Jun 282013
 

The Battle for Bridgefort

113993

The third part of Curtis Baum’s Bridgefort-trilogy (after B8 and B12) is 36 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC,1 page SRD, leaving us with 31 pages of content, so let us 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 exploring some ruins in “The Right to Arm Bugbears” and reclaiming stolen magic items (the theft happening in “Thief in the Night”) the PCs have unearthed news of an impending attack and thus returned to Bridgefort. There, they will be invited to a planning-session where the Baron Tavius Mercen IV will introduce them to Kytty Silverstar, a traveling entertainer, Leonne Silvertear, the local high priestess and Rcane Shapemaster, the local mage merchant. Nomenclature-wise, not that impressed here – Rcane Shapemaster? Really? Also: Twice “Silver” in the surnames will just confuse the players and make the two harder to tell apart. But enough nitpickery – the strategy-meeting concludes with the PCs negotiating their terms and the Baron announces he’ll destroy two of Bridgefort’s 3 bridges to increase the odds of preventing the approaching humanoids from crossing the stream.

 

The first battle will be fought at the gates of the west district- and preparation-wise, it is rather cool: For the PCs get a puzzle to reinforce the gate in addition  to Knowledge engineering checks. And after that simple one, we get a first so-called “Dynamic battle” – the (fully mapped) encounter takes 10 rounds and its success or failure is determined by the amount of foes the PCs can kill – as the bugbears and orcs try to destroy the gates with their battering ram, the PCs should endeavor to keep their allies alive as well while drawing fire, raining death from the walls and preventing their flanks from being overrun by humanoids that have entered the city. Damn cool combat here! It should also be noted, that each dynamic battle can result in win, draw or loss, thus granting boons or penalizing the PCs in the final encounter.

 

The second battle is slightly less epic, but also has interesting winning conditions – when bugbears empowered by flying potions cross the walls, the PCs will have to repel them and rally the panicking guards while ensuring enough of their allies survive. The second skirmish has the PCs crash a significant amount of summoning spells by hobgoblins.

 

The final conflict will have the PCs defending the last bridge of the city – which comes with an interesting puzzle that will make the final encounter easier, robbing the PC’s foe of his ability to fly.  But before that, the PCs will have to defeat foes upon foes – kobold snipers on dire bats, for example. And they WILL reap what they have sown in the previous two encounters.  The bridge, btw., gets its own map and finally, in the end, face emperor Chez’nak – who turns out to be a rather deadly oni…

 

As rewards for saving the city, the PCs may actually be knighted and the pdf closes with a map of the city, two versions of the massive battle’s quarter as well as a map of the bridge that serves as the final encounter.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to AaW’s 2-column standard with color-coded boxes and white backgrounds and the artworks are ok. The cartography, as almost always with AaW, is neat indeed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Ähem. Well. you see me a bit stumped. “Thief in the Night” felt cut down and a tad bit too easy and simple. “The Right to Arm Bugbears” to me is not a good module, but rather a series of mostly disjointed encounters, which work great on their own, but don’t tie well together and could have used additional development. Well. This one is nothing like that. Yes, it’s essentially a series of fights. With some puzzles sneaked in – but it feels epic. Like that’s what should have been the conclusion to “The Right to Arm Bugbears“. Where both of its predecessors fail, this one delivers. Yes, its story is not that exciting, but it doesn’t need to be – this is about holding a city against a horde of humanoids and the respective encounters are interesting, fast-paced and just plain fun. In fact, I’d suggest you check it out if you’re looking for a fast-paced siege-style romp. (It should be noted that this was released before mass combat rules from UC, so don’t expect mass combat in here!)

 

That being said, this pdf also has some minor downsides: It’s whole structure is slightly predictable. It could have used one or two additional dynamic battles and some of the nomenclature is groan-eliciting. Still, this is by far the best I’ve seen from author Curtis Baum and well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purposes of this platform.

 

You can decide the fate of Bridgefort here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 282013
 

The Clockwork Primer

114014

This pdf is 12 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page fluffy introduction/editorial,1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The pdf kicks off with an updated version of the Clockwork Adept-PrC – first pioneered in KQ #16, the PrC requires 7 ranks in Craft (clockworks), Knowledge (Arcana) and 4 ranks in Knowledge (engineering) as well as the Craft Construct and Skill Focus (Craft [Clockworks])-feats and the option to cast 4th level arcane spells.

 

The PrC gets proficiency with simple weapons, 2+Int skills per level, d6,1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves and full spellcasting progression. Clockwork Adepts may highjack constructs of up to 1/2 character level, no more than twice character level HD 3+Cha-mod times per day, for 1 + cha-mod hours! OUCH! Furthermore, they may imbue spells into constructs and at 3rd, 6th, 8th and 9th level they may select one of 10 different insights – essentially the talents of the class.

