EZG reviews a lot of deadly NPCs

Hey everybody,

today I'm going to take a look at some deadly NPCs to kill your PCs!

I'm going to start with two of the best NPCs from Rite Publishing's Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series.

First, let's take a look at

Elspeth Black, Executive Officer of Blackblade

This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 8 pages for Elspeth, so let's dive in!

I'll go through the 3 incarnations in reverse order, from her lowest CR up to the highest. People who've followed my reviews probably know that I have a soft spot for Elans and this file details one. "Elan" you say? Yep, as this installment of Faces of the Tarnished Souk is a collaboration between Rite Publishing and Dreamscarred Press, offering support for my beloved PFRPG-psionics. AWESOME! Can her 3 incarnations stand up to this great premise? I'll see!

Her low-level incarnation is

-Lady Elspeth, Agent of Blackblade (Elan Psychic Warrior 4), CR4 - Nice build, although there is a minor typo, with her name in the "During Combat"-section being written like exponentials. Other than that, a nice build! (1 page)

Her mid-level incarnation is

-Elspeth Black, Operative of Blackblade Section X (Elan psychic warrior 5/metamind 1/war mind 1), CR 7: An even cooler build that utilizes two complementary PrCs to their potential. Cool!

We also get 2 magic item properties, "Reshaping" and "Weightless" (both featuring an extra "h" in the CL-section)and 4 new magic items. The items are:

-Crystal Key, Lesser: Open a portal to a specific plane 3/day. Do not travel with the user.

-Crystal key, Greater: Like their lesser variant, but they do travel with their user.

-Gate Key: Like the Greater Crystal key, but works for any plane.

-Gloves of Activation: Bonus to Use Magic Device, three sets are given in the construction section: +2, +5 and +10.

We also get 3 new feats:

-Battlefield Intuition: Add Wis-modifier to Initiative, stacks with other modifiers.

-Combat Advice: Move action to grant allies +1 to damage and attacks

-Command: Gain commandpoints equal to your level. Each time you use a move action to direct/command your allies, you can spend command points up to your Cha-mod to grant allies competence bonuses to their rolls.

Items and feats take up about one and a half page.

Additionally, there are 1.5 pages of stats for the 3 different incarnations of Elspeth's Psicrystal, Raze, as well as a little sidebox on its personality - Nice!

Her high-level incarnation (CR 15) takes up 2 pages and is

-Elspeth Black, Executive Officer of Blackblade (Elan Psychic Warrior 5/Metamind 5/War mind 5) Much to my delight, this statblock also features a whole paragraph on a potential cohort of hers, including names and short characteristics.

As is the standard in the FotTS-series, Elspeth also gets 1 page of aptly-written character background, including dream-burning information and a side-box on how to use her.

Conclusion: Layout adheres to the RiP-standard, artwork is nice and the additional content provided (especially the feats) make this a nice deal. Once again, we get complex statblocks and her lower-level incarnations might make for nice rank-and-file Blackblade operatives. The fluff made me curious about the organization and I'd like to know more about it in a future supplement. Given that I'm a sucker for psionics and that this character simply rocks, I'd immediately settle for 5 Rudii. Due to the minor glitches, I'll rate this 4.5 Rudii.

Faces of the Tarnished Souk: The Dark Lady Ninyantë, Mistress of Venom

This pdf is 15 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages of advertisements, leaving 10 pages of content - Nice!

Following my format for FotS-reviews, I'll start with the lowest-CR-incarnations and work my way up, so let's go! Ninyantë is a very interesting NPC - why? Well, her low-level incarnations is:

- Ninyantë (Amalgam human dark naga shadow assassin 4, CR 8): Yep, we get a complex template base race AND some love for one of my favorite base-classes from SGG. How cool is that? Even better, all the information to run her are given, thus ensuring that you don't necessarily have to buy the SGG guide.

Her mid-level incarnation is:

- The Dark Lady Ninyantë (Spellpowered amalgam human dark naga shadow assassin 11, CR 14): Yep, we get 2 complex templates -YES!

Her glorious high-level incarnation is:

-The Dark Lady Ninyantë, Mistress of Venom (Spellpowered amalgam human dark naga shadow assassin 17, CR 21): Oh my, she is deadly. She is beautiful. She is glorious. I LOVE her.

The pdf does not stop there, though: We also get the two templates, 2 poison-related feats and 3 new magic items. Of course we also get a great page of concise, aptly-written introduction to her as a character complete with dreamburning information and a box of advice on how to use her.

Conclusion: Writing is concise, Editing and formatting are top-notch and adhere to the RiP-two-column standard. Her b/w-artwork is nice and the amount of additional content makes reading this pdf an absolute blast. I didn't notice any glitches in the stat-blocks and they are among the most complex of the series as of yet and her CR 21-incarnation stat-block is a stunning beauty to behold. Some love for the extremely cool shadow assassin base-class does help, too. With all this praise, you can imagine what my final verdict will be - straight 5 Rudii. One of the best incarnations of the series.

Ok, you know I love the FoTS-series and if you like them as much as I do, you might also think about checking the following book out, even if you don't usually like the NeoExodus-books:

Enemies of NeoExodus: The Folding Circle

This pdf is 80 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages mini-sheets, 2 pages char-sheet and 1 page combat & initiative tracker, leaving 73 pages for the folding circle, so let's check them out!

Detailing a kind of evil terrorist/guerilla-army led by powerful antagonists, the first PFRPG-compatible book of the "Enemies of NeoExodus"-line kicks off as it should, with the narrative of how the group of beings that make up the inner circle of the organization came together. The narrative is concisely and yet compellingly written and had me actually want to continue reading. The methodology of the group is explained, but the book does not stop there - we get paragraphs that explain which leaders are used for which tasks, which symbols they use ( great for foreshadowing) and even some unusual details of their headquarter. On the mechanical side, we also get a short table of the leadership-effects of individual soldiers fighting under the command of leaders.

