May 252017
 

5E Mini-Dungeon: Tiikeri’s Revenge (5e)

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 and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! The dungeon’s number-less version of the map doesn’t sport any deceptive trap icons or traps – kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity…but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can’t draw maps.

 

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!

The PCs have been contracted by a sect of local fanatics on the verge of eradicating weretigers, dangerous lycanthropes (coincidentally, those guys are mostly neutral, but never mind…) – arriving at the locale, the folk tell the PCs that the shrine’s been closed for some time…which does not bode well. Exploring the complex, the PCs not only will have to find the various, hidden keys (which a handy table tracks, including Str and Dex DCs to deal with the individual doors!!!), they’ll also quickly realize that NOT all is well here – information on the fanatics can be unearthed and what they find shows clearly that some kind of doom has befallen this place. Deadly traps and creatures room the halls and bespeak the revenge wrecked upon the incompetent clergy, visited upon them by Tiikeri, the rakshasa they brought into their midst, who, unsurprisingly, withstood the cleansing rituals and doubles as the big bad boss. It should be noted that the treasure, here mostly in the shape of a sun blade and a horn of blasting, can be considered to be appropriate for the challenge posed by the module.

 

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 pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

 

Stephen Yeardley does it again – this mini-dungeon is awesome and every DM worth his salt can expand this even further. It breathes the flair of the exotic, of pulp, offers even a tinge of moral conflict – this is awesome. Even better yet, hyperlinking is concise and Kyle Crider has done a great job translating this to 5E, losing nothing of its original appeal. Well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this pdf here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

May 252017
 

5E Mini-Dungeon: Carrionholme (5e)

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. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

 

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!

In the center of a swamp, a hag-coven in service of Jubilex has created a complex inhabited with slimes and molds – including wandering black puddings. The complex very much is a solid theme-dungeon, yes. However, at the same time, it is not “sunken” – at least the text never mentions any swim-checks, water-depths of intrusions of swamp water – which is a pity, for some terrain-tricks would have helped to set this dungeon apart.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant hiccups. Layout adheres to a nice 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, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. Stats, as mentioned above, obviously are hyperlinked to the SRD.

 

Jonathan Ely’s Carrionholme has an evocative title, cool adversaries and a premise I enjoy. At the same time, it does something the format, alas, has no room for – waste words. The reference to other swamp-dwellers unrelated to the complex is pretty long and eats the words that could have been used to provide the unique terrain-features this dungeon practically demands. So, dungeon in the middle of the swamp…why is there no water? No mud? Quicksand? A component of decrepitude, of decay? This mini-dungeon could be so much more unique. As written, it could be literally anywhere and lacks the component that anchors it as a complex as a unique dungeon. While not bad in any way per se, the overall experience of running this one proved my points valid – without modification, it is generic; add some terrain and you get awesomeness. The conversion by Kyle Crider is solid, but unfortunately didn’t add much regarding the passive Perception mechanics herein, which, considering the power of the foes and traps, could have made this work better in 5e than in PFRPG.

Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

May 242017
 

Rhûne: The Rune of Hope

This module for Rhûne clocks in at 87 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 3 pages short story/advertisement (actually worth reading!), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 80 pages of content – a massive amount!

 

All right, first things first: The mythic sidebar/support from “Into the Pale Tower” is maintained herein; if you’ve been playing the anti-tech side of the Rhûne factions (via The Ælven Agenda), then…you’ll actually have a different intro, gaining specialized Aodain Shrouds. While transition from this angle takes a bit more finesse for the GM, it is very much feasible – though perhaps the coolest way to play this would be to play BOTH previous modules with different characters…that way, if one group gets wiped/defeated, the second can pick up the pieces…and if all fails, you can use the PCs from one of the modules as NPCs…Just my 2 cents, of course! If you’ve been using the factions from “Into the Pale Tower“, they won’t play a big role here, though that is bound to change in the third module.

 

All righty, that out of the way, let’s dive into the module – and that means that, from here on out, there are a lot of SPOILERS: Those of you who want to play this should jump to the conclusion!

