Apr 212017
 

Mini-Dungeon: Ne’er trust the White Wolf’s Tameness

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains…*drumroll* a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg’s included as well!

 

Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

 

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

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Still here?

All right!

This mini-dungeon can be run as a sequel to “Look not with Thine Eyes, but Thine Mind“, but works just as well on its own. The PCs continue their descent into the bowels of the earth, teleporting into a lethal trap, where multiple, deadly guardians must be bested to escape the “Wolf’s Eyes” – a kind of guarded teleport trap. Free f this challenging gauntlet and its powerful golems and swarms, the PCs have to make their way through the lethal traps of “the wolf’s jaw” – and from here on out, things only get more foreboding, as remnants of horrific fates, 4 random encounters you may or may not use, and a terribly injured group of adventurers speak of worse things awaiting in “the wolf’s mind” – a part of the complex where the way leads further below. It should also be noted that this mini-dungeon has a potential, direct way out of its confines at this point…

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and decent, but not as good as the best in the series. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!

 

Stephen Yeardley sports a nice quasi-puzzle, some challenging traps and foes and a thematically concise and interesting mini-dungeon here. No complaints, well worth getting – 5 stars.

 

You can get this cool mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

While my review is based on the PFRPG-version, you can get this for 5e here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Apr 202017
 

Gateway Pass Adventure Path #1: Brighton Road

This module clocks in at 44 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 40 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

Well, before we dive into the nit and grit: To me, an adventure path is a campaign that covers the majority, at least 2/3rds, of an adventurer’s career. I get why many a publication uses the AP-moniker, but personally, I’d consider anything less than that an arc. I know, I know, not too relevant, but I still felt the need to spell that out.

 

Anyways, what do Star Trek, Twin Peaks, Esoterrorists in station duty mode, Red Dwarf and daily sitcoms have in common? Simple: A central location. Many a campaign has a hub, from Lankhmar to Feeport and this location and its quirks and NPCs slowly grow upon the PCs, It’s one of the points of criticism fielded against the otherwise excellent CotCT-campaign that the PCs had to leave their home. It thus should come as a surprise, that so far no series of adventures has really capitalized on the notion of the PCs really getting to know their home, their base, and defending it from whatever may come their way. This series of adventures, then, would do just that – the premise centers on two feuding fiefdoms, the Ottonians and Goodchilds, and a border fortress between them. The PCs, via one of various hooks, will be in the employ of the Ottonians, specifically, in the employ of the charismatic inquisitor Nathaniel Lyon, who has opted to reopen the Brighton road, for in the years since the road’s closure, the area has become poor and destitute, with many a former soldier falling to a life of crime.

 

And this is pretty much as far as I can go without getting into serious SPOILER-territory. Potential players should definitely jump to the conclusion.

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All right, still around? Great! You see, Nathaniel has begun covertly recruiting the less corrupted of the criminal elements, for he suspects something lurking…and how better to ensure plausible deniability than via a band of miscreant low-lifes? Opposed to Nathaniel’s agenda would be the rebellion slowly engendered by one Robert Cornelius, who is using smuggling tactics and whisper campaigns to build his strength, all in the ultimate goal of ending the serfdom system that has ruined his life. The primary foe of Nathaniel would, however, be the armiger Cadwell Brunson, a former guardsman who has retained his bandit network and seeks to lead Nathaniel into an ambush and eliminate him for once and for all. So these three fully statted individuals would be the power-players here, representing the matrix of intrigue and machinations here.

 

The PCs, however, won’t know any of this right away. Instead, this adventure will begin with a burning wagon crashing into the doors of the Starry Sky Inn, while the PCs are en route to reopen the Brighton Output. Dealing with the fire and bandits constitute an interesting first encounter, though one that does not feature a map or the like – granted, most GMs have a bunch of tavern maps ready…but yeah. In the aftermath of the combat, the GM gets a chance to introduce the PCs not only to the excessive poverty in the area, but also to a helpful witch named Rosin Sinti and their fellow guards, who come with brief, fluff-descriptions to set them apart. En route, tracking can help determine some pieces of information about the environments and a handy random encounter chart is included as well.

 

The outpost has obviously seen better days – it receives a nice b/w-map and the PCs will have a chance to start cleaning up the place, fixing roofs…and then there’s the dead cleric outside, killed by a storm. Her spirit lingers in the officer’s quarters as a haunt, guarding the children she sought to guide to a better life. The kids, all marked by poverty, can make for interesting sidekicks or, in some cases, potential apprentices/cohorts…for their home, the hamlet of Wassail, is one sans perspective for them. Beyond that, the PCs have a chance to deal with a shambling stalker and potentially find a secret tunnel, which may become relevant later. A handy table of 8 random events helps btw. establish a concise mood here. Speaking of mood: From dining to the sheer amount of information herein, the adventure takes a refreshing stance regarding that aspect – we take a bit of time, yes, but from tax costs to be levied to the NPCs, there is quite a bit of roleplaying.

