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Deep Magic: Illumination
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/24/2017 07:52:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Kobold Press' Deep Magic 5e-books clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This school of magic, associated with light and school, if fittingly represented by just that, the school of illumination. At 2nd level, costs and time to copy illumination spells to the spell-book is halved and additionally, you can forecast danger in the next 24 hours by studying the stars for 1 hour. This nest advantage on up to 2 initiative checks, lasting for 24 hours or until the end of the next long rest. Alternatively, you may grant an ally said advantage, but then you may not benefit from it in that combat. The decision must be made before rolling dice. At 6th level, you gain a bonus of +1 to spell attack modifier and spell save DC in dim light or darkness - not the biggest fan of that one. At 10th level, illusions for which you lose concentration exist for another round, provided the spell's duration has not elapsed. here' I'd have referenced duration instead of maximum duration in the rules-lingo, mainly since maximum duration could be taken to mean a spell's theoretical maximum duration, including increased spell-levels...but that is a nitpick and will not be considered for my final verdict. At 14th level, during a long rest, you can watch the stars, gathering ambient energy in a small item like a star chart or astrolabe. While holding said item, you can use a bonus action to expend the stored energy to duplicate one of the following: Alter self until the next long rest, net a creature in sight disadvantage on the next save versus an illusion or enchantment, reroll up to Intelligence modifier damage dice of a necrotic damage causing spell of 5th level or lower or, finally, treat a divination spell as though you had cast it using a spell slot one level higher.

The pdf also contains a new feat, namely Star and Shadow Reader: Upon taking the feat, choose necrotic or radiant damage: Your spells casting that damage ignore resistance, but not immunity, to the chosen type. Additionally, you can cast augury sans expending a spell slot once between long rests (which is very feeble, considering the spell's ritual tag) and gain darkvision 15 ft. - or increase an existing darkvision's range by +15 ft. The prerequisite is btw. the ability to cast at least one spell. I'm not a big fan here - ignoring resistance takes away from D&D 5e's rock-paper-scissors type of gameplay.

Unless I have miscounted, we get a total of 21 spells: Black hand lets you fire a ranged spell attack, imposing disadvantage an attacks, ability checks and saving throws made with physical attributes. The effect can be ended via a Con-save at disadvantage. Not the biggest fan -the spell would be less open to weird uses if it was tied to the target. Black well has a massive range of 300 ft. and drags those within 90 ft. of it towards it on a failed Strength save. A target within the well is stunned on a failed Con-save and suffers necrotic damage, with a successful save reducing that to incapacitation. Creatures take no damage from remaining in the well, just from exiting it - and creatures within the well at its end land prone. This spell is a bit too strong - it's AoO instant suck for all foes: The multiple saves don't really help, considering how far the well drags targets. Even successful saves of those on which the well is cast lock them down. Cloak of shadow nets you advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks relying on sight.

Compelling fate is pretty cool: If the target fails a Cha-save, you get advantage on attack rolls, may mirror its movements on the creature's turn (deducting that from your next movement) or use a reaction to grant yourself and all allies within earshot of the subject's intentions, providing a +2 bonus to AC or saves versus the prompting attack. At 7th level spell level, starry wisdom lets you cast a reaction-based variant of the spell. Flickering fate, at 4th level, is interesting: You or a target touched can see fate: All creatures within range make Wisdom saves - on a failure, they need to declare their intended actions and then follow through on their turns -additionally, the recipient has advantage on attacks ability checks and saves and creatures affected suffer from disadvantage. Once again, I think this would have made more sense of the spell conveyed advantage only with regards to actions prompted by or against creatures actually affected by the spell.

Guiding star prevents you from being lost due to stars and sun - as a nitpick, I think the spell should specifically state that it can only work on open ground: While the spell's flavor states that it works by tracking sun/stars, RAW, it can be cast underground and works - one could argue the tracking to be "magic" and thus feasible in such environments as well. Icy grasp of the ether, at 7th level, inflicts nasty cold damage and restrains the target and accumulates exhaustion of the target is not immune to cold and breathes. Orb of light blinds the target 1 round and deals 3d8 radiant damage, with a Dex-save to halve damage and negate blindness - compared to similar 2nd level spells, a well-balanced option. Shadow bite is a necrotic variant of acid splash that instead of targeting two creatures, halves the speed of a being affected by it until your next turn, with Con to resist. personally, I'd have reduced the damage dice since necrotic damage is slightly more valuable than acid, but oh well. Shadow blindness is one cool cantrip: It temporarily negates natural darkvision! Elegant and cool!

Shadow hands is another tweak: 1st-level spell, 15-ft.-cone, 2d4 necrotic damage + frightened on a failed Wis-save, which also potentially halves damage. Shadow trove lets you temporarily store items inside. Downside: "Items that are still inside the shadow trove when the duration ends are lost forever." WTF? That's 3rd level. Unwelcome artifact? Put it in the magic garbage disposal! Need to make documents disappear? there you go. Since only the caster and certain designated individuals can access it, that further exacerbates the issues. This spell needs a serious overhaul. Shield of star and shadow nets resistance to either necrotic or radiant damage and makes you shed dim light. Silhouette lets you do a magic shadow puppet show - decent cantrip. Slither temporarily makes you a shadow is cool in theory. However: "You are immune to all damage, except force, psychic and radiant damage." WHAT THE EFFFF??? This is ridiculously potent for a 2nd level spell. Dragon breath? No biggie, I'll go shadow. This needs to die in a fiery blaze. Or at least be seriously nerfed.

Starburst is a radiant-based cantrip for 1d6 radiant damage, range 60 feet. Starfall has a range of 60 feet and lets you cause 8d6 radiant damage to 5 targets within range, with hit targets blinded on a failed Dex-save, which also can halve damage. In spite of a slightly decreased damage output, this has: a) a better damage type than cone of cold; b) better control (no cone, choose targets) and c) no duration for blindness effect - as a whole, this makes the spell too strong for the level. The blindness effect should go, at the very least. Last rays of the dying sun first blasts for 6d6 fire damage, then for the same amount of cold damage in a 40-feet burst - at 7th level, a solid option. Summon star calls forth a deva that charms those that look upon it. Star's heart, the 9th level spell, increases gravity within 50 feet - all creatures within drop objects held, become incapacitated and can't move. Solid objects encountered triple fall/collision damage. Creatures within the area or entering it must save or suffer the same fate. Anyone starting the round prone takes bludgeoning damage and those than make their saves while prone take only half damage and may move at 1/2 speed. Big plus: Manages to get spell interaction, ranged weapons, etc. right.

We end the pdf with Talithe Val'Shiar, a sample challenge 6 NPC.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are excellent on a formal level. On a rules-level, the language is precise as well, though balance-wise, I disagree with several choices. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The full-color artworks herein are absolutely gorgeous.

Greg Marks delivers a per se solid pdf here. There are quite a few aspects to like and enjoy within this supplement. At the same time, when compared to previous installments in Kobold Press' Deep magic-series, this feels like it falls a bit flat. It does not sport the evocative visuals of Clockworks, the cool rune engine of rune magic or the impeccable balance of the void magic book. Ignoring resistances is a slippery slope and there are a few spells herein, where comparable PHB-spells are obviously worse. I also think that the celestial alignment-theme could have been more pronounced/better integrated in the material presented. As a whole, this is not bad - but it does have a couple of rough edges and a bit more "variant of spell x"-material than I expected. This is not bad, but compared to previous installments, it feels less compelling - my final verdict, as written, can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Illumination
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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
by Adam D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/11/2017 16:55:29

Chock full of creatures created with creative flair and love for the game, the Tome of Beasts presents monsters that aren't the usual fare. A lot of them have an "elemental" flavor. They're all nicely fleshed out and described. There is art for almost every entry and it's very high quality. The monsters range from super easy challenges (CR 1/8) to the toughest. Pick this one up.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Void Magic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/03/2017 09:02:16

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deep Magic-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let's take a look!

The heart of void magic is Void Speech - the spoken word, the glyphs of this strange language, exist in a paradoxical state, in that they degrade physical reality around them - though never to the point of dissolution: Inscribed Void Speech corrupts and degrades, but does not annihilate its own matter.

Void magic is the tradition of tapping into the horrid magics of the Great Old Ones and the role of the tradition in Midgard is elaborated upon. It should be noted that these spells cannot be learned via spells gained via level-progression - these magics need to be learned from a practitioner or a proper spell-book, retaining GM-control in that regard. Void magic fundamentally behaves like arcane magic, just fyi.