 

These talents include improved flanking (which is odd, giving the PrC’s caster-focus), reduce costs, increase max HD you can control, make constructs faster (or create them faster) or repair them faster. One of the insights is somewhat unbalanced, adding cha-mod to the 10+ 1/2 level +Int-mod-formula constructs need to save against to prevent highjacking – with the notoriously sucky will-saves of constructs, this one is too powerful in my opinion – especially since the PrC further increases the power of the ability. As a capstone, the adept may essentially transform his/her sentience into a preprepared construct body – a nice apotheosis.

 

A sidebar explains the update of the Craft (Clockworks)-skill that is next up – with it, you may temporarily enhance weapon, armor, physical skill, hit point or hardness and even overclock them – at the expense of becoming staggered afterwards, the skill allows for a +1 bonus to an attribute. Suffice to say – not only constructs, but items as well can benefit quite a bit from this skill. Furthermore, it allows the user to program constructs – with 13 sample ones given. Treating critical damage and quickly jury-rigging items is also possible. This skill ROCKS hard!

 

Engineer’s kits, masterwork engineer’s kits and precision tools complement as items the skill. We also get the clockwork domain, which allows you to buff constructs and emit a construct/item-repairing aura. Next up are 6 new spells: One that conjures a box of tools only designated people may use, one to breathe life and sentience into a construct (which essentially is almost a template!), Gear Alignment in two versions (i.e. a bonus to skills and AC for constructs), +2 to the next Craft and Knowledge-checks or temporarily disable the use of one limb of an awakened construct.

 

The final pieces of content are 4 new items: The first being the Runegear-staff, but it pales before the Clockwork Sword – essentially a sword with a button that can make it shocking and keen – hell yeah! There also are goggles that help versus ref-saves and with clockworking skill-checks. Finally, we get vambraces that net +1 to AC and may shock foes – nice, though I would have loved a scaling DC instead of the rather DC 11 to avoid dazing.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column standard with a parchment-style background and the b/w-artworks are awesome – we get btw. 3 original pieces of artworks for items! Two thumbs up! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

I wasn’t particularly excited about this pdf – and honestly, the Clockwork Adept-PrC feels overpowered with regards to constructs and weak with regards to other foes – a specialist. And then the pdf picks up – the new skill ROCKS HARD and while I’m not too keen on the new domain/spells, the items once again are awesome! All in all, we thus get a solid, neat pdf, which, especially if you like the idea of the skills, should provide some neat options for your game for an affordable price – hence, my final verdict will kick in at 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can start doing some clockwork tinkering here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 282013
 

Cavalier Mounts

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This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This pdf is Dale McCoy Jr.’s answer versus the problem of boring cavalier mounts for e.g. dwarves and other races – ignoring the horse/camel limitation in favor for some more exotic, weird mounts – a total of 11 different base statistics, all of which advance at 4th level (with one exception, the wolfhound advances at 7th level) and the creatures are interesting indeed:

 

We get a riding ant, elks, riding beetles, cave salamanders, giant gila monsters, the obligatory riding eagle, riding hawks, spiders and OSTRICHS and TUMBLING PIGS! Hell yeah!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a no-frills standard and the pdf actually, in spite of its short length, comes fully bookmarked – commendable! Better yet, the pdf comes with working d20pfsrd.com hyperlinks – the good type, where only rules-relevant pieces are hyperlinked.

 

What can I say – for a very fair asking price, this pdf offers some cool mounts and while I’m not sold on why we needed a hawk and an eagle, overall, this pdf offers some VERY cool mounts to use and add some very distinct cultural flair to your campaign and set cavaliers (and other mounted characters) more apart. I still would have wished for a second mount that is not yet another bird, but that’s about the only thing I have to complain about – hence my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get neat new mounts here on OBS  or here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop in a printer-optimized version!

If you’d rather have them in tablet version, here you can get it on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

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Jun 262013
 

The Sunken Pyramid

I’m posting this on the 26th of June and astute readers might deduce from what I still haven’t reviewed that this pdf isn’t due on my schedule until next week. Well, as an early birthday present from me to myself (tomorrow, I’ll be a year older once again…), I’ll review only excellent pdfs today. This is one of them!

115996

This module is 87 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page statblock-list by CR/foreword, 1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice-DMs, 1 page basic advice on using adventures, leaving us with 78 pages of content

 

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

 

All right, still here? The sunken edifice close to White Moon Cove (or any other coastal village…) has become the new throne of the Atl’utaal-tribe – and found a weird being known as Nahuatal: Which demands blood sacrifice of sentient beings. If you haven’t guessed  -players will need to delve into the depths and a list of abilities are noted that will greatly help in exploring the sunken pyramid – preparation is essential,  for underwater adventuring is not particularly simple. Before we delve into the meat of the module, we essentially get the full Village Backdrop for White Moon Cove (please check my review of that one for a more detailed look) -complete with Village Map (which can be btw. downloaded as high-res versions for free on Raging Swan Press’ homepage), rumors etc. And, of course, we also get varied different adventure hooks to draw the PCs into the action. Now that basic set-up is out of the way, we’ll also by this point have read an ecology on sahuagin that will help depicting them and their culture  -including nomenclature, religion etc.

