Apr 232019
 

Star Log.EM: Borai Options (SFRPG)

This Star Log.EM clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

On the introductory page, we also have the Borai’s racial statistics – the race btw. represents undead that managed to retain fragments of their souls. Borai get +2 Con and Cha, -2 Wis, are Medium and have a 30 ft. base speed, unless specified otherwise. They have Darkvision 60 ft., and for effects that target creatures by type, they count as both humanoids and undead, whichever effect is worse. They are immune to negative energy damage and have a +1 racial bonus to saves vs. pain, exhaustion, etc.

As an aside: To my knowledge, negative energy damage hasn’t yet been used in Starfinder, but since the energy type is around (as evidenced by plenty of references), and since the Starfarer’s Companion does make plenty of use of the damage type, I’ll let that stand. It’s something to bear in mind, though. Borai count as living creatures for the purposes of healing, and they take no penalties from energy drain effects, but may still be destroyed by them. Borai shake off negative levels automatically after 24 hours. Borai have 6 Hit Pointa[sic!] and are mainly defined by old talents – they select a racial trait to represent the original race they were, and this is a huge draw of the race.

You see, at the GM’s discretion, borai may not only have the same size as the original race. Additionally, the pdf takes a look at ALL legacy races, the Alien Archive races and a metric ton of races from the Xa-Osoro system/Blood Space setting: From kitsune to deoxyians, we get a ton of old talent options for the borai, including skinwalkers, yroometji, gnolls, msvokas (YEAH!), ganzi, arich, nashi, ydreft (double yeah!), glynwyrians, xaursi and rougarous, and even taking astrazoan, bantrids, khizar and strix into account! Now this is one massive amount of options to make sure the borai are sufficiently diverse!

The pdf also includes the borai paragon archetype, which is exclusively available to borai. This one allows you to, at 2nd, 4th, 6th, 9th, 12th and 16th level, choose a racial trait from a race you chose as your original race via old talents, or a feat that has being a borai as a prerequisite. Since all borai feats have only the race as prerequisite, this has no issues regarding prerequisite-bypassing.

Speaking of feats: 4 are provided: Borai Resiliency increases the aforementioned racial trait’s bonus by to saves by +1. Dead Man’s Heritage nets you the subtypes associated with the race chosen as the old talent/original race. Easily Necrografted allows you to install an additional augmentation (necrografts only) into one system of your choice. Restitched Corpse helps when you lose a limb other than your head, allowing for the use of Medicine to reattach limbs you lost in a pretty quick manner. The feat does include notes for improperly reattached limbs, which is a nice component here.

The pdf also contains a new mystic spell, the 4th level reanimation, which requires 10 minutes to cast. This spell codifies transformation of a recently deceased creature as a borai, and the spell properly codifies e.g. poisons and diseases affecting the returned character, and the spell does codify how returning the dead interacts with Resolve etc. And yep, a 1K cost of an expensive component means that the spell can’t be abused. Creatures exempt from being healed by mystic cure may not be revived thus.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good; apart from typo-level minor stuff, I noticed no issues. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork included is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ highly flexible Borai are a cool race that provides the solution for the templated undead race; it’s, in design paradigm, similar to the excellent Star Log.Deluxe: Planar Scions Reforged. As such, the material presented is pretty cool and allows for a ton of different concepts. While I’m not blown away by all the feats, this still is very much worthwhile getting. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

You can get these versatile undead here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 232019
 

Pulp Weird Encounters 1: Tomb of the Squonk & The Silent Army (DCC)

This supplement clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

While this supplement is called “encounter series”, the encounters featured within could just as easily be pictured as pretty much two small modules that could be slotted in between longer modules. The presentation of the adventures within adhere to the layout-conventions of Goodman games, with general features noted in the beginning, and fonts used akin to Goodman Games’ modules. Similarly, we have detailed read-aloud texts for the respective encounters. The two modules both have functional isometric maps with grids and scale noted, but no player-friendly versions are provided.

“Tomb of the Squonk”, the first of the scenarios within, is penned by Daniel J. Bishop and is intended for 3rd level characters. The second encounter, Charlie Scott’s “The Silent Army”, is intended for characters level 1 -3.

All right, this is as far as I can go before diving into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All righty, only judges around? Great, so let’s take a look at “Tomb of the Squonk first. Nominally, this is an eight-room mini-dungeon, which starts when the heroes are approached by the eponymous Squonk-thing that can btw. be seen on the cover: Turns out that a being named Arvind Shar has been cursed/trapped in the body and wants the PCs to save him. This leads to aforementioned mini-dungeon…and oh boy. There is a cool critter, a snake that flickers through time, with initiative-decreasing venom. And traps. Oh boy, traps. It begins 5 feet inside the complex, when a massive, sealing bronze block will crash down, locking PCs inside, potentially separating the party (always fun for GMs) or even crashing PCs to pulp.

This is but the first of these, and there will be quite a few more. How can the blocks be reset (they can’t be disarmed)? Well, in the dungeon’s LAST ROOM. To get there, though, the PCs will also have to cross several magical rooms that are sadistic, to say the least: There are, for example, basically microwave-like fields that will toast you. On the plus side, wet towels etc. do help sprinting through them, but on the downside, they also can only be turned off, you guessed it, in the last room. Did I mention the fact that, being magical, they kinda lack means to properly telegraph them? And that they’re both vibration and lifesense-based, so PCs flying above the floor can’t bypass them either? The culmination of this dickish design-paradigm is the entrance to the final room, which, when not previously examined, will teleport the lower 3 feet of any being entering away, killing most creatures instantly. No save. This is not telegraphed either.

The second combat deals btw. with the PCs facing down the eponymous squonk – you see, Arvind Shar is actually a member of the trans-dimensional species of patricians, a sadistic and cruel lot that engages in dimensions- and reality-spanning games of humiliation and intrigue – and in the penultimate room, Shar’s original body lies, splayed and dismembered…whereupon he tries to paralyze a PC to inhabit that PC’s body. It gets better: The final room that can turn off those deadly traps? It has a device to fiddle with, but no true way to determine what does what; looting the inlaid gemstones may be very unwise, considering the lethality of the complex.

…I honestly don’t know what happened here. Daniel J. Bishop is usually a pretty sure candidate for providing top-notch material, but this dungeon is just frustrating and dickish. Maybe by design, but in contrast to e.g. “Death Frost Doom” or “The Grinding Gear”, this little complex never really earns its lethality, and just feels arbitrary and cruel, particularly considering the sucky and meager rewards. The temporal snake is solid and interesting, as is the squonk, but the complex needs some rewiring by the judge in order to…well…not suck.