There are two feats introduced that make use of the unsettling nature of Void Speech - the first would be Void Channeler, which lets you, as an action, utter a phrase in its horrid cadence. A creature within 10 ft. of your choice must succeed a Wisdom saving throw (Save DC scales properly) or suffer from the frightened condition, while other beings nearby suffer from somewhat unsettling, cosmetic effects. Additional uses before completing a short or long rest inflict increasing amounts of necrotic damage to the character. The second feat, Void Scribe, lets you use writing utensils as an action to inscribe a glyph on an object - this object then continues to take 1d6 necrotic damage per turn and in order to retain the glyph's structure, you have to maintain concentration AND succeed a DC 10 Constitution save each round. This is a pretty cool idea, though it also is one that could have carried a bit more than item destruction - two spells presented herein require papers with the glyphs as material component and that's it. Oh well, perhaps in a sequel book?

The pdf also provides an arcane tradition, namely the void speaker. Starting at 2nd level, time and gold required to write void spells in the spellbook is halved and when gaining a level, 1 of the spells learned may be a void spell, allowing for relatively reliable access to the strange magic. Also at second level, as a bonus action before casting a spell of 1st level or higher, which disorients a creature chosen from those affected by your spell, imposing disadvantage on the next attack roll or ability check the creature makes before your next turn.

Starting at 6th level, when damaged by a creature within 60 feet, you can use your reaction to cause 1/2 wizard level + Int mod necrotic damage to the creature, usable Intelligence modifier times before requiring a long rest to regain uses. Starting at 10th level, void magic spells with one target may target two creatures instead and you gain advantage on Con-saves made to maintain concentration on void spells. Finally, at 14th level, you can use your action to utter a phrase in void speech - this lets you choose a point within 60 feet, dimming the light in a 20-foot radius around that point for 1 minute. Creatures hostile to you suffer from disadvantage on Wisdom checks and vulnerability to necrotic damage. Additionally, such creatures (Allies are fine!) starting their turn or entering the area for the first time take 3d6 necrotic damage, half as much on a successful Con save. The ability recharges on a completed short or long rest. It should be noted that these abilities, being reliant on vocalizations, can't be used when unable to speak, which is a nice thematic catch.

The pdf also features a total of 13 void magic spells: conjure minor voidborn (at 5th level) and its 7th level brother, conjure voidborn let you call forth fiends or aberrations in a nice summoning variant. Why nice? The nasty creatures can't attack you and yours, but they can, oopsie-daisy, affect allies via secondary effects - you have to tread lightly there, which fits perfectly with the flavor of the magic. There are two void magic cantrips: Crushing Curse nets you a reliable means of dealing 1d6 psychic damage to a creature within 60 feet, also deafening that creature. The damage increases over the levels...and here, I'd usually complain about psychic damage being one of the strongest damage types in 5e, but the balancing of the cantrip is actually really clever and immaculate: You see, it can only affect creatures that can hear you, so as soon as you fail the save, you won't be affected! And yes, creatures can try again each round to end the deafness. Kudos indeed! The second cantrip would be ward of misfortune, which targets a creature nearby and imposes a d4 as penalty to the creature's next save. Protection from the Void nets a willing creature resistance to necrotic and psychic damage as well as advantage on the saves versus void magic...draw that elder sign...

At 2nd level, we can find destructive resonance, a 15-foot cone which inflicts 4d6 psychic damage (more with higher spell slots) and prevents creatures damaged from taking reactions. Usually, I'd say that the "no reactions" aspect should be negated on a successful save, but the low range and inherent danger of the spell serve as balancing mechanics there. Maddening Whispers can render a target incapacitated with 0 speed on a failed Cha-save, but only has a range of 30 feet and demands your action to maintain its effects, which renders it a tactical option, but not one that will break the game.

At 3rd level, we find Void Strike, the option to fire 5d8 necrotic ranged spell attacks that also frighten the target until your next turn. The no-save frightened-effect is something I'd not particularly keen on, but I do like that the spell ties in with the terrain - you gain advantage on attack rolls versus those within dim light or darkness. There's a cool Darkest Dungeon reference in discussing this mechanic, but I can't enunciate it right now. At 4th level, nether weapon is cool: Touched weapon is treated as magic, inflicts a bonus 2d6 necrotic damage...and the creature hit by it can't be healed until the start of your next turn. NICE. Living Shadows at 5th level lets you conjure forth a 15-ft-radius spread of restraining shadows (resisted by Strength save). Creatures that start their turn restrained gain one level of exhaustion. Restrained creatures can use their choice of Str or Dex check to free themselves. I am not perfectly happy with this one -considering that even one level of exhaustion imposes disadvantage on ability checks, escape becomes less likely. Sure, the spell is one spell-level higher than evard's black tentacles, and has 5 foot affected area less than it, but it also does not require concentration, unlike EBS. Personally, I'd have kept concentration as a limiting factor here, mainly since my 5e games tend to place a high value on exhaustion/resource management...and it remains a 6-step killer. I do get the rationale behind the design, though, given how void magic is a locked discipline for most casters.

At 6th level, we can find Life Drain, which lets you determine one point within 90 ft. - those within a 15 feet of the point take 10d6 necrotic damage, half as much on a successful Constitution save. For each target damaged, you can choose one creature in range and have it heal half the amount of necrotic damage you rolled. I have a minor, aesthetic quibble here: I think it should be damage actually inflicted, not rolled. While using a bag of kittens and this spell to heal is a colossally dumb idea, something within me still twitches here a bit. That being said, I get the rationale for the verbiage as provided - basing the heal on damage inflicted versus damage rolled would have complicated the wording of the spell. (Plus, this is something that's pretty easy for the GM to house-rule .)

The 8th and 9th level spells, btw., would be the void magic spells I mentioned that actually require an inscribed void glyph as part of their material components: 8th level's glimpse of the void has a range of 120 feet and all targets within a 30-foot cube must succeed an Int-save, rendering the targets insane on a failed save and placing movement under GM control. The 9th level spell, void rift, generates a 10-foot radius tear in reality, which is then surrounded by 40 feet of difficult terrain. Creatures within the area must succeed Strength saves or be pulled towards the rift and those in contact with it take necrotic damage and are blinded and deafened. Very cool - though the spell takes its toll on the caster, inflicting necrotic damage each round it is maintained.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several fantastic full-color artworks I haven't seen before. Big kudos in the aesthetics-department. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but not for the individual spells. Considering the length of the pdf, that's okay.

Dan Dillon of the four horsemen delivers once again here. Void magic feels potent, alien, risky and still easy to grasp. The astute reader may have noticed that all my complaints (the few that I managed to dig up) boil down to nitpicks in details and aesthetics that can be reduced to "slightly different opinions" - the design here is pretty much immaculate and often rather inspiring. I am particularly enamored with the balancing mechanic employed for the psychic damage-causing cantrip and similar subtle, elegant design decisions. Now personally, I understand why both feats and their effects are not more intricately tied to the spells - a decision made in order to retain the broader appeal of the type of magic. Still, I couldn't help but feel like both feats almost demand being tied to spellcasting. To cut a long ramble short: I'd love to see the engine of void magic expanded. It can carry more than it does. What more can you ask of such a humble little pdf? It actually left me wanting more! So here's to hoping we get Void Magic II at one point. I forgot my verdict? 5 stars...given sans hesitation, since all my quibbles boil down to aesthetic and very minor differences in design opinions! The only reason this does not get my seal would be the brevity - the concept can carry so much more and could have used a couple more pages to develop its mind-shattering impact beyond the presented options.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Void Magic
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Weresheep
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/16/2017 06:39:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Well, before we do - this pdf is one of the cool things that just...happen. What started off as a running joke during the Advanced Races Compendium KS became its own file.

We have to specify what exactly we get here first, though: This does not provide a variant lycanthrope template or the like; instead, this pdf represents an NPC collection of 3 weresheep of the apocalypse. While the concept of weresheep may sound stupid, rest assured that they can be CREEPY and that the NPCs herein are anything but jokes. They, in fact, are extremely deadly adversaries. Each of the three NPCs comes with two statblocks, one for the regular form and one for the hybrid shape, meaning that you won't have to do any work - kudos there!

On the downside of these builds, it should be noted that the weresheep aspect itself does not yield any specific signature abilities, following PFRPG's unfortunate decision to streamline all types of lycanthropy, but the respective builds do make up for that in their imaginative potential. They all are CR 15 villains and cover quite a wide array.