The commanders are:

-Makesh the Undying, the glue that holds the group together. A human turned divine construct, he, as the other leaders, is presented in several incarnations: CR 4, 10, 14, 20 and 24. The stat-blocks come with EXTENSIVE tactics sections and even goes one step further than just progressing the stats- depending on the incarnation, he actually gets some cool completely unique abilities related to his background story and even his signature weapon is updated in each incarnation.

-Nysska, the renegade exodite assassin among them (CR 3, 7, 11, 15, 19) also gets this versatile treatment, her stats also containing signature poisons, tactics dependant on the level of her incarnation and once again unique signature abilities.

-The Destroyer, Enuka-incarnation of war and destruction also comes in several incarnations: Cr 5, 9, 13, 17, 21. Being the one creature that more or less could kill Makesh, this incarnation of destruction, as the other two, comes with cool signature abilities like a rebirth in blood or the ability to suddenly adapt to incoming energy. Or rip bone quills from his body and throw them at his enemy.

-Emok Zenyaka, a demon of corruption and life sealed in the body of a now genderless Prymidian. He comes as CR 2, 6, 10, 14, 19 and comes with disease-associated attacks and a special ability that defines how he uses his considerable magic power and culminating in terrible abilities that define how he can destroy and taint his enemies.

-Haru Anon, the condensed and combined terror and pain of both thousands of souls slain by Makesh (who is one day supposed to lead them to the afterlife) and his former tribesmen was bound into a hybrid undead/construct form by Emok. It comes as CR 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and actually has extremely cool ability progressions. As the other leaders, this IMMENSELY cool thing gets terrible destructive powers. Wow.

Next up, we get sections on how the organization of the folding circle interacts with the other powers of Exodus. However, apart from fluff, we also get mechanical benefits in the respective regions for members, even presenting feats to become the protégé of the respective leader, sans Haru Anon, of course, who is not interested in followers.

Followers...we get those, too: For example Seeker-in-Flame, a CR 10 burning Dalrean ranger with some very cool unique abilities and his mephit companion. Or Axo, crystalline Cynean apprentice to Emok who can focus arcane energy like a destructive lens.

Then, there is the Brotherhood. A sub-organization of assassins, they come just as varied and detailed in background as their leaders, though they "only" get one stat-block as well. From an Enuk-warrior who was fused with an elemental, a fate-twisting assassin wielding an artifact, a druid touched by elemental air, a Sasori monk possessed by an inner fire that can even create him anew, a Cavian sorceror disconnected from the hive-mind and muted in both bloodline, a corrupted nature-spirit and finally, a MPD-afflicted, undead child with terrible power over sleep.


Layout is just as beautiful as you would expect it, from LPJr Design. What I didn't expect, though, was how both writing and editing have improved in this file in comparison to others I've seen. I've scarcely encountered typos (quite a feat with a book of this size) and stumbled across no glaring errors. While there are minor formatting glitches (I e.g. noticed a section that was supposed to be bold and wasn't), they are few and far between - I noticed 2 on 73 pages with a similar number of very minor punctuation errors. The artwork in most LPJr-books rocks. This is even more true in this one - the full-color illustrations (One for EACH character) are beauties and only the portrait of ram (the corrupt nature spirit) didn't match up to a quality you could potentially see in a Paizo product. Especially the portrait of Haru Anon just blew me away and even surpasses the usually excellent artworks of NeoExodus books. More importantly, the NPCs detailed herein make AWESOME villains. Seriously. Just about every character comes with signature abilities, a new magic item or artifact or similar powers that would qualify them as being a major antagonist for your PCs. Even if you only use one of them, he/she/it is almost guaranteed to surprise your PCs. Add to that the fact that each one gets at least a page of background and you're in for quite a treat. While I have to admit that I didn't do the math on everyone of them, I noticed no obvious glaring inconsistencies and quite frankly, at this level I don't really care. The writing is cool, the NPCs rock, their organization is unique in design and agenda and the small bits and pieces like the aforementioned leadership bonuses make for a great reading experience. If you'll excuse me, I'm going to think about how to implement them in my campaign and which one to throw first at my PCs. What? I forgot the rating? 5 Rudii - this is by far the best book by LPJr Design I've read so far and I heartily recommend it to just about any DM looking for deadly villains, even ones who don't intend to play in NeoExodus. With cosmetic changes, these fellows can be the final bosses of your campaign.

Ok, that were a lot of deadly, high-level NPCs. Need some rather low-to mid-level ones that are more on the low-magic side? There you go!


This pdf is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 blank page inside the front cover, 1 page to set the stage, 1 page that explains how to read the statblocks to novice PCs, 2 pages of editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisements, leaving 21 pages of content.

Villains are, per definition, the primary antagonists of the heroes and often come with? Bingo, minions!

Thus we get a nice selection of minions for not only the villains in this book first: We get 2 assassins, 3 stat-blocks for mercenaries, 3 for rakes, 2 spies and 2 thugs, offering some nice alternatives from the stat-blocks in the Gamemaster's Guide. It should be noted that both the spies and assassins get their own names and are rather interesting choices for their roles.

Oh, and there is another rhymed verse at the beginning of the book on the ToC-page, which I mention due to considering having stuff like that in the back-hand a boon for DMs.

It should be noted that they all get the Raging Swan NPC-treatment, complete with background, mannerisms, distinguishing features etc. Now let's look at the villains: Teraim Arasten is a cruel, psychotic dwarf that is also an alcoholic. While somehow pathetic, he makes for a nevertheless chilling, cool adversary. Firhar Luedul is a mage who seeks lichdom to combat his Thanatophobia. Eiluanna Miaasar is an elven maid ravaged by orcs who seeks to quench her trauma in bloodshed. Her tragedy and complex psychology make her an interesting enemy. Myghal Nankeris is an insane monk who seeks to attain enlightenment via slaughtering enemies - his section unfortunately features two typos. Digory Odgers is a guildmaster in the making from the gutter who may make for a cool godfather-like crime-lord. Perran Gongye is an assassin's legend in the making who understands the importance of successful PR. Cornes Solethar is a sorceror aligned with the abyss and allied with undead. His only empathy is reserved to a dog. His section also contains three typos. More importantly, though, there is a discrepancy between his fluff and crunch: Although he is supposed to have a genius-like intelligence, he only sports an Int-score of 12. While is Cha is high as a sorceror, force of personality alone not a genius makes in my opinion.


