Nov 302018
 

Advanced Adventures: Stonesky Delve (OSR)

This installment of the Advanced Adventures series clocks in at 25 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This review was requested by my patreons, to be undertaken at my convenience.

 

Okay, first of all, this is, as all Advanced Adventures-modules, written for the OSRIC system, but conversions to other OSR-systems are easy enough. The formatting deviates in some aspects from OSRIC’s formatting conversions. This module is intended for characters level 4 – 7, though it should be noted that it requires a smart and well-rounded group to excel – this is old-school in that PCs not smart enough to run in some instances, will indeed die. Horribly, I might add. The pdf does not sport read-aloud text beyond the brief introductory prose, which means that this needs to be properly prepared.

 

There is another special thing to note here: “Stonesky Delve” is the first tournament module in the series, and as such, it spends quite a lot of space to explain how to run and judge the performance of the adventuring groups. One page is devoted to the time scoring sheet, one to the exploration scoring sheet, and two pages contain a total of 10 pregens. While I applaud the inclusion of so many pregens, it’s annoying that you have to basically copy their stats by hand. The equipment of all characters are on the back of the page.

 

Now, the tournament framework means that the module is intended to be run in two 4-hour slots; in-game, the PCs get a cave moth pupa that will hatch in 72 hours, for the PCs have to spend at least 72 hours in-game exploring the complex…and a maximum of 120 hours. So yeah, we have a time-limit here, which is smart, as it adds a degree of urgency to the proceedings. Indeed, the framework is simple: The PCs are hired by dwarves to explore and map caverns where ancient dwarven holds may be found. This is also the reason I don’t mind the lack of player-friendly maps here – it is, after all, the task of PCs to map this place. It should be noted that, unlike most convention/tournament modules, this may be hard, but it’s NOT just a meatgrinder! This, if anything, behaves more like a ROLEplaying module than all previously-released installments in the series. It should also be noted that the module can easily be sliced in two, should you desire to do so.

 

The pdf sports a couple of unique/variant monsters – an umber hulk variation, a predator with a massive tongue that works best in conjunction with piercers (cool!), a three-tongued giant frog, a spitting gibbering mouther variant, and the classic vampire moss also gets stats. These feel down to earth and somewhat plausible. Solid.

 

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, one glance on the map will show you what sets the first aspect of the module apart from many others: the first dungeon of the module represents an exploration of the caves of the eponymous Stonesky, but unlike countless modules out there, this complex manages to really evoke a sense of plausible fantasy spelunking. This is, in part due to the clever positioning of enemies, which are chosen and placed in order to evoke a sensible illusion of a subterranean eco-system; at the same time, the complex is set apart by its focus on verticality: When you’re rappelling down a massive tunnel next to a waterfall, and try to get down in the middle of the place to avoid being eaten by cave morays, you’ll know what I mean. The complex comes with a side-view and a top-down map of this area to help you picture the complex.

 

This sense of fantastic spelunking is absolutely amazing and enjoyable, and, more importantly, it rewards the exploration that is part of the central story angle: Thorough players can, for example, find a well-hidden cavern where the echoes of a dwarven deity’s words resound. This secret is rewarded well regarding scoring, and is but one aspect of the adventure. Aforementioned waterfall? Curious PCs that brave the tunnel can find a leaking decanter of endless water as the source, as well as the remains of a being. This commitment to details and player agenda over rolling the dice is evident in many details: Smart PCs can avoid combats and hazards, and exploration is thoroughly rewarded, and blends the plausible quasi-realism of spelunking with the wonderful magical sprinklings that made the best of the AD&D modules of old stand out. Danger and rewards are closely entwined, and player-skill trumps dice rolling.

 

PCs can accidentally flood passages with slightly acidic water, and from cramped spaces to vast differences in height, the cave complex is absolutely fantastic: In one cavern, the PCs may happen upon the resting place of Radivither the Breaker, a dwarf of the first generation, he who discovered theft, death, insanity and murder – a mighty impulse and spirit, he is not a combat encounter: Instead, Radivither acts as a kind of haunt/possessing, malignant entity – but encountering this deadly echo can also provide a great boon to the dwarves that hired the PCs. This commitment to focusing on player- as opposed to PC-agenda also can be found in the tunnel that allows the PCs to make their way to the second part of the module: To get there, the PCs have to pass a magical means that prevents access, seemingly preventing progress. The means to bypass this magic is to walk the corridor backwards. Really cool!

 

Part II of the adventure, the Hold of Dwergma, is a more conventional dungeon without the verticality of the cavern complex that preceded this place; the complex comes with a sewer system that clever PCs can (and should) use – for there is a mighty (and insane) cleric/magic-user here, one who can and will annihilate careless PCs if they do not take care…particularly since the fellow actually gets a detailed tactics breakdown. The PCs can encounter an animated stone fist with flawed intruder detection; hallucinatory tobacco, ancient tomes of lore (noted with title, weight and gp-value), a grue-like thing and a flail snail – the inhabitants are well chosen, the complex is smart and flavorful, and e.g. traps are telegraphed in a fair manner. That being said, this second part does not reach the amazing creativity of the first part of the module, feeling more like a classic denouement to the potentially fantastic things that you can encounter in the first half.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level; on a formal level, the pdf has a couple more typo-level glitches than usual for the series. Layout adheres to the classic two-column b/w-standard of the series, and we get a couple of solid b/w-artworks. The cartography is b/w and solid, and the existence of a side-view map of part I of the module is a plus. Due to the presence of the PCs-do-cartography-angle, I won’t complain about the lack of player-friendly maps. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Joseph Browning delivers pure old-school goodness in this module. Stonesky delve feels fantastic and plausible, evocative and dangerous, and remains, in spite of its harsh challenges, FAIR. This adventure rewards skillful players over good rolls of the bones, presents a great blend of strange flora and fauna and truly fantastic, hazard-laden caverns. The presence of consequences left and right, the constant rewarding of clever play, and the smart diversity of challenges faced all blend together to make the first part of this module downright amazing. Part II of the module falls a bit short of the fantastic wonder evoked by the first half on the adventure. The presentation of the helpful pregens is not exactly perfect, though. Still, as a whole, this most assuredly makes for one of the best adventures in the series – at least among those that I’ve covered so far. The first part is fantastic and warrants getting this adventure on its own; the second part, while not as strong, is still a good adventure. As a whole, one can consider this to be a great old-school module, well worth checking out, and as such, this receives a final verdict of 5 stars.

