EZG reviews Knot of Thorns

Hej everybody,

today I'm going to take a closer look at one particular pdf that upped the ante quality-wise of what to expect from 3pp adventures: Fire Mountain Games'

Way of the Wicked Book I - Knot of Thorns

This pdf is 100 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 95 pages of content, so let's check out Fire Mountain Games' AP!

The nation of Talingarde is a shining beacon of goodness on a hill, a bastion of faith to the Mitran faith and an example of purity and goodness. Evil has been conquered and mostly rooted out in this land, the goblinoids driven beyond the grand wall - and righteous, lawful Talingarde will burn! For in this AP, the players are the villains!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. Seriously, you don't want to spoil this one!

Still here? After generating villains (sample violations of laws/reasons have been included), the action kicks in with the Pcs being brought to Branderscar Prison - to hang or face whatever sentence (most likely death or a life of forced labor) will await them. Unfortunately for the nation of do-gooders, complacency and incompetence have taken a hold of the nations once most tightly-run prison and so a mysterious, beautiful woman charms her way in, delivers a veil and exits - the veil containing a variety of tools the Pcs can use for the task she set them - escape from the prison and rendez-vous with a mysterious benefactor. The escape from prison being their first task, the PCs will have quite an interesting time - acquiring a spellbook and freeing an intelligent ogre from confinement and multiple ways to sneak past guards/overwhelm them included.

After a trek through a dangerous marsh, the mysterious benefactor awaits the PCs in his mansion - Adrastus Thorn, chosen of Asmodeus is on an (un-)holy crusade and has woven a dread web of plans and intrigues to bring the nation to its heels. While he has his own reasons to do so, he offers the PCs a chance for revenge - all they have to do is prove their worth in his own training ground (including hellish wisdoms in every room of the mini-dungeon) and sign a contract in blood. It is also this contract that will counteract the problem of evil campaigns in which PCs in the end try to kill one another. Furthermore, potential rivals of the PCs will be foreshadowed here.

Adrastus' first task is to accompany a weapon's smuggler behind the grand wall to deliver weapons to a horde of goblinoids under the command of an Asmodeus-sworn bugbear champion - and then tie up the loose end, the smuggler. The trip proves to be dangerous, patrols scouring the waters and barbarians offering trade. The goblinoid horde awaiting them proves to be dangerous as well and a demonstration of strength might be in order. Once the deal is completed, the bugbear-chieftain turns out to be another of Adrastus' agents and tasks the PCs with a seemingly impossible task - bring down Balentyne, fortress at the wall, the gate to Talingarde and open the fortress to the horde. This opens the final part of the adventure, a sandbox-style section where the PCs have a vast variety of options to use social entanglements, cunning, poison, infiltration, dark magics and overall smart strategies to decimate the people stationed in the fortress. Which is challenging - the fortress is well-guarded, frontal attacks/lack of subtlety is not an option, the enemies are smart, numerous, superior to the PCs and the section is incredibly detailed - reactions to the wide variety of options presented are given and there are a lot of options open for the PCs to follow - from using a tryst to their advantage, killing and impersonating actors, poisoning food etc., all kinds of dastardly activities are included in the options and a constant and steep count for victory points makes sure that the PCs won't have an easy time opening the bastion for the goblinoid horde. Their level of success will have repercussions in future adventures and the attention to stunning detail, from Branderscar to the end, makes sure that awareness, being smart etc. are rewarded.

The pdf also includes a gazetteer of Talingarde, advice for the DM on how to run a villainous campaign, help for the players to generate villains and a plot-synopsis of the whole AP.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Not one. Excellent job! Layout adheres to an easy-to-read, full-color two-column standard and is STUNNING. Beautiful. Awesome. The artwork (and there's a lot of it) is also full-color and features portraits of all major players in the adventure as well as e.g. a certain magical item in the beginning. And they are Paizo-level. I mean it. These pieces of artwork are STELLAR. The pdf comes with full bookmarks and a printer-friendly alternate version. The maps are full color as well and just as stunning - from the maps of Talingarde to the location maps, the only gripe I can muster is that we don't get extra player's maps sans keys that DMs could print out, cut up and hand to them as they explore. Content-wise the adventure is a great mix of railroady sections and the coolest sandboxy infiltration I've read in quite a while. In fact, the overall writing is stellar and up to the highest standards you could want. The finale is epic, smart, cool and offers so many ways to achieve victory it's almost frightening - without being easy, mind you! Fire Mountain Games have come from the nowhere, put out this little pdf and blown me out of the water - neither content, nor production values or bang-to-buck-ratio leave anything to be desired from this stellar, brilliant opening of their villainous AP. The novelty of an evil campaign and its challenges are addressed and solved admirably, the scenes feel new and give credence to the overall conspiracy and just about every aspect of this book can be considered a PEAK PERFORMANCE.