 

This extends, btw., to day 2, where perceptive PCs get to notice a scout and his hunting crows keeping an eye on the outpost and have their first major social encounter, as they check the wares of Mr. Lilliputian, a dwarven diplomat. And indeed, the PCs can find various discrepancies in his papers…and several pieces of cargo he tries to smuggle through: Black powder weapons and baby rust monsters, to be more precise. (And yes, alternatives are included if you don’t like blackpowder firearms in your game.) While in the end, when bribes etc. fail, Lyon does let him off with a warning, this still represents a rather fun encounter.

 

During the night, a guardsman, however, will have found a rather mysterious death, as his fellow watchman dozed the night away, which will cast a somber tone on Roisin the witch returning – she can act as courier between the output and civilization, offer healing and return every other day…she also has her own agenda, but precisely which, I won’t spoil here. In the following days, the PCs will have a chance to deal with a shambling mound hunting in the vicinity. Beyond that, a local baker is probing the waters to come over once in a while to sell cookies, and a pig farmer asks for the possibility to leave some of her pigs she is bound to buy in Norwich here. It is such pieces of local color that make the place feel organic, that make players fond of it in the long run.

 

Lilliputian will return (and continue his smuggling), though this time, a man named Kier is following hot on his heels, arriving soon after the dwarf has passed through. Kier is a ranger, has no travel papers…and claims that Lilliputian is wanted for carrying contraband across territories. While he is not wrong, having no papers would make it within the purview of the PCs to refuse him…and a similarity between the attire of the man and that of the scout watching them should also make the PCs rather suspicious. When later, a wealthy merchant arrives, a subsection of Cornelius’ men attempt to kidnap the fop in broad daylight, unaware of the strength of the outpost’s folks (read: The PCs) – though their knowledge of smuggler’s tunnels may help them escape. Later, the PC’ll meet a hermit with, surprisingly, imperial travel papers, setting up an interesting mystery for the future.

 

On day 6, the PCs may get a day off, but the pdf still depicts, in detail, what actually transpires regarding the various NPCs that return. In the following days, the PCs will have a lot of choices on their hands: Do they help Roisin smuggle folks who can’t pay the high taxes through the gate? How do the react to the disguised Cadwell, who poses as a Goodchild…and the man seems to know the hermit, who utters some warnings…Daniel, one of the folks, wants forged papers (and may slip off into the night as a deserter later); new guardsmen arrive, And indeed, from day to day, the intrigues subtly grow – trolls need to be dealt with, Kier returns, will-o’-the-wisps haunt the night, drawn by the sorcerous power within one person’s blood..

 

Beyond further smugglers, wine merchants and a Romeo and Juliet-undercover-scene with the children of the rival fiefdoms, there is a lot to be found…interestingly, the latter may actually blow Cadwell’s cover. At one point, a fight between heavy drinkers passing through on a gambling night may erupt into violence and Kier…well, he’ll find a rather nasty end at the hands of a doppelganger, who is btw., surprise, up to no good.

 

Beyond aforementioned star-crossed affair is discovered by the hermit, he mentions several key facts about the environment to the PCs…before a frickin’ CR 17 green dragon swoops in. And no, the PCs should not try to fight that beast…and instead perhaps establish a tithe or something like that? On their next day, the PCs may find a camp within the woods if the choose to escort the hermit, including several pieces of much needed loot…and encrypted papers…but they’ll also have to evade goodchild guards.

 

Cadwell arrives on day 14, demanding payment from Nathaniel, for he has been blackmailing the inquisitor…and, depending on the PC’s actions, he may bring grisly trophies along….and it his here that the PCs get to defend the fortress against the forces of Cadwell. How the adventure ends depends largely on the PC’s actions – Nathaniel Lyon may well be hanged…or the PCs could keep him in charge, forgiving him his well-meant duplicity…though not all story ties have been closed…

 

The pdf comes with a high-res labeled .tif of the fortress and an unlabeled, high-res jpg. for use as a player’s map.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good, but not perfect -there are quite a few minor hiccups regarding punctuation. Layout adheres to a nice b/w-version of Rite Publishing’s standard layout. The pdf features b/w-artworks for all key NPCs, though I have seen most of them before. The cartography is really good, but I do wish that e.g. tunnels, environments, inside of buildings, etc. had also been covered.

 

Greg LaRose’s Gateway Pass is completely different from what I expected – this could actually, theme and atmosphere-wise, be an old-school Bandit Kingdom Greyhawk module, an OSR module or the like; it breathes this sense of antiquity, of a world at a declining stage in its phases, of a place that has moved on. This is a surprisingly low-magic, down to earth module that works rather well thanks to its very dense atmosphere, remarkable characters and details – the details, repetition of characters and the like generate a rather interesting, very organic and believable simulation of an organic world and appropriate consequences.

