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20 Things #16: Necromancer's Lair (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/17/2017 04:08:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, we begin this dressing file with a definite winner: 8 blasphemous tomes of forbidden lore, ranging from the Libermorbus to the Sable Flame, these are evocative and really capture the reader’s attention – oh, and as a further bonus, we get 6 cool and disturbing bookmarks suitable for evil masters of magic.

Beyond these, we move on to horrible sounds and sensations – 10 of both are provided and they are really cool: From sudden out-of-body experiences to feeling watched or a miasma of vile mists…really neat. From the distant clanking of bones to sounds from previously cleared rooms, these are similarly neat.

While we’re at the subject of blasphemous things: What about spell components? 20 are provided and range from jumbled bones of mass murderers to shriveled, desiccated hearts, gems to enhance undead-animating spells, horribly disfigured rats…Really cool!

Next up would be 20 things to be found in a necromancer’s sanctum and 6 pickled and preserved things – these, however, have been previously released in 20 Things: Wizard’s Tower and the associated compilation.

The final tables sport 10 basic descriptions, 10 battle tactics and 10 pieces of treasure, which allow for the quick combination of a variety of undead: One page devoted to skeletons and zombies each is provided, allowing for a vast variety of combinations to enhance the descriptions of the undead legions.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks are really nice – I particularly liked the component pouch. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst and Jeff Gomez provide one amazing, excellent dressing file here – the respective tables are inspired, the dressing is diverse and e.g. the books can inspire whole stories. The dressing herein also makes for a great supplement for pretty much any horror context you can imagine, so yeah -this is useful beyond the confines of its theme. That being said, I would have wished for an new table instead of a reprint regarding the sanctum, though I understand its presence here. Even taking this into account, the pdf is really good, though – hence, the final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #16: Necromancer's Lair (System Neutral Edition)
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Publisher Reply:
Hooray! Thank you for the review, End. Glad you enjoyed the book!
20 Things #15: War-Ravaged Land (System Neutral Edition)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/13/2017 04:24:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press' system-neutral #20-series clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

As the PCs wander a war-ravaged land, as the butchery and death have abated, they may wander the fields of war - and as such, 10 detailed pieces of battlefield dressing kickstart this installment of the 20 Things-series, depicting feasting crows,, ragged and blood-spattered standards and worse. Tragedy stalks these fields and the pdf's flavorful entries capture its facets well.

The next section is all about signs of war - for this scourge leaves its traces on the landscape, as smoke smudges the horizon and bloody remnants speak of minor skirmishes in yet another great little selection of 10 such signs. From here, we move on to 20 things you can see in war-ravaged villages: From collapsed buildings to gaunt dogs, starved by famine and wounds, darting across the street to the scattered remains of pillaged kitchens, this dressing selection is versatile and atmospheric.

Of course, chances are that, at one point, the PCs will be part of a siege - hence, 20 entries show us different things that can be seen during such a perilous time - and yes, the identity of attackers is left deliberately vague. Servants hustling around with drinking water, huddled guards, sudden influxes of arrows, conscripts in armor, all too young for the grisly death-dealing about to commence...the pdf offers a lot in this section as well.

The final table, alas, is a reprint from GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume I - in that book, it was a designated table for orc raids and while its name has been changed, in a minor complaint, a reference to orcs still can be found here, when more general humanoids would have made sense. That being said, only one entry is thus affected.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artworks deserve special mention - we get a great full-page b/w-piece as well as some nice supplemental pieces. Additionally, the pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for the printer and one for screen-use - kudos for going the extra mile there! The pdf sports several pieces of nice b/w-artworks.

Creighton Broadhurst's latest 20-Things-dressing file is evocative, well-crafted and captures the horrors and desolation of war in a diverse and well-rendered manner, with crisp prose and a plethora of well-written entries. In short, this is a great little dressing-file for a more than fair price-point. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
20 Things #15: War-Ravaged Land (System Neutral Edition)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, End! It's much appreciated!
Town Backdrop: Dunstone
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:14:35

An ENdzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Speaking of danger: The PFRPG-version does come with settlement stats and a market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have.

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, crunchy tidbits or dressing?

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you very much for the review, End. I'm delighted you enjoyed Dunstone so much!
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:12:58

An Endzietgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Big plus: The system neutral version comes with its own, customized market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have and kudos for making a distinct one for the old-school crowd!