Oh yeah, this is the work of 2 people. Author Gary McBride and artist Michael Clarke have, with this opening, definitely upped the ante of the quality one can expect from 3pps, rivaling Paizo's APs in style, artwork and writing. I have nothing to complain. Nothing. I'm VERY impressed and, would it be possible, I'd rate this 6 stars. Seriously. If playing evil only remotely intrigued you, if you ever wondered how nations like Cheliax came to be or how grand nations came down - stop wondering. Do it yourself. For once not save them, but condemn them to hellfire! My final verdict will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.

All right, that's it for now, as always: Thanks for reading my ramblings!

Endzeitgeist out. 


Fire as She Bears: Latest and Greatest

Hey all, just a quick update on the FaSB progress. The Second Draft is done. This is an early but important milestone. All the notes, straggling material, stuff without a home, development comments and requirements, last minute changes etc. are in one document, organized and labeled.

The earliest stages are always the most time consuming, but to give an idea of the how I see the stages of development for this manuscript

1. Manuscripts turned in
2. Lead designer selected and design brief communicated
3. First draft
- lead designer synthesizes multiple manuscripts
- lead designer adds material
- lead designer bounces first draft back and forth with developer
4. Second draft
- developer reorganizes and reshapes first draft
- developer ties up all extraneous concepts, makes decisions, cuts and snips
5. Third draft
- developer fleshes out text
- editor polishes text to playtest level
6. Playtesting
7. Fourth draft
- developer revises manuscript based on playtest results
- art orders written and submitted
- editor polishes text for proofreaders
- proofreaders proof text, editor applies changes
8. Gold Draft goes to Layout
9. Manuscript ready for sale

Technically art orders get generated and submitted throughout the multiple drafts as the inclusion of various pieces become certain beyond the possibility of later revision. The cover, too, can start much earlier (and should).

That said, the TOC is starting to shape up as is the length. The current length is 25k words. It certainly won't remain this way, but here's how its starting to look:
Introduction: Battle on the High Seas
     Why This Book?
     Principles and Limits of Play
     Die Notation
     Example of Play
Building a Ship
     1—Select and Place Locations
     2—Determine Base Ability Scores
     4—Recruiting Crew
     5—Calculate Ship Attributes
Additional Rules
Special Attacks

Gamemastering Naval Battle
Colorful NPCs
Magic Items
Optional Rules

Appendix I – Player Reference Sheet
Appendix II – Ship Record Sheet
Appendix III – Sample Ships
Appendix IV – Ship Names

More updates as the manuscript progresses. Game on!


EZG reviews The Investigator and 101 Hazards and Disasters

Hej everybody,

today I've got something short and sweet, Super Genius Games' stellar second Anachronistic Adventurers-pdf and RiP's excellent 101 Hazards and Disasters, so let's check them out!

The Investigator

This pdf is 23 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 21 1/3 pages of content for the second class in SGG's Anachronistic Adventurers-line, so let's check this out!

The Investigator is a new base-class for men of our world stranded in a medieval fantasy setting. It gets 3/4 BAB, d8, 7+Int skills per level and a good fort-save. Apart from these basics, though, the class gets access to so-called investigator talents and an archetype at first level, i.e. a sub-section of the class that offers some abilities and makes sure that the base-class is more like a conglomerate of classes.

The investigators can choose from a  vast selection of 31 different investigator talents that range from rather mundane "Get proficiency in weapon-class" and use INT instead of stat X to truly awesome ideas - Essentially granting the investigator the ability to track enemies, analyze crime scenes to deduce clues about the killer etc. - all while keeping the Dm in control and providing simply STELLAR ways for both player and DM to cooperate to keep an adventure from running into a dead-end.

Now, if you want to go full-blown Sherlock Holmes on your foes, the Great Detective archetype (with 6 special talents) is just what you've been looking for, as it provides smooth ways for investigative leaps of brilliant deduction. Need a Watson for your Holmes? The medical examiner (with 7 exclusive talents) is the stellar healer or the insane doctor - Even better, the class lends itself in excellent ways to campaigns without divine healing. Awesome! The final archetype gets no exclusive talents, but comes with awesome rules - the inventor can create items that go beyond what would usually be possible in a given time-period. The complex and yet easy to understand rules for inventions balance them with costs etc. and make for an excellent example of SGG's mastery of rules.

