Dec 292017
 

Campaign Elements: Both Foul and Deep (DCC)

This DCC-toolkit clocks in at 53 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages SRD, leaving us with a massive 50 pages of content, though these are formatted for 6’’ by 9’’ digest size (A5), which means you can fit multiple pages on one sheet of paper.

 

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue at the request of my patreons.

 

So, first things first, in case you’re new to the series: The Campaign Elements-series is basically a collection of set-pieces supplemented with rules, intended to be dropped as is into an ongoing campaign…or to be used as a scavenging ground. As such, this sits squarely on the line between modules and setting supplements – while it can be used as written, it is just as useful as a file to supplement other modules; take e.g. “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust” – the module assumes that the smartest way for the PCs to enter the locale would be via the sewers, but there isn’t much going on there. This is where an enterprising judge can employ this supplement, as we get a ton of material for sewers.

 

Wait. I know. Sewer levels/environments have a bad reputation. I can name, at the top of my head, a ton of modules that take place in sewers. Among these, 10%, at most, are worthwhile. But what if you want/need to run such a module? Well, this pdf pretty much helps dealing with that issue. We begin with a summary of different hooks to get the PCs down into the sewers. From there, we move on to general terrain features, the first thing a lot of modules in sewers fail to properly take into account. So yes, falling into sewage is a BAD idea – 6 different diseases can be found herein, ranging from mites and parasitic worms and scarlet rash. The second component many sewer-scenarios get wrong is that they depict, ironically, I might add, sewers as a mechanically sterile environment – this pdf does help here quite a bit: We get a d30 random encounter table, which brings me to one of the main components of this pdf.

 

You see, we not only get the usual people of the sewers (including secret taverns, cultists, etc.), but also a bunch of components we usually don’t see: Filthlarks, for example, the scavengers of the filthy places, gentlemen clubbers going to a clandestine meeting…and there are resurrection men; basically grave robbers in the name of science. Beyond those, we also get what amounts to a pretty massive bestiary section: We get albino alligators, aliens rats from another world, blood slugs, centipedes that seek to burrow into your flesh, carrion moths that spread hallucinogenic powder via their wings…even cooler: What about the cessceada? These swarming insects can cause the skin of those infected to slough off. There are beetles that can be sold to the dyer’s guild for profit, particularly agile drain runner foes, disgusting oozes, filth elementals… Have I mentioned the globlins that split by fission? Hellspore fungi and lamprey swarms are cool, and in the dark recesses, there also is the terrifying loathly one; there are phantom gentlemen…and more. This bestiary section is really cool, with each of the entries breathing some form of truly intriguing and captivating idea, in spite of the sometimes down to earth theme.

 

The pdf also provides the patron Squallas, mistress of the night soil rivers, but we only get the invoke patron table here – no custom spells, patron taint or spellburn, but all right. This would btw. be as well a place as any, there are quite a few really nice full-color illustrations throughout the pdf – particularly the sewer troll image is nice.

 

At this point, it should be noted that judges with an extensive library of books may find some nice easter eggs here and there – in the case of the troll, for example, a nod to the upcoming, Angels, Daemons and Beings Between II by Shinobi 27 Press. These nods are unobtrusive enough to not impede your enjoyment of the content, but certainly should be fun for quite a few judges…and they provide obscure and potentially easily ignored links you can further develop…but I digress.

 

Now, so far, I have mainly commented on the toolbox-y aspects of this pdf, but it is also an adventure locale. We get a solid b/w-map of the sewer-area depicted AND a player-friendly iteration, which is a huge plus, as far as I’m concerned. Now, the keyed encounter areas provided for the judge come with well-written read-aloud text (we have come to expect nothing less from Daniel J. Bishop!), but also feature unique hazards and creatures beyond the ones already mentioned – some are obviously intended as plot-threads for the judge to further develop, while others are just amazing; the image of a massive spider that carries its brood on its back is great, and just let it be known that just because corpses move doesn’t mean that they’re necessarily undead…which can result in a rather cool scene. Oh, and the line from the core book? Yes, there is a means to learn a spell from the mouth of a dead man…and how that phrase is twisted is really cool. I could explain all of the 9 keyed encounters here, but I’d frankly do the book a disservice.