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place, provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

As a minor note for the system neutral version: While the pdf correctly references thieves as such, it does use “wizard” and “bard” as viable notes for the fluff-only NPCs – personally, I don’t mind that, but someone is bound to complain when I don’t mention that it doesn’t say “magic-user.” So yeah, there you go.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

There’s another thing to be aware of, and this requires a MAJOR SPOILER. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

Only referees around? Okay, so the BBEG is an intellect devourer, not exactly the most commonly available monster. While MOST folks will know what this is and should encounter no issues, I figured I should mention that for the context of the system-neutral edition.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, tidbits of dressing? That being said, getting a proper marketplace is a big plus for the SNE-version – kudos!

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (SNE)
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Town Backdrop: Dunstone (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/25/2017 05:09:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We once again return to the Duchy of Ashlar in this Town Backdrop – the place where the Mottled Spire and dread Gloamhold loom. This time, we travel to Dunstone – once, the place that stood steadfast between the horrid things spewing forth from the dark recesses and the world, the world has moved on for Dunstone: Nowadays, the complacency of peace has sheep graze in the erstwhile moat, sedated by the lack of danger.

Big plus: The 5e version comes with its own, customized market place section of magical adventuring goods to purchase: Minor ones, obviously, but still nice to have and kudos for making a distinct one for the 5e-crowd. While this section is almost identical with the SNE-version, it deserves special applause: In old-school games, one spell that’s available is called spiritual hammer – in 5e, the spell obviously is spiritual weapon. The pdf gets this right. It’s a small thing, but it shows attention to detail and care, when cut-copy-pasting would have been simple. Kudos!

As always in the series, we do receive information on local nomenclature and dressing habits, town lore to know about the place (as always, you can unearth these via Intelligence checks), provided the PCs do their legwork and 6 sample whispers and rumors (as always, you can unearth these via Charisma checks), that act as adventure hooks (or good ole’ misinformation). As a whole, Dunstone looks like a town that had its heyday – its old ruler Benjamin Oksanen mirrors that, though his grandson Aavo, whose father was lost in the spire, seeks to change all that: His plans include tax incentives to draw in merchants and he wants to re-establish the Knights of the Eternal Watch as a more formidable force. He also is willing to have adventurers chart out the canyons and crags that lead to Gloamhold. In short: He seems to be hell-bent on breaking the lethargy that has taken hold of what once was the first line of defense against the darkness below.

Alas, while Aavo is championing changes and as a heroic figure, he is bound to be opposed – unbeknown to him, his idyllic town harbors a horrible thing that has crept up from below, establishing a thieves guild and plotting the downfall of the town. Two prominent guilds, the butchers and brewers (specialty: whiskey!) are further power players and the PCs can find a dilapidated mansion where once, the arcane arts were taught and now only faded glories and a lack of students as well as the traces of mishaps long past remain, as old Vieno Rekola laments the fall of his erstwhile powerful family. Smart PCs may also unearth a rather disturbing option to get “custom” meat. Unbeknown to most folk, the legendary sword Heaven’s Vengeance has recently been stolen from the sacred tower erected to guard it…you see, while this place looks tranquil, appearances can be deceptive.

The NPCs of the town refer, where applicable, to the bolded sample NPCs and creatures.

As in Dulwich, we get a GLORIOUS b/w-map of not just the Duchy, but also of the town, penned by Tommi Salama, and in another parallel, we do get notes on street names and their characteristic feelings and look – this is a small tidbit, but it is a really efficient way of creating familiarity and character as the PCs explore the town. On the downside, this time around, we do not get any sample events. Similarly, none of the taverns and inns sport sample menu prices. It’s a small thing and nothing bad, mind you, but it was noticeable for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

John Bennett’s Dunstone is a great hometown-style place for PCs – it’s idyllic and nice and has some serious changes looming in its future. The threats that hide behind the veneer of calm lethargy are very real and a competent GM can easily work with the flavorful place. That being said, I couldn’t help but feel that it is a bit reliant on Aavo as a character – he seems to be a savior-like figure, the big hope, if you will – and while that is nice and dandy, the focus of the town on this man for the meta-plot does limit the pdf a bit more than e.g. the complex political situation in Dulwich. This is a nice, serene town and certainly a place that the PCs will want to protect, but to me, it felt more linear, less versatile. Where Dulwich set my mind ablaze, this one has its story pretty much written for you. I don’t mind that too much, courtesy of John Bennett’s excellent prose, but I couldn’t help but feel that a bit more complexity in the general set-up and a decreased focus on the main conflict would have helped this town shine more. The missing events and hints of illicit goods could have yielded the ways to heave this town to the levels of excellence, perhaps with some strange drug or other small, tidbits of dressing? That being said, getting a properly modified marketplace is a big plus for the 5e-version and as a whole, it has been done with the care I expect – kudos!