Due to the problems often encountered when running investigations in e.g. PFRPG  or CoC (Trail of Cthulhu does it great!), the pdf also covers a LOT of useful advice for running investigations and...provides research rules! GOOD research rules. Essentially, Knowledge checks correspond to a complexity DC and a depth. The complexity check is lower than the knowledge check and for every point by which you surpass the complexity DC, you detract the same amount from the depth. Once the depth-score is gone, you get your results as if you had found the answer via other ways. I really love the way in which these simple, yet concise and versatile rules enable you to create suspenseful scenarios in which the PCs are browsing tomes! We also get sample statblocks for 5 different libraries, rules for advanced forensic kits and a short discussion of different progress levels.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the 3-column standard by SGG and the b/w-artworks are neat. The pdf comes with no bookmarks, which is a minor downer. That's it. All the criticism I can muster of this pdf - basically, the pdf has been made for me, featuring great rules for bringing investigators to your PFRPG-game and adding detective-elements to your story. The class is excellent and surpasses even the enforcer and if you add to that the stellar investigation-rules, you get... my very favorite SGG-class. Yep. I prefer this one over the Time Thief. This class might be my personal benchmark for the ultimate fusion of hard crunch and fluff-based abilities, marrying concise rules with genius ideas and cool research-rules. I'm a Cthulhu-fanboy and have run a lot of CoC and ToC-modules and this pdf makes some of the ideas that make these scenarios more versatile/different from dungeon-crawling work in PFRPG and open thus a whole world of scenarios to scavenge ideas and convert modules from. Class: A+. Additional rules: A+. Customizable Anachronistic Archetypes: A+: Final verdict: 5 Rudii, Endzeitgeist seal of approval - Both SGG and RiP have  opened 2012 with stellar pdfs that have a very good chance of ending up on my top-10-2012-list. If the idea of an investigator even remotely intrigues you, check this out - Owen K.C. Stephens has surpassed his usual excellent quality in this one!

This pdf is 43 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisement, leaving 38 pages of content for the new complications to any Pc's life.

Before I go on to review this pdf, I want to tell you a little story - In my current campaign (which has been going for 8 years now), one of my characters had found a pot of clay in an abandoned storage room and had no idea what was inside. Said character carried around the pot for 2 years IRL, vowing that the last thing he'd do would be to unleash the pot. When his final reckoning dawned (against one of Mishka's Wolfspidergenerals), he threw the pot and my group erupted in laughter. Why? Well, turns out the pote contained a ultra-virulent strain of green slime. Suffice to say, the character died, but the green-slime pot will forever be a part of our annals. Another iconic story had my PCsuse brown mold to create a kind of magical freezer and transport spoiling goods, thus sabotaging the trade empire of a major organization that sought to kill them and made some decadent noble allies in the process.

What I'm trying to illustrate here is, that similar to e.g. haunts, hazards are not necessarily simple challenges to overcome, but actually plants, mold, crystals and the like do A LOT of mostly unrecognized work to make a campaign setting feel different from our world, feel organic, strange and magical. And yet, there is a sad lack of supplements to expand these little factors and make them feature in your campaign. At the top of my hand, I could mention "Two Dozen Plants" and similar files by LPJr Design, but that's about it. In this vacuum, Rite Publishing's mastermind Steven D. Russell throws 101 Hazards and Disasters. A quick read immediately shows us some very smart design decisions: Almost each of the hazards herein comes in multiple iterations, i.e. versions for different CRs. Even better, many of the hazards have a "done the wrong thing"-consequence - similar to growing brown mold subjected to fire, several (though by far not all) of the hazards have similar ways for the uninitiated to make them worse. We do get a plethora of slimes, btw. - for example one that will superheat and destroy equipment and melt full plates on their owners. There are vast amounts of extremely cool plants, for example ones producing rapture-like trances or even ghost plants that rip the soul from those passing their glades.

Of course, the pdf not only includes plants, but we also get locations tainted by the seven deadly sins, divine catastrophes and crystals. I see you yawning at crystals, but hear me out - there is one that actually amplifies sound to devastating levels when subjected to it. And there are crystals that may age you to venerable - which, as a nice nod, e.g. Time Thieves and Time Wardens can counter via spending time motes. It's little additional details like this that not only showcase great collaboration between 3pps, but make the respective supplements get more value. Have I mentioned carbon-monoxide bubbles rising from lakes to suffocate life? And then there is a new way to approach madness if you don't want to include a full-blown new system - essentially, the idea is that madness works much like other afflictions, but is rather hard to get rid of. Neat!

This is not where the pdf has its sole focus, though: There also are rather big disasters/problems that contain more complications and could be considered encounters or even location templates in and of themselves: Burning buildings (including smoke, heat, fire walls etc. and even alchemical explosions), conveyor-belts of doom (with rock crushers, steam, etc.) and e.g. meteoroid-impacts are covered, the latter of which some of you might know from 3.5's excellent "When the Sky falls"-event book by Bruce R. Cordell, one of my 3.5-all time favorite books. Have I mentioned rules for standing, fighting (and falling off) carriages, howler- or dire cheetah-drawn carriages and even trains?


Editing and formatting are very good, I only noticed two minor glitches, none of which impeded my ability to understand the content. Layout adheres to a 2-column, full-color standard. The pdf comes with full bookmarks.