 

We also get a timeline of 13 days that should feature enough events to draw the PCs into the action as well as potentially even providing some support. Now it should be noted that this module does not take the easy route out and indeed does not provide magic items to cancel out the environmental peculiarities of underwater adventuring, but more on that later. The action kicks off with a sahuagin raiding party assaulting the docks of White Moon Cove and, as with every encounter, scaling information (e.g. to either EL 9 or EL 11) are provided as well as a wide array of different terrain specifics that may be utilized as cover, broken etc. – rather neat and in the level of detail we’ve come to expect from raging Swan Press.

 

After the raid, doing some research and getting some information in the town, both via rumors and NPC-interaction, the PCs will have to settle off aboard a vessel towards the sunken edifice and delve into the depths – and here, the crawl starts becoming rather interesting – in contrast to most modules I’ve seen, we actually get information on counter-tactics of the inhabitants, organized defenses etc. – so PCs better be on their a-game when exploring the pyramid. Oh, and if you’re like me, you’ll also enjoy the, which cannot be emphasized enough, vast amount of details to be found herein – which actually makes this location work organically and make it seem plausible – there for example is a kelp/seaweed farm found herein. While perhaps looking like something irrelevant, it is VERY relevant – your unconsciousness will notice such details and they will help immersing both you and your players into the module’s alien vistas.

 

Or e.g. skull-filled niches, barracks with a variety of items hidden? Beyond even random encounters, we also get dressing-tables for e.g. the second level – and then there are the Cal’ Mecac Teachings – a combination of pictograms and aquan texts teachings  that are simply awesome and give a fascinating insight into sahuagin culture. Want an example? Here you go!

 

All the world is a grave and none escape it

A warrior hastens to send blood

to the vast realm of the gods.

Once exulted in pride, majesty, fortune and power,

nothing recalls a warrior when gone but his deeds.

 

And yes, we get more of them! Two thumbs up for this very immersive pieces of fluff – they serve to vastly improve the alien sense that sahuagin mindset should evoke. Alien? Yes, for  even the young and females demand no quarter, nor give it – vicious foes abound, even before meeting bone oracles and skeletons made from shark jaws… – though not all is a killfest. Aforementioned oracle, sinister as he might be, actually wants the PCs to slay Nahuatal and may offer some crucial hints that may well mean the difference between a repudiated assault and a successful infiltration… Of course, disposing the oracle and defeating his necrophidius guardian and enervation-beams blasting skulls is also an option for less diplomatically-inclined PCs.

 

It should also be noted that even the treasures that can randomly be found in sahuagin quarters are interesting – shark-tooth carvings, for example. Since underwater combat is different – so are the spell-lists and the tactics based on the spells – e.g. by the sorcerors. A nasty surprise for PCs not familiar with Malenti (i.e. sahuagin that actually look like aquatic elves!) is also waiting in the wings as one hard-hitting assassin – and assassination in 3d, with kelp-beds as cover is nothing but cool! Speaking of interesting battle/terrain uses – what about a stone oracle swimming in and out of walls via Earth Glide? Yeah, nasty! Ally-wise, the PCs may also enter the fray in a sahuagin-arena and save a doomed triton gladiator from being torn to shreds and l00t-wise pillage sahuagin armories and barracks (also for magical items wi8th neat unique fluff) -before invading the throne room to save a merfolk damsel in distress (and/or an imprisoned sea hag)s and SUFFER against Baron Xilochtel – a four-armed mutant giant sahuagin magus.

 

Have I mentioned devious traps like poisoned sea-weed curtains or that that’s not all? For it isn’t – even beyond the deadly baron, beyond the sahuagin cleric, in the depths, dread cleric No’Chilok and Nahuatal, the drinker of souls stand between the PCs and the freedom of the hostages/sacrifices to be – and the CR 10 ancient shark-abomination with its deadly breath weapon and ability to smite good/swallow whole is DEADLY – hence also the advice on how to avoid TPKs and scaling it down – it should also be noted that the fully depicted NPC-hostages feature two combatants that could mean the difference between life and death – nice!

 

In the appendix, we get full write ups for Nahuatal as well as Sharkjaw Skeletons and also magic items – like crystal sahuagin skulls, shark tooth amulets and the item called “Obsidian Trident” – which houses the personality of Pyvanel, a long-slain merfolk sorceror – whether they keep it or return it, they’ll have gained useful allies – whether in the tritons or in the very weapon itself.

 

The second appendix is gold and essentially consists of a massive DM-cheat-sheet that makes running underwater adventurers so much easier, it’s glorious – all the compiled information, including the effects of swim speed/freedom of movement and attack/damage modifications make running this actually surprisingly easy on the DM.

 

The final appendix contains 6 pregens for your convenience.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as we’ve come to expect from Raging Swan Press, are top-notch. Layout adheres to an elegant two-column standard and the b/w-artworks and cartography are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience as well as in two versions, one optimized for print and one for screen-use.