That being said, this is still a very worthwhile settlement – my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dunstone (5e)
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Town Backdrop: Dulwich
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:54:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley, where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

Now, as always in these settlement supplements, we do get settlement properties for the PFRPG-iterations, though this time around, a couple of plusses (before Economy, Lore and Law) are missing, alongside the +5 before the danger modifier. These represent mostly cosmetic hiccups, but yeah. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street. A big plus: We do get a properly codified marketplace section that mentions locally-sourced, adventuring-relevant items that may be purchased.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gunslingers running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

While the forgotten plusses in the village-stats annoyed me, they are not enough to tarnish this great, evocative town. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich
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Town Backdrop: Dulwich (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:52:54

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley (as per the writing of this review, only available in PFRPG), where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

The system neutral iteration of this supplement does not sport, obviously, the settlement stats, but it also gets rid of the marketplace, which constitutes of a minor bummer for me – some dressing/hooks/weird items in its stead would have been nice. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. It should be noted for absolute purists, that these fluff-only write-ups do properly note the thief class, but instead of “magic-user”, the notes refer to wizards and clerics. Personally, I don’t mind that, but since one of my readers complained about me not mentioning that once…well, there you have it.

As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gangsters running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

The system neutral version does not have the minor settlement statblock hiccups, but loses its marketplace, which evens, as a whole, things out as far as I’m concerned. Still, considering how much I enjoyed this, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (SNE)
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Thank you for this review, and for the reviews of the other versions. They are much appreciated!
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:50:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This town backdrop clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

In the Duchy of Ashlar, near the infamous (and superbly-written) Gloamhold, there looms a great salt marsh, and above it, there is the bustling, booming trade town of Dulwich, which is anything but dull.

Sorry. I just couldn’t help myself. Bad puns from reviewers aside, Dulwich exists in interesting times for the duchy: A veritable torrent of lumber from the forest helps keep the coffers of its citizens full, and if the machinations of mayor Wido Gall, one of the major players seeking to establish control over the village of Longbridge (one of the finest villages in the classic Village Backdrop series). It should also be noted that the town is situated rather close to the Shunned Valley, where an excellent beginner’s adventure released by Raging Swan Press takes place – though this module, as per the writing of this review, has not yet been converted to 5e.

But even if you don’t have Longbridge or seek to use the Duchy and its excellent associated pieces of content, rest assured that Dulwich has a lot to offer: This is fully operational as a stand-alone supplement. You see, the town’s merchants have been trying to wrest control from the mayor – so far, without much success. However, all this may change with the recent death of high priest Taistro Rintala. His successor, the young priestess Vuokko Laiten may well be the tip of the tongue that changes the balance of power in the town; this becomes even more peculiar when the adventurers unearth the machinations of the deceased high priest…

Now, the 5e-version does not have settlement stats and thus, also no missing plusses there, but much to my chagrin, the marketplace section of adventuring-relevant goods to be purchased has been eliminated as well – understandable in the system neutral version, but less so in the 5e-iteration. PCs that do their legwork may unearth town lore of Dulwich and the pdf does feature a total of 6 rumors the PCs may unearth when keeping their ears to the street.

Now, this would not be a Raging Swan Press supplement without providing delicious dressing to add local color and flair – from the nomenclature and dressing habits of the townsfolk to the local industry and law enforcement (which is, obviously, also involved in the ongoing power struggle), the pdf offers quite an array of interesting details that practically write adventures themselves. This notion is carried further by the brief, fluff-only write-ups of the townsfolk, which not only include the obvious power-players, but also e.g. the head of a local cat burglar ring or a mysterious street performer. The 5e-version of these folks sports references to the relevant statblocks – no conversion relics.

As befitting of a place with an increased likelihood of having adventurers return (or stay longer!), the town is supplement with a 2d8-table of events, ranging from funeral processions to blacksmiths demonstrating their goods to more outré examples, like the guardsmen passing by with a woman wearing a metallic mask in command, who drag a bedraggled merchant to the keep in chains…well, if that’s not intriguing… 11 sample sites and places of interest in the town are provided in further detail: From the goals of the masked woman in question to the temple/court to the guild hall, the main sites and concentrations of power are covered – but so are the back-dealings that are less obvious: Beautiful femme fatale jewelers who may make a grab for power, a library, various taverns and inns (with costs and notes for food and drinks!) to the marketplace, the locales come with plenty of interesting angles.