 

You see, the series has traditionally a “squeezing it dry”-section, wherein you can find further suggestions to get the maximum amount of mileage out of the book – considering how strongly the toolbox/bestiary aspect is emphasized here, I can most definitely see judges employ this pdf’s contents far beyond the exploration of the sewers presented here.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The full-color artworks are captivating, cool and deserve a big shout-out. The cartography featuring a player-friendly map is really cool. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with detailed, nested bookmarks, making navigation comfortable.

 

Daniel J. Bishop’s name on a book is, for the most part, a great indicator that it will rock – in fact, even if you do not play DCC, both new school and old school games can get something out of his offerings. There is a crisp quality to his prose, an overarching vision that not only gets the peculiarities of DCC, but, more importantly, really understands the tone and what makes it stand out. There is always an aspect of the weird here, one that feels like it was drawn straight from the greats. In fact, much like Leiber or Howard, he is adept at using precious few words to inspire; his fantasy, infused with a little dose of gonzo and the soul of sword & sorcery, has a distinct tone that is both grounded and wondrous, that retains this strange, captivating sense of plausibility. This booklet brings this aesthetic to sewers, perhaps the most maligned of adventuring locales, and elevates them. In short, this little booklet is one of the very few supplements/modules dealing with sewers that I’d consider superb – the monsters are so cool and interesting that quite a few may well warrant conversion. DCC judges, the primary audience of this book, should consider this a must-purchase anyway. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can currently only get this amazing book here on GoFundMe!

 

You can directly support Purple Duck Games making amazing DCC-books here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Dec 292017
 

Rampaging Monsters (NGR)

This little generator clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, as we’ve come to expect by Zzarchov Kowolski’s books, this one sports a rather neat and dry sense of humor, evident from the introduction onwards – sometimes, you don’t have the time to prepare a new plot, right? You’ll need filler, because “that Golden Girls marathon doesn’t watch itself”, to paraphrase the supplement. Well, the solution this booklet proposes is to generate a rampaging monster that scours the countryside!

 

The generator provided here indeed allows you to generate a creature, depending on your speed and familiarity with NGR-rules, in less than 5 minutes, so the convenience angle is definitely fulfilled – you could, in theory, do this behind the screen while the PCs are shopping, for example. Now, an important note here: Unlike many offerings by the author, this is NOT a dual-statted NGR/OSR-product – we have only Neoclassical Geek Revival support here and thus this does not translate too well to e.g. S&W or LL since NGR (which you should check out!) is pretty far away from standard OSR-rules.

 

All righty, that out of the way, how do we proceed? Well, first, we think about the monster’s size in relation to humans and then, we take a look at attributes – 6 values are provided, allowing you to quickly and easily generate scores with descriptors – very dexterous monsters would have Dex 16, very clumsy ones instead Dex 7 – simple, quick, convenient. If in doubt, you revert to rolling 3d6. Then, you determine how a monster behaves and assign pies to the monster as though it was an NPC. Does it stalk its prey? Rogue. Bruiser? Fighter. You get the idea. While not all abilities may seem like they seamlessly apply, the pdf provides a bit of guidance there.

 

Here, the pdf becomes actually valuable beyond convenience for the GM – for next up, we get combat tricks…and if you recall my review of NGR, you should know how much I like the modular combat and its tactical depth…in spite of how easy to grasp and run it is. Size 8 monsters may e.g. damage foes by jumping up and down; shaking vigorously can cost grappled targets their actions, etc. – while these may not look like much, they can actually be employed in rather cool ways. If you’re like me and absolutely ADORED “Shadow of the Colossus” back in the PS2-era, you may be smiling right now – yep, the content herein does allow you to create such scenes…though, this being NGR, they will be much deadlier than in SoC…but the cheers will be louder. Believe me. Snatch attacks, knock-down assault with wings…pretty cool. This design-paradigm also extends to innate monster spells, which translate just as seamlessly to NGR. The examples cover the cool basics – breathing fire. Breathing exploding balls of fire…and LAZER-EYES[sic!]. Yes, this is a misspelling in the pdf. Yes, it made me cringe. Still, laser-eyes? Heck yes!

 

Anyways, so now we have a monster…but why does it rampage? Motivation is up next – 6 basic ones, ranging from hunger to greed and malice, add at least a little bit of depth to the critter created.

 

Need a hamlet to destroy? Roll a d12 and a d8 and compare it with a table of 24 entries – 12 for the first part and 12 for the second part of the name. The position of the dice denote which one you’ll use for the first part and which for the second. These names will also hint at the peculiarities of the place – hamlets named “Carp-something” will e.g. sport ponds etc. 4 sample rewards for slaying the critter.

