Feb 212019
 

Tomb of the Iron God (OSR)

This module clocks in at 26 pages, minus one page of SRD, minus ¾ of a page blank, leaving us with 24 ¼ pages of content, with covers already subtracted. My review is based on the PoD saddle-stitched softcover version of the module, and I do not own the pdf-iteration; as such, I can’t comment on the merits or lack thereof of the pdf.

This adventure is intended for use with Swords & Wizardry rules, which means 1 save, HD and HP noted, and both values for ascending and descending AC noted. As always, conversion to other OSR rules-sets is pretty simple. The module is intended for 4 – 8 characters of level 1 – 2. As far as formal properties are provided, we get separated Gm and player-background, 4 rumors for cursory and 6 for extensive inquiry, and a note for novice GMs to instill some sort of time pressure upon the PCs. The complex featured within covers 2 dungeon-levels and it’s pretty easy to expand that further, should you choose to do so. The module comes with proper read-aloud text printed in italics, and the module sports suggested random encounters for the two dungeon levels. Spells are, oddly, capitalized, not italicized. The module also features tables to repopulate the dungeon, for wandering monsters may actually be eradicated – dedicated players can slowly exterminate the monster population. It’s a small thing, but something I liked. Each room also comes with a white box in the middle of text, left there for your GM notes as you run the module. There also is a d20 treasure table. As for the setting/environment, this can be seamlessly slotted into pretty much any environment.

All right, so this is pretty much as much as I can say regarding the formal criteria of the adventure. In order to dive further, I need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, only GMs around? Great! For as long as any cared to remember, the monastery of the harsh, but just Iron God, a minor deity, has always stood atop the catacombs devoted to this entity. The monks, however, have grown complacent and corrupt under the leadership of the corrupt Ardarus. One month ago,, just before the corrupt monk’s plans could come to fruition, something happened: Lightning struck from the heavens, and the complex’s splendor was ravaged, the renegade monks were transformed into living iron, now littering the dungeon: These beings experience the agony of their existence in extreme slow-motion, which renders the dressing of the complex utterly unique and creepy: “Did that weird statue’s arm move since we were last here?” Amazing.

The Iron God remains, guarding the entombed dead below…as well as lording over another evil, the immortal Eater of the Dead. The fall of the monastery from grace it but a month away, making the PCs primed to explore this site of divine wrath. The adversaries and random monsters do a good job at enforcing the notion of the complex – undead, vermin and goblins that have moved in constitute the lion’s share of the respective combat encounters. This, however, never made the module boring, which is in large parts due to the complex making sense – from embalming chambers to meditation chambers, the module offers a surprising sense of cohesion of a complex makes sense. It should also be noted that the complex, above and below, is pretty varied and allows for pretty free exploration. The dungeon is surprisingly nonlinear. Small treasures, like flammable embalming fluid, spells held in open books in the archive and similar small tidbits help render the complex alive.

Oh, and PCs should be careful – entering the catacombs (which include a couple of rooms on the first level, as well as the entirety of the second level) sans the proper respect and ceremony will suffer the consequence – namely, hallucinating within the catacombs! No, there’s no save – this is about PLAYER skill over PC skill – and it’s about atmosphere, for where the monastery’s massive ruins feel dilapidated and struck by powers beyond ken, the catacombs feel…well, like catacombs. Actually creepy. An iron, three-headed dog guards the entrance, a call-back to Cerberus that anyone will understand, and while this potent entity is not to be trifled with, it’s not there to attack the PCs. (The boss of the monastery-level is the cursed, corrupt leader of the monks, still capable of moving properly…)

In the catacombs, giant ticks, snakes hiding in walls…and the Eater of the Dead. This immortal beast is MUCH more than the PCs can hope to defeat. The pdf does telegraph the presence of the Eater, and provides plenty of warning, but once they enter the Eater’s room, they will have released it by presence of their very life…and if the PCs are smart, but greedy, they may do something clever. Said Cerberus-dog-thing? Well, luring the Eater to the dog will result in the dog being destroyed, but also in a weakened Eater that the PCs just MIGHT beat if they’re lucky. And mind you, the PCs will have plenty of time to figure that out. Why? Well, the eater is basically indestructible and mpervious to damage, and once unleashed, it will follow the PCs. Yeah, the PCs may end up exploring a big part of this module with an indestructible god-beast thing silently watching them. This is simple, but incredibly unnerving and brutal. The Eater cannot be harmed…until it enters combat, which it will do when the PCs run into undead. I love this. It’s genuinely unnerving.

But, you know, all that treasure below in the tombs…all that gold…it beckons, right? So yeah, The PCs will go down there. They will explore…and it’ll follow. To quote from the Psalters of the Iron God:

“Fear the Eater of the Dead,

Stalker, Tomb-walker,

Clothed in stone.

He who finds him cannot bind him,

He who leads him soon feeds him,

He who sees him frees him.”

Yep, diligent and smart PCs may not free the Eater, be warned of its power…but the careless and completionists will have an exciting and deadly challenge added to the module…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a no-frills two-column b/w-standard. The pdf has one small piece of b/w-artwork inside, and the b/w-cartography is really nice, but unfortunately no player-friendly, unlabeled versions were provided in the book. I can’t comment on electronic features, as I only own the softcover.

Matthew Finch was one of the authors that got me hooked on old-school gaming once more; his design-aesthetics are great, his prose is vivid and his complexes make sense and are suffused with a sense of the archaic and raw, in the best of ways. I stumbled over this module more by chance than anything else, and I’m glad I did. While the baseline and creatures per se may not look like they are that uncommon, the angle of divine wrath and the subsequent dressing of the complex, in addition with the cool “bosses”, the emphasis on player-skill in several instances over PC skill, and the overall tough but fair design render this one of the best introductions to old-school gaming I could think of. Yes, PCs can die, but the adventure is never unfair.

This presents a quintessential, challenging, but manageable old-school dungeon, and it does so without being boring, without resorting to the standard dressing and boss trapping you’d expect.