 

This has been a long time in the making -and it shows: Polished to a gleam, this module shines like a pearl in the murky depths – in spite of its hard challenge of living up to one of my most favorite trilogies of all time – my direct comparison for this one is the legendary 2nd edition Monstrous Arcana Sahuagin Trilogy and much like the first installment of said module, I want MORE. Marc Radle and Creighton Broadhurst should definitely go for sequels, for this underwater sojourn left me wanting more. Now if I had to nitpick, there would be two minor things I could complain about – the reprinted information from the White Moon Cove-village backdrop means that the two products have some overlap, but since the bang-for-buck-ratio still rocks, so no issue there. Beyond that, I would have started drooling if this module had a web-enhancement for the buoyancy-rules/Cerulean Seas-rules by Alluria Publishing, but the absence of support for that does not drag this down in any way, since both can easily be combined. (In any case, I’d still recommend Cerulean Seas for ANY campaign – you won’t find a better underwater adventuring resource anywhere!)

 

But where the module is working best is hard to describe – it’s in the details – almost subliminally so. We’ve come to expect terrain peculiarities and things to do with chairs, tapestries and similar items in other RSP-publications, but the attention to detail is not all that makes this work – it is the combination of the details, the implied culture of the sahuagin that can be glimpsed at in tantalizing minutiae the mind cobbles together over the module’s course to a glimpse of a vastly larger whole, the jigsaw-like minutiae that evoke one’s anthropological and archeological curiosity combined with smart nomenclature that makes this work. What do I mean with smart nomenclature? Well, do some basic etymological research into the name “Nahuatal” and you’ll know what I mean! (And if you can’t find it, feel free to drop me a line and I’ll explain!)

 

All in all, we get one awesome, first class underwater module – one I really hope will result in more modules, sequels – MORE! Final verdict? Unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval – you’ll never find an underwater module as easy to run as this one while still remaining engaging, concise and just smart – even beginner’s DMs should have a nice time running this and as a change of pace, are encouraged to take a look as well.

Don’t let this one slip by – get it here on OBS!

Still not sure? You can check out a FREE PREVIEW here!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 262013
 

One Night Stands – Scorned

112787

I’m posting this on the 26th of June and astute readers might deduce from what I still haven’t reviewed that this pdf isn’t due on my schedule until next week. Well, as an early birthday present from me to myself (tomorrow, I’ll be a year older once again…), I’ll review only excellent pdfs today. This is one of them!

This adventure is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This being an adventure-review, the following review contains SPOILERS, potential players are advised to jump to the conclusion.

 

Still here?

All right! Whiterush is a little, relatively peaceful town located adjacent to a river (hence the name) and makes for a rather  iconic place – the sample NPCs and rumors to be unearthed show as much. Obviously, the local lord, one lord Breldin Greaves has seen better days and is quite glad that his son, who used to spend a lot of time in the local forests, finally settled down – love at first sight, and with the daughter of the newly moved in Zoltan Quinn. A powerful man, he came with many henchmen and even a whole stable of hippogriffs that since then have been patrolling the city and replaced the guard – much to the chagrin of e.g. washwomen, who complain about horse-droppings from the sky. Wacky hijinxs with the iconic populace make for a great start that shows already the trademark subtle humor and imaginative ideas we’ve come to adore from both Lou Agresta and Nick Logue. But what’s the adventure-potential?

 

Well, said Zoltan Quinn hires the PCs (sealed in blood) to deal with the constant attacks on his caravans – the local orcs have been sending his men beaten black and blue back to town. Racist adventurers will probably need no more goading, but observant PCs may realize that the orcs don’t kill the men – weird, isn’t it? Well, joining the Quinn-caravan is thoroughly unpleasant – stinking, abrasive guards will make for an unpleasant ride as the caravan willingly drives straight into an ambush. In the battle, the PCs will face the orcs – who use non-lethal weapons all around, while Zoltan’s men try to kill the greenskins. Instead of dumping exposition on the PCs, they can turn upon their employers and join the orcs or repel them – only to have to track them to their extremely iconic camp – a  collection of tree houses spanning islands on a river.

 

Provided the PCs switch sides, they get to interact with the orcs – who actually are EXTREMELY funny – learning crafts, laughing about local customs, seeing aspiring orc-children dragon-slayers and tasting local cuisine is all possible. This section is rather interesting, for the PCs learn something interesting: It turns out that the heir Brant Greaves was actually deeply in love with one Sragana, a true beauty – for an orcish maiden. The secretive lovers planned to elope if his father didn’t approve of their love and she is subsequently infuriated by his betrayal, thus trying to keep the Quinn’s dowry in order to keep Brant and Zoltan’s daughter Jacklyn from marrying. If the PCs are only partially adept at magic matters, they may suspect enchantment – and just as they’re getting ready to explain everything to the assembled orcs, Zoltan’s men attack via their hippogriffs in force.