 

Finally, if you absolutely have 0 time left, a sample giant, a big statue, a wyrm and a T-rex are provided, should you need a monster to drop immediately.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – I noticed no glaring issues in the rules and only minor typos. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard. The pdf use fitting public domain art, but is mostly text. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, which is rather neat for navigating it on the fly.

 

Zzarchov Kowolski’s little toolkit is helpful, fun and easy to use; in particular the combat tricks and monster abilities, both mundane and magical, made me smile from ear to ear. The generator does what it’s intended to do…and yet, it made me realize how much I would have liked a full-blown monster-expansion book for NGR. The tricks and abilities presented are cool and fun and made me crave more…to the point, where I almost lost sight of what this tries to be and what it doesn’t try to be. This is not a big monster-enhancer toolbox for NGR – it is a generator for the time-starved referee caught unprepared…and though I very much would have loved to see a big monster book, and though this made me CRAVE more, it would not be fair to rate this generator according to a premise which it never intended to fulfill. As a generator for monsters ravaging the country-side, this does a great job – not a perfect one (it is hampered a bit by its economical size and the corresponding loss of depth that it could have had), but a yeah – this is a neat book for NGR-referees and is well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

 

You can get this neat generator here on OBS!

 

You can get Neoclassical Geek Revival here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Dec 292017
 

Village Backdrop: Skaalhaft

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Skaalhaft is an utterly unique place – situated in the aptly-named blood bay, the place is a whaler’s village unlike any you’ve seen – instead of the more mundane prey, this should be considered to be a draker’s village…or a magical beast-er’s village…for while other places may be content with hunting mere animals, Skaalhaft’s population makes a living of much tougher and deadlier prey. The kills brought in by the powerful hunters (5 sample vessels with their own specialties are provided). It should be noted that we get information on local nomenclature, dressing habits and mannerisms, which adds some nice depth to the settlement.

 

As always, we get a proper settlement statblock for Skaalhaft – and considering the occupation of the vast majority of the village’s folk, the low danger rating (0) is pretty surprising. Then again, strangers come to this place to purchase all kinds of strange ingredients for alchemical and arcane practices. PCs that do their leg-work can unearth some lore about the village and there even is a wayhouse, where two of the wealthiest patrons of the settlement can be found – these, alongside 3 other NPCs, come with an expanded NPC-write-up: Sans stats, but with mannerisms, distinguishing features, etc. And yes, there is a proper market place section of items to procure.

 

6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events can be employed by the GM to further add spice to the exploration of the village…but the pdf actually goes one step beyond what we usually get in these pdfs: We get a massive 20-entry dressing table to add further life and color to the village…and the unique customs and traditions of the village are also provided – including the collective mourning traditions. The surrounding environments also are mentioned and discussed, allowing the GM to fit the village properly. As a place defined by fantastic economies, there also is the black room – a pocket dimension where dark magic is practiced….and that made me recall Twin Peaks. The main plot brewing here behind the scenes is interesting, though it does pale in comparison with the thoroughly amazing premise of the village.

 

Adding a sense of the grim and pre-industrial aesthetics of e.g. Dishonored, there is the Grey Mill – a place where the carcasses of the fallen creatures are processed by grim women and children, all in the name of the strange traditions of this place, for, while Svaad Ruun nominally runs the village, it is in truth shackled by something stronger: The bonds of tradition and the way of life here – even though the run-off of the Grey Mill has transformed the local fauna into hideous and potent mutants, making the bay even more dangerous.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with a really nice b/w-artwork. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is great, as pretty much always in the series. The pdf comes not only fully bookmarked for your convenience, but also with a second version: One version of the file is optimized for screen-use and one is optimized for the printer.

 

Jeff Gomez’ Skaalhaft is a thoroughly inspiring little settlement: Its unique premise is employed in a rather evocative manner and makes sense – in a world where fantastic creatures abound, it is bound to be a matter of time before the humanoid races find a way to standardize and specialize in their hunt and consumption. Skaalhaft, as such, is a window into an all-too-often neglected component of fantasy games and adds serious depth to the game – particularly if you enjoy Playground Adventures’ amazing Creature Components-book (which makes components taken from critters really matter). In short: This is a great, inspiring little pdf, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this amazing village here on OBS!

