New and Exciting #14: Coming Down the Pike

Sensica V
(look for theblood stains)
Hey all!

It's been a busy year, and I've been out of touch for far too long. I'm way overdue for updating y'all, and some interesting projects loom in the future. So without further ado...

What I've Been Up To
Last Adventure
Those of you who follow my work, probably know about the last published adventure, Citadel of Pain. Feedback from fans has been marvelous and Erik the publisher over at Gaming Paper, told me he was happy with sales. So, thank you all!

New Blog Site
I'm writing a novel. There, I said it. I own it, and I've decided to blog it as I learn the form and craft. Putting the decision into action, I built and launched this website: www.bootstrapfiction.com  I cooked down multiple learn-to-write-novels/teach-yourself-to-write from the books on my shelf into one A-Z course, centered around Michael Stackpole's 21 Days to a Novel. Now I'm taking the course I designed as I write my first book. Take a peek and maybe join me for the ride.

What I'm Currently Up To
Sinister Stuff 
I've been in discussions with Nick Logue and took a hard look at some of the work I did for his (now defunct) Sinister Adventures. Two things have come out of that so far: Fire as She Bears and The Known Universe Gazetteer (the KUG).

1. Rite Publishing has agreed to launch a patronage project for Fire as She Bears. For those of you not following the saga, Fire as She Bears was a contest I conceived and launched under the Sinister banner looking for the best rules to handle d20/Pathfinder ship-to-ship combat. I want Age of Sail full broadsides in a Master and Commander mode that fits seamlessly into any d20/Pathfinder game -- and I want every player doing something awesome every turn. No one should ever sit twiddling thumbs while cannons blast and boarding parties rage! I'm very excited about this. My next job is to get Steve the manuscript, and I'm working on converting the draft to a final now. The interested should check back in for more blog posts and updates on the project.

2. Nick turned the entirety of the Known Universe Gazetteer over to me. Lock stock and barrel, including rights to all the art he bought (see example at the top of this post) -- most of it downright awesome -- and I plan to publish the book myself. The KUG is a space setting written for d20 modern. I'm looking into Pathfinder and Traveler conversion -- let me know if there are any other systems that interest you. This book of aliens, monsters, polities, hooks, deadly planets, colorful characters, hooks, and assorted bizarre and macabre space nastiness was written by the Werecabbages, most of them Paizo fan favorites, and I think its pretty awesome. No timetable just yet, but I'm doing it. I'm also talking to my cousin Tiara (Smallville, Leverage) about layout (http://tiararocks.com/); so, we may wind up with some pretty awesome design. Finally, I'm changing the name -- suggestions welcome -- as "the Known Universe" is a working title with no connection to other intellectual properties of the same name.

Now, here's the bad news: Sinister had no plans to release the product, and I'm not meeting any of Nick's preorder obligations on it. Sorry. I just cannot afford to do so. Nick owed you that money. He still owes you that money.

Here's the good news: I'm not going to make any money off of this. It's a labor of love, driven by loyalty to the authors who worked so hard on it and my craving for creative closure. As a result, I plan to give the PDF for free to anyone who can show they pre-ordered from Nick. After which he still owes you your money. I also plan to offer the print-on-demand version at cost to everyone. I don't want to make a dime for myself, and I'm cool with that. More details as this firms up. Timetables and such when I can commit to them, but not before! :)

What I'm Getting Up To
A New Adventure
A ways back Nick and I wrote an adventure for the Dungeon Magazine. They accepted it and planned to release it, just before our beloved magazine died. It was titled "Scorned" and it saddened me, immensely, that this very fun piece never saw print. It was also the last adventure Nick every worked on for Dungeon. Recently, Nick released all the rights to me. It's been Pathfinderized, and I've turned it over to Greg Vaughan at Frog God Games. Word is he's going to publish it; I'm just not sure when. Keep yer eyes pealed if it interests you, and I'll update you whenever I know more.