The second encounter herein, “The Silent Army”, has a creepy premise: A dozen men, standing perfectly still, have their gazes turned towards the west, while a crying kid tugs at one man’s garments – to no avail. These are members of the “Silent Army”, and closer examination yields a strange, silverfish nodule laid into the back of their heads. They look towards the direction where the hermit-wizarad Lazarax lairs, and thus, the local townsfolk pay the PCs to investigate, preferably saving the afflicted men. Investigating the hills yields an impact crater, speaking of something from the stars falling down – and indeed, inside, there are strange alien devices and the goat-legged wizard attempts to deal with the PCs….but something is off.

If the PCs don’t investigate, they may be in for more than they can take, as “The Silent Army” activates and they are stalked by the hermit-wizard’s true master. In the caves, they can find a recording device-like prism…and the perpetrator of the crimes against the townsfolk, an alien monster called Tsinchin, who may well integrate PCs into its growing army of slave-drones. Defeating the thing ends the threat, for now, but the somber ending of the module sent a little shiver down my spine… The tsinchin, just fyi, comes with a neat 1-page b/w-artwork as well. I enjoyed this one, in spite of its brevity, though I did wish that there was a bit more complex to explore here.

Conclusion:
editing and formatting are good on a formal level, very good on a rules language level. I noticed no rules-snafus, but a few typo-level glitches. Layout adheres to the same two-column b/w-standard that Goodman Games’ supplements use and established. The b/w-artworks provided are nice, and the isometric cartography is solid and features squares and grids. No player-friendly, unlabeled versions of the maps are provided. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, one per encounter, but not more.

Huh. I bought this for Daniel J. Bishop’s encounter/mini-adventure, and ended up absolutely hating that one – it’s a solid scavenging ground, but I wouldn’t want to run this as written. It’s just dickish in an unfair way, and doesn’t properly implement this notion of fairness that usually tempers even the most deadly of DCC adventures. I have no idea what happened here. Mr. Bishop usually delivers only excellence.

I wasn’t familiar with Charlie Scott’s work prior to reading this, but thankfully, his encounter really rocked. Mechanically, it’s not too interesting, granted, but the atmosphere evoked actually makes this one genuinely creepy, and the denouement-text actually sent a shiver down my spine. That’s a good sign, and as a whole, this encounter is a great and dangerous one.

How to rate this, then? Well, this is pretty much the definition of a mixed bag (I’d give adventure #1 2 stars, the second one 4 stars), though I’d have to concede that “The Silent Army” feels a bit shorter in actual gameable content. Still, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

You can get this inexpensive pdf here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 222019
 

Occult Skill Guide: Classic Corruptions (SFRPG)

This installment of the Occult Skill Guide-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreon supporters.

So, theme-wise, this pdf obviously makes corruptions work in conjunction with SFRPG, but it should be noted that these corruptions are NOT simply a straight adaptation from PFRPG, instead making full use of SFRPG’s engine.

We begin the supplement by explaining how the mechanics work: Corruptions measure their progress in corruption points and have a six-step corruption progression track, analogue to e.g. diseases and similar afflictions. The progression track is: Uncorrupted-Latent-Stage 1-Stage 2-Stage 3-End Stage. And yep, end-stage MAY mean becoming NPC, but that is left up to the GM’s prerogative.

A character has a corruption threshold equal to the ability SCORE (NOT modifier!) in the corruption’s associated ability, +1 per 3 CR or levels the target has. Each corruption also has a virulence line that lists actions or activities that, when taken, cause the accumulation of corruption points.

A corruption is classified as a type of affliction, and initial exposure means that the target must succeed a saving throw; and on a failure, they lose the uncorrupted status for the respective corruption, starting the latent step, which also jumpstarts the accumulation of corruption points as noted in the corruption’s virulence.

When the corruption points accumulate up to the Corruption Threshold or multiple thereof of the respective character/creature, the victim must succeed another saving throw, and on a failure, the corruption advances, with the type of save and the DC determined by corruption, victim level/CR and the current step on the progression track. Progression DCs thus do increase to represent the inner struggle – thus, a high-level character can’t simply become immune to the threats posed by the corruptions. Corruptions have unique end-states, and conditions imposed by corruptions override immunities to conditions and similar effects, so no cheesing these either.

Corruptions also have a cure entry, which means that the victim has to fulfill certain criteria; when they manage to fulfill the cure conditions, they decrease the total number of corruption points accumulated by a specific number, which allows for the reduction of progression steps. Reaching the uncorrupted stage cures the target. Remove affliction does not cure a victim of corruptions, unless the corruption specifies otherwise.

Some corruptions also bestow so-called manifestations upon their victims as part of the effects; these are special abilities that alter the victim’s body, and when these reference the victim’s level, character level is meant. Removal of physical alterations makes the modifications grow back quickly – there is no easy way to curing a corruption.

The corruptions come with an easy to grasp standardized presentation method, and the pdf then proceeds to present a total of 5 different corruptions, the first of which would be Decouplement. This corruption represents a weakening of the cellular bonds, allowing for the adjustment of the body’s shape, but at the risk of collapsing into a fleshy sludge. You can basically become Batman’s Clayface – first, you can assume generic forms, and at higher corruption stages, you can even modify your size, and gain amorphous or compression. Interesting: ¼ of your total Resolve Points (should probably state something like “minimum 1” or have a “maximum” after that) or accepting 1d6 corruption points allow for the reset of the duration of this effect, which is interesting and retains the cost. Stage 2 of the corruption allows for the expenditure of Resolve Points to gain burrow speeds and a variety of other abilities, though doing so does entail corruption points. The pdf also provides universal monster rules for oozelike creatures, and a level 15 serum that helps reconstitute targets that had their bodily integrity compromised. Really awesome: The curing procedure entails being petrified, grounded down, set in a mold and then slowly reconstituted – awesome!

The second corruption included would be genewarp, which represents e.g. mishaps, intense radiation or similar polymorphic events. It initially grants you some potent powers, but makes you gain corruption points when regaining Stamina, representing a unique type of timer. The corruption includes the aberrant universal creature rule (somewhat akin to plant-like, just for aberrations) and the unstable genotype disease that may only be cured with potent magics. The manifestations of this corruption starts slow with some numerical enhancements, and then proceeds to provide enhancements and then even ties in with the polymorph form abilities at the third stage. Yes, this does allow you to go Kafka’s “Die Verwandlung”, which made me geek out just a bit. Cool: The cure requirements actually do take into account how you got this corruption, and the corruption’s cure ties in with aforementioned disease, which is surprisingly clever.