 

You can get the Creature Components book here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Dec 292017
 

Village Backdrop: Skaalhaft (5e)

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Skaalhaft is an utterly unique place – situated in the aptly-named blood bay, the place is a whaler’s village unlike any you’ve seen – instead of the more mundane prey, this should be considered to be a draker’s village…or a magical beast-er’s village…for while other places may be content with hunting mere animals, Skaalhaft’s population makes a living of much tougher and deadlier prey. The kills brought in by the powerful hunters (5 sample vessels with their own specialties are provided). It should be noted that we get information on local nomenclature, dressing and mannerisms, which adds some nice depth to the settlement.

 

Strangers, unsurprisingly, come to this place to purchase all kinds of strange ingredients for alchemical and arcane practices. PCs that do their leg-work can unearth some lore about the village and there even is a wayhouse, where two of the wealthiest patrons of the settlement can be found. These, alongside 3 other NPCs, come with an expanded NPC-write-up: Sans stats, but with mannerisms, distinguishing features, etc. – where applicable, they make use of the default stats, but no unique ones are provided. And yes, there is a proper market place section of items to procure, which has been properly adapted for 5e.

 

6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events can be employed by the GM to further add spice to the exploration of the village…but the pdf actually goes one step beyond what we usually get in these pdfs: We get a massive 20-entry dressing table to add further life and color to the village…and the unique customs and traditions of the village are also provided – including the collective mourning traditions. The surrounding environments also are mentioned and discussed, allowing the GM to fit the village properly. As a place defined by fantastic economies, there also is the black room – a pocket dimension where dark magic is practiced….and that made me recall Twin Peaks. The main plot brewing here behind the scenes is interesting, though it does pale in comparison with the thoroughly amazing premise of the village.

 

Adding a sense of the grim and pre-industrial aesthetics of e.g. Dishonored, there is the Grey Mill – a place where the carcasses of the fallen creatures are processed by grim women and children, all in the name of the strange traditions of this place, for, while Svaad Ruun nominally runs the village, it is in truth shackled by something stronger: The bonds of tradition and the way of life here – even though the run-off of the Grey Mill has transformed the local fauna into hideous and potent mutants, making the bay even more dangerous.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with a really nice b/w-artwork. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is great, as pretty much always in the series. The pdf comes not only fully bookmarked for your convenience, but also with a second version: One version of the file is optimized for screen-use and one is optimized for the printer.

 

Jeff Gomez’ Skaalhaft is a thoroughly inspiring little settlement: Its unique premise is employed in a rather evocative manner and makes sense – in a world where fantastic creatures abound, it is bound to be a matter of time before the humanoid races find a way to standardize and specialize in their hunt and consumption. Skaalhaft, as such, is a window into an all-too-often neglected component of fantasy games and adds serious depth to the game – particularly if you enjoy Playground Adventures’ amazing Creature Components-book (which makes components taken from critters really matter). In short: This is a great, inspiring little pdf that doesn’t lose any of its charms in 5e, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this cool village here on OBS!

 

You can get the Creature Component book here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Dec 292017
 

Village Backdrop: Skaalhaft (system neutral)

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Skaalhaft is an utterly unique place – situated in the aptly-named blood bay, the place is a whaler’s village unlike any you’ve seen – instead of the more mundane prey, this should be considered to be a draker’s village…or a magical beast-er’s village…for while other places may be content with hunting mere animals, Skaalhaft’s population makes a living of much tougher and deadlier prey. The kills brought in by the powerful hunters (5 sample vessels with their own specialties are provided). It should be noted that we get information on local nomenclature, dressing and mannerisms, which adds some nice depth to the settlement.

 

Strangers come to this place to purchase all kinds of strange ingredients for alchemical and arcane practices, some of which are less than wholesome. PCs that do their leg-work can unearth some lore about the village and there even is a wayhouse, where two of the wealthiest patrons of the settlement can be found – these, alongside 3 other NPCs, come with an expanded NPC-write-up: Sans stats, but with mannerisms, distinguishing features, etc. And yes, there is a proper market place section of items to procure, adapted for the more conservative old-school playstyle. It should be noted that the wizard-class is referenced once, not magic-user – while most folks won’t care here, some of the more diehard traditionalists may.

 

6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events can be employed by the GM to further add spice to the exploration of the village…but the pdf actually goes one step beyond what we usually get in these pdfs: We get a massive 20-entry dressing table to add further life and color to the village…and the unique customs and traditions of the village are also provided – including the collective mourning traditions. The surrounding environments also are mentioned and discussed, allowing the GM to fit the village properly. As a place defined by fantastic economies, there also is the black room – a pocket dimension where dark magic is practiced….and that made me recall Twin Peaks. The main plot brewing here behind the scenes is interesting, though it does pale in comparison with the thoroughly amazing premise of the village.

