Oct 312013
 

Ultimate Battle

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After the superb “Ultimate Rulership“, this would be the second one of Legendary Games‘ offerings to expand the rules of “Ultimate Campaign”. Page-count-wise, this pdf is 38 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction, 3 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

So, what do we get here? Essentially, an expansion of the mass combat rules used in Ultimate Campaign. We begin with a short summary of four zones: Camp zone, which is the “base” of the army, command zone, from where the battle is dictated, melee zone and ranged zone – said zones are abstract and not geographically distinct entities. Now first, we get a fixing of strategy – 5 types of strategy may be changed in lesser degrees without morale checks, in greater degrees with a morale check penalized by a number equal to the steps a strategy is changed. Each strategy has positive and negative influence on OM and DV (Offense Modifiers and Defensive Value) and also includes a casualty-modifier that applies to damage dealt to you and your enemies – best of all, this system fixes the doubling effect in the default standard rules for a more concise and strategic flux of battle. Two thumbs up!

 

Now the battle is grouped in phases – a tactical phase in which commanders issue strategy and special tactics followed by the ranged phase, the melee phase and finally, the rout phase, where morale may see units routed and broken. In the tactical phase, commanders compare their Profession (Soldier)-skill-checks: The winner reveals his strategy after the loser, allowing the commander to better adjust on the fly to an opponent’s gambits. Furthermore, by exceeding an enemy commander’s check by 5 or more, the commander can force the hostile army to reveal one of the tactics available to the army. In the ranged phase, armies may attack (via ranged weapons), advance or hold their position. Rather awesome – concise, easy to use information is given on how to handle difficult terrain like trenches, cities etc., with the DV of the structures determining the challenge. We also, thankfully, get rules for friendly fire with ranged weapons – nice catch here!

 

The rules for the melee phase have been changed as well – unlike in the standard rules, melee is not a constant whacking, but instead sees both armies checking for routs after attacking each, with the next round approaching. THANK YOU. The default made no sense and resulted in bland exchanging of whack-a-mole-rolls until one army falls – I much prefer this solution! Now on to the rout phase: At the end of a melee phase, the bashing is not repeated: Instead, armies check for morale – those that fail have their morale score reduced. Upon reaching zero morale, a loyalty-check may reset the score to 1, but sees the army fleeing, whereas a failed loyalty check sees the army disband – and yes, said loyalty-checks come with heavy cumulative penalties. Now being routed is bad – as any Warhammer-player knows, and while in these rules, the fleeing army has a chance to regroup to the camp zone, said escape is anything but guaranteed. Sounding a general retreat is also possible, but also carries a morale penalty with it – still, fighting another day is preferable to annihilation… Also neat: Mercenary armies and their lack of penalties for the kingdom upon being routed also get a sort mentioning. This chapter fixes just about all of the rough edges the system in Ultimate Campaign had in favor of a more dynamic and versatile combat – AWESOME!

Now, as you probably know, historic armies almost never fought until total annihilation – hence, we are introduced to the army conditions: Bloodied, Defeated, Destroyed and Disbanded. Bloodied armies can only be “cured” by reforming it and the condition is applied every time an army drops below half its hit points, reducing the ACR by 1 for all intents and purposes – and yes, this penalty is cumulative. Defeated armies have 10% dead, 1d4x10% severely wounded members and can be taken prisoner – these armies had their hp reduced to 0. Destroyed armies result from defeated armies – upon being attacked by the enemy (at -2 to their DV, ouch!) and if the enemy is at least half its size, the battered, defeated army is destroyed for all intents and purposes – 1d6x10% dead, 1d4x10% severely wounded and the rest deserted. To add insult to injury, the kingdom incurs a penalty of 1 to fame and the city from which it was recruited may demand a monument for the fallen. Now disbanded armies (failed morale and loyalty checks) have a devastating effect on morale of allied armies and also result in population-loss for the kingdom – 50% leave for safer, greener pastures. The kingdom also loses stability, fame and loyalty and the recruitment city incurs a penalty of -2 to law. OUCH!

 

Now fatigue in battle is covered as well as the topic of healing after battle- all tied neatly together with available buildings (herbalists and alchemists help just as cathedrals etc. do – neat!) and disease as one of the great agents of the reaper also becomes a factor: The factor of plagues is detailed as well herein and results in even more death – and strategy, of course! Holding that hospital suddenly seems like a very worthwhile endeavor! Have I mentioned the concise and cool rules for Parley (and breaking the temporary truce?) – nice indeed!

 

Now we also get tactics – quite a few of them, actually: Want to execute a cavalry sweep, for example? It allows you to have your army attack two hostile armies in one battle phase, but at OM – 4 and DV -2 and only half the damage – still, at times surely an option that proves to be useful. Covering Fire, an onslaught that is particularly reckless (and casualty-prone/bad for DV, but also superb for offense), pursuing foes, initiating pincer-maneuvers, creating “Landsknechtshaufen”, i.e. pike hedgehogs, strafing skirmishers – the tactics available should more than positively influence engagements, allowing for a much more varied and cool combat between individual armies and also offer cool additional incentives to keep well-trained veteran units around.

 

Now sooner or later the die has been literally cast and the battle won or lost – so in the aftermath of victory, further options abound: From the historically accurate paying of ransom money to the execution of enemy leaders, the attrition of manpower and the option to pillage and plunder the countryside, intern soldiers or recruit forced labor – a lot of different options allow an army to follow distinct lines in their conduct with others, potentially shaping the reputation of the kingdom they adhere to. And yes, for the more morally, let’s say…flexible commanders, committing massacres is also a distinct possibility, though one that should be well contemplated.

 

Now another issue of mass combat as displayed in the standard-rules would be that it breaks apart as soon as an army e.g. consists of few, but powerful adversaries – be they dragons or stone giants. Thankfully, the pdf actually offers an incredibly easy and yet concise, sensible solution to the issue by allowing for even armies of one and similar small-sized armies – complete with equipment, camouflage and ACR-modification. This is not only brilliant; it is all but REQUIRED. Thank you so very much!

