EZG reviews 3 adventures suitable for Halloween!

Hej everybody, with Halloween right around the corner, I figured I'd check out 3 vastly different Halloween scenarios for your perusal!

The first one is a rather easy scenario by Tricky Owlbear Publishing entitled

Sin of the Fathers

 This adventure is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 15 pages of content, so let's check this out, shall we?
This being an adventure-review, it contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right. The adventure opens with the PCs getting an invitation to claim an inheritance at a farm in the idyllic town of Shadowfield. Once they have ventured into a carriage and gotten there, they'll have to contend with a rather unpleasant discovery - the  originator of the letter is rather dead and musk-creeperfied and some force wants revenge - turns out, the PC's ancestors have brought a heinous  serial killer to justice and now his revived form (an undead scarecrow) has prepared an extensive gauntlet of traps and assaults to settle the old score.
While the town is detailed and even all of the NPCs get their own statblocks (and background stories including adventure hooks!), the basic plot is rather obvious from the beginning, as are the myriad ways open to the PCs finding the cave system beneath the farm that hides the sanctuary of the foe. The caverns, though, are rather interesting, as the traps they contain tend to be on the smart side and all of the encounters use environments stacked against the PCs for tactical combat situations as well as mood-setting elements. The adventure has the distinct possibility of the villain being defeated prior to the final encounter, but offers advice on his rejuvenation for the showdown.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column standard. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and includes all stats necessary to run the adventure. Artworks are b/w and ok. We get 3 maps, 2 of which (the farm and the town) can be handed out to the players, as they contain no spoilers or annoying numbers that spell out the locations for them - excellent service and adds to the value of the pdf.
I like this adventure in that it's simple, can easily be run almost spontaneously and offers a nice first level introductory scenario. That being said, while the writing is atmospheric, I can't see the horror-aspect working well with regards to my players. Why? Because this adventure is very easy. While the traps are rather devious and not to be taken lightly, the main adversary is rather weak and the fact that a special rejuvenation beyond the first per se is not included somewhat drags down the scariness of the foe. Also, the adventure serves the background story/truth behind the assault to the PCs on a silver platter in the first encounter, essentially invalidating any need for investigation and thus depriving the adventure of the phase of rising tension. While this enables the adventure to be run very fast-paced, it also means that veteran players will not be particularly challenged by this module. I know that my players would be done with the adventure in under 4 hours. While you always can complicate the plot, as written it felt too simple for my tastes.

That being said, "Sin of the Fathers"  still makes for a nice evening of roleplaying that probably won't see too many PC-deaths and a neat introduction to a new campaign, especially for less experienced players who want to delve into the horror genre without facing the often rather deadly horror-modules out there. My final verdict will take this into account and be 3.5 Rudii.

Are your players rather experienced? Do they laugh about vampires and similar critters? Want something different? Frog God Games has a rather deadly (even for their standards!) scenario you might want to check out

Saturday Night Specials - Hollow Mountain

This pdf is 48 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving 41 pages of content for this adventure, so let's check it out!

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right!

The Elves around the Hollow Mountain just aren't what they used to be - in more than one sense. The  once peaceful nomadic wood elves have started raiding and killing humans and other humanoid creatures to convert them to the true nature - something that should give druids nightmares indeed: The elves have resurrected a strange cult that has them growing plant-like mutations like deadly spores and briars. It is these strange elves that now inhabit a forest of petrified mushrooms inside a hollow mountain and that make up the major opposition of the PCs.
Their fortress is inside one gigantic petrified mushroom and thus makes for a rather creepy backdrop for the dungeon crawl. The fortress of the elves is well-defended by their tainted nature, their massive capabilities and rather deadly allies (which includes a dragon as well as an awakened tiger who thinks he is a dragon). Have I mentioned the deadly war flowers?
Hopefully, the PCs manage to free the erstwhile druid of the tribe (now utterly mad) and  finally reach the hidden temple of the dread cult to reach a highly mutable plane where a deadly, aberrant nature provides terrible hindrances in the PCs final fight: The end the threat of the constant corruption of the nature, they will have to destroy a thing left behind from an aborted version of creation, an utterly disturbing tree-like monstrosity whose mere proximity mutates his foes.

The pdf closes by providing the complex reborn-template as well as a player handout.


Editing is top-notch, however, I noticed a major formatting glitch on the first map, starting room 20 to 26 there seems to be a discrepancy between the map numbers and room numbers, which is a bummer. Layout adheres to the b/w-2-column standard and the pdf is extensively bookmarked. We get 3 maps and the original b/w-artworks belong to the best you can imagine - especially the one-page picture of the final adversary is just plain awesome in its creepiness. Indeed, an almost cthulhoid sense of wrongness pervades the whole module - author Uri Kurlianchik did an awesome job creating a truly disturbing dungeon crawl with interesting locations, smart foes, social interaction thrown in and an overall feeling of being unwelcome in this dark new world order. In fact, I consider this adventure to be quite deeply-entrenched in the horror-genre - if not for its narrative structure, then for the increasingly disturbing foes the PCs face and the furios final fight that truly deserves the name. However, a warning to players participating in this adventure - you probably will come out of this...changed. And some changes are hard to reverse... My final verdict will be 4 Rudii, as the map/room-discrepancy makes running a section of this adventure slightly more complicated than necessary.

And finally, I know that the economy is tough. But even though financially these are not the best of times, we can still enjoy a quality night of Halloween gaming - Rite Publishing offers us the FREE Kaidan-adventure

Frozen Wind

This adventure is 40 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 7 pages advertisement, 1 page back cover and 1 page SRD, leaving 28 pages of content for the adventure, so let's check it out, shall we?