 

Adding a sense of the grim and pre-industrial aesthetics of e.g. Dishonored, there is the Grey Mill – a place where the carcasses of the fallen creatures are processed by grim women and children, all in the name of the strange traditions of this place, for, while Svaad Ruun nominally runs the village, it is in truth shackled by something stronger: The bonds of tradition and the way of life here – even though the run-off of the Grey Mill has transformed the local fauna into hideous and potent mutants, making the bay even more dangerous.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes with a really nice b/w-artwork. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is great, as pretty much always in the series. The pdf comes not only fully bookmarked for your convenience, but also with a second version: One version of the file is optimized for screen-use and one is optimized for the printer.

 

Jeff Gomez’ Skaalhaft is a thoroughly inspiring little settlement: Its unique premise is employed in a rather evocative manner and makes sense – in a world where fantastic creatures abound, it is bound to be a matter of time before the humanoid races find a way to standardize and specialize in their hunt and consumption. Skaalhaft, as such, is a window into an all-too-often neglected component of fantasy games and adds serious depth to the game. While, to my knowledge, there is no OSR-book focusing on the use of the remains of creatures for added synergy, this still remains a great installment of the series, well worth its place in the exalted array of settlements the series provided. In short: This is a great, inspiring little pdf, well worth 5 stars.

 

You can get this cool village here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Dec 202017
 
Dear readers,
 
I wanted to take a short time out from the hustle and bustle of the season to thank all of my patreon-supporters in particular for sticking with me, in spite of patreon’s recent colossal snafu and backpedaling.
It’s a great present for me and I’m truly grateful for all of your support.
Beyond that, I want to wish you all a wonderful time – whether you celebrate Christmas, another holiday or none at all – I hope that these days bring you joy and a wonderful time with your beloved ones!
Beyond that, however, I want to tell those that are less fortunate, that experience the holidays as a burden or as something disheartening, that my thoughts are with you.
I can relate and while I know that this time of the year can be tough, you are not alone.
I am not particularly good at expressing my feelings, so yeah, please consider this post to be me raising my stein from ole’ Germany, toasting to your health, joy and prosperity – no matter where you are on this wonderful, blue fleck of stardust that we call home!
 
On an organizational note, I don’t even have a tree yet, much less any presents, so the next couple of days I’ll be spending in the time-honored tradition of folks everywhere, running like a headless chicken through the streets in the vain hope that inspiration for presents strikes. 😉 (This is particularly challenging, since I also need to get some birthday presents in addition to the Christmas presents…)
Reviewing will resume at the end of next week, so, until then, take care!
I remain your friendly neighborhood endzeitgeist!
P.s.: If you enjoy reading my reviews, please consider donating to my patreon – it’d be amazing if we could reach a higher number of supporters to end the year! You can check out my patreon here! 😀
Dec 202017
 

DCC Free RPG Day 2012 (DCC)

This collection of modules clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page introduction/SRD, 2 pages mystery map contest (here, you could finish a map and write an adventure to win money), 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This booklet contains 2 adventures: Michael Curtis provides “The undulating Corruption” for level 5 characters, while the second module, “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust” is penned by Harley Stroh and intended for level 3 characters. Both of the adventures sport a handy encounter table that lists the respective encounter type. The second page provides a fantastic b/w-handout that depicts the adventure location of the second adventure. The cartography also deserves mentioning: The first module gets a top-down map, while the second sports a gorgeous, isometric b/w-map…though I do wish it came with a player-friendly version…or in pdf-format, at least as a layered image, so I can turn off the room numbers, cut it up and hand it out. It still kinda works for that purpose, but, at least to me, the lack of a player-friendly map is a downside.

 

This review was requested and sponsored by one of my patreons. The review is based exclusively on the pdf-version, since I do not own the print version.

 

All righty, as always, this is an adventure review – as such, the following text will dive into heavy SPOILER territory. Players wishing to play these modules should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great!