 

You can get this great spelunking trip in ancient, dwarven territory here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 302018
 

Languard Locations: Beyond the Walls

This installment of the Languard Locations-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Well, first things first: This pdf does contain a list of author biographies in the back that spans 1.5 pages – and this is a damn good thing as far as I’m concerned. Freelancers have it tough, and such sections help generate name recognition, so kudos for that! And yes, locations are noted by designers. A handy list of the locations with brief descriptions is also provided on the final 0.5 page before the author bios – and it makes sense that it’s here.

 

Anyhow, we do begin this pdf is a slightly different manner: On the first page, we discuss the surrounding lands of the city of Languard – the plains, hills and sea are all described in details here, allowing you to get a feel for the vicinity. The excellent map of Tommi Salama is also provided, with the city proper grayed out to highlight the locations that this pdf covers – you know, the ones outside the walls. A total of 12 such locations are presented.

 

As before in the series, each location does come with notable folks presented in a fluff-only manner. Only race and an approximate level suggestion as well as gender and alignment are stated. The PFRPG version, courtesy of the variations of the system, is the most versatile in these suggestions. Beyond that, each of the locales does come with one or more specific adventuring hooks, designed to kick off a diverse array of possibilities.

 

And this is where I need to interject something: As much as I enjoy Raging Swan Press’ gritty and down to earth style, I freely admit to being worried about this pdf. Why? Because the style is contingent on a sense of realism, and which places to put in front of the city, beyond the walls, can have pretty tangible effects and contradict what we know of medieval structures. So, does this break the conceit established by the series?

 

Well, the first location certainly makes sense: Tor’s Tannery does belong outside the walls. Historically, being a tanner was considered to be an unclean profession in Judeo-Christian influenced culture, and the scents emitted from tanning…well, let’s just say that it makes sense that it’s outside the walls. Tanneries aren’t depicted often enough, and this one actually has an interesting angle as well…not all is as it must seem. And before you ask: No, for once, the Tors are not the cliché standard serial killers/evil cultists. To the north of Languard’s walls, situated at the cliffs, a prophet of the churning waves makes proclamations of repentance and doom, hiding his name beyond the moniker of being the Mouthpiece of the Waves – and his message is gaining traction.

 

Gallen’s Lost Manor, a many-winged monstrosity of a mansion, makes for a perfect example of the sense of decrepitude that suffuses Raging Swan Press supplements so often; it is inhabited by the last member of the Gallen family, though, oddly, he does have a lot of visitors – who curiously can’t ever remember much about their visits. Now if you can’t make something creepy out of that one, I don’t know. Pungent Grove, maintained by an unhinged halfling druid, is a place that thrives on the refuse of Languard – though, once more, there is more to this than a story of an addled mind with a massive cockroach pet…

 

The Mother’s Garden is a megalithic open air farmer’s temple that focuses ritualistic power via Stonehenge like rings, a formation of ancient trees and cottages tended by the Daughters – a title that made me flash back to the classic 70s version of Wicker Man. But that may just be me. The Twisted Wreath is amazing: An ancient oak, once a hanging tree, now split by a bolt from the skies, bent by the weight of curses and sorrow, watched my Mother Illona, who crafts poppets and hangs them on the tree – cursing those that the poppets represent. This is amazing.

 

Heckler’s Hall is unique – part mobile circus, part jester’s academy and part rent-a-riot, this locale is led by the gnome Satu Tylik, and most assuredly makes for an interesting foil…or tool regarding the politicking going on in the city. There would also be a capable freight operation that is bound to have some gainful work for adventurers, and an out of city boarding house also makes sense: After all, the gates won’t be open all the time! Weary travelers can find the vandalized shrine of a barbaric god, tended by a lone caretaker, and just south of Languard, a stone shack is pierced by a mighty olive tree, where a rail-thin and pockmarked misanthrope sells herbs. The aptly-named Outside Inn is a traveler’s place that can be a great source of information when visiting Languard for the first time.

 

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports solid b/w-artworks. The cartography is great, and the city backdrop supplement does have a player-friendly version. The pdf is fully bookmarked and comes in two versions – one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer.

 

This pdf is the work of a surprising amount of authors: Christopher Bunge, Sam Cameron-McKee, Kim Frandsen, Christopher Hunt, Aaron King, Ben Martin, Rebecca McLaren, Hilary Moon Murphy, Adam Ness, Treyson Sanders, Kris Vezner, John Whyte. It is surprising, then, to note how unified the content feels. The locations outside of the walls are intriguing and captivating, blending the rural and the more metropolitan. Personally, I think that the entries that directly reference in some way Languard’s dynamics are the strongest. Where a sense of realism is enforced by businesses or dubious characters, where refuse makes for a disgusting grove, where enigmatic mansions may present a shadowy puppeteer behind the scenes, this is where the pdf excels. It is surprising, considering how many of these authors are names I don’t regularly encounter among my reviews, how refined and intriguing these entries are. So, all awesome? Well…almost. A couple of locations are off the map, and some traveling distance from the city gates would have been nice, but, as a whole, this is indeed a very good supplement. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!

 

Missed Languard? You can find it here!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 302018
 

Languard Locations: Beyond the Walls (5e)

This installment of the Languard Locations-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Well, first things first: This pdf does contain a list of author biographies in the back that spans 1.5 pages – and this is a damn good thing as far as I’m concerned. Freelancers have it tough, and such sections help generate name recognition, so kudos for that! And yes, locations are noted by designers. A handy list of the locations with brief descriptions is also provided on the final 0.5 page before the author bios – and it makes sense that it’s here.

 

Anyhow, we do begin this pdf is a slightly different manner: On the first page, we discuss the surrounding lands of the city of Languard – the plains, hills and sea are all described in details here, allowing you to get a feel for the vicinity. The excellent map of Tommi Salama is also provided, with the city proper grayed out to highlight the locations that this pdf covers – you know, the ones outside the walls. A total of 12 such locations are presented.

 

As before in the series, each location does come with notable folks presented in a fluff-only manner. Only race and an approximate level suggestion as well as gender and alignment are stated. In the 5e iteration of the file, these pieces of information point towards the proper NPC default stats. Beyond that, each of the locales does come with one or more specific adventuring hooks, designed to kick off a diverse array of possibilities.