The effect of a general of other great leaders present on the field of battle and a kingdom’s overall disposition also now feature in the complex equation of mass-combat, with the superb rules from Ultimate Rulership thankfully also being addressed – this is synergy of the type I love and expect. How is the influence of great commanders displayed? Via the leadership bonus, which depends on the skill ranks in Profession (soldier) and e.g. the leadership score, but less so on magical improvements – headbands of intellect and similar ways of metagaming the skill up only are half as effective.

 

Now the easiest way to expand these rules may be the addition of new boons since they are based on the capabilities of characters and soldiers – and hence we also get an array of boons. And oh boy, are they oozing flavor – Take “Death before Dishonor” or the offense specialists that benefit from an “Implacable Advance”, AoE/channel negative energy adding the option for magical barrages or allowing units to heal themselves: These boons are awesome, even more so since they can be made permanent for a vast array of different tricks, specializations and distinct elite-units.

 

Now armies don’t grow on trees as you might know and while Ultimate Rulership has delivered vastly superior recruitment rules (both standard and UR are covered here), this book adds another facet: Recruits are not yet soldiers – they cost a kingdom and need to be equipped, trained etc. And yes, equipping chariots, howdahs, mounts, magical armors, siege weaponry, weapons of different quality – all that and so much more becomes possible with these rules – all while remaining sensible with building-requirements, fitting all together like a concise, well-oiled rules-machinery. This is not all, though – reserve armies by building and yes, even a vast array of special abilities, from spawn creation to breath weapons await your command, resulting in even more varied armies that should bring the wonder and distinct differences between forces to the front.

 

Now whether it’s for a “Chain of Dogs”-like scenario or simply for a situation akin to Sabaton’s “The Price of a Mile” – marching armies and pushing them forwards is no easy task and this supplement also covers rules for marching armies: Camouflage, ambushes, supply trans, living off the land – all covered! The same holds true for difficult terrains, rules for visibility and even weather and high altitudes! The pdf concludes with an index of the pdf’s tables.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games unobtrusive two-column standard and we get beautiful full-color one-page spreads of three artworks by Tim Kings-Lynne and Mike Lowe alongside depictions of various banners and crests. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and in two versions, with the second one being more printer-friendly.

 

Jason Nelson, as one of the masterminds behind Ultimate Campaign’s rules and head-honcho of Legendary Games dives head-first into a supplement that had me skeptical at best on first sight: The page-count is simply not that impressive. Add to that the fact that the rules in Ultimate Campaign, by virtue of the limited space available and the variety of topics covered fell short of their potential and we have a supplement that had anything but an easy standing with me. I’ve long been into mass combat, coming to pen and paper roleplaying via the route of Warhammer, but so far, neither Adamant Entertainment’s mass combat rules, nor 3.X’s Cry Havoc did it for me and Ultimate Campaign, while better, also fell short of my expectations in that regard.

Until now. This pdf is PLATINUM. Not gold, platinum. It irons out many of the issues of the basic system. It provides superior synergy with both standard rules and Ultimate Rulership. It expands the tactical options exponentially. It covers all the topics, from marches to commanders to special qualities and manages to end the rather trite attrition-rolling of mass combat melee in favor of a much more rewarding and tactical solution. This, ladies and gentlemen, is not only required. Anyone using mass combat without this book should really contemplate to stop now and shell out the bucks. I have almost never in my career as a reviewer witnessed a pdf so densely-packed with crucial coolness – concisely-written, Jason Nelson delivers mass combat as it ought to be: Abstract, but challenging and strategic – with this supplement, true strategic showdowns, complex military operations and desperate gambits all become possible. This pdf allows you to create brilliant battles of wits between enemy commanders and the PCs on a level that was, with the basic system, unthinkable. What we have here is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2013, a required purchase and a book that should be part of any PFRPG-DM’s library if s/he is only remotely interested in either Kingmaker or any other form of mass combat – final verdict? Unsurprising 5 stars + seal of approval, given without even the remotest hesitation. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war!

You can get this superb, imaginative, concise system for mass combat here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

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Oct 312013
 

Tribes Most Foul: Hobgoblins

119067

The latest installment in Raging Swan Press‘ Tribes Most Foul-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD, 1page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

As we’ve come to expect from the series, this installment introduces us to three different hobgoblin tribes, all with their very own tribal lore, sample NPC(s) and unique cultural background as well as a full tribal roster, so let’s take a look at the respective tribes!

 

The first one would be the tainted strain (which comes with a GLORIOUS b/w-illustration of their banner!), which is a hodge-podge group  -exiled from superstitious clans or left for dead, the survivors were gathered into an elite array of child savants under the command of a bitetr cripple and, recently, a charismatic, psychotic sorcerer. Worse, they are on the way to destroy an elven enclave and might just camp outside of your PC’s settlements, opening some rather interesting moral quandaries of whether these hobgoblins, often children still, yet blessed with magical talent must be stopped or how to guide them – their children’s crusade will lead to death anyways, but whether their souls can be saved and true massacre be avoided – that’s up to the PCs. And yes, I LOVE storylines like this! The charismatic leader is btw. provided and clocks in at a whopping CR 9 – rather impressive for one not get grown up!

 

The second tribe introduced is a conglomeration of hobgoblins called Silent Eclipse – these hobgoblins (again, with an awesome banner) come off at rather usual common warbands –until you realize that they do not venerate glorious death in battle, instead striving to survive long enough to join their undead ancestors in the umbral realms. And then there’s the fact that they are led by one Silhouette-Over-Moon – an intelligent giant shadow owl illusionist (CR 10 and fully statted, btw.!) that is the mastermind behind these creatures and engineer of their twisted system of beliefs – again, rather awesome and well-worth introducing into your game.