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Only GMs around? Great! So, while the PCs were trying to stop the plot in the Pale Tower, Northgard has been besieged by the barbarian hordes at the service of the eternal winter – the Thrall Lords are making a big move it seems – and Northgard has been in better shape, with commander Dorthgar and key officers having been afflicted by the dread rage fever…which renders open warfare a problematic idea. In his incapacitation, the commander’s daughter tries her best to hold the ford together.

 

So, no matter which prequel is used, we can begin- the Pcs are greeted by refugees…and warlike barbarians won’t wait to make their introductions either -sending their famished thralls at the PCs, which should make abundantly clear that these folks and the servants of the Thrall lords in general, should not be trifled with. Finally arriving at the pier where the White Jarl awaits, the PCs will have to contend with the damaged pier and the deadly frigus zombie, who is about to make short notice of the vessel unless the PCs intervene – it is also here that the racial tensions and alien mindset of the automata are showcased, but ultimately, the PCs need to make their way to Northdown on board of the ship – past the plague blockade…and they better survive the thugs sent by Grey Navash…

 

Knight-Commander Ullsteinnr is not particularly pleased and a combination of Black Hand agent-provocateurs, the nearby hordes and the zeitgeist make Union City not the nicest place to be – the trail that may provide salvation, though, leads to Mikill Bókasafnið (Literally “The Great Library” -love the linguistic consistence the setting often manages to employ!!) – where the PCs will have to explore the complex, searching for a means to deal with the plague…and the magical defenses of parts of the library, so here’s to hoping they don’t torch the place…and the trail leads to speaking with a glitterfane. If the PCs play their cards right, the missionary may yield the correct information – but the trail leads to Caol, several days away…and with time being of the essence, THE airship (remember the lore of The Sun’s Gem from the CS – that’s a HUGE honor!) is the only way…but even en route there, the PCs will have to withstand yet another agent of their foes. The crew down to half strength, the journey on board of the legendary vessel (fully statted!) is not under the best of signs…

 

…and indeed, if the PCs failed to do their homework, they’ll be up for a rude awakening when clockwork swarms activate on board…and a mutated, ghastly, huge undead swan gorged on necromantic energies also seeks to take down the ship. If the PCs are grounded due to damage at one point, they may run afoul of ælven patrols and indeed, the pdf concisely covers the option for ælves to resolve this before the attack escalates.

 

The PCs now finally arrive at Caol – and the full-color maps are ridiculously glorious, gorgeous, amazing. Drool-worthy. The alien glitterfane and their glitterswarms make for an…interesting experience…but ultimately, the PCs will have to convince Vella Lightwing, cleric of Alnara, to grant them access to the chalice: PCs should be up to their best behavior, for not only the formal trials posed by the glitterfane must be mastered: The PC’s conduct impacts seriously the support they receive: Favor points are tracked. And yes, there are tricks to the trials of harmony, compassion…and finally, they will encounter glitterfane who are less nice, including a radical renegade oracle…and how the PCs deal with them will make a major impact…and yes, roleplaying is rewarded over just bashing brains in.

 

Once again, though, the PCs are not at the end of their journey – they will have to brave the wilderness trail (and the lavishly-depicted en-route encounters, complete with glorious full-color maps) to approach Drowned Karthæn, desolate ruins where mutated leshy, decaying tentacles and worse roam the streets of this nightmarish locale -and the PCs have to make their way down below into the royal quarter, which doubles as a creepy, ghostly dungeon, where creature-placement, details, haunts and the like conspire as a great example of indirect storytelling…and have I mentioned the savage ghast raging cannibal? or the mighty skergrafa construct? This section could come straight out of a Dark Souls/Bloodborne-game and that is meant as a true compliment: Have I mentioned the rune-cursed coral colony? In a lesser adventure-series, this act would be a stand-alone module! And the final boss-fight is EPIC. Thus, with the rune Laguz secured, the Pcs will probably want to return post-haste from these darkened halls.