 

The level of detail, however, also means that this module requires that the GM tracks quite a few decisions, which, while not hard, could have been better laid out. You see, this is basically a LOT of text and the lack of highlights via bolding, references to consequences and the like can make the module slightly harder to run than it needed to be. I for example, had totally forgotten about the tunnel mentioned and had to look that back up. This module basically represents scenes, but doesn’t concisely separate the rules-relevant aspects from the key-story aspects and agendas in the respective encounters – you need to know precisely how it’ll work, particularly since, unfortunately, in two cases, an editing glitch of a typo-level made such a key sequence a bit more opaque than it needed to be – I was more than once both tantalized and surprised by some new revelation/note while reading a day’s event. Much of this could have been avoided, if the adventure synopsis in the beginning simple featured a cliff-notes version of day-to-day-events for the GM: You know, like “Day 1: Event x, event z; NPC y arrives, NPC W leaves; if a) has happened, then c).”

 

I also think that the decisions the PCs make regarding smugglers, etc. could matter a bit more and that excelling at a given encounter/acting with tact and smarts, should yield a bit more rewards…but that may just be me.

 

So, in short, structure-wise, this is not the best module; however, its concept is pretty novel and exciting and the set-up is great. The best component would be the almost realistic atmosphere and (mostly) low fantasy-feeling nature of the proceedings, with the eerie and fantastic only sometimes rearing their heads…but when they do, they do so rather neatly. You can *feel* like a soldier in a dangerous wilderness, hunting trolls and slowly putting two and two together regarding the agendas and allegiances of the NPCs. In short: This series has plenty of potential.

 

I was, however, also kind of disappointed to not get maps for the inside of the buildings and the lack of a scale on the maps means that this is a module that’s mostly intended for mind’s eye-style playing, though in the finale, the works slightly less well than in the rest of the module.

 

How to rate this, then? I adore the atmosphere herein, as you may have noticed – it’s my kind of gritty fantasy, of realism and simulated life; the module achieves the illusion of an organic world. At the same time, the module does have a few drawbacks on the formal side that drag it down a notch. Ultimately, I can’t go higher than 3.5 stars, though I will round up due to in dubio pro reo on this one. This is not a go-play module, but if you like gritty fantasy, this may well be worth getting.

 

You can get this module here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Apr 202017
 

Skyrider Hybrid Class

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

 

The skyrider base class received d10 HD, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, full BAB-progression, good Fort- and Ref-saves and proficiency with all simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. How much skills per level, you’re asking? NO IDEA. That info is missing from the pdf. Blergh.

 

The class gains challenge at first level, +1 daily use for every 3 levels beyond first. The skyrider also chooses an order at first level. Two specific skyrider orders are included here, with the first being the order of the zephyr, who increases the movement rate of skyrider and mount when moving towards the target of a challenge (+10 ft., +20 ft. and 30 ft. at 7th and 15th level). Skill-wise, the order nets Perception and Survival as class skills. 2nd level yields the handy ability to count as 1/2 weight for the purpose of determining mount encumbrance as well as eliminating the penalty to AC when charging. 8th level yields a tripled speed when charging, which is VERY strong. Worse, spear fighter weapon group weapons now behave as though they were lances…i.e. like one of the most problematic aspects of the base game. Not the biggest fan there. 15th level nets a +2 AC bonus versus ranged attacks for rider and mount when charging, an additional 50% miss chance. Additionally, they deal automatic damage (untyped) equal to twice the class level to any obstacles in the way – no save, no attack roll – just broken…and I don’t even have to state how this can be highly problematic in its precise rules-interactions, right? They also take only 1/4 damage from damaging obstacles.

 

The second order contained in this book would be the order of venom, who increases the threat range of the mount’s attacks by 1 in challenge…which isn’t bad per se. But threat range increases by a further 1 for every 4 levels thereafter. Skill-wise, both Fly and Survival are included…which is weird, considering that the base class already receives Fly as a class skill. For the cavalier, I guess… Weird, btw. – the order of venom’s order abilities are formatted differently than those of the order of zephyr. Since the order also yields a bonus on Knowledge-checks made to identify creatures, its 2nd level ability builds on that; identified creatures observed as move actions can thus yields short-term bonuses that increase at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter. 8th level allows the skyrider to use wyvern poison as a standard action and execute one attack with the poisoned weapon. 15th level lets the skyrider dismount, fall up to 200 ft. and attack a foe at the end; if successful, the falling damage is added to the attack and the skyrider takes no damage. Sooo, is the falling damage multiplied on a critical hit? No idea. The pdf also sports companion stats for wyvern and griffon, though the griffon’s advancement-lines lack proper formatting.

 

Starting at 3rd level, the class receives the high talon ability, which nets +1 to atk and damage whenever attacking from higher ground, increasing the bonus by +1 at every 3 levels thereafter. 4th level yields the griffon companion, which uses the skyrider’s level -3 as druid level. The griffon does not receive share spells, obviously, but does gain Light Armor Proficiency as a bonus feat. This feature is weird, since it locks the character in the griffon-choice, contradicting the wyvern-option presented by one of the orders – RAW, the order of venom would thus only be available for the cavalier.