Formatting adheres to the printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard set by Raging Swan and Layout also is top-notch. The b/w-artworks, while nice, are not as cool as in other Raging Swan books, but I guess that's personal preference. It should be noted that as part of the dual-format pdf-initiative a pdf-reader-friendly version is included in the deal. More importantly, though, some of the characters are not as absolutely awesome as in other Raging Swan Press releases like "Antipaladins" or "Fellowship of the Blackened Oak" - while generic and easy to implement in any given campaign setting, Raging Swan NPCs usually still feel unique and like true characters. However, in "Villains" some of the characters feel like cardbox cut-outs - especially Myghal and Cornes feel rather bland and uninspired, especially in contrast to e.g. Teraim, Perran, Firhar and Eiluanna. Due to that and the minor editing glitches, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 Rudii -still a very good file, but not as perfect as e.g. Antipaladins.

All right, I hope you'll have found some great antagonists among these extremely cool NPCs, next time I'll have something different in store for you!

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews Necromancer of the Northwest's Mercenaries and Orbs

Hi everybody,

as you might know if you've checked out my recommendations of free RPG products, there is a small company called Necromancers of the Northwest, that has some time ago joined the fray of PFRPG-compatible publishers. Due to them being a rather humble company, they didn't seem to get too much publicity, so I figured I'll try to change that, as they sometimes have some rather cool and unusual ideas.

Today, I'm going to take a look at their first book presenting a guild as well as their take on a new class of magic items, the orbs.

The Blackshire Mercenary Company

This pdf is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 28 pages of content, so let's check these mercenaries out!

After an introduction to the mercenary company and some adventure outlines/plot hooks, we get information on hiring the mercenaries for" active" or "passive" duties (i.e. guard duty vs. adventuring/preventing assassinations) as well as information to joining the Blackshire Mercenaries, improving one's standing in the guild as well as how jobs are granted to soldiers and spending influence in the guild. I.e. we actually get tables and information on how to both gain influence and on how to spend it/what benefits you can get in the guild.

So what is the guild and how does it work? In a work of dire rat infestations, marauding wyvern and vicious orc press gangs, adventurers always can find work. What, however, if none of these specialists are available? What if one has already been betrayed by powerful adventurers and thus rather want specialists who may ask for a steep price, but adhere to professional work ethics? That's what the Blackshire Company is for. Driven by pragmatism and a desire to earn money and get the job done rather than adhere to chivalrous codes of honor and conduct, they are hardened, grizzled and yet uncompromising problem-solvers. Depending on the level of the member and the amount of influence one has, specific benefits are available, lending using the guild towards e.g. prolonged campaigns with PCs getting ranks in the guild.

The guild also gets its own Prestige Class (to join, you of course have to have sufficient influence with the guild), the Blackshire Exemplar.
The 10-level-PrC gets d10, 2+Int skills per levels, a good BAB-progression, a medium fort-save and centers around professionalism-abilities like immunity to fear and can learn from a list of 13 special guild maneuvers. The guild maneuvers are powerful, but adequately represent the fighting style of the guild. Their capstone-ability lets them make a full attack as a standard action, though. OUCH. This ability, even for a capstone-ability feels rather powerful and lends itself to potential abuse. They also come with a lore-section.

Next up in the book are the sample NPCs:
The section contains three dwarven brothers that learned to expertly coordinate their effort, an example of an evil as well as an example of a good chapter-head, a duelist-style fighter, a low-level thug and a legend among the companies.

-Dennai Battleshield (Dwarf Fighter 7/ Stalwart Defender 2)
-Dorbin Battleshield (Dwarf Fighter 7)
-Dragor Battleshield (Dwarf Fighter 7)
-Helgar "the Butcher" Bailey (Human Fighter 10)
-Percival Callahan (Human Paladin 10)
-Rolando (Human fighter 7/ranger 6/blackshire exemplar 4)
-Sophia Ironblade (Fighter 10)
-Tolbin Denny (Rogue 4)

The organization per se is very well presented - you can easily imagine this very capitalistic and professional approach to being mercenaries. The company can serve as anything you'd like - as foils for the PCs, as allies, as a home away from home or as all of the above. Presentation of the benefits and tracking rank in the guild rock and are detailed enough to be of use even to the most novice of DMs. The company can easily be dropped in into just about ANY campaign and is sufficiently modular. I'll go even so far as to propose that they make a nice elite-order in rather low-magic settings. However, there are also some downsides to this file: While I like the Blackshire Exemplar class, I think that the capstone ability is too strong and I would have loved to see more guild techniques. The NPCs, while well-designed and with some APG-support, did not necessarily impress me that much - on the one side, they may be well-crafted, but somehow they felt a bit unspecific and don't come with their rank specified in the guild. I also would have loved to see stats for the 3 leaders of the guild. Another problem is, that while the company is easy to implement and is well and extensively detailed, but it somehow lacks iconic powers and also feels generic in the negative sense. The short write-up of the Blackblade mercenary organization from RiP' s "Elspeth Blackblade" somehow felt more compelling to me.
Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. Layout is fine, too, although it adheres to the used-parchment-look of NWN, thus being not too printer-friendly. The mostly public domain art fits the topic. Formatting is nice, there is only one glitch of a line in the last stat-block - half of one line is hidden beneath another line. The pdf is extensively bookmarked.