 

The chalice’s power sends the PCs straight through Nachtland (German for Nightland, just fyi), a shadow-plane like double where the PCs can metaphysically combat the rage fever in a more direct manner…however, the shadowy version of Northgard is inhabited by dread elementals of void and fire…and worse…and yes, we once again get an absolutely phenomenal map – in a version for Nachtland and a regular one – double-kudos. In order to save Northgard, the PCs will have to defeat a horrid giant, who is primed to actually enter Midgard…and tear Northgard asunder with his mythic power.

 

Still, the aftermath is grim and it seems like Northgard is bound to fall….but how this saga plays out, well, we’ll have to wait for module #3 to determine that!

 

The pdf also provides stats for the magic items and monsters introduced herein.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting…are actually really good this time around! I noticed no “see page x”-remnants, no hiccups in that way – big plus and kudos for improving that aspect. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with a white background, somewhat akin to the one employed in Ælven Agenda, but more refined. So yeah, we’re back to a more printer-friendly look than “Into the Pale Tower”‘s sepia-tinted standard. The full-color artworks are GLORIOUS. The same holds true for the copious, lavish cartography. Now, unfortunately, we don’t get player-friendly versions of the maps, but unlike in the previous module, by the structure etc. of this one, that aspect is a bit less jarring – for the most part, you can use the maps presented, go mind’s eye or duplicate them quicker – the absence hurts, yes, but hurts a bit less. Another big downside is something you probably expected: Once again, alas, we get NO BOOKMARKS. This constitutes a serious comfort detriment. We also don’t have a print-option, so yeah, alas, there is no alternative: The best way, at this point, to run this, is printing it out. Here’s to hoping the whole series gets PoD soon! The pdf comes with a smaller lite-version for electronic devices.

 

Will Cooper, Joshua Kitchens & Jaye Sonia are obviously a winning team. Ben McFarland and Mike Myler provided additional design…and the result is a GLORIOUS module. I mean it. Bringing the two wildly different storylines of the previous modules together is damn cool. The module has a sense of urgency, excellent production values and a lot of different challenges to overcome: Different themes are concisely linked, there is something to be done for every type of character and the atmosphere is generally amazing. This is, in short, a fantastic module.

 

That being said, the lack of bookmarks and player maps does hurt this a bit…if the module existed in a print version, I’d point to it as the way to go, but yeah – as a reviewer, I have to penalize this for their lack, in spite of adoring the module. Still, considering all, I do still feel like I *have* to wholeheartedly recommend this – which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down…but I’ll still add my seal of approval to it. I wholeheartedly hope that the Storm Bunnies add the player maps and bookmarks and/or print options, though – I want this whole series of adventures in print!

 

You can get this amazing module here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

May 242017
 

Guarding Galaxy XXX (OSR)

This modules, formerly known as Guardians of Galaxy XXX, clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page full-color artwork doubling as back cover, 1/2 page editorial, leaving us with 7.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This module is intended for use with Kort’thalis Publishing’s Alpha Blue RPG, which centers on capturing the aesthetics of 70s and 80s scifi-porn-parodies. As such, the usual disclaimer regarding adult topics applies. If you’re not familiar with the system and its tropes and themes, I have reviewed the 3 core supplements for it and assume familiarity with the respective rules in this review. These reviews would also be a nice place to ascertain whether or not you’ll be comfortable with the explicit content.

 

All right, that disclaimer out of the way, let’s dive right in – this means that, from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, still around? Only SDMs here? Great! So, the players are accidentally awakened from cryosleep, due to a malfunction of their pod-series. You see, a man named Kaufman wanted to awaken a soldier called Rory – who listens, as do the PCs, to the briefing…only to nonchalantly go back to sleep…so it’ll be up to the ragtag band of spacers to save Galaxy XXX from certain doom…that is, after one of them got a call via the conveniently retro cellphone attached to the cryopod, promising phone-sex. This is Alpha Blue, after all.

 

After that, the PCs go into decontamination. Which sports a 1 in 6 chance to die due to a fleshmelting allergic reaction. No save. Yeah, that’s just frustrating and needlessly dickish. It’s not even funny. In the locker room after decontamination, the PCs, if they’re crafty, can witness peep-hole style voyeurism and then, it’s time to suit up. Just as the PCs are being briefed, they witness a man succumbing to a grape soda, which turns him into a tentacle monster, the first combat here.

