Nov 162018
 

Everyman Minis: Animal Companion Archetypes

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/explanation, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

All right, so the notion of animal companion archetypes, if you haven’t stumbled across it in some shape or form, is pretty self-explanatory – these are basically archetypes to customize your companions, as per Ultimate Wilderness.

 

Elemental spawns replace evasion with a scaling resistance to one of the 4 basic elements at 3rd level, and at 9th, multiattack is replaced with a dding the corresponding special weapon property (e.g. corrosive for acid) to natural attacks; this upgrades to the respective burst at 15th level. Cool one! Empath companions get Diplomacy and Sense Motive and gains +1 skill rank per HD that must be invested in these. It also gain empathic link, but replaces shared spells. Devotion is replaced with a morale bonus versus negative emotion effects that is ahred by companion and master, and 15th level nets at-will telepathic bond with the master. Really cool one – I call this one “magical Lassie” and that’s pretty much how I’ll use it.

 

God-touched conduit represents a deity-touched animal that has a code and will not obey instructions to violate it. The animal gets Believer’s Boon, and must choose a domain power associated with the deity. At 6th level, the HD act as cleric levels for the purpose of the domain power, and it may use the power more often. This replaces share spells and devotion. 3rd level lets the animal cast a domain spell of up to 1/3 HD spell level as a SP 1/day, and the ability also tackles companions that could cast spells. The ability replaces evasion. Instead of improved evasion, we get plane shift 1/day, self and master only, to the deity’s plane. Cool! Hidden Ally replaces share spells with the ability for the ally to at-will disguise itself as an inconspicuous critter. AMAZING!

 

Performer nets entertain as a bonus trick, and adds Perform to class skills and list of skills that the creature can have ranks in, and may substitute Perform for another skill it has ranks on. The creature also gains Entertaining Companion, replacing the 1st level bonus trick and share spells. 6th level replaces devotion with Enthralling Companion. These are two new feats herein: Entertaining Companion makes the animal a great distraction for hapless folks; Enthralling Companion builds on that and allow folks to potentially slip away

 

The pointer archetype replaces share spells and devotion with bonus feats for expert tracking. Beyond the two feats already mentioned, there are three more: Contingent Commands is GENIUS and allows you to “program” the companion in 25 words – e.g. “Defend while I am paralyzed.” This feat is a must-have! Keen Tracker lets the animal use Perception instead of Survival to track. Finally, Unusual Intelligence is a great Lassie-supplement feat: Increased Int, and the animal can read

And understand its master’s languages! Another winner!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, and is sufficiently printer-friendly. The artwork is nice, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

Matt Morris’ animal companion archetypes are really cool and add a whole lot of flavor to companions. The feats include two must-own “why haven’t these been done sooner” gems, and as a whole, this is well worth getting. Come on, you know you want your companion to go full-blown Lassie!! Love it! 5 stars + seal of approval!

 

You can get these amazing options here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 162018
 

Everyman Minis: Wild Shape Variants

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

On the introductory page, we receive a new shifter aspect, originally penned by Alexander Augunas for the Know Direction network – that would be the Eagle Aspect, which enhances Cha as per minor form; major form includes good flight, bit and claws and Dazzling Display/Weapon Focus (claw), which synergizes if you have them. Dazzling Display’s action economy also improves.

 

The first page of the pdf is devoted to druid wild shape variants: These act as though they altered wild shape, though a maximum of one such variant may be applied. Some have prerequisites that must be met by 4th level to choose that option, and later losing the prerequisite also deprives of the option of assuming that shape.

 

Evolved shape nets a 3 point evolution pool that increases by 1 at 6th level and every 2 levels thereafter, and which thankfully comes with a cap. Fey shape allows for 6th level druids and higher to assume forms based on fey form spells, but eliminates the option to assume elemental forms. Alternatively, 6th level onwards can potentially allow for vermin shape I and later, its sequential improvements. This one also replaces the ability to take elemental forms.

Instead of assuming plant shapes, druids may opt for an ooze form-based variant at 8th level onwards. Minor nitpick: here,a cut copy paste remnant once erroneously refers to fey form. Preternatural wild shape also prevents the assuming of plant forms and kicks in at 8th level, allowing the druid to shape into magical beasts – nice: This gets the spell situation right.

 

Wild Shape Finesse is really interesting – that shape variant nets you Weapon Finesse for the shape’s duration, and later a damage boost with a natural weapon that is thus finesse’d (yep, codified properly) but prevents the druid form assuming Large or taller sizes of creatures with a Dex of less than 14.

 

The pdf also includes 4 different variants of shifter aspects: the minor aspects of a shifter aspect may be replaced. Animal spirit aspect is cool and lets you partially ignore difficult terrain. This should probably specify that only non-damaging difficult terrain is meant…or am I wrong? Later, this nets freedom of movement and the ability to move through creatures and plants. The aspect does reduce speed by 10 ft., though. Graceful aspect is basically the Weapon Finesse variant here, with Shifter’s Edge instead granted if you already have the feat. Mutation Aspect nets you a 2-point evolution pool, which increases at the usual levels (8th and 15th) – and yes, this prevents multi aspect cheesing, thankfully. Shifter adaptation nets you access to an animal aspect whose minor aspect your replaced with this one, chosen from the major form grants and thankfully, limited. The rules-verbiage here is brutal – kudos for getting that one right!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good, apart froma cosmetic hiccup, I noticed no serious guffaws. Layout adheres to everyman gaming’s two-column full-color standard with a white background, and the artwork featured is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

 

David N. Ross is a veteran designer of impressive skill, and it shows here – the wild shape variants are potent without being overbearing, and the rules-operations are tight and well-executed. All in all, a great supplement for anyone who wants more customization options for the shifter, or weirder druids. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get these cool variant options here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 162018
 

Everyman Minis: Animal Teamwork Feats

This Everyman Mini clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The new feats within are:

 

-Aspect Unity: requires animal focus; nets +1 to Ref and +2 to initiative when you and an ally within 60 ft. emulate the same focus.

 

-Aspect Harmony: Builds on the previous feat, increases bonuses granted by the aspect, but not the prereq feat, by +50%.

 

-Coordinated Grapple: Nets you basically advantage (roll twice, take better result) to initiate, but not to maintain grapples versus targets threatened by character + ally with the feat.

 

-Coordinated Pounce: High-level feat building on Coordinated Charge; even though called pounce, it actually behaves more like Vital Strike and provides synergy with those types of feats.

 

-Coordinated Rend: Okay, this one can be interesting: When hitting a creature you and an ally threaten twice or more during a turn, the ally gets a free attack as an immediate action., but only at ½ Strength-mod to damage, regardless of other abilities.

 

-Coordinated Tie Up: Builds on Coordinated Grapple and allows an ally to aid, decreasing the DC to tie up creatures without pinning them by 5. This is really cool, if situational. Still, I can totally see this as a great feat to award/use in conjunction with archetypes.

 

-Go for the Eyes: Nets an increased bonus to atk for both, if the character or ally has higher ground, and the target is treated as dazzled. Interesting one.

 

-Intimidating Menace: When an ally successfully Power Attacks a target, you can attempt to intimidate at +2 to demoralize as an immediate action; has really cool optional Dazzling Display synergy, and is better when the ally crits. Nice one.

 

-Mounted Disengage: When an ally negates a hit with Mounted Combat while adjacent to you, you may use an immediate action to move away. Really neat!

 

-Pack Defenses: Total defense increases for adjacent allies, up to Wis-mod.

 

-Retributive Strike: Immediate action counterstrike when an ally with the feat is brought to 0 HP; +4 to crit confirm and increased multiplier for the attack. The latter should probably cap at x4.

 

-Scent Seekers: Cool: Allows two beings with scent to automatically pinpoint sources. Will see a ton of use in my monsters.

 

-Swimming Diversion: Atk bonuses while one target is swimming; +1 more if the foe’s swimming as well.

 

-Toppling Opening: Okay, this one is brutal: If the target’s tripped, it becomes flat-footed against the other user of that feat until the end of the next turn. OUCH!

 

-Trampling Opening: Adds AoO to the unfortunate being trampled. Neat!

 

The pdf also features 3 hunter feats:

 

-Pack Evasion: Requires mouse aspect; when you and animal companiona re subjected to a Ref-save prompting effect, you may, as an immediate action, switch to mouse aspect. Gets use interaction right. Neat one!!

 

-Pack Flexibility: Lets animal share in teamwork feats granted by martial flexibility. Cool for the relevant builds and helps them stand out!

 

-Raise Master: 1/day, a companion can use breath of life, with an extended period where it may be cast. Neat!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the clean and easy to read 2-column full-color standard with white background. The artwork is nice and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

 

Luis Loza’s Animal Teamwork feats run the gamut from being very potent to being very circumstantial, but they do have in common that they add something and allow for a couple of teamwork tricks that I really enjoyed seeing. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I do feel that this is closer to 4 than 5; hence, I will round dwon.