My final verdict for this pdf will take the low price and the amount of content into account. Due to the formatting glitch and the minor problems I encountered, I'd usually settle for 3.5 Rudii. However, I couldn't name a single "Guild"-book apart from this one and it is well-crafted for a VERY low price. Thus, I'll round my final verdict up to 4 - it's good to see a fully-detailed and professionally presented guild out there, even if it is a rather generic one. I hope to see more.

Orbs of Power

This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 23 pages for the orbs, so let's take a look at them!

Orbs have long been a rather neglected iconic piece of mage's apparel in D&D and PFRPG and this pdf sets out to change that. At first sight it seems like all the slots are taken for magic items, so what do orbs do? Well, they serve as a magic amplifier of a sorts, which I consider a good idea.

The orbs range from 8000 GP to artifact-level and the pdf kicks off with a nice piece of IC-writing. Additionally, we get two feats, one to craft orbs and one to channel spell-like abilities as well as through the orbs along some insight into the design-process. The items come with short descriptions, which is a nice plus. Without further ado, these are the orbs:

-Dragonscale Orb: Depending on the color, they can change the energy of a spell and grant minor spell-like abilities and can once per day panic opponents.

-Duelist's Orb: +5 to identify spells and +5 to DCs of having the own spells being identified. Additionally, counterspell as a free action once per day.

-Lens of Spell Distortion: Can distort own area-spells so they don't hit specific squares and 3/day focus an area-spell on a single target, with +2 to the DC.

-Miser's Orb: Ignore 5000 GP of material components per day.

-Orb of Abjuration: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Acid: +1 DC to acid-spells, 3/day sicken enemy damaged by acid.

-Orb of Alacrity: +10 ft movement, 3/day cast a spell that would take a full round as a standard action.

-Orb of Alignments: Penalizes enemies' saves the farther they are away from your alignment. Additionally, you can detect good, evil, law and chaos per will.

-Orb of Blasting: Sacrifice spell-levels to deal raw force damage. Now this one is iconic and cool!

-Orb of Burdens: +50 lbs carrying capacity for purpose of movement and encumbrance. When damaging an enemy, he can 3/day choose to lower the creatures carrying capacity by 50 lbs.

-Orb of Conjuration: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Counterspells: +2 to caster-level checks to counter spells, 3/day retain spell used to counter after countering.

-Orb of the Damned: Spells with the death-descriptor can be made to annihilate enemies, preventing resurrection, but also incurring a -4 penalty.

-Orb of Divination: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Electricity: +1 DC to electricity-spells, 3/day stun enemy damaged for 1 round.

-Orb of Elemental Acid: +2 to caster-level for purpose of casting acid-spells, can transform damage to acid damage.

-Orb of Elemental Fire: +2 to caster-level for purpose of casting fire-spells, can transform damage to fire damage.

-Orb of Elemental Ice: +2 to caster-level for purpose of casting ice-spells, can transform damage to ice damage.

-Orb of Elemental Lightning: +2 to caster-level for purpose of casting lightning-spells, can transform damage to electricity damage.

-Orb of Empowered Spell Mastery: Gain the empower spell metamagic feat for as long as the owner has the orb. Spontaneous casters can cast empowered spells without increasing the casting time. Preparing casters can decrease the additional levels by the metamagic feat by one.

-Orb of Enchantment: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Evocation: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Fear: 3/day, when casting a spell with the fear-descriptor, additionally penalize enemies with 1/2 level to atk and damage.

-Orb of Flames: +1 DC to acid-spells, 3/day make enemy catch fire.

-Orb of Frost: +1 DC to cold-spells, 3/day slow enemy damaged by frost.

-Orb of Illusion: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Invisibility: +5 to Stealth, 1/day enable people subject to invisibility to bypass e.g. tremorsense etc.

-Orb of Kings: +6 to Cha-based skill-checks. 1/day when casting a spell of the charm-subschool, target +1 creature.

-Orb of Maximized Spell Mastery: Gain the maximize spell metamagic feat for as long as the owner has the orb. Spontaneous casters can cast maximized spells without increasing the casting time. Preparing casters can decrease the additional levels by the metamagic feat by one.

-Orb of Memory: + to Concentration. 1/day as a swift action prepare a spell cast in the last 24 hours.

-Orb of Necromancy: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Piercing Spells: +1 to checks to overcome spell resistance. 3/day sacrifice an unused spell-slot or prepared spell to lower the spell resistance of a target by 2 times the level of the sacrificed spell.

-Orb of Rage: You can cast spells while in rage or under the effect of the spell. Gain barbarian rage for 5 rounds per day or if you already have barbarian rage, gain + 5 rounds of Rage per day.

-Orb of Refraction: +1 to all ray attacks. 1/day make a ray hit an additional target with a ray.

-Orb of Segments: Reduce number of segments required by a segmented spell by 1. If casting a segmented spell, you can add one segment for +2 to the spell's DC. YOu don't know what segmented spells are? Go ahead and check out Advanced Arcana by NWN - this book scored high on my list of top-3pp-products in 2010.

-Orb of Shadows: 3/day cast any spell you know without using slots or preparing it. The spell is only half-real and can thus be disbelieved.

-Orb of Sickness: 3/day inflict a disease on enemies hit by your spell. DC is reduced by 2, though.

-Orb of Spell Power: 3/day add +1 to a spell's DC. Alternatively, use all 3 uses to recharge one charge in a staff.

-Orb of Subdual: You can opt to make a spell non-lethal. Awesome item!

-Orb of Swirling Color: 3/day fascinate enemies when you cast a spell, 1/day can use scintillating pattern.

-Orb of Thralls: +4 to opposed Cha-checks to control charmed/dominated creatures. 1/day take control of dominated creature as with magic jar.

-Orb of Transmutation: +1 to DC of spells of the school, can spontaneously change spells to abjuration spells from a short list.

-Orb of Unnatural Strength: When you polymorph a target, grant it +4 Str. 1/day sacrifice a spell of the polymorph-subschool to grant a creature an enhancement to Str of the sacrificed spell- level times 2.