 

After this encounter, the PCs meet three hipster space wizards who propose a slave-trade and try to recruit the PCs to deliver the doomsday device for them instead. Then, it’s time to man a space craft – and suddenly, the PCs get a communiqué from the Targons. After that, we’ll have ship-to-ship combat (not the strongest suite of Alpha Blue) and, no matter how it goes, the PCs will end up on P’oon’s orbit. On the planet, the PCs will meet the gangster J’aemz Khaan, who take the PCs to his bunker – turns out, there are gigantic desert worms attracted by rhythmic beats. The man is also allied with a nasty dark zedi named Obsidian Shadow. The doomsday device is close and if the PCs don’t interfere, the villains will get it – once they’re both dead, it’ll be up to the PCs to figure out what to do next. Much like Slippery When Wet, the module ends rather abruptly.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no severe issues. Layout adheres to a nice two-column standard with colored veins in the background. The pdf sports nice b/w-artworks – nothing to complain in the aesthetics department. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience – kudos for going the extra mile there!

 

Venger As’Nas Satanis delivers a fun little module – sure, it has nothing to do with “Guardians of the Galaxy”, but that holds true for more than one scifi-porn-parody, so no complaints in that regard. Now, I totally understand that I am, ultimately, a huge ass here – this is a FREE module, so what are you waiting for? If you like Alpha Blue, you can certainly use this pdf! On a neutral, structural analysis side, I think that the end of the module is rather sudden. The middle finger that is the decontamination also isn’t exactly my idea of fun, but yeah. Structurally, this isn’t the best module – it is, however, a proper and fully-detailed, short module, which makes it superior to all the adventure-sketches usually found in the Alpha Blue supplements – you can just open this pdf and play, which makes it great for convention-style gaming. It’s not perfect, but it’s hard to argue with FREE. Considering that, I arrive at a final verdict of 4 stars – a good offering for fans of Alpha Blue.

 

You can get this module for FREE here on OBS!

 

For posterity’s sake: Here’s the old cover that got this banned for a while:

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

May 242017
 

Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn (system neutral)

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground – this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs…but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers…and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired…and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

 

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature – but this time around, we also get a marketplace (with custom-priced, lesser magic items for sale – these should not break anyone’s sense of immersion, considering how this is basically an adventurer’s homebase…), ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

 

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive. The noted class-lines for the respective NPCs make use of the proper terms like magic-user and thief, so no complaints there.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch. Layout adheres to RSP’s elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer – kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press’ patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

 

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he’s this highly regarded – the man *KNOWS* what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it’s concept is so old and done, it doesn’t have this novelty I tend to crave…which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme.

 

In fact, Tumbledown Inn may actually work best in this iteration – it resonates with the old Greyhawk and Judge’s Guild flavor and feels like a perfect drop-in for old-school campaigns. It is unpretentious, yes, but it perfectly captures the feeling and flavor of these regions…and OSR-fans will most certainly experience this warm smile slowly manifesting on their faces. In short: Unlike in PFRPG or 5E, I am not missing the extra crunchy bits here and thus, my verdict for this version, will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!

 

You cand irectly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

May 242017
 

Places of Power: Tumblestone Inn (5e)

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

In the middle of the borderlands, in the middle of the wilderness, situated atop the ruins of an erstwhile keep, there lies a place, equal parts armed camp of sellswords and mercenaries and bastion of civilization, bazaar of the exotic and recruiting ground – this place is tumblestone inn, and it may be precariously close to the territory of orcs…but so far it stands, also thanks to the continuous influx of adventurers…and they keep coming, because it has pretty much become THE place to get hired…and so, shadowy patrons always frequent the corners of the place and gold is always changing hands.

 

Led by Aelliah Wilmaytn, an erstwhile mercenary captain and guarded by many of her fellow soldiers, the place is also surprisingly safe for its location and concentration of capable individuals -some of which come with nice, fluff-only write-ups. As often in the series, we get information on local dressing-habits and nomenclature – but this time around, we also get a marketplace (yes, dear 5E fans – you don’t miss out this time around – there actually are a few lesser magic items for sale!), ale and room-prices and the obligatory events and rumors to add further spice to this locale.