 

And this is where I need to interject something: As much as I enjoy Raging Swan Press’ gritty and down to earth style, I freely admit to being worried about this pdf. Why? Because the style is contingent on a sense of realism, and which places to put in front of the city, beyond the walls, can have pretty tangible effects and contradict what we know of medieval structures. So, does this break the conceit established by the series?

 

Well, the first location certainly makes sense: Tor’s Tannery does belong outside the walls. Historically, being a tanner was considered to be an unclean profession in Judeo-Christian influenced culture, and the scents emitted from tanning…well, let’s just say that it makes sense that it’s outside the walls. Tanneries aren’t depicted often enough, and this one actually has an interesting angle as well…not all is as it must seem. And before you ask: No, for once, the Tors are not the cliché standard serial killers/evil cultists. To the north of Languard’s walls, situated at the cliffs, a prophet of the churning waves makes proclamations of repentance and doom, hiding his name beyond the moniker of being the Mouthpiece of the Waves – and his message is gaining traction.

 

Gallen’s Lost Manor, a many-winged monstrosity of a mansion, makes for a perfect example of the sense of decrepitude that suffuses Raging Swan Press supplements so often; it is inhabited by the last member of the Gallen family, though, oddly, he does have a lot of visitors – who curiously can’t ever remember much about their visits. Now if you can’t make something creepy out of that one, I don’t know. Pungent Grove, maintained by an unhinged halfling druid, is a place that thrives on the refuse of Languard – though, once more, there is more to this than a story of an addled mind with a massive cockroach pet…

 

The Mother’s Garden is a megalithic open air farmer’s temple that focuses ritualistic power via Stonehenge like rings, a formation of ancient trees and cottages tended by the Daughters – a title that made me flash back to the classic 70s version of Wicker Man. But that may just be me. The Twisted Wreath is amazing: An ancient oak, once a hanging tree, now split by a bolt from the skies, bent by the weight of curses and sorrow, watched my Mother Illona, who crafts poppets and hangs them on the tree – cursing those that the poppets represent. This is amazing.

 

Heckler’s Hall is unique – part mobile circus, part jester’s academy and part rent-a-riot, this locale is led by the gnome Satu Tylik, and most assuredly makes for an interesting foil…or tool regarding the politicking going on in the city. There would also be a capable freight operation that is bound to have some gainful work for adventurers, and an out of city boarding house also makes sense: After all, the gates won’t be open all the time! Weary travelers can find the vandalized shrine of a barbaric god, tended by a lone caretaker, and just south of Languard, a stone shack is pierced by a mighty olive tree, where a rail-thin and pockmarked misanthrope sells herbs. The aptly-named Outside Inn is a traveler’s place that can be a great source of information when visiting Languard for the first time.

 

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports solid b/w-artworks. The cartography is great, and the city backdrop supplement does have a player-friendly version. The pdf is fully bookmarked and comes in two versions – one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer.

 

This pdf is the work of a surprising amount of authors: Christopher Bunge, Sam Cameron-McKee, Kim Frandsen, Christopher Hunt, Aaron King, Ben Martin, Rebecca McLaren, Hilary Moon Murphy, Adam Ness, Treyson Sanders, Kris Vezner, John Whyte. It is surprising, then, to note how unified the content feels. The locations outside of the walls are intriguing and captivating, blending the rural and the more metropolitan. Personally, I think that the entries that directly reference in some way Languard’s dynamics are the strongest. Where a sense of realism is enforced by businesses or dubious characters, where refuse makes for a disgusting grove, where enigmatic mansions may present a shadowy puppeteer behind the scenes, this is where the pdf excels. It is surprising, considering how many of these authors are names I don’t regularly encounter among my reviews, how refined and intriguing these entries are. So, all awesome? Well…almost. A couple of locations are off the map, and some traveling distance from the city gates would have been nice, but, as a whole, this is indeed a very good supplement. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!

 

Missed the city supplement? You can find it here!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 302018
 

Languard Locations: Beyond the Walls (system neutral)

This installment of the Languard Locations-series clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Well, first things first: This pdf does contain a list of author biographies in the back that spans 1.5 pages – and this is a damn good thing as far as I’m concerned. Freelancers have it tough, and such sections help generate name recognition, so kudos for that! And yes, locations are noted by designers. A handy list of the locations with brief descriptions is also provided on the final 0.5 page before the author bios – and it makes sense that it’s here.

 

Anyhow, we do begin this pdf is a slightly different manner: On the first page, we discuss the surrounding lands of the city of Languard – the plains, hills and sea are all described in details here, allowing you to get a feel for the vicinity. The excellent map of Tommi Salama is also provided, with the city proper grayed out to highlight the locations that this pdf covers – you know, the ones outside the walls. A total of 12 such locations are presented.

 

As before in the series, each location does come with notable folks presented in a fluff-only manner. Only race and an approximate level suggestion as well as gender and alignment are stated. In the system neutral version, proper old-school class names are noted. Beyond that, each of the locales does come with one or more specific adventuring hooks, designed to kick off a diverse array of possibilities.

 

And this is where I need to interject something: As much as I enjoy Raging Swan Press’ gritty and down to earth style, I freely admit to being worried about this pdf. Why? Because the style is contingent on a sense of realism, and which places to put in front of the city, beyond the walls, can have pretty tangible effects and contradict what we know of medieval structures. So, does this break the conceit established by the series?

 

Well, the first location certainly makes sense: Tor’s Tannery does belong outside the walls. Historically, being a tanner was considered to be an unclean profession in Judeo-Christian influenced culture, and the scents emitted from tanning…well, let’s just say that it makes sense that it’s outside the walls. Tanneries aren’t depicted often enough, and this one actually has an interesting angle as well…not all is as it must seem. And before you ask: No, for once, the Tors are not the cliché standard serial killers/evil cultists. To the north of Languard’s walls, situated at the cliffs, a prophet of the churning waves makes proclamations of repentance and doom, hiding his name beyond the moniker of being the Mouthpiece of the Waves – and his message is gaining traction.