 

5th level yields mounted evasion, which is pretty self-explanatory. 7th level provides the option for the griffon to carry the skyrider…and this is weird, for, provided the griffon is trained and weight etc. checks out, he could do that before. Carrying the rider also “reduces the fly speed” but fails to specify by how much. The skyrider may use Fly instead of Ride while mounted. At 10th level, things get wonky and the griffon companion is treated as though the skyrider always had a full druid companion progression…which is incredibly clunky.

 

13th level nets full fly speed when carrying the skyrider…implying a fixed penalty for a rider, but failing to specify how that all interacts with encumbrance etc. It *looks* pretty functional…but unfortunately isn’t. 9th level yields Hover for the griffon, Flyby Attack for the skyrider. 17th level allows for full-attacks of both mount and rider after a charge at the cost of -4 to AC. 18th level provides mounted improved evasion. 20th level lets the skyrider dismount after a charge and execute one attack that automatically threatens a critical hit and may insta-kill the target. May? The DC is 10 + damage dealt…which is hilarious, considering all the crit-upgrades and potential boosts to charge attack damage. Also ridiculous: The skyrider may fall off the griffon, hit a target…and be caught by the griffon, regardless of distance. Yeah…makes no sense.

 

It should also be noted that the pdf has a section called “Skyrider Archetypes”…and nothing in it. The only content there would be the orders, one of which arguably isn’t even for the class.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not good. From the missing skills per level to typos and inconsistent formatting, the pdf suffers from a plethora of hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has a really nice full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks and cut-copy-paste of text is disabled, making the use of this pdf not very comfortable.

 

Angel “ARMR” Miranda’s skyrider is not without promise, the aerial cavalier…

…oh, who am I kidding? This lacks crucial information, has some seriously wonky abilities, is a one-trick-charge-pony…and worse, everything this pdf does has been done more precisely and better. Get the ultimate, excellent flying resource “Companions of the Firmament” – it literally does everything this pdf does better and so much more. It’s an EZG Essential for a reason. Alternatively, if you only want a nice aerial cavalier class, go for “Letters from the Flaming Crab: Winged Cavalry” instead; it also is vastly superior. Let me reiterate – this pdf is not a total wreck…but when compared to two vastly superior products, it has absolutely nothing going for it. Hence, my final verdict cannot go higher than 1.5 stars…and frankly, I can’t bring myself to round up.

 

You can get this pdf here on OBS.

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Apr 202017
 

Mini-Dungeon: Look not with thine Eyes, but thine Mind

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains…*drumroll* a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg’s included as well!

 

Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

 

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

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Still here?

All right!

This mini-dungeon can be played as a sequel to “There are more Things in the Planes and the Earth“, but it works perfectly fine on its own as well. After having braved the weird complex and witnessed an elder thing talking to Formians, the PCs now explore a complex where the insectoid creatures represent the none-too-pleasant opposition – random encounters are provided as well, 4 to be more precise, but it should be noted that, from a blind monk to a termite swarm, a caulborn and aether elementals, the opposition found within these halls is rather diverse and fun.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and decent, but not as good as the best in the series. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!

 

Stephen Yeardley’s latest installments of this sequence of loosely connected mini-dungeons has a diverse and fun array of foes, a neat atmosphere and generally makes for a cool, fun dungeon. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

While my review is based on the PFRPG-version, you can find the 5e-iteration here!
Endzeitgeist out.

 

Apr 202017
 

Mini-Dungeons: There are more Things in the Planes and the Earth

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains…*drumroll* a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg’s included as well!

 

Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

 

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

..

.

Still here?

All right!

This can be used as a sequel to the previous mini-dungeon “When goblins die, no comets are seen“, though it can also be used on its own. The very entrance to this complex is trapped with a suggestion to “leave and never return”, establishing a sense of foreboding dread that the complex then manages to expand – from traps with insanity mist to cairnwights and slithering trackers, the caverns contain some nasty tricks; and yes, burrowing can actually yield treasure…if you know where to look. At one point, the PCs will also have a chance to witness an elder thing, which retreats courtesy of aggressive formorians.

 

Pretty cool: The mini-dungeon contains 4 nice little random encounters to keep up the pressure.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and decent, but not as good as the best in the series. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!

 

Stephen Yeardley’s exploration of these realms below is interesting and the challenges and obstacles faced are fun and create an interesting mini-dungeon, well worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this nice module here on OBS!