Speaking of which: Unlike pretty much every such town I’ve seen in RPGs, this does not shortchange the importance of guilds, which should put a smile on the faces of quite a few scholars out there: The 3 most powerful guilds (blacksmiths, Potters, wool) receive their own page. It should be noted that the lumber guild, the most powerful of them all, has its own entry in the notable sites.

There’s another aspect to this pdf that I really adore. You see, beyond Tommi Salama’s absolutely gorgeous b/w-map of the town, the pdf also comes with explanations of street names and what can be found in the respective streets, painting pictures of the local environments far more precisely than enumerations of multiple house-descriptions could. Globetrotters who have visited many a stories town will probably also agree with me that this represents a very cool way to add a sense of historicity to the place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artwork. The cartography by Tommi Salama is gorgeous and in b/w. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one to be printed out – kudos!

Let’s start with the elephant in the room: Yes, this town backdrop is shorter than previous installments. It is my contention, though, that courtesy of John Bennett’s expert penmanship, it may actually be better off for it. You see, towns occupy an in-between spot, design-wise: In a village, you can flesh out everything in detail; in a city, you need to be open, but also have the advantage of having more possibilities, design-wise. A town that is too open, though, becomes anonymous and like a bad example for city-design; it can’t offer the same wide-open potential. At the same time, a town that is too lavish in its details runs the risk of becoming stifling, of becoming too much to micro-manage for the GM. This pdf, then, manages to succeed this balancing-act in a rather formidable way.

Dulwich is at once open enough to allow a Gm to easily plug-in material, and specific enough to constitute a detailed home with its own flair for the PCs. The writing also manages to elicit an atmosphere that is pretty unique, as far as fantasy is concerned: This may just be me, but with the power-struggle ongoing, covert machinations and the power of guilds, this inevitably painted the fantasy equivalent of a Roaring 20s boomtown gangster epos for me, with slight touches of noir – all firmly situated in a Greyhawkish fantastic context, mind you. This effect is very subtle, mind you – you won’t have gangsters running around the streets or the like; this is traditional fantasy, after all! But it should be taken as testament for the rather nuanced writing that this notion sprang to mind in the first place.

In short: I actually had FUN reading this supplement and consider Dulwich to be a great place: Its metanarratives can span multiple returns or escalate immediately; there is ample adventuring potential and if you also take the Duchy of Ashlar as a whole into account, you’ll be able to further escalate the potential plots and options this offers.

The 5e-version of this town, as a whole, is just as compelling as the PFRPG and system-neutral iterations, but personally, the lack of a marketplace sans replacement annoyed me a bit. Hence, my final verdict will “only” clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Town Backdrop: Dulwich (5e)
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Places of Power: Beacon Promontory
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:18:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs with the proper social skills. These, obviously, also can also be used by the Gm to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a proper marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar. The inn comes with proper prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artwork of the lighthouse and environments is an amazing pieces. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. As a very minor complaint: This is, to me, technically closer to a village (or rather: thorp) than a Place of Power and as such, the place could have used settlement stats, but that may be me. Similarly, I would have loved to see magical properties for the place. Don't let that keep you from this cool locale, though: This promontory is an amazing set-piece that breathes the spirit of Raging Swan's flair in all the right ways. My final verdict will hence clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory
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I'm delighted you enjoyed this Places of Power, Endzeitgeist. Thank you for the review.
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:16:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs, provided the referee/GM considers the knowledge appropriate. These, obviously, also can also be used by the GM to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a proper marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. Weird: A bracket in the section's not closed that has been closed in the PFRPG-version. Oh well, that's typo-level. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar. The inn comes with proper prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artwork of the lighthouse and environments is an amazing pieces. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. In the system neutral version, I can hardly complain about wanting more mechanics, so for this iteration, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
I'm delighted you enjoyed this Places of Power, Endzeitgeist. Thank you for the review.
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/11/2017 05:16:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page back cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A ferocious storm has swallowed the village of Beacon Cove - and from the ruins of the storm's horrid aftermath, the ragged survivors rebuild around the lighthouse, overlooking the watery grave of the once proud fishing village. Weatherworn, proud and defiant, the survivors are still here, as the notes on how the folk look and dress explain. The pdf also sports lore to unearth for the PCs, and no less than 6 different events and 6 whispers and rumors that can be unearthed by PCs with the proper Charisma. These, obviously, also can also be used by the GM to add some neat complications to the subject matter.