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to skip to the conclusion!

Still here? All righty!

Frozen Wind takes place in Kaidan (though any monastery/Asian-themed setting will do) and offers what I've come to love from the series - a brand of Japanese Gothic horror we rarely, if ever, see in RPGs.

The PCs arrive at the monastery when the chill of winter/ice-cold temperatures catch up with them (or due to personal reasons) and are shown their sleeping quarters. The adventure wastes no time, as the PCs are awakened by gaps of the dying - frost-coated monks suddenly convulse as their souls are ripped from their body (which coats them in frost in this particular instance) and the PCs are left in a suddenly very cold monastery - all the fires have gone out. The PCs should probably look for firewood and a way to keep warm while figuring out what exactly has happened.
Essentially, the monastery is a huge trap as the supposedly benign Kami it is devoted to actually turns out to be a Yuki-Onna who made the founder pledge the souls of the monks to her before making him forget this whole deal. Subsequently, her Koori-no-Oni (Ice-Oni) are the first opposition the PCs will have to contend with in an otherwise rather silent monastery - after all, the monks are now all dead. Once they have concluded this first act, the monks rise from the dead as frozen undead and seek to annihilate the PCs, who should at this point not only be fighting against the dread creatures, but also against the growing cold - survival horror at its best. Somewhere in the monastery, the Yki-Onna awaits them for the first showdown and should they defeat her, she tries to escape and seeks to summon a dread ice-kami which (along round 2 against her) makes for the final showdown. The impending summoning of the dread Kami makes for an additional counter that urges the PCs to keep up the pace and not waste any time - if she manages to summon the huge ice-bear, the PCs will have a serious problem on their hands.
The pdf concludes with 3 new monsters (one of which is a template), 6 pregenerated characters (each on his/her own page - ready to just be printed out and handed to your players) and gamemaster aids, to be precise, a temperature tracker and a summoning tracker for the Kami as well as a scoring sheet if you want to run this a convention scenario.

Editing and formatting are ok - while I did notice some glitches and would usually detract half a star/a star, this adventure is free and easily usable as written. Layout adheres to the beautiful 2-column full-color, bamboo-lined Kaidan-standard and the artworks are mostly thematically-fitting, Japanese stock, but do actually contain some original pieces of gorgeous artwork - not something I would have expected in a free pdf! The pdf is also extensively bookmarked.
Special mention should be given to the presentation of the monastery, as it continues to change during the course of the adventure - thankfully, the beautiful full-color map helps picturing the monastery. The pregenerated characters all come with special missions they can complete in the monastery and the gamemaster helps mean that you can run this scenario with a minimum of preparation. While this is a convention scenario, it does not feel like one, but rather like a  full-blown, regular adventure, that does benefit from using the pregens, but could easily be run in your home-game. Personally, my sadism will make me reanimate all fallen foes after 1d6 rounds, making this adventure even more lethal, but that's just my preference. What can I say? This adventure surpasses many commercial adventures in quality and atmosphere and is free - essentially a no-brainer, especially at this time of the year. If you're still looking for a nice adventure for Halloween, dl Frozen Wind- it's worth the hd-space and if you like what you see there, check out the other Kaidan adventures - they're awesome as well! Kudos to Jonathan McAnulty, Michael K. Tumey and Steven D. Russell for giving this quality adventure away for free - my final verdict will be 5 Rudii. (If it weren't free, it still would be 4 Rudii, without glitches 4.5 or even 5 depending on the hypothetical price.)

All right, I sincerely hope that you and yours enjoy one of these scenarios and hope you guys all have an awesome Halloween! Thank you sincerely for reading my rambling reviews - next time, I'll be going to the big city for a prolonged stay!

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews the Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting

Hej everybody!

It seems like yesterday to me when Lou asked me to write a review of "The Bloody Fix" and more or less gave me the initial impulse to start reviewing - and today, I'll present to you my 400th review on Paizo. Many people have offered kind words to me and I hope my modest recommendations (and warnings!) have enriched your games - thank you for reading!

In order to celebrate this review, I offer to you a review of a rather under-appreciated Campaign Setting that in my humble opinion is a prime example of the great options out there, Alluria Publishing's

Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting

This massive full-color campaign is 290 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 4 pages of index, 1 page inside back cover and 1 page back cover, leaving a staggering 279 pages of content for this campaign setting, but what exactly are in for?

What if the world saw an age of peace above the waves, an era of enlightenment overseen by  a powerful nation? What if said force of goodness and equilibrium suddenly vanished and the surface-dwellers, in their despair and ignorance initiated a cataclysm that sees most of the world flooded, leaving only sparse patches of land unsubmerged?  What if the surface-dwellers went extinct and yet, the world would continue spinning? The action and eternal war between good and evil would continue, but beneath the waves. These are the Cerulean Seas, a world flooded and in the grip of tidal waves, where new races have claimed dominance after vanquishing the dreaded sahuagin and this book follows an ambitious goal - Not only do the people from Alluria Publishing try to offer you an original setting, but also provide all the necessary rules for all instances of underwater adventuring.