A New Piece on Flintlocks
For Sinister Adventures, I wrote a mechanics piece -- intended as a companion to Shackleton's wonderful Art of the Duel -- on flintlocks. It never saw the light of day, but its been Pathfinderized by John Ling, and I found another publisher for it. A great 3PP I respect and admire. Don't want to say who until I hear about a publication date, but it should be coming out for Pathfinder in (hopefully) early-mid 2012. Very happy to see this come to closure as well. Again, as I hear more I'll post here.

That's about all for now. Thanks, dear reader, for hanging in there! More words soon.


EZG goes to Slumbering Tsar- into the Hidden Citadel

Hej everybody,

I'm sure you expected to see the finale of the Road to revolution by now, but I figured that for diversity's sake, I'd make a detour to dread Tsar in this season of cheer and joy to bring the tears back to the faces of your PCs. Thus, without further ado, let's check out

The Hidden Citadel I - At the Feet of Orcus

This pdf is 68 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 62 pages of content, so let's check out the latest installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar saga!

This being the first review of the final section of the Slumbering Tsar-saga, this review not only contains SPOILERS for this particular installment, but for the whole saga. Potential players might want to skip ahead to the conclusion to avoid the massive SPOILERS.

Still here? All right!

The end of the epic exploration of the deadly temple-city of Orcus has the PCs use the legendary statues called disciples to call back Orcus' Hidden Citadel, a statue of the demon-lord of undeath as tall as a mountain and this adventure quite literally takes place at (and in!) the feet of Orcus, as the PCCs journey into the true palace of the dread demon-lord of Undeath. The adventure recaps what has gone before as well as the myth behind the demon lord and comes with adventure hooks for the saga. The pdf also includes an extensive set of rumors regarding the citadel and its factions as well as a recap of the effects on the dread aura of corruption infusing the fortress, the pall of Tsar.

As with many of the Tsar-installments, this one also features a series of ready-to-drop-in encounters that happen when a specific story-goal is reached (which often allude to future installments) - these ones especially emphasize the epic proportions of the saga - from the ultimate fate of a celestial spy, the truth behind the midnight peddler and the possible redemption of an artifact, the themes featured herein are sufficiently epic for the higher levels. In case you wondered, the way to defeat the pall is also included in these pages. However, if you're out there to scavenge these encounters, you should be aware that they are rather high-CR and deadly, in fact harder than this particular installment of ST, as they allude to things that happen over the course of the whole exploration of the Hidden Citadel.

The feet of Orcus can roughly be separated into two areas, the great temple and the Death Chambers. It should also be noted that a one-page table fills us in about the ultimate fate of the 51 knights, most of which have been assimilated into the cult of Orcus and converted into undead (and other!) monstrosities. The temple makes for a challenging environment, even for high-level PCs.

The Death Chambers are deadly. The huge, advanced gibbering mouther (predecessor of the things to come - see one of the creatures from the encounters - Bell, the gibbering lich...) as well as the dread silid goblioids who adhere to the Deathbringer order make for deadly foes - their witch queen being an especially smart foe.
The pdf also has a monster appendix featuring the CR 16 Flayed Angel and the CR 2 Toxic Mudman.
The Deathbringer Cult gets its own special weapon quality and a certain artifact gets a haul-over, as its true power is unleashed. Even better, we get 4 pages of player hand-outs and 4 pages of maps.

 Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. layout adheres to the 2-column, printer-friendly b/w-standard we've come to expect from FGG. The maps are brown/grey and the artworks are neat. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. This is a part of the ST-saga that is rather hard to rate - on the one hand, the adventure is great, the dungeon deadly and the foes iconic. However, while the pdf is good, it also did not have this extreme iconicity I observed with other ST-installments. On the other hand, a lot of disjointed narratives and subplots come together and in rather interesting ways, especially in the metaplot encounters. However, this is also where the format of the serial pdfs somewhat falls short - the mega-dungeon that is the citadel is an organic environment and as such it somewhat suffers from being cut into pieces and, more so than previous ST-installments, this one points towards as of yet unreleased pdfs, which makes running the installment a bit harder. Since the dungeons form itself is very iconic and atmospheric, I'm also not sure whether the adventure would profit from being used to scavenge parts, though the two areas and themes do lend themselves to this endeavor. When all's said and done, this is an awesome installment for everyone following the ST-saga. For everyone else, though, there are better ST-parts out there. Don't let that fool you, though: Greg A. Vaughan delivers and this is once again an excellent pdf - my final verdict will be 4.5 Rudii.

The Hidden Citadel II - Echoes of Despair

This pdf is 50 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving 45 pages for this installment of the epic Slumbering Tsar series.

This being a review of a part of the final section of Slumbering Tsar, this review contains SPOILERS and I'll encourage any potential players to skip to the conclusion. You don't want to spoil this one.

...Still here?

All right!
This installment has the PCs enter the Shanks of Orcus, where Deathhands and overseers, demonic servants and dread creatures await the PCs. Amidst living quarters, demonic kitchens and mega-swarms of all-devouring rats, the PCs will start to encounter... N'gathau! To those of you not familiar with them - think Hellraiser's Cenobites in even more twisted. But not all is dread and despair in this area, as the PCs may actually find and rescue and as of yet uncorrupted hound archon of the original army of light within these halls. (Who also makes for a neat replacement character - after all, the huge gelatinous cube may have consumed more than one PC..)

That's not all that can be found, though: We also venture into the Templar's Garrison, where deadly black skeletons remain as guards and dread Wight-lord Vai maintains his strict regiment over his section of the fortress's grounds.

Any religion like Orcus needs a steady supply of slaves and thus, the slave quarters of the fortress are also covered in this installment and offer a chance for the PCs to save a legendary paladin from his predicament. They may also clash with a monitor demon (and his 5 new spells), a dread char-goblin lich aand finally, the creations of the Magitect: A unique transmuter-turned construct who has, among others, created a dragon-like construct called "Caustic Purger", Troll-flesh Golems and similar monstrosities.

We get 4 pages of new monsters, 2 new specific weapons and 1 specific weapon quality, 1 page player handout and 5 pages of maps, one of which is a nice, key-less overview map that you can cut up and hand to your PCs - nice!

Editing and formatting are top-notch, as I've come to expect from Frog God Games. Layout adheres to a classic two-column b/w-standard and the pieces of b/w-artworks are mostly STUNNING. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks to ease navigation.

Surprisingly, the excursion through halls laden with despair provided to be fun and, dare I say it? Amazing. The "Boss"-foes once again are at the top of their respective games and especially the Magitect and his creatures make for challenging, cool foes. the amount of detailed maps also made this installment of ST rather intriguing. More importantly, I think that for people who want to scavenge from the final dungeon of the epic, this installment holds more ready and is not as focused on meta-plot as its predecessor. While it would take some work, I can see the content of this module easily work on its own. Seeing that content-wise there is more desolate, unique imagery than in its predecessor and that I enjoyed this installment, I do have some gripe with it. It is deadly, it is grand - but as of yet, the Citadel of Orcus just doesn't feel as grandiose, as dark, as deadly as the temple-city to me when it should ooze urgency, antiquity and raw evil. While this may yet be remedied in future installments, for now my final verdict will be 4.5 Rudii.

The Hidden Citadel III - The Throne of the Demon Prince

This pdf is 64 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD and 1 page blank, leaving 58 pages of content for the third section of Orcus hidden citadel, so let's check it out, shall we?

This installment of the citadel, as all the others, details a part of the finale of Slumbering Tsar, thus my review will contain massive SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here?
All right!