Don't be fooled by the rather bland front cover - this pdf is the best start into the new year a reviewer like yours truly could ask for -  this installment of the 101-series is on par, perhaps even superior in quality and usability with 101 New Skill Uses! The new hazards are awesome, imaginative and cleverly designed that I was smiling to myself almost all the time. From iconic plants and small hazards to the stellar, complex disasters and environmental complications like the aforementioned battle of a carriage/train-roof or burning buildings make this pdf an instant-classic that should be a part of ANY PFRPG-GM's library.

If you're a player and look for a present for your GM, BUY THIS. If you're a GM looking to recapture the magic of encountering your first green slime, brown mold etc. - BUY THIS.

Seriously, this is one excellent, stellar pdf that is a hot candidate for my "Top 2012-list", even now! All the potential ideas included herein make a campaign more detailed, challenging and organic. We need more of the ilk and I hope we'll get another 101 Hazards and Disasters soon. My final verdict? 5 Rudii, Endzeitgeist seal of approval.

Why are you still reading this, buy this! ;)

Thank you very much for reading my ramblings and see you soon!

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews the Spellweaver & Children of the Wyrm

Hej everybody,

today I'm taking a detour from adventures once again and present to you Misfit Studios' "The Spellweaver" for PFRPG!

The Spellweaver

This pdf is 89 pages long,  1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving 85 pages of content, so what exactly is this spell weaving?

Spell weaving essentially is a skill-and point-based alternative to the standard vancian casting-system for arcane magic. By manipulating the strands of reality itself, hidden from the eyes of regular folks, Spellweavers can duplicate effects of regular spells. They do so via  new int-based class-skill called spellweaving. In order to counteract the difficulties associated with skills being usable as often as one would like, the base-class Spellweaver also features a number of weaves per day. This means that every spell costs only one weave-attempt, but the DCs naturally vary. The base-class of the Spellweaver is what you'd expect of a primary caster: d6, 1/2 BAB, good will save, 2+Int skills per level. Spellweavers start with 4 weaves per day and can reach up to 40 at 20th level, suffer from arcane failure chance and similar traditional penalties just as much as their regular counterparts, but in order to counteract their supreme flexibility, their way of spell-casting naturally comes with a sort of penalty: If they botch their weaving attempts, the results can be dire indeed and result, when greatly overstepping one's boundaries in casting the equivalent of high-level spells too soon, in even death. No one is keeping the weaver from trying, though - potentially, this can lead to rather exiting situations at the table.

Note that not every botched attempt has to have severe repercussions and a rather complex table is provided. It should be noted that topics like collective weaving, weave-traps etc. are covered as well, making the spell-weaver feel distinct beyond his access to a wide array of known magical forces.

To make matters more exiting, the concept of weave-saturated areas (i.e. places of power) is introduced as well, making for a neat take on the trope of ley-lines and similar places of power( or dead magic). The interaction of spell-weaving and regular casting is given quite a detailed depiction and spellcraft, dispelling and spellweaving the divine is covered as well - depending on the DM's world, the gods may frown upon those who seek to usurp the powers they grant their faithful, potentially necessitating +3d4 DC to weaving divine spells. For those wanting to completely exchange the vancian casting system advice is provided as well as advice on how to handle PrCs not originally designed for the Spellweaver and how to handle tweaking them.

No PFRPG class would be complete without the customization options provided by archetypes and thus the Spellweaver also provides some: The primal weaver weaves rather intuitively (thus more unstable) and can fall into weave-powered rages. The Puppet Master is essentially the enchantment/manipulation specialist, the Reader uses his ability to perceive the weave to better avoid damage and learns to extend his/her senses and the Weaver Shaman follows a shamanistic understanding of the weave as a kind of anima universalis.

Prestige Classes specifically designed for the spellweaver are included in the package:

-The Battle Weaver (d8, 2+Int skills, full BAB, medium fort, 7 level casting progression) is a kind of barbarian/spell weaver gish that can imbue his weapon and armor with the power of the weave.

-The Cartomancer (d4, 4+Int skills, 1/2 BAB, medium will-save, full spell-progression) is an intriguing concept: By expanding senses over the weave, these fellows can create maps of surrounding areas, but without giving all the details like furniture and inhabitants away. At higher levels, their clairsentient powers improve and become more precise. I'm not sold on the d4 HD, though - according to PFRPG-design standards, that should be a d6, especially due to this PrC being anything but too strong.

-The Fated (d6, 4+Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB, medium will-save, full spell-progression) are another matter entirely - they can, via the weave, manipulate destiny itself and borrow skills and feats and even bar their foes from using them via their mystic connection to the weave. An interesting class, for sure, but one that necessitates careful watching.