All right, enough tiptoeing around the subject matter, the first of these guys would be chosen by Death, none other than Gromek Palebones, a natural weresheep shaman 7. And yes, these do come with flavor-text: "This towering humanoid's gray skin is ashen and gaunt, and his eyes are sunken into their sockets. He is bedecked in sheepskins and bleached bones, and the great black scythe in his hands slices the air with a moan." Yeah, your PCs will NOT be laughing at these guys. Gromek's life-drinker scythe will certainly make sure that they rue the day they cross him...

Goref Tamerk would be a less---in your face deadly adversary: He'd be a gnoll afflicted weresheep oracle devoted to Famine - in his hybrid form, he has a "bleeding sheep skull for a face and a coat of thick, black wool." Yeah, CREEPY. Have I mentioned cannibal curse, erosion's touch and the appropriate abilities to make foes really rue the day they went out of bed to don those adventuring clothes?

Thirdly, there would be Lord Silas Nareshorn, the weresheep of pestilence...who would be a human natural weresheep vivisectionist with a seeking hand crossbow that makes for a truly deadly adversary and killer...and the ticking timer of his family's dread secret drove him towards the horrid plague he seeks to unleash to secure his own fortune and well-being...and his ambitious plan is coming closer to fruition, making good use of his abilities and resources. In fact, that is a component that deserves special mention: The weresheep builds make sense within their abilities and sport some really cool angles.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard and the pdf has bookmarks in spite of its brevity - kudos! Unfortunately, we don't get artworks for the NPCs, though the fair price-point makes up for that shortcoming.

The four horsemen deliver three amazing adversaries for high-level PCs in this pdf and the 3 weresheep, universally, are amazing. I noticed no glitches and the builds themselves are appropriate, deadly and brim with cool ideas. While I would have loved to see unique signature abilities, weapons or the like, for the limited focus of this pdf, it most certainly delivers. The absence of a weresheep of war (due to, to my knowledge, the horsemen having had a vacancy back then before Tim Hitchcock joined their ranks) is a pity, though. That being said, for the more than fair price point, this is worth a final verdict of 4.5 stars, though I feel it misses rounding up by a margin.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Weresheep
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Deep Magic: Rune Magic
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2017 11:11:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised version

The second installment of Kobold Press' Deep Magic-series clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Rune magic works differently from other magic types in its PFRPG-version - and so it makes sense to use a different system in 5e as well: There is a feat called Rune Knowledge, which nets knowledge of 2 runes of the player's choice, granting the respective rune bonuses. Additionally, once per day, you can invoke a rune's rune power, provided you meet the prerequisite, for several runes have several rune powers, with progressively better ones being unlocked later. The feat may be taken additional times, with each additional time granting access to more runes and their powers. As a nitpick, I think rune powers should not be tied to days, but long rest intervals, but that is a mostly cosmetic gripe.

There is a follow-up feat, analogue to PFRPG: Rune Mastery. This feat requires the previous feat and grants you access to one rune mastery effect. As a minor complaint: While rune mastery abilities have prerequisite levels, the feat, unlike its brother, does not mention the requirement of meeting that prerequisite, which is relevant since some rune mastery powers don't unlock at 8th level, but rather at 13th or as late as 15th level, for example. Again, I think tying them to rest intervals instead of enforcing a hard daily cap would have made sense for rune mastery powers as well.

A rune's save throw DC is dependent on the rune employed - if it forces a Cha-save, for example, it employs Cha as governing attribute for the save, which follows the default 8 + rune maker's ability bonus + rune maker's proficiency bonus. In another cosmetic hiccup that will not influence the final verdict, usually you list the proficiency bonus first. Anyways, the runes are based on the FuÞark and basic meanings are noted.

Yes, meanings. Plural. The runes were not necessarily used as classic letters, but also have a very significant symbolic meaning...which is btw. the reason I almost get an aneurysm whenever someone wears some piece of gaudy jewelry that uses runes as a letter-substitution. Ahem. Anyways, their benefits run a pretty wide array of different benefits - the goal, from a design perspective, is obviously based on establishing breadth, rather than depth: While many runes provide minor bonuses to a certain skill (rune bonuses), the runes are more remarkable for the breadth they provide: Take the very first one, Algiz: It allows you to create elk horn wands, which represent a new magic item that allows the wielder to generate saving throw bonuses for a brief time and enhances dispelling. As a rune power, the user may scratch it on a wall or structure, granting bonuses to saves and effects versus sleep or unconsciousness that last for 8 hours.

Many of these runes are not only balanced by the steep cost of two feats, but also by their cultural context, hard-wired into the very design of the respective runes, with several explicitly stating that they unleash their power only versus foes of the Aesir, who have wrung their control from the well of Mimir. (Insert long-winded and at this time redundant digression about Norse mythology you have by now hear x times from me here...)

This contextualizes them well and makes them feel infused with the culture...and also provides a rationale for their design-philosophy deviating slightly from what you usually receive in 5e. In short: They behave like their own engine, which is something I applaud, considering that, at least as far as my experiences are concerned, it is said sub-engines that make certain class choices more popular than others in 5e. It is also why I am not complaining about colons instead of full stops in the formatting of the rune abilities.

I digress. I should also mention that several runes have multiple rune mastery powers, though only one can be invoked for each rune, with the benefits ranging from local plant growth to communing with the dead, making an item teleport out of a creature's hand once it dies...there is some serious narrative potential here, as several runes practically beg both players and GMs to embark on a collective narrative experience. Only one rune got a bit lost: Poor Raido does not have a rune mastery power, though its brief water walking and forced march enhancing capabilities make for a nice basic rune. One more thing that will make this pdf instantly more compelling to quite a few of my readers out there, a fact that very much makes this a viable purchase even if you're not interested in the concept of runes:

This installment of deep magic introduces the snowblindness condition and the 4-stage frostbite/hypothermia-engine, which ties into the amazing exhaustion mechanics of 5e (seriously, I love them!). These alone may be enough to justify getting this book, I kid you not. I am a big fan of environmental/wilderness gaming and 5e's base engine does a nice job at portraying a rigorous adventuring life in regular climates, but in the more extreme zones, it needed this expansion. Seriously: Massive kudos!

These conditions, btw., do not exist in their own little universe - instead, the runes and new spells make nice use of them and their effects. Speaking of spells: perhaps my favorite blending of runes and spells is that there are rune rituals that follow pretty much the format of rituals, but which can only be learned by the rune associated with them: Whether you wish to call forth the vaettir (whose stats are reprinted from the ToB) to transforming creatures into lycanthropes...the applications are fun. Now personally, I do believe that Tyr's Peace should rather be Forseti's Peace, considering that Tyr's area or expertise was primarily judgment/justice in regards to warfare, while the ritual penalizes bloodshed in general, not just among previous combatants...but one could argue for Tyr just as well...so yeah, I'm good with these.

I am NOT good with all of the new and updated spells herein.While not all spells have been streamlined (fire under the tongue is still pitiful for a 1st level spell...which hurts, considering the cool visuals!), the revised version has been improved in that regard. Still, not as cool as the rune section, which is a pity, for concept-wise, quite a few of these are amazing.

Beyond aforementioned wand, we get the nithing pole wondrous item, which promises a curse to the named person that dares approach it. Two thumbs up! Now, I already mentioned the Vaettir, but one of my favorites from Northlands, the tupilak golem at challenge 4 can also be found within this supplement...and its 5e-iteration is surprisingly brutal for its challenge. I mean it. Love this guy...but if you encounter it...run and do your legwork, otherwise you'll be in for pain!!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice too grievous hiccups. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports several truly gorgeous full-color artworks, some of which are original, while the vaettir, for example, will be familiar to owners of the ToB. The pdf comes with bookmarks, but not to individual runes or spells.

Chris Harris delivers regarding rune magic: I really, really like how he has converted the engine; the magic is suffused by a sense of the primal and fantastic, it breathes mythology and its generally conservative, but narrative-wise relevant bonuses and tricks are a boon and just make for great story-telling. I really like them. I ADORE the hypothermia-engine and snowblindness as well and the critters would similarly receive two thumbs up from me. While I have nitpicked quite a bit in the beginning, if that was all, I'd frankly slap, gladly, my seal on this. I like how this behaves as an engine, I like the wealth of options it provides and how it can be used to run gritty campaigns - I could see myself running a game sans regular magic, with only the runes in a really gritty setting.

