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The Crystal Planet: Player's Guide
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/03/2017 05:54:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 45 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 41 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

Okay, so this is a nod to a cartoon show. I am not familiar with that show, so please bear that in mind. This pdf begins with an overview of the crystalline world of Scintilla, talking about places like the Halls of Memory or the Arena of Shards – flavorful and well-written so far!

Chapter 2 deals with the Mineralites – they are basically sentient, polymorphic gemstones that create a holographic, physical form – this unique premise influences the premises of the society of the planet, which is really intriguing – with a lack of a need to eat, sleep or breathe, their society and relations take these unique components into account and weave a surprisingly captivating yarn. The mineralites, racial trait-wise, come in 6 castes – each caste comes with a +2 attribute bonus and a Hardness value that ranges from 8 to 12. Mineralites are half-construct monstrous humanoids with the minerality subtype, normal speed, Medium size, darkvision 60 ft. and two forms: The gemstone form is a Fine object with a hardness that sonic damage ignores and hit points equal to twice the Constitution score and a Break DC equal to twice the Strength score. It has blindsense 5’, and may not move. A gemstone reduced to half hit points, is broken; upon being reduced to 0 hit points, the gemstone is “wrecked” (Basically the equivalent of dying/unconscious). The projected form behaves as a light-based force effect akin to a shadow illusion. The mineralite has a constant, at-will disguise self (italicization missed – not the only one) for visual aspects and voice alterations, though the bonuses granted are reduced to +5, since the mineralite always has monochrome color shades. Mineralites suffer a -4 penalty to saves versus darkness effects and are slowed by being affected by them, with a Will-save to negate. As beings of force, negating that also dissolves the projection.

Mineralite sorcerers with the earth elemental bloodline treat their Charisma at 2 points higher. They may fuse with other mineralites to create fusion forms, but more on that later. They take +50% damage from sonic effects and gain +2 to saves versus diseases, mind-affecting effects, and those that cause exhaustion/fatigue. Darkness effects suppress these bonuses. Mineralites don’t need to breathe, eat or sleep, but must rest for spell preparation etc. Being born into adult status, mineralites are naïve and take a -4 penalty to Charisma-based skill checks and may, as a full-round action, project masterwork weapons from photons. Cool: SR can dispel these weapons.

Mineralites don’t treat damage as other races: The projected form gains hit points (vigor) normally, but winks out of existence upon being reduced to 0 hp. Excess damage affects the gemstone form and the pdf thoroughly and concisely explains the interaction between the different forms, inckuding the aforementioned broken/wrecked/destroyed condition sequence and the explanation of healing etc. The pdf also sports a ton of potent alternate racial traits: 20% miss chance while in bright light, low-light vision, an alternate penalty to Strength-based checks instead of the naiveté penalty, bonus feats at the cost of losing the ability to fuse, concisely codified natural weapons to replace the projected weapon, perfect sight in darkness… interesting.

There is also a Small variant of the race, who is less naïve and slower. Gem Hybrid is an inherited or acquired template that nets CR +1, minimum 2 and represents a hybrid between a living creature and a mineralite. Okay, now, regarding fusion: That would be a full-round action, which may be interrupted as though it was a spell: This form is basically a gestalt of the members, using the best skills, attributes, saves, combat bonuses and the pooled hit points of the participants. A creature can’t end the fusion with more hit points than it had as it entered it, preventing healing-abuse. Similarly, ability score damage/negative levels/etc. are divided among the participants. Conditions apply to all participants, providing a detriment to offset the buffing-advantage the form provides.

Damage is divided evenly upon the fusion’s end and gear is absorbed and does not work while in fusion form. The form is treated somewhat akin to an eidolon with a biped form and 2 evolution points per contributor. The summoner level for variables of these effects is based on the lowest HD of the contributing creatures and the actions of the fusion are determined in sequence by the contributors: Each players gets to control the fusion in alternating sequences. Vetoing an action can be done, and is, rules-wise, concisely presented. There is also a new evolution that blends held weaponry – in a surprisingly concise manner.