-The Weave Dancer (d6, 4+Int skills, 1/2 BAB, medium fort- and ref-saves, 1/2 spell progression) is the monk/spellweaver multiclass and feels a bit odd - The table provides a better flurry of blows atk-bonus progression than a regular BAB-progression: at 10th level, it presumes +5 BAB for regular attacks and +9/+9/+4/+4/-1 for flurry of blows, which points towards a rather grievous formatting glitch here.

Next up is a new race, the Ardekh - spiderlike humanoids that worship the weave and would make for disturbing characters: They get their full age, height & weight tables, +2 Dex and Int, -2 Cha, Darkvision 60 ft., Weave Sight as a bonus feat, +2 natural armor, all-around vision (immunity to flanking when not flat-footed), +2 to Spellweaving, a climb-speed of 20ft. (and +8 to climb checks) and reduced penalties for fighting with multiple weapons. In case you didn't notice by that array of powers, a "challenge-rating adjustment" of +2 is presumed till level 6, then +1, hitting one of my absolute pet-peeves: I always hated the ECL-system of 3.5 and the balance-problems it brought and this essentially is a ECL+2-race that does not conform with PFRPG-design standards, essentially rendering the race's appeal as a player-race null and void. We also get 7 new traits, 2 of which are for the new race.

Chapter 3 deals with feats and kicks off with a vast list of feats and how they interact with spell-weaving - the level of support provided is awesome and something that sets the pdf apart - it takes the APG, Ultimate Magic and Ultimate Combat into account and lists them over several pages before introducing us to 55 new feats. These new feats are rather interesting, as they deal not only with weave-interaction, but also with adding metamagic effects to weaves( thus increasing the DC). More interesting are the elemental or specialization-style feats that increase the DC for e.g. spells with the [fire] or [acid]-descriptor, but add a burning effect, temporarily deafen foes etc. While limited in appliance, these feats do allow a customization that is nice to see. Not all of them are what I'd consider well-balanced, though: Thanatopic Spellweave for example, makes it possible to use death and negative energy effects against undead or beings sheltered by a death ward. The explanation is that the animating force is turned against them, but the repercussions of this feat are rather wide and any ability that ignores any protection from it, especially when it's such a feat, is wide open to abuse. Plus: Undead can already be hurt via positive energy. Adding negative energy to the mix just feels wrong to me. Spell Eater is another feat I consider BROKEN: If you add +5 to the DC of a save you have to make and succeed at it, you regain 1/2 the attacking spell's level, minimum 1 weaves. Can you see what this feat will make the players do? Can you see the wizards casting touch of fatigue unlimited times on their ally, the spellweaver regaining 1  weave per save? I can, and I don't like it. While most of the feats are well-designed, exceptions like these, practically screaming "Abuse me" somewhat cast a tarnish on an otherwise excellent chapter.

Chapter 4 then delivers the true meat f the book - tables upon tables that e.g. contain the modifications to the DC for regular respective levels of the spellweaver to cast (adding e.g. +27 for 9th level spells at 1st character level, ensuring that no level 1 spellweaver will meteor swarm foes to oblivion) and providing all the tools to convert e.g. 3pp-spells to the spell-weaving system: Range, school (and sub-school), area of effect, saving throw, duration, casting time etc. - everything influences the final DC of the weave and the final chapter provides the basic DCs (still to be modified by the weaver's relative level to the spell) of the spells from the Core-book, the APG, UM and UC - an awesome convenience that takes a LOT of work off your hands. Even better, an excel- calculator is included in the deal.

Finally, we get new weave-themed beasts: Apart from the Ardekhs, we get the new Loomer-race (Cr 1/2 - evil djinn-influenced creatures), varying weave-elementals, the weave-embraced template (CR +1),  the undead Weave Haunt (CR 4) and the spider-like weavelings (CR 3) as well as a variant of the rotgrub hazard tat inhabits the weave. The pdf concludes with 4 pages of an extremely useful quick reference appendix. A write-up of a weave-centric goddess is also included in the deal, btw.


Editing and formatting were good, though not perfect: Some lines that should have been bold weren't etc. More important, there are some design-remnants of 3.5 unfortunately interspersed in an otherwise excellent conversion, like e.g. the aforementioned d4. The flurry of blows table of the weave dancer needs a revision. Layout adheres to a clear and easy-to-read 2-column standard and comes with beautiful full-color artworks. The pdf is fully bookmarked, comes with an artless, printer-friendly b/w-version and the aforementioned calculator, which is nice (though the calculator doesn't work with my version of excel - something you should be aware of). Oh boy. This one is oh so hard to rate. On the one hand, we get a neat, interesting alternate system of spellcasting that feels well-balanced and not half as prone to breaking as I had expected, a vast amount of support and stellar feats. On the other hand, we get a race with an ECL (that should be either just an NPC-race or needs a revision), a d4 HD in a PrC, a faulty table with another PrC and one little fact: As much as I liked the base-class, none of the PrCs or archetypes for that matter felt truly compelling. The cartomancer is a great idea, but feels a bit weak and like an excuse to give player hand-out maps, something that could also be done via other investigative means - this PrC actually needs MORE power. If you're looking for a skill-based magic-system, the spell-weaver will cater to your needs and provide a cool, flexible alternative to regular casters that could enrich e.g. a non-orthodox magic tradition in your campaign. 