 

You can get these companion feats here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 152018
 

Pathfinder Playtest Analysis III – Classes

This series of posts was made possible by the generous contributions of the following folks:

-Jason Nelson

-BJ Hensley

-Chad Middleton

-Randy Price

-Christen Sowards

-Rick Hershey

-Chris Meacham

-Paco Garcia Jaen

-Justin Andrew Mason

-Stephen Rowe

-Jonathan Figliomeni

-Paul Fields

-Lucus Palosaari

-Anonymous

 

All right, after having had to delete and revise and recheck this twice due to updates, let’s take a look at classes before 1.6 is replaced, all right?

 

The first things we should note pertains to the character creation sequence – while it literally becomes an ABC (Ancestries, Backgrounds, Classes), I couldn’t help but feel like this sequence of presentation may be detrimental to the experience of newer players, at the very latest in the class section. Why?

 

Because you immediately hit a roadblock with the alchemist class, which refers to several rules that are explained MUCH later in the book. If you’re an inexperienced roleplayer, that class can act as a pretty intimidating wall that not everyone will be willing to scale. At this point in the sequence, we literally have no idea regarding the decisions we’re making in character creation. We basically have to skip ahead to make informed decisions, and while this held true, to a degree, for ancestries as well, here the problem is significantly exacerbated. An important task for PF 2 will be to present the new system in a manner that is more accessible than this. With all my experience, I had to put the book down time and again to process the rules-chassis presented…or because its failures in the didactic department frustrated me. The Pathfinder Playtest book is not good at teaching you how to play using the system. It’s not alone in that, mind you – plenty of books, from 5e to other systems, are not particularly helpful or good at teaching the respective game – but it’s an issue PF Playtest may want to rectify.

 

Explaining the basics of the game and its rules BEFORE the classes, and then pointing towards the more detailed rules, would certainly help. “Want to play an alchemist? Read up on resonance rules on page XYZ, alchemical items,etc. on page ZXY, etc.” – Not in the middle of the class abilities (here, we thankfully have references galore), but in the beginning.

 

There is another somewhat puzzling decision here that prevents you from getting quickly into the game: There are no quick-build rules/pieces of advice. I know, I know – it’s a 5e-thing, but it imho really helped make character creation, particularly for less experienced roleplayers or newbies, much more accessible. As an aside – quick-build advice/rules for the ancestries similarly would be a good idea. You know: “Do you want to play an elven archer? Then choose this heritage and that ancestry feat.” A few lines like this could be really helpful. If Paizo doesn’t implement the like, it’d be an interesting venue to pursue for 3pps. Just sayin’.

 

Anyhow, it should be evident at this point, but let me state it clearly: Pathfinder Playtest and Pathfinder 2 can’t be PF 1. They have to be a different game. They can’t, system-immanently, sport the same level of complexity that PF 1 has reached by now – we only have a book and a few modules, after all. So, a fair comparison for the merits of the system would be the Core Rules from the PF 1 days of yore. Prior to the APG’s release. Notice something? When you strip away the nostalgia and bias, the PF 1 core-rules…actually didn’t improve that much. They weren’t trying to be a new system, and in my opinion, Pathfinder only developed its own identity with the release of the APG. But I digress.

 

PF Playtest, obviously, has the goal of changing the game drastically, and it succeeds at that attempt. Since the first class in the book is the alchemist, it makes sense to first discuss a divisive concept, namely Resonance.

 

I absolutely adore Resonance. I love it to bits. It allows for a non-intrusive resource-management game, and it actively dissuades the Christmas tree syndrome – you know, PCs, decked from head to toe in various, generic magic items, consumables, etc. The notion of investing Resonance reminded me, in a good way, of e.g. Akashic Mysteries. It also provides a meaningful reason to invest in Charisma for classes that traditionally dumped that stat. No more sifting for ages through consumable sections, no more parties decked to the teeth in a never-ending supply of bland one-use items. I get why some folks won’t like this – it represents a vast departure from the tradition – but both for the long-term health of the system, for the benefits of the GMs, and for designing for it, it’s a boon. It can also make for exciting decisions – invest? Or have Resonance ready? It rewards planning. Love it. As an aside for designers reading this: A hack of sorts of the system that removes Resonance may be worth contemplating as a supplement for those groups that really want items galore…

 

Anyhow, apart from the placement in the sequence of rules being explained, the alchemist class as such is actually one that I enjoyed as far as engine is concerned. The notion of codifying modifications of class features via the additive trait is a good one, and I enjoyed the fact that the new alchemist no longer feels like a graft on top of mundane alchemy, a thing of its own – the design here is more holistic, and as such, I can see this fellow grow as more supplements are released. Now, as a person, I would have loved a more modular approach here – to me, the alchemist still is very much a Witcher-esque character, and having ingredients that you can combine (say, albedo, an herb and quicksilver) would have made my day, but I am not disappointed by this fellow, and I was really afraid for the class. It certainly has design space galore. The 1.6 choice of personal reagents has deprived me of the main design concern I had to field here. Bulk may also warrant close observation for this fellow.

 

I was, however, very much disappointed by the barbarian. As a huge Conan, Kull, etc. fan, I did not enjoy seeing the narrowing of focuses here. I love totems per se as an option, and for characters like Kull of Atlantis, this makes sense; same goes for the tribal warrior angle…but the barbarian class had evolved to encompass drunkards, the possessed and similar folks who had a battle-rage angle. Berserkers did not have classic animal totems per se. (And yes, I am familiar with the nomenclature of the term, but that was psychological warfare as much as conviction – and totems very much imply and demand conviction, considering anathema.) The superstitious totem is a solid angle, but also one where consequently RP’d PCs will leave most groups. Not getting feats for each totem for each level range is a problem we can find with quite a few of these unlock trees throughout the classes and by no means exclusive to the barbarian. I don’t like that you can Cleave around obstacles. It can be somewhat ridiculous. Not getting the AoO-reaction is also a pretty odd choice, as far as I’m concerned. So yeah, I really disliked this class, both from a flavor and mechanics perspective. It’s the “I hit once hard class”, and feels like it really needs a few more options.

 

The bard, as the occult spellcaster here, exemplifies rather well an observation that anything more than a cursory glance will provide – the classes themselves don’t offer as much as they once did. This can, of course, be a boon for new players. It also allows for specialization. Bardic Lore’s now a totally optional feat, and so is Versatile Performance – both governed by the respective muse, or available later via feats. I do not object to that per se; the thing that concerns me, is that this makes some classes *feel* like they offer less customization than they actually do. The bard’s compositions and muses do offer for choice, and this is important, but as a whole, a lot of the classes within do feel like they offer less design space to tweak them – not being able to archetype (as per 1.6, all archetype feats start at level 2, soonest) can be a bit of a bummer. One of things I dislike most about 5e is the lack of customization options for many classes before level 3. Here, we have a similar problem – level 2 at the soonest, for the customization-spoiled PF 1-crowd, may be one level too late. Additionally, since the archetypes in PF Playtest are feat-based, you couldn’t start the game as one such archetype’d fellow if you’re a bard. As a barbarian, you could theoretically – a level 1 class feat’s there, but since the bard gets the class feat from the muse…well, tough luck. Archetype acquisition delayed. Sure, you can work around that, but yeah…in the long run, this might warrant specifyin an option to trade in class feats baked into the chassis.

 

The druid is basically, in many ways, design-paradigm-wise similar to the bard, in that a top-heavy class has now been made one that allows for the selection of components that were previously part of the core identity. These are potentially enhanced by druid orders – which are, as per the writing of this, rather uneven in their usefulness. Woodland Stride is erroneously noted as a level feat, when it, by placement, is intended at level 4, and no, we don’t get feats for each order for each druid feat level array. Constant speak with plants, one of the most ridiculously underpowered level 14 feats, has thankfully as per 1.6 been moved down to 6th level. Still…as a whole, I don’t really consider the druid particularly exciting as of now.

 

For the cleric…I perhaps had unrealistic hopes. As far as traits are concerned, the lack of neutral feats felt a bit glaring to me. (And is something that should be rectified.) They are, obviously, the best healers…but honestly, I would have loved to see an option that allows the cleric, perhaps via a feat-chain or somesuch, to relegate the healing task to allies – considering PF Playtest’s 3-action economy, having an ally “join in prayer” to receive benefits like healing would have been nice and could free the cleric to do other stuff – like Channel Smites…Basically, having a somewhat vitalist-like option imho would go rather well with the action economy system of Pf Playtest – and it would yield a roleplaying angle of these guys as, you know, agents of deities… That being said, the cleric, as per 1.6, does have a couple of changes to Lore etc. I welcome: The divorcing of positive and negative energy from alignment is a huge boon in the long run, and allows for some seriously creep-tastic narrative angles. On the downside, as per 1.6, Channel Smite still has an alignment component, when it should not have that.

 

Fighters are perhaps one of the biggest improvements in PF Playtest – AoOs from the get-go, a ton of viable feat options, and later even wildcard feats baked into the chassis. From archery to shield-use and charging, these guys REALLY offer for tactical choices, outclassing the barbarian in flexibility of the options provided. You can really customize these guys, and considering how magic weapons now work more akin to SFRPG, focusing on more added base dice as opposed to massive bonus-numbers, these guys can deliver serious levels of pain. I like where the fighter is going.