Psychomutation represents a rampant expansion of consciousness and evolving psychic powers. As such, the corruption does include abilities like telepathy, telekinesis – basically spell-like abilities that increase in power as the corruption progresses, but there is, obviously, a price to be paid, with corruption point increases. Nice: The corruption is supplemented by the telekinetic fists technomancer spell, which comes in 6 different spell levels. The spell nets you untyped damage, akin to natural weapons. (As an aside: Still think SFRPG’s core rules should have codified damage types there, but since the core rules provide the precedent, I won’t ding the pdf for this.) The cure here is very interesting, having serious consequences for the treatment.

A big personal plus re nomenclature: Therianthropy. That’s the proper name for animal-hybrid causing diseases; “lycan” refers to lupines. The virulence of this one is tied to a planet’s full moon phases, and the corruptions handles silver weapons in an interesting manner. And yes, before you ask –w e do get mechanically-relevant belladonna rules as part of the pretty tricky cure-rpcedure. The manifestations here obviously provide interesting weaponry, forms, etc as well as a pretty massive template graft. Really nice take on the classic concept!

The final corruption included would be vampirism (based on moroi), which nets the hungering maw manifestation and nets you shapechanging, blood draining, etc. – and this corruption can be pretty dangerous foe the infected target, but it also allows clever (and lucky!) players to juggle the corruption…though the Constitution drain this one causes when not indulging properly can make this an interesting tightrope act. We do get a fully fleshed out moroi vampire template graft.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. The pdf comes with the full-color2-column –standard of the series; the pdf sports quite a few nice original artworks of a consistent style. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

Alexander Augunas’ corruptions add something really cool to Starfinder: Not content with simply reproducing corruptions, he has gone a step beyond: The corruptions here tiptoe the thin line that is hard to get. You see, the corruptions are potent and can really help you realize unique changes of character concepts, and sometimes manage to allow you to portray unique, classic concepts, all while remaining dangerous – they exert allure in their tempting tricks, showcase a powerful array of options, and their cures and virulences allow for roleplaying galore. This is a really great little booklet, and the engine presented will be used in all my SFRPG games. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval, and this gets the EZG Essentials tag for SFRPG games – if you’re as excited as I am for the Grimmerspace setting to come (or the darker parts of blood space!), then consider this to be a must-buy indeed!

You can get this amazing pdf here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 222019
 

Wormskin #5 (OSR)

This installment of the Wormskin-zine clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 48 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let’s take a look!

All right, so there is a general article that fans of Dolmenwood will not want to miss in this issue, namely one that details hexcrawling through Dolmenwood. While the basic OSR-rules do cover these aspects, the book smoothly codifies a rules skeleton that allows for methodical and fun means to structure the treks through the wilderness. These are btw. not just useful for OSR-games – modern games tend to be relatively silent regarding hexcrawling procedures, and this supplement’s rules make that simple: You choose an action, check random events, and then resolve what happens. Actions are tightly codified, Visibility is noted, and the pdf also sports a whole array of tables – random events, locations, encounters, spoors, weather (by season), etc.; mishaps get a full-page mishap array. This article is very smooth in its elegance.

The book also has a new monsters section, one that oozes the attention to detail we’ve come to expect from Wormskin’s monsters – i.e. we get stats, lore, traits to customize individual monsters so they don’t all look and behave alike, and the entries sport notes on sample encounters and lairs of the respective critters. This time around, we are introduced to the Boggins, things with gangly limbs and matted, sea-weed like hair, whose bodies dissolve upon death, hinting at the eldritch origin of these deadly lakeside/marsh predators…who do seem to like to abduct folks. On the witch-y side of things, the bramblings are thickets of thorns and spines, animated by fell magics. Most interesting, at least to me, would be Flammbryggard (written by Andrew Walker), spirits of weary fighting men, clad in bodies of courageous soldiers of metal, with hearth-like chests, these boisterous beings can make for rowdy, but also helpful beings…provided they are not beset by the incorporeal obscurant mope, depressing spirits that like bringing them down. These guys are btw. lavishly-illustrated in a full-color artwork. The final creature-entry actually depicts one of the movers and shakers of Dolmenwood – a rank-and-file Drune.

The Drune, obviously, are the secretive and mysterious arcane spellcasters, the masters of the woods – what, in installments so far, sounded like a patriarchal druid order. Well, this installment of Dolmenwood has a massive article that unveils the secretive origins, hierarchy and goals of the Drune. These notes are explicitly noted to be deep lore, not easily unveiled by the PCs, and as such, I will refrain from commenting or explaining this article. However, it should be noted that my preconceptions about the Drune? You know, my theories about how they operate and their goals, about their nature? They turned out to be dead wrong – the Drune actually managed to surprise jaded old me. That should tell you something.

Anyhow, this ‘zine also depicts 7 new hexes in Dolmenwood, which tie in with another major mover and shaker in the region, but in order to discuss this section, I need to go into serious SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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Okay, only referees around? Great! So, the region depicted in the hexes is known as “Hag’s Addle” – the banks of the river Hameth, trickling towards Lake Longmere, is now a marshy and rather desolate place, but it wasn’t always – at one point, it was the crown jewel and the wondrous playing ground of fairy royalty, but so did the ruin of the region spring from this source. Jealousy bred contempt, and when interest in the region waned, a bored part of fairy royalty destroyed this region, made it fall into ruin and decay…but when the rightful mistress, known as the Queen of Blackbirds, returned, the despoiler was duly punished in the capricious and cruel manner of fairykind: Transformed into a hag that would forever be adjacent to an open portal to the Otherwold of Fairy, but never to pass, her body a mirror image of the decay she so seemed to enjoy. This is the legendary hag – and dealing with her is covered in its own article (co-written by Matthew Schmeer), which includes write-ups for her array of magical tools, as well as detailed guidelines for her erratic behavior, and for making non-combative contact with the exceedingly mighty crone.

As an aside – her hut *is* mobile, and indeed, the mythological resonance does hearken back to Baba Yaga and Grimm’s various wicked witches, but none of these thematic similarities are simple pastes: the hut levitates, for example; her willow switch may not deal much damage, but allows for a ridiculous number of attacks. If you are familiar with the classic, rather dark fairy tales, you’ll recognize the nods, but at the same time, marvel at the twists, be grateful for the respective components not being simply quoted, as is so often seen.