-Orb of Widened Spell Mastery: Gain the widen spell metamagic feat for as long as the owner has the orb. Spontaneous casters can cast widened spells without increasing the casting time. Preparing casters can decrease the additional levels by the metamagic feat by one.

-Summoning Stone: Summoning-subschool spells are automatically extended, 1/day summon a creature as per summon monster IX.

Minor Artifacts:

-Eye of Souls:Focus for spells that trap souls. The souls can be used to power spells.

-Orb of Demon Command: Devil-crafted orbs that can summon and control demons and grant you major bonuses against them.

-Orb of the Archmage: +2 to AC, atk, saving throws, own spells cannot be countered and only be dispelled by disjunction. 3/day ignore spell resistance.

-The Skull of Il'Shabosh: Skull of a deadly demon, the wearer can control caster-level times 4 HD undead. Creatures slain by the caster rise as undead.


Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. Layout adheres to the NWN-standard, i.e. the full-color-used-parchment-look. Not the most printer-friendly look and unfortunately no printer-friendly version is provided. The artworks are nice. The pdf is also extensively book-marked. Content-wise, I've got nothing to complain at all. While the "Orbs of Elemental X" felt like filler, I liked all the other orbs as well as their presentation and basic concepts. This pdf would be a straight 5-star-file, were it not for the fact that there is not a printer-friendly version. Thus, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars. Orbs are cool and for the low price you should check it out.

Additional note for people who follow my reviews: This will be my last review in the ToC-centric-format for the immediate future. They take a lot of time and I'm not entirely sure they are as useful as I'd like them to be. Don't fret, I'll of course continue to provide detailed reviews!

All right, I hope you people out there have a nice week-end,

as always, thank you for reading my ramblings,

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews Realms of Twilight Campaign Setting

Hi everybody!

Currently there are not too many full-blown, world-encompassing campaign settings for PFRPG, probably due to the fact that Golarion already being an awesome place that perfectly covers a lot of ground.

Silver Crescent Publishing's Daniel Marshall has created a rather dark world and today I'm going to take a closer look at the epic hardcover of their campaign setting. Enjoy!

Realms of Twilight Campaign Setting

I actually own only the dead tree copy of this campaign setting, so I'll break my usual format for this review. The Realms of Twilight Campaign Setting comes as a massive 250+ pages hardcover book, including two pages of character sheets and 1 page map. After a page of editorial and a page ToC, we get 2 pages introduction and overview of the contents. After that, we get introduced into the world of Relistan.

One of the things you immediately notice, is that the b/w-artwork is stunning and ranks among the best you can find in any 3pp-books.

Chapter 1 details the fundamentals of the world (8 pages): Relistan is a world ravaged by two grand cataclysms: The first, a rite by the shadow fey, has permanently blotted out the sun, casting the world in a permanent twilight. Relistan also once was a planar hub and there have been massive invasions of outsiders in the so-called gate-wars, further crushing civilizations. Due to the gods seeking to annihilate dragon-kind, the last survivor of the original Relistan-dragon-race (there seem to be more from other places), in rage and desperation, managed to use an artifact to become a deity and close the gates. Driven insane by the sudden ascension, his rage further ravaged the already beaten world. Sounds cataclysmic? Surprisingly, it isn't all that bad on the world. The 3 moons seem to provide enough light for economies to work and plants to grow (Hey, it's magic and the leaking planar gateways actually serves as an explanation that satisfies me!) and there are ample civilizations out there on the 5 continents of Relistan.

Chapter 2 details Kesuril, the civilized lands (33 pages) and kicks off, as every chapter, with an IC-legend on the history of the continent: This continent is the one most reminiscent of temperate climate standard fantasy realms, but each city/nation gets some serious twist: There for example is a rather druidic nation led by lycanthropes who learn to control their urges. We also get e.g. a city famous for its college, a lizardfolk kingdom and the biggest metropolis of the world that can be seen on the cover, secluded in a crystal pyramid complete with a drow emperor and a false sun inside. Each nation/town is presented with some paragraphs on one or 2 authority figures and while there is information on the classes of said characters, no stats or levels are provided. Each nation/city also comes with information on diplomatic relations with neighbors. These pieces of information are also given in the other chapters, so don't be alarmed by me not mentioning them again.

Chapter 3 (26 pages) introduces us to Slarinca, the second continent, has its nation of elves, a nation of gnomes known for their sorcerous aptitude as well as human kingdoms aligned with the traditional elements (and a utopia aligned with light). These kingdoms adhere to an eastern, Chinese-influenced Nomenclature and structure.

Chapter 4 (18 pages)details the desert continent Shirán that consists of the almost impregnable resting place of the slumbering dragon-turned-deity and nations that are led by members of a rather evil (or at least neutral) planar group of adventurers. The chapter also provides one page of rules-recap for heat-dangers.

Chapter 5 (13 pages) provides us with information on Ezalyth, the frozen continent of Relistan, complete with monasteries, a nation of snow elves, giants and a settlement on the verge of a glacier. There is also information on dangers of the cold and ice.

Chapter 6 offers information on Cylthia (18 pages), a continent of trackless jungles (Mostly consisting of "The trackless Jungle") and a savannah with warring nations as well as a dwarven nation.

Chapter 7 (8 pages) details the seas and oceans of Relistan, e.g. providing rules for the random bursts of fire that erupt from the aptly-named Shadefire-sea. This is something I would have loved to see more often - little bits of rules for these locations that serve to enhance their uniqueness not only in description, but also in rules-terms.