 

Gallen’s Lost Manor, a many-winged monstrosity of a mansion, makes for a perfect example of the sense of decrepitude that suffuses Raging Swan Press supplements so often; it is inhabited by the last member of the Gallen family, though, oddly, he does have a lot of visitors – who curiously can’t ever remember much about their visits. Now if you can’t make something creepy out of that one, I don’t know. Pungent Grove, maintained by an unhinged halfling druid, is a place that thrives on the refuse of Languard – though, once more, there is more to this than a story of an addled mind with a massive cockroach pet…

 

The Mother’s Garden is a megalithic open air farmer’s temple that focuses ritualistic power via Stonehenge like rings, a formation of ancient trees and cottages tended by the Daughters – a title that made me flash back to the classic 70s version of Wicker Man. But that may just be me. The Twisted Wreath is amazing: An ancient oak, once a hanging tree, now split by a bolt from the skies, bent by the weight of curses and sorrow, watched my Mother Illona, who crafts poppets and hangs them on the tree – cursing those that the poppets represent. This is amazing.

 

Heckler’s Hall is unique – part mobile circus, part jester’s academy and part rent-a-riot, this locale is led by the gnome Satu Tylik, and most assuredly makes for an interesting foil…or tool regarding the politicking going on in the city. There would also be a capable freight operation that is bound to have some gainful work for adventurers, and an out of city boarding house also makes sense: After all, the gates won’t be open all the time! Weary travelers can find the vandalized shrine of a barbaric god, tended by a lone caretaker, and just south of Languard, a stone shack is pierced by a mighty olive tree, where a rail-thin and pockmarked misanthrope sells herbs. The aptly-named Outside Inn is a traveler’s place that can be a great source of information when visiting Languard for the first time.

 

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports solid b/w-artworks. The cartography is great, and the city backdrop supplement does have a player-friendly version. The pdf is fully bookmarked and comes in two versions – one optimized for screen-use and one that has been optimized for the printer.

 

This pdf is the work of a surprising amount of authors: Christopher Bunge, Sam Cameron-McKee, Kim Frandsen, Christopher Hunt, Aaron King, Ben Martin, Rebecca McLaren, Hilary Moon Murphy, Adam Ness, Treyson Sanders, Kris Vezner, John Whyte. It is surprising, then, to note how unified the content feels. The locations outside of the walls are intriguing and captivating, blending the rural and the more metropolitan. Personally, I think that the entries that directly reference in some way Languard’s dynamics are the strongest. Where a sense of realism is enforced by businesses or dubious characters, where refuse makes for a disgusting grove, where enigmatic mansions may present a shadowy puppeteer behind the scenes, this is where the pdf excels. It is surprising, considering how many of these authors are names I don’t regularly encounter among my reviews, how refined and intriguing these entries are. So, all awesome? Well…almost. A couple of locations are off the map, and some traveling distance from the city gates would have been nice, but, as a whole, this is indeed a very good supplement. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!

 

Missed the city supplement? You can get it here!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 292018
 

The Secret Weapons Project (SFRPG)

This humble pdf clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page of which is devoted to the front cover, leaving us with 4 pages of content, designed by James Sutter with Jonathan Weisnewski and Jonathan G. Nelson. Wait…yep, the same James Sutter who happens to be Starfinder’s creative lead!

 

The first item (with full and proper artwork, btw.) presented would be the combustion lance – and yes, we do get a cool, in-character prose section that contextualizes the weapon in the game. 4 different versions of combustion-lances are provided: At item level 2, we have the ignition class, while the most potent version would be the level 11 megaton class. These are advanced, two-handed, powered weapons with reach. They are unwieldy and on a successful attack, all creatures adjacent to the target must make a Ref-save or take damage equal to that dealt to the original target. To balance this, the base damage output is less than what you’d expect. (The DC is standardized as per the core rules pg 181, just in case you were wondering.)

 

The second weapon similarly gets a nice prose section that helps make it stand out – this time around, that would be the RD implosion grenade, which comes in 5 different versions: The basic one is a level 1 grenade for 120 credits, while the fifth version is a level 18 grenade, lovingly known as “Black Hole”: These explode in a blast radius, and then such targets towards the grid intersection where it detonated. A save negates this, and distance depends on the item’s version. Really cool!

 

An overheard conversation introduces us to the grapnel harpoon, which comes in 4 different versions, ranging from item level 2 to 14, with damage ranging from 1d6 P to 5d4 P. When you successfully damage a target, you have established a connection to the being, and then may activate the harpoon as a move action. You make an opposed Strength check with a +4 bonus. (Shouldn’t that be an insight bonus?) On a success, the creature is roped towards the closest unoccupied square adjacent to your, being drawn to you in a straight line. If you fail by 5 or more, you can end up being disarmed or be moved towards the creature. The weapon can only harpoon one target at a given time.

 

Reactive panels come in three Mks, (level 6, 8 and 10), occupy 2 slots and may be installed in heavy and powered armor. These grant you a number of temporary Hit Points that apply only to the three physical damage types (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing). Additionally, all creatures adjacent to you, must make a Reflex saving throw or take the same amount of damage as that prevent by these temporary hit points. Once the panels are depleted, they require 1 minute to recharge, taking up one of the charges. The temporary hit points budget ranges from 5 Hit Points to 15. Usage is 5, though, so yeah, these are battery guzzlers… Plates have 1 Bulk.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the pdf sports one amazing, original full-color artwork for every weapon – kudos! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

Fun piece of trivia: All of the folks involved are musicians as well! Jonathan Weisnewski is the gunsmith for the Destiny franchise and is responsible for vocals and guitar for the band Sandrider. (Pretty kickass, imho!); Jonathan G. Nelson’s band is “A Different Breed of Men”, where he is responsible for drums and vocals, and James Sutter plays guitar and sings for “Brides of the Lizard God.” And yes, these are well worth checking out!

 

But I digress! This humble pdf’s weapons have in common that the well-crafted prose renders them more than just a collection of stats – and that each and every one of them does something unique that no other weapon does! Combined with the amazing artworks, we get a sweet little pdf of all killer, no filler weaponry. Totally worth 5 stars + seal of approval!

 

You can get these cool weapons here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 292018
 

Lost Spells of Canthar – 10 Conjurations

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Okay, some notes first: This review is, in a way, not necessarily fair. This pdf has been released quite a while back, and as such, the spells do not note whether they should be made available for the Advanced Class Guide classes or the Occult Adventures classes. In a way, this review is a check of how this held up. The supplement, one could claim, is a continuation of the Transcendent 10-series, which is why I will tag them as such on my home page. In contrast to the designer’s commentary present in said series, we have we have a mixture of brief pieces of fluff, explanations and in-character comments here. Since I really adored some of the rough, but still very much inspired options in the Transcendent 10-series, how do the spells within hold up?