But I digress – in the hexes of the Hag’s Addle, we have a callback to the Atacorn Farthigny; the aforementioned Boggins creatures loom and wait to abduct strangler, smearing strange muck over the faces of mortals – this makes it possible to breathe underwater and toil in the sub-aquatic mines hidden away in the depths of the murky waters at the hands of these strange beings, mirroring their erstwhile enslavement to a horrible sorcerer (vivimancer?). Speaking of vivimancer – there is one of these fellows in the region, and his write-up does come with a spell that is interesting – it allows for the splitting of hybrid beings, like half-elfs, into two beings – a human and an elf, in this example. Something of a ritual, and dangerous, it’s not a spell you’ll cast often, but it’s interesting. The vivimancer has an issue, btw. – his spell kinda botched, and now, his skeleton, his viscera and his skin all are individual entities – his nerves and organs are pretty much in horrible pain, while his skin has taken on a psychotic streak. This is an adventure hook that wrote itself. Not a fan of his unique magic item, though – he has a bell called chime of incontinence, which does exactly what you’d think it does. I am generally not a fan of denigrating/humiliating PCs for things they did not deserve/provoke by their greed, so yeah, AoO soiling yourself is not high on my “good idea” list.

Speaking of which: As a whole, I was not as blown away by the hexes herein, as there are two that have things of the quality “better not enter here” – there is a monument that generates a sympathetic resonance that wrecks the ability to sleep and desire to walk away, becoming worse towards the center. The background story is awesome, but the mechanics are not, easily having a chance of TPKing travelers, if the undead don’t do the job on their own. Cordoning this off seems like it’d be in the interest of plenty of Dolmenwood’s factions, and thus, the presence of this darkened monolith struck me as odd, particularly since the Drune, narrative-wise, know about it. Anyhow, there is another hex, which contains one pet-peeve of mine – a way to extract targets from history. *sigh* I am very particular when it comes to time travel, and if you don’t mind, then great – no issue for you. Personally, I really hated the handwave-y implementation of the time hole here. To me, it makes no sense and genuinely represents the lowest point of all Dolmenwood hexes so far– I’m a Primer-guy. On the plus side, a mysterious ritualistic marble podium, and the tower of Lady Frost-Dusk-Shadow? Heck yeah, these ooze the style I’m accustomed to see from Dolmenwood!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level, I only noticed very few glitches, and these very missed italicizations in non-combat contexts. Layout adheres to a one-column standard with nuance color-highlights and a blend of b/w and full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and yep, I have the PoD softcover, and it’s sure as heck worth getting.

Gavin Norman and Greg Gorgonmilk, with contributions by Andrew Walker and Matthew Schmeer, continue to deliver – this installment of Wormskin is easily the most occult and foreboding of the installments so far; it hearkens closest to LotFP-ish aesthetics in the good ways…and, in the instance of two hexes, unfortunately also in a bad way. Don’t get me wrong – this is still a very good, evocative ‘zine, one brimming with creativity and inspiring tidbits that put many publications of twice that size to shame. But compared with the series of absolutely mind-bogglingly cool installments so far, it feels a bit more one-note on the bleaker side of things, with less of the STRANGENESS of Dolmenwood, and more touches of LotFP-ish weird tropes seeping into the supplement. This is per se not bad, but it makes a few of the environments feel less special, less distinct from LotFP’s offerings. These are subdued (and don’t extend to future installments), but I couldn’t help but consider this to be one of the weaker installments in the excellent magazine’s run so far – it’s still very good, but not as genius as the ones so far. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.

You can get this cool ‘zine here on OBS!

Do you like B/X? Turns out that Necrotic Gnome Productions is running a mega-successful boxed-set KS right now! You can get in on the action here!


Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 192019
 

Starfarer’s Codex: Horrifically Overpowered Feats (SFRPG)

This collection of horrifically overpowered feats for Starfinder clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Let’s begin with the introduction, shall we? Horrifically Overpowered feats started as a joke for PFRPG, but you know, there is a market for super high-powered gameplay; the popularity of Dreamscarred Press’ Path of War and for gestalting PCs is testament to that. Moreover, the power that PCs have, and the experience of some players does mean that there are bound to be groups out there that have too easy a time when dealing with regular modules. For such groups, GMs can use these feats easily and smoothly to increase the challenge faced. This, alongside the use of Legendary Games’ mythic rules expansions, were some of my own strategies to account for the skill of my players and the power of my PCs.

Fast forward to the Nova Age, and we get some advice on how to use these in our campaigns. To quote the pdf:

“First, don’t.

Second, if you really want to look for ways to add

these to a campaign, we have some ideas. Like the

p0roduct itself, these are all bad ideas.” (Yep, typo’s there in the pdf, not mine.)

The pdf mentions their use as grafts, as options for super high-powered campaigns, beyond level 20 – some pretty nice suggestions I’d enjoy seeing developed further at one point. The pdf then talks about the new feat types – the first is [Horrifically Overpowered] – that ought to be self-explanatory. The second would be [Mathbreaker] and it’s really interesting: If you’ve taken a very close and analytic look at SFRPG,l you will have noticed that the math of the system is very tightly-wound. These feats, then, allow you to break the underlying numbers at the assumption of power per level. The pdf explicitly notices that no character should have more than one of those.

The third feat type is one that’ll be familiar for PFRPG-veterans – the [Meta-Attack] feat. These allow for the modification of attacks in the way that technomancers can use magic hacks to modify spells. They mostly are swift actions and modify one attack – that may be anything that requires an attack roll or full attack action. These don’t change the nature of the attack – Empower Attack would, for example, not simply add damage to a grapple if it doesn’t inflict damage without the feat. Quickened Attack is an exception, and allows for a single attack as a swift action, and may add it to other attacks or to make a separate attack. Quickened attacks may not be enhanced with [Meta-Attack] feats. These feats have a certain amount of uses, which are replenished after a 10-minute rest to regain Stamina Points. The pool of these attacks is unified, and while additional uses are gained at higher levels, these are applied once to the pool, and not per [Meta-Attack] feat.

The pdf contains 27 regular [Horrifically Overpower] feats, 8 [Mathbreaker] feats, and 12 [Meta-Attack] feats. Let’s start with the latter, shall we? The [Meta-Attack] feats include options to deal maximum damage, automatically hitting, having the attack continue to inflict half damage for a couple of rounds, etc. – basically, a kind of high-powered metamagic for regular attacks, a system that, on a less high-powered level imho would be a salient design goal for regular attacks, but I digress.