Let's see whether they've succeeded in that endeavor, shall we? There's a lot to consider, believe me. Seeing I converted the monstrous arcana Sahuagin-trilogy from the 2nd edition days of old to 3.5 and ran the campaign, I do know that even if you prepare a LOT of magical items/spells etc., there are a LOT of additional concerns to address and this book is wasting no space and jumps in to introduce us to some of the peculiarities of underwater adventuring:

From an introduction to the different light zones, to mechanics to determine tides and even very extensive terrain information, we get a lot of cool new rules, favorite of which for me would be buoyancy -natural air bladders from races to items: The rules presented for buoyancy should be standard - they are elegant and easy to implement: Essentially  buoyancy comes in positive and negative values, either dragging you down or pushing you upwards - including acceleration and drag. Str determines what you can carry until you fight against buoyancy. Combine that with water pressure and currents (which also get their easy and yet extensive rules) and we get a wholly unique experience: Seeing that until I read this, underwater combat felt mostly like flying underwater, this is just awesome - 3d exploration and combat that opens a whole array of new tactics and combat options. Combat will never be the same under the waves and even if you're only planning on having 1 or 2 adventures under the waves, this chapter (especially when combined with OD's Sunken Empires), is absolutely the best resource you can imagine. It also includes  extensive information on underwater hazards ranging from poisons, whirlpools etc. A new condition replaces prone (disoriented) and thrown weapons are replaced with plunge weapons - be aware, though, that not a simple name-substitution has been made: E.g. the splash weapons work in some key-aspects different from their dryland-counterparts.
After this chapter on terrain and the basics, we are introduced to the new playable races, all of which come with their own natural buoyancy, information on their depth tolerance as well as the information on attributes. I'd usually sum up the racial modifiers etc., but in the interest of finishing this review this century, I'll just go on to give you a general overview. Generally, the races of the Cerulean Sea can be divided into three general categories: Anthromorphs (4 races), which include cool races like the crab-like Karkanaks and the crocodile-humanoid Sebek-Ka, the Feykith (4 races), which contain Sea-elves, Selkies and Viridian Naiads, the latter being plant-like in life-cycle and mentality. The final category is the Merfolk, which includes the mysterious and alien, deep-dwelling Nommo, the poison-spined Cindarians and the proud, mount-like Kai-Lios. 11 merfolk-halfbreeds are also provided along tables for age, height/length, buoyancy and depth-tolerance. I expected to get lame aquatic variants of regular races and instead found a plethora of well-written, balanced, cool races that ooze unique flavor and thus lend themselves to truly ingenious plots.

Chapter 3 deals with classes and how they work under water and some interesting components and rationalizations/modifications have been made to them: Alchemists for example have invented aqua gravis, a substance to make bombs and potions with and its discovery, manufacture and usage lends a whole new dimension/other was the items work to the whole class. Wait, Alchemist? Yep, Cerulean Seas comes with full-blown APG-support. While all classes get their respective treatment, the two new domains for the cleric (Flora and Steam, replacing Plant and Fire) as well as an one-page domains/deities-list deserve special mention, as do the 18 aquatic animal companions and the new eidolon evolutions. Conversion notes for e.g. Infernal bloodlines etc. are provided as well.
The chapter does not stop there, though: We get the new Kahuna-base-class, a druid-like ally of the spirits of the sea with neat spirit aspect powers of 8 different totems - mechanically one of the most interesting spirit shaman-like classes I've seen. Speaking of interesting - the 20-lvl Mariner base-class, focusing on supreme 3d-movement and agility makes for an interesting melee-choice and the substitute for the bard, the siren-class, also makes for a neat design, though the latter could have used more options to choose from with regards to her songs. The base-PrCs are also covered along  3 new PrCs - The Beach Comber, a ranger-like elite, the Glimmerkeeper, legendary rogues and possibly mutants fighting for the downtrodden and the Sea Witch, who is a rather evil and dark PrC for the siren - think Ursula from Ariel in mature and you'll get these nice fellows.

The next chapter deals with skills and feats - jumping from the waves, diving perception beneath the waves and coverage of existing feats help adapting them to the world beneath the waves. The chapter does not stop there, though: 45 new feats expand upon racial qualities (enhancing Cindarian spines and Karanak-claws for example) as well as  dealing with the new environment, improving e.g. Air Bladder class. Surprisingly, I did not find a single feat that felt overpowered or useless - quite a feat! (Pardon the pun!)

The next chapter  deals with underwater currency: Seeing that copper and silver tend to rust, the currency of the seas is based on shell, gold and pearls. Tarde and new goods like the aforementioned aqua gravis as well as alloys for weapons are covered. The new weapons cover both weaponized harnesses for awakened animals and a vast array of thrusting weapons - the tables alone cover 2 whole pages, ensuring that you don't have to arm all your characters/NPCs with piercing weapons. The aquatic armors are also interesting, including for example jellyfish armors as well as clamshell plates. 11 new ships are introduced for traveling on the waves (which seems to be a bit more secure than under the waves) and a huge array of conversions are provided for all the regular items and obsolete ones are mentioned as well. Kelp ropes e.g. replacing regular ones. Extensive lists including buoyancy information for these items have been provided for your convenience as well, as have buoyancy-control items that help you combat updraft. Have I mentioned the phosphorescent jelly-fish lanterns? This chapter, with all the small details and miniscule meticulously pieced together components makes underwater adventuring and societies that much more believable - excellent!

Chapter 6 deals with new magic as well as old one: After introducing some exceptions, we are introduced to a huge list of aquatic spell components, replacing drylander components - I love this list. While it seems to be a small and unnecessary component, I really consider going this extra-mile in detail and depth of coverage makes the approach stand out. APG-fans can rejoice, by the way: Undersea spell lists are provided for all the core and APG-classes and modifications to the spells have also been included in the lists. Over 100 spells are either entirely new or have been heavily modified to work beneath the waves and the two new casting base classes Kahuna and Siren also get their respective spell-lists. Surprisingly, the spells ranging from acidic red algae to black maelstroms are surprisingly well-crafted and none felt like overpowered or a story/game-breaker to me - indeed, some do expand the tactical options provided by 3d-fighting and currents - awesome! The new magic item-section comes with 2 armor and 4 weapon qualities as well as 1 new specific armor as well as 8 specific items, all of which  (with one exception) come  with their own high-quality artworks.