Were I to rate the base-class and the basic system/support provided alone, this would be 5 Rudii. If you're in for the whole deal, you'll have to be aware of aforementioned rough-edges, though. Should the 3.5-design-remnants I found be taken care of and e.g. the Ardekh-race nerfed to the point of being usable as a player-race, I'd gladly give the whole package 4 or even 4.5 Rudii. As written, though, some rough-edges of a first foray into PFRPG-rules are still evident and diminish the overall appeal of the book. Thus, for now,  my final verdict will be 3.5 Rudii.

Ever wanted to know more about draconic parentage in humanoids? Fantastic Gallery has the Children of the Wyrm for you!

 Children of the Wyrm

This pdf is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank inside of front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page blank inside the back cover, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 25 pages of content, so let's check out this offering, shall we?

We all know that dragons can produce offspring and that half-dragons exist as well as that many a sorceror draws his power from his lineage. But what in-between? How does the transition from clearly draconic being to dormant power happen? This pdf kicks in with a discussion of exactly that by introducing the term "legacy" and discussing the transition from 1st generation legacy half-dragon to draconic legacy sorcerors of up to the 30th generation.

Starting at the beginning, the first complex template we get is for the legacy half-dragon (CR +3), which includes natural attacks for 3 sizes and 10 different draconic inheritances. Draconic inheritances include breath weapons (which are always part of the package) and 3 different sample legacies (bronze, silver and gold) à 3 recommended abilities that include luck, faster flight and similar gifts. A CR 7 sample character is included to illustrate the application of the template.

After that, we get the Quarter-Dragon (CR+2) complex template, again with natural attacks by size and 5 draconic inheritance options, again including breath weapons and 3 inheritances we already know from the half-dragon. However, the quarter-dragon must use an inheritance to gain access to a breath-weapon. Wings aren't included in the package either and thus one inheritance can gain access to them. There's a formatting glitch that reads "half-dragon" instead of "quarter-dragon" in the breath-weapon entry. We get another sample character, this time a rather complex one - a CR 13 quarter-dragon ninja! COOL!

One step further down the lineage, the greater draconic legacy creature-template adds +1 to the CR (minimum 2) and gains either a breath weapon, or one of 3 possible draconic inheritances, which we at this point already know from the other templates. There's a formatting glitch that reads "half-dragon" instead of "greater draconic legacy creature" in the breath-weapon entry. Greater draconic legacy creatures don't get a bite, but only claw attacks. We get a sample NPC at Cr 10 this time a sorceress.

Finally, there's the lesser draconic creature (CR +1, minimum 1), which can't get access to breath weapons, but to one of 3 draconic inheritances and natural claws as weapons. Again, we get a sample character, this time a rogue at CR 8.

Finally, there a kind of minor template, the draconic legacy sorceror - essentially, the template/page describes how sorcerors of draconic bloodlines and the templates in this book interact and how being a half-dragon AND a draconic bloodline sorceror enhances the power granted by one's lineage.

We also get 6 feats, ranging from being more agile flyers to gaining an elemental aura, additional draconic inheritances, additional breath-weapon uses and a 1st-level feat that bumps you up one step on your lineage as well as the ability to add energy damage to your weapon. We also get 6 sample traits that include improved natural healing and graceful aging.

On the magic item-side, we get a lesser hat of disguise, the hat of racial purity, that disguises one part of your lineage. The Staff of the Dragon is an ok staff with thematically-linked powers and the ring of draconic presence can frighten foes.

Finally, we get an optional one-page table on which characters generated with this pdf can roll d%s to determine cosmetic features that set the character apart like a snout, vestigial wings etc.

Part 2 of the pdf is rather interesting - it includes information on pregnancy with draconic children of all varieties as well as rules for the rather difficult birth and labor. While only a short section, it comes with a variety of tables for the different kinds of draconic beings introduced in this book and is the most innovative and, in my opinion, cool and unique chapter of the pdf.


Editing and formatting are very good - I only noticed one minor formatting glitch, as mentioned in the review. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with an artless, printer-friendly additional version. Art and layout are a good cue - The layout of this book adheres to a 2-column standard and is STUNNING. Beautiful. Glorious. And the same holds true for the GORGEOUS artworks. The cover is indeed just as beautiful as the interior artwork - only 2 pieces, on page 23 and 24 fall short of a quality that could be found in a paizo-publication. The artists Jon Hodgson, Talon Dunning, Jonathan Kaufman, Matt Manard and Lorraine Schleter did a great job. The content per se is neat, but before I get into details, I'll have to come clear. I don't like half-dragons. I consider them overdone, predictable and a dilution of draconic awesomeness, especially since the 3.5-days.