The[Mathbreaker] feats allow for the addition of a mental ability modifier to all saves, always going first in combat, having a minimum EAC and KAC, having your class level as BAB, treating all weapons as having an item level equal to your character level, always Take 20 instead of rolling a chosen skill…and what about the two feats that set your base ability scores (either physical or mental) all all 18s, before modifications? OUCH.

The regular [Horrifically Overpowered] feats include gaining a full archetype’s benefits in addition to your usual class features; there is a feat that nets you a full drone or exocortex. There is a 1/day feat that lets you pronounce DENIED, automatically negating a single attack, maneuver, spell, etc. There is a feat that makes you never provoke attacks of opportunity ever again; Easier to Keep Track had me LOL really hard. You must be built as an NPC and have no Resolve, sure – but you simply can’t be killed for 3 rounds. On the fourth round, anything that inflicts damage kills you. Quick and dirty and pretty funny. Gaining full spellcasting, endless cleaving, old-school style, and there is a feat for 3 extra lives. It should also be noted that this pdf is genuinely funny in its crunch. The special line of the latter one, for example, reads: “This feat can be taken more than once. (Although, really, you need to take Toughness if you’re dying that often. Or just stand closer to the envoy and mystic.) Each time you take it, the number of times your character may freely return from the dead increases by three.“ Yep, this is actually a pretty fun-to-read crunch-book! Casting multiple spells is also included, but that was to be expected at this point, right?

The feats are btw. organized in a nice manner: We get a list of feats, alphabetic and organized by type, and the write-up of the feats themselves is alphabetic.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch on a formal and rules-language level; I only noticed a very minor cosmetic snafu. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has plenty of really nice full-color artworks, which are stock to my knowledge, but superbly chosen. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Owen K.C. Stephens delivers, big time – the feats herein are ridiculously overpowered in hilarious ways, but retain their ability to be used in the game. These obviously are not intended for every group, but if you’re looking for something ludicrously over-the-top, then this has you covered! Larger than life and far out, this is a great toolkit to add to your arsenal. Chances are decent I won’t ever play a campaign with the PCs using these, but for e.g. a super-charged showdown? As a result of an artifact or the like? There are plenty of scenes where this can allow for a remarkable and novel change of pace – on both a long-term and short-term side. These need to be carefully contemplated, and by design, they break the assumptions of the game. But they do so in a fun-enhancing manner. 5 stars + seal of approval.

You can get these horrifically overpowered (and pretty awesome) feats here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 192019
 

Advanced Adventures: The Obsidian Sands of Syncrates (OSR)

This installment of the Advanced Adventures-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front/back cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 14 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was requested as one of a series of reviews by one of my patreon supporters.

All right, so this module is intended for 6 – 10 characters level 4 – 7, and the minimum number of players, at least without modifying a component of the module rather extensively, you do need at least 6 players (or at least PCs) to use this one. Rules-wise, this employs the OSRIC rules-set, and the module may be translated to other OSR games with relative ease. As always for the series, there are a few formatting convention deviations, and the module does not come with read-aloud text.

Now, while nominally designated as a tournament/convention module, this adventure does not feature a meat-grinder-like level of challenge; it works perfectly well as an insertion into an ongoing campaign. That being said, this is very much a well-rounded module in the challenges it poses, offering exploration, puzzles and combat – it does take player skill to beat. The adventure does come with scoring notes, a page of tournament character pregens in a table (with all notes) and a second version that has only the crucial pregen info on a page.

PCs surviving the module will be granted a special ring that acts as a safety net, healing them fully once. The module does come with 5 new creatures, two of which get their own artworks in b/w – these deserve special mentioning, as both artworks are amazing: The dust weird (snake of dust) actually looks awesome, and the obsidian sandman manages to look pretty badass. Beyond these, we have pretty boring guardian giants, a more interesting formaldehyde jelly and skysharks. Yep, you read that correctly!

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

..

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All right, only referees around? Great!

The module begins in a most foreboding manner – the local guides, upon witnessing ash drifting like black snow from above, stab themselves with knives, repeatedly, and plunge from the ship the PCs are on. They seem to know something…and indeed, the PCs find their ship stranded in the eponymous black sands of an arena of the grandest kind. They have been plucked from their world and deposited in the massive arena of the god of entertainment Syncrates; starvation and thirst looms as well as the previously mentioned obsidian men mean that exploration of the arena is dangerous – there is another wrecked vessel, and said vessel seems to come from a strange place indeed.

More importantly, there are two ginormous statues – a colossal lion, and a similarly gargantuan statue of a somewhat pseudo-Greek warrior. The statue has a side-view map and top-down maps for the respective rooms, for the lion’s share of the module is about exploring the gigantic soldier statue – the inside of the gigantic statue is basically a science-fantasy dungeon that features unique and fun challenges, including pools of strange liquids inside of the statue’s stomach. The combat challenges inside feature crypt things, a riddle (which is represented as a 1/3rd page handout), and there are plenty of intriguing scenes – you see, there is, for example, a programmed illusion of a certain character fireballing the room after a couple of disputes, which can generate some nice paranoia in a tournament context. Duplicate zombies that can only be defeated by their equivalent, among other targets, may be found here. There are some clever uses of hazards and the like, but ultimately, to live through the adventure, the PCs will not only have to explore the statue – they will have to (probably) backtrack and collect quite an array of exotic components to finally access the statue’s control mechanisms.

You see, this ginormous statue comes with proper stats, and actually is a Power Rangers-like colossus that may be operated by the PCs – the statue has 7 stations, and ruby and marble thrones allow the PCs to operate the gigantic warrior – and make it fight against the gigantic lion statue monstrosity for the edification of the cosmic forces out there. The stations themselves allow casters to influence the options available for the colossus (rogues in the feet enhance AC, while monks provide a smaller bonus, but net a potent attack, for example), and yep, this is an impressive and awesome finale of suitably epic proportions! While, on a didactic level, the way in which the colossus’ operation works could be explained slightly clearer, this is me nitpicking.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal level and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, and the b/w-artworks are nice. The cartography is solid and functional, but no player-friendly version is included, which is a bit of a bummer. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Joseph Browning knows how to write neat modules. His second tournament module oozes science-fantasy/planar awesomeness, and features a truly epic finale. The blend of challenges between hazards, combat and stuff that engages your mental faculties is great and makes this a rather cool and well-rounded adventure. This is definitely one of the high-lights of the series so far, and a module I can wholeheartedly recommend. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

You can get this cool module here here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 182019
 

Classes of the Lost Spheres: Echo

This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

One note: This is an early offering of Lost Spheres Publishing, who went under my radar for far too long. The class was originally published way back in 2013, so that’s something to bear in mind.