 

Going one step beyond, we also get 10 fluff-only write ups of different mercenaries as well as 8 patrons, making this basically a fully staffed environment to drop into pretty much every hexcrawl or wilderness environment you could conceive. That being said, here in this section, the 5E-version partially uses generic NPC stats (guards, knights, etc. – you know the drill) and partially notes character classes with levels – I don’t object to that, but it’s something to bear in mind. There is one hiccup here, with what should be a “rogue 6” referred to as a “thief 6”, though

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to RSP’s elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the pdf features some nice b/w-artworks. The pdf comes in two iterations, one optimized for screen-use and one made for the printer – kudos there! The cartography by Simon Butler and Maciej Zagorski is excellent. I think by joining Raging Swan Press’ patreon, you can actually get the high-res map for the evocative place, but I am not 100% sure. The map provided is cool, but sports keyed rooms.

 

From the Black Tower, still standing from the original keep, to the mercenaries herein, Creighton Broadhurst proves why he’s this highly regarded – the man *KNOWS* what he is doing. Frankly, I should not be liking this pdf to the extent that I do; it’s concept is so old and done, it doesn’t have this novelty I tend to crave…which just goes to show what good prose and concise writing can achieve, for I indeed found myself loving this extremely useful home away from home, this ready to drop in adventuring hub. There is something about the totality of this place of power that transcends the building stones from which it was crafted, making it stand out and feel distinct, in spite of its conservative theme. While not 100% perfect, this conversion makes for an interesting and well-wrought supplement for a more than fair price-point. Hence, this very much deserves the full 5 stars.

 

You can get this pdf here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Raging Swan Press here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

May 242017
 

5E Mini-Dungeon: The Pententieyrie (5e)

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 and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! Something went wrong with the jpg and tif-maps, though: One sports the trap icons, but not the secret doors…and the other sports secret doors noted by the deceptive “S”…but not the trap icons. This makes neither the GM, nor the player maps work ideally.

 

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!

 

Okay, beyond the pun-tastic title, this one is interesting – draw a rough image of the map – it should look like an Aztec glyph. The trail leads the PCs to a strange complex, shielded from dimensional intrusion and sporting a hard-to-reach locale -an hermitage, if you will. Within the complex, not only do strange wonders await – there is also a vrock. Yeah, a demon. Only, said demon actually is on the path of redemption! Yes, this may not necessarily be a combat encounter, but rather a module that could help bring unprecedented salvation to a being of pure evil, perhaps serving as a great launching point for PCs endeavoring to redeem a villain or similar foes/morally bankrupt characters. Have I mentioned the option for flight-training and some rather…let’s say, unique, properties and dangerous glyph-traps?

 

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 pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

Okay, this transcends being a mini-dungeon; this one is an AWESOME, unique set-piece – with special ways for avian/flight training and perhaps one of the most far-out potential mentors I’ve seen in a while, Stephen Yeardley’s mini-dungeon delivers more oomph and unique tricks than what one would deem possible within such a restrictive format.

 

At the same time, this mini-dungeon does lose a bit of its charm in Kyle Crider’s translation: It references subdual damage, which does not exist in 5e, and while the hyperlinks are well-made this time around, the lack of a direct flight-based skill in 5e takes a bit away from the complex’s unique original property. Add to that the hiccup in the VTTs and we have a conceptually strong pdf hampered by a couple of minor factors – still a good offering, though. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

 

May 242017
 

5E Mini-Dungeon: Abandoned Shrine (5e)

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 and a .tif-version of the map! Yeah, that’s pretty amazing! The dungeon’s number-less version of the map doesn’t sport any deceptive trap icons or traps – kudos, though the place where the secret doors are can still be gleaned by proximity…but if you conceal that part, it works well. In short: Full, proper VTT-support and help for guys like yours truly that can’t draw maps.

 

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!