The 7th chapter deals with the Cerulean Seas campaign setting and can be considered a primer/gazetteer of the setting: This section contains racial histories, short NPC-write ups of famous NPCs as well as detailed information on the respective languages spoken beneath the waves. Religion is covered as well, but in a different way from what you'd expect: The council of nine, 9 deities seeking to absorb all other faiths, make for the mainstream religions and uphold the verdicts of "There shall be only 9" - but where there's persecution, there will also be cults, ranging from variations of the 9 teachings to more heretical positions. Two sanctioned cults per deity are included in the respective write-ups, lending further diversity to the pantheon. A vast array of short city-write-ups as well as a page chronicling current events provide ample hooks for the DM to craft adventures around.

Chapter 8 offers advice for Dming adventures under the sea and does a great job - extensive tbales to help you convert both items and creatures to the Cerulean Seas are provided along guidelines for buoyancy and then there's the battlemat-problem: If you've been stacking dice, this pdf has a page of depth-cubes you can print-out and use instead, providing more stability -quick and doesn't take too much time. If you're going for the recommended solution (after discussing some alternatives), we get actually some cool DIY-information: Tracker trees! Templates for the trees are provided both in full-color and B/w at the end of the pdf and the assembly instructions are comprehensive and easy and most importantly: Affordable, relatively easy to contruct and also a nice alternative if you're shooting for a solution for aerial combat as well.

No environment-focused book would be complete without a bestiary and thus, Alluria Publishing provides us with a smattering of new creatures in chapter 9: From Algoids (underwater shambling mounds) to degenerate merfolk, coral shephards (treant-like guardians of coral reefs) to a vast array of fishes, dinosaurs to 9 new kinds of deep-sea song dragons, we get a lot of cool critters. Have I mentioned the sound and steam elementals as well as 12 new familiar animals, creatures like dire lampreys to seacats and several species of sea-titans (e.g. with kraken-tentacles as lower parts of the torso) to original creatures like the mind-controlling, arcane static-producing mysterious slug-humanoids Slurgs and the awakened animal species of animals, the so-called trueforms? The creatures herein add a lot to a given campaign, even if it only skirts the water's surface. 4 simple templates also help you adjusting other creatures to the Cerulean Seas.
We also get appendices: Creatures by CR, a pronunciation guide, an index of tables, an art-index, 2 pages of  char-sheet, 4 pages of card-stock minis,2 tracker tree templates, 1 page of depth cubes and 1 page-map of the Cerulean Seas. Finally, as I've mentioned in the beginning of this review, we get an index.

Editing is very good - I noticed only about 10 glitches over 290 pages and all of them were minor hyphen- or punctuation errors. Formatting is top-notch and layout adheres to the two-column standard. The layout. Oh my god, it's beautiful. The slightly blue-tinged full-color pages are accentuated with gold and offer for a cool, unified look. The pdf comes with more than extensive bookmarks, greatly facilitating usage of the book and it should be noted, that size and art notwithstanding, the setting only takes up about 18 mbs, making it still a viable candidate for e-readers. Let me talk about the art: The artwork herein is GORGEOUS. I mean Paizo-level GORGEOUS. In fact, the interior artwork is probably at a level of quality I've rarely, if ever, seen before in a 3pp-book. In spite of having a lot of different artists creating these pieces, the book nevertheless maintains an unified look that is beyond what one would expect from most publications. Have I mentioned that a lot of weapons, ships etc. also get their artworks?

Let's get to the content: The attention to even the most miniscule detail and peculiarity is STAGGERING.  Just about everything has been taken into consideration and lists like the spell-components and their underwater equivalents, the item conversions, the idea of aqua gravis etc. ensure that this pdf does not only provide a blue-tinged dryland equivalent of a setting, but rather an astonishing world that feels distinctively different. Underwater economics, travel etc. - all the aspects of underwater adventuring that had been handwaved at best until now have been covered in a consistent, intelligent and concise manner. Have I mentioned that the amount of letters f the respective alphabets are mentioned in the language write-ups? The sheer amount of fluffy details complementing the crunch is awesome. The new content is almost universally killer, ranging from the new races and their more unique representatives to the new classes. I didn't have a balance-concern with a single spell or feat. An then there's the setting-primer, which provides for a nice political landscape to spring upon your players. Proving that they know how to go above and beyond, the folks over at Alluria have also covered the 3d-combat an its representation with tracker trees to an extent that I did not expect to see. Conversion hellp for the GM ensures that this book will not be limited to single uses or just the material herein, but make it easy to expand the setting with more content.  The buoyancy, deep pressure etc.-rules are plain awesome and the bestiary-section alone, with the resplendent artworks and huge variety enables you to genuinely portray an underwater world. Even if you choose to utterly ignore all setting-specific information, you'll still be left with over 200 pages of top-quality content that makes this book the ultimate resource on underwater adventuring - be it for an extensive period or just a couple of adventures. If you combine this book with e.g. OD's Sunken Empires, you'll be in for a fresh gaming environment that by its rules and premises alone evokes non-conventional tactics, environments and twists of tried and true tropes as well as opening whole new revenues for adventurers. I am rarely blown out of the water (bad pun, I know), but this epic tome managed not only to surprise me with all-around stellar quality, but also with its imaginative potential, its attention to details and the fresh approach to the world beneath the waves. If your campaign world has even one ocean, you need to have this. in fact, I maintain that this book belongs to the rare pdf that should grace just about any shelf of PFRPG-material, as it easily surpasses e.g. D&D 3.5's Sandstorm and Frostburn - it's that good.