 

Jaunt portal, a level 5 spell for sorcerers and wizards that lets you think with portals: You create a portal in close and one in medium range, creating basically a two-way portal. Love it! And yes, this does take velocity into account and handles overlap by basing its rules on the portal consuming movement and potentially requiring squeezing. This certainly holds up! Caravan portal is a level 6 sorcerer/wizard spell, save that it extends to a greater range, as implied by the name. This spell can change the mechanisms of fantasy economies rather drastically, so a GM should check whether this fits the respective creative vision of the setting.

 

Gas trap is a 4th level spell that most vampire hunters will consider to be rather helpful. This touch spell targets a gaseous creature and entraps it in a force barrier, allowing the caster to bottle or similar container. Personally, I do think that inquisitors should get this spell. Minor nitpick: There is an instance of an ability score not properly capitalized. There also is a mass version of this spell included. Recall companion lets you call an ally to your side, though you must have had mental or physical contact. This is a simple 5th level spell /4th for summoner) at first glance, but honestly, it can be a game-changer – and it does allow for the classic “evil wizard calls champion”-angle. I am a bit torn on this one, but ultimately, I do like it. The level 8 (level 6 for summoners) mass version of the spell, oddly, has a restriction the regular one does not: It only works for Medium creatures (size not properly formatted) – which kinda makes me think that the former spell probably was intended to have the same limitation.

 

Summon weapon, a second level spell for sorc/wiz and summoner summons a weapon with a scaling enhancement bonus, which also governs the special weapon abilities it can have. (These are not properly formatted in the flavortext.) Interesting, though: If you *know* the weapon to call, the spell succeeds; if not, there only is a percentile chance of calling it. This, in a way, can be problematic, as it doesn’t create a weapon, but instead temporarily steals one from a vault. This can, on the one side, wreck a carefully-crafted plot…or it can allow you to craft a rather amazing magical mystery-scenario. Translocation trick teleports a small item away, and can be used in conjunction with Sleight of Hand. Transport, at 3rd level, nets you charges that duplicate translocation trick on objects, dimension door on creatures – and the latter is problematic. The spell should, balance-wise, be at least level 4. Finally, true creation, only available for clerics and sorcs/wizards capable of casting the lofty heights of level 9 spells, and it nets you…creation. Permanent. And yes, lost bodies or even living creatures are possible here, though the latter lacks any meaningful guidelines.

 

Conclusion:

Editing is rather good on a formal and rules-language level, but formatting flaunts conventions rather often. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf uses distorted stock art as artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

Donald J. Decker’s lost spells contain some gems that actually still hold up very well, even after all of this time. They are high-impact spells, exotics that can fuel adventures or radically, if broadly available, change the dynamics of how your world works…or allow you to finally present some distinctly high-fantasy concepts. As a whole, this is still well worth getting. It is raw regarding its formal criteria, but it also sports this gleeful excitement that renders it more interesting than I frankly expected it to be. hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

 

You can get these raw, but also rather interesting and creative spells here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 292018
 

Jaws of the Jhambizaur

This adventure for Skybourne clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

All right, first things first: This adventure makes use of a lot of material from the Player’s Guide to Skybourne, so if some of these races and terms seem odd to you, that’s why.

Before I dive into the adventure’s plot, I should note that the pdf includes 4 magic items and a mundane item – the latter being the fang pistol, which is a more expensive flintlock pistol with really costly ammo – however, it does cause 1 bleed damage. The lesser ancestral fang increases slapping tail damage die size; odd: the write-up mentions a greater version, but the item fails to specify requirements or costs for that version. A spell-reference is also not italicized. The item can only be used by cherufe.

The feathered cape can be gripped with both hands for ½ speed fly speed and poor maneuverability, using Acrobatics instead of Fly. The magma heart nets simultaneously the benefits of elemental body I (earth) and (fire). The sanguine gorget allows wearers to, as a swift action, bite (1d4) a pinned target, which is automatically hit. That…is not something that usually happens in PFRPG. The wearer thus also gains temporary hit points, but risk frenzying for 1 minute, with fatigue thereafter. Not a fan of this item; its design could have been handled more elegantly. There is another magic item within, but more on that one later.

 

All right, this being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, just GMs around? Great!

This module begins with the PCs happening upon a halfling obviously in peril; this would be a man named Hadrid, who requests aid from the PCs to get to the cherufe village Avarudies; he makes a generous offer, courtesy of owning a magic item shop, but conspicuously mentions that the PCs should not use the airship docks, instead making their way on a different route into the settlement atop the mesa. Three paths are provided, and if they don’t hurry, they may well attract the attention of their first jhāmbi-raptor. After this simple escort mission, the PCs enter Hadrid’s shop in the settlement – only to have it surrounded by guards, dragging them off towards the chief, who, oddly, has the rough guards leave and then proceeds to free the PCs to explain the situation. There is a growing sense of unrest and paranoia, and some have accused Hadrid of being the culprit of the mysterious curse plaguing the nearby jungle. The settlement is briefly discussed, and no map is provided of it, which is a bit of a pity. The settlement does get a mostly functional statblock, though it is incomplete, lacking the alignment and size line.

 

The write-up does contain some notes on local villagers, and the module assumes that striking up a conversation will have the GM roll a secret Charisma check – on a success, a tidbit of information, the only relevant one to be gleaned, is learned. A more complex or interesting flow-chart, or an investigation that actually takes player-actions into account would have been nice here. Making the check irrelevant regarding PC behavior and ideas is not something I particularly like or consider to be rewarding adventure design. The diviner Mokwori, to whom the trail leads, is a pawn, but one that has a huge Bluff-check, thanks to a ring of glibness. This item is also a minor bottleneck to bear in mind – the module assumes that the PCs have no means to notice it. At the end of the first day of investigation, jhāmbi-raptors and jhāmbi-pteranodons attack the village! Oddly, the encounter doesn’t at least briefly, note the number of assailants bolded with a pointer towards the statblocks, requiring close-reading of the actual text; similarly, only the total number of attacking critters is provided, not the number the PCs get to actually face. A quick sidebattle resolution note is provided, though.

 

During the battle, the most esoteric/psychic/etc. PC is drawn into a mindscape by the ghost that has haunted the chieftain – this is scripted, and does not take the mindscape mechanics into account. The ghost flatly states that the aforementioned diviner has fallen under the influence of a great evil – and said diviner is, coincidentally “kidnapped” by one of the jhāmbi-pteranodons. The exactly locations and logistics here are somewhat opaque, courtesy of the lack of maps, and this sequence cannot be prevented RAW. If the PCs noticed the ring and attempted to bring the diviner to the chief, a reasonable course of action, the module derails rather hard.