What formerly was a shrine devoted to a cult of assassins and their foul deity, now hosts an array of nasty gang members and their ogre boss. The complex itself is pretty straightforward and would be rather conservative in its own place. However, blending skeletal minotaurs and remnants of the cult with the new gang-inhabitants makes the dungeon feel interesting and less predictable. A modified gang member on the basis of ogre stats is nice and hyperlinking is generally consistent, though a decanter of endless water, for example, hasn’t been hyperlinked.

 

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 pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art – kudos! The cartography, with player and GM-VTT-maps, is nice.

 

Brian Wiborg Mønster delivers an interesting little mini-dungeon, which, on paper, may look none too impressive. In play, the small dungeon felt more dynamic than I would have expected and the brief statblock modification shorthands render this one pretty much plug-and-play-ish, beyond even the other mini-dungeons. It is also a mini-dungeon that was converted well by Kyle Crider and one that, theme-wise, feels more fitting in 5e than in PFRPG – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

 

You can get this mini-dungeon here on OBS!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

May 232017
 

The Red King

This supplement clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 8.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

The red king is the dictator of the North in the amazing patchwork planet of Porphyra, an ogre-mage half-dragon with a single, purple eye that seems to be too large for his head – and yes, there is an amazing hand-out-style 1-page version of the glorious artwork depicting him within this pdf.

 

Ahem. Sorry. I can’t do that neutral routine. LOOK AT THOSE STATS! I am drooling here!!

CR 22. AC 48 almost 450 hit points. Yes, please! His class-line reads “Male unique half-dragon ogre mage cavalier (longshanks/warlord) 6/inquisitor 5. And his average damage output is a beauty to behold! While his cohort and followers (an army in its own right) don’t get stats, he is a beauty!! He actually killed his father and implanted his eye in his own face, wearing his sire’s scales!

 

His armor employs the grace ability, which increases the maximum Dex-bonus and aforementioned eye can pierce illusions…oh, but that’s not all!! You see, unlike many comparable supplements, we do receive a gloriously detailed background for this villain – beyond the detailed and lavish story, which has ventured into the realm of legend, the red king also sports a rather intriguing array of tactics – and yes, he has actually strategies to escape death.

 

Beyond these lavishly detailed aspects of the pdf, we also get specific adventure hooks and a new legendary weapon, namely the Red King’s Judgment. In case you’re new to the concept of legendary weapons: These were introduced by Purple Duck Games as an alternative to the concept of Legacy Weapons – but unlike those, they don’t impose unnecessary penalties. The respective items have prerequisites and increase in power over the course of the wielder’s levels, with the weapon featured herein increasing in potency in 10 steps. I love these items, as they help combat the Christmas-Tree-syndrome and makes magic matter more.

 

Anyways, beyond gaining multiple straight upgrades, we gain increasing, scaling invulnerability to fire, minions via Vile Leadership, nets Proficiencies/Focus and provides e.g. flame strike with 1/2 unholy damage…which does not exist. I get what it tries to do, but still -an obvious and unnecessary glitch. It also can bypass fire resistances and allow the wielder to discorporate and weather the storm, emerging once again from the flames…

 

It should also be noted that material uses and special weapon properties featured in the build – kudos!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed no serious hiccups and rules-language is similarly concise, with the minor exclusion of the aforementioned unholy damage glitch. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ two-column standard, which is printer-friendly with purple highlights. The artwork of the king is GLORIOUS. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily require them at this length.

 

Derek Blakely has made a little dream of mine come true. I don’t know about you, my readers, but I know that my players crave challenges and many a published module doesn’t really live up to that aspect: If I threw a vanilla AP final boss at my group, then chances are in many (not all!) cases that they’d utterly annihilate the foe. I am a huge fan of really challenging, deadly villain-builds and when both the amazing Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series and Enemies of NeoExodus ran their course, I sighed and got back to making builds.