I really hope for Alluria Publishing's production hiatus to stop soon, as this pdf is of an almost unprecedented quality and, from production values to content, simply awesome and professional. If all books were like this, I could stop reviewing right now. If I could give this pdf 6 Rudii, I would. Seriously. The 20 bucks they charge for the pdf are a steal and while the pdf will extort a brutal drain on your printer, the downright beautiful end-result will be worth it as this is one of the instances where craft and art of deigning RPG-products go hand in hand. Seeing that I can't give this pdf 6 Rudii, I'll settle for my highest possible verdict of 5 Rudii and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - this belongs to your shelf and I guarantee that you won't regret your purchase.

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews the top 3 Mythic Menageries

Hej everybody,

having just completed my final review of Super Genius Games mini-monster-manuals, I thought it would be time to present you with my personal top 3! Without further ado...

Bronze: Engines of Destruction

This installment of SGG's mini-monster-manuals is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 12 pages of content for the new monsters, so what do we get?

The introduction tells us that we get unusual golems and it should prove to be right:

The very first creature is a CR 7 cactus golem, complete with needles and desiccating attacks. It should be noted that the creature is called both cactus golem and cactus crawler - a minor inconsistency.

On the upper hand, we get construction requirements for all golems in this pdf. All golems are resistant to magic and can be influenced by spells in unusual ways and these are no different - knowledge and fight smarting will help your PCs prevail when they lose in the brute-force department - an approach I really enjoy, as it encourages smart fighting and research. It#s unfortunate that no lore-sections are provided for the respective golems.

The iconic, mass-produced CR 1 Ceramic Soldiers make for nice low-level construct threats, complete with speed bursts and shatter-vulnerability - well done.

The CR 10 Gearwork Golem makes for a grinding clockwork nightmare, sundering weapons and disarming foes while rending anything it comes into contact with - the terrible golem makes for a foe the PCs will truly hate for its signature abilities - fighting these will be a baneful experience for any group.

The next creature is again, a rather low CR (5) golem, and a disturbing one at that, the enveloping hide golem - while not the most ingenious of creatures, it makes for a cool critter.

Two golem-variants are next on the list and both are pure narrative gold - the steed (CR +1) and vault guardian (CR +3) golem variant mini-templates that can be applied to any created creature make for some nice modifications - what about the insane alchemist with a flesh-golem-horse-creature, for example? Very cool!

The CR 12-Prism Golem has some rainbow-associated abilities and anyone who has played any incarnation of D&D knows that this prismatic attacks generally are bad news for those on the receiving end. While I usually like the illustrations of Marc Radle, this particular one is rather ridiculous and not one of his best.

The next golem is just what I want to see - imaginative in design and prose, cool mechanics and somewhat disturbing - the CR 8 Reefstalker is a primitive golem made from the jaws of sharks and its serrated defense and bleeding abilities will ensure a messy, bloody encounter your PCs will remember.

The CR 5 Rustmote Swarm on the other hand is the bane of items and metal golems and making it a swarm is mechanically interesting.

Even cooler golems are up next, though: The CR 6 Still Golem who can intoxicate foes via his scalding, alcoholic steam - that's exactly what I'm looking for in a creature: An original concept married to nice mechanics. Come on, how can you say no to an animated Still?

Finally, the last golem, the Void Golem is another prime example of a cool creature: The CR 18 intelligent being is a sentient rift in space, conjured as a proxy and servitor of its dark masters from the void to assist the apocalyptic cults serving their unknowable ends. Slightly cthulhoid, armed with a deadly array of abilities and malevolent sentience, this golem is another winner.


Editing and formatting could have been better, I noticed inconsistencies and minor typos and glitches, which, while not impeding my ability to use the golems, could have been avoided. Layout adheres to the 2-column standard and the b/w-artworks are ok, but didn't make me yell with excitement. The pdf has no bookmarks. Author Sam Hing provides us with a truly excellent array of golems and while some of the golems are not as awesome as others (Cactus and Prsimatic felt a bit bland to me), my only true gripe with this pdf remain the formal glitches I mentioned - for the very low price, we get a stellar offering of cool, imaginative and unique golems that are only marred by the minor glitches and lack of lore sections. My final verdict due to these minor issues will be 4.5 Rudii.

Silver: Kith of the Harpy Queen

This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 11 pages of content, so let's take a look at the new winged creatures, shall we?

After one page of introduction, we get the first harpy variant, which at first seemed like one of those "Slap environment X" on a creature-variants. The CR 6 Cave Harpy gets a cool sonar-like scream and blood drain, though, making her sufficiently unique.

The second new harpy is the Glory Harpy at CR 2, resplendent and actually quite civilized humanoids far from their ugly common brethren, but devious nevertheless. The multi-hued wings and captivating display make for cute, yet deadly foes that are essentially made cool via their fluff more than via their crunch.

Father of harpies, Pazuzu, sometimes seems to father especially deadly, demonic harpies, his chosen. (CR 10) Their song is not only enthralling, but also lethal to any listeners and their polearm mastery along their poisonous stinger make them a viable threat.

The CR 8 Pestilence Harpy, a vulture-like harbinger of disease via claws, dust, song and even presence is just plain awesome - with a deadly aura, cool abilities like the cloud of diseased dust they constantly create and a neat write-up, they are a prime example of author Sam Hing's good monster design.