This pdf thus has a hard standing with me and addresses at least some of my gripes with half-dragons, namely that they seemed to exist in a  vacuum - no-one knew how they gestated, how their blood dilutes etc. and this pdf acts as a comprehensive guide that adds variety to them. The option to scale them and their generational special features are rather nice, as they add to their variability. The second chapter is especially worth a read. However, not all is perfect in this supplement: My first gripe is that only the gold, silver and bronze-bloodlines are covered. While I do realize that more would have expanded the book, that's exactly what this one would need: Expansion. Evil bloodlines for example. More options for draconic inheritances and coverage of at least the basic kinds of dragons (or at least all the good ones in this and all the evil ones in a companion pdf) would have been neat.

My second gripe with this pdf is that there is no racial option that truly caters to draconic player characters, as all of the templates add at least 1 to the CR. While depending on the player's options you use this might not necessarily upset your game, the options presented herein are more powerful than standard-races. That means players looking for a PFRPG-variant of the Dragonborn won't find one in these pages, which is a huge pity, as I think that the potential to create such a  being is definitely here and within the capabilities of authors Talon Dunning and Shane O'Connor. If you don't like Half-Dragons, this pdf will probably not change that. What it does, though, is put them into a context within the overall setting and thus make them less vacuous. Even better, the quality of the overall production and the price make this a rather interesting book to make the by-now predictable half-dragon more versatile. I fully expected to despise the book personally and approached it on my reviewer-perspective. Surprisingly, I did enjoy what I finally read and consider this pdf a worthwhile investment for DMs seeking to spice up draconic characters in their game. If the pdf was longer and featured all draconic bloodlines and more inheritances (perhaps even unique ones for different age-categories) to choose from, I'd immediately score this 5 Rudii. As written, I still consider this book a good resource with afore-mentioned minor shortcomings, thus my final verdict will be 4 Rudii.

All right, that's it for now - see you next time around! As always, thank you for reading my ramblings,
Endzeitgeist out!


EZG reviews the Six Griffons Haunt and Raxath'vis

Hej everybody,

after the crawling last time, why not heck in for a bit of investigation? Author Ron Lundeen's recently founded company Run Amok Games might have just what you've been looking for! Without further ado:

Six Griffons Haunt

This adventure is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving 29 pages for this first adventure by Run Amok Games, the new company of Ron Lundeen, so let's check it out!

This being an adventure review, the following text contains massive SPOILERS, so potential players might want to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? Righty right, so essentially we have an investigation of a haunting - the aristocratic, exclusive Six Griffons lodge has seen some hauntings and the PCs stumble across a rather violent manifestation of said haunting. The situation is made more precarious by the fact that the lodge houses a collection of magic/unusual weapons. Before you start sighing and devise ways to deprive the PCs of the stolen weapons, rest assured that they won't waltz out of this adventure with an arsenal of magic weapons.

Hired by the butler/resident scholar of the lodge to find the cause of the unrest before a scheduled dinner of lodge members, the events start to escalate pretty fast. People start dying in rather macabre (and potentially lethal ways for the players), but without accumulating an overdue bodycount. The adventure features some rather interesting twists on the classical haunting that are massive SPOILERS: First of all, the culprit is not the classic undead, but instead a new creature called haunting elemental. Even better, they are only the symptom of the true problem and a corrupt member of the lodge tries to steal what is supposed to be a weapon to grant innumerable riches. The weapon that is confused with the silver-creating instrument of destruction is in fact the true culprit - a weapon cursed by its djinn-creators to forever thirst for the blood of evil creatures: If the weapon's thirst is not sated, the deadly elementals start manifesting. Have I mentioned that one character is a djinn in disguise that can act as a savior if the PCs are stuck?

While format-wise the investigation is rather open, it also contains a timeline and puts some pressure on the PCs to find out the truth without unnecessary dawdling. It should also be noted that the adventure comes with 4 extensive handouts the PCs should analyze (which are consolidated on two pages for ease of printing out in the end) and a gorgeous 4-page full-color map of the lodge. I do have one very minor gripe: The Haunting Elementals. They reminded of of an old Planescape-joke with Berkamentals and quite frankly, could have been other creatures, as they don't feel like elementals to me.


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly 2-column standard and the pdf comes with excessive bookmarks. The beautiful map and b/w-mugshots of the characters herein help to endear both characters and location to the PCs. This adventure is a rather fast-paced investigation with several fail-safes if the PCs get stuck, moderately difficult encounters and an unique flair - following the tradition of Ron Lundeen's Soldragonn Academy (by Headless Hydra Games), the adventure does feature a rather dark sense of humor that does not devolve into a  massacre or truly mature material - indeed, the best way to describe it would be a investigative comedy of manners with a very dark sense of subtle humor. If played right, suspense and smiles at the characters herein go hand in hand, at least they did in my game. My group finished the adventure in one session, meaning that DMs with clever/investigating characters might want to throw in some additional red herrings. This and aforementioned personal preference are the only true gripes I can find, though, resulting in a 5-Rudii verdict - well done! 