This installment details the Lap of the gigantic Orcus-statue that makes up the citadel - in concordance with the life-giving associations of the lap, it is here that once the huddled, fearful mortal servitors toiled for their undead and demonic masters.
In the artisan's quarters, the PCs can not only enjoy a decay-riddled vista over Tsar, but here, in a once-posh restaurant, they will find wolf-spiders to fight and even a queen of the magical beasts to kill. If you're like me and your players once stood against Miska and successfully defeated the Wolf-Spider against all odds, any encounter with these magical beasts feels like a blast from the past. From Potters, to chandlers to all the other craftsmen needed in such a huge citadel, the quarter adds a whole new, almost simulationalist perspective to the citadel and makes the dungeon feel more organic, albeit in a decaying, undead, shambling way. Special mention should be given to the Jeweler and moneylender: The first offers a valuable piece of treasure and nice information on the ultimate fate of one of the most elusive rogues in history, while the other is haunted by dread, deadly time flayers. We should also mentioned the aerial cavalry-animals, spider-eaters and their queen - dread hornet-like creatures with the ability to implant their young.

The entertainment district is overrun by megaswarms of dretches and still boosts some of the decadent pleasures once available to Orcus mortal followers - from the arena to the rather lethal sadist's club (led by a succubus dominatrix), the PCs will have plenty of obstacles to overcome. Not the least will be the bathhouse, featuring not only a witch tree of the vilest kind, but also some elite nagas and their mortal servants. And don't forget Lady Slaeth, the Marilith sorceress mistress of the local brothel: She can be considered the "boss" of this area and her entourage. Information on one layer of the Abyss is also provided in this section, as there is a gateway and it's permanent.

Oh, have I mentioned the game of Kerouz, an abyssal kind of dice-game, in which the PCs can participate against a table of deadly, bored players including a rakshasa, imps, an ifrit... you get the idea. And of course, not only is the game deadly, your very soul is at stake when playing...
And never mind the deadly, abyssal minotaur cleric of Baphomet prowling the corridors...
The appendices deal with the new dretch megaswarm (including a new artwork), 4 new magic items (3 of which get awesome b/w artworks), 1 page handout and 4 pages of maps, one of which is an overview of the whole area, sans keys and thus suitable to be printed out, cut into pieces and handed to your PCs while they are exploring. I might be the minority, I'm not sure there,  but I really enjoy these overview-maps.

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the classic b/w-2-column standard by FGG and the b/w-artworks are stunning and mostly (when not taken from the ToH) at the top of the beauty-scale. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks.

This installment is curious in that it delivers some relief from the undead/demon-heavy installments by showcasing some depravities of the mortal and more relatable Orcus-worshippers still seep through the decay of the citadel, the PCs will be challenged by the lethal adversaries herein. Much to my enjoyment, the now derelict stores make the dungeon feel more organic, real and believable - you can almost taste the levels of decadence within these halls. On the other hand, I felt that mood-setting information, visions etc. would have gone along way to make this particular part of the dungeon even more memorable. As for its stand-alone qualities - if you're looking for a kind of abyssal dungeon city of depravity, you might want to check this installment of Slumbering Tsar out. My final verdict for this installment will be 4.5 Rudii due to this nagging feeling that some of the potential of this area remains untapped - in particular, I would have liked to see a demonic drug den, more depraved remains of the practices of the servants of Orcus etc - something to emphasize this area's blending of the urges of Eros and Thanatos in the most depraved ways possible.

All right, that's it for now, folks! Next time I'm going to conclude the Road To Revolution! See you then! And in case I don't get to write before then: Happy holidays!
As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,
Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews The Usurpers

Hej everybody, it's been some time!
Without further ado:

Road to Revolution V - The Usurpers

This adventure is 67 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 60 pages of content, so let's check this out!

This being an adventure-review, this following Review contains SPOILERS. Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right!

