EZG reviews the Construct Codex


Hej everybody,

today I'm going to check out the final AP-plug-in for the Carrion Crown AP, the

Construct Codex

This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/how-to-use, 1 page contributor bios, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 21 pages of content so let's check this out!

The Construct Codex finds me with a weeping eye, as it constitutes, at least for now, Legendary Games' last AP-plug-in for the gothic horror AP Carrion Crown, this time in the form of a mini-bestiary focused exclusively on constructs and thus it is only to be expected that the pdf kicks off with an introduction to the role of constructs in gothic horror settings and the carrion crown AP in particular. We also get two optional rules to better represent the creation of constructs, with the first requires research to create a particular construct, thus introducing the necessity for research in contrast to just taking a feat. Nice! The second optional rule introduced centers on uncreated constructs, i.e. constructs animated by the forces-that-be, the mists, malignant entities etc. and rules repercussions that may see them damaged by positive energy. To help the DM integrate the new beasties into the AP, suggestions for which locales would be appropriate for the constructs are also included before we delve into the creatures per se, with the first being:

The Bloodthirsty Manikin at CR 2 - which is frightsome indeed: Remember the carrionettes from Ravenloft? Well, these tiny dolls are their much more deadly brethren, coming with a death attack (!!!), a deceptive appearance and the option to reassemble themselves - awesome, albeit rather deadly! It should be noted that all constructs herein come with information on how to create them as well as full-color artworks, some even on their own pages, thus allowing you to print out the artworks and hand them out to your players as hand-outs - awesome!

The second creature herein also comes with 3 signature abilities: Crowflight Carriages (CR 9), ghost carriages driven by a spectral drover including doom-inflicting whiplashes, the option to transport people (or....things) and a team of spectral horses. If that doesn't strike you as iconic, I don't know what will. The CR 14 Dirge Organ is essentially an immobile organ that can project an incorporeal avatar as well as play two special bardic performances as well as the option to mislead those ensnared by the haunting tunes it plays. There also are two variants of gothic gargoyles (CR 3 and 5), variant gargoyles that gain the option to crush down on foes and gradually petrify them with their attacks. Honestly, these gothic gargoyles are the superior monsters when compared to the standard stony warden-creatures, but still are essentially a variant that is not as stellar as the other creatures herein.

What immediately sets the record straight again is the shambling, deadly CR 10 Living Crematory! Yes! A cinder-cloud spewing crematory that ropes you into its combustion chamber via chains! YES! Words fail to describe how much I love this creature! In another blast from the past, we get stained glass golems, something I haven't seen since the Ravenloft-days of AD&D, both as CR 3 and 7-versions and yeah, they come with trademark dazzling light, are almost 2d and can embed themselves in  the window, while damaging foes that strike them via their shards. Smart, cool and full of iconic signature abilities - nothing to complain about...apart from the fact that I would have loved a high-level version with prismatic abilities, but maybe that's just the sadist in me that enjoys hunting low-to-mid-level PCs with creatures far beyond their capabilities to defeat with mundane means.

The final 3 creatures in this tome are morgechs, cruel cyborg-amalgams of biological and mechanical elements that get their own subtype-abilities, being slightly more vulnerable than regular constructs, but also faster and come with jagged spikes and blades that make melee against them a painful experience. Humanoid Morgech Executors (CR 9) can throw bombs and come with extensive embedded weaponry and massive notes on the gruesome process of creating these beings. There also are CR Ravagers, based on deadly wolves and the final being would then be the CR 17 Griever, a truly deadly engine of destruction - 4-armed, expert swordsmen with supernaturally sharpened blades as well as a vastly enhances deflective capabilities.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to the landscape-format and a two-column standard, at least in my version of the pdf. There now is also a portrait-version, If you prefer that one. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with a background-less version that is slightly more printer-friendly. As with all offerings by Legendary Games, this pdf's layout is in full-color and stunning, gorgeous, drop-dead beautiful to behold. And the artworks. Oh boy, the artworks. Colby Stevenson and Jason Juta have created pieces herein that are gorgeous, could feature in an official Paizo-product and in fact may even surpass several artworks from APs. The artworks are all so iconic, cool and evocative that they make you immediately want to use these things.