 

While my review is based on the PFRPG-version, you can find the 5e-version here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 192017
 

Four Horsemen Present: Celestial Character Options

This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

All, right, after a brief introduction we meet the Ishvara race. This race takes the concept of a heart and mind divided between selfless altruism and selfish ambition, making equilibrium difficult – you know the metaphysical concept. The ishvara embody this race – they perceive themselves as incarnations of imperfect souls and the moral turbulence makes them a prime candidate for self-realization, for the life of adventurous struggle, while also providing a deeply ingrained roleplaying angle for personal development, which is a big plus to me. The ishvara are native outsiders who get +2 to an attribute of their choice, darkvision, +2 to saves versus fear and despair effects and a 1/day option to reroll such a save on a natural 1. Additionally, they gain +2 to saves versus poison and mind-affecting effects and +1 to Perception and Sense Motive, both of which are always class skills for the race.

 

The race is pretty cool, though it does not come with an age, height and weight-table. Aasimar can choose 5 new FCOs – fighters can buff their energy resistance; mesmerists enhance their saves versus possession and compulsion effects with the evil descriptor, while samurai enhance challenge damage, skalds get +1/6 rage power and warpriests get +1/2 daily fervor uses. The ishvara also feature several favored class options, including several occult classes and the vigilante. Finally, sylphs also get a couple of favored class options – including ones for the Shifu class. Nice!

 

Next up would be the CR +1 angelbound template, which represents a pact with the forces of celestial realms, granting the creature SPs, attribute bonuses, etc. in exchange for scrutiny by the angel in question, with 9 different angel types covered – the template basically represents those willing to conform to rigid moral values in order to serve the heavens and vanquish evil. Fun and certain to see some use!

 

The pdf also features several archetypes, the first of which would be the angelic voice bard – at 3rd level, inspire competence is replaced by accompaniment – as an immediate action, the character can use aid another to help an ally while maintaining a bardic performance – I assume that the range is the range of bardic performance, though RAW, the ability does not specify the like and only implies the necessity to hear the bard. The ability is balanced either way, however, by requiring bardic performance expenditure. The bonus increases at 7th and 15th level by +1, respectively. At 8th level, dirge of doom is replaced with an interesting ability: When the angelic voice casts a spell with verbal component or as part of a bardic performance, he may forego the effects of the spell to increase the DC and CL of another caster by +2. This may sound easy here, but rules-language-wise, that is actually a pretty complex operation and I generally like it.

 

The Renegade hybrid class penned by the horsemen also receives an archetype, the celestial outlaw, who just needs to be non-evil. Instead of intimidate equipment, these guys get +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate, potentially moving the attitude of those affected up or down, as per the outlaw’s precise skill use. The 3rd level shoot first is replaced with false surrender, which lets you spend panache as part of a parley – if you Bluff or Diplomacy, you may quickly draw the weapon at any time, kicking off a surprise round and providing serious initiative bonuses to allies. At 5th level, the outlaw can, as an immediate action, duplicate a nonmagic innocence 1/day, with 11th level increasing daily uses to 3/day. This replaces the sneak attack dice progression of these levels.

 

Next up would be the celestial soul monk, who must be good and replaces slow fall with celestial soar – supernatural flight, starting at 10 ft. with clumsy maneuverability and increasing in speed and maneuverability over the levels – kudos for properly assigning speed and maneuverability to the levels they work best with here. 10th level makes unarmed strikes count as good, with 16th level makes them also work as mithril. 13th level provides the perfect soul ability, which represents a native outsider apotheosis that features DR 5/evil, SR 5 + class level, with 20th level replacing this with the celestial creature template and 10 + class level SR; this replaces diamond self and perfect self.

 

The field medic wizard replaces Appraise and Knowledge (engineering) with Heal and Profession (physician) and does not get to choose a magic school (not even universalist), but still gains two opposition schools, but gets an additional spell slot per spell level, which must be used to prepare on of the healing spells added to the spell-list, learning them as arcane spells. Excellence: No, they cannot be learned by other casters as arcane spells. It’s catching exploits like this that clearly showcases the experience and attention to detail of the author…and that makes my job so much more satisfying! Kudos! At 1st level, Heal-use can yield hit point healing and 10-minute treatment can even allow for better disease recuperation or ability damage recovery. The archetype also gets 3 + class level deathwatch. Unique and cool: 8th level yields the option to heal nearby allies as well when rolling maximum hit points with healing, while 13th level allows for the leftover healing of mass curing spells to be redistributed. Nice!

 

The guardian angel cleric is locked out f a series of evil/dark-themed domains and may not cast spells with the evil descriptor; when channeling energy, one of the base elements, negative energy or sonic damage are chosen – allies in channel range gain +2 to saves versus the chosen energy and decrease the damage incurred by the type, lasting until the cleric’s next round. Cool and strategic! 5th level yields the option to spontaneously cast life pact or shield other using a 2nd level or higher memorized spell slot, with 9th level adding the option to spontaneously cast contagious zeal and sacred bond using a 4th level or higher spell slot. Engine tweaks are a hard sell on me, since most of the time, they’re cookie cutter and not that interesting – this is none of these things, representing a fun and strategic modification of the cleric engine.