 

Monks seriously benefit from AoOs no longer being universal – their single action flurry is pretty damn potent when played correctly. The new monk is better than the barbarian. Granted, that’s as of now not a high bar to reach, but yeah, they play better than any vanilla 3.X monk did, at least in comparison. I also like that the whole ki-nagle is now optional – while I love me some WuXia style action, I also am fond of the quasi-European secular bruiser type of guy, you know, a martial priest dude, with fisticuffs and such. From an aesthetic point of view, I dislike the counterstrike option of the class being tied to Crane Style (the level 6 Crane Flutter feat) – and from a design perspective, getting access to Ki via Ki Strike is basically a feat tax due to the small size of the pool granted – getting a unique benefit here, perhaps a defensive one for monks focusing more on Wis than Dex, would imho make sense here. Still, as a whole, I think that the new monk works better than before and is on a good way.

 

Paladins now are truly the knights that defend, the holy protectors, the tanks. These guys make for superb bodyguards from the get go with Retributive Strike. This does make them a pretty reactive class to play, though that would be by design – and since level 6 can provide AoOs, they make for the best option for defensive martials. Now, since Channel Life eats into their very limited Spell Points, they won’t be as efficient as clerics as healers, but that is probably intended. Now, for me, the most iconic visual representation I have of palas in my mind, is still the knight shielding allies from dragon fire – so not having some unique shield tricks at low levels (before 6th) is a bit of a downer. Speaking of which: The second level oaths are all destructive: Hunt down xyz. To me, paladins were not necessarily the “EXTERMINATE”-dudes & dudettes; I’d welcome a few more constructive/defensive options here – oaths rock. Oaths to exterminate certain critters, though? These feel more ranger-esque to me.

 

Speaking of which: Rangers focus on Hunted targets, and that is both cool and a crux of the class – some of the more interesting abilities are contingent on targets being hunted, but as per 1.6 (even as soon as 1.5, if I recall correctly), the animal companion issue of being comparably worse has been rectified – the ranger’s companion now gets a conditional, undirected action at level 6, which brings it in line – after druid, but before the other companion options. This fits my aesthetics rather well. Sam goes for the abilities and class feats allowing for guerilla hit and run play better than before – the ranger feels more ranger-y. It’s not yet perfect, as the central Hunt-angle could use more synergy (and perhaps an option to somewhat delimit number of targets hunted), but as a whole, it feels unique and more distinct than before.

 

Now, the rogue is pretty interesting – but here, I for once would argue in favor of making one level 1 feat part of the base class chassis – Nimble Dodge. Spending a reaction for an AC-boost would make sense here to offer something active, particularly when there will be pressure to take Trap master – because, you know rank of Master trap disabling in Thievery? Most dungeon-delving groups will expect that type of thing from the rogue, which can generate a kind of social pressure to take that feat, in spite of probably wishing to take another. Mobility finally doesn’t suck and actually makes for a good choice in the new system. I like that. I don’t like that the simple poison alternative (which should be there!) for Poison Weapon is created ex nihilo – a single line about collecting it would make that one more sensible. There are a couple of synergy issues here – much like with some of the other class feats: Bludgeoner and Footpad’s Focus don’t interact RAW, for example. Poison Weapon should allow for contact poison delivery, but RAW doesn’t work due to the feat requirements. Dispelling Slice is kinda dumb, as it allows you to dispel via sneak attack – and this can be used on allies to end harmful effects. From a design-aesthetic point of view, I was slightly confused by how the rogue has a couple of feats that duplicate spell effects, but specifically are not spells. While we’re on the subject of rogues: The archetype option does net you a grand total of one skill increase via Skill Mastery, which struck me as odd.

 

As for sorcerer: There is one thing that annoyed me about bloodline formatting: initial powers don’t list their Spell Point cost, which is always 1. However, later powers do list them…and they’re always (2). So why not just add in a (1)? It’s aesthetic, yes, but it bothers me. The fact that bloodline now influences spell list is a nice one, but the bloodlines themselves…are, ironically, kinda bloodless – if a class feature required more means to dive into the respective flavor, then that one’s it. The metamagic focus of the class fits nicely with the savant angle, but the class could use more unique things for the bloodlines, and more feats – make bloodlines behave like a secondary heritage, add some bloodline-specific feats, and these fellows would become much more interesting.

 

As for wizards – the class was always defined by spells and schools, but since PF Playtest has greatly decreased the potency of spells in general, the wizard comes off as in a bit of an identity crisis as far as flavor is concerned. A couple of school-exclusive feats help there, though that is an aspect that should be expanded. In direct comparison, it’s a bit more troubling to me that the wizard pretty much outclasses the sorcerer in the flexibility department. Sorcerers should, in comparison at least, receive access to uncommon and rare spells. Better Heightening for sorcs would also make sense. I know. This is supposed to be about the wizard, but apart from MOAR school specific feats and MOAR spells, what is there to comment on here? As a whole, I think that the wizard is solid, though it does suffer from…well, being so similar to the sorcerer. Heck they share the majority of their level 1 class feats. More differentiation would be nice here.

 

Anyhow, I hope that I have not ambushed by 1.7 this time around – see you next time, when we’ll be talking a bit about how the system informs the game and its playstyle!

 

If you enjoy what I’m doing, please consider supporting my patreon – every little bit helps to keep the lights on!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 152018
 

Star System Set: Salutian (Full Set) (SFRPG)

Okay, I’m going to deviate slightly from my usual formula, due to the unique structure of this series. The Star System series by AAW Games is customer-friendly, in that you can get the whole star system, or just the component that interests you: Just want a new race? You can get just the race and ignore the rest. This is made possible by a card-like presentation akin to what we know from the company’s super-popular mini-dungeons series. You can just get one card, or the whole set.

 

Each star system consists of 6 different such cards, meaning you’ll get a page-count of 12 pages. In order to facilitate posting the reviews for these component pdfs without having to rewrite my review time and again and losing time to cut-copy-pasting etc., I’m going to structure this review of the complete set accordingly.

 

Since I will base my reviews on the collected sets, I will provide an overall conclusion etc. at the bottom. This star system was written in its entirety by Michael O. Holland.

 

The star system components are:

 

Planet:

As always, we get a neat artwork that shows all planets and their relative location in the sun system, with the star in question f this system being a yellow dwarf. The planet closest to the sun is super hot, and the one farthest from the sun has a poisonous atmosphere. The Main seat of life here, though, would be Mien, the world of the Lamertans. The surface and jungles of this world are surprisingly deadly, and the lamertans haven’t yet learned the importance of keeping data close to your chest. 4 brief sample fluff NPC-write ups and 2 hooks complement this one. I like the notion of a race recently “abandoned” by their masters, but I can’t really picture Lamerta settlements and the like – they don’t seem to be on the surface, but a bit more detail here would have been nice.

 

Solid, if not super-exciting. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

 

Race:

The new race presented within this star system set would be the Lamerta, who are Small, 4-armed humanoids with low light vision and a +2 racial bonus to Acrobatics, Computers and Engineering. They also can move unimpeded through nonmagical difficult terrain in jungles and forests, and if they have two free hands, they get their land speed as climb speed. The comparative power-increase the latter represents over e.g. the kasathas is offset by them getting only 2 HP. Ability-score modifier-wise, we have +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con. The race seems to have been engineered by the mysterious Saltu, and the write-up per se is solid. They come with a solid artwork and all sections you’d expect, minus the “Playing a Lamerta”-sidebar that core rules races would have offered.

 

All in all, a decent race, if not one that really intrigued me. 3.5 stars, rounded down.

 

 

Character Options:

Here, we have a new theme, the lawman, which nets +1 to Con, reduces the DC of Culture checks to recall law enforcement/judicial facts by 5 and lets the characters choose Diplomacy or Intimidate as class skill. 6th level nets +2 to Perception checks as part of a criminal investigation, as well as +2 to skill checks of skills in which you have no ranks, provided you undertake the check as part of an investigation. This explicitly does not allow for trained-only skill-use. 12th level lets you 1/week call in a favor for one item or expert service, of up to an item level of your character level +1, and you’re expected to return the goods/reciprocate. Nice one! 18th level lets you 2/day mull over the details or clues of an investigation to regain 1 Resolve Point; this takes 10 minutes and doesn’t qualify for regaining Stamina. One of the cooler themes out there

 

The second page of this card contains new spells: bio-blast is a level 1 mystic spell that nets a 2d6 acid cone, which leaves a short-lived residue of acidic sludge. Leap is available as a 1st level mystic and technomancer spell, which lets you execute horizontal or vertical leaps up to twice your size sans running start or Athletics-requirements. Technomancers can cast the 2nd level plasma whip spell, which nets you a burning monowhip that you’re treated as proficient with, inflicting scaling fire damage. At 3rd spell level, technomancers can cast energy aegis, which nets +6 to EAC, later upgrading to +8 and +10, at 9th and 18th CL, respectively. Phase shift is available as both a 3rd level mystic and technomancer spell nets a +10 bonus to Stealth and concealment, making this a kind of cross between invisibility and displacement, but at a lesser degree. On a design-perspective, I think that phase shift’s bonus should be tied to the four states of awareness mechanic. Not the biggest fan here.

 

Verdict: 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the theme. The spells alone would have been closer to 3.