 

The Union of Seven, the final tribe, features another VERY interesting characteristic – they are sexually dimorphic, with the males being essentially degenerates of no more than goblin size and prowess, whereas the females essentially make for an amazon-like warrior-caste. They also exhibit a two-class society – there are never more than 7 female champions and only the champions may breed true, and only when there only are 6 or less champions, controlling thus the population of the tribe. With combat-prowess and the restriction of only champions being allowed to breed true, came the slave-caste and mongrelfolk are squealing under the iron-shod heels of their mistresses and mothers, defending the union to the death. The spiritual leader, an advanced qinggong monk is depicted statblock-wise and, again, we get an original, awesome banner. Have I mentioned that ironically, an anti-paladin may make for a valid ally for PCs seeking to bring down the rigid hierarchy of the tribe?

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with awesome b/w-artworks of the tribal banners as well as fully bookmarked and in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

 

David Posener is a talented author – but what he has created here is GLORIOUS – an awesome, cool array of three tribes that is uncommon, culturally distinctive and almost demanding to be introduced into your campaign, each of these tribes is worthy of at least an adventure, potentially so much more. And that is what this series is supposed to be about  – precise and concisely-written, this is one inspiring pdf to have and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval – go get these hobgoblins and let them march on your players – they’ll never see the militant goblinoids in the same light!

You can get these militant tribes of goblinoids here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop and here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 302013
 

Bite Me! Wereblooded

119414

Full disclosure: I was one of the contributing authors of the Bite Me!-kickstarter that also made this pdf possible. That being said, I had no hand in the creation of this pdf and consider my verdict not compromised in any way.

 

This pdf clocks in at 23 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC (which also mentions that the characters herein will not show up in the final book), 4 pages of SRD and 2 pages advertisement, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

As you have probably gleaned by now, this book introduces us to the race of the Wereblooded – offspring of natural lycanthropes and regular humanoids, they breed true (and may even spawn trueblooded lycanthropes). Rules-wise, they get +2 Con, +2 to Dex or Str (depending on the clan), -2 to Cha, are humanoids with a base speed of 30 ft., low-light vision, get DR 2/silver and always treat perception and stealth as class skills. Furthermore, wereblooded adhere to one of 3 clans that furthermore modify their abilities:

 

Wereblooded of Clan Felis must take +2 to Dex and get 1/day a reroll for a reflex save and a +10 ft. racial enhancement to their speed when charging, running or withdrawing. Members of Clan Lupis may choose whether to take the bonus to dex or str, get +10 ft. movement rate and always treat Survival and Knowledge (nature) as class skills. Finally, members of Clan Ursus need to take the bonus to str and get +2 to saves versus fear as well as +2 to bull rushes and overrun-attempts while both they and their adversary are standing on terra firma. Now beyond the extenisve information on their roles, alignment and religion etc., we also get the RP-build-information for both the base race and the respective clans. The base race clocks in at 6 RP, with clans taking up 2 RP of these points. And now while I consider the ARG’s guidelines rubbish and the wereblooded to be stronger than what one would expect from “only” 6 RP (a great example of how the ARG-rules don’t work – at all), I do have to concede that the race per se is well balanced, perhaps a wee bit on the strong side on par with dwarves and elves – a fact that enterprising DMs can easily further develop by playing up potential social stigmatization.

 

We also get 7 alternate racial traits – Desert-bred wereblooded can replace their clan with +2 to survival checks, whereas those bred on the mountain-ranges reduce the penalty to stealth while moving by 5 and may use it while running at -20 and those born in swamps get +4 to stealth in marshes as well as +2 to saves versus diseases, ingested poisons and the sickened and nauseated conditions. The desert-benefits are VERY weak here and could use an upgrade – when compared against the mountains and marshes and clan benefits, a paltry +2 to survival is not that impressive.

 

Now the customization does not end there – we get 3 subtypes of the clans: Felis may instead opt for being cheetah-like, gaining +10 ft. racial bonus to movement and may chose a favored terrain in which they can ignore difficult terrain in exchange for losing their DR. Lupis may opt for the alternate coyote subtype, which also loses the DR in favor for +1 to Bluff, Disguise and Knowledge (local) and may 1/day roll bluff or diplomacy twice and take the better result. Finally, wereblooded from the frozen north that hail from clan Ursus also exchange their DR for polar-bear style 1/day endure elements at character level=caster level and get +1 Knowledge (nature) and Survival in frozen or arctic environments.

 

We also get favored class options for all classes from the core rules, the APG-classes, the Magus and the Gunslinger. Personally, I think +1 to concentration for inquisitors and magi may be a bit strong, but I’m generally VERY cautious with any bonuses to concentration-checks in PFRPG.

 

Now the pdf also offers one damn cool ritual following the Incantation-rules as used extensively by Kobold Press and pioneered by Zombie Sky Press – again, with full construction-notes: “Claim the Ravenous Hunter’s Form”, which allows the target of the ritual to essentially gain a semblance of a werewolf, complete with the corresponding power-gain. Now this one is story-telling gold – whether as an edge in battle, as a devious trick or to properly frame wereblooded or lycanthropes, this one is nasty and versatile – two thumbs up!

 

Now if you’re running a high-powered game (or are a DM looking for a further edge), there is also a “monstrous” version of the wereblooded herein, one that cannot be mistaken for a human –  at 12 RP, they get +2 to Con (and +2 to Str or Dex depending on clan), -2 to Cha, 40 ft. movement, darkvision 60 ft, DR 5/silver and always treat stealth and perception as class skills. They also get a natural bite attack at 1d3 points of damage. The basic clan-abilities are not influenced or modified, but since the DR of monstrous wereblooded is higher, so the subtypes do get an upgrade: Monstrous Cheetah get +2 to initiative and the run-feat, Monstrous Coyote get +4 to bluff when lying and 1/day roll diplomacy or bluff twice, taking the better result. Monstrous Polar Bear Wereblooded get the 1/day endure elements spell-like ability of their non-monstrous brethren and also get +4 to con-checks and fort-saves to avoid fatigue and exhaustion and ill effects from running. forced marches, starvation, thirst etc.