Cool: We get a ton of flavored class options, which actually come with flavor-text and cover some ACG classes, the kineticist and even the vigilante. Nice. The pdf also features new class options: the crystallized bloodline for sorcerers nets crystal shard missiles with bleed-inducing shards, chances to negate crits/precision damage and mineralite-apotheosis. The crystal lasher magus must be one of the Small mineralites and is basically, bingo, a whip-magus specialist. The future warden is an interesting brawler – the archetype replaces martial flexibility with the option to gain temporary focus, which can be used to grant basically advantage (roll twice, take better result) – interesting twist of the engine. Harmonic savant bards gain diminished spellcasting, but also lingering performances (thankfully with anti-stacking caveats) as well as AoE-sonic damage etc. Solid. The servant of war is better with teamwork feats and, as an archetype, enhances multiclassing options.

We gain new materials, namely shaped and grown crystalline and 10 types of memory storing crystals – really cool! Cool: there are crystal wyrds and roving bottles as familiar candidates – while not brief familiar stats are provided, we get proper stats for them and they’re both interesting and have unique tricks. Beyond these, we are introduced to crystalline locations, from anchorstones to prism pads and superclusters…speaking of the latter two: Prism pads transform mineralites into light, fire them in space, at a supercluster, and from there to the target destination. NEAT! There are also new weapon qualities. Gembound provides projected weapon synergy at +1, while formbreaking can be particularly nasty versus the projected form of the mineralites. Pressure Suit and Starfaring Robes help with interstellar travel; gem bezel aegis reinforces the gem form of mineralites.

The pdf also sports a ton of Projected Form feats, allowing for e.g. beats shape I forms and a ton of other modifications to the form projections. There also would be feats that e.g. add Extra Arms to the forms, additional uses of class abilities, quicker fusions, improved projected weapons, etc.

The penultimate chapter of the pdf is devoted to new spells – protective bubbles around gemstones, high-level reconstruction of destroyed gemstones, 9 variants of projected holographic constructs – and interplanetary versions of some classics – as well as greater make whole and reprinted classics like planetary adaptation.

The final chapter is devoted to roleplaying advice for playing mineralites.

Conclusion:

Editing is very good on a formal and rules-language level: The pdf juggles some VERY complex and unique concepts and does so with panache. On the downside, the same can’t be said regarding formatting: The pdf sports A LOT of missed italicizations, bolded lines that aren’t properly formatted, etc. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with a nice blend of unique, new full-color artworks and some nice stock pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kristopher Cruz and Lucus Palosaari deliver a book that I loved more than I figured I would: The mineralites are extremely unique, creative and surprisingly well-executed, considering the complexity of the tricks the race employs. That being said, I STRONGLY suggest playing an all-mineralite party. Mineralites are very, very strong character options and the strong, cool fusion tricks require multiple characters – internal balance is pretty tight, but compared to regular races, the mineralites will come out on top. That out of the way, it should be noted that they are so different, so creative, that this pdf is very much worth checking out. It’s not perfect, but it oozes that the authors actually CARED, that they wanted to do something creative and new. They succeeded.

This is a selection of very powerful options, with the added toughness of mineralites and the focus on cooperation making the supplement particularly suitable for younger audiences: Death is less likely and the fusion can generate some remarkable scenes, particularly among players that are familiar with the intricacies of PFRPG. And yes, kids can and do grasp PFRPG. For novices, this may be a bit too complex, but as a whole, this deserves being picked up. If there was a scaling option included and if there were less formatting hiccups, this would be a 5 star + seal of approval file. As presented, I can’t go higher than 4 stars for it. I will remain with a heartfelt recommendation for everyone looking for something thoroughly different, though.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Crystal Planet: Player's Guide
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vs. Stranger Stuff: Season 2
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/31/2017 22:09:23

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This full-color, 112-page product is a definite tie into Stran- Ahem, I mean, this is a totally independent product that is definitely not taking advantage of a certain spooky but popular franchise! ...But nobody would believe me if I said that.

More seriously, this is not just a simple tie-in. Rather, this is a new and improved version of the game, complete with all of the rules necessary to play under the vs. M Engine. In keeping with the theme of kids-vs-supernatural stuff movies, this product includes three sets of rules (Easy, Normal, and Hard) to help customize the flavor of the game. This makes it suitable for anything from a light-hearted romp to some serious terror... though a lot of that is going to come from atmosphere, since the card-drawing and character-creation system is simple and straightforward.

My overall feeling about the entire vs. M system remains. This isn't something you're going to be playing for ten, twenty, thirty sessions over a bunch of months with your friends. It is, however, fun and fast enough to play at a party, after marathoning a show, while some movies are playing, or when some people from your normal group are missing and you don't want to play a longer game without them.