 

The phrenic defender psychic may not cast spells with the evil descriptor and, as an immediate action, may expend a point from the phrenic pool to grant herself +2 to Will-saves versus evil compulsion effects. They may not choose abomination or pain as disciplines and, regardless of discipline, receive spear of purity at 4th level as a 2nd level spell. 10th level yields dispel evil as a 5th level spell, replacing the respective discipline spells. 3rd level grants the shielding spells phrenic amplification, which allows for the expenditure of 1 or 2 points from the phrenic pool to give the target of a linked spell a buff on saves versus evil spells or effects. 11th level nets a similar amplification to end possessions, domination-effects or simply exorcise via the use of linked spells – damn cool archetype!

 

The seventh sash arcanist lose access to all necromantic spells, but gain access to a wide array of prismatic-themed spells, from the humble color spray to the mighty prismatic sphere. Whenever the character casts a spell from the abjuration, evocation or illusion school, they can choose an ally within 30 feet and a color of the rainbow (or black), conveying a benefit to ally and seventh sash until the next turn – +4 to spell damage, saves versus a subset of effects, skill bonuses…you get the idea. Starting at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, an additional ally may benefit from the ability. This does delay gaining the first arcane exploit to 3rd level. 11th level yields colorful exploits, adding Cha-mod to CL when determining the effects of certain exploits and also increases the maximum level of the exploit effects by Charisma modifier – though this potent option does replace 11th level’s greater exploit.

 

A total of 14 new feats can be found within – Celestial familiar yields the celestial simple template (with a minor, cosmetic typo); Merciful critical lets you convert precision damage or critical hit damage on the fly to nonlethal damage (NICE!) and merciful smite is similarly self-explanatory. Smiting Spell lets you reroll 1s of damage rolls of spells at the cost of +1 spell level, while Singular Brilliance increases the DC of dazing, blindness etc. effects by one and extends their duration by 1 round. Uncommon Resistance lets you decrease one of your energy resistances by 5 and gain resistance 5 to the one you chose. Nice customization option, though (I wished it spelled out the energy types it can be applied to. Resolute Character nets you a save reroll when you’d be forced to act against your alignment or nature. The pdf also introduces the concepts of virtue feats, each of which represents one of the 7 cardinal virtues – Boon of Abstinence makes it possible for you to go longer sans food or water and helps versus poison, starvation, etc.; Boon of Chastity helps versus enchantments and attraction-based effects; Boon of Humility enhances your aid another, if you choose to incur a penalty to AC, while e.g. Boon of Patience lets you specify multiple triggering conditions when readying an action – pretty cool! These concepts most certainly have – all in all some really cool ones here!

 

A total of 7 celestial relics, powerful magical items, can also be found herein: The Decantur[sic! should be “decanter”] of endless holy water is just what it sounds like…but no, you can’t use it to flood a dungeon – its mechanics are actually directed, which is a big plus here. The efreeti prison bottle is pretty much self-explanatory and no, the imprisoned creature has no chance to become insane. The warhammer elven thrower would be a warhammer that elves can fire at foes. Midnight blue rhomboid ioun stones nets Alertness, but also make subterfuge harder. Fans of Solomon Kane will certainly appreciate the puritan’s pistol, a lucky revolver that cannot be used by evil, acting almost as a cursed weapon for those so foolish to use this. The robes of benign heritage would be a variant of the arcane heritage version and the sacred book is a blessed book variant for arcane casters.

 

We close this pdf with a total of 7 new spells, the first of which would be borrow grace, which allows you to tap into the willing or unwilling +Cha-to-saves granting options of some creatures. Nice one! Celestial Form nets temporarily the celestial creature template. Chromatic Orb and Chromatic Sphere would be two spells that deal with the rainbow-theme: The Orb causes 4 types of energy damage, helping potentially determine resistances and immunities and featuring partial saves, while the sphere represents a defensive option. Kudos regarding spell levels here – they make sense to me and are in line with the power of existing options. Flies, then honey allows you to salvage blundered social interactions. Heavenspeak represents a combo buff + minor heal/debuff + minor damage within 30 ft. The spell has, alas, a sentence fragment missing – it reads “Leaving the spell’s area Any outsiders…” Prismatic beam ends the pdf on a high note, concept-wise with a low-level prismatic spell option for 2nd level.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level (also due to Steven T. Helt’s obvious expertise!), but on a formal level, I found more typo level glitches and the like than I’m used to Rogue Genius Games. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard for the series. Interior artwork contains a blend on new and stock art in full color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

 

Steven T. Helt’s designs tend to rather subtle; he has a knack for identifying gaps in the rules and one of the few designers who constantly and reliably delivers engine-tweaks for components of the game that have been overlooked. Where other designers would blunder, his takes on these is consistently precise and meaningful. Contrary to me usual predilection for high-concept, long and complex archetypes, I found myself actually enjoying the shorter, highly compatible engine tweaks he provides herein – so big kudos for that! At the same time, I did wish there was slightly less “this is a variant of x” among the items and I don’t get the absence of alternate racial traits of age, height and weight table for the conceptually cool, if mechanically a bit conservative race. As a whole, this collection of options definitely has some worthwhile, fun material, though it misses the highest marks of e.g. his comedic character options. Still, very much worth getting, in spite of the minor blemishes. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

 

You can get these nice character options here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 192017
 

Mini-Dungeon: When Goblins die, no Comets are seen

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains…*drumroll* a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg’s included as well!

