EZG reviews One Night Stands: Scorned

One Night Stands - Scorned  

I'm posting this on the 26th of June and astute readers might deduce from what I still haven't reviewed that this pdf isn't due on my schedule until next week. Well, as an early birthday present from me to myself (tomorrow, I'll be a year older once again...), I'll review only excellent pdfs today. This is one of them!

This adventure is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 26 pages of content, so let's take a look!    

This being an adventure-review, the following review contains SPOILERS, potential players are advised to jump to the conclusion.  

Still here? All right! Whiterush is a little, relatively peaceful town located adjacent to a river (hence the name) and makes for a rather iconic place - the sample NPCs and rumors to be unearthed show as much. Obviously, the local lord, one lord Breldin Greaves has seen better days and is quite glad that his son, who used to spend a lot of time in the local forests, finally settled down - love at first sight, and with the daughter of the newly moved in Zoltan Quinn. A powerful man, he came with many henchmen and even a whole stable of hippogriffs that since then have been patrolling the city and replaced the guard - much to the chagrin of e.g. washwomen, who complain about horse-droppings from the sky.

Wacky hijinxs with the iconic populace make for a great start that shows already the trademark subtle humor and imaginative ideas we've come to adore from both Lou Agresta and Nick Logue. But what's the adventure-potential?   Well, said Zoltan Quinn hires the PCs (sealed in blood) to deal with the constant attacks on his caravans - the local orcs have been sending his men beaten black and blue back to town. Racist adventurers will probably need no more goading, but observant PCs may realize that the orcs don't kill the men - weird, isn't it? Well, joining the Quinn-caravan is thoroughly unpleasant - stinking, abrasive guards will make for an unpleasant ride as the caravan willingly drives straight into an ambush.

In the battle, the PCs will face the orcs - who use non-lethal weapons all around, while Zoltan's men try to kill the greenskins. Instead of dumping exposition on the PCs, they can turn upon their employers and join the orcs or repel them - only to have to track them to their extremely iconic camp - a collection of tree houses spanning islands on a river.   Provided the PCs switch sides, they get to interact with the orcs - who actually are EXTREMELY funny - learning crafts, laughing about local customs, seeing aspiring orc-children dragon-slayers and tasting local cuisine is all possible. This section is rather interesting, for the PCs learn something interesting: It turns out that the heir Brant Greaves was actually deeply in love with one Sragana, a true beauty - for an orcish maiden. The secretive lovers planned to elope if his father didn't approve of their love and she is subsequently infuriated by his betrayal, thus trying to keep the Quinn's dowry in order to keep Brant and Zoltan's daughter Jacklyn from marrying. If the PCs are only partially adept at magic matters, they may suspect enchantment - and just as they're getting ready to explain everything to the assembled orcs, Zoltan's men attack via their hippogriffs in force.

Having scried the PCs via the blood spilled in the beginning, the PCs are now officially on the kill-list of Zoltan's henchmen - even if they so far have stuck to their employer's order. In the ensuing epic battle, the PCs will have the pleasure of fighting these unlikable louts in one of the neatest environments I've seen in quite a while.   After the climactic battle, it's time to crash a wedding - the problem being that the whole wedding party aboard a paddlewheel barge has already left town. In order to stop the proceedings, the PCs will have to sneak abroad (not too easy due to a LOT of potential civilian victims and guards) and save the lord and his son - worse, the Quinns have a good escape-plan that the PCs will have to foil. Have I mentioned the ettin that actually drives the paddlewheel who may (very painfully) smash the PCs into the wheel?

The fact that the steering is destroyed and that the ship is headed for massive waterfalls? That an overhanging outcropping will demolish a significant part of the barge? And that beyond the battle with the Quinns and subduing the charmed Greaves, the PCs will have to save the whole wedding party from plummeting to their death? The latter makes for an extremely cool idea and is something I haven't seen in a module before - temporarily jamming the ship at a bottleneck, using a harpoon-like ballista to temporarily anchor the ship - there are quite a few ways to help the hapless civilians escape a watery death in the dread rapids of the river.   And finally, the PCs get a chance to make sure the both Brant and Sragana may live happily ever after - and that there still will be a marriage.    


Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Frog God Games printer-friendly b/w-standard with neat, original b/w-artworks and the copious maps provided are awesome - but they lack a player-friendly, keyless version to be handed out, which is a slight bummer. The pdf is extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks.   This adventure was a surprise to me- and at the same time it wasn't. I expected a good module from two of my favorite authors out there (Lou Agresta & Nick Logue), but what I got is touching, exciting, iconic - Addressing themes like fantasy-racism, love, the worth of life and the repercussions of taking a life, the relevance of alignment and race and tying everything together in an action romp that quite literally has NO FILLER. None.

Every combat, every social interaction, every rumor in town features some piece of absolute awesomeness - from neat puns to sample quotes, from characters that deserve the name, to interesting tactics/builds, smart-acting adversaries and last but not least absolutely superb locations and environments to adventure in, this pdf is chockfull of awesomeness and makes for a superb little module that you definitely should check out at its extremely fair price-point.

My final verdict, unsurprisingly, will clock in at a full 5 stars + seal of approval for this neat module.

You can get this awesome piece of writing in two versions:

For Pathfinder, OBS has it right here and on d20pfsrd.com's store it's right here!

If you're rather old-school and prefer the Swords & Wizardry rules, here is the S&W-version on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com's shop!    

Endzeitgeist out.


EZG reviews 101 Variant Monsters

101 Monster Variants

This installment of Rite Publishing’s 101-series clocks in at a massive 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a massive 42 pages of content – a great bang for buck ratio, but can the quality stand up to the quantity?

Organization-wise, these variant monsters are grouped together by CR, spanning the gamut from CR 1 –CR 25 – personally, I consider this organization great, since you’ll probably not be searching for variant monsters by their name. The respective entries all feature the name of the base-creature to be modified in brackets and the entries themselves can be considered creature-archetypes or templates created for one specific creature, though unlike most templates they do not modify the base-creature’s CR. Take for example the first creature, the Brownie of the Solstice Court: Taking the benevolent fey, we get essentially the unseelie version of the critter – they are not only unpleasant in their maliciousness, they get a new signature ability – a dust they use to cover their bows (for their feat/weapon-choice reflects the changed focus), which not only penalizes those hit, it also makes the victims incur a confusion-like effect that should make these nasty fey loathed foes of your PCs. We also get desert ghouls that turn into hyenas and fast healing as long as they are not deprived of flesh to fuel their cannibalistic healing. Giant Armadeiras Spiders are also interesting – their strange poison is not canceled out by antitoxin and requires successful first aid in the form of a healing-check to prevent suffocation – rather cool!

In the CR 2-range, we e.g. get a dream imp, which not only gets a gaze that makes its victims susceptible to sleep and less alert, but which make also cover whole areas in subtle auras of dream-like haziness. Or did you want a foe for blink dogs? What about the new Flicker Wolf, which may bite through portals? Very nasty for hit-and-runs… In the CR 3-range, a black version of the hell hound, the Dipian, may drain the blood of his adversaries. There also is a rust monster-variant that decays flesh instead of metal and a cockatrice that can vitrify foes – with full rules for vitrification given, of course.

A classic, the Giant Scythe Beetle, makes a return to PFRPG in the CR 4-range. One of the strangest ways to be trampled would be featured in the new variant of Amphisbaena – the ouroborus may lock heads and roll over foes – weird, but also a cool idea. Cooler, though, would imho be the variant of the Slithering Tracker that paralyzes its foes and then invades their bodies, taking control – this one actually coming with a full-blown template for the unfortunate host-creature - a nice example for Rite Publishing going above and beyond what would have been required from this book in favor of cool concepts. Speaking of cool concepts: Turning winter wolves into Dogs of war with slashing/piercing breath weapons as well as DR is a great idea. Speaking of great ideas: If you’re like me and are missing the eye tyrant-rays of a certain IP-protected creature, you’ll enjoy a variant of the gibbering mouther that has a weaker, but nonetheless versatile selection of eye rays.