 This book teaches central tenets of the experience and manages to evoke more atmosphere than I expected it to. With 57 keyed locations, it also provides quite a bit of gaming, bang-for-buck ratio-wise.

Now, granted, the cover isn’t exactly pretty. The book feels barebones in the aesthetics department. But honestly, who cares? This is better than a ton of pretty books; it has atmosphere, skill and panache – and I’m a substance over style kind of guy. I’d take a great module sans art over a mediocre one with astonishing art any day of the week. This adventure is definitely worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

You can get the pdf-version here on lulu!

You can get the PoD-softcover here on lulu!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 212019
 

Monstrous Lair: Bandit’s Camp (system neutral)

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

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

The approaches to a bandit camp may sport sharpened stakes nigh half-dug pits, small wooden palisades, crosses of sticks marking areas for unknown purposes (treasure? traps? guard post?), and blood mixing with water under a fallen log speaks violence, and the remains of bark shows that there may have been a battle… Once the PCs find the camp, they may interrupt archery practice, bandits struggling with a deer’s carcass, repairs being undertaken for a damaged shelter, instructions in spear repair, and the like – it’s odd, but in spite of the generic nature of bandits, this one managed to still evoke a pretty focused image.

As far as notable features of the camp, we may find haphazardly-fortified perimeters, a mockery of a skeleton called “king” atop a rough log throne (or is it an undead bandit king?), shredded flags speaking of disgruntled feelings towards the authority…and the minor features include offal being  gathered for application to spikes; pulped berries may be used for bandit cloaks, and blunted swords rest on tables, awaiting repairs. Bandit appearances may include being covered in blood and muck, smelling of stale beer; ruined uniforms of once proud mercenary units, attempting to hide grievous wounds and some indicators for success (or lack thereof) complement this section. As far as the treasures are concerned, we can find rune-emblazoned braziers, fletcher’s tools, or the beautiful and obviously cherished banner of a forgotten lord – some cool ones here! Finally, the trinket-table features once fine and now threadbare footstools, felt hats decorated with feathers (obviously green!) and other tools of the trade.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Steve Hood’s bandit dressing could have been utterly generic and lame, but in contrast to my expectations, the pdf took the time and think about why folks choose to become bandits, and how that may be reflected in the dressing of their camps, in what they hold dear. Considering that this actually manages to instill them with a sense of identity, in spite of the wide-open banditry angle, my final verdict will round up from 4.5 stars.

You can get these surprisingly neat dressing tables here on OBS!

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 212019
 

Monstrous Lair: Bugbears’ Lair (system neutral)

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

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

Recently, Pathfinder has recontextualized bugbears as distinct humanoids that have transcended the original use of yet-another-evil goblinoid race, emphasizing fear as their weapon of choice. Personally, I really enjoy this thematic differentiation from the other goblinoid races, and as such, I liked the focus of approaches noted: From embedded skulls on stakes to grisly fetishes and catapults firing pans of offal and bones, this section is pretty nice, though a bit more versatility would have been nice – the first three entries all feature stakes, not counting bodyparts impaled on spikes instead. As for what’s going on, we have bugbears in the process of killing goblinoids, skinning, discussions on captured females and the like – this table further emphasizes the horrific nature of these humanoids, and it is more versatile than the first table.

As for notable features, we have makeshift arenas, traces of the consumption of sentient humanoids, and dead or bound bugbears, subjected to the tender mercies of their own sadistic kind. As far as minor features are concerned, we can find even more skulls, bones and traps and torture devices. The pdf also features bugbear appearances, which include oversized dresses covered in bits and gore, human skin wrapped around large shields…or limping on a sharp-spiked staff. The pdf also features 10 treasures that include barbed morning stars that scream when an opponent is hit, strange sacks that muffle screams and can carry whole humanoids, and more – this table is pretty cool and easily the strongest within. The trinkets include broken swords attached to a rope, finger-bones half-threaded to sinew and worse.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Steve Hood’s take on bugbears makes them grisly, nasty and dangerous. Their dressing emphasizes how vile they can be, and the notes on torture-devices, stuff made from the living and remains make them rather creepy indeed. All in all, a fun and well-wrought dressing file with a couple of highlights. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded down.

You can get this nice dressing file here on OBS!

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 202019
 

Wormskin #2: Lankshorn (OSR)

The second installment of the Wormskin-‘zine clocks in at 50 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

Rules-wise, Wormskin favors B/X-rules, but adaption to other OSR-systems is pretty easy. This means e.g. HD, descending AC, etc. My review is primarily based on the print version, though I also consulted the pdf-iteration.

Now, as before, this is another look at the strange and wondrous area known as Dolmenwood, but it should be noted that this installment is somewhat different in focus, in that we do learn about actual areas in the region known as High Wold, Lankshorn and surroundings in particular.

But before we get there, we begin with a handy one-page table that depicts common tavern-fare: The first column notes the main part of the course, the second column the form, and the third the additional components: A quick roll would leave you, for example. With “Sparrow brain crumble with minty peas” – but fret not…while the table does offer a couple of the more weird components, standards like chicken wing, eel, etc. can also be found…I just liked this particular result. 😉

Anyhow, after this brief introduction table, we move on to the second component within, namely rules for psychedelic compounds – it is here that the issue hearkens back to the first installment, but imho surpasses it: We get a massive article on psychedelica: A massive d30-table that features slang names, substances, procedures of consumption, primary effect (including value per dose) and side effects is provided. This massive table once more spans 6 pages, 3 two-page spreads. The psychedelica also come with notes on consumption, on selling and purchasing them…and, in an amazing addition, notes regarding the creation of said substances. It really can’t be overstated how good this whole section is, how it manages to weave unobtrusive lore in footnotes and small sections: When we read about a petty trickster deity in 9-legged unicorn form, we smile. When the drug “grobbage” are harvested from blue hornet eggs, when certain lunatics may be “milked”, when bite-y verminous fairies need to be milked, then you just can’t help but smile. These drug-origins are diverse and utterly inspiring, with each of them capable of acting as a proper adventure-hook. I adore it.