Better yet, the crunch of all the creatures herein is up to the very highest demands - each creature herein comes with multiple, deadly, evocative, cool abilities and honestly, it is very rare I can voice no gripes. None. I have nothing to complain. Not even about the Gargoyle-variants. This pdf sets the bar higher for the whole class of monster-pdfs. Presentation, fluff, crunch - everything herein is TripleA+ in execution, presentation and quality. This is the best 3pp-monster-pdf in the small files-category released for PFRPG so far and redefines what one can expect from the whole genre of monster-books by 3pps. I am not only bereft of any points of criticism, even arbitrarily nitpicking at the page-count or something like that is simply not an option here. I can't for the love of my life find anything about this book that would deserve anything but glowing praise. This is one of the rare pdfs that I'd rate 6 stars, if I could. I can't, though and thus my final verdict will be 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval: Even if you don't run Carrion Crown - get this. It's so rare I get blown away by any release anymore and this pdf really did it - so: Buy it and let's hope for a sequel.

As always, thanks for reading my ramblings!
Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews the Shadowsfall - Shadow Plane Player's Companion

Hej everybody!

You all know I'm all about dark settings and desolate landscapes and today, I'll take a look at the

Shadowsfall - Shadow Plane Player's Companion

This pdf is 34 pages long,  1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let's check this out!

After a nice parchment-like page of fluff, we are introduced to the plane of shadow, respectively its characteristics. After a short description of the planar qualities of the shadow plane, we delve right into the section on playable races. Not only the standard races, but also the drow and duergar, dhampirs, fetchlings, hobgoblins, orcs, ratfolk, tiefling and wayang are covered - all with a new racial trait to reflect the hardening effects of the plane of shadows. There also are two alternate racial traits, one granting halflings darkvision and one granting wayang negative energy affinity and after that, we get even more racial options with new races, first of which would be the umbral kobolds:
Umbral Kobolds get -2 to Str, +2 to Dex and Int, darkvision, +1 natural AC, +2 to Perception, Profession (Miner) and Craft (Trapmaking) with the latter and stealth always being class-skills, are light sensitive and small. The second new race are wanderers, mortals spawned from angels who abandoned their duties to become mortals looking slightly like humans, but being shrouded by an intangible aura of loss and sadness. They get +2  to Con and Int, -2 to Cha, darkvision, are ageless, treat any weapon as good-aligned, get resistance 5 against acid, electricity and cold as well as a +2 bonus to saves against emotion effects they can also extend to allies within 10 ft. The two new races rock hard, can be considered iconic and balanced and are neat, but unfortuantely lack age, height and weight tables, which is a major bummer in my book.

The second chapter talks about the respective classes and their roles in the eternal twilight of the shadow plane. We also get new archetypes, starting with the Dusk Stalker. Presentation-wise, the Player's Guide does something awesome here: Each entry features a short list of associated class, races (i.e. these are exclusive to the respective races), modified abilities and skills before going into the rather major modifications of the base-abilities of the respective classes.  The Dusk Stalker is a variant of the magus that gains stealth-based abilities like silent spells, the option to use arcane feints, can expend arcane pool points to potentially silence foes and also get sneak attack. Neat! The radiant knight, especially suitable for wanderers: These fighters may harness their lost angelic heritage, gaining a vestige of divinity. This vestige can be used in a neat variety of ways and a dazzling burst of holy glory, ignore miss chances and aid allies with a bonus to AC and against fear. Also, the radiant knight's light is not dimmed by the darkness of the plane. We also get new class abilities: Cavaliers now can join the order of the blackened heart, an order seeking to cut away any weakness and inflict pain to purge weakness from the cavalier. Interesting, especially since the order is not necessarily exclusive open to evil members, allowing you to play a flagellant-style fanatic just as well as a kyton-worshipper. Sorcerors of the draconic bloodline may now benefit from umbral and quake dragon breath weapons, while summoners get 2 new 4-point evolutions, allowing their eidolon to create deep shadows that block even darkvision or add a touch that deals str-damage that can be used a limited amount of times per day. Witches gain the new blinding light hey, inverting the usual dark connotations of the class, while wizards now can also take the shadow elemental wizard school.

Speaking of arcanists: There are 4 new familiars (rabbit, opossum, pale fox and shadow terrier) as well as 8 new improved familiar option (but sans stats) that actually include the flumph! Neat! Neater, though, are the new 4 animal companion  stats included: From a giant nightcrawler to an umbral vulture, we also get 2 stellar ones: Riding Dodos and shade ferrets (which can stand on their hind legs). Awesome!

