-ups, which in my book help alleviate the minor issues I have with the pdf. I’ll be honest with you: My first impulse was to rate this pdf at 4 stars. But the thing is – it does not deserve to be rated as only “good” – it is a stellar pdf, but one whose quality wavers slightly, like the waves on which it sails. Thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, but sans the seal of the approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

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