Chapter 8 is the beginning of the rules-section of the book and focuses on classes. (27 pages)

The chapter contains an alchemist base-class, the combat alchemist. It is here that I want to address something - this book was released prior to the APG and some of the rules and content will reflect that. The combat alchemist base-class gets d8 HP, 4+Int skills per level, a bad BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. The basic idea is somewhat similar to the model used for psionics: The combat alchemist gets a certain number of mixture points and can use them to create effects of the formulae he has already learned. All of these so-called mixtures can be individually enhanced by what is called "experimentation" and is essentially a way to boost the effects of the alchemical mixture in question. To ensure balanced play, the mixtures have been divided in the classical 9 levels, restricting access to the more powerful mixtures at lower levels. The class is expertly designed and crafted and I really do like it. Unfortunately, the alchemist-class by Paizo is one of my 2 favorites from the APG, so I personally settle for him. However, if you want to check out a cool alchemical base-class and want something different, this one might actually interest you.

Next up are the prestige Classes. Each comes with a sample NPC. However, not all adhere to PFRPG-design-standards, some of them having levels that have no spell progression, bonus feat or other gain apart from saves and bab-progression:

-Acolyte of Twilight (d8, 2+Int skills per level, medium BAB, good will save, 5 of 10 levels spell progression): This class is a divine caster that is similar to the dragon acolyte, but representing the duality of the twilight dragon deity. Didn't strike me as too exciting apart from the cool associated deity.

-Disciple of Shadows (d8, medium BAB, almost good progression for fort- and will saves [+6 Fort and Will save at 10th level], 2+Int skills, 5 levels spell progression): Two-bladed sword wielding holy warrior of the church of Steelight Shadowborn. He becomes better at wielding his signature weapon and some shadow-blade abilities, transforming to native outsiders in the end. Okay class.

-Elemental Fist (d8, good BAB-progression, medium fort, ref and will-saves, 4+Int skills, continues improving monk abilities): Monk-like class that gains the abilities to use elemental shrouds that damage attackers. Nice class, but has 2 "dead" levels.

- Fire Dancer (d8, almost good BAB-progression (+9 at 10th level), medium ref save, 4+Int skills, 5 levels of spell progression): Bard-Prc that gets nice, albeit a bit weak abilities to use fire-like abilities with their dance.

-Hunter of the Wastes (d8, good BAB-progression, almost good progression for fort- and ref saves [+6 Fort and Will save at 10th level], 4+Int skills: Hunter of undead creatures from negative-energy-infused wasteland. Can detect undead and resist incorporeal undead and their attacks. Rather bland specialty hunter with 3 "dead" levels.

-Shadow Speaker (d8, +5 over 10 levels BAB-progression, almost good progression for ref- and will saves [+6 Fort and Will save at 10th level], 6+Int skills: Rogue-like class that improves sneak attack and abilities to communicate and summon shadows and see in the darkness as well as a greater shadow form. Ok supernatural rogue class.

Chapter 9 (18 pages) contains 4 new races, 2 new uses for skills, an easy in-game dice-game and 28 new feats. The new races are:

-Nightlings: A savage sub-species of halflings that get +2 to Dex and Con, -2 to Wis and-4 to Cha as well as normal speed, +2 to stealth & survival and the ability to smell incorporeal creatures. However, they also get a +1 level adjustment, i.e. a mechanic that has been discontinued in PFRPG.

-Twilight Gnomes: Elementally-infused gnomes, they get +2 Con and Wis, -2 Str, are slow, get training against giants, racial hatred against goblinoids and reptilian humanoids, Cold resistance 5, +2 to Perception and some elemental minor spell-like abilities.

- Umbral: Once their progenitors shadows made alive again in the cataclysmic sundering of an artifact, these people get +2 Dex, -2 Cha, +2 to stealth, Cold resistance 5, darkvision and the ability to cast chill touch once per day.

-Valshari: An evolved subrace of the drow that has returned to the surface, these elves get +2 to Dex and Int, -2 to Con, elven immunities, darkvision, can cast darkness once per day, +2 to Perception and racial weapon proficiency.

In the section on linguistics, we get short paragraphs on 4 languages, in the section on stealth information about hiding in crowds.

The dice-game of Relistan, Jok-Rin, is also explained.

The feats can be divided in 4 categories:

- Craft-feats (7 feats): These feats let you add semi-magical masterwork qualities to your work (which I consider to be great ideas) and forge a special material.

- Alchemy-feats (7 feats): Improve abilities of the combat alchemist.

- Background feats (5 feats): Weak feats a sidebox suggests to offer for free. Rather like traits, really.

- General Feats (8 feats): All of these are a waste of space in my opinion. They confer +2 bonuses to e.g. poison-saves or two skills. Boring.

There is also one rather cool metamagic feat, which lets you expand the casting time of a spell for an increase in DC up to +4.

Chapter 10 offers us new equipment and magic (34 pages). We get two new materials, umbristine and waterwood, with the former being a shadow-related metal mined via both alchemy and conventional techniques by the umbral and the latter being wood that is infused with the power of elemental water. On the conventional side of weapons, a new monk weapon is introduced that actually doubles as a music instrument, while alchemists get their own pouch and everyone who loves throwing daggers gets a cool harness that works as a substitute for the quick draw-feat for the 6 throwing daggers it can hold. Nice idea.

Next up are 4 new magic items and 2 artifacts:

-Armor of Alhara: Leatherarmor that should help with changing shapes. Unfortunately, this armor mentions the Control Shape skill, which has to my knowledge been discontinued in Pathfinder. I think the bonus should be conferred to the constitution checks of the afflicted, as per the PF-bestiary.

-Mask of Twilight: Mask that has abilities similar to the Twilight Dragon's Acolytes and complements them nicely. The abilities of course are just as dual as the divine dragon.

-Necklace of Sirens: Amulet with Confusion-abilities that auto-recharges each day and can also be recharged by bards.

-Sunstar: Medaillon can be used to summon true sun light to kill vampires and the like.

-The Blade of Shadows: Legendary, deadly two-bladed sword to drive back the chaos in the name of Stellight Shadowborn.

-The Shard of the Abyss: Deadly and intelligent fragment of the abyss. Rather strange, though, that the shard is CN instead of CE.

After that, we get a plethora of alchemical mixtures for the new combat alchemist class - dusts, grenades, oils, potions, salves and vapors. At least one of a kind for each level is provided.