 

Having scried the PCs via the blood spilled in the beginning, the PCs are now officially on the kill-list of Zoltan’s henchmen – even if they so far have stuck to their employer’s order. In the ensuing epic battle, the PCs will have the pleasure of fighting these unlikable louts in one of the neatest environments I’ve seen in quite a while.

 

After the climactic battle, it’s time to crash a wedding – the problem being that the whole wedding party aboard a paddlewheel barge has already left town. In order to stop the proceedings, the PCs will have to sneak abroad (not too easy due to a LOT of potential civilian victims and guards) and save the lord and his son – worse, the Quinns have a good escape-plan that the PCs will have to foil. Have I mentioned the ettin that actually drives the paddlewheel who may (very painfully) smash the PCs into the wheel? The fact that the steering is destroyed and that the ship is headed for massive waterfalls? That an overhanging outcropping will demolish a significant part of the barge? And that beyond the battle with the Quinns and subduing the charmed Greaves, the PCs will have to save the whole wedding party from plummeting to their death? The latter makes for an extremely cool idea and is something I haven’t seen in a module before – temporarily jamming the ship at a bottleneck, using a harpoon-like ballista to temporarily anchor the ship – there are quite a few ways to help the hapless civilians escape a watery death in the dread rapids of the river.

 

And finally, the PCs get a chance to make sure the both Brant and Sragana may live happily ever after – and that there still will be a marriage.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games printer-friendly b/w-standard with neat, original b/w-artworks and the copious maps provided are awesome – but they lack a player-friendly, keyless version to be handed out, which is a slight bummer. The pdf is extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

 

This adventure was a surprise to me- and at the same time it wasn’t. I expected a good module from two of my favorite authors out there (Lou Agresta & Nick Logue), but what I got is touching, exciting, iconic – Addressing themes like fantasy-racism, love, the worth of life and the repercussions of taking a life, the relevance of alignment and race and tying everything together in an action romp that quite literally has NO FILLER. None. Every combat, every social interaction, every rumor in town features some piece of absolute awesomeness – from neat puns to sample quotes, from characters that deserve the name, to interesting tactics/builds, smart-acting adversaries and last but not least absolutely superb locations and environments to adventure in, this pdf is chockfull of awesomeness and makes for a superb little module that you definitely should check out at its extremely fair price-point.

 

My final verdict, unsurprisingly, will clock in at a full 5 stars + seal of approval for this neat module.

You can get this awesome piece of writing in two versions: For Pathfinder, OBS has it right here and on d20pfsrd.com’s store it’s right here!

If you’re rather old-school and prefer the Swords & Wizardry rules,  here is the S&W-version on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 262013
 

101 Not So Random Encounters: Winter

115244

I’m posting this on the 26th of June and astute readers might deduce from what I still haven’t reviewed that this pdf isn’t due on my schedule until next week. Well, as an early birthday present from me to myself (tomorrow, I’ll be a year older once again…), I’ll review only excellent pdfs today. This is one of them!

 

This installment of the 101-series is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 35 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

Mike Welham has a tough act to follow up – in case you’re not familiar with Rite Publishing’s 101 Not So Random Encounters: Urban – that pdf introduced us not only to a massive array of encounters (both fluff-only and crunchy with templated weird creatures), but actually linked them with essentially a monster’s mafia meta-plot that would make it possible to craft a WHOLE CAMPAIGN from its encounters – the bang-for-buck ratio was simply glorious. Mike Welham took this approach as a template and began crafting – and the results are interesting, spanning CRs from 1/2 to 23, organized from the highest CR to the lowest in the book. As an additional means of organizing the content herein, the final page contains tables that organizes the encounters by effective party level, showing you the appropriate encounters organized by page.

 

That being said, since essentially we get a whole array of interwoven encounters/characters, the following part of the review contains SPOILERS.

 

The main-mover/mastermind behind this pdf’s array of encounters is one Halbin Brindlefrost – one glorious beast of a level 20 half-fiendish arctic druid – shunned from birth due to his odd blue skin-tone, he was tainted both by birth and his adventuring career and has since gained control of the frostfire font, a well that allows one to add the frostfire template  – he is the main source of encounters herein, endeavoring to bring eternal winter to the region of Nordhelm. Slowly, as the cold is inexorably creeping southwards, the druid schemes and waits for his frozen utopia.