With the potential of the prior two adventures ending cataclysmic and the PCs hard-pressed to explain their recurring hand in these conspirations, they are summoned to the castle to attend a meeting of the Blood Senate. Any PCs venturing through the Great City immediately should recognize how grievous the situation is. Arriving at the castle, they will have to contend with a lot of pawns of their mysterious enemy - From one person with a semi-legitimate claim to the throne, a lich, the drunken revolutionaries Hardy Brutes, Ariana Blackwell and just about all movers and shakers of the Great City. Among the people present are corrupt guards, elite assassins, a doppelganger and foes from previous adventures of the Arc - if they survived, that is! The castle is detailed in extensive detail over 5 pages of maps and the e.g. a page of scullery maids and similar NPC-encounters are provided to keep the adventure dynamic.

The opposition of the status-quo wants to spring their claim for the throne and assassinate Lord Erasmus and thus, once the usurpers move, the whole castle erupts in a glorious, messy chaos of shifting allegiances, attacks by Lich Thralls and a complete shut-down - it's up to the PCs to either support the new order, their benefactors from previous books or keep Erasmus alive - each of the movers has his/her/its own agenda and the whole adventure, from the point where the meeting escalates, becomes a sandbox. Generally, the uprising takes place over 3 Phases at the end of which we'll know whether the pawns of the BBeG triumph or not - however the adventure ends, the PCs will have seen the advent of change, as the leaders are occupied in the castle and the BBeG tries to waltz into the city to establish HIS new order, which conveniently diverges from the one of his respective pawns.

Editing and formatting are ok, while I did notice some glitches, there were not too many there and they did not impede my overall enjoyment of the book. Layout adheres to the 2-column b/w-standard and the b/w-artworks rock. The cartography of the castle is awesome as well.

I can only pull my hat off to author Tim Hitchcock for what can only be considered a task most daunting - providing an escalation to the last two adventures as well as a complex, believable scenario for the coup d'état that has been in the making since 4 adventures. Even worse, the sheer amount of variables leading up to this adventure make me wonder how exceedingly difficult it must have been to write this adventure. Being smart, the adventure is written in sandbox-style, guided by 3 general phases and thus making running it as versatile an experience as possible. The detailed plans for the major NPCs and amount to detail provided for the castle makes running the Usurpers manageable. HOWEVER: This adventure is still HARD on the DM - given the scope, this is not surprising, but extensive preparation on parts of the DM is a requirement for running this sandbox, and it still can be daunting and is definitely a challenge to even experienced DMs. It is an immensely  rewarding experience for any DM to run, but also a challenge that separates the wheat from the chaff. A matrix of the respective rooms and phases would go a long way to make this adventure easier to run and also facilitate determining the final outcome of the module - as written, a lot of checking who holds which room etc. might be in order. That being said, this adventure is a one-of-a-kind insurrection, a hard-to-run, extremely complex sandbox with severe repercussions and more outcomes than most campaign finales. For experienced DMs, especially people who have run the several adventures in the Great City or a similar urban environment, this module offers a challenge that should be answered with preparation, skill and patience. The result is an epic adventure. However, novice DMs will be severely pushed to the limits by running the Usurpers. Thus, my final verdict will be two scores: For novice DMs, this module means A LOT of work and 4 Rudii. For experienced DMs, though, this is a 5-Rudii module of the intriguing kind. 

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,
Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews Puncture the Blackened Vein

Hej everybody,
it's been some time and let's just say it wasn't pleasant on my end. To take my mind off things, let's chek out

Puncture the Blackened Vein

This adventure is a whopping 71 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside the front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving 64 pages for the fourth installment of the Road to Revolution campaign arc.

This being an adventure review, the following contains massive SPOILERS.

Potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.
Still here?
Seriously, you don't want to SPOIL this one.

All right! How does one Top the potentially furious finale of a Dock Ward set ablaze? And how does one do it with the blandest (at least in my opinion) ward of the Great City? A Kortezian Clan, Gimbros, sees the Great City as the promised land of their patron deity W'Jur and a female scion of said clan has lately made the acquaintance of Azindralean loyalists and over them, started manipulating a helmate of Adhelmus Oxda called Bizby Eialla, servant to the patron god of the oppressors to take the fall for the things to come...