The pdf also provides a properly modified marketplace section for consumables or crafting services, which is a nice plus. The survivors also fear supernatural things behind the horrid occurrence that has forever changed their ways and the worship of the sea queen Serat is also touched upon as a brief sidebar - and yes, domain properly converted. The inn comes with prices for accommodations and food/drink and with a hard daily life and continuous downpours on the verge of normalizing, the place is most definitely an intriguing one - the great b/w-artwork depicting the place is inspiring and daily life also is covered in a helpful sidebar.

The respective write-ups and details, though, are what makes this inspiring: The basic feeling is that of a somber outpost and catastrophe, sure, but it is blended with a strong leitmotif of defiance and hope...and if you take a look at the detailed entries for the places of interest, you'll soon realize that the place can be run as an example of the effects of trauma after a catastrophe...or as something with a more sinister, horrific undertone, with the fear of parasitic, mind-controlling things gaining traction...but is it real? Only the GM can decide. As a minor complaint: The lock opening DC sports a minor conversion glitch, lacking the mentioning of thieves' tools in the DC to open a locked place.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press' elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The b/w-artwork of the lighthouse and environments is an amazing pieces. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized to be printed out. The cartography by Maciej Zagorski is well-made and in b/w. Supporters of Raging Swan Press' patreon can get access to a player-friendly, key-less version of the map, at least to my knowledge.

Mike Welham delivers big time here: This place of power is not only inspired, it can be spun in a variety of ways by the enterprising GM: Whether supernatural or group delusion, this somber place is basically an adventure in disguise and as such, it basically begs for the PCs to be dropped in and watched - speculation will run rampant sooner or later, doing the work for the GM. This is a great place and yet another example of Mike's abundant talent. The 5e-conversion is generally very well done, with only minor formal complaints that should not deter you from getting the file. My final verdict will hence will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Beacon Promontory (5e)
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Places of Power: Oleander's Sanctuary
by Ehn J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/01/2017 16:08:04

An Ehn’s Gaming Foundry review

For this week’s review, we’re going somewhere different with things, and I’m doing a location book. This time it’s Places of Power: Oleander’s Sanctuary. Rather than my normal fare, this is a location that GMs can insert into their games at a whim, and it starts out with an interesting stat block of one mysterious (?) entity, 1 intelligent bear, 1 intelligent hamster, 1 intelligent owl, and 1 intelligent wolf, making it different than most locational stat blocks you’d see. It’s for the most part good aligned, with resources such as animal healing and transmutation.

Next we get a small description of the area, it’s compact and heavily implies that Oleander and their animal crew are not fans of others just jaunting into the area. With a knowledge check, the PCs can learn a bit about Oleander, which not shockingly at all involves Oleander being a large fan of animals and an adamant opponent of those who would abuse them, often cursing such people.

After this we have rumors, and one thing I particularly like about this section is that these rumors can be gathered from animals, provided you can speak with animals; a nice touch that helps make the area feel more unique. And as appropriate, there’s a few false rumors thrown in for fun. We follow this with a bit about how to keep Oleander vague, as they’re intended to be a very mutable person for the purpose of one’s story. There’s a lot of good advice here to make sure the PCs get the most of of this location, and there’s no wrong way to run Oleander or her sanctuary.

Following this we get a run down of the NPCs and areas involved in the place of power itself, which are later expanded upon in greater detail, as well as a map of the place. Personal preference here, I’d prefer the map to be on its own page rather than sharing it with these details, as it’d make it easier to pull out and use for other things which I’d like to do.

Rather than go through all the locations and such, I can say that each one provides a decent amount of either interaction with the interesting NPCs or the environment, and each of these environments feels unique enough to the point where I could find something to do there. We’re also given some random events which can spice up the visit, further giving the location a ‘living’ feel to it.

There’s also a list of boons the PCs can get through helping out Oleander, so they’re not something that has a normal GP cost. I’m not huge on the 0 point ones, but they’re flavorful regardless. The larger boons are all really cool though, and they’ll almost certainly only be of uses to those with familiars or more likely animal companions. We finish with a more in depth look at the NPCs referenced in the book, and while they are interesting, a lot of them are very ‘out there’, especially the most toyetic of the bunch, Wooly.