After this, we take a look at the High World – in the guise of several hexes covered (for reference, please consult the FREE Dolmenwood Referee’s Map), which means we cover 7 different hexes, which also tie in with the new monsters: For example, the sacred stone where weddings of the local aristocracy are held, the Trothstone, is near the territory of witch-owls, which is one of 7 new monsters: These violet-eyed owls have a gaze that may steal your memories…and it’s a great point to discuss what the monster-write ups have: They not only provide precise stats, they also come with 6 traits, 4 sample encounter set-ups and even 4 lairs where applicable (which is true for all but one monster within); in the case of witch-owls, we can, for example, find cyclopic owls, feathers shimmering in moonlight, or a grotesque human mouth that allows the owl to speak. The result is simple: It becomes difficult to discern if the creature is just a nameless critter, or something unique. I love this.

But let us return to the hexes of Dolmenwood for now, and let me mention the village now swallowed by a bog, courtesy of a nasty relic brought there – and yep, the bog-zombies that roam this area (another new monster) are cool. There also is King Pusskin’s road – where you definitely should leave an offering of milk or mice at the shrine…unless you’re keen on a distinctly feline haunting that may manifest in a variety of ways. The ditchway street, on the other hand, is haunted by nightworms, eye-less and grotesque worms that haunt it at night…you better get to safety once these rear their ugly, eyeless heads. King’s mounds are the home of a new type of fairy from the Otherwold (Not a typo!) – the mischievous barrowbogey, brown-skinned and wrinkled, these fellows use jugs and similar containers as “heads” – and are illustrated in an appropriately psychedelic style by Anxious P. (Who contributed quite a few artworks to this book.)

Now, I have skipped past two of the most detailed hexes, as they tie in with Lankshorn, the largest settlement in Dolmenwood, which is the other main-focus of the pdf and which also provides for the remainder of the monsters in that section: Lankshorn comes with 7 different locations noted, which include the apothecary (tie in with aforementioned psychedelic compounds), the church of the One True God (as a bastion of, ostensibly, normality, that does NOT deliver on this promise of the familiar…thankfully!) and the local inn, to state a few. There is a d16 rumor table, a blacksmith that comes with prices for silvering weapons, custom engraving and foe binding and the like – a ton of immediately useful, strange components that add to Dolmenwoods actually really creepy, slow-burn sheer ODDNESS.

You see, it took lankshorn to make it clear to me how smart this mini-setting actually is; the playfulness and weirdness hinted at in issue #1 comes to the forefront here: Lankshorn, while inhabited by humans, is not under human rule. Lord Malbleat is the local lord, the aristocracy. He is a Longhorn…and a goatman. You see, goatmen come in two versions: Shorthorns are the lower-class, longhorns the aristocracy. Slaying goats is forbidden by law, and humans…are basically a slave-caste. Decadent and oh-so-civilized, the goatmen bring a clever sense of horror to the proceedings: You see, goatmen enjoy domesticating humans. In a twist on the lapdog etymology (guess where the “lap”-component originally came from) goatmen are liable to take human brides and produce degenerate, mad offspring with these sexual thralls. Hence, the Lankshorn-look, in a nod towards the Innsmouth-look, is provided as an additional dressing. But more than that, goatmen carry another, more subtle component that can be profoundly disturbing: Dolmenwood’s humans are not the centerpiece, the navel of the world. Instead, humans, and indeed, the “normal” is almost incidental to the novel and captivating world that this humble pdf shows us. They are pets, who, as Lord Malbleat would note, stumble through a primal, strange world inhabited by godlings, strange plants and fairy lords…but humans are also dangerous…and as such, should be kept in check. Thankfully, the goatmen have this handy draught named Addercorn that renders their favorite humans utterly docile, drugged and fully subservient to their hourglass pupilled masters. Don’t get me wrong – this is not played as a call for revolution, as a straight set-up to overthrow the goat masters. Instead, it depicts them as cultured, benevolent overlords…with a thoroughly nasty twist. Goatmen are frightening BECAUSE they are cultured, because they behave very much like humans behave towards other species. They reminded me of Catherynne M- Valente’s Gaselli and hooked me on Dolmenwood. I love them.

Did I miss something? Oh yeah, there’s also a new spell to see otherwise invisible fairy things. Nice one.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re top-notch on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a concise 1-column b/w-standard and the book has both full-color artworks and b/w-artworks, which constitute a mixture of well-chosen b/w public domain artwork and original pieces, which include both b/w and full-color pieces. The softcover is nice, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked. A minor nitpick would be that Lankshorn does not get a dedicated settlement map.

Gavin Norman’s second installment of Wormskin is what sold me on the ‘zine, on Dolmenwood. The first installment was already impressive, particularly for a first glimpse at Dolmenwood, but this book makes the setting start taking shape. It clearly and distinctly differentiates Dolmenwood from comparable settings and regions. It finds and further develops its unique tone and themes, and does so with panache aplomb. There is not a single monster, table or hex covered herein that is not in some way, quirky, strange, frightening…or, more often than not, all of these. This is clearly a labor of love and it is a brilliant, inspiring booklet. Even if you’re not interested in the rules, if you play e.g. PFRPG or 5e, this is worth checking out for the phenomenal dressing, for the unique and compelling concepts. 5 stars + seal of approval, easily and triumphantly earned. Btw.: I strongly suggest getting the print version, as it makes the psychedelica double-page-spread just easier to use.

You can get this inspiring, amazing ‘zine here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 202019
 

The Horseshoe Calamity

This adventure clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 18 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

As always: It should be noted that I am working for Legendary Games as developer; I have received this module and the request to review it prior to taking this position, and hereby vow I’ll rate it to the best of my abilities in a neutral manner.