There aren't very many adventures included here - you'll want to buy those separately - but it does come up with a random adventure generation system that can provide a creative Game Master with all the inspiration they need to run a variety of unique games with this system. It's a nice touch - maybe not for people who haven't run these sorts of games before, but it definitely adds some value to this product.

At the time of this writing, this product was listed with a standard price of $19.95. I think that's a fair price for the amount of content you get, and the system itself has been well-tested by now. I have no problem with recommending this to anyone looking for a fast, fun game to play with friends.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Stranger Stuff: Season 2
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Night Sparrow
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/24/2017 07:33:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content, 1 page editorial/SRD/Etc., so let’s take a look!

This being a mini-module, I do not expect epic storylines or intricate plots – I’ll review this for what it is, namely a short sidetrek. As such, the module doesn’t offer in-depth details and should be considered to be more of a sketch to be fleshed out further.

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only Ghostmasters around? Great!

The J-pop band CHI48 are on tour in the US, but rumors abound that the band’s been cursed – multiple concert-goers have been struck blind after attending their shows. The band has been extremely popular (reskin to current pop phenomena for kids) and thus the PCs are assumed to be in the crowd. The concert seems to proceed rather well – but just as the latest smash hit “Night Sparrow” kicks off, people start collapsing in pain, clutching their eyes. Emergency responders act immediately, but smart characters may be able to glean additional pieces of information – like the illusion of black birds coming from the stage and the belief that they heard a strange bird call.

Investigating these folk, the band’s manager Goro Watanabe sports and hires the PCs, who then get to interview the manager, the band, Lighting and FX and the soundboard…and as the investigate the latter, they’ll see a horde of black sparrows manifesting. Special equipment may show the PCs that the computer equipment seems to sport some sort of possession – Yosuzume, a division IV yokai, has become entangled in the equipment, painfully so, and lacking means of communication, the spirit lashes out. Full stats are provided and the pdf provides a fun idea – having the exorcism spill out into the performance – after all, the show must go on!

The pdf ends on a nice high note, with meet and greet etc. and some nice further employment angles for the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a pretty busy three-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length. The pdf does not sport any artworks.

Ben Dowell’s mini-adventure is surprisingly creative: The visuals are amazing, the hook is creative. The module makes great use of its limited space and manages to provide a fun mystery for kids and adults alike. In short: This is a great little adventure, well worth 5 stars. Kudos!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Night Sparrow
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Witch of New Hope
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/24/2017 07:32:02

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are formatted for A5/digest-size, which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper, if you want to conserve ink/toner.

This being an adventure-review, the following obviously contains SPOILERS galore. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only ghostmasters around? Great! The town of New Hope has seen a series of strange deaths: Each night, one member of the community is found drowned – in their homes and sometimes even in their beds. The police is baffled, as there seem to be connections between the mysterious deaths. So far, the town has managed to keep the deaths of locals hidden from tourists, but in the long run, the town is looking at a full-blown PR catastrophe, not to speak of the actual deaths of citizens! We thus begin with a summary of New Hope and its environments, which allows the ghostmaster to get a decent idea of the surrounding area, including the Branton National Forest, near idyllic lake Pawik Kachina.

Now, it’s pretty easy to involve the PCs in this adventure: The classic holiday-angle, locals seeking help, the police – the possibilities should not provide an issue for ghostmasters. Suggested additional encounters with ghost orbs and ectoplasmic mists are touched upon. The first night the characters spend in town will see the murder of Agatha Lashank at precisely 12: 12 AM – how do the PCs find that out? All clocks stopped at this time! Randy, Agatha’s son, witnessed her floating in the air, struggling for breath, and when he tried to help, a woman materialized and flung him across the room.

Nice: After this incident, the module becomes relatively free-form for such a brief adventure: The local newspaper, police files, library – the respective investigations note crunchy bits, target-values etc. – nice! Sooner or later, the PCs should manage to unearth the case of an old serial killer, one Millicent Billington, who killed 13 people, including occult symbolism and all – the bed and breakfast where she killed her victims still stands. Here, thorough PCs can find her diary – while steeped in occult topics, it lacks clear motivation for her crimes…and states the wish of being burned and then to have her ashes spread.

Either at the B&B or at her rediscovered gravesite, the PCs will sooner or later happen upon the eponymous witch-ghost: Millicent is an old lady in black, division IV, and a potent threat – she is angry and will keep on killing until her ashes have been spread as per her last wishes. Doing so will end the threat, but leave the players with a couple of question marks you can use for further adventures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to the neat one-column full-color standard and the pdf sports a nice piece of stock art. The pdf does not sport bookmarks, but doesn’t necessarily need them at this length – they would still have been nice to have.