 

From suspicion to wholehearted embrace takes but this one battle, and in the aftermath, the PCs will need to venture into the jungle, and the jungle indeed comes with 3 rather cool hazards that help generate the sense of hostility that Skybourne’s forests are supposed to evoke. The PCs seem to be hounded by the undead dinosaurs that otherwise would be enemies to one another – towards a waterfall, where the jhāmbizaur, the massive brute and source of the curse, has killed the diviner and awaits the PCs to kill them and assert “total dominance” – the premise for why the entity doesn’t have the undead dinos swarm and annihilate the PCs seemed somewhat flimsy to me. If the creature is defeated, the other monsters turn on themselves – unless you’re going with the alternate end-game, where the airship turns up after the jhāmbizaur’s destroyed, enabling the PCs to engage in a harrowing escape. That one would have made much more sense to develop, but remains a footnote.

Personally, I think most groups would get the ship as soon as possible, making the sequence here awkward. The reward for the quest would be golden hearts – items sans slots that merge with the PCs, granting 13 temporary hit points for a minute after the PCs are reduced to 0 hit points. The hearts have no daily limit on how often they can be used, have no cooldown, and are thus, mechanically, problematic. The pdf concludes with further adventuring ideas and stats for the local guards, the undead dinos and the CR +2 jhāmbi-template.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf is somewhat less impressive in the crunchy bits. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the undead dino-artworks by Jacob Blackmon rock. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, but really suffers from its lack of any maps whatsoever – ever very basic b/w plans would have helped render the village more interesting.

 

Mike Myler does evocative, buttkicking concepts really well – and the elevator-pitch for this adventure is great: ”Undead dinosaurs!” – What’s not to love? Unfortunately, the execution of the adventure is less impressive than the amazing concept deserved. The module feels like a rough draft, a sketch waiting to be filled up, feels like a case of “This’ll do.” The adventure is brief and thus required concise writing – but that’s no excuse for its weaknesses. I can note several shorter OSR-modules or Society scenarios that provide more player agenda. The issue here, from a structural perspective is, that after the slightly modular introduction, the rest of the module is a very, very narrow railroad. The actions of the PCs, ultimately, do not matter at all during the investigation sequence. Thereafter, the jungle-trek, while spiced up with cool hazards, ultimately is yet another extended cut-scene. This is basically Telltale Games design – present an interesting concept/story, generate the illusion of choice and let the cut-scenes roll; combat is spliced in, sure, but it almost feels like a JRPG interrupting the linear story with combat encounters in their own engine; two aspects of the game that are more or less divorced from one another, if you will.

 

That alone would not suffice to sink the concept, but this is a module for Skybourne…and promptly takes the frickin’ airships, the central selling point of the setting, what sets it apart, and cuts them from the whole deal, relegates them to window dressing. I absolutely don’t get the rationale behind this. Worse, the railroad presented fails to grasp how owning an airship will undoubtedly change the ways the PCs tackle conflicts and challenges…like, you know, an undead dino-army in a cursed forest. Who in their right mind wouldn’t take the damn ship and its artillery with them? This module feels like sketch onto which Skybourne was painted as window-dressing; even if you eliminate all the Skybourne-specifics, you’re still left with a railroad sans player-agenda. The great concept deserved better. My final verdict can’t exceed 2 stars.

 

You can get this adventure here on OBS.

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 282018
 

Languard Locations: High City

This installment of the Languard Locations series, which details the different districts of the city of Languard in more detail, clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We have taken a look at where the unfortunate dwell, so let’s move to the other side of the Svart that almost bisects the town, let us take a look at where Languard’s elite dwells – and as such, we begin with an overview of the noble families of Languard, supplement by a half-page b/w-artwork. This section is followed by an excerpt from Tommi Salama’s excellent map of the city, which notes the respective points of interest of this section of Languard.

 

The pdf contains no less than 10 locations, depicted in detail, following the formula established by the series. Beyond the description of the respective locations, NPCs encountered are noted (with race and class suggestions in brackets) in a fluff-centric manner, and the locations all come with their own adventure hooks, should PCs wandering into them not suffice for you to jumpstart your adventuring impulses. It should be noted that all these locations are new.

 

All right, but what sights are there to be seen in the High City of Languard? Well, there would an immaculately pristine jeweler’s shop for the upper class – though, if you do dig a bit deeper, there will be plenty of adventuring possible here. As the center of commerce in the Duchy of Ashlar, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, that there indeed is a proper bank to be found here – which, if you’ve e.g. played the classic entries of the once-great Thief: The Dark Project franchise, should immediately get your creative juices flowing. Yes, it has underground vaults. Of course, it would be unseeming to bring animals to certain locations, and a proper member of the well-to-do will want a steed representative of the proper status. Well, a prized horse from Miya’s stables would be the Languardian equivalent of a proper sports car – and yes, stabling costs are noted and account for more exotic companions.

 

Utterly hilarious would be a fine bakery for the distinguished, which would be a prime target for assassination attempts, were it not for the fact that those that know how to ask can actually gain the attention of special employees. Excess breeds demand and decadence, and as far as culinary delights are concerned, you probably can’t do better than the Dragonheart tavern in Languard. Here, bulette flank, cockatrice eggs and the like may be ordered – which, obviously, results in a rather major demand for adventurers willing to risk life and limb to acquire these exotic oddities for the distinguished gourmands among the city’s populace.

 

A local favorite, part baker, part alchemist and weird, with alembics and cauldrons, Old Mother Grumm’s sells everything from fruitcake to elixirs of love, all made by the matronly and kind-hearted old lady-wizard the shop’s named for. This place btw. also notes proper magic items for sale. And yes, if you are looking for a fine yarn and have the coin to spare, then you’ll find a place that caters to these demands in the High City as well: Needle’s Poise provides just that – supplemented by a proper b/w-artwork, btw. Easily one of the most outré places in the whole city, the “Emerald Medusa” is a multi-decked sailing ship turned festhall/eatery. The intricately-carved medusa emits beams of colored light from its lenses, and it is here that decadent nobles come to politick, weave intrigues or impress adventurers. And yes, there is a means to actually make the obvious disco-angle narratively-relevant. Kudos!! Pharran’s Shroud, then, would obviously cater to another sort of vice: Run by a silk-shrouded lady of unknown origins, this place would be Languard’s high-class brothel – and in an interesting twist, said shrouded mistress is actually not an entity with a petrifying or similarly devastating gaze attack, but something more rewarding to unearth…

 

The Ruby Plate would be another culinary establishment, but one that focuses on showmanship, a place where experimental foods may be ordered. What about an assassin berry vine, for example? I know I’d try that…

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports quite a lot of rather nice b/w-artworks. The excerpt from the map is neat, and since the city supplement itself featured the key-less player-friendly version, none is required here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use, and one for the printer.