All right, so, the echo gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, and may choose 8 skills to be the class skills of the class. (This *may* have been the first class to do this!) The echo has a ¾ BAB-progression, as well as good Reflex and Will-saves, and the echo is proficient with simple weapons. Proficiency, however, is covered by the mirror memory class feature: An echo is proficient in the use of any armor, weapon or shield they have seen used in the last 24 hours. Additionally, echos may activate any magic or psionic item they have seen activated in the last 24 hours, using class level as manifester/caster level, when relevant.

An echo begins play with a pool of reflections equal to 3 + echo class level. As long as they have at least one reflection left, they may maintain a psionic focus as though they had a power point reserve (good catch there!) and reflections are replenished after 8 hours of rest.

Reflections may be used in a variety of ways: An echo may spend a reflection as a free action to echo a feat, which, for one round, exchanges a feat for another that they have seen used within the last Charisma modifier rounds. Potential problem here: The prerequisite angle. RAW, the echo could gain access to feats that build upon others, but which aren’t necessarily used (such as in some of the more complex feat chains) this way. Depending on how you run your game, this may be considered to be a bug or a feature. The second use is echo familiarity, which lets the echo, for one round, gain a +2 circumstance bonus to a skull they’ve seen used. If the echo uses this ability to replicate a non-class skill, they add Charisma modifier to the roll. This is interesting, in that it may make the echo mirroring a skill actually better than the echo learning one. Regarding skills, btw.: 3rd level nets remembrance, which lets them choose a skill they used the base echo familiarity (see below) on; this skill is permanently added to the list of class skills, and another is gained at every odd level.

Now, Lost Spheres Publishing has codified power sources for magic in the Transcendent 10-series, introducing the notion of arcane, divine, entropic, temporal, psionic and primal power-sources, and the pdf does recap the basic information there. At 1st level, an echo chooses one such source of power. For one reflection, the echo can then replicate a single spell or power with that source that they witnessed within the past round, as a standard action. This fixed action economy can yield some strange results, and the ability suddenly speaks of reflection points, when previously, there was no “point” mentioned, but the ability thankfully does have limiters: The spell or power must have an effective level equal to no more than half the Echo’s level rounded up. Such mirrored spells or powers are resolved as spell-like or psi-like abilities at the caster or manifester level of the original caster/manifester or the echo, whichever is lower. Minor nitpick: PFRPG doesn’t have effective caster levels. Ignore that word. DCs are the originals, or 10 + the effect’s level + the echo’s Charisma modifier, whichever is lower. Kudos: This does NOT allow you to echo costly tricks – effects with material components of 100 gp + are exempt.

At 2nd level, the echo gains a deeper reflection, chosen from a list of 5: Cascade allows you to treat your own mirror power as a valid target for your own mirror power, allowing you to loop one action you mirrored. The deeper reflection may be taken additional times, with additional uses allowing you to mirror yourself anew. If you played Final fantasy VII back in the day, and remember the easy strategy to defeat Emerald Weapon, mimicking quadruple-summoned knights of the round, then mimic this with the mimic material, then you’ll know how this works: Each choice of cascade basically nets you one additional star in your mimic material. (If you’re one of the nerds who, like me, puzzled out how to kill the weapons before the advent of GameFAQs, consider yourself high-five’d!)

Facet of power,a s a choice, allows you to choose another power-source. Depth of Reflection increases the echo’s level by 1 for the purpose of determining which spells and powers may be replicated. Memory of power lets you select one spell or power the echo was personally affected by that is one level lower than the maximum level the echo can currently mimic. The echo is always considered to be capable of using that one. Finally, twin strikes lets the echo, when using a weapon of the same type as a target within Close range, resolve attacks with the target’s base attack bonus, provided the attacks are made within 1 round of witnessing the attack. (If you have Lasting Impression, which is gained at 5th level), you may do so for a number of rounds equal to twice that extended duration.

Lasting Impression extends the duration of the timeframe wherein an echo can mimic a power by 1 round, and the ability extends the timeframe further at 9th, 13th, 17th and 19th level. (This means that, e.g. twin strikes of an echo of 14th level would last for 6 rounds, as the lasting impression extension is equal to 3 rounds for spell/power-mimicking.)

Starting at 10th level, the class gets their advanced talents of sorts, the so-called dark reflections, which may be chosen instead of deeper reflections. One of these allows for the use of mirror power as a counterspell mechanic based on opposed caster level check. The second one allows you to choose one creature type, and then nets you the option to go blue mage and mirror supernatural abilities of the creature type, with class level equal to CR-2 being the maximum that prevents really ugly cheesy exploits. Such SUs must be triggered as a standard action, providing another important anti-abuse caveat. Another dark reflection allows for the echo DC to be substituted, and for the class to use its own caster/manifester level, if higher. At 10th level, this is a well-situated place for an ability/tweak to the core mechanics of the class. There is also a really complex counterecho-based ability that can be triggered as an immediate action, and that lets you mirror power after a counterecho. It misses a spell italicization, though, and only works if you have counterecho, so it should probably specify that as a prerequisite. Still, nice one! Another one nets the echo a shadow reflection pool equal to Charisma modifier that may only be used to power dark reflections. One of the dark reflections builds on this, and allows the echo to use a shadow reflection powered by that pool and a regular reflection in the same round. This allows for the use of two standard action reflections, though the use of the two does render this a full-round action. (Here, the prerequisite is properly noted) There is a talent that allows the change of the source of power to anther (with the GM having the final say).

At 19th level (not properly noted in the ability’s write-up), the echo gains Hall of Echoes. Or Hall of Reflections, as the class table calls it in an inconsistency. 1/day, the echo may, as a free action, select an effect valid for mirror power with a single target. For 2 reflections, this is resolved on ALL targets within Close range. No, they can’t choose to exclude friends or foes. The capstone lets the class, 1/day spend a reflection to perfectly replicate another character’s full round worth of actions, including spells, attacks, and the ability even takes items into account. The targets, suffice to say, may be designated by the echo.