This adventure can be used as a stand-alone adventure, or it can be used to complement the third part of the Reign of Winter AP, “Maiden, mother, Crone.” It is intended for 7th level characters, and begins in the small town of Dolanni, inhabited by the semi-nomadic Ovoskich tribe.

The village comes with proper settlement statblock, as well as an impressive full-color map of it and its surroundings. Even better, the pdf does come with a proper, player-friendly, key-less version. Kudos! The dungeon map btw. also comes with a player-friendly version – cartographer Marco Morte did a great job here as well. The pdf contains a magic item that is a special reed – when it’s consumed, the character gets to instantly reassign a language known. There is also a magic axe contained herein that may change its damage type for cold, and a new monster at CR 8 is also included inside.

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

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, as the PCs approach the settlement, they’ll meet a welcome committee of the most unusual kind – you see, half the populace there actually consists of centaurs. Why? Well, you see, there was a tomb unearthed, and in the tried and true tradition of foolhardy folks, a magic horseshoe was taken – and now, racial tensions are rising: As blackened ghosts (Specters) are rising from the disturbed tomb, humans blame the centaurs for not returning the horseshoe, while the centaurs consider the humans reticence to fight cowardly. Both sides have suffered losses at this point, and it’s only a matter of time before things escalate.

The first component of the module is about deescalating the racial tensions – which, while optional and good in the long run, will pit the PCs against a hothead centaur hunter, potentially has the PCs partake in aforementioned reed, and face down the inevitable specter attack. The second part of the adventure has the PCs explore the tomb that the scout Alasha plundered by kinda-accident, facing the new monster, the hoofghast (basically an undead centaur that heals in cold temperatures and has a concentration/Int-based skill/ability-impeding aura) and also a dread frost wight cleric of Kostchtchie, which can provide hints/an optional tie-in with the big AP-module. Rewards for the winged horseshoes and rewards are appropriate.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though there are a few instances where magic item references aren’t italicized. Layout adheres to the neat two-column full-color standard of the Reign of Winter-plugins, and the pdf sports several really nice, original full-color artworks I haven’t seen before. The cartography, as noted, is amazing, with full player-friendly map support. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Ron Lundeen’s “Horseshoe Calamity” can help provide a more organic introduction into the statues-dungeon of the AP, and it makes for a nice chance to roleplay. It is, in short, a nice sidetrek with excellent production values. While its brevity means that it’s not exactly the most complex of narratives, it doesn’t have to be. All in all, this is a nice little addition to the AP. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

You can get this nice expansion/sidetrek here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 202019
 

Zephyrus Base Class

This base class clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The zephyrus base class has a full BAB, gets d10 HD, 4 + Int modifier skills per level, and sports good Fortitude and Reflex saves. The class gets proficiency with simple weapons as well as all polearms and spears and all armors and shields, excluding tower shields. Being clearly inspired by Final fantasy’s dragoons (if the cover artwork wasn’t ample clue), the class begins play with leaping charge, the option to use a full-round action to charge and inflict +1d8 damage with it, increasing said damage by a further +1d8 at every two levels. This is noted in the class table as well for your convenience. The zephyrus adds class level to Acrobatics and always counts as having a running jump. At 3rd level, when the zephyrus uses the charge action, he may move through the spaces of allies unimpeded; at 5th level, the class gets up to one 90 degree turn while charging; 9th level nets the ability to ignore difficult terrain while charging and 13th level unlocks the ability to charge through the zephyrus opponent’s spaces, though this does provoke AoOs. Starting at 17th level, the charges of the zephyrus no longer provoke AoOs form leaving the square the zephyrus charges from.

At 3rd level, the class reduces armor check penalty by 1 (minimum 0) and increases the maximum Dexterity bonus allowed by the armor by 1, increasing this by a further 1 (properly worded!) for both every 4 levels thereafter. This culminates at 19th level, when the zephyrus reduces armor check penalty to 0, may always use full Dex-mod, and when in light armor or no armor, he gets improved evasion; in heavier armor “just” evasion. Potent, but at 19th level, justified.

Also at third level, we get leap attack, which is a standard action attack versus a foe threatened for +1d8 damage, which increases by a further +1d8 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This would be as well a place as any to note that this is once more noted in the table (nice) and that both bonus damage abilities come with precise verbiage regarding critical hit interaction. 4th level nets fast charge (+10 ft. speed when running or charging, +5 ft. for every 2 levels thereafter), again, noting the distance on the class table. Starting at 4th level, the class also progressively reduces falling damage incurred. The capstone is cool: When you hit with a leaping charge (that’s the first level charge attack), the foe gets a save (DC 10 +1/2 class level + Strength modifier) and take 20d8 bonus damage on a success (!!). What happens on a failure? Well, to nitpick – it’s not properly stated, but the flavor mentions dying, so yeah…not ideal, but it kinda works. Thankfully, the ability has a witch-caveat that prevents you hitting a target more than once per day with this brutal attack.

The class also sports customization options in the form of lancets. These are somewhat akin to bloodlines and orders in that they provide a set array of tricks that unlocks over the levels. 5 lancets are provided, and each comes with a basic ability: These include free bull rush, dirty trick or trip attempts at -2, +4 to atk instead of +2 when charging, instead gaining a bonus to damage (at a slightly increased AC penalty), swift action Acrobatics after a charge (cool!) or penalty-less leaping charges. Beyond these, the lancets also add ½ class level to skill checks. (Skills have not ben properly capitalized.) Beyond these, each lancet features four ability-progressions: 2nd level nets a bonus feat (not capitalized properly), and the second of these set feats is gained at 10th level. The other abilities are gained at 8th and 15th level. For 8th level abilities, we have e.g. better maneuvers for the maneuver-based lancet 8gets rid of the -2 penalty for the maneuver added to the leaping charge), while another provides a tightly codified cleave-like bonus attack at the cost of AC penalty; better Power Attack charging, taking 10 when using Acrobatics to move to a new position after a charge, getting a dodge bonus – these basically build on the respective lancet themes. Same goes for the 15th level abilities, making the lancets feel like distinct ability-progressions that make sense.