Clerics also get some love in the form of 7 new domains: Endurance, Ice, Pain, Pestilence, Shadowborn, Spirit and Undead. I especially liked the shadowborn domain - individual domains for deities rock.

We of course also get new spells, 23 to be precise - the spells are quite nice and I didn't consider any to be problematic.

Chapter 11 (25 pages) features al lot of different new gods for the pantheons of Relistan - The deity-write-ups contain information on relationships with other deities - great idea that should be standard. On the downside, this chapter features unfortunately the only formatting errors in the books, with some of the artworks for the deities' symbols concealing parts of the text.

No campaign-setting would be complete without at least some monsters and we get some in Chapter 12 (12 pages).

-Anu-Zarati (CR 7): 4-armed undead guardian creature.

-Celesti (CR 1): Winged humanoid that includes information to make characters. I would have loved them to be included in the race-section of the book for PCs, though.

-Claw Leapers (CR 6): Somehow alien-like looking, deadly predator. Extremely cool creature!

-Nightwhisper (CR 6): Incorporeal undead with possession abilities.

-Sai-heth (CR 2): Race of Fey that eclipsed the true sun. Unfortunately only a sample fighter/rogue is provided sans their racial abilities, somehow making it harder to design new ones yourself.

-Shadowborn Warrior (CR 6): Holy warriors of Steelight Shadowborn.

-Shadowborn Magi (CR 7): Transcended mages of Steelight Shadowborn.

-Shadowborn Law Priest (CR 15): Highest servants of Steelight Shadowborn.

-Tunneler (CR 9): Huge subterranean worm.

The final chapter, chapter 13 contains 5 pages of additional legends.


The book is a huge hardcover with glossy paper of the highest quality, beautiful layout and (mostly) stunning artwork -while there are some pieces that don't live up to the superior quality of the rest of the artwork - these only constitute about 5% of the total artwork though, so expect to see a beautiful book indeed. I didn't really anticipate that this first publication of Silver Crescent Publishing would have such a high quality for the rather moderate price.

What do I expect from a campaign setting?

I expect an interesting, detailed world, potential conflicts and hooks for the PCs to participate in and craft adventures around and captivating writing. Does Realms of Twilight deliver? Well, at least for me personally, I'll say yes...and no. The world is chock-full of iconic locations and nations and leaves nothing to be desired location and environment-wise and some of the deities are very unique and beyond most of what I've read before. The new combat alchemist class for example is awesome and some parts of the crunch rock - however, due to the APG coming out, some parts of the book have aged, including the combat alchemist. While I e.g. loved the new craft feats, the general and background feats felt like uninspired +2/+2 to checks-filler-material, resulting in a stark contrast to the great crafting feats. The PrCs also didn't impress me, but e.g. the deities and most of the monsters are consistent in standard.

On the other hand, one of the races still has a level adjustment and here and there you can find remnants of 3.5-design philosophy (no dead levels) or minor remains like the level-adjustments. What do we get genre-wise, then? We get a world that is deeply-steeped in high fantasy and is quite dark, although more in the literal sense instead of genre-wise. You shouldn't expect a Midnightish or Ravenlotesque dark setting or even a post-apocalyptic one. It's also not a savage world in the Howardesk style, but rather points of light style. What you should expect is an ancient world steeped in lore and magic and while Relistan is definitely not a perfect utopia, it is rife with potential for adventures and especially iconic locations. Relistan has its very own feeling that sets the world very distinctly apart from other campaign settings and absolutely worth a try if you're looking for a world that is different.

However, there are some minor problems plaguing this book that show it is a first publication, especially one of this size: The minor layout problems in the deities-section could have been noticed and unfortunately there are editing several problems - I noticed a lot of typos and homophone-errors (i.e. there/their-mistakes that didn't get caught) that deterred from my enjoyment of the book. I should absolutely love this book and will probably mine some ideas from it, but somehow it didn't capture my interest as much as I thought it was supposed to - I should absolutely love this book by all accounts, after all: Its production values are top-notch and the locations are iconic. It took me some time to realize what has kept me from fully enjoying myself when reading this - a) I expected a rather low-magic setting on the brink of another cataclysm and b), which is the main reason, I somehow didn't feel that the writing was consistent. While there are some sentences of sufficient length, including prepositions and conjunctions, but here also are some paragraphs that feature a lot of short sentences that start with nouns and are not as elaborately worded. While this usually would not impede my enjoyment of a book, in combination with the editing glitches, it hampered my ability to completely dive into the world and lose myself in it. Another problem is that the same holds true for the crunchy bits of the book - There are some mechanics that just ROCK and others that rather felt like filler.

Thus, my final verdict will try to take the problems, the size of the book and the fact that this is a first publication into account and while I personally won't DM in Relistan, there is a plethora of nice ideas herein and e.g. the combat alchemist shows a solid understanding of the rules. What's my final verdict, then? Due to the glitches and the minor problems, I'll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 Rudii.

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

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews the Haunting of Soldragon Academy & 30 intelligent magic items

Hi everybody,

today I'm going to check out a great adventure by Headless Hydra Games,

The Haunting of Soldragon Academy

This adventure is 27 pages long, 1 page front/back cover, half a page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 24.5 pages of adventure, so let's check it out!

The pdf adheres to the two-column formatting standard. Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches or typos. The only strange decision of the formatting is that the front and back cover are on the same page, which is a pity as the cover image is nice. There are also some enumeration-dots missing on the last page. Once you check the file out, you notice something immediately: The layout is GORGEOUS. Apart from Green Ronin, I've seldom seen such an appealing, awesome layout: K. Axel Carlson did an outstanding job. The same goes for the ncie pieces of b/w-artwork - they are nice and professional, especially nice is the b/w-artwork of the academy one can show to the PCs. The 3 maps of the academy are also nice - the cartographer Butch Curry did a good job. The adventure is designed for 4 to 5 characters level 5-6 and includes information to scale it to 3rd or 7th level. While it is set in Headless Hydra's Mor Aldenn-setting, it can easily be transferred to just about any city that could house an elite boarding school.