 

Now new rules are neat – new rules, ready to be dropped in a game without any fuss are even better – hence we are introduced to two new characters, first of which would be Sabra, Daughter of Katja Four-Named, a wereblooded felis rogue 3 in both regular and monstrous version, a catgirl temple-thief and Fyodor, son of Yuri Seven-Named, a polar bear ursus barbarian 7 of the hardiest stock who has no tolerance for softness and thus might make for a problematic guide. Both characters come with awesome full-color artworks depicting them as well as 2 adventure seeds.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout deserves special mention here – with blood-spatters on the sides and a fitting, easy to read font, this pdf’s 2-column layout-standard is glorious to look at – further enhanced by the 3 full-color artworks and 2 one-page b/w-artworks (by Peter Bradley and Jacob Blackmon) that all are original and beautiful to look at indeed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Furthermore, we get a very printer-friendly b/w-version – neat indeed!

 

Award-winning author Ben McFarland has an excellent reputation and there’s a reason for that. Still, every time I see RPs, my alarms go off – all too easily, the ARG can be used an example for a deeply flawed system justifying unbalanced design.

This pdf’s races, however, do NOT and let me make that abundantly clear, fall in this trap –  the wereblooded, both of their incarnations, each fitting a niche in campaigns of respective power-levels and content- as well as theme-wise this pdf delivers. The production-values are superb and should leave no one unimpressed, offsetting the price-point, which is not too cheap. Still, layout, content and artworks mean that I still consider it okay regarding bang-for-buck ratio. Now, this sounds like a 5 star + seal of approval file and yes, it is a neat buy – but not a perfect one: I do have two minor complaints: Desert-based wereblooded get the short end of the stick with rather weak bonuses compared to what they give up. And we don’t get age, height and weight-tables. While the latter may seem like a nitpick, lighter Felis, heavier Ursus etc. would have made sense to me and, at least to me, these tables are not optional. Hence, I can’t rate this the full 5 stars and will instead settle on a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform and still a definite recommendation for both DMs and players who’d love to play a balanced race in touch with their inner beast.

 

You can get be a scion of blood tainted by lycanthropy here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 302013
 

In the Company of Medusa

119653

This new supplement in Rite Publishing’s “In the Company of”-series is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

“We were born from blood and tears, venomous as jealousy.” If you’re like me, these words resonate – as has become the tradition with Rite Publishing’s offerings, this pdf is written in in-character narratives, as told by characters to Qwillion of Queesthaven – and the prose here is…well AWESOME. The medusa-society is described in ample detail as per a schooling book/an instructor, including information on how to keep both scales and snake-hair proper and trim and keep the latter in control – fluff-wise, these paragraphs are pure gold; Take for example the mentioning of a bed of invisibility, hinted at , but never explicit elaborations of subtle and brute force ways of seduction… these pages reminded my pleasantly of Catherynne M. Valente’s Orphan’s Tales-series and author Liz Smith has indeed delivered pages that are not only a joy to read, but which breathe vast narrative potential for adventuring hooks, while, with the three dominant philosophies (Euryale, Sthennos and Medusa) covering all types of way of life/conceptions of how medusa act – kudos, but can the crunch live up to the fluff?.

 

Regular medusa get +2 to Con and Cha, -2 to Str, darkvision 60 ft., all-around vision, a secondary natural bite attack at 1d4, a poison (DC 10+1/2 HD+con-mod for 1d2, 6 rounds, cure 2 saves), immunity to medusa poison and the petrified condition with the exception of the own gaze and a petrification gaze – usable 1/day as a standard action, range 30 ft, save scales with HD and is based on cha. Said petrification, however, is not permanent until 11th level/HD and lasts until then 1 round per HD.

 

Greater Medusa get +2 to one ability score of their choice, darkvision 60 ft., all-around vision, 1d6 secondary natural attack with the same poison as their regular kin, the same immunities and petrification gaze, but also cannot be tripped due to a lower body of a snake – which conversely also precludes them from having a slot for feet.

 

We get age, height and weight tables for both and 15 (!!!) alternate racial traits – unfortunately, the very first would be alternate racial attribute modifications that have been mixed up – +2 Con and Cha, -2 Str replace..+2 Con, Cha, -2 Str? That ought to read something like +2 to Dex, at least judging from the text – unless, of course, said racial trait is intended exclusively for greater medusa – which I’ll assume due to in dubio pro reo, even though the specifically mentioned attribute-suite belongs to the regular medusa. Another alternate trait nets +2 Con and Int, -2 Dex and getting augury and later divination or commune in lieu of darkvision is possible as well. Archery mastery with a chosen bow type (in exchange for poison) can also be found, as can a trait that nets the hold breath quality of amphibious creatures, +2 to swim and two secondary claw attacks at 1d4 in exchange for medusa immunities and all-around vision. Another trait allows the medusa to gain a point (up to a maximum of 10+HD) whenever they roll a “1” on an attack or saving roll, with the option to exchange a point for +1 on an attack or saving roll – nice for unlucky players. +2 to saves versus necromantic spells or cha-based skill checks (regular medusa only) as well as three traits representing aforementioned 3 philosophies can be found herein, as can one that sees a medusa ritualistically shave her hair in exchange for the extra hex or extra malediction-feat – cool 3pp-synergy here.

 

We also get a suggestion of suitable archetypes (nice, seeing how many are out there) and favored class options for Alchemist, Bard, Druid, hellion (by SGG), Magus, Malefactor (by TPK Games), Occultist (Pact Magic by Radiance House), Oracle, Ranger, Rogue, Sorceror, Shaman (by Kobold Press) and witch  -Very cool to see this level of support for some of the finest 3pp-classes out there!

 

Of course, we also get 2 unique racial archetypes, with the first being the gorgonic shaman for the druid  -these shamans are restricted in their choice of companion and get impeded wild-shape, but also learn to commune with the earth (making catching them by surprise HARD unless flying) to temporarily take on an improved aspect that allows them to temporarily enhance their own body with a variety of special tricks – from uncommon speeds to a temporary petrification stare up to natural weapons, this archetype allows other characters to take on a semblance of being medusa-like or medusa to offset some of the losses they may have incurred via the choice of their alternate racial traits – nice indeed, as it conjures up images of a society of servants striving to take on aspects of their mistresses…

 

Sorcerors may opt to become stone-eyed sorcerors, who may supplement their body temporarily with the fortification quality to nondetection and similar defensive qualities.