 

Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

 

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

..

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Still here?

All right!

This mini-dungeon can be run as a sequel to “Doubt not that stars are fire“, but can also stand on its own. After delving into the coldfire-infested tunnels in the previous module, the party dives into the dark, where they’ll encounter the remains of a tribe of dark folk, fighting wights…and the tunnels also contain horribly weakened goblins and a complex with traps aplenty in the remnants of a mysterious complex

 

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!

 

Stephen Yeardley’s take on exploring these weird tunnels makes for a fun and interesting sidetrek that makes for a neat, fun little romp. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

While my review is based on the PFRPG-version, there also is a 5e-iteration. You can find it here!
Endzeitgeist out.

Apr 192017
 

Mini-Dungeon: Doubt not that Stars are Fire

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Oh, and the series now comes in an archive that also contains…*drumroll* a .jpg-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Better yet: GM-friendly version of the jpg’s included as well!

 

Since this product line’s goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

 

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

..

.

Still here?

All right! This can be used as a sequel to the “Pit your Wits” mini-dungeon, but works well on its own: Following a mutated goblin attack, the PCs have to go down the pit, the walls aglow with coldfire…and worse, there is a deadly substance…and this coldfire substance has mutated the local goblins into goberrations – a variant, weaker faceless stalker…and being too close to the substance is really painful. Dried coldfire can result in a similarly horrible mutation for careless PCs and within this place, raging rubble, cerebric fungi and worse await…but there indeed is a way down…but do the PCs dare continue?

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf. The .jpg version included here, which you can easily cut up and hand out to the players as they progress is a huge bonus -and even better: A KEY-LESS VERSION sans the annoying letters/numbers is included as well for full VTT-compatibility!!!. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos!

 

Stephen Yeardley shows what an awesome atmosphere you can generate with a few monster reskins and some deadly terrain. This is a deceptively hard little mini-dungeon and makes great use of the environments. The mini-dungeon is fun and evocative and certainly worth the low asking price. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

While my review is based on the PFRPG-version, this also exists as a 5e-module, which can be found here!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

 

Apr 182017
 

Deadly Gardens: Hypno-Lotus

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 5 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The pdf begins, as always, with new magical items, the first of which would be the alluring everbloom crown, which is a high-priced item that allows the character wearing it to affect plants with mind-influencing effects and 3/day cast charm monsters, but only on plants. The second item would be the mowing scythe, a +2 plant bane scythe – the first attack each round with this scythe targets all plant creatures threatened by the wielder – which is powerful, but only works when all creatures threatened are plants. Additionally, 3/day, the wielder can attack ALL CREATURES in a 60-ft.-line, which is extremely powerful – 68K does offset that somewhat, but still…circumstantially, this can be insanely strong.

 

We also get a total of 7 natural items: Accuser devil eyes can record visually everything that occurs within 24 hours, allowing for easy recollections; blink dog fur can once prevent being unwillingly pulled to the ethereal plane. Bunyip shriek balls can panic foes when squeezed, while chupacabra tongues can temporarily enhance the user’s movement. Hypno-lotus petals can be used as a full-round action to grant telepathy with a creature or induce a mind-affecting effect preventing autohypnosis. Necrophidius bone meal fortify the user by providing bonuses versus dazed and paralyzed conditions. Powdered forlarren horn grants DR 5/cold iron, but also imposes a penalty to saves versus emotion effects. Aforementioned blink dog fur can be used as a power component for blink‘s percentile miss chance to be rolled twice, while use in conjunction with dimension door reduces damage of being shunted into a free space. Hypno-lotus petals can increase the duration of hypnotism and suggestion. When used with mass suggestion you can affect +1 creature and murderous command grants a bonus to attacks of affected characters.

 

All right, I’ve beaten around the bush long enough: The star of the pdf would be the hypno-lotus, which clocks in at CR 10 and is lavishly and gorgeously rendered by artist Becca Baen. Mind-affecting abilities can affect the lotus and the critter gets a pretty strong mental defense. The petals of the lotus generate a mesmerizing, hypnotic pattern with its leaves…and the plant can make creatures nearby attack themselves and communicate with their charmed thralls. Oh, and their slams and grabs are nasty. Love this critter!!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to the two-column full-color standard and is still rather printer-friendly. The pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity. The b/w-artwork of the creature is amazing.