 

So, “The Undulating Corruption” is pretty much a straightforward sidetrek, one that should sport a wizard PC currently suffering from a corruption, for that is the primary angle: Hidden away in hilly terrain, there is the Crucible of the Worm – a shrine that ostensibly can cure corruptions! But as the PCs approach the crucible’s location, a massive explosion shakes the earth…well, turns out that, for once, other adventurers and not the PCs have screwed up, big time. Provided the PCs manage to defeat the self-reproducing black sludges there, they can find the sad and doomed survivor of the adventuring group – the poor sod is beyond saving, but he can fill in the blanks: The crucible contained an entity of chaos, the Night Worm consumes corrupted wizards and excretes them, free of the taint – but the entity is free, hungry and potentially very dangerous.

 

A trail of black slime slows magical pursuit (unless you want to hasten the game), and thus, the PCs are on the trail of a massive, very dangerous entity: In order to catch up with the Night Worm, the PCs will have to cross a river without falling prey to corrupted catfish; soon thereafter, the PCs may recruit a cleric, who can provide help or even accompany them…and pretty soon thereafter, the PCs catch up with the massive entity and its corruptive beasts. The final adventure locale is intriguing: Within the insides of the massive worm, the PCs find an extradimensional place; there, the worm’s digestive system, the degenaphages, may attack…but they also provide the means for being cured: Spellcasters can attach an umbilical cord; if they are lucky (and feed the entities with spell-energy, enhancing the chances) they can shed a corruption…get out…and stop the worm before it carves a trail of destruction through the lands. Very unique sidequest!

 

The second adventure, “The Jeweler that dealt in Stardust” is basically a heist: Boss Ogo, one of Punjar’s notorious fences, hasn’t been seen in a month. His place seems rife for the picking, right? Well, unbeknown to the PCs, Ogo has been touched by Ygiiz, the Spider-Mother, via a crystal. He has managed t lure agents of the dread thing from the vast beyond. Meanwhile, his second in command and the gang members are loyally guarding his house – which is, as noted before, represented in a phenomenal b/w-artwork/handout. Unless the PCs are VERY careful, the guarding rogues will call for backup, following the PCs…which may well result in nasty consequences.

 

Speaking of smart approaches: If the PCs act in a clever manner, they may well enter the house via a less conspicuous manner – and find the hanging, webbed and bandaged bodies that act as anchors to the carnivorous spiders conjured forth. Eliminating these ritualistically prepared bodies (and yes, PCs can find that out!) immediately makes the module much easier…but also announces the presence of the PCs. Then again, that would be a pity – the magical spiders have actually multi-stage attack routines, which is pretty fun! Assuming the PCs manage to pass the strange spider-things, Ogo’s traps and provided they aren’t slain by their own shadow (which may be animated by a deadly candle), they will have a chance to stop Ogo…and potentially have their mind sundered by the crystal themselves. On the plus side, the PCs can find the eponymous stardust – its use may not be evident at first, but it can provide a one-time luck increase…oh, and yeah, it can be used to create more of those mind-shattering crystals…but who’d want that? Anyways, at the very latest once the PCs escape Ogo’s home, they’ll still have to contend with the ambush of aforementioned ruffians. Yeah, the module is potentially pretty difficult, unless the players act smart…which is just how I like it.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no issues in formal criteria or rules-integrity. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks and maps by Doug Kovacs are phenomenal. The absence of player-friendly versions for the maps in particular is a pity here. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks.

 

Michael Curtis and Harley Stroh deliver two amazing little adventures here. The two modules ooze sword and sorcery flavor. The modules are dangerous and unique in concept, and while the first one is more of a sidetrek than anything, it gels well with the “Quest for it”-aesthetic of DCC. Both modules can imho be used in other rule-sets with relative ease; the crunchy bits don’t dive into the depths of the rules per se; they don’t have to. In short: This is a great offering and one that made me curse under my breath that I didn’t manage to get it in print. That being said, for the pdf version in particular, player-friendly map versions would have been greatly appreciated. Apart from this, I can’t really find serious flaws within the modules; they hit their intended tone pitch-perfect. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo and the amazing, little heist that btw. makes for a fine convention-style game in length and density.

 

You can get these neat adventures here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Dec 202017
 

Everyman Minis: Microsized Templates

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 5 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

So, I absolutely ADORE Microsized Adventures. It made my Top Ten for a reason. It opens a whole new cosmos of cool rules, of adventuring possibilities and fun.