 

Equipment:

We have three new ships here: We get the Seria tier 1 Tiny fighter, a tier 7 explorer and a tier 9 bulk freighter. Liked these. The section also comes with the wingsuit, which is basically a base-jumping suit, at mk 2 with thrusters (neat!) and defoliant grenades in 4 levels make sense in the jungles of the system. The card also provides a neatly-illustrated hybrid item, the stealth cloak, which does what it says on the tin.

 

Solid selection. 4 stars.

 

Monsters:

We get two new monsters here: At Cr 3, the Large , green and delightfully-illustrated grunk worm, who sports acidic bile…oh, and hitting it with kinetic damage may splatter slimy blood full of larvae on targets. The worms also get grab. Nice critter, like it! The second critter, also beautifully illustrated, would be the CR 5 Axarak plant. It is superb at camouflage, but emits a telltale methane scent. The plant can roll its own, dead leaves in bizarre leaf-bombs and may root/uproot itself. Damn cool critter!!

 

Neat array! 4.5 stars, rounded up.

 

Mini-Adventure:

This mini-adventure is intended for 4 level 3 PCs, and comes with a nice full-color map. No player-friendly version is included. Really cool: We get two variant/unique-y creatures that are NOT featured on the monster-card! Kudos for going the extra mile here.

 

This being the review of the adventure section, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, a shuttle has actually crashed on Mien, and it’ll be up to the PCs to mount the rescue! As the PCs scan the region and zoom over the jungle, they’ll soon note the wreck – and that the survivors have fled. And the PCs will be in a place to meet the fine specimen that caused the survivors to run…to a temple of the Saltu, where the PCs can find ancient tech, deadly enemies, and finally free the missing crew members. The terrain/temple per se is a bit less remarkable and the final encounter is a bit out of left field, but the bonus critters rock.

 

Solid mini-adventure. 4 stars.

 

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, at least for the most part. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the collection sports quite a few rather nice artworks – particularly the monsters get neat art. The pdf version of the collected set has, unlike Querritix, no bookmarks for each card.

 

Michael O. Holland’s Star System is interesting regarding a lot of its premises, though it probably does suffer a bit from the race’s culture not coming across as that interesting. This is somewhat mitigated by the cool critters, but as a whole, I consider this to be slightly weaker than Querritix. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

 

You can get the whole set here on OBS!

 

Want just the Planet? It can be found here!

Only interested in the race? It’s right here!

Just want the monsters? They’re right here!

The class-option stand-alone pdf can be found here!

The equipment-section can be purchased on its own here!

The mini-adventure’s stand-alone release is right here!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 142018
 

Tip of the Tongue

This module clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 41 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This is a high fantasy adventure for characters level 7 – 8, and takes place in a town steeped in magical academia – the city Bellek. We get a proper settlement statblock for the town, and the magical nature of the place is emphasized throughout: A whole list of magical alcohol for the obligatory starting tavern, for example, has been provided. As a minor nitpick, there are a few inconsistencies in their rules, though these remain largely cosmetic and don’t impede functionality. (Electrical instead of electricity damage, for example.) The starting angle has a couple of hooks provided, and the module does not come with cartography for the town or locations visited. The module pretty heavily references the NPC Codex for less crucial foes/NPCs, so having that, or the SRD-pages ready is suggested. If you own the Liber Influxus Communis, you’ll be interested to hear that the mnemonic class features somewhat prominently in this module. If you don’t have it, fret now, for all relevant information is provided.

 

All right, you know how this goes – from here on, the SPOILERS will reign, as I discuss the module in detail. Potential players should definitely jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? As the PCs arrive in town, they’ll spot the guards sweating in winter armor – and indeed, as they explore the spire of knowledge, they’ll have an…interesting time, as anything short of a DC 10 Stealth check will be met with shushing sounds – and the PCs may well be escorted out of the place after 5 failed consecutive checks. This can be hilarious for your group, but be careful when running this RAW, as it could similarly frustrate players. Anyways, at the top of the spire, the PCs get to meet Hirsli Aptal, a mindchemist who may have a brilliant mind – but also has puzzling news: obviously, the keenest minds, particularly nobles et al., have recently been struck by an odd wave of amnesia, and Hirsli is beginning to suffer exactly the same slips of memory. Something is amiss, and PCs willing to investigate the matter get a badge that should help during the investigation. (Btw.: Attacking her is a bad idea – book golem…)

 

Investigating Aptal manor, the PCs can find a secret passage in the treasury that leads into the tomb of Ipo Aisun-Aiji, a mnemonic from days gone past that sacrificed himself to end the threat of a horrid entity – Mitk’. Alas, as often the case, Mitk’ wasn’t destroyed, and has since found a mad apprentice/prophet of sorts in the eleven oracle Kit Mha, who has placed clues that allowed Hirsli to break the cipher of the Kitabu Mitk’ – a grimoires now hidden below, ready to be unleashed upon the adventurers. The tomb of Iso Aisun-Aiji is btw. a magical labyrinth full of yithians and the like – now maps or puzzle helps solve the maze, which is a bit of a downside – particularly since failing a skill check and traveling willy-nilly can cause ability score damage. As written, this is a clear example of PC skill over player skill use.

 

Returning the book to Hirsli, she creates a concoction that cures the amnesia – and that’s it, right? Wrong. The PCs do get to meet King Halfviti (lol), and in the aftermath of a feast, an assassination will be carried out – hinting that not all is well, and indeed, a mysterious killer named Kurtaric manages to (probably) get away. Thing is, there is an invasion looming, and 3 nearby settlements, and thus, the PCs are sent out to gather armies, while the old killer attempts to strike if an opportunity presents itself – but not all is as it seems: The old warrior finally opts for parley, and just as he talks, he is struck dead – and with his death, his ritual fails: the old mnemonic attempted to isolate and contain the spread of the idea of Mitk’, eradicating the idea the PCs helped to inadvertently spread.

 

The game is on, as Mitk’, as a deadly idea of sorts, now has reached critical saturation – a war for ideas, fought with mass combat rules, against the gruesome vergeten –and, obviously, Mitk’! Ultimately, the PCs may, courtesy of special (and seriously potent for the level) weapons, triumph – these special weapons, oddly, have no value, but instead use a charge-like mechanic and quickly decrease in power. Still, it’s something to keep an eye on.

 

The pdf comes with extensive statblocks and army stats.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect. I noticed a couple of minor hiccups, though no game-breakers per se. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column standard with few colors and a white background – the module is pretty printer-friendly. The interior artwork is a blending of nice original pieces and fitting stock art, in full color and b/w, respectively. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. No cartography is provided, which is a slight comfort detriment.

 

This module, penned by Mike Myler and Christopher Kugler, is per se amazing in many ways – the ambition and story is grand, and particularly the climax can be amazing – if you draw the battle-field, etc. The module also suffers a bit from its scope and what it can accomplish in it – this feels like a trilogy of adventures, jammed together into one: Act I, the investigation and dungeon – the latter of which is pretty much glossed over and could have used a more rewarding solution. Act II, as the gathering of forces – the traveling and locations could have used more time to develop the threat amassed…and thirdly, the showdown, which has all the makings of an epic finale. The third act works best here, but even it could have used a bit more room to shine. Don’t get me wrong – I enjoyed this module, but it does require some serious fleshing out by the GM to truly realize its potential. And I really, really wished it didn’t rush things like it did. As provided, the narrative weak points are the exposition dumps at certain stages, which, to me, felt like a necessity for the sake of remaining briefer than the material would have warranted. This module is not bad, not by a long shot – but, frustratingly, it has all the ingredients of being a great epic, condensed to a briefer presentation form that slightly hurts the module.

 

That being said, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. If you don’t mind doing lots of fleshing out, then this might make for a grand and rather epic experience for you and yours!

 

You can get this high-concept adventure here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Nov 142018
 

Advanced Adventures: White Dragon Run II (OSR)

This installment of the Advanced Adventures-series clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The first 7.5 pages of this supplement depict the region of the Skathernes and the village of White Dragon Run – and yes, this section is identical to what we got back in the first Advanced Adventures-booklet, leaving us with 9.5 pages of new material. The suggested levels have been raised to 2 – 5 for this return to the Skathernes to account for the challenges presented by the new environments. Now, as always for the series, we have OSRIC as the default old-school rule-set, and as always for the series, we deviate from the conventions and have magic weapons not italicized, but bolded, and similarly, spells are not italicized either, but bolded – most of the time. I did notice instances where they’re italicized instead. A smart and well-rounded group is definitely recommended, and PCs and players should know when to run. The pdf does not offer read-aloud text for its environments.

 

If you hoped that this would be a true sequel, and adventure that would build on the events and areas featured in the first White Dragon Run, well, then I’ll have to disappoint you.

 

In case you haven’t read my review of White Dragon Run, here is the breakdown of the wilderness region and how it operates. If you have read my review of White Dragon Run #1, skip ahead.

 

———-Begin of Hexcrawl/wilderness-discussion———–

“White Dragon Run” is a departure from what we’ve seen so far in the series, in that it is essentially a hex-crawl wilderness sandbox. In case you don’t know what that is – the adventurers basically travel through the wilderness, encountering beasts and finding unique areas, dungeons, etc. – it’s basically a form of free exploration through a region, somewhat akin to an open-world game. The respective regions surrounding the village of White Dragon Run show that it’s a borderlands type of village, in that it’s pretty much the last stop before the wilds. In the Southwest, Lathergrave (or Lathargrave – depending on whether you believe text or map) Forest can be food; North of the village would be the Mimir Woods, East to South-West of it the Auranas Woods. Between these, the rivers have cut into plains, and beyond the latter forest, there would be the hills known as “The Skaths” that grant the region its name: The Skathernes. In the West, beyond these hills, the majestic Mountains of Xur arise.