 

The star herein, though, is the racial paragon-class for the medusa – this 20-level class gets d10, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus longbow, shortbow, rapier, scimitar, shortsword, light armor and their own bite and tail if applicable (i.e. if the character is a greater medusa). The class gets full BAB-progression, good ref and will-saves and the poison of the medusa scales up from 1d3 str to 1d8 str as well as +4 natural armor at 1st level, +2 at 3rd level and every 3 levels after that. Medusa paragon of first level can fascinate foes not in combat within 50 feet by using the hypnotic wriggling of their hair as a standard action, learning to fascinate more adversaries at higher levels, also benefitting from improved reactions to them. And no, not overpowered since it doesn’t work in combat and upon a successful save, the ability stops to function versus that foe for 24 hours. Now if you were underwhelmed by the gaze attack of the base medusa races, you’ll enjoy the fact that petrification gazes vastly improved over the course of the class, gaining an additional use at 7th level and becoming continuous at 10th level. Rather cool, at even higher levels, their gaze can turn mud or quicksand into rock (think about it: vast planes of quicksand, with rocky palaces crafted in a waveless sea of sand), selective gaze (at 16th level) and may even animate the statues that once were the victims of their gaze to fight for them at 18th level – rather cool.

 

At 3rd level, they also grow to large size and learn to use their hair to manipulate or hold items (leaving hands free for e.g. two-handed large weapons…ouch…) and at 6th level, medusa may extend their hair to grapple foes at range (25 ft. +5/2 levels) – and you’d expect me to scream “OP” here, but the fact that moving or pinning foes is not possible as well as the fact that sunder-attempts versus your hair count as attacks versus you should limit the usability of this ability, though I do get some headaches when thinking about the hair extending from the body counting as part of the character and the potential for attacks on it – clarification on how to resume this/perhaps a scaling mechanic for sundering strands of hair would have gone a long way here – especially since at higher levels, constricting, pulling and even strangling foes garrote-style via hair also are possible and at this point, the range-grappling component, limited though it may be, gets rather complex.

 

As 2nd level and every 3 levels of the class after that, the medusa also gets one of the medusa talents from 20 talents – these include further ability growth, a bonus feat, blindsense, climb speed, the constrict special quality, may grow wings (and learn to use them as weapons) and learn to tail-slap (which is btw. required for grabbing, constricting etc.) as well as gain stone-related tricks and movement and gazes. The capstone is an outsider transformation, including DR 15/ epic good/evil, depending on alignment – but what about neutral medusa?

 

We also get a feat for an extra medusa talent and the half-medusa CR+1 template.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect, I did notice a couple of minor glitches. Layout adheres to a unique full-color two-column standard with green, scaled borders and the pdf offers neat full-color artworks  -especially cool at this low, fair price-point. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Author Liz Smith has woven a yarn that ranks very highly indeed, with superb fluff drawing you deep into the race – even if you’re just looking for inspiration for a culture, this serves the role superbly. Crunch-wise, the offering is solid indeed, though the ranged grappling feel a bit problematic depending on your campaign’s power-level. The racial paragon class and the greater medusa both feel a bit like on the strong side of the power-level, with the class allowing you to become a true melee grappling/constricting threat that may rend foes asunder. That being said, I did not consider any part of the crunch herein broken or overpowered per se – the overall combination of them may be a bit much for some campaigns, though. The regular medusa, on the other hand, is completely fine with me and could potentially see uses in all but the most low-powered campaigns. The minor glitches here and there and the slightly high power-level for my tastes and the fact that the range-grappling could use some minor clarification are, however, the only complaints I can muster against this pdf – especially the superb writing offsetting these minor flaws in my book, thus seeing me settle on a final verdict of 4 stars – especially the proper implementation of snake hair and gaze attacks without unhinging the game deserving accolades for the author.

You can get this neat take on Meduas as a playable race here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 292013
 

Wilderness Dressing: Primal Forests

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This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content (though one is taken up by a full-page b/w-artwork), so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

Want an example how Raging Swan Press listens to customers? This pdf would be one – when reviewing the Wilderness Dressing for regular forests, I suggested further supplements for other types of forests – and this is one. Whether it’s the Margreve or a similar ancient forest, this pdf has got you covered regarding the weird and wondrous things that can be encountered herein, with the first table sporting a whopping 100 distinct entries – and oh boy, these are GOLD.

 

Pony-sized rabbits hopping through the forests, eerie mists settling at noon, will-o-wisp-like motes of light beckoning off the trail, animals warning of big teeth – these are not forests men often tread – all the more disturbing once the PCs find a filled, abandoned picnic basket or are showered with weird cocoons… Being hit by smelly shroom-spores, listening to the conversations of woodpeckers, falling potentially victim to tumbling trees or spheres of frogs that are unceremoniously dumped on the PCs – these entries breed primal wonder and the spirit of faerie-tales, instilling a subtle certainty of antiquity.

 

The second table provides yet more, in fact 100 dressings, many of which also feature crunchy consequences and short rules to supplement them, while retaining the superb quality of the first table’s entry: From allegedly extinct trees to harvestable wild mistletoe and streams that mysteriously turn blood red for seconds before returning to their normal coloration, wonder and a sense of not being in Kansas anymore is breathed by every word within these tables.

 

The final table of the book offers 12 different random encounters, following the format of the Dungeon Denizens-series, offering the respective critter, the bestiary in which they can be found as well as a short piece of fluff herein – from hunting bandersnatches seeking to outdo one another to a jubjub bird and even a forest giant with her aurumvorax, the sample creatures fit well in tone with the respective atmosphere.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, as expected from Raging Swan Press’ almost immaculate track-record. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ crisp two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and the pdf comes in two versions, with one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out.