The spells, while improved, are still not perfect examples of their craft, though they are theme-wise strong. Hence, my final verdict can "only" clock in at EDIT: 4.5 stars, and I feel I can't round up for this one, though I still HIGHLY recommend getting this if you plan on playing any adventure in the frigid landscapes of the North.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Rune Magic
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Deep Magic: Clockwork
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2017 10:58:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review of the revised edition

This installment of the Deep Magic-series of 5e-pdfs clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, almost one page of SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 14 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

There are few aspects I associate as much with Kobold Press' phenomenal Midgard-setting as clockwork magic. (In fact, only one: Fey...but I digress..) The magic which spread from the by now legendary city of Zobeck across the disk (Midgard's flat) is evocative and interesting...so how has it been translated to 5e? Well, beyond two clockwork-associated gods (surprisingly missing Rava!) after a brief introduction to the history of clockwork magic, we dive right into a new cleric domain, the, surprise, clockwork domain.

The domain nets proficiency in clockmaker's tools and heavy armor as well as advantage on attacks versus clockworks and constructs, with the spell-dispersal making sense and good use of the new material herein. Channel divinity lets the cleric hijack constructs if they fail a Wisdom saving throw - if they badly fail their save, the control extends in duration. Starting at 6th level, spells used to repair damage to clockwork creatures etc. always restore maximum possible hit points, which I consider problematic, considering the presence of a clockwork PC-race among the roster for Midgard - a purely gearforged group, for example. 8th level, you can designate a controlled construct within 60 ft. as a viable target for spells that usually only target the cleric. 17th level nets the ability to merge with a construct controlled, restoring all hit points. For the duration, you gain all immunities and qualities of the construct and may cast spells, use class features, etc. This can only be used once per long-rest-interval. I assume that this includes access to the special traits and features of the creature merged with, but I am not 100% sure - the ability could be slightly more precise here.

The warlock also receives support here, to be precise, the great machine patron. At 1st level, the warlock may decide to spring ahead in the initiative order to right before a given creature, and yes, this ability is concise and covers the changes in the order properly. This one, much like 6th level's ability, recovers on a short or long rest. 6th level's ability lets you reroll a missed attack witha dvantage. 10th level provides immunity to psychic damage and mind reading, unless you allow it and 14th level allows you to designate a creature within 60 ft. The creature must succeed a Charisma save versus spell save DC or take 10d10 psychic damage and must make another Cha-save to avoid being stunned for 1 minute. Once again, short or long rest to recharge.

Pact boon-wise, the warlock may choose a clockwork familiar, a changing blade or a pocket-sized device that replaces a book. Three eldritch invocations allow for gear barrage, +1d6 fire damage in melee and reflexive 1d6 fire damage as well as the option to overcome construct immunity to being frightened and charmed.

Wizards may opt for the path of the clockwork mage, who gain an aforementioned clockwork familiar. Their school lets them halve time and gold it costs to add a clockwork spell to the spellbook. The duration of animate constructs increases by proficiency bonus minutes, with 20th level providing permanence instead. 6th level nets metal shape, which lets you reshape metal of size Small or smaller under your control. Here's the amazing: For once, the ability requires familiarity with an object - no easy cheating via key-generation. Cool! 10th level nets golem form, which lets you retain mental faculties, but lets you assume the physical characteristics of a golem/clockwork creature with a CR less than the current level, lasting up to 1 minute per level. 14th level allows for an Int-based hijacking of constructs, analogue to the cleric tricks.

The pdf, after several class lists of spells, then begins to introduce new and updated spells: These include absolute command that lets you issue commands to constructs, animating constructs with size by spell slot and base stats for each. Armored heart nets an interesting option to, as a bonus action, gain resistance to the 3 physical damage types for 1 round, enhancing potential defense/withdraw-sections. Taking on a zelekhut's powers (stats included) - there are some cool tricks here. EDIT: catapult now specifies the damage type it inflicts

Rust is added to the list of afflictions available via contagion...all in all, a well-made selection of options. You don't know what rust does? Well, thankfully, the pdf does cover this! A ritual for hellforged gearforged allows for an interesting variant of the gearforged race. Sacrificing a construct to temporarily imbue a target with construct-tricks...very cool. Speaking of which - have I mentioned the spell that uses a music box to rip open the planes, allowing them to partially overlap? Pendulum is interesting as well, locking d20-throws at 20, 1, 19, 18...which is generally cool, but considering that it's concentration, up to 1 minute, it kind of loses a bit of its sting and is a better buff than debuff, which is pretty surely not how it was intended, unless it's supposed to be just one half swing of a pendulum. Interaction with memory gears and winding keys is intriguing.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level and now also on a formal level. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf sports high-quality artworks. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks for the class features, but not the individual spells.

Scott Carter's translation of clockwork magic to 5e constitutes a well-crafted first installment for the series, though one that misses a couple of minor beats. There are some serious gems here and much of the interaction with e.g. gearforged etc. and the magic aspects that are integral to Midgard have been properly presented. While not perfect, this is a nice, inexpensive pdf and as such receives a final verdict of EDIT: Some glitches have been ironed out, which adds + 0.5 stars to the final verdict. Due to my in dubio pro reo policy, the final verdict will be rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Clockwork
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Wrath of the River King for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/27/2017 04:31:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This module clocks in at 66 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page backer-thanks/introduction, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 60 pages, so let's take a look!

My review is mainly based on the print version, though I also had access to the electronic version.

This is an adventure-review and as such, it contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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Okay, so before we begin: This is one of the modules that perfectly encapsulates what sets Midgard apart from your run-of-the-mill fantasy setting, for its begin in the small village of Riverbend is steeped in the feudal structures that should be inherent in all fantasy worlds. Let me elaborate: The miller in ancient times doubled as a taxman of sorts and was directly put in charge by the respective lords: There was no free choice of where to go, etc. and you had to pay miler and lord when having your grain processed. It is thus that the stereotype of the greedy miller came into being. An edge of the sinister had always stuck to the profession in a fairy tale-context, one perfectly exemplified by Ottfried Preußler's "Krabat", building on the Wendish legend. Not only does the book perfectly highlight the horrors of love and war and poverty, its use of mystical numbers and general plot have influenced magical traditions in my own games for ages. It is, in short, glorious and if your German is good, I'd strongly recommend the folk-rock cd "Zaubererbruder" by ASP, a poetic and really catchy version of the tale that has some really smashing tunes like "Denn ich bin Dein Meister" ("For I am your master") or a brilliant portrayal of a duel of polymorphing cat and mouse - literally!

I digress, back to Riverbend: The miller here, as often, was the target of not an undue amount f jealousy...and worse, he actually had an elven wife! (Note: In Midgard, elves are VERY rare and considered to be closer to fey than regular mortals, making them feel more mythological.) The elven wife of miller Froderick has vanished, alongside with his millstone and people are pretty sure he has murdered her...after all, someone who consorts with fey is prone to be suspicious, particularly if he's also the miller! The presence of the fantastic is making itself felt in town, with the omnipresent fey (exemplified as bugbears and forest imps) making the area dangerous...oh, and guess what: poor Froderick is facing the gallows if the PCs don't help him. Indeed, investigation of Riverbend may yield the PCs some interesting information: For one, a band of satyrs with a talking bear have taken refuge at the local inn, much to the panic of the local population. Getting them out will require a complex skill-check-interaction...which brings me to one of my favorite parts in the module, at least from a design perspective.

You see, this was originally released for D&D 4th edition and while I loathe that system, its skill challenge mechanic is interesting: Basically, you set a complex task in front of the party and allow the respective PCs to accumulate success and failures based on skill-use. Let me make up an example to illustrate the concept: A tree blocks a trade road. The mage may use Knowledge (engineering) to discern the best way to move it, the fighter uses his Strength (or Profession (Woodman) to cut off some big branches and finally, the ranger or druid use Handle Animal to make the horses draw the tree away. Sure, you could depict that in sequence, but the beauty of complex skill challenges lies in the variety of options and the teamwork aspect inherent in besting them. The system is ridiculously easy to understand and I sometimes wish that particularly deadly traps used such a system more often, instead of relying on one roll. So yeah, the inclusion and proper conversion of these skill challenges is a big plus for me and I can't figure out any drawback to their inclusion.