 

And his experiments have yielded results – he has for example managed to create a fire elemental dragon suffused by frostfire and there also is a massive barbarian 12 of the frost giant-species – dread jarl Vannis and Gregor Tantalus, a level 19 Tiefling Graveknight Wizard and Halbin’s childhood Halfling Sorceror friend and so much more (all of which come with full stats) – take for example the fluff-only awakened glacier inhabited by a tarn linnorm or a recently awakened bandersnatch – indeed, primal forces accompany the onslaught of winter. And yes, a humbaba can also be found in the higher echelons of the encounters herein, as can Gregor’s deadly adamantine golem. We also get e.g. twin nightwalker nightshades, a slorath or a thunder behemoth – “winter is coming” takes a whole new apocalyptic meaning when taking a look at the dread forces unleashed…

 

Of course, Winterwights (at CR +4, template included, as well as a winterwight adlet with full stats), CR 16 abhorrent sowmen and similar iconic beings are in here – but cooler, at least to me, would be one Jargath Snagglejaws, a bizarre nine-headed Jotund Troll. Beyond varying giants/trolls, we also get willow creepers and deadly elasmotheriums (i.e. giant wooly mammoths) serving directly or indirectly, the mastermind of the winter. Speaking of the devil – the PCs may find unconventional allies in the guise of an arctic dragon and a fully statted Drachenchor lich shade, both once at the apex of the north’s power-structure, now displaced to mere second class by Halbin and his primal forces unleashing assault. The thematically fitting Frozen Corpse creature template is reprinted (from 101 Not so Simple Monster Templates) and utilized in this pdf. The frostfire font’s powers have also e.g. enhanced the powers of gellid beetles and a winter-wolf-sired pack roams the land, as do the numerous half-breed offspring of the fecund dragon Hidegseggia, smilodons and similar prehistoric predators roam free.

 

Beyond these, ogres, covens of hags, ogre spiders, failed and abandoned experiments of Gregor and Halbin and finally arctic tengu druids might make for interesting encounters.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RiP’s two-column full-color standard, tinged in a thematically-fitting blue. Artworks are mostly stock of varying quality. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Much like its direct predecessor, this pdf provides enough encounters to fuel a complete campaign, oozing with great ideas and providing a treasure trove of creatures that can not only act as a great supplement to Reign of Winter-campaigns, but which could easily stand on its own – full of glorious ideas, it evokes an imagery of frosty cataclysms and primal incursions – a thoroughly well-crafted supplement that once again cements Mike Welham as one damn fine writer. I whole heartedly encourage you to check it out and remain with a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

Strike at your PCs with a cold-snap they’ll never forget – here on OBS or here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 242013
 

The Genius Guide to More Rogue Talents

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This supplement is 6 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Without much ado, we immediately jump into the fray and are introduced to 22 new talents for rogues – and they are actually rather interesting: One for example lets you create a cant that automatically succeeds at converting some rudimentary commands automatically, cheat with sleight of hand (instead of Profession [Gambling]), can learn sneaking elementals and break objects, coup de grace as a standard action, hold 3x con-mod rounds breath, bluff foes to net allies bonuses to atk, identify magic items via appraise, share (improved) uncanny dodge with allies, make sneaked foes more susceptible to steal/disarm or trip. Other talents allow you to specialize in sneak attacks or traps (further enhancing capabilities to analyze them or make them more lethal), get 1/2 level to acrobatics to avoid AoOs and don’t consider crowds difficult terrain, veil threats so other don’t perceive them as such, appraise faster, gain low-light vision or halve ability damage/drain incurred from poisons or 1/day reroll a save to have an ally take the brunt of the attack. Finally, rogues may declare quarries to become hunters of intelligent prey via Thief Taker.

 

We also get 10 advanced talents that allows a rogue to penalize foes hit in the surprise round, get a favored enemy bonus to thief taker quarries, Threaten squares in a 10-ft. reach with thrown weapons, learn to 5-foot step in difficult terrain (or 10 ft-steps!) if in light armor, unencumbered, sans Dex-or movement-penalty and when wielding no weapons, light weapons or light blades. They may also reduce temporarily SR of sneaked foes,  learn a limited amount of sorc-spells, further enhancing major magic talent, gain a constant nondetection-effect (italicization missing), become immune to one poison, gaining bonuses against foes already sneaked (repeat offender – rather cool!) or 1/day steal as a free action when hitting foes.

 

The final page has the talents organized by theme for maximum convenience – neat!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, apart from one spell not italicized, I noticed no gripes. Layout adheres to SGG’s printer-friendly landscape 3-column standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length. The color artwork is gorgeous.

 

Usually I’d complain about “only” 3 1/3 pages of content, but these rogue talents are awesome, fun and come at a very fair price and the final table make them very easy to use – so yeah. Inventive talents, cool concepts from all facets of roguish behavior – nothing to complain here: Solid 5 stars, only omitting my seal of approval because I would have loved another page and/or bookmarks.

 

You can get this supplement here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

(Note: As per the writing of this review, I don’t have The Genius Guide to the talented Rogue – I judged this pdf as a regular rogue supplement.)

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 242013
 

The Dilettante

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This pdf is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Rules-wise, this new base-class gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good ref-saves, spellcasting starting with 2 spells and getting up to 22 at 20th level, spells up to 6th level. The Dilettante casts via int, but may choose spells from the wiz/sor, cle/orc or druid-lists, but they cast these limited spells in a rather unique manner: Via so-called aura points – dilettantes get class level + Int-mod aura points and must spend spell-level aura points to cast a spell they know and with regards to metamagic, they count as spontaneous casters and may not exceed the maximum level they can cast via metamagic. I assume a dilettante has to spend aura points equal to the metamgaic modified spell level and not the base level, though the pdf does not explicitly state this. Dilettantes also get proficiency with light armors and shields, simple and martial weapons and incur regular arcane spell failure-chances.