Mechanics: 4.5/5

I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the mechanics here, but at the same time, there was nothing that truly wowed me. The formatting is tight, the the rules language is solid, and I doubt GMs will have a hard time incorporating this into their game.

Thematics: 4/5

While I like the off the wall nature of this place, the book itself goes out of its way to tell you “If this doesn’t work, make it a hallucination”, which to me almost undersells the unique nature of Oleander’s Sanctuary. It’s a creative place that won’t fit into your super serious games without some slight modifications, but as a location, I find it very enjoyable, if a bit too wacky at times.

Final Thoughts: 4.5/5

Thilo Graf’s place of power is one that I like on a base level, as the ideas behind it are just very refreshing. It’s not just an animal sanctuary, but also has very real overtones of genetic splicing and other concepts like that, helping to make it stand out from other locations of which I’ve read. While at times it feels like it’s trying too hard to be different, it does always feel like it’s going in a direction players would enjoy, so for the purpose of reviews, I’m going to round up here.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Oleander's Sanctuary
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Thanks very much for the comprehensive review. I hope Oleander's Sanctuary finds a place in your campaign!
GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume II System Neutral Edition
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/29/2017 04:08:26

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive compilation clocks in at 93 pages, 1 front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC/foreword, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 85 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Well, first things first: This is a compilation of material, namely of the humongous numbers of lists Creighton Broadhurst regularly posts on his blog; so yes, technically, the material can be found for free. At the same time OMG, get this!

Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. At this point, it most assuredly should be no secret that I consider Raging Swan ‘s dressing files among the most useful books I own; heck, the Dungeon and Wilderness Dressing compilations are my most often used books. I pull them out more often than pretty much any rule-book. Yeah.

If you do not own them yet, get them asap! They made first place in my Top Ten for a reason…I’ll be waiting here.

..

.

Okay, so, once you have digested them (perhaps with the “I loot the Body!”-compilation as well), you’ll notice that the respective entries, while anything but generic, obviously need to cater to relatively broad concepts, right? Well, this is basically where the first massive compilation and this, its sequel come in. They provide the specific tables to complement the more general ones. You know, for those cases, where you don’t need compelling dressing for a minion’s loot…but instead for a lich’s phylactery or lair.

Or for when you need a quirky item that begins to throb when bad weather’s approaching. When you need a minor drawback for an item; when you need a remarkable unholy symbol…or key…or dagger….or, or, or. Treasure that’s difficult to remove from a dungeon? Check. Sample personalities for cultists? Check. More specific looting tables? Check.

But why part with your hard-earned dough when all of this is available for free on the internet? Well, beyond rewarding the creator, there is a more pragmatic reason, namely organization. Sure, it’s nice to have the articles online, right? Well, open the pdf and you’ll see the respective tables grouped by environment: Dungeon, Urban, Wilderness. That alone makes the compilation already superior to the disparate articles – it makes the process of using this more simple.

There is a second organizational paradigm that sets this apart from its constituent articles and files – and that would be the inclusion of related articles: Did you just roll on a table that noted things left behind in an inn’s bedchamber? Great, then one look at “related articles” will tell you where to find ideas for patrons and staff, with the corresponding page-numbers! This makes use in print extremely comfortable, though in the electronic version, internal hyperlinks would have been nice to jump to and fro.

Still, once you took a look at 20 things to find at an abandoned campsite, you will want to check out 10 things that lurks in the shadows…or 10 travelers to share the campsite – either choice makes the journey more organic, more alive…and ultimately, this elevates the compilation in usefulness far above any constituent files or articles and well worth the more than fair asking price – particularly regarding the print version.

One note: If you’re an OSR-purist, you may be annoyed by some entries mentioning “rogues” or “wizards” instead of “thieves” or “magic-users”, but this cosmetic complaint is pretty much the only potentially negative thing I can say about this book and its inspiring dressing-tables.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’s two-column b/w-standard and is just as printer-friendly and elegant as you’d expect it to be. The pdf-version, just fyi, comes with nested, detailed bookmarks in two iterations: One for screen-use and one to be printed out. The b/w-artworks featured herein are nice, though fans of Raging Swan Press will encounter some déjà-vus. Ultimately, I’d strongly suggest getting this in print, at least if you’re old-school like me and prefer GMing with actual books – a physical artifact emphasizes how easy to use this book is and makes me whip it out more often. That being said, tablet-using Gms will obviously get just as much mileage out of this one.