Beyond the satyrs, there is a flaxen-eyed kid in the mill - who is very nervous and claims that it belongs to him. The PCs don't yet know that...but this boy is Froderick's son. Ellesandra, his missing wife, was pregnant and raised the boy in the Summerlands, where time follows different laws....a magical place which can, just fyi, be accessed by the mill pond...which also explains the presence of a rather potent sidhe knight and his squire there...and they're not pleasant beings. Speaking of not pleasant: The module makes an excellent display of highlighting the strange and capricious nature of fey, whilestaying true to the myths: If the PCs take a look at the accounts of Froderick, they may well find out that there is something missing...confronted with this discrepancy, the strange coincidences may make suddenly sense, as Froderick confesses to having had an enchanted millstone that he had to grind each day in order to keep his wife's love...oh, and his wife was gifted to him by a fairy lord, to whom he was sending the missing tribute...but he vehemently denies being the shape that was seen attempting to drown his wife. (On an aside: Morally compromised, but well-meaning man, young and gorgeous wife that is only kept entranced with him, courtesy of his toil...you can see some nice social commentary here...yep, the like has even existed back in the times quoted by fairy tales...)

It seems that the PCs will have to dive deeper into the matter at hand and brave the mill pond if they want to get to the bottom of this mystery...literally here, for the tithe collector of the fairy, one nasty hag (who also, coincidentally, knew about the miller skimping on the due amount and who is the culprit of the attempted drowning) has sunk the mill stone in the mill pond...so the PCs will have to dive down...and there, finally, brave a kind of mini-game, if you will, as you're diving into the river - getting to shore in the lands of the fey will be not an easy task...but once the PCs have managed to reach shore, things turn very much wondrous, as the Summerlands feel, without a doubt, like a realm both wondrous and magickal, as PCs get a chance to encounter eel hounds, witness the dance of moths, deal with frog-riding goblins...and save Elessandra from a fey bandit...and she is willing to fill the PCs in on her marriage being arranged...and thus that the woman has no intention of ever returning to the realms of mortals...but her wedding ring makes for a somber way of hopefully getting the miller off the gallows...but while the GM may elect for this encounter to just happen, it is very much at this point that the linearity you'd expect from a module like this...completely vanishes.

Sure, there are aspects that can be presented in a certain sequence, but, at this point, any remotely capable GM and group can either go in sequence through the specific dressings and NPC/monster-encounters, sure - but the goal itself and how they achieve it will depend in a very nice emphasis of player-choice highly upon the interaction with the mythologically-resonant cast of character: You see, with the miller not delivering the proper tribute, Riverbent is actually bound to become part of the Summerlands unless the deal can be renegotiated and the River King's wrath quelled. Oh, and even if the PCs just want to run...well, they may have access to an incantation that lets them navigate fey roads...but that does not mean they can simply return home!

Thing is: Fey are elitist. And cold. And alien. And they seem to have taken a liking to some of the feudal structures seen among the mortals - thus, the PCs will definitely need to make some allies with powerful entities...and the entities being fey, well, let's just say that strings will be attached, new roleplaying potential generated as the PCs make their impact known among the noble fey. In fact, the PCs may even claim a title, encounter the dragon Tatzel and there would be the Birch Queen's magnificent and unearthly fair to visit. An evil lord of verminous butterflies, scorched treants and similarly wild beings allow for plenty of deadly encounters...or corresponding opportunities for roleplaiyng opportunities with some of the most interesting creatures to interact with in a while.

In order to save Riverbent, the PCs not only have to reach the source of the river and gain access to the court of the river king, they will also need to make a case for the claim of lord Flax on the lands being spurious...and negotiating with a personified force of nature...well, is not an undertaking to be taken lightly or disrespectfully. Fey are capricious, though, and the hag may well demand for a duel...oh, and in order to return to the mortal world, the PCs will have to defend the fairy-realm version of the mill from the forces of Flax in a furious siege...and, much like real-world fairy tales, this ends with a melancholy and bittersweet note, for Flax is Froderick's son, the humble kid the PCs saw before, grown quickly and prematurely, providing a somber tone to contrast with the wondrous and impressive nature of the summerlands.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. I have noticed a couple of minor hiccups, but nothing grievous. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard. The pdf sports several unique and beautiful full-color artworks and the pdf version comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The cartography is glorious full color, though there are no player-friendly versions included. The print softcover, unlike earlier Kobold Press books, is just as gorgeous and full color as the pdf and definitely well worth getting.

Wolfgang Baur's Wrath of the River King, beautifully and expertly translated to PFRPG by Ben McFarland was for a long time one of the blind spots in my Midgard-collection: While I have all the early Open Designs, I sat this one's funding out back in the day, since I had no interest in 4th edition. That being said, after the glorious conversion of Courts of the Shadow Fey, I was hoping we'd get to see this one as well. When I finally got my hands on this book, I was surprised to see its relative brevity... but don't be fooled: There is a metric TON of gaming to be had from this module. I'd be seriously surprised if any group can finish this book in anything below 6 full-day sessions unless they skip everything: This book not only manages to create an ambiance wondrous and miraculous, it also, much like the excellent "Courts of the Shadow Fey", GETS fey. Where the shadow fey excursion was all about the dark and somber shadow fey, this one very much is all about the wondrous fey that are in tune with nature; this pdf pits the PCs against an alien and intriguing incarnation of the capricious forces of nature. From the small dressing bits to the NPCs and environments, the module oozes flavor from every single word and manages to be extremely concise while doing so.

This belongs in the hall of fame of the precious few modules that truly manage the feat to tap into the wonder and feeling of fairy tales and translate it to the medium of roleplaying games, only being paralleled by the amazing Courts of the Shadow Fey and AAW Games' superb Snow White for PFRPG. This is a true gem that basically demands a place of honor on your shelf next to these classics. In short: It is not only one gorgeous book that manages to cram an insane amount of crunchy bits in its page-count, it also manages to perfectly evoke the sense of the fantastic. This should be considered to be one of the modules that need to be experienced by anyone who even halfway enjoys the world of Midgard, a module that I'd consider core-canon and brilliant. Particularly the beauty of the ending and its resonance of classic tropes is genius and an emotional note only few modules manage to hit. This is one superb offering and effortlessly receives a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval as well as a nomination as a candidature for my Top Ten of 2016.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Wrath of the River King for Pathfinder Roleplaying Game
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Unlikely Heroes for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/01/2017 07:52:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third pdf converting unique Midgard-races to 5e clocks in at 27 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2/3 of a page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 23 1/2 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with a nice and brief introduction to the weird races - and the considerations that adventuring with them entails before diving into the subject matter. It should be noted that each race receives 5e's standard of fluffy introductions, guiding the prospective player towards making well-considered characters. Playing advice and nomenclature are similarly covered, which is nice to see - particularly when playing, for example, an insane derro! Yep, that would be the first race and the guidance is much appreciated. Speaking of dressing and guidance - a series of inter-connected tables helps you come up with endearing "eccentricities" for such characters - whether its irrational fear, taboos or the like, small objects and living creatures, delusions or physical effects like inappropriate weeping or hunchbacks - just a few rolls and there you go. This is the level of "one step beyond" I love to see in racial supplements.

Crunch-wise, derro increase Dex by 2 and Con by 1,a re Small and have a speed of 30 ft. They have superior darkvision and sunlight sensitivity, advantage on Constitution saves versus spells and saves versus the charmed and frightened conditions, courtesy of their insanity. Amazing, evocative, best iteration of the race I've seen so far.

Dhampirs would be up next and icnrease their Cha by 2, Dex by 1 and are Medium. They gain darkvision and have advantage on saving throws versus disease as well as resistance against necrotic damage. As an action, they may beguile a creature within 30 ft., gaining advantage on Charisma checks versus said creature for 1 hour, but thereafter, the creature will turn hostile. immunity to charm proofs against the ability and it requires a short or long rest to recharge. And thankfully, the blood thirst aspect has not fallen by the wayside (seriously, if you play a dhampir sans blood thirst, what's the point??) - the dhampir has a bite that inflicts 1 point of piercing damage, inflicting up to Cha-mod (min 1) necrotic damage while feeding. If the target is damaged thus, you regain a spent hit dice, but these thankfully cap at Con mod hit dice per rest interval, once again, minimum one. Powerful, yes...but not to the point where I'd consider them problematic, considering the stigma they will necessarily suffer from. That being said, I do have one complaint. Dark Thirst should only work on intelligent foes. RAW, you can carry around a snack-bag of kittens to satiate your thirst...which is despicable, but efficient. The rest interval cap does prevent me from going all ranty on it.