Be it via the broadsides or one of their various employers from earlier installments of RtR, the PCs are pointed towards Erromin's (also known as The Crusader's Inn, including a detailed map) where the adventure might kick off with a brawl - hopefully the PCs are smart enough to talk the crowd down and gain their trust. After some good brawling and/or investigating, the PCs are pointed towards the Holy Smokes, a hookah-café that doubles as the favorite hangout for the scions of Clan Gimbros, a rather powerful group of adventurers (including a flesh-golem disguised as another one of the crew who is not only smarter and deadlier, but has a literal heart of gold) called Brandy-Foxes. The group of Gimbros is led by Larina Beltimont-Gimbros and after an immaculate conversation of misinformation she send the PCs off to the warehouse where the masques for Adhelmus Oxda's impending, solemn Masque are  kept.
The two-story warehouse gets very detailed maps featuring huge chains to pull up papier-mâché floats and even cut out versions of the chains for use as impromptu, slow, but deadly weapons. Why would the PCs do that? Well, their breaking into the ware-house is a set-up and legendary enforcer of Adhelmus Oxda, Bonnabel Treach attacks with his hypnosimians, mistaking them for accomplices of Bizby. This encounter is simply awesome, evoking not only the feeling of fighting a smart, well-trained troupe of elite-enforcers in a unique location, but also offers cool environmental hazards. If they survive, negotiate, defeat etc. Bonnabel, they'll have some questions and be none the wiser, returning to the Holy Smokes.

Back at the Hookah lounge, they'll have to eventually deal with Reth Grimbos, one of the Brnady Foxes and his animated opium-fumes-spilling Hookahs. Once they defeat him (and find 2 of the copious handouts provided), they'll have to attend the great and solemn masque of Adhelmus Oxda to find Bizby.

In a great piece of meta-humor and twisting of roleplaying clichés, Bizby is clad in a red herring costume and the encounter that has the PCs trying to spot Bizby at the masque is complex cool, and comes with a whole page of complications, culminating in Bizby announcing the advent of Adhelmus Oxda's temple before using a special kind of dust to escape to the sewers, the PCs hot on his trail. Following him through the sewers, the PCs might find the entrance to the legendary Blackened Vein, where the revolutionary, legendary hardy brutes once held their last stand. There, the PCs might find a prominent general's bunker (fully mapped), now inhabited by an underearth man and offering a puzzle-encounter that can be at once considered a nod to e.g. the Fallout series and rather unique in its set-up.

Finally, the PCs reach a (once again, fully mapped)  limestone cavern, where Bizby tried to use a clockwork bomb, just to be interrupted by a dread aberration - whether Bizby is killed or not, has been caught or not - several possible outcomes may come from this. Bizby has the clockwork detonator to the bomb and cripple, the fleshgolem with the heart of gold, stand ready to destroy the pillars of the cavern with brute force, if necessary. Should both fail, the Brandy Foxes launch an all-out assault, making this one of the several possible conclusions of the adventure. But why do they want to blow up the cavern? Blowing it up will kill Bizby, drain the temple ward's Lake Idyll directly into the caverns weeping the PCs along the blackened Vein into a cavern, where the floating, sub-terranean temple of W'Jur while putting the blame on the adherents of Adhelmus Oxda.