Conclusion:

Editing is good on a formal and rules-language level; on the formatting side, we have quite a few deviations from the standard, but no deal-breakers per se. Layout adheres to the two-column b/w-standard of ARMR Studios, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. The hand-drawn b/w-artworks are nice.

I’m horribly nostalgic for the old Final Fantasy titles; it’s one of the very few things that manages to tug at my heart’s strings. Heck, I grinded out all of FF V’s jobs, including the mimic. Thus, the zephyrus hits a kind of sweet spot for. The class is not exactly the pinnacle of excitement, and I probably wouldn’t want to play one for a prolonged amount of time, as it’s very much a charge-based class, though one lancet does allow you to be pretty decent at setting up flanks/skirmishing, so that’s a plus. Then again, this class does come as PWYW, and it imho is worth a donation – or, well if you want to make a dragoon NPC (curse the inevitable betrayal!), then this has you covered without requiring much work, so there’s that. Usually, this would be a 2.5 to 3 stars-type of class, but taking the PWYW-nature into account, I will round up from my final verdict of 3.5 stars. It’s worth taking a look to save time.

You can get this class here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 192019
 

The Wizardarium of Calabraxis (DCC)

This adventure clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/how to use, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, though it should be noted that these pages are jam-packed with content – there is a ton of material herein, about as much as in many DCC-adventures released by Goodman Games. It should also be noted that, in the editorial/how to use section, we also get the background story of the adventure, which means we’re closer to 14 pages of content.

Credit where credit is due: I’d like to thank Daniel J. Bishop – it’s due to his tireless efforts at cataloguing DCC-material that I have found this adventure. It otherwise would have flown under my radar. I’d also like to thank one of my patreon-supporters, who formally asked me to tackle this and finally get around to reviewing this.

I usually don’t comment on the price-point of products unless they are way out of line, but here goes:

This costs a grand total of $1.50.

Bear that in mind as we proceed.

Okay, on a formal level, it should be noted that creature statblocks herein are not formatted in the standardized way, instead being either italicized as a whole, or printed bold. I am, unsurprisingly, not that into this choice. However, I am VERY MUCH into something this module gets right, that almost no DCC-adventure gets right: We actually *do* get a player-friendly version of the map of the complex featured within, helping judges like yours truly that suck at drawing maps…and allowing for pretty painless VTT-use. This btw. also extends to the wandering monster-artworks, drawn in a charming, comic-like artstyle that captures the gonzo tone very well. Kudos there! The respective keyed encounter areas lack a read-aloud text, but we do get half a page of Appendix N inspirational reading, as well as a helpful timeline of the complex to be explored, i.e. the eponymous Wizardarium.  Why is this important to note? I’ll get back to that below, in the spoilers-section. Information, just to note this, has been provided in an exceedingly efficient manner, so paraphrasing the content of the rooms is pretty simple. In style, the closest analogue is probably the very condensed and concise aesthetics of one-page-dungeons, at least for the description of rooms…just that it’s more detailed.  On the plus-side for less experienced judges, there actually are some roleplaying suggestions – both in the playtesting examples given, and in the text – like running a finger over the lips as part of talking to create a film-reel-like effect, etc.

Remarkable regarding the timeline: Collapses and complex decay is noted, which can be rather helpful indeed. The complex sports a variety of unique monsters, as befitting a DCC-adventure, and there is a 1d12 table of one such creature type, with individual stats (!!) for each of them. The module also contains a rumor table, as well as painless guidelines for making psionic powers. These work via a roll under mechanic (making them, at least to me, feel archaic in the context of DCC, more like an odd OSR-component…but that is indubitably by design!), with the option to burn Intelligence or Personality. This baseline is made understandable by the pdf providing sample powers for a sample power, including 10 different effects. In essence, it’s a bit different from spells, but works differently enough to feel distinct. The sample power provides a context for the judge, and ultimately, spell design and the adjacency of the systems allow for simple expansion. While I’d have loved to see more sample powers, this does offer all you need to make more.

As for level-range, this works pretty well for DCC characters ranging from levels 0 -2, though it *is* a pretty deadly adventure and does a good job at higher levels with some tweaks as well. It also wholeheartedly embraces the gonzo and ridiculous traditions that can be found among the Appendix N literature and the D&D-based roleplaying games tradition, making it a module that can definitely be considered to be…genuinely funny. It can also be pretty horrifying at the same time, which is a tone you rarely see. It should also be noted that this does sport old-school aesthetics in that it rewards PCs and players for experimenting, but can result in some odd (and dangerous) consequences if they do. The module is deadly, but its lethality is grounded in a fair design paradigm – there is a last-second save and the like for the more deadly effects…but I’ll get to that below in the spoiler-section. Finally, it should be noted that this dungeon isn’t necessarily meant as a fire-and-forget offering – instead, it has a couple of components that reward players and PCs for engaging with it time and again, and seems almost designed to provide serious replay value.

…but in order to talk more about this adventure, I will have to dive into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only judges around? Great! So, there is some village, near some mountains, and apemen have kidnapped two kids. That’s about all you need for hooks. The apemen that inhabit the caves have lived for quite some time now in the abode of the vanished wizard Calabraxis, but they will probably end up being the least of the PC’s problems. Beyond these, the complex houses a variety of unique creatures: We have mongrelocks, basically the unique, devolved morlock/mongrelfolk-like beings – for these, we have the table of individual, unique stats mentioned before. Then, there’s the undermutants – powerful, deadly, and obviously degenerates of some other race – which would be the vorbians. The vorbians have a significant influence on the module and complex – an ancient mining device of these beings, a monolith, caused the creation and (d)evolution of species here. This monolith may make PCs smarter at the cost of stripping away the capacity to feel certain emotions – and yes, this is explained and makes for a great roleplaying device. Beyond that, the PCs may actually meet reawakened vorbians – with elongated skulls, advanced weaponry (that may turn unwitting PCs into vorbians…) and evil-twirling-moustaches ready. While not immediately hostile, their arrogance will probably make the PCs want to kill them. Oh, and what do they want? You decide…by playing vorb-libs! A mad-libs-like series of sentences you can fill out! Cool!