 

Stephen Stack’s hypno-lotus is an amazing critter. Deadly, versatile and fun. The supplemental material is similarly well-crafted. With no significant glitches or complaints on my end, this can be considered to be an amazing little pdf, well worth the asking price of less than a buck! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, missing my seal only due to the imho OP, but cool scythe.

 

Obey the lethal lotus and purchase it for less than a buck here on OBS!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Apr 182017
 

Runesmithing Expanded – Equipment Runes

This expansion for Interjection Games’ Ultimate Runesmithing system clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

I obviously expect you’re familiar with Ultimate Runesmithing in my review of its expansion. If you haven’t checked it out, you can read up on my review of that book.

 

So, let’s begin without further ado with the allaying mark – as passive benefits, the rune, inscribed upon armor, grants increasing amounts of temporary hit points that refresh each round. As far as active benefits are concerned, we add DR/- to the fray, with an amount equal to the temporary hit points granted. Nice one. The bladesong sigil is inscribed exclusively on melee weapons; the lesser passive benefit helps vs. disarm attempts. The greater one makes the first creature to attack with it hit itself instead, potentially autocritting itself. The grandmaster rune, finally,, duplicates the lesser benefits, but also adds +2d10 to the weapon’s damage on a critical hit. As for active abilities, the lesser one nets dancing, the greater one allows for more uses of the auto-critting and the grandmaster version allows you to add spell storing and expend scrolls to include their spell in the weapon. Since the greater version is radically different from the others, we have some cool potential mischief here…and the inscription costs reflect these unique tricks – activation of the greater version is actually cheaper than that of the lesser version. Pretty amazing rune that resonates with the yarns of myth.

 

Maker’s mark is inscribed on the hands slot and its least passive bonus allows you to choose a Craft skill, Disable Device…or Open Lock?? Yeah, that skill does not exist in PFRPG. The user is treated as having the required tools, which makes this kinda work…but still. The lesser version provides the tools for all skills. Active benefits let you roll twice for the chosen skill and take the better result in the case of the least rune; in the case of the lesser one, the benefits apply to all skills…but how? Only to one? To each of them? This needs some clarification.

 

The mark of the jeweler is applied to the head and only exists in a lesser iteration with no active benefit – it creates an indentation on a headgear that can hold a ring, conveying its benefits. Shuffler’s sigil exists in a lesser and a grandmaster version: The passive benefits are identical: You designate an ally. If the wearer is rendered helpless, but remains capable of moving, he moves towards the designated ally with a land speed of 30 feet. The grandmaster version also has an active benefit, which costs 5 inscriptions points and may be activated as an immediate action. The wearer of the boots, upon dying, is temporarily raised as a zombie that retains feat- and extraordinary-ability use. Pretty cool!

 

The starmark would be a pretty complex rune that is inscribed upon cloaks. Upon inscription, the wearer receives a stellar pool with 5 points per category of the rune – greater starmarks would e.g. yield 15 points. These points can be used to hurl flaming globs at foes as a standard action or enhance Flying/jumping. As a nitpick – PFRPG has rolled jumping into Acrobatics, so referring to jumping as capitalized may be considered to be a minor glitch. Beyond the pool-size, the lesser, greater and grandmaster runes can also allow for the expenditure of stellar points to gain temporary hit points as a swift action or launch one’s self into the air like a rocket. The greater and grandmaster versions, finally, allows for a kind of rocket-charge as well as resistance to fire and cold and functionality in vacuum sans dying. The grandmaster’s version’s pool replenishes by 1 point every round and when activated, the pool is similarly refilled. Damn cool one!

 

Theorist’s comfort, inscribed upon the head, exists in 4 versions: Both lesser and least net undetectable alignment. Greater also provides +2 to saves versus compulsions and the grandmaster version adds mind blank to the fray. The rune has no least active ability, but lesser/greater ones allow for retroactively escaping mental domination, while the grandmaster version allows the wearer to help an ally thus, even substituting his own save. The thiefcatcher rune may be applied to feet, hands, head and shoulders and exists only in least and grandmaster versions. The rune has only passive abilities. The least one lets you choose a color. The first creature to wear the item thereafter has skin, scales etc. turn that color for 24 hours. The grandmaster version instantly kills the unfortunate, with a save to negate.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-level, some minor hiccups of the mostly aesthetic kind have crept into the pdf. Layout adheres to Interjection Games’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. Artworks would be thematically fitting stock art.

 

I love Bradley Crouch’s runesmithing engine and this pdf sports some serious gems. The starmark, thiefcatcher and bladesong sigil alone may warrant getting this – they are not only INTERESTING, they actually do some pretty cool things with the engine and with what runes can do. Now unfortunately, the pdf also sports a few hiccups that influence the rules-language itself, which is why I cannot rate this as highly as I’d like to. This is still a steal for the low and fair price point, well worth 4.5 stars, though I have to round for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this inexpensive, neat expansion here on OBS!

 

You can get Ultimate Runesmithing here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Interjection Games here on patreon! (There’s an exclusive for patreons in the making!

 

Endzeigeist out.