Rick Hershey’s “The Witch of New Hope” is a nice, short investigation – it is not a complex or world-shattering adventure, but it is a solid little adventure for vs. Ghosts. While the plot won’t win any awards for being original, the module is an inexpensive offering and provides sufficient enjoyment for the low price to be considered fair. Now, if you’re playing vs. Ghosts with kids, you should be a bit careful regarding the body count herein and the drowning – making the victims comatose instead may help here, particularly when dealing with young children or particularly sensitive kids that want their happy end. It’s not hard to make the witch just a misunderstood spirit, either.

Anyway, all in all, this is a solid entry – hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to the low price and in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Witch of New Hope
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghost Next Door
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/24/2017 07:30:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content, 1 page editorial/SRD/Etc., so let’s take a look!

This being a mini-module, I do not expect epic storylines or intricate plots – I’ll review this for what it is, namely a short sidetrek. As such, the module doesn’t offer in-depth details and should be considered to be more of a sketch to be fleshed out further – this is particularly true in this one. You should consider this to be a pretty basic set-up.

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only Ghostmasters around? Great! So, selling property can be a pretty tricky business – and a family in the neighborhood has had trouble there. The family believes it’s because rumors are spreading that the house in question is haunted. Enter the PCs! The house, just fyi, doesn’t look haunted – it’s just old…but strange things soon will happen. As the PCs investigate, they are almost hit by a hammer thrown their way – turns out it flew right from under the face of a young man named Jack Todd, who offers to help the PCs.

As the characters spend the night, ghostly phenomena start happening – they range from Division I to II. The upper floor, we’ll see division IV haunts – remnants of the grisly things that happened. While the pdf doesn’t go into the grisly details, domestic violence and suicide are mentioned – something to bear in mind/tone down, should you run this for kids. As the night progresses, the rooms of the house start shifting between eras – for, in the attic, a confluence of activated leylines has taken hold of a mirror, which now acts as a gateway to the netherworld. In the attic, the boss of the module, Abigail Todd, is a POWERFUL ghost – division IV, the former daughter of the architect can drive PCs insane: Madness 4 vs. Mental – on a success, the PC becomes mad and is removed from play. Yeah, that’s pretty nasty and not too fun. While she has a health value, she can’t be destroyed while the mirror exists. Somewhat puzzling: The pdf doesn’t specify how the mirror can be destroyed. Would that be the 8 Health noted in Abigail’s stats? Automatic? Not sure.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a pretty busy three-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length. We get a rather cute artwork of a ghost girl.

Rich Hershey’s “The Ghost Next Door” is a per se cool set-up: Particularly the idea of rooms moving through epochs and the hinted at dark things that happened in earlier ages makes for a cool set-up. That being said, the module suffers from its sketch-like presentation: Such classic ghost stories live and breathe via the details…details this cannot present due to its format. The story can’t really employ its full potential – neither the family angle with Jack and Abigail, nor the other aspects. The lack of a map and different descriptions for different areas (the house is not described) – all of it points towards the adventure simply requiring more room to shine. I like the writing and ideas here, but as provided, this falls short of what the product-line usually offers. Even when taking the limitations into account, I can’t really recommend this pdf as anything else but as a basic starting point. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Ghost Next Door
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Shadows over Vathak: Hauntlings - Enhanced Racial Guide
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/19/2017 09:21:11

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This is a full-color, 40 page PDF - but in all honesty, you probably already know if you're interested or not. It's worth noting that this product is a complete resource for the hauntling race and includes their stats - you don't need any other products to actually use this supplement, though most of the flavor is specific to the Shadows over Vathak setting.

The first quarter of the book is almost entirely flavor, and covers physical descriptions, personalities, society, lands, religion, alignment, adventurers, and names - basically all the flavor you'd expect from a complete racial writeup.

From there, however, we actually start to get quite a lot of rules material - including some that I don't believe were published in the past. The section opens with several racial variants, then moves into favored class options, four racial archetypes, feats, traits, equipment, special materials, magic items, and spells. These sections typically cover 2-3 pages each - it's not a lot of material in any one section, but together, there's options for almost everything.