 

Well, this pdf, beyond explaining how the special size modifier works in context of PCs and foes that are radically shrunk/enlarged, sports an extremely high crunch-density: We basically get 8 microsized templates: These list not only the modifications applied to the microsized being (and the special size modifier), but also the modifications for the respective ordinary-sized foe. The differences in size range from one size category to eight size categories! In the latter case, PCs will suffer: They will inflict paltry damage and the CR of even harmless critters skyrockets. Fluffy the Cat suddenly is looking like a really sadistic Kaiju…

 

And that’s about it – this pdf is all about application and convenience. You can hand it out to your players and have them gulp. Or you can use it as an easy cheat sheet. Either way, it makes changes in size run smoothly and fluidly and thus qualifies as one of the rare, small pdfs that really enhance the game, far beyond what the page-count would make you believe.

 

Minor complaint: The seven size categories template has an incorrect damage value for the microsized creature: The value should be -28, not -15. Similarly, the saves noted for the by the six sizes step and the damage increase for ordinary creatures are both off, and so are save DCs, CMB and CMD for that step. While it took me a grand total of 30 seconds to calculate the correct values here, it’s still an annoying issue.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level; however, the glitches in the templates do drag down what I’d otherwise consider to be a phenomenal resource. Layout adheres to Everyman Gaming’s printer-friendly two-column standard and the full-color artwork is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ templates here are convenient, easy to apply, well-presented and explained – in short, this pdf is a pure joy to work with, a really fun tool in the arsenal of the GM. Were it not for the glitches in two of the templates, I’d have praised this even more. While I personally consider them easy to fix, I am a pretty math-savvy fellow and as a reviewer, I can’t be lenient here. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. If the minor hiccups don’t upset you, consider this 5 stars + seal instead; either way, I’d definitely recommend this handy file.

 

You can get this cool, if not perfect little pdf here on OBS!

 

You can get the inspiring Microsized Adventures book here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

 

Dec 202017
 

Village Backdrop: Ronak (system neutral)

This installment of the Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Ronak is a dwarven company’s trade-outpost – or rather, it was. The company has gone belly-up ages ago, leaving the ancestors of the Ronakee stranded in the middle of the swamplands, on lands that once belonged to lizardfolk, dutifully exterminated by the dwarves. This can be unearthed via the village lore provided in the tradition of the series…and it kinda is weird. Why? Because the very first sentence on Ronak is “Nobody knows Ronak exists. Or, more precisely, nobody remembers.” Considering that baseline, the fact that there is lore to be unearthed about it in the first place, to me, is weird. (Not as weird as in the more rules-intense systems, since the referee retains control…but yeah…)

 

Anyways, the dwarves of Ronak are insular, yes – and they are, to a degree, forsaken by civilization. You see, the ronakee dwarves no longer truly believe in outside civilization; they are guided by the spirits of the lizardfolk they slaughtered, slowly becoming ever more degenerate, savage…and, most disconcertingly, reptilian. This slow change is also represented in the way in which the whispers and rumors and map are depicted – we have a fortified village of huts on a hill; the villagers are isolated and their demeanor and appearance reflect that; the marketplace section provided also focuses on more shamanistic aspects. Kudos: The magic items have been reduced and properly adjusted to an old-school aesthetic!

 

Similarly, the classes of the movers and shakers of the village adhere to the more primitive bent and have been properly codified within the classic class ranges; the drug used to communicate with spirits, sawleaf, which is harvested in the bitter bog also makes for a nice piece of properly translated crunch. The scaled dwarves of Ronak btw. get a racial variant – and here, the old-school mostly system neutral version of the pdf deserves once again special applause: The rules presented are concise, the wording is clear and the mutations make sense. Maximum levels etc. are included. Oh, and btw., descending AC is assumed.

 

From the temple to the humble spirithouse, the village itself is pretty neat – though it should be noted that no event-table is provided this time around – instead, we get a bit of consideration regarding the event that changes all: The arrival of PCs. Much like insular tribes in real life, the arrival of PCs must be seen as a cataclysmic upheaval for the village and its societies…and the repercussions you can weave there are most assuredly really exciting.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to RagingS wan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports solid b/w-artwork and great b/w-cartography, this time around provided by Maciej Zagorski. The pdf comes in two versions – one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer. The pdf is properly bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Jeff Gomez’ set-up here is really interesting. I like the idea of colonialists succumbing to their own sins; there is a definite Heart of Darkness-vibe going on here; similarly, the angle regarding the destructive force of contacts with advanced civilizations is something I really enjoyed. And yet, Ronak didn’t 100% click with me; perhaps it’s the scaled dwarf-angle (seen that before); perhaps it’s the mutation factor…or that it doesn’t go full-blown either Chinua Achebe or Joseph Conrad with the colonialist angle…This is, don’t get me wrong, a pretty inspiring village (though the low lore DC makes no sense to me), but it is a village with a concept that could have carried a more forceful execution or a stranger transition. The concepts underlying the premise are so strong, they could have yielded simply more. That being said, the system neutral version goes above and beyond to retain and translate all the cool small tidbits and, frankly, they imho work better in this iteration than in, for example, PFRPG. This nets this version +0.5 stars, for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, and I’ll round that up due to in dubio pro reo.