 

Auranas and Mimir Woods share a table of random encounters, with a mix of humanoids and minor fey taking up the majority of the entries, with a few zombies and the obligatory wolves sprinkled in. These forests are dangerous indeed, and stand in sharp contrast to the significantly less lethal La/ethergrave Forest, where the most outré encounter would be giant blowflies. Ew! The first two forests also get their own table of random encounters for the night time, where you won’t encounter fey, but where some of the more dangerous predators and humanoids roam in larger numbers.

 

That is not to say that the vicinity of the eponymous river that provided the name for the village is safe – quite the contrary! Crocodiles, giant poisonous frogs and large packs of wolves render the area beyond 1 mile of the village very dangerous…but the Skaths are actually even tougher: Here, pretty significant raiding parties can be found, and at night (the Skaths also get separate daytime and nighttime tables), the undead roam in dangerous quantities. The wilderness section also comes with a mini-generator of sorts that lets you sprinkle in dead bodies, random camps and ruins throughout the landscape. It should be noted that PCs should think twice before exploring ruins – they are either occupied or haunted 50% of the time, and both translate to some seriously tough challenges. 1d3 wights or a poltergeist can and will TPK a group of careless adventurers.

 

While these tables may not look like much, they do play better than they read and facilitate emergent storytelling – encountering 2-16 wolves at night can result in a TPK if the PCs aren’t smart and you roll up a lot of wolves; similarly, stumbling into multiple quicklings in the Mimir Woods can be a rather humbling experience…and when 2nd level adventurers encounter a band of 8 worgs in the Skaths, they’d better have a plan B ready…or replacement characters. So yes, these encounter-tables paint a picture of a harsh environment, and do so rather well.

 

The village of White Dragon Run itself is fully mapped (no player-friendly, unlabeled map included), and comes with a total of 20 rumors. The village is defended by a garrison (and you get a list of HP so you can track who falls) that keeps the dangers of the wilderness at bay, led by Sir Kallan, who is also the de facto leader of the Triune that governs the village: In his absence, the Triune can’t meet. The other members would be Landan, a paladin, and Janra, the village’s cleric – these two do have appointed replacements, should they not be able to attend a Triune meeting. Cool, btw.: Janra has the Wide Book of Genth, a valuable tome, and the back of the module does contain an appendix with some fully-presented excerpts from it! Nice one! The village also has its resident magician, who is commonly known as “Smoke”, and the village does have its jeweler, a retired soldier, a shop – you get the idea. Nice here: percentile chances for having things in stock are provided.

 

I also really enjoyed that every single building in town actually gets notes for how it’s constructed, the condition it’s in, the number of occupants and occupations of the folks that live there. It may be a small thing, but it can really aid the GM to bring the village to life.

 

One building is fully mapped, and that, no surprises there, would be the one that is most crucial for most adventurers: The tavern. The “Twelve Toes Inn and Tavern” (so named because the proprietor indeed has twelve toes!) is the pulsing heart of sorts of the settlement, and it does note the chances of meeting a given NPC with a percentile value for daytime and nighttime as well.

 

As a whole, while White Dragon Run certainly may not be the most extraordinary village out there, it manages to feel plausible, with the percentile charts, random encounter tables for the wilderness and details provided rendering this part of the supplement a success. It’s not a genre-changer or the like, but it is a well-presented execution of a classic environment.

 

———-End of Hexcrawl/wilderness-discussion———–

 

All right, this is as far as I can go without diving into SPOILERS – from here on out, I will proceed to discuss the new set-piece environments found within this supplement. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, this adventure states that it has 4 new encounter-areas. To quote the description:

“White Dragon Run II contains four new locations in the Skathernes: The Sane Hermit, The Rainbow In The Dark, the rare and unusual Ambulatory Tower, and the deadly Temple of the Snake God.”

That is simply incorrect. The first one is a non-hostile ex-adventurer half-elf druid. You can meet him. That’s it. That’s not a full locale or encounter-area, that’s an NPC.

Yes, this really pissed me off.

 

That being said, this NPC can tie in with the first of the new locales, the so-called “Ambulatory Tower.” This tower sports a really cool idea: Basically, it’s part of a planes-spanning structure that is kinda-alive; a type of feeding tube that is a heat sink of sorts for the quasi-alive structure – the presence of undead in the area is thus explained rather well, and an influx of zombies can make for a neat hook to get the PCs involved. The creatures encountered within are consequently not quite right, representing an immune response of sorts of the entity: First, they will be grotesque and less potent, but with each subsequent sojourn into the tower, its guardians will improve, losing penalties and gaining bonuses. A wandering monster table is provided, and each room has a leitmotif of sorts that the GM can use as guidance for potentially changed challenges and the like. This makes the tower an interesting place to explore – but I wished that this was also represented by the dungeon itself: Prohibitively short, it only spans 8 rooms and is super-linear. There is but one way, and while terrain-use and themes are strong, the same can’t necessarily be said for the overall structure. The facsimile of the dragon as a final boss here is certainly deadly. On the plus-side, the “heart” of this tower may indeed be destroyed by clever PCs, even without the high-level options it’d usually take, though chances are good that they may need to stock up…and return. Which, of course, means facing new and tougher foes! Even if the tower is vanquished, escape is interesting: The players have to, with closed eyes, describe their way out! Even though it is this linear, I found myself enjoying this small dungeon much more than I expected to. It’s fun, challenging and interesting.

 

The second new mini-dungeon presented within would be the “Rainbow in the Dark”, a cavern with 4 keyed locations that is currently inhabited by a tribe of rather potent bugbears (and a currently hibernating cave-fisher, for an extra chaos infusion) – inside, there is a magical quartz that, once per day, is hit by a beam of light, creating magical light that can grant permanent boons! Pretty cool! As an aside, I do think that this amazing premise could have carried more, but I digress.

 

The third mini-dungeon is the longest one: 17 keyed locations can be found, which once more are thoroughly linear. Utterly baffling: The random encounter chart for the Mountains of Xur is included here, in the back, instead of where it belongs, in the front, next to the others. As an aside – the table is, even for the White Dragon Run-wilderness, a deadly challenge, and should be handled with care. I’d suggest level 5, and even then, things can go haywire pretty badly. Then again, at this point, the PCs have had some experience with deadly wilderness encounters. This third mini-dungeon is called “Temple of the Snake God” and features two “new” monsters – serpent-people called “Serpentians” (distinguished as lowblood, high blood and chosen) and shadow weirds, a snake like life-form from the plane of shadow that attempts to paralyze targets and rag them into shadow pools. The dungeon has two easy riddles I’ve seen before, a fountain that changes color (Why? Because, I guess.), snakes, and new magic item-wise, there is a spell-in-a-can ring (boring) and arrows that cause additional damage via poison and that turn into harmless snakes upon being fired. You may well call me hipster, but I’ve seen the snake-men angle done so many times, it’s hard to impress me with it – and I’ve seen it done better rather often. In the absence of Sword & Sorcery themes around White Dragon Run, you may appreciate it if you’re more of a genre-fan than I am (And I love me some Sword & Sorcery…), but personally, I did not feel like it fit into the area particularly well. It feels like a foreign object to me, and not in a good way. It’s a challenging dungeon, I’ll give it that much, but it’s less interesting and atmospheric than the other mini-dungeons herein or the Gray Temple from module #1.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the classic two-column b/w-standard of the series, and the b/w-artworks are nice. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is solid and b/w, but no player-friendly versions are provided.

 

James C. Boney, Joseph Browning and Joseph A. Mohr returning to White Dragon Run could have been so much more. This could have expanded and further developed the themes in the first module, it could have been a true sequel. Instead, it feels like a parallel version. The Mountains of Xur random encounters being in the entry for a mini-dungeon did annoy me to an extent; similarly, I think the module’s advertisement is false, as there are only 3 true encounter-areas/complexes – adding a single NPC camping in the wilds does not for a new location make. Encountering a pretty generic retired-adventurer-druid in his camp is not a “location”, particularly if there is no map, no adventuring, no interaction points to be had. It’s basically a random encounter. Heck, the module suggests using him as such.

 

That being said, 2 of the three new locales are really interesting, cool and sport potent challenges and unique visuals. I wish I could say the same about the third, which feels like it just jams a pretty unremarkable execution of a classic Sword & Sorcery trope I usually enjoy into a region, where it doesn’t necessarily fit. I sincerely wished that the first two locations had received the page-count spent on this one instead. I should also note that the absence of an easier dungeon, with all 3 of the new ones being tougher, de facto renders this suitable for level 4 – 5 characters, for the most part. The only content suitable for lower level characters would be running into critters in the wild. Not sure if that qualifies for you or not.