Another fine creature would be the Thunder Jinn – a variant of the regular Djinni that replaces whirlwind form with a cool ability that has thunder and lightning smashing down on the djinn, adding sonic damage to attacks as well as a cool vulnerability to… silence! Or take an aquatic version of the medusa that gets petrifying attacks and may attack with her hair.The CR 7 Bladeleaf-treant may animate its leaves as a swarm (which gets its own statblock) and one particularly infamous torture implement, the Brazen Bull, becomes a variant for the gorgon that cooks those locked in its form alie – disturbing indeed! What about a bubonic plague-spreading variant of the behir that not only gets a diseased breath attack, but which may also fling foes around or see in smoke?

Perhaps you enjoyed the by now legendary hidden character Nordom from Planescape: Torment and always wanted a version of a malfunctioning Zelekhut inevitable? Well, there’s a variant in here as well and yeah, Maruts also get their due!

Golemcrafters may now create a Maharal Golem, which may turn naturally invisible and spawn wraiths, whereas earth elementals may now be exchanged with adamantine elementals. On the cool side, Devourers may now be changed to emit dangerous, deadly chaotic waves of energy.

If you’re looking for some cool mythological creature, why not check out the Jotund Troll-variant – the Grendal – and yes, from a susceptibility to grappling to a dread aura, it comes with some cool signature abilities. Have I btw. mentioned the Prism-energy based Nightwalker/flier/etc.-variants or the awesome variant linnorms one can also find herein? Especially the Chaos Serpent with its massive breath weapon table is a highlight among them. Speaking of highlight: As someone thoroughly entrenched in Norse lore, the Norn of the Solstice Court as a less benevolent dealer of fate is one of my favorite creatures herein – at CR 18 also one hell of a foe and not one to be trifled with.

There also are variants of Cyclopes – good, blinded ones and those with deadly precognitive knowledge that makes hitting them extremely difficult indeed. Jorogumos get a variant with the Red Harlot – spider-like predators that apart from their limbs, look like beautiful women – and contrary to their appearance, they are not that bad: While not nice by any definition, they are brilliant kidnappers that do not seek the death of their victims and are honorable to a fault to boot – always speaking the truth, which makes for an interesting combination.

One of the cool variants in here would be the CR 14 Hand of the Reliquary – the hand of a vanquished avatar or similar powerful being, these deadly things (based on the Demi-lich) can age you prematurely to venerable age’s threshold and blast foes with deadly rays of pure entropy – beware, blasphemers, beware!

Apropos beware – I mentioned CR 25 before – well. It’s a variant of the Tarrasque – one that essentially turns it into the King of Monsters, Godzilla in all but name! Yes. If you’re like me, that one will make you smile just as much as the extremely deadly new behemoth variants.


Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to RiP’s two-column color standard and is relatively printer-friendly. The artworks, when applicable, are nice and thematically fitting and usually are stock-art, though at this fair price-point, that’s more than ok. The pdf comes fully bookmarked by CR.

Impressive – that’s what this pdf is. When I read about this first, I expected some lame “Exchange x with y” basic entries accompanied by some reskinning – but this pdf offers SO MUCH MORE.

Each and every creature herein comes at least with one, more often than not multiple new signature abilities and weaknesses, borrowing extensively from both Norse and Asian myths to supplement original creations to deliver variants that are thoroughly original and honestly often better than full-blown new creatures I’ve seen. In fact, the sheer amount of cool ideas herein is rather astonishing – with e.g. the aforementioned hand and similar far-out concepts, the pdf is surprisingly lacking in only one category – and that is filler. While not each creature is glorious, the amount of beings I’d consider lame can be counted on one hand – which is next to nothing, given the amount of them we get in here. It would have been so easy to deliver a lazy job here, but that wouldn’t be rite – and so author Steven D. Russell gives us a glorious collection of variant monsters that cuts an awesome figure when compared to just about any bestiary – especially when taking the extremely fair price into account.

Reskinning monsters can make them interesting again – using these variant monsters will make your players dread stats they (mostly) ought to know by now – and even if only used to scavenge signature abilities, this pdf delivers in spades – the 101-series continues its glorious stride of top-notch material with this installment, scoring a full 5 stars plus seal of approval – so go ahead and bring these variants into your game!

You can get these fearsome critters here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com's shop!

Endzeitgeist out.