Subtlety is not the name of the game for the CR 14 giant Piasa, whose call can flatten and even kill her foes - once again, the fluff about interacting at head-level with them makes what otherwise would be a good creature a very interesting one. Nice job!

The small CR 7 Storm Harpy glides among the clouds and can call dread storms as well as sleep while gliding in great heights. Again, it's the sparse fluff that lends color to an otherwise well-written, but not too exciting critter - the cooperation with pirates and influence on naval trade are interesting plot points to consider and make them valuable assets and allies for scrupulous foes.

Harpies being civilized foes, that's not where this Mythic Menagerie ends: We get 5 new magic items specially designed for or from harpies: From Feathered Daggers carrying diseases to shields made from quivers, they are neat additions to the female furies' arsenal.

Furthermore, 6 feats are introduced, three of which belong to a feat tree that grants additional wing buffet attacks to flatten foes. Even cooler, Pluck-feats are introduced, offering FINALLY the option for aerial combat I've been looking for: Attacks to temporarily decrease fly-skills with the final result of having plucked foes crash to the ground as well as the 2 cool feats to improve song qualities. The Pluck-feats alone are pure GENIUS and I'd recommend the pdf for them alone.

Finally, 5 new spells (APG-classes included in the spell-lists) are introduced, offering a nice plethora of evocative, flavorful battle-spells: From quasi-real ravens that try to pluck your eyeballs out to a ball of wyvern stingers you can control like a flaming sphere, the new spells are iconic, neat and well-written.


Editing and formatting are ok - while the glitches that plagued the line are once again present in relics etc., there have been installments with more of them. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and the b/w-artworks are neat. The pdf has no bookmarks and the creatures feature no lore-sections.

This installment of the Mythic Menagerie-line is literally all killer, no filler - each creature had something going for it and the additional items and spells are top quality. The feats are downright brilliant. Were it not for the editing glitches, this would be a 5 Rudii+ Endzeitgeist seal of approval-pdf. Due to the editing glitches, my final verdict will be 4.5 Rudii.

Gold: Demonic Harlots

This pdf is 16 pages long, 1 page front cover (gorgeous, by the way), 1 page SRD/editorial, leaving 14 pages of content, so let' check out the neat demonic femme fatales!

After a foreword, we are introduced to the first creature, but prior to getting into the crunch, I feel the need to address something - this review is based on the original version, prior to the minor redesign. If the title "Demonic Harlots" and the succubus in the throes of ecstasy on the cover were no indicator enough, I'll spell it out: This pdf is not necessarily safe for work. Although in my work climate there would be no problem with this imagery (some of my colleagues sporting more suggestive desktop backgrounds), I gather that in America people tend to be more sensitive with regards to even vaguely sexual content. This pdf, while featuring mature topics, does so in a mature manner and at least to me, felt not explicit in any way. Point being: I can't really imagine anyone being offended by this pdf, but I have been proven wrong before. Discretion is advised.

That out of the way, let's check out the sultry seductresses who will drag your PC's drooling souls to the deepest pit of the Abyss!

In contrast to the other installments of the Mythic Menagerie-line, we start off with a primer mentioning a succubus-demon lord and the topic of incubi, the male counterparts of succubi. Special mention deserve e.g. the short discussion of preferred demonic genders and how e.g. a matriarchal society would be haunted by more incubi to better subvert the power-structure. It's just one page, but it felt like a nice read nevertheless.

The first variant creature, the CR 10 Agitator has one of the coolest signature abilities I've seen in quite a while - emotional flare enables them to escalate latent emotions into potentially lethal proportions and make any crowd beholden to their chaotic whims.

The CR 14 Cursed of Epithumia is a deadly Succubus cursed by aforementioned Queen of Succubi. Punished for their ambitions, these disfigured creatures can split old scars and ooze molten lead from their ever-festering wounds to make armors for themselves, cover their foes in it etc. A plethora of cool signature abilities is provided, but for the Cursed, these blessings taste like ash - after all, they can only temporarily maintain a facade of beauty and most of the time have to spend their existences as disfigured, tortured creatures.

The next creature is a well-known entity on the Paizo-boards, our favorite reviewer-succubus Dark Mistress, or to be more precise, a race of beings named after her. These fiendish creatures are a blending of shadow demon and succubus, resulting in a new kind of critter with deadly shadow-based attacks - again, sporting not one, but several unique abilities. I bet the original Dark Mistress approves of this fine take. :)

Some creatures are the quintessential shadow entity behind guilds and plans, hiding behind legions of associates. The CR 8 Pupeteer Succubus is perhaps one of the coolest creatures I've seen in quite a while, drawing strength from her enchanted slaves and being able to use their senses. The PCs will have to act smart to catch these wily schemers off guard.

The CR 6 savage Thyiades, a kind of primal succubus focused on consorting with (and twisting) fey with her infernal taint. To make matters worse, they can unhallow whole stretches of land... Neat!

For rather kinky sinners, the tormentors (CR 11) are essentially BDSM-succubi that can have a neat signature curse which makes their victims yearn for damage. Add spiky body piercings and some hex-related abilities and you get a cool foe indeed. Although the tendency to portray BDSM as an evil or destructive act (which it is not - Safe, sane and consensual) in media in general tends to annoy me, this take on the trope of sadistic temptress is mechanically interesting enough for me to enjoy it.

That's not where the pdf stops, though: 5 new feats for Succubi are introduced that range from improved shapechanging to glyph-studded, arcane wings and even an additional stinger attack, which might act as an elixir of love - neat and offers a lot of story-telling potential.