 

Languard’s High City, to me, felt, in an interesting twist, distinctly American in its focus on consumption. “Are you still hungry?”, the question for ambition, for success, uses an obvious simile with consumption, and indeed, consumption, if anything, is the leitmotif of this district, which should make for a rather sharp contrast in comparison to the poorer regions of the city. The map, with its broader streets and less cramped environments, also emphasizes this – but perhaps that’s just me. I’m still flabbergasted and blown away by the vastness of the US – both in landscape, and in the sheer availability of pretty much anything the heart could desire. But this could just be my own interpretation of the pdf penned by Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood, Amber Underwood and Mike Welham.

 

And, to make that clear, I do think that this fits in PERFECTLY within the context of Languard. The High City is unique and has its own flair, one that manages to be both part of Languard and distinct from its other components. The city, as a whole, is enriched by the thematically-stringent focus on the Leitmotif – and in a world where magics exist, the presence of a place like the Emerald Medusa, easily my favorite place alongside Grumm’s, makes sense on so many levels, and also allows you to inject a bit of the weird into the grime and grit of the poorer regions. It generates a contrast that highlights the global motifs of Languard even better. It works because it is this weird place in an otherwise rather grounded area, and because it is rather realistic in how it presents its weirdness. I love it. In short, the High City of Languard is a great place to dive into some serious intrigue, to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful, and to shake your head at the decadence of the aristocracy. A great and unique region, this retains the exceedingly high standard of the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can join Languard’s elite here on OBS!

 

Missed the languard-supplement? You can get it here!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 282018
 

Languard Locations: High City (5e)

This installment of the Languard Locations series, which details the different districts of the city of Languard in more detail, clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We have taken a look at where the unfortunate dwell, so let’s move to the other side of the Svart that almost bisects the town, let us take a look at where Languard’s elite dwells – and as such, we begin with an overview of the noble families of Languard, supplement by a half-page b/w-artwork. This section is followed by an excerpt from Tommi Salama’s excellent map of the city, which notes the respective points of interest of this section of Languard.

 

The pdf contains no less than 10 locations, depicted in detail, following the formula established by the series. Beyond the description of the respective locations, NPCs encountered are noted (in 5e, these mostly point towards the default NPC statblocks) in a fluff-centric manner, and the locations all come with their own adventure hooks, should PCs wandering into them not suffice for you to jumpstart your adventuring impulses.

 

All right, but what sights are there to be seen in the High City of Languard? Well, there would an immaculately pristine jeweler’s shop for the upper class – though, if you do dig a bit deeper, there will be plenty of adventuring possible here. As the center of commerce in the Duchy of Ashlar, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, that there indeed is a proper bank to be found here – which, if you’ve e.g. played the classic entries of the once-great Thief: The Dark Project franchise, should immediately get your creative juices flowing. Yes, it has underground vaults. Of course, it would be unseeming to bring animals to certain locations, and a proper member of the well-to-do will want a steed representative of the proper status. Well, a prized horse from Miya’s stables would be the Languardian equivalent of a proper sports car – and yes, stabling costs are noted and account for more exotic companions.

 

Utterly hilarious would be a fine bakery for the distinguished, which would be a prime target for assassination attempts, were it not for the fact that those that know how to ask can actually gain the attention of special employees. Excess breeds demand and decadence, and as far as culinary delights are concerned, you probably can’t do better than the Dragonheart tavern in Languard. Here, bulette flank, cockatrice eggs and the like may be ordered – which, obviously, results in a rather major demand for adventurers willing to risk life and limb to acquire these exotic oddities for the distinguished gourmands among the city’s populace.

 

A local favorite, part baker, part alchemist and weird, with alembics and cauldrons, Old Mother Grumm’s sells everything from fruitcake to elixirs of love, all made by the matronly and kind-hearted old lady-wizard the shop’s named for. This place btw. also notes proper magic items for sale, which have been properly adjusted for 5e, though, alas, the flavor text here hasn’t properly adjusted the names of the potions it refers to.

And yes, if you are looking for a fine yarn and have the coin to spare, then you’ll find a place that caters to these demands in the High City as well: Needle’s Poise provides just that – supplemented by a proper b/w-artwork, btw. Easily one of the most outré places in the whole city, the “Emerald Medusa” is a multi-decked sailing ship turned festhall/eatery. The intricately-carved medusa emits beams of colored light from its lenses, and it is here that decadent nobles come to politick, weave intrigues or impress adventurers. And yes, there is a means to actually make the obvious disco-angle narratively-relevant. Kudos!! Pharran’s Shroud, then, would obviously cater to another sort of vice: Run by a silk-shrouded lady of unknown origins, this place would be Languard’s high-class brothel – and in an interesting twist, said shrouded mistress is actually not an entity with a petrifying or similarly devastating gaze attack, but something more rewarding to unearth…

 

The Ruby Plate would be another culinary establishment, but one that focuses on showmanship, a place where experimental foods may be ordered. What about an assassin berry vine, for example? I know I’d try that…

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports quite a lot of rather nice b/w-artworks. The excerpt from the map is neat, and since the city supplement itself featured the key-less player-friendly version, none is required here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use, and one for the printer.

 

Languard’s High City, to me, felt, in an interesting twist, distinctly American in its focus on consumption. “Are you still hungry?”, the question for ambition, for success, uses an obvious simile with consumption, and indeed, consumption, if anything, is the leitmotif of this district, which should make for a rather sharp contrast in comparison to the poorer regions of the city. The map, with its broader streets and less cramped environments, also emphasizes this – but perhaps that’s just me. I’m still flabbergasted and blown away by the vastness of the US – both in landscape, and in the sheer availability of pretty much anything the heart could desire. But this could just be my own interpretation of the pdf penned by Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood, Amber Underwood and Mike Welham.