Now Shadowsfall is anything but a safe haven, yet the  intelligent races still prosper in their enclaves - thus, like points of civilization in the dark lands, we get not only a nice, one-page spanning b/w-map, but also 8 regional entries on the grand city states and boy: From the bullwark against the ever-present undead, Bastion, to the arcanocracy of Gear's Gate to the Kyton-stronghold of Bloodchain, the golem-patrolled Kingsgrave that provides shelter for those who manage to evade the constructed guards to even the outlands between the city, we get a nice overview-primer of Shadowsfall. Between 2 and 3 regional traits are provided for each area to customize your characters with backgrounds tied to the setting. Better yet, the traits actually are interesting, providing a minor edge against negative energy or even a DR against non-lethal damage. Nice!

We also get a selection of 13 new feats that allow you t enhance the undead your create, granting you better servants, increase your caster level checks when casting darkness and shadow-spells, a teamwork feat to channel cooperatively, increased accuracy with shadow walk, improved guerilla-sniping, improved dirty tricks etc. The truly interesting feats herein, though, would, at least in my opinion, be the feat-tree for shadow style that increases the movement of the user as well as adding your wis-bonus to fly and stealth. The subsequent feats of the tree allow you to ignore up to your wis-bonus of armor and shield bonuses or use a standard action to deal str-damage to opponents, thankfully with a respective scaling save to prevent attribute damage. Nice, well-designed, no balance-concerns. The final feat I really consider interesting is the Blind Targeted Spell metamagic-feat. You can hit foes with your spells even if you don't have line of effect anymore, as long as the target is still in your spell's range and has been in your line of effect no longer than int-bonus before you cast the spell. At +1 spell-level and the restriction of not allowing the feat to work with touch attack-spells to give away enemy locations, I can only consider this feat to be an excellent piece of design I'll continue to playtest in my home-game - from my vantage point, it looks like a rather cool option and actually one of the rare metamagic feats that doesn't suck.

Of course, adventurers in the Shadow Plane also have their unique, distinct tools of the trade and thus the item section comes with a wartrident as wella s some interesting alchemical items: Cover your undead minions in deathburn to convey the damage of their natural attacks to acid or throw the vials at your foes or pepper your foes with glass orbs filled with holy water. Now, if you cover your body with a paste that contains Kyton-blood, you may convey 1 point of damage per attack to non-lethal damage (can we have more of those?) and another salve allows you to better resist the cold of the plane. Speaking of cold-resistance: Feyschroons (not sure whether that should read "-shrooms") also protect you against cold ina  limited manner, but are an addictive, two-edged sword. I'd love to see more drugs in PFRPG and I'm glad the item was included in the section. And now, oh boy, did I grin from ear to ear when I read about the two new vehicles included herein: Reapers, vehicles designed to mow down legions of zombies, propelled by muscle-force would be the first, while the Scout Guardians of Gear Gate's arcanocracy would be the second: Propelled by an eldritch receiver within a certain area (and beyond, at lesser capacity with an alchemical battery), these vehicles are one-man arcane walkers with a ballista strapped to the side. These vehicles are PLAIN FRICKIN' AWESOME! Seriously, can you see Pcs escaping through the woods, running from the city's elite and their walkers, hoping to outrun the arcane warmachines? I can and boy - excellent!
A total of 14 short, primer-entries of the gods of Shadowsfall introduce us to the umbral pantheon (including domains and subdomains) of Shadowsfall as well as new philosophy to adhere to. Speaking of subdomains: We get a new shadow subdomain (though we already have a couple of these, this one is rather neat) and the kyton subdomain as well. The old Ravenloft-truism that the darkest worlds are most in need of heroes holds true in Shadowsfall as well and the joy-mystery for the oracle makes you a beacon of hope and light in this dark lands, including the ability to inflict foes with crippling sorrow and gaining access to limited bardic performances as well as gaining enhanced euphoria-induced healing and the ability to make instant friends. Awesome mystery!