That's about all I can say sans spoilers, so potential players beware and jump to the conclusion.


Still here?


This adventure is INTELLIGENT and detailed: The basic plotline is that one of the instructors of an elite-boarding school for noble children to be trained as fighters wants to stage a hostile take-over of the school. He does that via the help of a sorceress who is in fact, without his knowledge, a hag with her own agenda. Armed with the arcane knowledge, he digs up the remains of the one instructor that died in an accident (which has been hushed over and is more or less forgotten) and forces the spirit to haunt the academy to scare the pupils away, ruin the reputation of the school and open his own school. Note that he is not evil, though, and wishes for no-one to get hurt. The hag (part of a coven) has her own agenda and want to eat the children. The hauntings have already driven away several pupils when the PCs are approached by the headmaster.

After a cool, challenging and detailed investigation, the instructor fakes his death and the PCs hopefully find the missing remains of the instructor before facing a challenge like I've never seen before in an adventure: Going on a field-trip with a bunch of children. That's right, the PCs will have to look after a lot of children, defend them against a hill giant and, of course, thwart the plan of the hags, who will try to lure the children to their doom via illusions.

This is where the adventure COULD take a very dark turn indeed, although the adventure specifically advises against this, I wanted to mention that the imagery of the hag-encounter is worthy of authors like e.g. Richard Pett.

The adventure concludes with the PCs returning to the school and the final confrontation depending on the amount of information they unearthed.

The adventure features the instructors and 19 sample pupils with their own personalities and social dynamics.


I really like good investigation adventures. Unfortunately, they tend to be few and far-between and this adventure is actually a prime example of a GOOD investigation adventure. There are several clues to unearth, more than one path towards victory, massive roleplaying encounters and a fine plethora of personalities. More interestingly, though, is the fact that I haven't ever read an adventure like this. Set in a boarding school, not mean-spirited at all but with this almost dream-like quality to transform into a nightmare. This adventure can be as mature or as funny as you wish and the author Ron Lundeen has done a terrific job of capturing a unique flair that has not been done thousands of times before. I highly recommend this adventure to any DM who wants to master an interesting investigation that he doesn't have to artificially complicate for the players to be a challenge. I recommend this to the hard-core ROLE-players out there. It's a great purchase and my only criticism is with the minor formatting glitches, resulting in a final verdict of 4.5 Rudii. Excellent job!

While we're at it, why not check out intelligent magic items?

30 Intelligent Magic Items

This pdf is 21 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisements, leaving 16 pages for the 30 intelligent magic items, so let's check them out!

The pdf kicks off with an aptly-written IC-introduction , information on intelligent items. The items include stats, senses, paragraphs on appearance, history, personality, powers, construction requirements and where applicable, special purposes and greater powers.

The items are:

- Altairvat, Seeker of the Dark: A crystalball containing the mind of a diviner driven insane by entities from beyond the stars.
- Astijhen: A full-plate mail for horses with some fear and curse-related powers.
- Atham the Blacktongued: Pan pipes that can send people into nightmare-ridden slumbers and speak with the dead.
- Bahijja the Flatterer: Paranoid scrying mirror that encourages owner to hold grudges.
- Bassa of Masad: Heavy shield that can bite and summon nature's ally.
- Gathib's Teeth: Set of hyena teeth to be worn in mouth grants bite attacks.
- Ghorev the Unlooked-For: Shrunken bird's head can change into a crow.
- Ha-Min's Circlet: Charitable headband of intellect.
- Ha-Min's Trinket (Artifact): Take and protect kappakin.
- Jaril-Junaid: Raging duelist's scimitar with a sense of honor.
- Javar Javarah the Comforter: Greatsword with divine abilities.
- Jealous Jaden: Shatterspike weapon that hates other magical weapons.
- Kassantera the Deceiver: Wooden harp with abilities to confuse and deceive others, can even modify memories.
- Karkinos: Sealed Iron barrel is actually a lobster-like plane-travelling apparatus.
- Ma-Oot-Mah-Zoor: Crystal skull mask grants necromantic abilities.
- Marrija: Clone-creating mirror.
- Marav Azab: Ornate, enchanted walking stick with several travelling abilities.
- Nasirdil: Bloodline-associated ring with summon abilities.
- Navishan: Amulet that improves negative energy channeling.
- Nukramajin's Hand: Skeletal hand held together with wires enables you to speak with dead and raise them.
- Parzamon: Cloak that makes user more persuasive and can dimension door wearer away.
- Ranklikor: Full-plate for horses, can cast haste, overland flight and daylight.
- Red Najaddi: Free-spirited flying carpet.
- Sageseeker: Metal headband devoted to destroying abberations.
- Salchuk Carpet: Flying carpet with druid-like minor defense abilities.
- Stormshaper: Forgiving and nice hide armor with cload giant-related abilities.
- Tam: Mummified gnome hand with helping abilities.
- Tannarik: Assassin's crossbow that tries to dispose of tyrants.
- Tchottochtum: Spear of Orcish warlords.
- The Bat Queen's Cloak: A cloak with bat-like powers used to impersonate a witch queen.

Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any typos or glitches. Formatting adheres to the two-column standard. The pdf is full-color and follows the stunning, cool layout you already know from the free Pathways e-zine and thus stunningly beautiful. The items are rock-solid mechanics-wise, but where the pdf truly shines is when it comes to the stories, histories and background information. Their powers are also nice and they have an awesome, kind of exotic feeling somewhat reminiscent of Arabian nights mythologies without necessarily limiting the items to them. More importantly, it is absolutely stunning to see how much information the T.H. Gulliver managed to cram into the scarce few sentences available. The artwork provided for some items is beautiful and nice. For the low price, I'll settle for a hearty recommendation of 5 Rudii.

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

Endzeitgeist out.