 

You can get this pdf here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Dec 202017
 

Village Backdrop: Ronak (5e)

This installment of the Village Backdrops-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Ronak is a dwarven company’s trade-outpost – or rather, it was. The company has gone belly-up ages ago, leaving the ancestors of the Ronakee stranded in the middle of the swamplands, on lands that once belonged to lizardfolk, dutifully exterminated by the dwarves. This can be unearthed via the village lore provided in the tradition of the series…and it kinda is weird. Why? Because the very first sentence on Ronak is “Nobody knows Ronak exists. Or, more precisely, nobody remembers.” Considering that baseline, a paltry DC 15 check seems a bit odd here…

 

Anyways, the dwarves of Ronak are insular, yes – and they are, to a degree, forsaken by civilization. You see, the ronakee dwarves no longer truly believe in outside civilization; they are guided by the spirits of the lizardfolk they slaughtered, slowly becoming ever more degenerate, savage…and, most disconcertingly, reptilian. This slow change is also represented in the way in which the whispers and rumors and map are depicted – we have a fortified village of huts on a hill; the villagers are isolated and their demeanor and appearance reflect that; the marketplace section provided also focuses on more shamanistic aspects and has been properly adjusted to 5e’s aesthetics.

 

Similarly, the classes of the movers and shakers of the village adhere to the more primitive bent; the drug used to communicate with spirits, sawleaf, which is harvested in the bitter bog has been translated to 5e, yes, but honestly, of the three versions, this one is the weakest and the one that feels least like a regular piece of crunch for the system – 1 poison damage, -4 penalty to saves versus curses and effects and abilities of incorporeal undead and haunts…doesn’t feel very 5e-ish.

 

The scaled dwarves of Ronak btw. get a subrace – Strength increases by 1, walking speed 20 feet, neither reduced by armor or swampy terrain, disadvantage on Charisma (Persuasion) and Charisma (Deception) that may be foregone by gaining proficiency and losing the usual bonuses in proficiency in the respective skill. The dwarf also gets one of 5 mutations – 15 minutes of holding breath, advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks in swamps, unarmored AC of 11 + Dex mod, 1d6 bite that increases to 2d6 at 11th level (you’re proficient in the bite) or advantage on Strength (Athletics) checks made to swim. The subrace is potent, but also limited – as a whole, I like it in 5e!

 

From the temple to the humble spirithouse, the village is pretty neat – though it should be noted that no event-table is provided this time around – instead, we get a bit of consideration regarding the event that changes all: The arrival of PCs. Much like insular tribes in real life, the arrival of PCs must be seen as a cataclysmic upheaval for the village and its societies…and the repercussions you can weave there are most assuredly really exciting.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports solid b/w-artwork and great b/w-cartography, this time around provided by Maciej Zagorski. The pdf comes in two versions – one optimized for screen-use and one for the printer. The pdf is properly bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Jeff Gomez’ set-up here is really interesting. I like the idea of colonialists succumbing to their own sins; there is a definite Heart of Darkness-vibe going on here; similarly, the angle regarding the destructive force of contacts with advanced civilizations is something I really enjoyed. And yet, Ronak didn’t 100% click with me; perhaps it’s the scaled dwarf-angle (seen that before); perhaps it’s the mutation factor…or that it doesn’t go full-blown either Chinua Achebe or Joseph Conrad with the colonialist angle…This is, don’t get me wrong, a pretty inspiring village (though the low lore DC makes no sense to me), but it is a village with a concept that could have carried a more forceful execution or a stranger transition. The concepts underlying the premise are so strong, they could have yielded simply more. The 5e-version oscillates between ups and downs – I like the subrace, but the drug, in comparison, felt a bit…less compelling. Still, I consider this version to be slightly stronger than the PFRPG version – hence, my verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I will round down for this one.

 

You can get this pdf here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.