The Great Old Ones-worshipping dust goblins would be next - they increase their Dex by 2 and COn by 1, are Small, have a speed of 30 ft., gain darkvision and have advantage on saves versus being charmed or frightened. They have proficiency in Stealth and Survival. When they attack a creature from hiding, they must succeed a Wisdom save or be frightened for 1 round. Solid.

The jinnborn are next, with the name pretty much explaining the concept. They increase their Con yb 2 and gain darkvision 60 ft. as well as proficiency in Persuasion. They also are tied to the desert and every month spent apart from it results in a Charisma save or a madness incurred They also choose a mystic path, called siraati, which is aligned with one of the elements. The race sports two subraces: Speaker jinnborn receive an increase to Wis by 1 while shapers increase their Strength by 1. Speakers may, up to Wisdom modifier times (min 1) per long rest interval either gain advantage on a save or impose disadvantage on an attack made against them and they have advantage on saves versus stunning and extreme environments and on checks to navigate the wild and avoid being lost. Shapers, on the other hand, may up to Constitution modifier times per long rest interval add +1d6 damage corresponding to the siraati's energy to their attack, but only once per turn. They also gain resistance to the energy corresponding with the chosen siraati.

The humanoid plantskijani increase their Wisodm by 2 and another ability score of their choice by 1 and are plants. They gain darkvision and have proficiency in their choice of one of Arcana, History, nature or Religion. They enter a state of dormancy, but are immune to sleep-causing effects and unlock speak with plants at 7th level, cast as a 3rd level spell, with Wisdom as governing attribute. When below 1/2 maximum hit points, a kijani's serenity makes way to their primeval fury and they may once per turn add +1d4 to weapon damage or add +2 to their AC as a reaction to being hit. Nice!

The seductive and serpentine lamia are up next - they increase their Strength by 2, their Charisma by 1 and are monstrosities with a climb and swim speed of 20 ft., respectively. They gain darkvision and are proficient in Deception and Intimidation. Additionally, they gain advantage on attack rolls versus surprised creatures or those charmed by you or your allies as well as saves versus being knocked prone. HOWEVER, due to their serpentine body, they cannot benefit from any items, effects etc. that enhance legs or feet or require them - nice catch!

The Ramag may look like humans at first glance, but the erstwhile servitors of titans are a different breed entirely, with strand-thick hair and generally, an angular and spindly look. They increase their Intelligence by 2 and teir Dexterity by 1 and have proficiency in Arcana as well as advantage on Strength and Dexterity saving throws versus spells. oh, and they can ignore class requirements when attuning magic items, which is pretty damn strong...but also cool. And since the other requirements are untouched, I'm cool with the choice.

Next up would be a classic - the sahuagin, who increase their Strength by 2, their Wisdom by 1 and they have a swim speed of an impressive 40 ft. in addition to the default land speed for Medium creatures. They gain superior darkvision, surprisingly sans the usually accompanying light sensitivity or blindness and a natural AC of 12 + Dex-mod. They may telepathically communicate with sharks within 120 ft. and are proficient with both claws and bite, each of which inflict 1d4 damage, slashing and piercing, respectively. As a bonus action, they may enter blood frenzies, which nets advantage on attacks versus creatures that do not have all hit points - weird: I figured this should not work versus constructs. Anyhow, the ability can only be used Con-mod (min 1) times in a long-rest interval. As a major downside, the race needs to be completely submerged once in every 4 hours or they begin suffocating, which is an apt balancing mechanism for the power gained.

All of the races come with an height and weight table and we also receive backgrounds - 4 fully presented ones can be found, including personality traits, goals etc. - not just the feature boil-down! Cannibal Headhunters can use their...unconventional practices to prevent hostilities with humanoids and savage beings, while prophets can generally hope to receive a helping hand from those inclined to believe in their patron. Scavengers can dumpster dive in settlements, scavenging low-cost items from refuse, while seers don't necessarily have divinatory powers...but they sure as hell can draw upon the well-meaning of the relaxation and favor of their patrons...which in itself sports copious amounts of roleplaying potential. All of these backgrounds come with appropriate benefits regarding languages, proficiencies and equipment.

Finally, we receive two variants of other backgrounds, the first of which would be the tinker, who modifies the guild artisan, who can use downtime to jury-rig traps and devices (cool!), while the urchin-variant beggar knows where to get basics and how to get by on less than a shoestring budget and also receives variant skill proficiencies.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no grievous hiccups in either formal or rules-language criteria. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with gorgeous full-color artworks for all races. The pdf comes bookmarked with nested bookmarks.

The four horsemen's 5e-specialist Dan Dillon, with additional design by none other than Kobold-in-chief Wolfgang Baur, delivers a thoroughly amazing collection of races herein. The totality of options here is balanced, evocative and flavorful, with roleplaying potential galore and mechanically unique, evocative components. The drawbacks, where present, are not crippling, but rather of the rpg-enhancing variety and the complete collection of critters ultimately can be considered to be better balanced than the PFRPG-iterations of the respective races, all without losing what makes them amazing in the first place. Add to that the cool and evocative backgrounds that do exactly what they should, namely help with the details of the characters in question, and we have a fantastic racial supplement, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval. Midgard in 5th edition is shaping up to be even cooler than in PFRPG.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Unlikely Heroes for 5th Edition
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Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
by A. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/28/2017 19:37:47

Great book, but its reliance on the Tome of Beasts and unnecessary provocative artwork loses them a star. The custom monsters referenced should at least be included in pdf form for free with the book.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
by Ismael A. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/24/2017 11:19:21