Oh, and there would be my favorite regular creatures in a while – head-swapper bats. These bats specialize in hit and run attack – if you don’t have a gorget or similar throat protection, they’ll bite you, and if you don’t quickly detach them, they’ll sever your head! (See, deadly, but you get a chance to get rid of them!) Then, they basically “put on” your head, and talk with your personality and knowledge, but in an amoral manner, and sans acknowledging the creepiness of the whole process! They are genuinely frightening, and they are an amazing roleplaying prospect, for these bats do like to converse…after all, that’s the only way to know which heads are smart enough to be good targets!

That are basically the rank-and-file monsters here! There are unique ones as well – like the very polite and very lethal guardian that is bound to one room – who *really* doesn’t want to kill the PCs, but, you know, relocating the guardian just might work…In the corridors, echoes of Calabraxis roam – harmless…for now. What do I mean by that? Well, the mad and grotesque wizard has managed to create a time-machine that the PCs can find and fiddle with! If they do, they can witness past and future, and the pdf actually provides concise guidelines for what this projection should allow, but thankfully without attempting to jam one interpretation of time travel down the judge’s throat. For folks like yours truly that prefer time travel to behave on levels akin to “Primer”, this makes the aspect actually work! Oh, and time travel is tied to not one, but two unique monsters that are fully statted, that are not part of the illustrious cadre I mentioned above.

Oh, and this level of imagination and attention to detail? It also extends to the small details, to terrain features and treasure to be found. You know you have something special on your hand when you find a book with a stick, and realize that it’s not only intelligent (if slightly senile), but also likes to eat spellbooks and scrolls…and it can be wielded like a razor-sharp axe! This is the type of far-out, unique, cool item I love.

Conclusion:

Editing is excellent on a formal and rules-language level. Formatting is slightly less impressive, but seriously still better than the majority of supplements out there, on a good to very good level. Layout adheres to an efficient 2-column b/w-standard that manages to jam a metric ton of content on each page. The artwork is hand-drawn comic-book like and suits the module to a T. It also is wholly original, and the handout-version is great. The module comes with great, isometric maps, including a player-friendly version. The maps have no grid, which may be a downside for some groups. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

All of this…was done by one person. Art. Maps. Writing. All done by Claytonian.

Sir, if you read this, you have my utmost respect. This humble module is an exercise in extremely efficient adventure-presentation, and it contains more amazing things per page than most modules manage to cram in 30+ pages. It is readily evident that it has been playtested – it runs even better than it reads and is a module where adding the chaos-element of players, is great. Usually, I like my module stuffed with flowery prose; not an inefficient, irrelevant amount, but I do enjoy good, atmospheric descriptions, and their lack here should irk me when, here, it actually really doesn’t. Because this is hilarious masterclass gonzo, because it is extremely conductive to the shenanigans that players will inevitably generate.

Beyond the thoroughly enjoyable aspect of being useful as a dungeon, its plentiful and deep interaction opportunities, that players may or may not find, are conductive to revisiting this dungeon time and again. The Wizardarium is a complex that keeps on giving, that could honestly be a key site that could change a whole campaign, act as a nexus of sorts, etc. – all courtesy of some of its unique properties.

Let me remind you: This costs a grand total of $1.50. What can you even buy for that nowadays???

Even if you don’t run DCC, this is worth the asking price for the scavenging of concepts. If you do run DCC, then this is probably the best bang-to-buck-ratio you can find anywhere. Even at a regular price-point, this’d totally be worth it. At $1.50? W-T-F. This is puzzling, and obviously a gift to the DCC-community at large. An amazing module…so can we please get more? My final verdict clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and this gets my EZG Essentials tag, as it genuinely belongs in every judge’s library. The concepts herein, even if you do not plan on ever using this as a module, makes this worth getting. Do yourself a favor and get this ASAP.

You can get this masterpiece here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 192019
 

Occult Secrets: The Occultist

This installment of the Occult Secrets mini-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, after a brief introduction, we begin with the invoker, who must choose a planar implement among the first level implements. The circles instead apply versus specific outsider races and non-alignment outsider subtypes. Okay. 8th level replaces outsider contact with a scaling planar binding for one additional mental focus when establishing  circle, with another point as an optional expenditure available to add dimensional anchor.  As noted, the planar binding  and HD –cap improve at higher levels.

But wait…planar implements? Yep. These take the form of small metal discs with glyphs upon them, and they share the resonant power resonant planar affinity: For every two points of mental focus invested in the implement, the occultist gains +1 to penetrate the SR of creatures hailing from the associated plane, as well as +1 to attack and damage rolls against them. Additionally, the occultist gains a +1 insight bonus to Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, Sense Motive, Perception and Knowledge checks. Cool: The bonus caps, with the cap scaling at higher levels. Additionally, all planar implements have the planar servitor base focus power. This lets you, as a standard action, expend 1 point of mental focus to summon monster, with the spell upgrading at higher level, but thankfully capping at one active servitor at a given time, avoiding slowing the game down. Mental focus may be expended to increase the duration of an active servitor, and creatures native to the plane (which is, all of them, as that is the base condition) get +2 natural armor and to saves. Both bonus types are properly codified. Nitpick here: Critters summoned thus: Can they act upon manifesting, or next round? This is something that usually is bypassed by the 1 round casting duration and needs to be clarified.