The pdf also includes 8 different feats: Extra Reflection nets you +2 reflections; Deeper Reflection and Darker Reflection net you an additional deeper or darker reflection, respectively. Absorb Power lets you, as a standard action, spend a reflection to make a touch attack against a character that is eligible for your mirror power base ability. The target gets a Will-save (formatting here is a bit rough, but only aesthetically). On a success, the echo may act as though the target had just activated an eligible spell or power for purposes of the echo’s mirroring. On a failure, the target instead loses access to the spell or power for a number of rounds equal to the echo’s Charisma modifier, during which the echo may mirror it! COOL! Echo item requires 3 ranks in “UMD” – that should read Use Magic Device, and it lets you duplicate powers and spells generated by items, provided you have access to the power source and a facsimile. To duplicate a necklace’s power, a noose or string around the neck, for example. It’s a small touch, but the class has a couple of them, and they make the class feel more…alive? Anyways, Form of Echoes is a crossover feat for Rite Publishing’s Taskshaper. (Nice!)

The pdf also contains two different psionic zone feats: Reflective Resonance creates a 30-foot-zone, which nets psionic characters in the zone a circumstance bonus to ML equal to the number of rounds you have echoed one of their powers. This lasts for up to Charisma bonus rounds, and can be VERY brutal – but enemies do gain this benefit as well… Shattered Resistance does do the same for spells sourced from the same power source.

The pdf offers no favored class options or the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting on a formal level are a bit rough: There are a couple of aesthetic hiccups, nonstandard formatting stuff, etc. On a rules-language level, though? MUCH better than I dared to hope considering the high-level complexity of the subject matter. With a few minor snafus like an inconsistency in an ability name or a missing prerequisite, this class works smoothly. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and is pretty printer-friendly. The class has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

And sometimes, being a reviewer and somewhat OCD is awesome. When I was introduced to Lost Spheres Publishing, I duly started getting their material, and began working on it, as I’m wont to, from the back to the front of the catalog, also to get an idea of the evolution of the design. The Transcendent 10-series was, in quite a few instances, a positive surprise for me, but also sported quite a few rough ones. Considering the complexity of the concept of mimicking stuff, and the age of the class, I frankly expected this one to…well, let’s be frank…suck.

Now let me state this clearly: The rules language isn’t always perfect; it has a couple of remnant 3.X-isms, some formatting’s a bit off…but know what? I, for once, found that I don’t really care all that much. Why? Because this class has more ambition than 95% of hybrid classes released for PFRPG COMBINED. It takes a concept that is WIDE OPEN, that just begs to slap together an ill-conceived or too limited interpretation – and genuinely rocks it. The limitations imposed on the echo’s impressive flexibility, the clear intention of being a novel playing experience, the focus of the class – all of that is impressive as heck. This has the blend of ambition, vision, and some would claim madness, that characterizes truly novel and stand-out concepts, and while the formatting is not perfect, it does have the design-chops to make it actually WORK. Rated purely on a formal level, this would be, at best, a 3-star file; however, there is more to a RPG-product than formal criteria…and the functionality of this class, its GUTS, its AMBITION? They are AMAZING. As a person, I thoroughly love this class.

As a reviewer, I can’t rate this as highly as I’d like to. The supplemental material is barebones, and the class could have used a broader talent selection…but it is my honest belief that this hidden gem still holds up to this date! If you’re comfortable ignoring e.g. an “effective” her and there and want to see a great take on the mimic class concept, if you’re looking for something radically different, then this little gem delivers, big time. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform. Oh, and yes, this gets my seal of approval. If you’re willing to look past a few cosmetic blemishes, you’ll be rewarded with a truly unique experience here.

You can get this rough, but really cool class here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 182019
 

Star Log.EM: Rougarous (SFRPG)

This installment of the Star Log.EM-series 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!

As always, we begin this supplement with a brief contextualization of the race in question within the Xa-Osoro system, before diving into the information on the rougarous, who btw. also hail from the lost world of Azan, destroyed in the cataclysm of the Regicide. Interesting to note would be that the race develops first like wolves, but ages slower, with the second birthday being a benchmark for them to start the development towards a bipedal stance, and their cognitive development is akin to that of humans. While the race has lost their home, they nowadays mostly lair on the largest moon of Ulo, Bantosian. There, they have taken a frontier mentality, blending a healthy dose of the space equivalent of good ole’ American pioneer spirit and erected a democratic, pack-based society for a loose, pretty hand-off council.

Pragmatic and orderly, the depiction of the race makes them feel rather unique – “If it ain’t born in front of you, it ain’t got no business in your home without a good look-over” is a fun maxim for the context of the race, and one that makes sense in the context of themes the race evokes. As always, the race does not feature a “Playing as a rougarou”-section, but we do get a proper subtype graft.

Racial trait-wise, rougarous get +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int, 6 Hit Points and are Medium humanoids with the shapeshifter and rougarou subtypes and a base speed of 30 ft. Rougarous have blindsense (scent) of up to 30 ft. Each rougarou has an alternate, unique wolf shape of the same age and gender, and they have low-light vision and natural weapons. The racial feat provided is Lupine Shapeshifting, available for rougarou of 3rd level and higher. This one has a variety of choices and may be taken multiple times, and it may be taken as a replacement class feature at 4th, 6th, 12th or 18th level. The feat nets you either +10 ft. movement, the option to render foes prone with unarmed strikes, the option to use Survival instead of Perception to pinpoint unseen creatures as a swift action, or the menacing gaze envoy expertise talent, usable sans expertise die. The interaction with rougarou envoys is properly codified.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the artwork by Jacob Blackmon of the race is neat. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Alexander Augunas’ rougarous are mechanically precise, and put a cool spin on the concept of a lupine anthro-race. They don’t reinvent the wheel mechanically, but they do offer something that few races get this well: They understand that a race is more than crunch; it’s also culture, and a sense of plausibility/unique flair. The culturally-specific notes provide a cool backdrop, and the take on the shapeshifting angle is executed with panache and precision. Nothing to complain about – 5 stars.

You can get this neat race here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 172019
 

Emirikol was framed! (DCC)

This adventure clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

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

Judges: Do NOT show the cover or name of the module to the PCs/players! In a pretty dumb decision, the title is a spoiler. -.- The pdf does contain basically a DCC-version of a spell to alter the visage of targets. (level 2, fyi)

The adventure is intended for 6 4th-level characters, and a well-rounded group is very much recommended. While dangerous, the module is not one of the most deadly DCC-modules out there, so survival-chances are decent, if certainly not guaranteed, particularly not without being…ähem…changed. The adventure comes with a table listing encounters, as always, and does feature 4 nice handouts – more on that later in the SPOILER-section. The adventure, as always, comes with well-written read-aloud text that helps less experienced judges evoke the proper atmosphere.