 

Each entry a mystery, a hook, a peculiarity – this is pretty much the apex of what can be done within the constraints of tables. This pdf is extremely awesome – author Mike Welham, not by incident one of the people whose name you’ll notice on a LOT of great supplements, has created a Wilderness Dressing-installment that is simply legendary. This is perhaps my favorite installment in the WHOLE product-line. It’s that good. If there was an option for me to rate this higher – I would. For fey woods, for the Margreve, for any magical forest or for DMs seeking to add the extraordinary to their game, this is a required, awesome purchase and can only get one verdict – 5 stars + seal of approval – and is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2013.

Want some magical forest? Then GET THIS! You can do so here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 292013
 

Mayhem Beneath Demon Mountain

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This module is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2/3 of a page SRD, leaving us with 13 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

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

 

All right, still here? The PCs are hired by the wine merchant Korsav for a risky gambit – take his caravan to Demon Mountain’s foot and spoil the wine of one of his competitors, Ulfer, who happens to be one of the decadent children of the legendary Master of the Demon Mountain. Upon their arrival at Demon Mountain, the PCs have to surrender their weapons and make the spoiling of Ulfer’s wine a reality – during the 5-day-lasting festivities. Worse, PCs might notice that a couple of gnomes hide their weapons (these fellows are sworn to the lower planes in Midgard, after all!) and if they prattle, they immediately have a fight on their hands.

 

In the courtyard during the massive festivities, the PCs may witness a number of weird happenings – from corpses crashing from the tower, swarms of flies that suddenly dissipate to immediate cold snaps and silences, the PCs should be completely creeped out by the proximity of such epic power suffusing everything. The festivities per se also offer an array of weird tents – surviving the kiss of a vargouille as a wager, witnessing a crowd killing a gnome when they realize he has sown the elven faces on his “authentic” elven dancers, juggling limbs – a lot of rather weird and partially horrific things to do. Further complicating the matter, the aforementioned gnomes might try to assassinate the PCs if not having been taken care of.

 

And somewhere in the chaos, the PCs must find a kobold called Vyoda – and sooner than later, the PCs will try to infiltrate the outer donjon, where they may prevent a rape and save a poor kitchen maid from her drunken assailants and fight with multiple possible improvised weapons. Said maid may also point them towards the quartermaster who holds their equipment – a minotaur that can be bribed – if handled well. They may also expose a priest who worships a sinister god while collecting clues about Vyoda’s preferences to find him in the chaos outside. Upon finding the kobold, the PCs still have to navigate the lightless tunnels beneath the kitchen, where giant rotgrubs, a haunt, an otyugh zombie and a schir demon who wants to kill Vyoda still remains – for the kobold’s family’s fate, as can be attested by the clues gathered, was rather grim.

 

Upon spoiling the wine, the PCs can witness Ulfer being humiliated and rest on their laurels – though if they boast, they may have made a powerful enemy.

 

The module closes with 4 pregens.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – though I noticed a couple of minor glitches, none really impeded my ability to run this module. Layout adheres to a beautiful two-column full color standard and the artworks are neat. The b/w-maps are awesome, though I would have loved a map of the chaotic festival grounds. The maps unfortunately come sans player-friendly versions, which is a minor detriment. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Author Chris Lozaga has managed to do something hard – confront PCs with an iconic, overwhelming, epic location without having to result to hard killer-encounters, instead creating a deadly tapestry of weirdness that should make for a truly unique experience. I did not expect to like this module and its deceptive brevity also points toward an experience unbefitting of the Demon Mountain – when it isn’t. When it actually does the hard thing and manages to capture this epic location in all its weird glory, while leaving the true horrors of the mountain and its master up for appropriately high-level future sojourns when the PCs reach the apex of their powers. All in all a more than enjoyable module that only misses the highest honors due to the editing glitches and  since I would have liked printer-friendly maps/a map of the festival grounds, thus resulting in a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this uncommon, style-oozing module here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 292013
 

Psionic Items of Legend: Crown of Chaos

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This pdf is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look at DSP’s latest Legendary Item, i.e. item that grows in power over the levels.

 

The tale of the Crown of Chaos is one of the downfall of a talented wilder come queen named Magdylyne, self-proclaimed and bitter queen of chaos, and thus her crown requires the wilder-ability to overchannel. The item has 5 power-progressions (5thth, 10th, 15th and 20th level unlock new powers) and contrary to what the item’s table says (it mentions a lesser psicrown), the crown instead act as a greater psicrown of force and fire. Unlike the basic item, all powers the crown grants count as being a part of the powerlist of the class – great for the power-starved wilders. The crown may also provide power points for augmenting purposes, but the wielder pays for this with non-lethal damage – I assume this damage does not require a concentration check to properly manifest, but the item does not specify either way. At higher levels, the crown nets the wearer a reroll and even starts regenerating power points. As a capstone, the crown delivers a miss chance as well as forcing two rolls for saves and skill checks, taking the worse result.

 

The final page contains the item-stats for regular Psicrowns of Lesser Fire and Force and their True versions.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are ok, though glitches at this length weigh heavily on my scale. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with a nice full-color artwork for the crown. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

The crown per se is a great item that greatly enhances the experience of running a wilder, but at the same time, it suffers from issues: Not being able to decide which type of psicrown (lesser, greater?) it is would be one, another flaw is more thematic – the chaos-aspect is mostly missing from the crown – apart from the capstone and a relatively boring reroll, the link between theme and crunch is more tenuous than I would have enjoyed – a tighter focus would have helped here. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

 

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

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 282013
 

Purple Mountain V: The Descent

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The fifth installment of Purple Duck Games old-school mega-dungeon crawl is 46 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD – so can the fifth module maintain the streak of stellar modules that have recently graced the Purple Mountain? We’ll see!