All implements gain alignment based focus powers – good aligned planes net flesh mend, evil ones necromantic servant, lawful planes purge corruption and chaotic planes side step focus. Neutral ones on the good-evil-axis net mind eye, and neutral ones on the law-chaos axis net future gaze. A total of 12 different planar implements are provided, all of them with spells noted and 3 focus powers. Abaddon nets shield other in conjunction with the servitor and lets you add an evil frost. The servitor gets death throes. Abyss provides spectral arms that can execute Intelligence-governed AoOs, staggering, mental-focus powered screeches or disguise self. Activation actions are not noted for the latter two, but being SUs, one could assume defaulting to standard actions – it’d be nice to have that spelled out, though. Planar implements aligned with the astral plane can add a psychic link to the servitor, poach/hide items in your own extradimensional space or track targets via astral residue. Elysium lets you temporarily turn into wind and lightning while charging, imbue weapons with special qualities or reroll dice modified by morale and luck bonuses. The implements associated with the ethereal plane lets you add ghost touch a weapon or armor as a swift action for one mental focus. Both property references are not italicized correctly. Mental focus powered Ectoplasmic Spell and shared see invisibility with servitor can be found. Cool: When you greater invisibility yourself, the servitor gains invisibility. This also modifies the servitor base power and allows for ethereal condition sharing.

The implements of heaven net you heavenly lanterns that can be discharged as short-range force rays, swift action protection from evil plus scent and sharing shield bonuses with nearby allies. Hell nets the option to enhance weapons with wounding, adding being treated as evil at 5th level (analogue to e.g. Abaddon’s frost). The second ability covers the same for flaming and being treated as lawful. The servitor may be enhanced with scaling atk and damage boosts. Limbo implements can cause random ability damage to creatures adjacent to servitors when they’re called. When the servitor power is used, you can make it also push away targets on a failed Fort-save…or pulled towards the creature. Nirvana’s abilities enhance servitor abilities to use aid another for you. For mental focus, the servitor gets Combat Reflexes and Bodyguard and emerging servitors can heal adjacent targets. Implements of the shadow plane let you use mental focus to add invisibility  to yourself when casting darkness-themed spells, modify shadow weapons with a variety of effects or improve its effects.

Planar implements associated with true neutral purgatory nets you a mental focus powered touch attack with slow, suppress healing and sacred bonuses or negate enhancement, luck, morale and profane bonuses – interesting short-duration curse mechanics. Utopia, the lawful neutral plane nets the servitor access to your teamwork feats, Disruptive (and later Spellbreaker) or temporary hit points for both you and servitor. These planar implement powers turned out to be more differentiated than I expected, changing playstyles in a meaningful manner, and most of the time getting the complex rules-language required right. Kudos!

The second archetype would be the tattooed occultist, who gets a modified class skill list- Instead of physical implements, the tattooed occultist gains tattoos that obviously can’t be taken away – to make up for that, the archetype only gets one tattooed implement at first level. The archetype also gets Improved Unarmed Strike that behaves like a monk’s attacks, replacing the second implement as well as shift focus and outside contact. 2nd level replaces object reading with a combo of phrenology and read aura by studying a target’s body. They also get a scaling (half class level) to Craft (tattoo) and Heal and may use mental focus to enhance healing via medical care. This has mend flesh and purge corruption synergy. The archetype also has a replacement ability for implement mastery, granting DR 5/-. Interesting one, in that it represents a kind of yakuza-ish occultist. I like it.

The third archetype would be the totemist, who once more receives a modified class skill list and +1/2 class level to Knowledge and Survival checks to identify, track or learn about creatures, replacing magic items. The archetype need to choose one totem implement at first level, and at 5th level, aura sight is replaced with a universal creature detector based on detect undead, save for all creature type the totemist has a totem (implement) for. 8th level nets shapechange mastery, with the ability to use mental focus to enhance polymorph effects and higher levels allowing for the speeding up of casting such spells. This one also lets the occultist end spells quickly and replace outside contact. Warding circles are modified to interact with totems and binding circles similarly is modified.

Okay, you probably guessed it – this one also has a whole arsenal of special implements, the implement class of totem implements. The spells these grant may be exchanged for up to 2 druid spells when choosing them. This choice is permanent They also share a resonant power: Resonant favored enemy, which nets an insight bonus to Bluff, Knowledge, perception, Sense Motive and Survival, contingent on mental focus invested – once more, thankfully, with a proper, scaling cap. The totem implements are based on the standard creature types, but have individual base powers. Aberration, animal, dragon, fey, magical beast, monstrous humanoid, ooze, plant, undead and vermin are covered, all with their individual spell lists, base powers and 3 focus powers each.

The aberration totem implement fortifies your mind versus attempts to read it, and also enhances your saves versus charm person. This lasts for an hour and can be activated as an immediate action. The focus powers include all-around vision, and long arm can be enhanced with mental focus to net you tentacles, and similarly, water breathing and echolocation are modified. Similarly, immediate action fear-suppression is neat. Animal, in contrast, nets speak with animals as well as melee enhancers via free grapples (and grab synergy), bull rush and overrun tricks or trips – basically the classic animal tricks. The dragon implement nets you a mental focus-based breath weapon that scales, and which, thanks to a cooldown, can’t be spammed. The 4 (deviation from the standard 3 to account for base energy types) implement powers allow for multiple breath modifications that enhance the breath weapons depending on base damage type chosen. The fey totem allows you to get low-light vision and scaling DR, and take fey aspects, which include Perform, Swim or Survival boosts that may be shared. The magical beast totem lets you boost physical skill checks and petrify targets – thankfully, a HD caveat and save prevent abuse there. Healing that can prevent death and protection versus evil (single and later, magic circle) may be found here.