 

How to rate this, then? Honestly, if you already have White Dragon Run, you may want to think twice before getting this. The two cool mini-dungeons that I really enjoyed span a grand total of 4 pages plus one paragraph; the rest is reused content from the first White Dragon Run, and the underwhelming final mini-dungeon. Honestly, I’m kinda sad for the 2 cool locations – had they been in #1, or had the Gray Temple been featured herein, we’d be looking at a much stronger offering all-around. As written, I was thoroughly underwhelmed by this one – I paid full price for this, and beyond the advertisement being patently false, I also consider the suggested level range problematic. Dear authors of the ambulatory tower and the rainbow in the dark – I liked what you brought to the table! Consider your parts of this module to be good and worthwhile.

 

That being said, if you already have White Dragon Run #1, you’ll probably want to skip this. If you don’t own #1, then you may want to get it – provided you have some ideas/modules that can bring the PCs to levels 4 – 5, as White Dragon Run II has nothing but reprinted wilderness encounters to offer for levels 2 – 3.

 

How should I rate this? Well, ultimately, I’d usually rate this akin to its predecessor: The inspired locations, put together, almost reach the same keyed encounter count as the rather lackluster final one, offsetting that one somewhat. However, the challenges posed are more on the higher level range and offer less for lower level PCs than in the first module, so I’d detract half a star for a 3-star rating.

 

That’s what I’d usually do. But this module falsely advertised that it offered 4 new locations. I can stomach almost half of the module being a reprint from #1, no problem. I really HATE it when a supplement’s advertisement and description blatantly lies to the customer. Hence, this loses another star for a final verdict of 2 stars.

 

You can get this adventure here on OBS.

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 132018
 

Monster Menagerie: Draconis Arcanus

This massive installment of the Monster Menagerie-series clocks in at 58 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 52 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

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

 

All right, so, if you’re like me, you can never have enough dragons. In my games, dragons are extremely deadly, rare, and my players try to avoid them at all cost – with my staggering array of supplements, supplemented by home rules, I have made these fellows true forces of nature. It’s a matter of aesthetics, but I’m very much in favor of using dragons very consciously of what they should signify for adventurers. This notion has ultimately led me towards considering pretty much every dragon as its unique entity – whether I’m using metabreath feats, the vast amount of templates, Legendary Games’ Path of Dragons or other supplements, I try to never have two dragon encounters feel alike.

 

As such, it is very helpful to get a whole bestiary devoted to a new type of true dragon – here, that would be the draconis arcanus; the collective term that peasants may butcher to instead be “spell dragons” – basically, these fellows are organized by magic schools, with each of the types of dragon receiving its own age category table, rules, and 3 sample dragons already statted for you. Much to my joy, none of these sample statblocks are devoted to the low levels, where any GM worth their salt can nowadays stat a dragon – instead, the lowest CR-iterations of the sample statblocks tend to clock in between CR 7 and 9, while the most potent ones run the gamut from CR 16 – 19. We get a sample young, adult and ancient dragon for each of the types of draconis arcanus.

 

As a new type of dragon, we do begin the pdf with universal rules for these dragons: These dragons can counter spells with any spell of the same school. They may freely learn cleric and sorcerer spells, and any spell from a school that corresponds with their type, regardless of spell list it’s from. As an immediate action, they can increase their CL for a spellcasting attempt by using Spellcraft, with the option to attempt for more potent overcasting by beating higher DCs. All dragons get the Spell Focus feat, with the adult age category also providing Greater Spell Focus. They add Charisma modifier and age category to checks made to overcome SR, get 11 + CR SR, and add their age category to their SR for the purpose of determining its value for spells of the school associated with them.. Interesting: These fellows get the ability to manipulate raw magic, either in the shape of untyped blasts of destructive energy of the dimensions of their breath weapon, or t heal themselves or other creatures – this is but one of the plethora of aura-altering abilities within. The latter, the healing aspect, is a gamble of sorts, though – for the spell dragon does take Constitution damage for using raw magic. Finally, for 1 point of Con-damage per spell level these dragons can attempt an immediate action counterspell. As beings of magic, all spell dragons are susceptible to antimagic effects, which actually hurt them – from dispel magic to mage’s (formerly Mordenkainen’s) disjunction, damage values for such effects are provided – and woe betide spell dragons trapped in a magic dead area.

 

The theme here is pretty obvious – dragons as incarnations of magic, as perhaps their source, would be a theme that these very well could provide. That out of the way, we begin with the massive array of draconic tricks that this pdf offers, and there are quite a few gems here that will make your PCs fear these majestic beings. Let’s take the Abjuration dragon: Usually neutral, these fellows have adaptive energy resistance, and at age ancient or older, they actually can become buffed by being attacked with magic weapons, leeching off the enchantments temporarily. That mighty +5 dragonbane holy avenger? Not so holy or dragonbane-y anymore…here, let me snap this metal twig for you… Oh yes, this one goes there: Players will fear these fellows. I mean, we all know that dying in honorable battle with a dragon is something many a player will brag about…but first having all magic items wrecked? Now that is plain mean…and I love it. Have I mentioned the 1/day 500 ft. disjoining pulse that wyrms get? Oh, the delicious tears… XD Kidding aside, I love how nasty these fellows can be. Did I mention the great wyrm prismatic scales – these are a dragon hunter’s worst nightmare, right after their disjoining pulse…And no, you won’t be doing a lot of fancy porting around these fellows…Love them!

 

Now, you may have noticed something – the abilities of the abjuration dragon don’t look very template-y; i.e., they can’t simply be exchanged for the “spell school xyz”-equivalent. This notion is proven true when taking a look at the conjuration dragon, who gets the ability to use free actions to layer metamagic feats on conjuration spells (no, he doesn’t have to know them!), and it can modify the duration of such effects, and retroactively layer metamagic effects on them – oh, and they can redistribute targets in line of sight. Know what’s conjuration? Teleport. Healing…oh BOY, will PCs and players look dumbfounded when first encountering one of these fellows. And yes, they get frickin’ unchained eidolons. Better summons…and great wyrms get a gate breath. They can transform their frightful presence into an undead debuffing healing aura…and what about mist-auras? Or ripping parts from other planes here for planar trait fun? This is gleefully creative, and yes, before you ask, these dragons do think with portals…and these portals actually are only visible for these dragons and those having true seeing…That they get a summoning breath should, at this point, be taken as a given.

 

Divination dragons get plasma breath (excellent: Rare damage type properly explained in breath weapon entry) and they add Int-mod to initiative and all saves as well as AC (at juvenile+ age category) – and at later stages in the life cycle, these guys get further defensive tricks. Their breath can trap targets in a flood of visions that may confuse them, and these fellows may exert massive control over nearby divinations. Free ation 1/round Int to a d20-check, scrying tricks, and seeing past and future, the dragon may strike traumatic fear in the hearts of his adversaries. Oracular scales…and did I mention the ability to get a more flexible true strike-y bonus that may be distributed among allies nearby? A massive disadvantage aura (roll twice, take worse result) is nice, but the capstone is the genius thing here: Great wyrms may utter a word after observing a target – this can change even an outsider’s alignment, make priests lose their faith, etc. – functionally, it can be insanity, and, ina cool touch, the ability states that making the save equals “forgetting” what the dragon said/not processing it. This one is frightening in all the right ways.

 

Enchantment dragons, as befitting of their school, are masters of the creatures they defeated, gaining a sonic breath weapon that may confuse foes, and control over an emotional aura that has several different modes. A paralyzing gaze, infectious suggestions and the ability to call forth minions charmed or dominated…nasty fellow. Oh, and attacking these guys? Not so easy, courtesy of their majesty ability. With subliminal commands and subtle suggestions, these dragons make perfect puppet masters behind the scenes.

 

Know what’s not subtle? Evocation. Neither are the dragons. They can (and will) absorb energy-based attacks – and yes, this includes sonic and even force effects and have these fuel their breath..or provide healing. Oh, and they can do one thing at age old or older that should make them frightful. If you’ve, in the 3.X days of yore, played with a lot of obscure 3pps, you’ll know the notion of chained spells – a concept that, by definition, never was balanced well…but it’s cool. Well, guess what? For an old dragon, chaining spells together makes a ton of sense and can provide one super-deadly, nasty surprise. These dragons can cause their energy effects to be admixture, charge objects with destructive force impulses. Speaking of destruction: Great wyrms can enter the aptly-named “Devastation” energy form; and adult or older evocation dragons cause all damage dealing evocation spells and SPs to be both Empowered and Maximized, with unique effects for the various damage types – basically, debuffs are heaped on top. Ouch. Nitpick here: This ability should REALLY specify a range – I assume here that aura range was intended, but not specified. Did I mention the sundering capabilities of their breath? The option to make wall-breath effects?