 

Aforementioned aura points can also be used as a free action to get a circumstance bonus to atk, damage roll, CMB or saves equal to int-mod or to get a bonus to skill checks equal to 1/2 class level as a part of the skill check.  At 3rd level, dilettantes may also spend an aura point to get int-mod as dodge-bonus versus a single opponent for one round.

A total of 27 so-called dalliances (chosen at 2nd level and every 2 levels after that), i.e. talents, allow you to customize your wildering in other class toolkits: Alchemist discoveries, bombs, trapfinding, uncanny dodge, improved healing, countersong/distraction, familiars, firearm training, grit, witch hexes, poison use, sneak attack  and so on – there are a lot of things to wilder from, and some of the dalliances allow for the Int-modifier to be used in place of Int, Cha or Dex/Str-based skills when using them. By the way – not all of these work as you’re accustomed to: Sneak Attack, for example, requires the additional expenditure of an aura point.

 

Channel Energy is also special – at 5th level, this ability is added to the Dilettante’s arsenal and it is not available via regular dalliances. Starting at 10th level, Dilettantes may use all types of skills untrained and at 16th consider all skills class skills. Also starting 10th level, the class may opt to choose major dalliances instead of regular dalliances: a total of 14 additional major dalliances are provided. Gaining e.g. access to the Rumormonger advanced rogue talent, further pushing healing capacity (and not incurring AoOs), gaining improved evasion etc. – though there also are some unique ones here, like for example the option to spend additional aura points to change half of the spell-damage into holy/unholy damage or moving up to your movement rate as an immediate action for 2 aura points.

 

Starting at 11th level, dilettantes may also spend 4 action points once per round as a free action to get an additional standard action and at 13th level, cha- and wis-mod further enhance the array of aura points available per day. 7 different Grand Dalliances (instead of dalliances or major dalliances) allow dilettantes to further go down one path at 18th level. The two high level abilities net more dalliances or feats and +1 to all attributes.

After that, we get two new feats to get more dalliances or aura points. Dilettantes and their place in the world are also mentioned and balancing advice with regards to magi, barbarians and summoners is given. The pdf also features sample characters (great for DMs) – a human at level 1, at level 7 and level 12 and the same level-range is also covered for a gnomish, an elven or half-orc dilettantes.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column parchment-style standard that features several beautiful full-color artworks and the pdf also comes with a printer-friendly, second version sans background. Both pdfs come with extensive hyperlinks – though unfortunately, e.g. not every instance of the word “knowledge” showing up should be hyperlinked to knowledge skill-checks – that sort of automated hyperlinking hurts more than it helps. The pdfs both have no bookmarks, which is imho a major downside.

 

Well…the Dilettante. A jack-of-all-trades-class and one that has some rather interesting, versatile options at its disposal. While it does not wilder in every class’ toolkit, it does offer a variety of different options to cobble together a unique playing experience. While you’re out of luck if looking for ki pools, magi abilities or abilities of inquisitors and paladins, personally, I really like that these divine/very specialized abilities are left out. The issue of MAD (multiple attribute dependency) is somewhat counteracted by the dalliances that allow the int-modifier to replace some of the other  attribute-dependent abilities.

 

The general direction of the class abilities is nice, though honestly, the dilettante left me feeling a sense of lack – and it took some time to realize why. Classes in PFRPG, unlike their 3.5-equivalents , are defined by more than one ability and the dilettante simply can’t cover them all. Which per se is fine, especially since the class does gain some unique tricks that blend the different disciplines – though not particularly many. It is these dalliances that shine the brightest and are mechanically the most interesting and honestly, I would have enjoyed seeing more of them.

 

In the end, the class offers a solid take on the jack of all trades class – the relative scarcity of aura points serving as a nice balancing mechanism, though the class could have imho used slightly more of them – the class gets superb versatility, yes, but even if it tries, it can’t really stand up to one of the “professional” specialist classes. The balancing thus probably is just as it should be…and yet. I think that with some additional dalliances (bardic bombs?) the pdf could be even better. Combined with the lack of bookmarks, I feel justified in rating this as a good, though not a stellar class – hence my final verdict will clock in at a solid 4 stars.

 

You can dabble in this class here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 242013
 

Amazing Races: Sylphs

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This installment of the Amazing Races-series, as always, is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Much like the Oread before them, the Sylphs have been so far left most untapped and this pdf seeks to add some unique flavor to the race, so what do we get?

 

Well, we kick off with 4 new feats:

-Cloud Gulp: Negate mists/breath weapons, but be affected by them in spite of immunities. VERY cool one, since there to my knowledge does not exist a similar means of canceling these effects.