The monstrous humanoid lets you gain gore or bite or claw or slam options (In contrast to most herein, these are not specified re natural attack type, requiring defaulting to primary); the focus powers can make claws carry a debuff, ignore difficult terrain when charging with gores or add poison to bites. Oozes net compression and corrosive touches, use mental focus to become sticky (enhancing maneuvers and CMD) or gain temporarily translucent flesh. Plants allow for communication with them, as well as better healing (and superb resiliency in sleep as well as temporary hit points while asleep) as well as several plant-based spell modifications. Undead implement nets negative energy affinity; adding death effects to the coup de grace performed and temporary hit points based on target HD, preventing cheesing. When reduced to 0 hp or below, you can manifest malignant, spectral force and a vampiric pinning ability that nets temporary hit points for pinned targets. Mental focus expenditure requirements prevent this from being cheesed. Finally, the vermin totem nets the ability to converse with vermin, commune with them, repel swarms and fortify yourself versus poisons, with higher levels improving this.

The pdf also includes 4 feats: Dual Enhancement lets base powers or focus powers that enhance weapons apply their benefits to two of them, but these only remain active when both are wielded. Echoes of Mending nets you temporary hit points when using flesh rot or flesh corruption. Echoes of Servitude requires a necromantic servant and upgrades the servitor. Mental Ki allows you to substitute mental focus for ki on a 2 to 1 basis. The pdf also has two spells: Empower implement (3rd level) grants temporary mental focus. Lock the flow can prevent the target from using mental focus or ki on a failed save, and lasts multiple rounds. The pdf concludes with Keron Tiel, a CR 5 elven tattooed occultist.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are good on a formal and rules-language level, being very precise for the most part, in spite of the complexity of the material. Layout adheres to a 2-column b/w-standard with red, blue and purple headers. The artworks are a blend of public domain and stock art, though I haven’t seen all of them before. The pdf has no bookmarks, which constitutes a comfort detriment.

Wojciech Gruchała is a veteran, and this pdf shows – the expansion to the occultist allows for finer differentiation, and distinct, different playstyles depending on implement chosen. While not all implements are equally compelling or potent, this nonetheless represents a cool and worthwhile expansion for one of my favorite classes. While the lack of bookmarks is a bit sucky, the pdf is pretty inexpensive, which is why I will round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.

You can get this inexpensive class expansion here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 192019
 

Monstrous Lair: Aboleth’s Sunken Lair (system neutral)

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

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

The approach towards the aboleth’s cavern may be covered in acidic slime, and a body, wrists cut, skin sodden and translucent, speaks of the horror of the aboleth’s mucus as a nice telegraph for PCs, with several murals things, and scenes of pain and madness telegraphing the threat ahead. As far as for what’s going on: The by now pretty much obligatory “Asleep”-angle is included; the aboleth may also be focusing its three-eyed gaze at scratches remaining of an ancient map. Perhaps it’s swaying its tentacles, humming oddly…or it’s making art/engaging in a kind of weird haruspex by splattering a repitilian man on the rocks, intently staring at the blood-spatters generated. Really cool!

As far as notable features for the cavern are concerned, we can find the strange notation of ancient songs laid into the walls, grisly reminders of the aboleth’s wrath (like bodyparts or broken tridents impaling the remainders of unfortunates trying to challenge this beast); among the minor features, we can find patches of slime surrounded by white residue, large shadows in the water darting around, scrawled warnings and the like. The aboleth’s appearance cam sport mauve undersides suffused with black veins, a blinded eye and copious scars…or the creature can wear golden bracelets, or what about orange/purple tentacles standing apart? Nice one! The treasures to be found include cloaks of rubbery skin, obsidian-pronged tridents…or what about bronze medallions depicting doors held shut by tentacles? Some nice ones here. Finally, the trinket table includes polished shells that have mysterious words engraved, gloves with silken webbing, etc. – some really nice ones here!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Steve Hood provides a rather nice little selection of dressing-entries for aboleths, with the entries providing a nice array of foreshadowing and tension-building. All in all, a fun and worthwhile dressing file. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.

You can get this neat dressing file here on OBS!

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

Endzeitgeist out.

Feb 192019
 

Monstrous Lair: Lizardfolks’ Village (system neutral)

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

Sometimes, you just need a bit of dressing for a wayside encounter – or something specific to a monster type. Finding appropriate entries can be rough, and so, this series attempts to remedy this shortcoming on 2 pages, with a total of 7 d10-tables.

So, the good ole’ lizardfolk…well, approaches to their lair can show hummocks of reeds and moss, with puddles of stagnant water in-between, thick mires and skull totems. This table is per se nice, though it could be a bit more versatile – a couple of pools and trails carved into the reeds are pretty dominant here, considering the brevity of the table. As far as things going on, we have lizardfolk consulting with one another over tracks in the mud, being covered in blood from a boar its gutting, and several scenes one would associate with the hunter-gatherer lifestyle, with the one where a lizardfolk puts a frog from its spear into a pouch perhaps the most distinct.

As far as notable features are concerned, we can see hollow bonetubes emitting a wailing sound, barricades of sharpened sticks, arches made from trees and reeds, or alligator skins, draped over wooden frames as though some kind of trophy. I did like the notion of wrapping snake skeletons around torches. The minor features includes peat being dried, fish being smoked, and baskets of animal teeth awaiting being hammered into clubs.

Lizardfolk appearances feature, among other things, turtle-shell shields, bright crests on head and back, strange war-painting or primitive armor of turtle shells topped with a boar skull. The treasures include, once more, turtle shells, this time with esoteric paintings on them, well-oiled daggers venerated as relics, smooth pieces of glass, perhaps used to focus sunlight and similar odds and ends. The trinket table, finally, includes unfinished spears, bird skulls topping reed-dolls and fans made of heron feathers – here, I liked the trinkets more than the treasures!

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard, and we get a nice piece of b/w-artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity (kudos!) and is included in two versions – one optimized for screen-use, and one for the printer.

Steve Hood’s little dressing file on lizardfolk isn’t bad – it captures their swamp-bound, primitive lifestyle well…but it doesn’t do much beyond that. One could just as easily replace lizardfolk with any other swamp-dwelling humanoid and there we go. While not bad, the pdf could have used a stronger focus on the intended type of critter. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

You can get this inexpensive pdf here on OBS.

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon.

Endzeitgeist out.