 

Illusion dragons get a vulnerability exploiting breath, the ability to create illusory servants and create projections which it may then inhabit. Subtle and smart, they are naturally greater invisible, and get phantasmal killer auras, shadow duplicates, a breath that traps PCs in a fantasy utopia…while the latter allows for a Will save to end, here’s an idea: The dragon can peer inside the PC’s visions, and thus could modify their memories, so what if you seed odd occurrences, and when you’re fed up with the current story/region – have the PCs wake up, facing the dragon! Just an idea, obviously – though not one that’s so far-fetched, considering that these fellows may indeed alter reality…

 

Necromancy dragons get an animating aura, the ability to use astral projection at will at age very old or older, acid breath weapon (laced with diseases, for extra fun!), blood drain…and the dragon may lick targets (EW!), and for the next 24 hours, drain physical attributes from targets licked. This is…awesome. “Sure I’ll help you, little ones…I just want to…lick you.” *shudders* A fear-based gaze, freely interacting with incorporeal targets, a fatiguing touch and a banshee-style howl can be found – oh, and their breath can cause frickin’ lycanthropy! Their blood is diseased. They can generate clouds of rotting skin flakes. Those slain by their bite are almost certainly, barring wish/miracle, lost…oh, and they get a kind of sub-bloodline with unique benefits and associated undead. Did I mention that great wyrms actually dim the sun in the vicinity, getting the full-blown dark overlord vibe? Soil becomes deadly, water toxic…and just uttering the name of someone allows great wyrms to curse them. This is just super-nasty and cool! I’d have loved to see this lair-style ability feature notes on how it can affect a kingdom, but oh well.

 

Finally, there would be the transmutation dragon – these fellows get electricity breath, the usual control over their associated spell school’s effects, the options to blink around, fabricate materials…and what about a mist that can haste the dragon or slow foes? What about a venom that deals massive damage due to dininetgrate-ing you? As masters of transmutation, these dragons have a serious amount of control over their own bodies, chosen from their own list. Potentially polymorphing breath, the ability to create reverse gravity traps or to control the sizes of their foes – and what about gaining the traits of a subtype? A transformation aura nonlethal damage + Strength and Dex damage via touch attacks, making anthros, temporarily reincarnate-ing targets…and yes, the great wyrm ability is, no surprises there, a time stop-tweak. Here, the rules are a bit odd, as the ability basically represents a target-lockdown, not the ability to step out of time and prepare, so the spell-reference doesn’t make much sense here.

 

This is not where the pdf end, though – instead, we close the pdf with 10 different templates that allow for e.g. oracle or witch ability pouching, basically presenting quick to implement ways to further customize these dragons.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a formal and rules-language level. While I noticed a few missed italicizations and similar formatting hiccups and a few glitches in some abilities, these are few and far in between. Layout adheres to the grimoires-like two-column full-color standard of the series, though, after each dragon-type/subchapter, we have pretty big sections of blank space. The artworks within are original pieces and in full color: Dan Houser certainly has a unique style that some may consider to be a bit goofy, others delightfully charming. The front cover should give you a good idea there. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience. The pdf comes with a second version that is more mobile-device-friendly.

 

Sam Hing’s draconis arcanus, for me, started off as a concept I honestly was not excited about. AT ALL. Well, I’m happy to report that I was wrong in this instance – the dragons themed around spell schools actually work. Even better, they dare to be NASTY. They dare to be deadly and brutal – you know, like dragons should be. The ability arrays presented render these dragons potent adversaries that offer both brains and brawn as far as their capabilities are concerned. While they share their school mastery as a leitmotif, I was pleasantly surprised by how distinct from one another they ultimately turned out to be. They play differently, have radically different abilities, and more than one could be its own story twist. That evil empire with the enslaved evocation dragon bolstering the battlemages, the conflict of an enchantment, illusion and divination dragon, an epic game of chess and maneuvering…there are some seriously inspiring components here. Now, the pdf is not perfect, granted, but it’s a surprisingly captivating offering that actually made reviewing it fun. If I were to nitpick something, then that would be that the pdf could theoretically make more use of PFRPG’s subsystems, but then again, this may be a feature, not a bug for you and as such, won’t influence my final verdict. Even after all these monsters I’ve covered over the years, these dragons managed to elicit a sense of excitement – and what more can you ask for? While I did not reverse-engineer all stats within, I did check out a couple of them, and they are solid. All in all, I definitely consider this to be a worthwhile purchase and a great addition to the GM’s arsenal. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get these unique, challenging dragons here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 132018
 

Advanced Adventures: White Dragon Run (OSR)

This Advanced Adventure-installment clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

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

 

Now, as always for the series, we have OSRIC as the default old-school rule-set, and as always for the series, we deviate from the conventions and have magic weapons not italicized, but bolded, and similarly, spells are not italicized either, but bolded. The adventure is intended for level 2 – 4 characters, and a smart and well-rounded group is definitely recommended. The pdf does not offer read-aloud text for its environments.

 

That being said, “White Dragon Run” is a departure from what we’ve seen so far in the series, in that it is essentially a hex-crawl wilderness sandbox. In case you don’t know what that is – the adventurers basically travel through the wilderness, encountering beasts and finding unique areas, dungeons, etc. – it’s basically a form of free exploration through a region, somewhat akin to an open-world game. The respective regions surrounding the village of White Dragon Run show that it’s a borderlands type of village, in that it’s pretty much the last stop before the wilds. In the Southwest, Lathergrave (or Lathargrave – depending on whether you believe text or map) Forest can be food; North of the village would be the Mimir Woods, East to South-West of it the Auranas Woods. Between these, the rivers have cut into plains, and beyond the latter forest, there would be the hills known as “The Skaths” that grant the region its name: The Skathernes. In the West, beyond these hills, the majestic Mountains of Xur arise.

 

Auranas and Mimir Woods share a table of random encounters, with a mix of humanoids and minor fey taking up the majority of the entries, with a few zombies and the obligatory wolves sprinkled in. These forests are dangerous indeed, and stand in sharp contrast to the significantly less lethal La/ethergrave Forest, where the most outré encounter would be giant blowflies. Ew! The first two forests also get their own table of random encounters for the night time, where you won’t encounter fey, but where some of the more dangerous predators and humanoids roam in larger numbers.

 

That is not to say that the vicinity of the eponymous river that provided the name for the village is safe – quite the contrary! Crocodiles, giant poisonous frogs and large packs of wolves render the area beyond 1 mile of the village very dangerous…but the Skaths are actually even tougher: Here, pretty significant raiding parties can be found, and at night (the Skaths also get separate daytime and nighttime tables), the undead roam in dangerous quantities. The wilderness section also comes with a mini-generator of sorts that lets you sprinkle in dead bodies, random camps and ruins throughout the landscape. No random encounters table is provided for the Mountains of Xur, and it should be noted that PCs should think twice before exploring ruins – they are either occupied or haunted 50% of the time, and both translate to some seriously tough challenges. 1d3 wights or a poltergeist can and will TPK a group of careless adventurers.

 

While these tables may not look like much, they do play better than they read and facilitate emergent storytelling – encountering 2-16 wolves at night can result in a TPK if the PCs aren’t smart and you roll up a lot of wolves; similarly, stumbling into multiple quicklings in the Mimir Woods can be a rather humbling experience…and when 2nd level adventurers encounter a band of 8 worgs in the Skaths, they’d better have a plan B ready…or replacement characters. So yes, these encounter-tables paint a picture of a harsh environment, and do so rather well.

 

The village of White Dragon Run itself is fully mapped (no player-friendly, unlabeled map included), and comes with a total of 20 rumors. The village is defended by a garrison (and you get a list of HP so you can track who falls) that keeps the dangers of the wilderness at bay, led by Sir Kallan, who is also the de facto leader of the Triune that governs the village: In his absence, the Triune can’t meet. The other members would be Landan, a paladin, and Janra, the village’s cleric – these two do have appointed replacements, should they not be able to attend a Triune meeting. Cool, btw.: Janra has the Wide Book of Genth, a valuable tome, and the back of the module does contain an appendix with some fully-presented excerpts from it! Nice one! The village also has its resident magician, who is commonly known as “Smoke”, and the village does have its jeweler, a retired soldier, a shop – you get the idea. Nice here: percentile chances for having things in stock are provided.

 

I also really enjoyed that every single building in town actually gets notes for how it’s constructed, the condition it’s in, the number of occupants and occupations of the folks that live there. It may be a small thing, but it can really aid the GM to bring the village to life.

 

One building is fully mapped, and that, no surprises there, would be the one that is most crucial for most adventurers: The tavern. The “Twelve Toes Inn and Tavern” (so named because the proprietor indeed has twelve toes!) is the pulsing heart of sorts of the settlement, and it does note the chances of meeting a given NPC with a percentile value for daytime and nighttime as well.

 

As a whole, while White Dragon Run certainly may not be the most extraordinary village out there, it manages to feel plausible, with the percentile charts, random encounter tables for the wilderness and details provided rendering this part of the supplement a success. It’s not a genre-changer or the like, but it is a well-presented execution of a classic environment.

 

The last 5.5 pages of the module, then, do present two more detailed locations – small dungeons, if you will.

In order to discuss these, I need to go into SPOILER-territory. Potential players should hjump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! The first of these would be the “Gray Temple”, and abandoned edifice to the evil god Gaevud, a ruin of a granite structure somewhere in the Skaths. Today, vermin nest there, and this is represented by the random encounter table provided, which features giant lizards, giant rats, huge spiders and giant ticks, as well as a couple of humanoids. Indeed, the outer chapel, pretty much the first encounter-area of the temple, already has the potential to have the PCs surprised by no less than 8 giant spiders. If you haven’t learned to be careful via the dangerous wilds, this will drive it home. All in all, this is basically an exploration of an old ruin – though there are plenty of mundane pieces of equipment to still be scavenged herein – which is great for the notoriously-broke low-level adventurer…oh, and particularly perceptive PCs may well find a hidden room that hasn’t yet been looted and found…though, alas, the undead occupants may well object to it being looted… I liked the sense of dilapidation that this complex sported – it is something we don’t get to see that often. At the same time, I do feel that this would have benefited a bit more from some details regarding the long-vanished religion; more details for the iconography etc. to be spliced into the ever-present ruin….but that may have been intentional here.