After hopefully surviving the flush through the vein and the attacks of the golem, the PCs are flushed into from a waterfall into a huge cavern that is starting to fill with sewage, slowly lifting the temple of W'Jur upwards. The ascent is controlled by 4 huge chains and the PCs, once they have reached the fully-mapped, floating temple will have a climax of the most epic proportions on their hands. Not content with discrediting Adhelmus Oxda, the rising temple features a detonator pole that, during the rise, sets of explosions that will start to annihilate the respective temples of the temple ward, blowing them up from below. The PCs will have to try to save the castrati children choir singing praises to W'Jur while fighting said god's adherents, the Brandy Foxes under the command of Larina and contend with more complications: Bonnabel Treach and his allies attack via hypnosimian-dragged rattan baskets. If that was not enough, a now defunct goddess of slaughter and one of her mad adherents have infiltrated the W'Jur-priests, thus a huge, deadly Zaelamental rises from the sewage and sluge, as the buried power of this goddess is once again unleashed. Have I mentioned the potential for single chains slacking and tilting the temple? If this finale seems awesome, but daunting to run, fret not, for a several pages are provided for you to make running this mega-battle actually EASY and manageable with minimum preparation. I managed to run a flawless finale with just 2 read-throughs of the whole adventure. Depending on the  finale, the temple may rise or not, get jammed in the shaft, the PCs might be wanted fugitives or not and the temple ward might lie in shambles, piety and trust in the gods broken beyond repair. W'Jur may have ascended to the rank of a greater deity due to being the one to emerge from the destruction and lastly, the mistress of slaughter might be on the rise again...
The pdf closes with new stats for monsters, to be more precise, the Hypnosimians (CR 2), the Underearth Man (CR 10) and the Zaelamental (CR 13).

Editing and formatting are very good, while there are some glitches, they didn't not impede my ability to run the adventure and stay out of the crunch-information. Layout adheres to the classic b/w-two-column standard and the original pieces of B/w-artworks rock. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks and the handouts are available in b/w and full color and amount to a whopping 7 pages. The cartography, as we've come to expect from 0onegames, is top-notch. Let me come out and say it: As far as investigations go, this adventure is simple, especially when compared with other installments of the Road to Revolution. However, that's the point! This whole adventure is a tour-de-force, a rollercoaster-ride of awesome encounters brimming with iconicity and excitement, offering a neck-breaking pace of extremely smart battles, environments and ideas. The plot to be uncovered is complex and megalomaniacal, but its execution is smart and makes it potentially work.
The opposition is no bunch of cackling fools and makes use of their powerful spells and abilities in the smartest way conceivable. While the basic narrative structure of the adventure remains linear, its plethora of fail-safes by the foes, alternate strategies and wide array of potential climaxes and aftermaths ensure that the DM does not have to railroad his players. Then there's the finale. I've rarely, if ever, read or DMed such an AWESOME climax. Epic in location, fighting, strategies, the finale puts almost all movies I've seen to shame. Lou Agresta and Rone Barton have created an adventure that is distinctly different from their last contribution to the Road to Revolution arc and while I adore the former, this adventure is completely different in tone, pacing and design, being very easily transplanted to any other big city with ethnic tensions and some temples. The stellar quality of the Road to Revolution arc manages to keep its lofty perch, resulting in another adventure that would deserve 6 Rudii, could I rate it that high. My final verdict thus will be 5 Rudii and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.

All right, that's it for now, see you next time and hopefully sooner!

As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,
Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews Tides of Blood

Hej everybody,

last time I announced I'd be back to the Great City and back I am - this time, to stay for a bit!

Without further ado:

Tides of Blood

The third part of 0onegames' Road to Revolution campaign Arc is 43 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 36 pages of content for the third part of the campaign arc.

This part of the campaign arc takes place in the Great City's dock ward and takes a detour from the open, (and inc ase of part 2, rather horror-themed) investigation of part I and II to take us on a rather furious ride while taking into account the different possible endings of part 2 of the arc.

That's about all I can say without going into details, so from here on, the SPOILERS (also for Part 2!!) reign - potential players please jump to the conclusion.
Still here?