Creighton Broadhurst, with additional design by master of the creepy John Bennett, Ron Calbick, Seamus Conneely, Kalyna Conrad, Taylor Hubler, Jeff Gomez, Anthony Jennings, Alex Riggs, John Schut, Amber Underwood, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham, has managed to once again make a wonderful, inspiring book; against all odds, the inspiring tables retain the extremely high standards set by the previous dressing-compilations. Furthermore, the fine-tuning in the organizational details and the cool related table-notes render this compilation better than the sum of its parts.

No matter the system you’re playing, whether it’s PFRPG, 5e, one of the OSR-rulesets or DCC – changes are that this pdf will improve your GMing prowess and, ultimately, your game. This is a great resource, very much recommended – and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. And yes, this is a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: 20 Things Volume II System Neutral Edition
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Thank you very much for the review. It's an understatement to say I'm delighted with it!
GM’s Miscellany: Alternate Dungeons
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/29/2017 04:05:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the Alternate Dungeons-series clocks in at 75 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 68 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

There is a meta-reason for the way in which dungeons have become this popular in our games; they represent a closed environment that is simply easier to handle for the GM than a wide open sandbox or open wilderness adventure; it can be predicted more easily, etc. That being said, anyone who has played a dungeon-campaign before (or GM’d one!) can probably attest to the necessity of changing paces, dressing, etc. – and changing scenery. Few veterans will be content with walls upon walls of stony dungeons and caverns – sooner or later, you have to alternate the scenery, right?

Well, yes, but at the same time, this means that other considerations apply – whether it’s a good depiction of sewers (See Gaming Paper’s “Edgewater’s Folly” for an example of that done right…), a ruined village or a weird, druidic/fey-ish hedge maze, there are plenty of cool sceneries to explore – and these obviously come with changed rules by which the respective environments operate, right? Lack of ceiling equals, for example, a changed usefulness of Climb (no climbing on ceilings, but potentially climbing OVER walls!), and an upgrade for the ability to fly via diverse means – these all need to be kept in mind.

And this is where this series comes in – in each installment, we take a look at one less common dungeon trope. In the beginning of the respective chapter, we take a look at general considerations in a basic manner – not in the level of detail I’d like to see, but better than nothing – we cover hazards, special uses of powers etc. here and move on to a dressing table for the alternate dungeon. These often constitute high points for the respective entries, sporting some seriously evocative ideas. From there, we move on to a short recap of suggested sample denizens. While I get why these lists often focus on Bestiary I and basic critters, ultimately, that makes these lists only useful for beginner GMs. Creature-modifications or the like would make sense here, but I digress.

The respective installments also feature traps, haunts, hazards, etc. – but most of the time, these do not amount to complex options and remain flavorful, if a bit simple. These sections, however, also often sport terrain properties which very much can be considered to be helpful. Finally, we close the respective installments with sample adventure hooks – many are interesting and creative, but there are a few filler hooks as well.

So there you have it – that would be the basic structure of the series. This compilation contains abandoned temples and villages, alchemist laboratories, haunted houses, infested sewers, mystic groves and mystic ruins. I have written reviews for all the individual installments, so, if you do require further guidance, please consult the respective reviews. The alternate dungeons herein are presented alphabetically, just fyi.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ elegant two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports nice b/w-artworks. The electronic version comes in two iterations, with one being optimized for screen-use, while the other is intended for the printer- kudos there! The pdf version comes fully bookmarked. I can’t comment on the print version.

Alexander Augunas, Nicholas Wasko, Mike Welham and Daron Woodson have created a nice series here…but unlike most such compilations by Raging Swan Press, I see honestly less benefit in having this series all compiled neatly in a single tome. You will only ever be using one of the chapters at any given time, and considering the prep-work alternate dungeons impose on the GM, you’ll have less immediate switching requirements. The dressing-components are well-crafted and I found myself really enjoying the series as a whole…but ultimately, this series, as a whole, may be the one I wished Raging Swan Press rebooted and changed.

The brevity of the files often works against them when we look at them as intended for novice-GMs, who can frankly use more hand-holding regarding the peculiarities of the respective alternate dungeons. On the other hand, veterans will consider the half-hearted denizen-recommendations less useful; a comprehensive list covering multiple bestiaries would have helped veterans, but focusing on the basics…makes that section pretty much a waste of space in all installments. The hooks, in some instances, are great – but also sometimes require some GM-skill to pull off. Ultimately, the series suffers from its format and can’t unanimously cater to either veterans or novices; it remains a high-quality series, but one hampered by its format.