 

And, to make that clear, I do think that this fits in PERFECTLY within the context of Languard. The High City is unique and has its own flair, one that manages to be both part of Languard and distinct from its other components. The city, as a whole, is enriched by the thematically-stringent focus on the Leitmotif – and in a world where magics exist, the presence of a place like the Emerald Medusa, easily my favorite place alongside Grumm’s, makes sense on so many levels, and also allows you to inject a bit of the weird into the grime and grit of the poorer regions. It generates a contrast that highlights the global motifs of Languard even better. It works because it is this weird place in an otherwise rather grounded area, and because it is rather realistic in how it presents its weirdness. I love it. In short, the High City of Languard is a great place to dive into some serious intrigue, to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful, and to shake your head at the decadence of the aristocracy. A great and unique region, this retains the exceedingly high standard of the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, only omitting my seal of approval for the 5e-version due to the missed references in the flavor-text mentioned above.

 

You can visit this cool place here on OBS!

 

Missed Languard? You can find it here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 282018
 

Languard Locations: High City (system neutral)

This installment of the Languard Locations series, which details the different districts of the city of Languard in more detail, clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We have taken a look at where the unfortunate dwell, so let’s move to the other side of the Svart that almost bisects the town, let us take a look at where Languard’s elite dwells – and as such, we begin with an overview of the noble families of Languard, supplement by a half-page b/w-artwork. This section is followed by an excerpt from Tommi Salama’s excellent map of the city, which notes the respective points of interest of this section of Languard.

 

The pdf contains no less than 10 locations, depicted in detail, following the formula established by the series. Beyond the description of the respective locations, NPCs encountered are noted (with race and/or class suggestions, properly adjusted to represent old-school classes) in a fluff-centric manner, and the locations all come with their own adventure hooks, should PCs wandering into them not suffice for you to jumpstart your adventuring impulses. It should be noted that all these locations are new.

 

All right, but what sights are there to be seen in the High City of Languard? Well, there would an immaculately pristine jeweler’s shop for the upper class – though, if you do dig a bit deeper, there will be plenty of adventuring possible here. As the center of commerce in the Duchy of Ashlar, it shouldn’t come as a surprise, that there indeed is a proper bank to be found here – which, if you’ve e.g. played the classic entries of the once-great Thief: The Dark Project franchise, should immediately get your creative juices flowing. Yes, it has underground vaults. Of course, it would be unseeming to bring animals to certain locations, and a proper member of the well-to-do will want a steed representative of the proper status. Well, a prized horse from Miya’s stables would be the Languardian equivalent of a proper sports car – and yes, stabling costs are noted and account for more exotic companions.

 

Utterly hilarious would be a fine bakery for the distinguished, which would be a prime target for assassination attempts, were it not for the fact that those that know how to ask can actually gain the attention of special employees. Excess breeds demand and decadence, and as far as culinary delights are concerned, you probably can’t do better than the Dragonheart tavern in Languard. Here, bulette flank, cockatrice eggs and the like may be ordered – which, obviously, results in a rather major demand for adventurers willing to risk life and limb to acquire these exotic oddities for the distinguished gourmands among the city’s populace.

 

A local favorite, part baker, part alchemist and weird, with alembics and cauldrons, Old Mother Grumm’s sells everything from fruitcake to philtres of love, all made by the matronly and kind-hearted old lady-wizard the shop’s named for. As you can glean from the above, the items have been properly renamed to refer to classic, old-school items – but, alas, this renaming has not been consistently applied: There are references to the PFRPG items remaining in the flavor-text.

 

This place btw. also notes proper magic items for sale. And yes, if you are looking for a fine yarn and have the coin to spare, then you’ll find a place that caters to these demands in the High City as well: Needle’s Poise provides just that – supplemented by a proper b/w-artwork, btw. Easily one of the most outré places in the whole city, the “Emerald Medusa” is a multi-decked sailing ship turned festhall/eatery. The intricately-carved medusa emits beams of colored light from its lenses, and it is here that decadent nobles come to politick, weave intrigues or impress adventurers. And yes, there is a means to actually make the obvious disco-angle narratively-relevant. Kudos!! Pharran’s Shroud, then, would obviously cater to another sort of vice: Run by a silk-shrouded lady of unknown origins, this place would be Languard’s high-class brothel – and in an interesting twist, said shrouded mistress is actually not an entity with a petrifying or similarly devastating gaze attack, but something more rewarding to unearth…

 

The Ruby Plate would be another culinary establishment, but one that focuses on showmanship, a place where experimental foods may be ordered. What about an assassin berry vine, for example? I know I’d try that…

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports quite a lot of rather nice b/w-artworks. The excerpt from the map is neat, and since the city supplement itself featured the key-less player-friendly version, none is required here. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and the pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use, and one for the printer.

 

Languard’s High City, to me, felt, in an interesting twist, distinctly American in its focus on consumption. “Are you still hungry?”, the question for ambition, for success, uses an obvious simile with consumption, and indeed, consumption, if anything, is the leitmotif of this district, which should make for a rather sharp contrast in comparison to the poorer regions of the city. The map, with its broader streets and less cramped environments, also emphasizes this – but perhaps that’s just me. I’m still flabbergasted and blown away by the vastness of the US – both in landscape, and in the sheer availability of pretty much anything the heart could desire. But this could just be my own interpretation of the pdf penned by Creighton Broadhurst, Jeff Gomez, Steve Hood, Amber Underwood and Mike Welham.

 

And, to make that clear, I do think that this fits in PERFECTLY within the context of Languard. The High City is unique and has its own flair, one that manages to be both part of Languard and distinct from its other components. The city, as a whole, is enriched by the thematically-stringent focus on the Leitmotif – and in a world where magics exist, the presence of a place like the Emerald Medusa, easily my favorite place alongside Grumm’s, makes sense on so many levels, and also allows you to inject a bit of the weird into the grime and grit of the poorer regions. It generates a contrast that highlights the global motifs of Languard even better. It works because it is this weird place in an otherwise rather grounded area, and because it is rather realistic in how it presents its weirdness. I love it. In short, the High City of Languard is a great place to dive into some serious intrigue, to rub shoulders with the rich and powerful, and to shake your head at the decadence of the aristocracy. A great and unique region, this retains the exceedingly high standard of the series. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, omitting my seal of approval only due to the aforementioned remnant references.

 

You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!

 

Missed Languard? You can get the city here!

 

You can directly support raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.