We also get 5 new magic items, which contain a flail made from vargouilles, a retreiver-crown and ENCHANTED lingerie! Yes! (I know the thought of chainmail bikinis is not popular with some folks. For succubi, though? Come on - of course you tend to miss her when the shifting links of chains draw your eyes to semi-concealed places!)

The final section of the pdf provides us with 5 new spells, containing the sheer genius aspect transformation, which lets the succubus bypass some wards and a spell which is storytelling GOLD. Sculpt the Dead lets a caster make a dead being look like specific beings. I can spontaneously come up with about 6 complex investigation plots featuring this spell. Gold!


Editing and formatting are top-notch, this time I noticed no editing or formatting errors - if the increased price comes with an increase in quality, I'm all for it. Especially when the price is still a fair $4.99. That being said, the b/w-artworks are nice and the layout adheres to the 2-column standard. Author Sam Hing has done it - this is the very best installment of Mythic Menageries to date - plenty of content and signature abilities, cool supplemental material, neat prose, no gripes. This is how mini monster manuals should be. My final verdict will be 5 Rudii and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - well done!

All right, that's it for now!

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews 101 New Skill Uses

Hej everybody,

today I've got a special review for you, a review of a kind of file that is rare indeed:

101 New Skill Uses

This pdf is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 19 pages of content, so let's check out these new skill uses, shall we?

We've all seen it in the 3.5-days of old, in the bad days - the feat-flood. Metric tons of feats to enable you to do the most menial tasks in about 3000 different ways. I'm glad those days are over, seriously. Feats are a very precious resource and should enable one to gain benefits that surpass very specific conditions for special attacks. As is the development now, though, PFRPG already sports a number of feats that, while nowhere near as broken as the 3.5-days of old, goes beyond necessity. The amount of options available for characters is staggering, but the availability of said options via feats is still limited, necessitating house-rules in e.g. instances when your daring swashbuckler is dueling a monk on a tight rope. Now there is a resource all characters have that has been largely untapped by expansions: Skills.

This is where this pdf comes in - skills get additional, expanded uses and thus become vastly more important and useful to the PCs without breaking the game. Or at least that's the design goal. But can it hold up to said lofty ideal? To answer this question, I'll have to examine some skills to give you examples on how these expanded skill checks are handled: Acrobatics, for example, now for example lets you use parcours to cross difficult terrain, making a rope on which you stand swing, instantly get back up etc. But actions like forging coins, duplicating keys, jumping from a horse's saddle to deliver a devastating charge, hit foes with them not immediately noticing it, make autopsies and malpractice via heal (and bluff) etc. The sheer amount of new possible options is quite impressive.

I did mention malpractice and the design of the new skill uses is something this one illustrates nicely - some skill uses require special additional requirements (like bluff to conceal your malpractice from other persons with the heal or sense motive skills) and more importantly, several THANKFULLY have scaling consequences for failure, from triggering traps to blowing cover to landing painfully on your back after a failed kip-up-attempt, the new skill-uses simply rock and provide a neat variety and excitement to your game - just imagine the excitement of climbing big foes and hacking at them while they try to smash you down or the nerve-wracking contest of aforementioned duelists over the gaping abyss below, their rope swinging ever more precariously. Even if you want to limit a special skill-use, just add Min x ranks and there we go, some uses become "Expert"-uses - the design allows for such an easy modification and thus lends itself to maximum customizability.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with bookmarks. The artworks are ok, though nothing to write home about.

I have to get this out of my system: Every Pathfinder-group should own this book.

No exceptions.

There's simply no way around it, this pdf is one of those rare, humble books that via great design and without adding complex mechanics makes the game much more fun. The content is so easy to implement that no one should be stupefied by the new skill uses. Characters don't have to be changed to make use of the content of this pdf. In fact, the new skill uses open up whole revenues of new character options and adventure writing, making any campaign it is introduced to more rewarding. This humble pdf BLEW ME AWAY. Many skill uses I had house-ruled until now finally get cool, concise and balanced rules and some aspects are introduced via the skills that plainly feel awesome to me. My players will LOVE doing autopsies. Malpractice makes for extremely exciting social encounters. Forging coins and duplicating keys opens new revenues for investigations and plots - this pdf is simply a goldmine of ideas and crunchy goodness. This is one of the pdfs that will most definitely feature on my top ten of 2011-list. Near the top. Steven D. Russell delivers a STELLAR pdf, perhaps the best of the 101-series yet.

If you want to expand your players' options without forcing them to spend feats, go buy this. If you are stumped with regards to writing adventures and would like to add some new options, go buy this. If you're just curious, again, go buy this. If you're tired of house-ruling fast disable, sabotaging magic items, fast climbing etc., go buy this. In fact, even when none of these apply, go buy this. This is simply a gem and a stellar, stellar example of the best 3pps offer to the game. When eventually PFRPG's next edition comes along, it's this content I'd like to see adapted to be part of the core-rules. It's that good.

My final verdict will be 5 Rudii and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval. What are you waiting for? This is what you've been looking for, even if you didn't know yet.

That's it for now, as always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews All Stars take on the Mega-Dungeon

Hej everybody,

today I'm going to take a closer look on Gaming Paper's 2nd supplement of adventures for their excellent, epic Mega-Dungeon Map Pack. Can it stand up to the excellent Citadel of Pain?

All Stars take on the Mega-Dungeon

This adventure compilation for Gaming Paper's Mega Dungeon map pack is 62 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages editorial/SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page back cover, leaving 55 pages of content.