Ultimately, I had hoped that this compilation would expand the individual entries to make up for it being less useful than in comparable Raging Swan series to have all in one place. Don’t get me wrong – this is a good offering, even though it falls short of the excellence the series could have provided. If you already own the constituent pdfs, I’d suggest printing out what you need instead. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM’s Miscellany: Alternate Dungeons
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Thank you for the review, End. I'm sorry this compilation fell a little short for you.
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:18:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the „I Loot the Body!”-series (easily one of my favorite series-titles ever) clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/how to use, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Note: This is almost identical to the “PFRPG”-version with the black cover – which is almost system neutral. However, this system-neutral version did obviously get some polish – a couple of entries have been streamlined, references to specific languages have been made more general – you get the idea.

We begin this compilation with a helpful reminder/summary of how one can use treasure – foreshadowing, abilities, etc. – this is a handy reminder to bear in mind, for sure – but more importantly, it contextualizes the material presented within this book: We all have read supplement upon supplement, where those critters that the PCs mow down by the dozens all end up having a bit of gold…and then suddenly, something weird pops up. It’s like having a hotspot in a point and click adventure. While authors are beholden to the almighty word-count and thus, system-immanently reliant on such simplifications, I know of a lot of GMs who really, really are annoyed by this.

This humble series, this booklet, radically ENDS this phenomenon once and for all. You loot something? You’ll find weird and personal knick-knacks basically EVERYWHERE. This not only makes the cursed trinket you successfully smuggled into the possession of the party harder to spot, it also vastly enhances the believability of the campaign world you so lavishly depict in your game – in short, it represents a huge immersion boost, even if the items are not (or only slightly) magical.

More than that, fetishes, strange objects, keys, mementos and artworks can represent hooks and pieces of indirect storytelling themselves, potentially sparing you the annoying exposition dumps some GMs find themselves heaping upon their players; in short, the trinkets let the PCs do the thinking, talking, discussing -and if you listen, you may well draw some serious inspiration from the speculation going on – I know that’s how I’ve improvised more than one module when I didn’t have the time to prepare.

Anyways, as you may have surmised at this point, this book contains the individual components of the “I loot the Body!”-series: Namely, the eponymous original pdf, the installments on looting clerics, druids, rogues, minions, warriors and wizards as well as the installment on looting bags of holding – basically all the big installments, presented in alphabetical order. Now I have written reviews for all of them, so if you require detailed guidance, I’ll point you to those.

In case you do not want to look them up: The review situates all of these files in the high and highest echelons of my rating system – Raging Swan press provides a nice diversity between the mundane and weird in these extensive tables. We generally have tables for outfits, class-specific knick-knacks and pouch-contents –all modified for the respective needs. Minions get a keepsake table, druids natural accoutrements – you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any undue accumulation of hiccups and the obvious added care in fine-tuning the tables deserves special recognition. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a wide-variety of thematically-fitting b/w-artwork, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with some pieces. The pdf version does come in two iterations: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer – big kudos! Beyond that, the pdfs do come with excessive bookmarks, helping you to navigate to the proper table with a single click.

Kat Evans, Taylor Hubler, Eric Hindley, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham have created great individual files, no doubt; but much like in the fantastic GM’s Miscellany Dungeon Dressing and Wilderness Dressing books, having all the pieces in one hand tome simply beats the sheets of individual paper. Flip it open, roll, and never look back; never experience boring “mundane” treasure again! Now, it should be noted that these tables are not for specific creatures or contexts – they provide loot for pretty wide categories, so if you’re looking for the hyper-specific, well, you won’t find that here. If you do look for an inspiring book that will increase your GM-prowess, though, then get this! In fact, I’d advise in favor of the print version, just for the convenience of it and the sheer satisfaction of having this booklet open while gaming.

Now, as for the question of which of the two-versions to get, well the system-neutral version imho has a couple of wording choices that are a bit more elegant than the PFRPG-version, mainly due to completely avoiding the rules-aspect, so for prose, this may be preferable. For convenience, the black version should do it (and it has the prettier cover) – but no matter what fantasy system you’re using, one of the books definitely makes for a great addition to the game and both versions can work for pretty much all systems.

In short: This is a really great, system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. The only reason I’m not also slapping my EZG Essential-tag on this great dressing booklet would be its brevity – if it featured a smattering of all the small tables for more specific looting as well, this’d be even more non-optional than it already is. A great GM-tool indeed.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the great review. I'm delighted you enjoyed the book so much!
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