 

I expected not that much from this humble pdf and I got so much more: The red king is a glorious foe – lavishly illustrated, detailed and deadly, he makes for an amazing BBEG in the tradition of these two superb series. I adore this NPC and his tricks and the addition of the legendary weapon is a nice plus as well. For the low and fair price-point, this provides a great, deadly villain that should really challenge even powerful groups. What more can you ask for? Exactly! The one aesthetic glitch I found wasn’t enough to rate this down – this is a great, amazing little pdf, well worth the asking price and deserving of 5 stars + seal of approval.

 

You can get this glorious, amazing villain here on OBS!

 

You can directly support Purple Duck Games here on patreon!

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

May 232017
 

Deep Magic: Illumination Magic (5e)

This installment of Kobold Press’ Deep Magic 5e-books clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

This school of magic, associated with light and school, if fittingly represented by just that, the school of illumination. At 2nd level, costs and time to copy illumination spells to the spell-book is halved and additionally, you can forecast danger in the next 24 hours by studying the stars for 1 hour. This nest advantage on up to 2 initiative checks, lasting for 24 hours or until the end of the next long rest. Alternatively, you may grant an ally said advantage, but then you may not benefit from it in that combat. The decision must be made before rolling dice. At 6th level, you gain a bonus of +1 to spell attack modifier and spell save DC in dim light or darkness – not the biggest fan of that one. At 10th level, illusions for which you lose concentration exist for another round, provided the spell’s duration has not elapsed. here’ I’d have referenced duration instead of maximum duration in the rules-lingo, mainly since maximum duration could be taken to mean a spell’s theoretical maximum duration, including increased spell-levels…but that is a nitpick and will not be considered for my final verdict. At 14th level, during a long rest, you can watch the stars, gathering ambient energy in a small item like a star chart or astrolabe. While holding said item, you can use a bonus action to expend the stored energy to duplicate one of the following: Alter self until the next long rest, net a creature in sight disadvantage on the next save versus an illusion or enchantment, reroll up to Intelligence modifier damage dice of a necrotic damage causing spell of 5th level or lower or, finally, treat a divination spell as though you had cast it using a spell slot one level higher.

 

The pdf also contains a new feat, namely Star and Shadow Reader: Upon taking the feat, choose necrotic or radiant damage: Your spells casting that damage ignore resistance, but not immunity, to the chosen type. Additionally, you can cast augury sans expending a spell slot once between long rests (which is very feeble, considering the spell’s ritual tag) and gain darkvision 15 ft. – or increase an existing darkvision’s range by +15 ft. The prerequisite is btw. the ability to cast at least one spell. I’m not a big fan here – ignoring resistance takes away from D&D 5e’s rock-paper-scissors type of gameplay.

 

Unless I have miscounted, we get a total of 21 spells: Black hand lets you fire a ranged spell attack, imposing disadvantage an attacks, ability checks and saving throws made with physical attributes. The effect can be ended via a Con-save at disadvantage. Not the biggest fan -the spell would be less open to weird uses if it was tied to the target. Black well has a massive range of 300 ft. and drags those within 90 ft. of it towards it on a failed Strength save. A target within the well is stunned on a failed Con-save and suffers necrotic damage, with a successful save reducing that to incapacitation. Creatures take no damage from remaining in the well, just from exiting it – and creatures within the well at its end land prone. This spell is a bit too strong – it’s AoO instant suck for all foes: The multiple saves don’t really help, considering how far the well drags targets. Even successful saves of those on which the well is cast lock them down. Cloak of shadow nets you advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks relying on sight.

 

Compelling fate is pretty cool: If the target fails a Cha-save, you get advantage on attack rolls, may mirror its movements on the creature’s turn (deducting that from your next movement) or use a reaction to grant yourself and all allies within earshot of the subject’s intentions, providing a +2 bonus to AC or saves versus the prompting attack. At 7th level spell level, starry wisdom lets you cast a reaction-based variant of the spell. Flickering fate, at 4th level, is interesting: You or a target touched can see fate: All creatures within range make Wisdom saves – on a failure, they need to declare their intended actions and then follow through on their turns -additionally, the recipient has advantage on attacks ability checks and saves and creatures affected suffer from disadvantage. Once again, I think this would have made more sense of the spell conveyed advantage only with regards to actions prompted by or against creatures actually affected by the spell.