 

-Mighty Wings: Fly in medium or heavy armor with poor or clumsy maneuverability respectively. Lame.

 

-Thundering Rage: Deal sonic damage when using elemental rage and if you have Storm in the Blood as a racial trait, you can deal 1d6 electricity damage to yourself as a swift action. Per se cool, but VERY specific.

 

-Windblown Resilience: Gain energy resistance and thunderous resilience racial traits. Yawn.

The two character traits allow you to hold your breath Con x 4 rounds or get +1 to atk and damage after aiding an ally for AC or atk. Nothing special going on here.

 

We also get 3 different new alternate racial traits – for jump 1/day, Dr 2/- versus ranged and non-lethal attacks or counting as one size category larger for the purpose of intimidate when in stormy weather, two size categories when in stormy weather under your control.

 

There also is a new archetype for the Paladin-class, the Skyguard – an uncommon choice for sure. Themed around the concept of liberation and air – and as such, the basic ability of the archetype is cool in concept – instead of smite evil, the Skyguard may use winds to deal damage at a creature within 30 ft., dealing 1d4 slashing damage per class level the paladin possesses 1/day per paladin level- Per se a cool idea – but a crippled one – the increase in uses per day when compared to smite is bought with no significant bonus to hit as well as a problematic, very limited range that renders the ability essentially almost useless – especially at higher levels, since it does not allow for iterative attacks. Gaining minor AC-bonuses and DR also make for a very weak trade in for divine grace. Gaining elemental channel (air) and 1/day freedom of movement don’t change these weak payoffs, nor do the high level abilities, which remain weak and not particularly exciting.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Art’s 2-column no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

I applaud the approach taken with the Sylph – a race is imho very much defined by culture and unique tricks to pull off and this pdf seeks to introduce some – but ultimately falls short of its own concepts – where the first feat does something interesting, the latter ones as well as the racial traits and alternate racial traits fall slightly flat and remain, concept-wise, while not bad, also not particularly exciting.

And then there’s the archetype, which, even for my VERY conservative tastes, is simply weak. It is not often I complain about something being UNDERpowered, but this is one definite case of this being the case. The concept of the archetype is great, but its execution is woefully lackluster and especially compared with other archetypes we’ve seen from author Daron Woodson, rather uninspired. All in all, one of the weakest installments in the series I’ve seen so far and with the lack of truly intriguing material, my final verdict will hence clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this supplement here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Jun 212013
 

Rogue AIs: Construct Friend and Foes

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This pdf is 9 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

And we kick off with a rather cool and extensive background story – Copper Carl and the Mithril Men were once commissioned as a band/roadies to accompany one particularly greedy gnomish bard – upon his death, his avaricious, spiteful testament has been rejected by the law, resulting in the intelligent constructs becoming free. Ever since, the brass band – quite literally, has been entertaining the masses as a weird group of entertainers and champions for downtrodden constructs. Both Copper Carl and the Mithril Men are CR 4.

 

After these weird creatures, we are introduced to Flint and Tinder (both Cr 6) – the two constructs were created as bodyguards for one wizard named Aurelia an when their mistress was murdered, they have refused to yield to new owners, going mercenary to earn enough money to resurrect their mistress and get vengeance versus the nebulous assailants that vanquished their former mistress. Flint also has some VERY cool signature abilities – with metal resulting in fire damage for attackers and missed attacks resulting in plumes of flame as well, whereas Tinder may extinguish fires, be set ablaze and fire off thorns. A VERY cool due that could make for a cool weird buddy cop-vibe – or just fearsome foes…

 

The Maker is a CR 3 creature, a sphere set to fabricate whatever its now deceased creator desired, is a sphere with 6 arms currently fabricating obsessively daggers – from anything and every metal it can get a hold of.  Uncommon and a potential adversary/escort creature to recruit, yet another cool construct with multiple bleed-inducing abilities and massive crafting prowess.

 

The final duo is creepy indeed – Renee Corithas is a small undead girl, preserved mere hours after death and fitted with a metal prosthetic arm, she may be gruesome and the result of a guild’s failure and lax safety regulations. Renee, contrary to her appearance, is not evil, by the way and neither is the intelligent, welding torch wielding bodyguard-construct bodyguard Mr. Fixit, which may or may not be inhabited by the spirit of one of her relatives.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a two-column, b/w-standard with fitting stock art. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

I’m impressed – uncommon, weird NPCs, each and every one of which comes with one or more unique signature abilities, this pdf is essentially all killer, no filler, offering massive background information on the cool constructs herein. This is one of the best mini-NPC-collections with a great array of creatures that have VERY cool signature abilities, stories and hooks – for a fair price indeed. I’ve seldom seen so many weird, cool creatures in a short pdf – these constructs are strange and unique in their ideas. I nevertheless maintain that this pdf should make for a great addition to the NPC-roster of any DM – and as such, I award a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval – congratulations to author Bradley Crouch!

You can get these cool construct-NPCs here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s store!

Endzeitgeist out.