There also are 6 new spells included in the guide, which let you create black, clinging snow, get a miss chance  via blinding shadows, grant darkvision to multiple allies, a greater version of disrupt undead, a lesser invisibility effect and a shadow-based enhancement to speed. Finally, we come to the topic of magic items: 6 new ones are included, including a rope that rings its funeral bell when crossed by an undead, a cloak that enhances stealth vs. undead foes, a cowl to better intimidate undead, a kyton's slaver whip and a salve that grants darkvision. Cloaks of darkness in shadowsfall work differently, merging you with the plane and making you invisible to darkvision, but not to regular sight - interesting indeed! Speaking of "working differently" - the final two pages of the pdf are devoted to a selection of 11 magic items that work differently on the plane of shadows, having been changed by the latent energies that suffuse the plane. Rapiers of blood drinking allow the wielder to make a touch attack to drain con from foes, but suffer half the drain themselves. Belts of mighty constitution +4 may now also impart a -2 penalty to Str and result in physical deformities, while necklaces of fireballs can end up as necklaces of exploding beads that immediately go off when removed from the string, necessitating the wielder taking the damage him/herself. I wish this section was longer, I really do - the idea of tainted items and inherent drawbacks as well as their design is excellent.

Editing and formatting can still be considered very good, though not perfect: While I did notice some minor glitches, they did not impede my understanding of the content herein and were few enough and far between. Layout adheres to a parchment-style look, 2-column standard and comes with a plethora of neat b/w-artworks as well as a neat piece of cartography. The wanderer-race and one of the AWESOME new vehicles even get their own neat full-color artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked with extensive nested bookmarks, comes with a plethora of hyperlinks to d20pfsrd (which are not highlighted in the text) and  comes with an alternate printer-friendly version that omits the parchment-background. Neat! Hero Lab users should also know that the pdf comes with herolab-files as an additional comfort!

This player's guide is a comprehensive, smart and well-written introduction to the plane of shadows that will whet your taste for the darkness of Shadowsfall. From nice racial options (with full ARG-support, if you like that book) to expertly-written, evocative primers on locales, this book has more to offer than the usual player's guides - While not all feats or spells are drop-dead-brilliant, there is at least one piece of crunch, more often than not multiple ones in each chapter that I'd not only consider innovative, but rather cool or even downright genius. My personal highlights of the book, though, would be the items and cities: Where the cities and areas drip with flavor and coolness and make you want to explore them, the items not only display a grasp of balance, but provide ample rules-representations for the taint of the plane and the resulting double-edged nature of magic items, a trope near and dear to my heart. Add to that the new vehicles and I'm all gushy about this product! After reading the entry on the walkers (which remain deeply entrenched in fantasy and don't become scifi-ish) and reapers, I so hope we'll see more vehicles and perhaps even vehicular combat supplements (adventures, all-out warfare anybody?) for the setting in future supplements.
This pdf would be a prime candidate for the full 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval, were it not for one crucial oversight: Neither the umbral kobolds, nor the wanderers get an age, height and weight table and while one could just orient one at the human or kobold entries, I still feel that by making umbral kobolds e.g. especially light or wanderers significantly heavier than humans (weight of sin, anyone?), the two races could have been further improved. This remains my only gripe in an otherwise excellent offering, though, and thus my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 Rudii. This is not only a great purchase if you're into the plane of shadows, but e.g. also to scavenge ideas for Carrion Crown APs or any rather dark setting really.

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings and if you feel like buying something from OBs, please lcik on the banner or use my link- it doesn't cost you anything and if I get some minor affiliate credit, I can use that to get more pdfs to review. :)

Endzeitgeist out.


(End)ZEITGEIST reviews Part II


Hej everyone and welcome back to my series of reviews that takes a look at En Publishing's Steampunk-AP Zeitgeist: The Gears of Revolution. Last time, I checked the free player's and GM's guides and today, I'll take a look at the free introductory module to the AP!

Zeitgeist I - The Island at the Axis of the World

This adventure-module for the Zeitgeist-AP is 59 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 54 pages of content, so let's check this out!

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

All right, still here? Then onwards! Because of the espionage/conspiracy-theme of the AP, a roster of NPC-handouts is provided for the DM to keep track of the movers and shakers, but more on that later - The PCs, agents of the RHC (Royal Homeland Constabulary), have prepared for weeks for an interesting event - the Coaltongue, Risur's first steam-powered ship is off to its maiden voyage and the king will attend - thus, their first task will be to check upon the crowd (potentially helped by a portentous dream) for potential troublemakers. Creating threat profiles, recruiting cops to fleece the crowd and dealing with the troublemakers makes for a rather cool and unconventional first encounter, based massively on skills and roleplaying - awesome! Even better, the AP addresses a pet-peeve of mine - since the PCs are good guys working for law and order, their training involves not killing their adversaries, making subdual damage a central mechanic and the PCs able to deal it. While a brawl is possible, a non-violent solution is preferable. And better yet - a duality between dockworkers and policemen is already introduced, delivering the first array of consequences for their actions.