 

Guiding star prevents you from being lost due to stars and sun – as a nitpick, I think the spell should specifically state that it can only work on open ground: While the spell’s flavor states that it works by tracking sun/stars, RAW, it can be cast underground and works – one could argue the tracking to be “magic” and thus feasible in such environments as well. Icy grasp of the ether, at 7th level, inflicts nasty cold damage and restrains the target and accumulates exhaustion of the target is not immune to cold and breathes. Orb of light blinds the target 1 round and deals 3d8 radiant damage, with a Dex-save to halve damage and negate blindness – compared to similar 2nd level spells, a well-balanced option. Shadow bite is a necrotic variant of acid splash that instead of targeting two creatures, halves the speed of a being affected by it until your next turn, with Con to resist. personally, I’d have reduced the damage dice since necrotic damage is slightly more valuable than acid, but oh well. Shadow blindness is one cool cantrip: It temporarily negates natural darkvision! Elegant and cool!

 

Shadow hands is another tweak: 1st-level spell, 15-ft.-cone, 2d4 necrotic damage + frightened on a failed Wis-save, which also potentially halves damage. Shadow trove lets you temporarily store items inside. Downside: “Items that are still inside the shadow trove when the duration ends are lost forever.” WTF? That’s 3rd level. Unwelcome artifact? Put it in the magic garbage disposal! Need to make documents disappear? there you go. Since only the caster and certain designated individuals can access it, that further exacerbates the issues. This spell needs a serious overhaul. Shield of star and shadow nets resistance to either necrotic or radiant damage and makes you shed dim light. Silhouette lets you do a magic shadow puppet show – decent cantrip. Slither temporarily makes you a shadow is cool in theory. However: “You are immune to all damage, except force, psychic and radiant damage.” WHAT THE EFFFF??? This is ridiculously potent for a 2nd level spell. Dragon breath? No biggie, I’ll go shadow. This needs to die in a fiery blaze. Or at least be seriously nerfed.

 

Starburst is a radiant-based cantrip for 1d6 radiant damage, range 60 feet. Starfall has a range of 60 feet and lets you cause 8d6 radiant damage to 5 targets within range, with hit targets blinded on a failed Dex-save, which also can halve damage. In spite of a slightly decreased damage output, this has: a) a better damage type than cone of cold; b) better control (no cone, choose targets) and c) no duration for blindness effect – as a whole, this makes the spell too strong for the level. The blindness effect should go, at the very least. Last rays of the dying sun first blasts for 6d6 fire damage, then for the same amount of cold damage in a 40-feet burst – at 7th level, a solid option. Summon star calls forth a deva that charms those that look upon it. Star’s heart, the 9th level spell, increases gravity within 50 feet – all creatures within drop objects held, become incapacitated and can’t move. Solid objects encountered triple fall/collision damage. Creatures within the area or entering it must save or suffer the same fate. Anyone starting the round prone takes bludgeoning damage and those than make their saves while prone take only half damage and may move at 1/2 speed. Big plus: Manages to get spell interaction, ranged weapons, etc. right.

 

We end the pdf with Talithe Val’Shiar, a sample challenge 6 NPC.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level. On a rules-level, the language is precise as well, though balance-wise, I disagree with several choices. Layout adheres to Kobold Press’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks herein are absolutely gorgeous.

 

Greg Marks delivers a per se solid pdf here. There are quite a few aspects to like and enjoy within this supplement. At the same time, when compared to previous installments in Kobold Press’ Deep magic-series, this feels like it falls a bit flat. It does not sport the evocative visuals of Clockworks, the cool rune engine of rune magic or the impeccable balance of the void magic book. Ignoring resistances is a slippery slope and there are a few spells herein, where comparable PHB-spells are obviously worse. I also think that the celestial alignment-theme could have been more pronounced/better integrated in the material presented. As a whole, this is not bad – but it does have a couple of rough edges and a bit more “variant of spell x”-material than I expected. This is not bad, but compared to previous installments, it feels less compelling – my final verdict, as written, can’t go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

 

You can get this pdf here on OBS!
Endzeitgeist out.