Disclosure: I received this product as a gift from the publisher as part of a holiday promotion. Angelic Seals is part of the "Deep Magic" product line, the illustrious set of books that sets out to expand the magical options for various systems. In this case, it is a 5th edition product, and a much needed one. It weighs in at 11 pages, with 4 pages dedicated to the cover, credits page, legal info and back cover. That leaves us with 7 pages of actual material which is well used. Formatting is the standard two column format. First of all, the art and layout for this book are excellent, as is standard for Kobold Press. The introduction to the book is great as well, presenting a strong case for the premise of the book; Angelic firmament magic that taps into the nature of creation to protect. The book excels at giving you a robust if concise bit of angelic magic that brims with thematic flavor and well measured rules. This book will be useful to you even if you don't want angel magic, but be prepared as it is heavy on defensive magic. The book is divided, short as it is, into three segments. First we are introduced to angelic seals, a pseudo-spell like concept that allows you to evoke powerful effects through symbols and holy words. We start with a sidebar that introduces feats that act as a gateway to the angelic seals, as well as a whole Arcane Tradition that brings Wizards fully into the use of angelic seals. I am actually impressed that Wizards were chosen over a more obvious choice like Paladins, Clerics, or even Warlocks, as Wizards are rarely combined with religious motifs, and the combination here was done very well. Regarding the feats, there are two. First we have "Heavenly Scribe". It is a good solid feat, in line with the feats that grant access to magic, allowing you to choose an angelic seal that grants you some magical ability. What is unfortunate is that it does not grant the "Greater Seal" ability that many of the specific angelic seals have. Even if there was a second feat that unlocked that ability, it would have been nice to see. Second we have the "Heaven's Chosen" feat, which is an interesting design choice. It is set up as a not as good as "Lucky feat, but there are a few things at play here. First of all, "Heaven's Chosen" allows a reroll once per long rest, and the reroll can ignore things like disadvantage. This is different from the "Lucky" which gives you 3 luck points, but asks you to use them before a roll is made. Add to that the fact that the "Lucky" feat is not in the SRD, and the charm of "Heaven's Chosen" is apparent. It is quite likely that you will see much use of it on dangerous saving throw rolls that could change the course of a fight. Now for the Arcane Tradition, called Angelic Scribe, is a further inculcation into the angelic seals presented, and acts nearly as a frame to the mechanic, since it can choose multiple seals and gains deeper access to their powers. You get access to two seals to at level 2, and gain more seals as you gain levels in your Wizard class, making the growth of this archetype very neatly distributed. At 6th level you gain a Warding Seal, which acts as a slightly modified Magic Circle that covers a large area. The one problem I saw was that the area that it can cover is confusing. It can either cover a 22 foot cube, or an area of 11,000 cubic feet if it is inside of a building. This seems confusing and arbitrary, but I can't necessarily think of a better way to express that it can protect an entire small building. The effect is neat and thematically appropriate though, and does its job by keeping evil things out. At 10th level you can access the greater seal powers, which greatly expands the powers available to you, giving the wizard a nice repertoire of abilities from which to choose. You can only do so twice per short or long rest, so it doesn't do anything so drastic as to compete with your spell selection. At 14th level, you gain the Angelic Wrath ability, which lets you and your allies deal radiant damage. In addition, you gain the ability to cast a spell that summons celestials, which is thematic but not overpowered. Overall, this archetype is solid and impressive, giving a whole new flavor to the Wizard that can match a specific character build or character backstory. The idea of a wizard that studies angelic writing as a path to magic is fascinating and inspiring. As for the angelic seals themselves, they are something of a mixed bag. They offer a lot of variety, but they are not internally balanced against each other. Some are clearly better than others, making the seal selection somewhat less impressive. One issue that crops up is that the angelic seals sometimes refer to your Wizard level. As non-wizards can access it by way of feat, I wonder what their effective wizard level might be. But now onto spells. Overall the spells presented are well build, but there are many concentration spells, making each of these spells a critical choice for preparation and casting. While this does not make them bad, it makes sense to have them be wizard spells, given that a wizard is made to make spell choices and think critically about what spells they prepare. The spells are available to clerics, paladins, and warlocks though, making the spell selection for them much more important and necessitating precision when doing so, especially for paladins and warlocks. That said, the spells are amazing enough to make the choice a tough one, but a good one. As a warlock for instance, I may only want one or possible two of these spells as known spells any one time. The first spell is angelic guardian, which is very potent and impressive, and grants an armor class bonus that can be dismissed to grant a reroll on a Dexterity save. This bolsters its utility, and the ability to cast it on others is excellent. The benediction cantrip is another great spell, giving a small modicum of damage mitigation. It is concentration, so it doesn't work if you have other spells, but it is a great holdout. It would make a great spell for non-spellcasters that gain cantrips through other means (such as high elves). Blade of wrath is awesome and thematically appropriate. Golden sword that deals radiant and fire damage. What's not to like? This is the paladin spell that we didn't know we desperately needed. Blazing chariot is an impressive spell that creates a flying vehicle! The spell lasts for an hour, and discourages attackers by burning them. The spell itself has excellent and thorough rules for use that make me want to run a chase scene with it. Blessed halo is a good spell and very useful for various things. It creates light, grants limited healing, and lets you get advantage on Charisma checks against other good creatures. A solid 2nd level spell. Deva's wings is just thematically very cool. The imagery is amazing. You fly, and can attack with your wings. The seal of sanctuary spells, like the Warding Seal class feature, seem to be just greater versions of magic circle. I'm not sure how I feel about this, and I can see why these effects exist; they aren't unnecessary. I just wish that they had implemented magic circle as an abbreviated way of saying what the effects do, instead of creating an entirely new effect from scratch each time that does effectively the same thing. Odd quibble, I know. It also seems odd that these higher level spells have hit points that, once depleted, end the spell (specifically, the seal used to power the spell) which makes them slightly more vulnerable than the aforementioned magic circle, but again I don't know how these must play out in playtests and such. Heavenly crown is an awesome spell that harkens to the Warlord class of 4th edition, and does a lot to play into a tactical mindset. There is some good use of action economy here that is excellently balanced. Quintessence is a bad ass spell that seems to mirror various Paladin 20th level archetype features, but does it well. It seems to fit an 8th level spell pretty well. Again, the balance is in its concentration duration. And that's the book! Final thoughts: This book does exactly what it set out to do, which is to create a slew of angelic powers and spells that evoke the sense that you are tapping into a divine power for the sake of good. The imagery is excellent, the powers are all pretty well balanced, and the spells and seals are all varied enough to justify a small supplement dedicated to the concept. There are some hiccups here, but there were no major errors or problems that I saw, and I can't say that the hiccups detract from either my enjoyment of the book, nor the utility of the contents. This is a solid 5 star product



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Angelic Seals
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Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/17/2017 08:57:00

So, what is chaos magic? Some would say magic is inherently chaotic, others say such wildness is the purview of the sorcerer and other spell-casters are a bit more ordered. Yet some wizards (and some bards) tread a narrow path in which they manipulate raw energy, affect chance, and teter on the edge of madness. There are dangers, one being the chaos magic surge. When one of those occurs anything could happen - maybe the sun is suddenly eclipsed or the caster grows a long purple moustache! (Yes, there is a wonderful random table to roll on.)

For wizards there is a School of Chaos Magic to study, whilst bards can opt for the College of Entropy, home of natural gamblers, the sort of people who rely on luck as much as on knowledge and skill. Each provides various advantages as characters rise in level.

After the aforementioned Chaos Magic Surge table, which makes entertaining reading, there's a chaos magic spell list which is available to bards, sorcerers with the wild magic bloodline, and wizards. This provides wonderful opportunities to mess with your opponents' (and quite often your allies') heads.

This is one to have fun with. As a player, grapple with something unpredictable. As a DM, enjoy watching your players' faces as someone's very being warps and oozes like a Salvadore Dali painting or a spellbook develops a mouth and starts answering back! And yet, it's not silly - it's just strange, a way to make magic mysterious and surprising again!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Chaos Magic for 5th Edition
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Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
by Tim P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/06/2017 14:28:12

Haven't had any Tech issues with this issue . The artwork in the book is far more bright and beautiful them in this print version. Not sure why that is other than the pages appear dark in the printed version. Some great creatures in here but feel that it's overdone a bit in the area of demons. For myself could have used a few more dragons and / or cute creatures, but it's a good book.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Tome of Beasts for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
by Andrew S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/21/2016 07:54:46

If you're looking to add variety to the 13th Age classes with an arcane spin, Deep Magc is then a great addition. I felt it very useful for making simpler classes more interesting without having to multi-class, such as the Paladin.

I also thought it helped in odd multi-class combinations together by filling in any gaps to make them become viable options able stand on their own, which in turn brings about new and unique characters to the game. A melee focused Wizard Occultist was one example I found great success with.

I certainly hope more suuplement books like this come out for 13th Age, but which expand on the other domains too, such as divine, psionic and martial based powers that all classes can learn in a simialr mechanic to the one shown here.

Well done to the publishers.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic (13th Age Compatible)
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Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2016 08:50:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive book clocks in at 109 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 3 pages of advertisements, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with a total of 102 pages of content, so let's take a look!

All right, before we do...what is this? In short, it could be considered to be a massive companion tome to the even more massive Tome of Beasts, but that would be only the tip of the ice-berg. Basically, this massive book contains a significant array of set-piece locations you can easily drop into your game, with the opposition making partially use of the monsters from the Tome of Beasts. While the book does not contain the statblocks of the opposition, it does provide rules for e.g. traps and obstacles, if featured in the respective environment. The respective lairs come with gorgeous full-color maps that feature the keys; every keyed location points towards an area, including a sequence of read-aloud text. The respective lairs are intended for level 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 14 and 15 - though several lairs e.g. are provided for 3rd level.

All right, this is about as far as I can go without going into SPOILERS. So yeah, potential players should jump to the conclusion, even though I will try hard to not go into the nit and grit of the respective storylines told by the environments.

...

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great!

Mike Welham goes first and provides a nasty old dockyard, where ratfolk have set up shop alongside some nasty wharflings and doppelrats; a suitable sidetrek challenge for 1st level PCs. 3rd level PCs may explore the lost halls of everforge, penned by Shawn Merwin - a dwarven hall now abandoned, where they may be just in time to prevent the ascension of a flame drake to its more powerful, probably too strong, iteration!

Also at this level, Mike Shea's "Den of the Rotten King", where a dread wererat king lords over the denizens of the underworld, which may be nice, but it pales before Mike Welham's trip to the Clockwork Tower - with the complex devices and interaction with the environment makes this one of the strongest offerings herein regarding its mechanics. At 4th level, Shawn Merwin provides a lindwurm lair in the titanic ranches of no other place than Yggdrasil! Oh, and add in some ravenfolk for added complication and you have a great lair.