The most notable option here is the inclusion of Lineage Feats, which are a lot like Corruptions from Horror Adventures. These feats are fairly unusual in that taking them provides both benefits and drawbacks, starting at the chance to be forced to take a Natural 1 on a skill check once a day, and progressing all the way to getting possessed by ghosts. (Will saves can negate the effects, so it's not going to be troublesome all the time.)

Each of the feats also comes with a specific drawback. For example, the Spirit Form feat gives you a bonus to stealth checks and provides you with an armor bonus that's also a force effect equal to your Charisma modifier - handy as heck for some classes, but people also have a harder time using the Heal skill on you, and it requires you to have several other lineage feats (and their drawbacks) to get it.

The entire lineage feat line essentially revolves around the idea of ghosts being hard to hurt - and the cumulative benefits are quite potent, but there's also the opportunity cost of not investing your feats elsewhere (which limits of a lot of builds). On the other hand, characters being moderately tough has basically never broken the game, and any GM allowing these in the first place is probably planning for that. I don't know that I'd say these feats are perfectly balanced, but I think it's well within the range a good GM can work with.

Overall, this is a pretty solid product for anyone who wants to play a Hauntling - including GMs, if they'd like to have some NPCs. (A Halloween town full of ghost-like people, say?) Editing and formatting is generally good, and I didn't notice anything that really stuck out. Overall, I rate this 4.5/5, rounding up for the purpose of this system.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Shadows over Vathak: Hauntlings - Enhanced Racial Guide
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: A Christmas Carol
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2017 04:52:43

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content, 1 page editorial/SRD/Etc., so let’s take a look!

This being a mini-module, I do not expect epic storylines or intricate plots – I’ll review this for what it is, namely a short sidetrek. As such, the module doesn’t offer in-depth details and should be considered to be more of a sketch to be fleshed out further.

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only Ghostmasters around? Great!

Recently, an unprecedented amount of CEOs, Wall Street bankers and similar folks known for their charity (/sarcasm off) has donated their fortunes to charitable organizations…particularly those clashing with their erstwhile enterprises. The PCs are contacted by Mr. Fezziwig, clearly an alias of the intermediary, who works for E.S. – the CEO of a major bank. E.S.’s CFO has suddenly resigned, selling all personal stock in the company. After being pressured by Fezziwig, the CFO has admitted to having been visited by 3 ghosts who showed him the error of his ways.

E.S. and Fezziwig are certain that the man believes this – and has hired the PCs to debunk the story or stop the ghosts, should they really exist. Some in-depth investigation provides some puzzling insights: There are no Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future – nor have there ever been. However, three heads of struggling charities has recently died – on Thanksgiving, of all days. These 3 spirits (division IV) now seek to do right, punishing scrupulous corporations….like the one that hired the PCs.

And yes, if the PCs aren’t smart about it, the corporation will try to cheat them out of their well-deserved salary. Each of the 3 ghosts has a fitting signature ability…which are nice, though they could be a bit more precise regarding in-game effects, like relieving your worst moments. Ultimately, the module poses an interesting moral conundrum for young players and adults alike: Do the ghost hunters destroy the ghosts in favor of a pay-check, or do they ignore the money offered in favor of having the spirits dispense social justice?

More intriguing for adult groups: What kind of impact would the series of CEOs retiring have? Will the well-meaning ghosts destroy more than do good? Surprisingly interesting conundrum!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a pretty busy three-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks or artworks, but doesn’t need any at this length.

Lucus Palosaari’s riff on the classic Christmas Carol theme, Vs. Ghosts-style, is surprisingly good for a 1-page adventure: The contemporary riff on the theme has been done to death, yes, but the moral conundrum posed can render this more interesting than what you’d expect from such a small pdf. Equally fun for adults and kids, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, though I can’t round up for it.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: A Christmas Carol
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Talking Board
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2017 04:51:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This mini-adventure for Vs. Ghosts clocks in at 2 pages, 1 page content, 1 page editorial/SRD/Etc., so let’s take a look!

This being a mini-module, I do not expect epic storylines or intricate plots – I’ll review this for what it is, namely a short sidetrek. As such, the module doesn’t offer in-depth details and should be considered to be more of a sketch to be fleshed out further.

This being an adventure review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only Ghostmasters around? Great!