Need a dreadful villain to terrorize your PCs?

Raxath'Viz, the creeping Rot

This installment of the Infamous Adversary-line is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 23 pages of content - that's quite a bunch for the low price, so let's check it out!

The pdf kicks off with a bang - a stellar, original, full-page artwork of Raxath'Viz - gorgeous and not something I would have expected for the price point. You'll hear these words more often in this review. The description of Raxath'Viz kicks off with a disturbing, well-written introduction before providing us the statblock of the villain: Raxath'Viz is a Cleric (Hidden Priest)10/Divine Scion 3/Rogue (Trapsmith) 3 and thus has a COMPLEX statblock with a LOT of special abilities. The statblock contains a minor layout error - a part of the statblock is not shaded like the rest of the block. That does not deter from his wide array of abilities or their usability, though, just an optical hick-up. Raxath'Viz has an ambition quite profound - be the instrument of reincarnation for the goddess of disease and become a demi-god himself in the process.
In order to accomplish this lofty goal, he has to succeed in 6 profane boons, which are detailed not only with prophecy-like lines, but also how Raxath'Viz plans to accomplish/accomplished them - this prophecy per se could be seen as a seed for a whole campaign, if desired. If you want to use a Raxath'Viz over the course of a campaign, you'll also get an advancement track for him as well as 3 additional plot hooks. Sample lore-DCs are provided to go along the campaign and plot seeds. If you want further ideas n how Raxath'Viz operates, you'll see it in yet another short piece of fiction before we get to his perhaps most valuable ally, Zogulryk the unholy, a male Oytugh Oracle 10 who is the one true ally/friend (if such a word is applicable) the Kobold has.
The installment does not end here, though, and instead goes on to provide sample names and personalities for the Festering Lesion, Raxath'Viz rag-tag band of kobold followers. We also get some sample custom traps the clever kobold employs and especially a consuming jack-in-the-box is worthy of Batman's Joker in its twisted humor. Of course, the Kobold also has pets, namely a variety of otyugh-mutations, one of which, the two-headed guardian otyugh, is also presented with a full statblock.
Unbelievably, we get even MORE: The profane Vessel of his goddess, a giant CR 20-super otugh remains even after his defeat, waiting for the day when a divinity will emerge from its cancerous growths and posing the final obstacle for the PCs to squash the ambitions of Maramaga, a goddess of pestilence spawned from a barbaric ritualistic druidic sacrifice and her own 2-page write-up is surprisingly compelling in imagery and tone, making her more than yet another deity of disease.
The pdf closes with information on a faction of (semi-) unwitting pawns to Raxath'Viz machinations that shall remain unnamed for spoiler's sake as well as a new devastating disease.

Editing and formatting are good, though not excellent: I noticed this one layout-glitch and an incorrect use of the -eth-suffix for a verb in the prophecy. All in all, though, less than 5 hick-ups, all minor, over 23 pages. Layout is new, different and beautiful - while not as printer-friendly as TPK Games' previous layout, the grey borders make for a visually pleasing reading experience. The artwork of Raxath'Viz is STUNNING. It makes a KOBOLD look intimidating as hell.  The villain per se features a lengthy statblock, and as has been the tradition with TPK Games alongside all other statblocks in this pdf, been excessively hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com, making usage of the file on a laptop extremely easy. The pdf is also excessively bookmarked and *drumroll* comes with full hero lab support of all the creatures herein - great for the people who use the tool (though I don't).
Content-wise, I'll just say: Wow. Temerlyth was a very good villain. Raxath'Viz blows him out of the water. The sheer amount of content provided in this pdf is awesome - the short stories are well-written, Raxath'Viz's statblock is complex, we get unique servants and allies, a new (and cool) goddess, a dread prophecy (including his plans to accomplish it - a potential campaign in itself) and a villain that acts SMART. Oh yeah, and new traps. The only thing anyone could ask for from this file that is not there is statblocks for less accomplished versions of him, but seeing that we get the high-level version, they can potentially be reverse-engineered. This pdf provides a LOT of content for 3 bucks - much more than I would have expected and at a higher quality, too. In fact, I'm going so far as to say that TPK Games have just upped the ante on NPC/Villain-supplements in the low price-range by a considerable amount. While the minor glitches would usually result in about half a star being detracted, the excellent bang-for-buck ratio more than does its share to counter this minor blemish. Thus, my final verdict will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - a truly deadly, devious, frightening kobold villain indeed and a great testament to the level with which the Infamous Adversary-line has been improving.

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

Endzeitgeist out.