I told you I'd have some equipment for your PCs this time and I'll deliver by finally reviewing
This pdf is 102 pages long, 1 page front cover, 3 pages editorial and ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page blank inside back cover and 1 page back cover, leaving 94 pages of content, so let's check it out!
So. A gear book. I'm actually taking a look at an equipment book. The last equipment book I bought was the "Arms & Equipment Guide" that actually disappointed me. Those of you who have been following my reviews, can easily guess why - I just hate the tendency to make magic items exchangeable commodities. Thus, even though there has been considerable hype about this book, I hesitated a long time. Also due to the fact that I wanted mundane & alchemical equipment from the "Arms & Equipment Guide" and didn't get a lot (or useful) content from it, I was rather hesitant to put this book in my cart.
The extensively book-marked pdf begins with martial gear, i.e. new weapons that range from variations of swords to suitably awesome and exotic weapons like the meteor hammer (Iron ball on a chain) or the wind and fire wheels, ring-like bladed melee weapons. The chapter provides more than just new weapons, but also new armors. More importantly, though, there is a nice innovation in this chapter: Armor components - you can actually customize armors and even combine and design your own armors, e.g. consisting of sabatons, gorgets and a bascinet. It should be noted that almost all items get their b/w-artwork representation, which is absolutely neat.
Chapter 2 contains all the new adventuring gear you always wanted, but never got from the core books - From aspergils, drinking horns, wigs, special silver henna up to different alchemical incenses and even a very cool siege weapon this chapter contains all the useful things your PCs have asked for and more. My very favorite item, though, is the chirurgeon's kit - the item enables one to revive fallen characters with mundane means/operations (within limits, of course) and the mechanics are so simple, so elegant, that I was impressed. This item, while not a substitute for resurrection-magic, it is GOLD for campaigns like mine (I've banned resurrection/raise dead in favor of e.g. RiP's Restless Souls) and just about any gritty low-magic campaign.
Chapter 3 has "Items of Home and Hearth", which sounds boring, but actually isn't. From several clothing materials over food (with a plethora of spices, flours etc.), drink (also containing drunkeness-rules), jewelry up to art and toys, this chapter contains just about anything your adventurers might need. Ever wanted to know what average towels cost? Diverse hats made from exotic fabrics? There you go. While this might at first seem like detail-overkill, it's not - How many times has it happened to you that PCs wanted to trade e.g. goods from exotic locales? I had to improvise saffron-prices and their availability in different countries in my campaign due to one of my PCs wanting to professionally trade in spices - this book, had I had it then, would greatly improved my efforts. The same goes for all the detail-crazy people among you who actually enjoy changing the appearance of characters, expensive shopping etc.
Chapter 4 features prosthetics for poor adventurers that e.g. don't have access to regeneration-spells (another one I banned in my campaign...) or want clockwork legs, iron limbs etc. From mundane/alchemical prosthetics to enchanted ones, this new class of items is pure gold for everyone, who, like me, thinks that the loss of a limb can both be iconic and dramatic and need not be the end, but rather a cool station in the ongoing narrative of one adventurer. This chapter alone, at least for me, was worth the price.
I dreaded chapter 5, I seriously did. The back room of the shop contains magic items. I steeled myself and got ready to yawn and while I was not impressed by the armors, I liked all the magic weapons and wondrous items (which of course, also mostly come with their own artworks - nice). My absolute favorite item is "Fletcher' Finkleberry's Fabulous Flying Feather" - a tongue-twister-powered feather that enables you to fly. Pure awesomeness.
This book is called "shop/inn & tavern" and while the book is interspread by Luven's IC-comments on the items, it is here where we actually get the stats for the staff of both Inn and shop. 4 completely detailed, beautiful maps are provided for shop and inn and all the characters get their own artwork to show to the players. I want to emphasize the stunning amount of detail of both locations, from DCs for individual locks to detailed descriptions, this rather large chapter actually contains enough information and a page of hooks to make the place a valid, awesome hub/starting point for adventures. Just to give you an impression on the amount of detail provided - even Luven's children get their individual statblocks, the bouncer/barkeep's mace has a name and, what impressed me beyond all expectations was that there are even menus for all courses. Wow.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, in spite of the length of the book I didn't encounter even A SINGLE glitch. Wow. Just wow. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and is easy on the printer. Usually, equipment books are a complete bore to read, but the wealth of both the ideas and the associated rules and the aptly and concisely-written prose of Luven's numerous comments serve to deter from that convention and subsequently the book is a great read. With the stunning attention to detail, rules-information, numerous artworks and innovations, the book leaves nothing to be desired. Actually, the extensive appendix goes the extra mile for the DM to add another dimension to the whole book - granting you a great adventure locale in addition to all the equipment. Soooo...was there anything I didn't like? Ahem...well...I didn't like the artwork of the cover (I know it's old-school, I still don't like it.) but the interior artwork rocks.
That's about it. All the criticism I can muster. Yep. Nitpicky, equipment-book hating Endzeitgeist is stunned and just blown away. My final verdict will be 5 Rudii with the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - people, if you haven't picked this up yet, do it as soon as possible. You won't regret it.
Here's a little bonus-review:
This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page counters, 2 pages of mini-sheets and 1 page combat & initiative tracker, leaving 4 pages for the Queen, so let's have a look at her!
All right. The Monsters of NeoExodus -line has provided us with some truly far-out creatures, but this one takes the "Wicked cool"-idea-cake: The chanting queen is the embodiment of a sentient spell that seeks to prolong and propagate its own existence by subverting the collective wills of people sent into a surreal paradise that solely exists in their minds by usage of said spell. The queen is a CR 19 foe, an incorporeal construct that is focused on utterly dominating her enemies and subverting them into the blissful utopia of her own addictive pseudo-reality. Once, her spell might have been designed to provide succor for the deranged and traumatized. Now, however, the chant may very well spread like an infectious wildfire of bliss and stupor and her mostly enchanting/dominating abilities reflect her non-lethal and yet deeply disturbing nature.
The Chant-scroll containing the rite of the old spell is also detailed and offers enough incentives for hard-pressed PCs to use the addictive scroll in spite of its risks. We also get information on DCs of Bardic knowledge etc.
Layout adheres to the beautiful two-column full-color standard set by LPJr Design, formatting is top-notch, I noticed one minor punctuation error, but apart from that I didn't notice any glitches or problems with the abilities of the queen. Due to the low price, the cool concept and the additional information provided, I'll settle for a final score of 5 Rudii.
All right, that's it for now! Next time, I'll either do some free stuff or have a look at the recent TRIBES by Raging Swan Press!
As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,