Ok, so this adventure has a hard challenge ahead of itself, seeing that the PCs could have either destroyed or even forged an alliance with the dreadmanse from Part 2, implying two vastly different starting requirements and agendas. Surprisingly, the adventure manages to provide for both alternatives without resorting to reprinting information/wasting space on alternative plots. The adventure kicks off as many others have over the time, by an assassination attempt on the PCs, only that this set-up is smarter than usual and the mastermind behind it has taken the opportunity of failure into account, luring the PCs after the attempt into a desperate fight in a ware-house, from which they are hopefully saved by a street urchin in service to the baroness, a legendary, corpulent madwoman who, after a tragic life indeed, has taken to raising street urchins and teaching them the arts of thievery.

Unbeknownst to the PCs, her erstwhile lover, Blood Senator Vulgrax, is also one of the major players behind the recent upheavals in the city. Note that possibly the senator might be their employer instead, depending on the outcome of part 2. The baroness, however, wants this man destroyed for breaking off their betrothal and beating her to miscarriage for her affair with an unknown soldier, initiating her descent into desolate madness. The PCs are now to invite said senator to a dinner or otherwise distract him so her children can steal the senator's ledgers. However, not all is rosy with the madwoman either and she proceeds to send the PCs after Gulga Feck, dread necromancer and kidnapper, who has allegedly abducted the child with the ledger. Never mind that the baroness has seen to it that Gulga gets his hands on the ledger in order to get rid of him once and for all.

After the PCs deal with the sick necromancer, they finally reclaim the ledgers and get a hot lead: Wiggan the Bold seems to have an insidious plan that will bring the two plot-lines back together again: The man has operated a salvage-operation via some degenerate Fish-people (the Siluri) and an assault on his ware-house will give the PCs a hard time - after all, Wiggan knows full well how to escape through the sewers and a lot of deadly foes await the PCs desperately chasing the escaping conspirator - from degenerate Roachkin  to a Chuul and aforementioned Siluri, they'll be hard-pressed to catch Wiggan. Even worse, when they finally dealt with him, the plan he hatched demands immediate attention: A ship, chock-full with explosives under the magical command of the Siluri is heading for a warehouse of Vulgrax which is conveniently stuffed with alchemical fire, resulting in two possible finales, one of which is the blaze that threatens to engulf the dock ward and the other has the PCs trying to board and stop the ship.

The adventure concludes with a 5-level PrC class of the sewer runner, fluff information on the roachkin and the stats for the new fish-men, the siluri.

Editing is good, though not perfect - I encountered some typos that could have been taken care of with another pass at editing. Formatting is top-notch and layout adheres to the b/w-two-column standard that is both printer-friendly and elegant. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. The artworks are b/w and generally of good to very good quality. Special mention should be given to the cartography, as each location has its own artwork and if you own the great city blueprints, you get even more out of e.g. the dinner-scene.
The adventure feels quite different from its predecessors, which is not a bad thing per se - though I enjoyed them immensely, the action-laden romp we have here is a fine example of good adventure design, managing to provide for 2 different storylines in one adventure and offering a furious finale in which something truly is at stake.

While this makes for a satisfying and nice adventure, it also means that this installment of RtR is more linear than the predecessors and slightly less brainy, i.e. more on the brawn-side than the prequels. The plot also hinges on PCs trusting dubious NPCs or at least helping them, which may pose problems for some groups. In the end, though, this is still an excellent adventure, though not one that can stand up to the astronomic quality of "the Bloody Fix", as it lacks the sheer density of awesome ideas - while there are some (baroness!), the adventure felt just like a "very good" adventure. Be aware that I'm nagging at a very high level and that this is still worth the asking price. However, due to the lack of handouts (which accompany all the other RtRs) and the minor editing glitches, I can't find it in me to give this one the full 5 stars, my final verdict will thus be 4.5 Rudii.

All right, next time I'm going to revisit one of the reviews that still used my old alias, CountCain - namely the 4th part of the Road to Revolution and re-examine the venture to the temple ward.

Until next time, thank you for reading my ramblings,
Endzeitgeist out.


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.