Genre-wise, this is basically a heist/assassination in a wizard’s tower – and in atmosphere, think of this as an heir of the classic “Tower of the Elephant” in its Savage Sword of Conan iteration, on LSD.

Want to know more? Well, all right, but to go into more details, I need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

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All right, so the PCs are minding their own business, when the city erupts in chaos, and winged gorilla-people start slaughtering folks, while a mighty magic-user is setting stuff ablaze! How’s that for an immediate jump into the fray?

In the aftermath of the chaos, the PCs are contacted by a cadre of individuals, who have identified the culprit as the local wizard Emirikol! The planning of the heist with the conspirators is pretty detailed and fun, but can also be handled rather quickly, depending on the preferences of your group…at this point, if you were so careless as to show the cover, the players will be less motivated, for, indeed, while Emirikol is indeed a chaos mage with a whole array of rather unwholesome predilections, he was not responsible. According to the (mostly) correct intel, the conspirators can help the PCs breach the ever-changing, shifting tower, its outsides in an obvious homage, guarded by wild cats, the tower constantly changing its composition. Scaling it can be dangerous, but the PCs will only have a certain timeframe as the mighty wizard ostensibly is in stasis and may be slain.

The main module is about the exploration of Emirikol’s tower, where space and time are not beholden to the limitations of the structure. The tower’s interior, obviously, includes a pterodactyl’s roost, strange trophies. Now, I mentioned handouts – one of them does contain an array of golems in different degrees of completion, and careless PCs may well find themselves locked in the bodies of these half-finished magical constructs. The handout illustrates these bodies, and while not all are ambulatory, many are. The PCs will have to swim up a column of water to traverse floors, venture into a cranium library, and it does some smart things: There is, for example, a chance to look at the adventure’s maps, briefly, before they “animate” and are thrown in the player’s face! In contrast to a couple of other meta-tricks, this one is easy to implement, fun, and should not result in issues – kudos!

There is a massive, sorcerous observatory with bronze scorpions (awesome!) and a sorcerous workshop that contains the magical weapon Ruin, a blade of liquid metal with a pretty nasty tendency to fan the fires of ambition… The module also includes the Kaj, a unique entity (represented in one of the handouts) that share actions between their bodies, making for a great boss…or rather, penultimate boss fight.

You see, arriving at Emirikol’s true sanctum, the wizard is NOT happy – his erstwhile lover, the powerful Leotah turned bitter adversary, was actually the culprit behind the unprompted chaos in the city, and the instigator of the plot that sent the PCs inside. (Both archmages are btw. represented on a handout!) As his constructs of iron burst through the walls, Leotah and her gorillamen crash inside the tower, starting an epic duel of spells and servitor creatures, with the PCs caught in the middle. A handy table helps the judge to keep track of all those targets – for at this point, most groups will probably conclude that neither wizard should triumph. Thus, the smartest move probably will be attempting to take down the Glass Darkly (NICE!), which, in a final nod towards the classics, initiates the tower collapse. Here’s to hope that the PCs don’t dawdle or are held back…for after this adventure, they’ll probably have made at least one powerful enemy, one with plenty of experience recovering from death…if the judge has a romantic streak and the PCs were particularly successful, the two mighty wizards may well end up reunited once again, focused in their spite and hatred for the PCs…just saying…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column b/w-standard, and the pdf offers plenty of cool b/w-artworks. The 4 handouts are neat, and I really enjoyed the gorgeous b/w-map, though no player-friendly iteration was included, which is a bit of a bummer. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but only basic ones for chapter-headers.

Michael Curtis provides a great homage of a Sword & Sorcery classic, seen through the aesthetics of DCC – it’s like playing through a Bal-Sagoth track. Outrageous, brutal and cool, oozing flavor, this is one of my favorite “Wizard’s Tower”-themed modules. It gets what makes a great wizard’s tower stand out – risk and reward are entwined, and while PCs can die and suffer horrible fates, these tend to be the result of greed or daring. Skill really helps, and being anything short of smart will be punished. Harshly. The finale is harsh and epic as well. The spoiler in the title is something I wished this had avoided, and the lack of player-friendly maps is a downside. And yet, I adore this one to bits. It has all those small touches that show that the author cared even about the small stuff, it oozes flair, and if you just remotely like Sword & Sorcery, then this’ll be right up your alley. All in all, well worth a final verdict of 5 stars, and because I’m a sucker for the theme, I’ll also award this my seal of approval.

You can get this cool Sword & Sorcery adventure here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 172019
 

Galaxy Pirates: Ships – Katar Fast Attack (SFRPG)

This Galaxy Pirates supplement clocks in at 7, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, the fast attack ship of the Katar is a tier 8 Large Destroyer that comes equipped with a pulse prismatic power core, a basic drift engine and mk 4 armor as well as mk 6 defenses. The ship uses a mk 2 trinode computer, good crew quarters and basic medium-range sensors. Expansion bay-wise, we have 3 cargo holds. Weaponry-wise, we have a particle beam and heavy torpedo launchers facing forward; aft features a light torpedo launcher, while port and starboard feature a laser net. The turret features a light particle beam. With a speed of 10 hexes, these ships have the equivalent of L10 thrusters. With 200 shields, slightly skewed towards forward and aft, the ship has some staying power.

Crew-wise, this one has a captain and pilot, 3 engineers, 6 gunners and 2 science officers; the crew is generally pretty capable, with +21 in Bluff and Diplomacy making for high values. The Piloting is similarly high at +21. The pdf does come with a Computers-table that allows PCs to know things about the vessel, but it should be noted that the table contradicts the ship’s statblock: The table states it has 2 cargo holds, when the statblock notes 3. This is a pretty minor hiccup, though. If you’ve been doing your math, you’ll realize that this ship does use its full PU-budget, which makes sense.

As always, we get a filled-out version of the cool ship-sheets featured in these pdfs, and a one-page handout-style artwork of this cool ship, as well as paper-mini-style versions. The star here, though? The full-color map that does show the respective weaponry, the quarters, etc, including a katar garden and the like – it is gorgeous and really cool.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the artwork featured is gorgeous. The cartography is awesome and full-color and makes the ship feel plausible. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length.

Paul Fields and Jim Milligan deliver a great little supplement here. The sleek attack vessel feels like the equivalent of a lancer’s attack vessel, and makes great use of its budget. The aesthetic components are top-notch, and as a whole, I consider this to be well worth getting. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

You can get this cool attack ship here on OBS!

You can get a massive ship-bundle here on OBS!


Endzeitgeist out.