 

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

 

Any DM who has ever run a mega-dungeon had this experience: At some point, even in hostile depths, the players need a homebase to study, retreat to etc. Preferably one that is not as monster-infested and/or hard to access/easy to defend. Enter this level, which not only spans a variety of heights (as evidenced by 4 maps, lending a sense of depth to the module), but also an uncommon premise, but let me go on a slight tangent first:

 

Let’s face it: The underdark is a damn scary place – more so in a dungeon. Even before monsters and vile civilizations enter the fray, the claustrophobic sense of entrapment is a very real danger we all can relate to – as is the sheer weirdness of what can be encountered in the depth. When I saw my first stalactite, dove into the first subterranean pool of water, I felt a sense of exhilaration derived from an explorer’s mien that is so hard to come by these days as well as a profound sense of the alien, of a place not meant for men. Many modules forget this sentiment of feeling like one doesn’t belong – not so this one, for this level of Purple Mountain actually is an investigation.

 

Yes. An investigation. In a dungeon crawl. And one that actually makes sense! But let me elaborate: This level is essentially the story of a “safe zone” gone horribly awry – the adventuring group that once made this place their base has suffered a terrible fate, having been driven slowly into a paranoid insanity by subtle fungus spores lacing everything. As an old Ravenloft-DM, I’m all too aware of the power of sowing paranoia and distrust not only between characters, but also players, but the way in which this module does it is awesome, because it’s subtle – because you don’t expect it. As the PCs explore the place and unearth the puzzle-pieces that paint a disturbing tale of suicide, hatred and escalating violence, so do they slowly descend into madness, lest they take heed and carefully nurture bonds of trust – a glorious opportunity for roleplaying, which may be handled sans mechanics or with them: Either option for the paranoia-inducing fungus is given.

 

Beyond even that, the areas per se actually feature one of the creepiest adversaries I’ve seen in quite a while and provide some rather horrific experiences a DM can further enhance by the virtue of this level’s special qualities. And yes, before you ask – there is enough to be done for all those aficionados of hacking and slashing things to pieces – it’s simply not the module’s only (or even cardinal) virtue. Another interesting facet of this installment of Purple Mountain would be the fact that, yes, we once again get the useful lists of treasure etc. and their value, and yes, the treasure is above what one would expect  -but the respective treasure is also not always easily transportable, unwieldy or simply hard to find – so yeah, something I can get behind. Another thing I’d especially like to point out towards any authors really: If you craft elaborate back stories (helloooo, PFS!), make room for the PCs to actually GET TO EXPERIENCE/PIECE TOGETHER the story. This module does it right – by putting together the pieces, the PCs can actually find the cause of what has happened, making the module succeed where so many have failed – and without resorting to captain exposition to boot! And yes, I’m aware I’m being uncommonly vague about the details here – but I wouldn’t be able to do them justice here and I really think you should see for yourself.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to PDG’s 2-column printer-friendly standard and the module comes with some really nice pieces of full color, original artwork. Furthermore, the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with player-friendly high-res maps of the complex. The cartography does its job and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Third in a row. There are not many series that have done it – Purple Mountain now officially has. Author Josh McCrowell does not disappoint after the stellar third and fourth installment and adds his own twisted take on paranoia, horror even, by providing this eclectic mix of brains and brawns, a module that can be a crawl, but works just as well as an investigation, by creating a dungeon-module that could be toned up to emphasize the fantasy or the horror aspect, “as”, the bard would have said, “you like it.” For once, roleplaying does not fall by the wayside in a dungeon crawl and the intricately-crafted level of detail and sheer ingeniousness of the place makes this once again a 5 star+ seal of approval recommendation and further cements Purple Mountain as a dungeon you should not let you pass by – especially since it works so easily as an insert into just about any other subterranean complex. Old-school dungeon awesomeness indeed.

You can get this awesome dungeon-investigation-horror-crawl here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 282013
 

The Slaver Caves of Dorden

114486

This module for 3rd level characters is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a solid 36 pages of adventure – so let’s take a look!

 

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

 

All right, still here?

The town of Baruth has recently has seen some changes – when a local tyrant was disposed, the call to adventurers went out – and people have been missing. The PC’s task is to reclaim the poor unfortunates delivered into slavery and after some basic hooks and a short primer of the hamlet’s “hotspots”, the PCs are off to the wilderness to find the kidnapped people. The trail leads via the hint of a local ranger towards a major gnoll encampment.

The journey through the wilderness will have the PCs face off versus a ghast, an orc and finally with a bugbear, though all of these encounters come fully written with fluff text, making them viable for inexperienced DMs and easier to run than your average random encounter.

 

Upon reaching the Gnoll caravan, a surfacing trend becomes obvious – the prose is simply not that captivating  -and there are some glitches here that make running the encounter harder than necessary: The gnoll camp, with its 4 gnoll males (information btw. not repeated in the statblock) has an indistinct amount of females and young that flee. Wait. What? How do the PCs know that? We get no statblocks for the non-combatants and the camp remains opaque – what dimensions does it have? What types of dwellings? How could the PCs from a distance tell gnoll males from females? Whether by rescuing a kobOld (not kobald, as the pdf likes to call him..) or other, opaque means, the PCs are pointed towards the place where the gnolls sold off the villagers.

 

In the area around the mountain of Dorden, a young white dragon lairs and makes for an encounter that hits a pet peeve of mine – while its tactics are ok and the fact that the PCs fight it on a frozen river may seem awesome, the fact that it’s essentially a random encounter with a DRAGON, who should  be the apex creature/boss, not just a random battle thrown in the mix for good measure. Also: Why is the ice not slippery? Why do the PCs not need to make acrobatics-checks? What about swim-checks? How thick is the ice? Can it be broken via str-checks/damage? All this crucial information simply is not there.

 

The caves of Dorden feature a neat dwarven village-style outpost – abandoned and now inhabited by mites and vermin. The lower caves of the complex and in the lower caves, chokers, darkmantles and similar creatures await the PCs and they may even stumble into a battle between svirfneblin and drow before taking a conveniently-placed boat across a subterranean lake towards the next section of the complex: If they can survive the lacedon in the lake. The exploration of this final section then pits the PCs against a small force of duergar led by a duergar wizard (and again, lacking easily noticeable information on how much opposition is to be expected – there’s a reason one usually at least gets a statblock-style line saying “Duergar Warrior, use stats from page XX” in most products…). Yes, it’s a minor thing, but it annoys the heck out of me. Also weird: The text mentions: “While not overtly cruel, the duergar were intolerant of insubordination” – this translates to them executing halflings who tried to escape. Ähem. If that’s not cruel, what is? And no, from the context, it definitely is not irony or sarcasm. Also: Aren’t duergar kind of DEFINED by being the dour, lawful, cruel dwarves? As an optional climax, the duergar manage to release their target: They have excavated a obelisk that acts as a prison for a Leukodaemon -whom they try to set free. Yeah, not even a devil, a daemon. Cruel enough yet? Said CR 9 beast makes for a fully statted possible future adversary.