Also at 4th level, Steve Winter invites us to visit the Castle of Sand, situated next to a gorgeous oasis...and yes, not all is here as it seems...but I'm not going to dispel that particular mirage here in the review. Brain England's Pirate's Cove for 5th level characters brings us to an almost archetypical pirate hide-out...that houses darkest horrors and a blasphemous cult instead! Mike Welham's All-seeing eye deals with a cult that has been on the wane...and features some disturbing motifs regarding eyes and the like - it does not have to turn sour...but then again, what would you do if you saw a disturbing cluster of eyes floating towards you? Yeah, thought so.

6th level PCs can look forward to a trip to Shawn Merwin's alchemists' guildhall - which may, map-wise, be one of the most conservative lairs herein, but it does feature an interesting component regarding the opposition that astute PCs may well notice....and the true villains here are perhaps not what the PCs expected. The Hive, penned by Mike Welham oncegain, would deal with the complex beholden to the feared spawn of Arbeyach and thus can be pictured best as a complex with a nasty termite/insect-theme.

Brian England takes us to the almost classic Temple of the Deep Ones at 7th level, where the PCs face off versus coral drakes, deep ones and similar critters. Not my favorite one, though the map provided for this one is truly gorgeous and colorful. James J. Haeck's Monument of the Thunderer, set in and on a gigantic dragon statue, certainly is one of the most amazing maps in concept herein and the lair, as such is high-concept and rewarding, though the opposition faced...well, isn't. The foes featured per default here are a bit bland. The same can definitely not be said about the 8th level "House of Reeds and Whispers", a wonderful, dark and horrific little set-piece that almost feels like it was penned by Richard Pett, and not Jon Sawatsky. Yes, this is intended as a compliment, Mr. Sawatsky, for the atmosphere here is neat indeed. If you are looking for a no-frills sword & sorcery-vibe, I'd certainly recommend Shawn Merwin's Tomb of the Scorpion King.

Marc Radle's dark forest has a direct tie-in with the umbral tower lair and represents basically a druidic area with a threat of shadow-themes eclipsing it; the location is per se solid, if less than what I expected from the evocative cartography. Shawn Merwin and Wolfgang Baur then proceed to take us to exactly said tower, which not only spotlights my beloved shadow-fey, it also offer advice for adapting it to temperate forests and features even a brief chase and some nice environmental options - another highlight herein. Marc Radle's Warlock crypt (9th level) redeems him - once again, we get the evocative themes we have come to enjoy from his writing, with the King in Silver and similar fexts making for unique foes, even though the map isin't as amazing as that of some other complexes.

Enrique Betran's Aboleth Grotto is a classic take on the trope and makes for a fun environment to explore, making good use of TOB's new critters...but it falls behind Robert Aducci's Bloowood of the Cruor Circle - which makes perhaps the coolest map I have seen for the dark druid theme...pretty much ever. Oh, and the adversaries also are neat. Shawn Merwin's Imperial Ghoul Outpost is per se nice, though I have an issue with the new material, which deals "1 point of necrotic damage" on a hit - is that +1 or does it convert 1 point to necrotic damage? Not sure there.

Jon Swatsky's cistern may not look as impressive as some of the other locations featured herein - but it represents one of the more challenging lairs in the book, if handled correctly by the GM, featuring some cool, unique environmental issues to deal with...

Steve Winters brings us back to the sand-choked tropes of sword & sorcery with the fane of serpents...including rival adventurers. As an aside, I combined that one with Legendary Games' shrine of serpents in my own game...worked rather neatly! Wolfgang Baur does show where his reputation comes from with the "Sky Stairs of Beldestan" - not only is this 14th level lair's cartography gorgeous to behold, the environment depicted is absolutely fantastic - and with traveler and pilgrims as well as death lurking at the top, this location just oozes pure style. Speaking of which: The kobold-commander-in-chief also presents the citadel of the void dragon, situated at the very edge of space; lack of air and the unique layout are just some of the obstacles to contend with here and yes, this lair is just as fantastic as the stairs. The final lair herein would be from the pen of none other than Jeff Grubb and pit the 15th level PCs against an umbral vampire. Yes, it features a soul organ and the complex is shaped like a star of David, adding some occult notions to the lair and ending the book on a high note.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on both a rules-language and formal level. Layout adheres to a gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports numerous, gorgeous full-color artworks, though fans of kobold press may be familiar with some of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Cartography is at once amazing and the biggest drawback of the book: If you do want to get player-friendly versions of the maps, you'll have to purchase them separately on the Kobold Press-store. I kinda get why, considering their quality, but it is still something that would gall me...particularly if got the print and it didn't have them. I do not have the print version of this book, so unfortunately, I have absolutely no idea if it features the player-friendly iterations of the maps or not.

The designers Robert Aducci, Wolfgang baur, Enrique bertran, Brian Engard, Jeff Grubb, James J. Haeck, Shawn Merwin, Marc Radle, Jon Sawatsky, Mike Shea, Mike Welham and Steve Winter have done a per se great job in this book - there is not a single bad lair herein; all of the locations are evocative, fun and feature something that would qualify them as worth being used. In the quality of the writing, there is not much to complain about.

I have seen a couple of posts floating around the internet that claim this is almost system-neutral...but I'd vehemently disagree there. This is very much a 5e-supplement through and through that intends to maximize its potential audience by appealing beyond the confines of its rules-system. And the evocative locations succeed in just that; this is a nice purchase for other systems as well...but this flexibility also somewhat hurts the direct usefulness of the book. You see, the creatures featured herein do not sport stats. This is intentional to maintain a broader appeal, and due to this book's status as a companion tome to the massive "Tome of Beasts."

However, this also means that you really NEED Tome of Beasts to make the most use out of the lairs presented herein...unless you're as versed as yours truly is and know what a "fext" or an "alseid" is, what powerlevel you'd use there, etc. So nope, I would not consider this book as such a good supplement for other systems....the maps, though...heck yes!

When used as intended for 5e with the Tome of Beasts, the consequence of the lack of stats herein is that the book demands a lot of page-flipping, as you have to look up the respective critters in the ToB, which represents a comfort detriment I considered somewhat annoying; similarly, I get why official D&D-supplements can't be quoted by page. Why this can't be done for the book this is a companion to, though, baffles me. I found myself searching quite a bit in the ToB-pdf while using this.

As a whole, I really, really loved most aspects of this massive books; the writing is excellent, the maps for the most part stellar...but the book does feel a bit inconsiderate, with its externalized player-maps, with its book-flipping sans page-numbers for stats that should imho be inside these pages. If you're willing to put up with these admittedly minor hassles when using this, you'll get a superb collection of material, but personally...I never quite managed to shake off that little sense of annoyance. So yeah - quality-wise, most definitely a true gem and, if that was all to judge, this would get my highest accolades. But having no player-friendly maps included is a huge deal for me and, combined with the slightly "more-difficult-than-need-be"-handling of the book, I can't go higher than 4 stars as my official verdict.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Book of Lairs for 5th Edition
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Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/16/2016 03:54:06

The introduction - which must have been written by a mage! - makes great claims for the use of battlefield magic, giving it the pivotal importance that most would attribute to a mastery of strategy and tactics. A good strategist in a world with magic is going to use it to as good effect as he does every other weapon and tactic in his arsenal. However, the good point is made that effective battle magic is a lot more than raining down arcane destruction on the foe. Craft and guile, augmentation of defences through magic and more, also have their part to play.

That's about it for theory: we then move on to feats. These can be used by a battle mage to enhance his own effectiveness or that of his allies. Eight feats are presented, all with some interesting thoughts as to how they can effect the course of a fight on a large or small scale (although the one called Arms Booster somehow changes name to Arcane Infusion in the last line of its notes!). Effect you can create include being able to fight with a weapon whilst spell-casting, directing energy into healing, inspiring your allies, and leaving lingering traces of elemental forces to trap the unwary...

There are also twenty-five new spells at various levels. What's not to like about being able to conjure up some boiling oil? Although it would be even neater if you could create it above the enemy rather than as a pool on the ground in front of them. Maybe you'd rather curse the enemy with incompetence or magically hobble their mounts mid-brawl. You could cause an eathquake with fault line, or create instant fortifications (or siege engines)... there's a lot to play with here. You can even reposition yourself and allies via a limited form of teleportation, or create a walking wall of swinging axe blades that moves at your direction.

Most of these spells and feats are aimed at the battlefield proper rather than small-scale skirmishes, but if you engage in combat at anything more than your party against the next bunch of monsters or the Big Bad Guy's bodyguards there's probably something here worthy of consideration. Perhaps a little specialised but plenty of scope given the right circumstances.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Deep Magic: Battle Magic for 5th Edition
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