And the PCs do get a prompt reward - after being introduced to Principal Minister Harkover Lee, bodyguard to the king, they are bidden abroad the coaltongue to first socialize and keep an eye on potential threats (and there are a lot of interesting characters and even philosophical debates going on) before the king gets on board. After socializing and meeting with some rather cool characters and movers-and-shakers of the nation, the PCs will be warned that a certain individual has not yet shown up - and the chase in on, for the person is gone and a certain handmaiden is up to no good, trying to sabotage the boiler of the ship! Worse, with the firedust and the rather complex mechanism, a simple disable device-check will not be enough - instead, creative thinking, fast actions etc. will be required to contain what could turn out to be a catastrophic chain reaction of explosions that slays the king and everyone on board. Hopefully, the PCs are up to the task!

Unfortunately, though, the mastermind behind the assassination is by this time already gone with the winds and until the minister of outsiders, Lya Jierre challenges the PCs with a puzzle one week later, they have to bide their time and wait for civil war. Thankfully, the minister is here to bend the rules - to prevent a war, she orders the PCs to accompany the RNS Impossible to an attack on the Axis Island, where the duchess responsible for the sabotage is hiding. The army's infiltrators will go first and if anything goes awry, it's the PCs turn. The operation has to be done in less than 3 days to ensure no political ramifications and Lya also wants the PCs to rescue a relative of hers. Guess what? Bingo, they botch the job. Well, at least the PCs get supplied with mission critical equipment by the RHC. Entering the island via a sea-cave and finding some perplexing relics, the PCs make their way past half-mad survivors to the fortress of Axis Island - and its sea-gate, which the PCs should open if they want to have any chance to retake the island. After an infiltration of the lighthouse (and the potential to botch royally), the stakes are up, though, and the PCs will be sorely challenged by a hold-the-line type scenario, where the PCs have to keep enemy forces from entering the lighthouse and can use a staggering variety of skills and methods to keep the enemy forces at bay.

After this section of the invasion, PCs will witness the legendary elf-warrior Arabey emerge as a stowaway from one of their ships, cutting a swathe through both their men and the duchess' guards - and after a prison interrogation, the PCs have a chance to follow the legendary warrior into a strange phenomenon of reality-ripping into a fey-inhabited, slightly burning hedge-maze before they can enter the central tower - where they can hear the duchess, Arabey and Nathan Jierre discussing the weird political situation and the enigmas brewing - and have a chance to take the legendary elven one-man dreadnought down: Though he is level 15, he is down to 1 Hp and a lucky PC may actually take him down and capture him. Anyways, the PCs have hopefully averted open war between the nations of Danor and Risur and realized that the elven Unseen Court also has stakes in this grand game, which will be continued in #2.

The pdf also provides a quick reference-list of NPCs, 1 page of dramatis personae (including mug-shots),2 handouts for the assault the lighthouse-section of the module, a full-page map of Flint and 8 pages of player-friendly maps, with only two of them sporting keys and numbers that may give away locations - since, however, both are of overland locations and don't contain spoilers, I won't rate this down.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful full-color standard and as per the free guides, the pieces of artwork featured herein are mostly stunning and mind-boggling. The cartography is just as impressive and also in full-color and the amount of maps provided is stellar indeed.  The pdf, gorgeous to look upon as it is, will, just like the guides put a brutal drain on your ink reserves - unless you make use of the layers of the pdf, which let you customize the adventure to set how much you're willing to spend ink-wise. The pdf comes fully and extensively bookmarked.

Wow. Honestly, I knew that the crew of ENpublishing is good - I do own the War of the Burning Sky. This one mops the floor with just about every installment of aforementioned AP - the encounters are diverse, challenging, focused on intelligent roleplaying, provide action galore and add a sense of identity and "being different" to the AP that is a joy to behold. Zeitgeist is different from other APs and it is proudly, boldly even so judging from this module. Better yet - this first module is free to get you hooked and it does a stellar job of doing so. This is by far the best free module I've read for PFRPG - with top-notch production values and enough ideas to fill multiple modules. While the lack of a printer-friendly version is a pity, the layers do their job and this module still remains a truly excellent adventure and thus my final verdict will be 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.