 

The second complex presented would be The Forgotten Outpost – an underground complex that once served as a waystation for the Count’s men. A decade ago, it was overrun and sacked by humanoids, and today, it acts as a haven for a particularly vicious band of brigands. Clearing them from the outpost to potentially make it usable once more could really help the PCs getting Sir Kallan’s favor. Bandit HP are provided in a way that makes it easy to check them off, and the complex itself is a straight-forward extermination mission, unburdened by much in the way of hazards or the like…for the first 12 rooms, that is. A slight criticism would be that the bandits remain comparably pale – they don’t really have a proper response strategy or the like – compared to Advanced Adventures: The Curse of the Witch Head”, that aspect is weaker than I hoped it’d be. The interesting aspect of this complex is one that the PCs can potentially miss – there are quite a few rooms that haven’t been found by bandits, hidden by secret doors. Here, a forgotten, undead menace looms, and a room that is haunted can make for a rather creepy experience. I did like this (and the option to find a significant weapon cache) here, but as a whole, the complex still is basically something most GMs could improvise.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-level, with the by now almost traditional formatting deviations. Layout adheres to the old-school, two-column b/w-standards of the series that evoke a proper, old-school flair. The artworks within are b/w and rather nice indeed, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. Cartography is solid and b/w, but no player-friendly versions are provided.

 

James C. Boney’s “White Dragon Run” is a challenging little hexcrawl that can provide a surprising amount of game sessions. Courtesy of the danger of the wilderness, there are quite a lot of stories that will simply happen organically. And chances aren’t bad, particularly if you tackle this at 2nd level, that one or more PCs…or groups of PCs, will find their grisly ends in the Skathernes. The challenge is a central part of the appeal here, and indeed, the village is also well-presented. While I would have enjoyed a bit more conflict-potential to be baked into the settlement, as presented it makes for a point of light, for a fragile haven, and fills its role in that regard nicely. The hex-crawling section of this module, in short, should be considered to be a success, particularly for those among us that enjoy a down to earth and somewhat gritty aesthetic. I like that not everything is cluttered with magical things here – it grounds the experience and makes encountering the fantastic more remarkable.

 

That being said, the two mini-dungeons provided in the back of the book fall a bit short of what I have seen the author produce so far. The first dungeon does succeed at its goal, and while it’s not the most remarkable of places, it turned out to be enjoyable. In direct comparison, the second mini-dungeon feels like the less inspired, low level lite-version of his really enjoyable and cool “Curse of the Witch Head.” With a defense strategy for the adversaries, and perhaps a slightly more meaningful impact for finding the less obvious parts of it, this could have been a much more compelling expedition. So yeah, in direct comparison, the two brief dungeons did not exactly blow me away.

 

How to rate this, then? See, here things get a bit tricky. While I did enjoy the settlement and rather deadly wilderness, the two mini-dungeons included are simply less exciting. And when compared to other adventures that have received 4 stars from yours truly, this simply isn’t wholly there – it needed that little bit, that extra oomph in the dungeons, perhaps a couple of mini-quests in village and wilderness, to truly shine. As such, my final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform – a solid release on the positive side of things.

 

You can get this adventure/region here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Nov 122018
 

Dungeon Age: Saving Saxham (revised edition) (5e)

This module clocks in at 24 pages of content , 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of which is the SRD, leaving us with 21 pages of content.

 

This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue due to me receiving a printed copy of the adventure.

 

All righty, this is an adventure for characters level 1 – 3, with well-rounded groups being the preferable target demographic, as often the case. This is a one-man operation, with the maps and artworks provided by the author as well. The cartography in b/w is solid, but does not provide a grid/scale or player-friendly, unlabeled version per se – however, it is cleverly constructed in a way which allows the GM to print it out and cut out the map section sans the labels, making the maps functionally player-friendly.

 

Let it be known that this book looks very professional from the get-go: Read-aloud text (which is flavorful) is clearly set apart from the text and color-coded, and important key words are bolded – whenever they point towards a locale, an item, etc. that has its own description/section, we have the information in brackets. This may sound like a small thing, but from an information-design perspective, this renders running the module surprisingly easy for the GM.

 

Indeed, in spite of being basically an investigative sandbox, this adventure can be run with minimum prep time, courtesy of its smart presentation. That’s definitely more forethought than I expected from a freshman offering. This is even more evident when it comes to room/locale descriptions – below the read-aloud texts we actually get helpful bullet-points that list items of interest/interaction points, rules-relevant information, etc.

 

The pdf also provides quite a few helpful minor magic items – for example a helmet that provides advantage on saving throws versus being stunned. Here, I need to nitpick their formatting a bit – no item scarcity is noted and “Attunement.” is bolded, when it should be both italicized and noted in the line for item scarcity. That would be a cosmetic hiccup, though.

 

EDIT: And this is where this module deserves a re-evaluation: Where previously, we got barely functional stats, the revised edition now features abbreviated statblocks in the front, where they are relevant, and full statblocks in the back, in case you need to look up some obscure rules-interaction. This is a VAST improvement for the pdf!

 

Coupled with the fact that even e.g. a goblin gets some personality, his own agenda and responses to news and the like, we now thus have the proper mechanics to supplement narrative class: We get dialogue options, guidance and this super-neat presentation; heck, even mundane, interesting items such as letters get detailed descriptions – in the fluff department, this totally excels.

 

But to properly explain what’s sets this module apart, I need to go into SPOILERS. Players REALLY should skip ahead to the conclusion. Seriously. Reading on will thoroughly SPOIL the adventure, and you don’t want that.

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Okay, are only GMs left? Are you sure? One more time: I will spoil this thing! Big time! So, “Saving Saxham” begins as generic as it can be – there is a small village called Saxham, established by the wealthy Sax family, courtesy of the grist mill. As the adventurers arrive in the town, they will be puzzled indeed – a curse seems to have taken a hold of Saxham – houses are dilapidated an overgrown, weeds are all over the fields, and, as a boy tells the PCs en route, monsters are in the woods. All of these observations, save one, are correct – in the woods, there indeed are monsters – and as the local elves have come to investigate, there is a similar problem – the forest seems to be suffering a mysterious blight. Strange variant zombies, so-called clayskins (things of clay) and woodwalkers (basically woodzombies with green berries for eyes) lumber through the forest, with the former evolving into the more deadly, second form over time.

 

If this sounds like something that could have been taken straight from a Witcher-game, then you’d be right – the premise does not disappoint: There is no gizmo responsible. There is no evil necromancer with the cliché shadow boss. There is no standard evil humanoid tribe responsible. Nope, the solution is actually much more amazing. The surrounding area, NPCs and small dungeon, all detailed in intriguing ways, does hold a secret most delightful in its implications: You see, the buildings and fields aren’t cursed. Neither are the villagers. 30 years ago, the plague struck Saxham and wiped it out, making it a ghost town – and now, the ghost of the town cleric has risen, and in her despair, raises the villagers, successfully, I might add, from the dead. Okay, they need to shamble a bit around as beings of grave clay…and then as dangerous wooden monsters…but after that, they’ll come to their senses, stumble naked back into town, and have no recollection of what happened. The life-source required is drawn by the undead from the flora of the region. Bound to the cemetery, the ghost requires its minions to dig tunnels – and she is draining trees from below. If the adventurers don’t interfere, the blight will spread, but a town that has died will be repopulated…though, obviously, the elves wouldn’t stand for such a perversion of the natural order…

 

This is a fantastic and clever conundrum, a great twist, and frankly renders this one of the coolest first level modules I’ve read in a long while. I absolutely love it!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal, and now also on a rules-language level, are excellent; the combination of easy to use shortened statblocks and full stats in the back is amazing. The pdf comes laid out in a two-column full-color standard with b/w-artworks and cartography, and a low-res version as well. The pdf does not have bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort-detriment – I strongly encourage you to print this out when running it.

 

Joseph Robert Lewis’ “Saving Saxham” was a HUGE surprise for me. First, I enjoyed the presentation and clever way in which the scenario handles information. Then, my spirits sank as I saw the statblock issue –an issue, which, as per the writing of this review, is no more!!

 

I read this…and my reaction was: “Oh boy!” “Saving Saxham” is a fantastic, slightly weird fantasy-ish/dark fantasy module that provides a truly tricky moral conundrum, a clever story and evocative prose. This feels like a module I’d run in my home-game; it is clever, smart, and yes, fun. It has a very distinct narrative voice and is more creative than a TON of modules I’ve read. This is a true winner, and as a person, I LOVE it. If you have similar tastes, then do yourself a favor and check this out!! Better yet, its revised edition now provides the rules-integrity to supplement the amazing angle, making this pretty much one of the best modules for PWYW that you can get. My final verdict for the revised iteration will be 5 stars + seal of approval – get this ASAP!

 

You can get this amazing little module for PWYW here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.