This anthology provides for takes on the mega-dungeon, i.e. for configurations of the some of the components of the map pack. It should be noted that each configuration results in a small dungeon and that they cannot be pieced together to create a huge dungeon - essentially, the 4 dungeons are completely separate from each other. If you're on the fence about the map-pack, you should know that while the pack facilitates running these adventures, it's not a requirement. That being out of the way, we'll delve into the adventures and this, being an adventure review, from here on contains


Potential players might want to skip to the conclusion.


Still here? All right!

Monte Cook is the first with his dreadful Temple of the Half-Born, which some of you might remember from Ptolus -this is no reprint, though, but a completely original take on the concept introduced - essentially, the dungeon is populated by several deadly half-formed fleshy, cadaverous abominations under the control of a dread fleshformer who makes for a surprisingly hard foe - the creature turns out to belong to a race of humanoid outsiders, who are rather hard to kill... I'm not one of the Monte Cook fanboys. I really like some of his designs, but I also own books that I did not enjoy. This short adventure, though, captures what is great about his writing when it works - one of his excellent works and even better when you have a Ptolus tie-in. Level 7-8 characters wil definitely remember their sojourn into the temple...

The next all-star would then be Brian Cortijo, who abducts us (quite literally!) to the Arena of Souls - a subterranean arena where individuals have to fight for their lives for the amusement of depraved individuals of all species. While the premise of the adventure is cool, it uses a mechanic that not all groups will be comfortable with - namely the fact that the lvl 3-4 PCs are abducted and stripped of their gear to fight in the arena. The battles in the arena are another potential problem that remains unresolved - I know for example that my players would flat-out refuse to fight for the depraved audience of the arena, even if it meant their death. The possibility of the PCs attacking with the audience is also not covered. The escape attempt and subsequent defeat of their captors (with a rather climatic final fight) rocks, but the limitations and possible loopholes in the plot that accompany this kind of scenario makes it a tad bit more problematic than it necessarily has to be.

Ed Greenwood is next up and has a rather interesting scenario - a once great smuggler/merchant guild has fallen some years ago, and while the guild is gone, several of their huge assets remain to be found. Against the backdrop of cool smuggling tactics (alone how the gold is concealed is pure genius), the lvl 5-6 PCs finally find the secret complex which harbored the guild's treasure. This makes the adventure rather high on the treasure's side, but also means that the PCs will be hard-pressed indeed to battle their way through the complex: The new inhabitants belong to the most disturbing variety and act and fight SMART. Really smart. Environment stacked against the PCs, intelligent adversaries, smart spell-selection. I can see this complex become the tomb of more than one group of hapless (or greedy!) adventurers. Combine that with frightening scare-tactics and the fact that the PCs have no easy way out of the complex and you're in for a deadly, claustrophobic, well-written adventure. My favorite of the bunch, to be honest.

The final take on the mega-dungeon by Steven Schend is entitled "Keep away from the Borderlands" as a nice nod for all the grognards out there and centers on a border keep (Captain obvious is obvious today.) that has failed to respond to inquiries for some days. The adventure is unique in that is uses the maps of the map-pack not to provide the framework for a subterranean complex, but rather for aforementioned keep. The adventure is intended for 1st-level characters and starts off by the PCs witnessing a suicide by one of the guards who jumps to his death. Blue fires have haunted the keep ever since a holy day has passed and the PCs are up for a mystery: Some of the soldiers have raped silent temple maidens and subsequently got punished by a dread curse that was brought upon the keep as divine punishment by a splinter sect of the moon god. The fact that a relative of a local lord is involved with the crimes (and the lycanthropy-inducing curse) further complicates things, as does the (largely obliterated) strike squad that was supposed to get him out.

The now-cursed fortress hence includes the remains of the guards (some of which now lycanthropes), undead, some of the religious knights hell-bent on retribution and the remains of the strike-team. The adventure is interesting due to the coverage of the consequences the survival of individual NPCs have as well as due to the plethora of conflicting agendas - unfortunately to the point where the respective plot-lines get a bit muddy: The players will have a hard time figuring out just what the hell is going on in the fortress. The adventure also presumes a certain political landscape (and a belief) that makes the adventure feel rather setting-specific - while this works in favor of the adventure with regards to flavor, it can also be considered detrimental with regards to the plug-and-play potential of the adventure. When all's said and done, the final installment of the All-star compilation felt as if it was intended for a longer module and had some parts cut that would have made the adventure truly outstanding. As written, it requires some work on part of the DM as the nature of a dungeon map used to represent a keep makes close-reading the individual entries a requirement, as there seem to be some minor discrepancies.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I only noticed 2 minor formatting glitches (words in italics, for example). Layout adheres to a clear b/w-two-column standard and the pdf features extensive bookmarks. The b/w-artwork is nothing to write home about, unfortunately. It should also be noted, that due to space-concerns, only the bare minimum of statblock-information is printed herein, but that is not a reason to detract from the final score. What does fracture into my final score, though, are the problems I encountered with the second and fourth adventure: While both are good adventures, the second involves two angles some groups will have problems with, namely being captured and fighting for an evil audience. The fourth, while making for an interesting mystery-scenario, somewhat felt a bit shoehorned to me in that it felt more like a campaign-setting specific adventure that has been cut down to fit into the available space. That being said, even with these gripes, the first and third adventure alone are worth the low asking price and the 2 adventures I had problems with still remain good adventures, though they are not exactly stellar. With the epic Citadel of Pain, one of my most favorite adventures of this year, this adventure-anthology has rather big foot-steps to step into and while the scenarios herein are excellent to good in quality, the whole anthology feels like it falls just short of being stellar. For the low price, you should check out the 4 adventures, especially if you already own the AWESOME Citadel of Pain. My final verdict will be a good 4 Rudii.

All right, that's it for now, as always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.