 

The pdf provides about half a page of random encounter charts and a player-friendly version of the overland map, but not ones for the complex.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting aren’t that great – while the amount of typos is still tolerable, there are quite a few punctuation errors and repetitions of words that make this module not particularly fun to read. Which unfortunately becomes a theme. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly 2-column standard that doesn’t hurt the eyes and is easy to read. Artworks are stock and fitting, whereas cartography is full color and ok, but honestly nothing to write home about. The lack of player-friendly maps of the dungeon and total lack of maps of the gnoll camp further hurt this module. Also: It has no bookmarks. No bookmarks. That’s just not up to any standard set by almost all other 3pps. Also: The fact that the statblocks in the encounters do not specify how many foes there are annoys me to no end.

 

Don’t get me wrong – I don’t object to cliché, been there, done that storylines – as long as the module is well-crafted, features something interesting. And this is where the module fails miserably. From the painfully generic hamlet to all encounters – tactic-wise there are some good ideas here, but damn – if terrain is there, it is not used. Time and again, the module devolves into making its locations opaque by failing to specify the dimensions of the respective battlefields and failing to provide proper terrain usage. At first, I thought this module was intended for beginner DMs and groups – why? Because it is RIDICULOUSLY EASY.

Seriously. My PCs would WALTZ through this with nary a scratch – and the absence of haunts or any traps beyond standard fare means that experienced players will get no satisfaction out of this one. And while I enjoy the relatively abundant read-aloud text, it simply is not captivating, leaves out crucial information and makes running e.g. the slaver camp abstract and harder on the DM than it should. And there’s the complete non-sequitur dragon-encounter as a sudden difficulty-bump right in the middle of the module, which, when played up by the DM (and supplemented by proper terrain usage/rules that the pdf omits), will quite possibly result in a lot of dead PCs/a TPK. The module also provides notes on difficult encounters and scaling, but no scaled statblocks or proper crunch – the advice, again, remains abstract.

 

I know, I should be lenient – and this pdf, in spite of what you have read, is not bad per se – but it’s BLAND. Like a dish where are spices are missing, you may get something that sustains you, but why would you eat it when there’s so much more tasty food out there? Seriously, at this price-point, the module has to directly compete with Frog God Games ( at 5 bucks) and you could get 3 (!!!) installments of 0onegames “The Sinking” or 2 of Kobold PressMidgard Adventures. Or you could get one of Adventureaweek.com’s modules. Or a Raging Swan Press module or two of their sidetreks. Or TPK Games’s Ship of Fools. Or Purple Mountain Games Purple Mountain-modules. Or 4 Dollar Dungeon’s modules, which are also vastly superior…Or. Or. Or.

And the thing is: Each of these have one thing in common: They are superior in EVERY WAY to this module. In presentation, writing and pricing. And that’s not even starting with paizo-modules – many of which, though, fall behind the examples I’ve linked above. There are A LOT superb modules out there.

 

If there were no other modules out there at this price-point, this might have a reason to exist. In fact, it could have been an interesting module. Could. Welcome to the subjunctive, everything could be so nice here. As provided, I have to compare this to all of these options – and while it is no train-wreck, it is a bit like a restaurant charging for a bland fare when there’s your favorite steak house right around the corner. This is no train-wreck, but in the context of current Pathfinder 3pps, their quality and offerings, I can’t rate this any other way than 1 star – it is inferior to almost all its competitors.

You can get this module here on OBS.

Endzeitgeist out.

Oct 252013
 

Village Backdrops: Hard Bay

118686

The latest installment in Raging Swan Press‘ superb selection of villages is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword,1 page advice on reading statblocks for novice DMs, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

 

Hard Bay once was a pirate nest – with its sheltered harbor and plentiful fishing grounds, it has all the markings of a village destined for greater things. Since three noble families have been instated here alongside a productive metalworks, the town is affluent, though not overtly so and the Blufonts, Moisans and Gerous have their impressive mansions in the village and while the strange keeper of the light house may seem odd and the drunk head of the metalworks often tries to get strangers to leave, all seems to be relatively well here.

 

Well. It isn’t. There’s something distinctly WRONG with Hard Bay – something that is represented in the statblock provided. Something in line with the bonfires that can be seen on new moons and the whispers and rumors distinctly hint at something lurking beneath the town’s relatively pleasant exterior. And no, I’m not going to spoil here what the deal with this town that feels a bit like Sandpoint’s evil twin to me, is. Suffice to say that from village statblock to lore and marketplace and yes, even a template, we get all the information we could ask for.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s crisp 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes in two versions, with one being optimized for screen-use and one intended for the printer. The town’s map by Thomas Fayen is great, as always in the series and can be downloaded in a player-friendly version on RSP’s homepage. The pdfs come both fully bookmarked.

 

Author Greg Marks creates an interesting town with a subtle air of threatening things, a subtle wrongness here. That being said, the idea behind the town, while distinctly well-executed, also feels a bit less original than I’ve come to expect from the series – the basic theme herein has been executed in quite a few villages/modules by now and while it manages to put its own spin on the yarn woven, in the company of its extremely well-crafted brethren, it feels a tad bit less original than e.g. a certain xenophobic village deep in the forests of the lonely coast…

 

Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with this supplement – it’s a great offering and the decadent noble families feel distinct and full of narrative potential. Still, overall, it feels slightly less captivating than some of the best Village Backdrops. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4 stars.

 

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

 

Endzeitgeist out.