First things first – this becomes much cooler with a prop: Get an Ouija board – the module assumes that a character has gotten one and focuses on trying it out. The board in question was in the possession of one Hason Schmidt, a little-known Pittsburghian spiritualist. At first, the communication via the board will deal with Hason…then, the responses become rushed, as the dark spirit Zozo (full stats provided) starts taking over….and sooner or later, Hason will spell “HELP” as the lights go out.

While they turn back on, temperature has dropped and Zozo has taken over. Screwing with the investigators, unleashing ghost orbs, angry shadows (with modified abilities)…and at one point, Zozo will attempt to dominate a character. While the specific means of destroying the evil spirit are presented, the pdf is silent on how the PCs are supposed to deduce the steps, which serves as a minor hiccup in the set-up.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to a pretty busy three-column full-color standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length. The pdf does not sport any artworks.

Jason Owen Black’s Vs. Ghosts-adventure is pretty fun – and if you have a Ouija board and use it, you can make it really horrific. The premise is simplistic and not too grand, but a prop makes it really shine. You can run this for kids and adults alike by emphasizing certain aspects, though as written, it probably is the creepiest Vs. Ghost module – squeamish kids may be a bit frightened here. The tweaks on foes are interesting and, as a whole, this can be a rather nice adventure, particularly if you have a Ouija board. My final verdict for this one is 3.5 stars – though ghostmasters who believe themselves to be capable of doing a Oujia-séance and integrate it in the module should add a star – as noted, that adds a whole level of atmosphere to the game, particularly if you can rig the light to go out… And yes, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Talking Board
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Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guidebook
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/13/2017 15:58:36

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

As the name suggests, this 112-page, full-color book is a compilation of new races for the Starfinder Roleplaying Game. Just looking at the description above is enough to provide a good sense for the races contained within - and honestly, that's probably the best guide you're going to get. Unlike character options, which are suitable for a wide variety of games, people generally either want to play a race or they don't. The start of the book provides a brief explanation of its contents, a copy of the brief racial descriptions, and a vital statistics table should details like height and weight be relevant.

Past that, each of the races follows the same basic format - name, ability score, and HP information on the first page, then a few pages that include the actual stats, unique racial abilities, and some flavor text to describe their homeworld, society, and relations with others. For example, Abrials are described as probably disliking using their legs to travel (because they have natural flight), while other races likely "crack jokes about grounding you". This flavor content is a nice touch, and helps give the GM some ideas for NPC behavior.

The races do seem reasonably well-balanced, though GM's will definitely want to review each one prior to release. There are a few options here that are at least moderately questionable - for example, Belrops can choose to gain a bonus to KAC or EAC for one minute per character level, but there's no limitation on the number of uses. Given that, it might as well not have a duration at all.

Some races also have very distinct attributes. Cilderon, for example, have +6 to Con and -4 to Wis - still only a +2 bonus in total, it provides the potential for a much higher ability score at character creation than usual. (They also have a somewhat worryingly flexible set of racial skills - being able to transform into different objects, and be used as those, could be a bit too strong with a creative group). Note that the races aren't entirely balanced against each other - Nogard can step out in front of an attack and get a bonus against it once a day, which is distinctly less powerful than the earlier "+2 to one of your AC's pretty much infinitely".

This doesn't mean I think every race should be totally equal - that would be a bit less fun, really. It's just something you should know, and some GM's may want to increase or decrease the power of a given race for their game.

The art for this book is done in a comic book style - some may like it, some may not, though it's relatively easy to ignore if you don't. Layout adheres to the standard two-column format except for the racial traits, which are single-column (and typically half a page each).

Overall, this is a solid product. I do think the racial abilities could have used one more pass through to check for potential issues (too few/many uses, mostly), but otherwise, this is a compendium of races that get well away from simple humanoid clones. Whether you're a player looking for something distinct or a GM looking to get some rather more memorable choices, this book has options. My gut says this book is currently at a 4/5. The issues are relatively minor, but it's definitely a product that you either want or you don't.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Alien Evolution: Cosmic Race Guidebook
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8-Bit Adventures: Vampire Slayer Gear
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/12/2017 03:51:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the 8-Bit adventures-series clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 10 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so this time around we take a look at items that are designed to, bingo, duplicate the experience pertaining one of my most beloved video-game franchises, namely Castlevania. No, not the less than impressive 3D-games. I’m talking ‘bout old-school, baby. No save states, no continues. The clock tower was FEARED.

So, first, we take a look at the names of the in-game items and correlate them to PFRPG-items in a handy table: Keys from the Castlevania games, for example, act as skeleton keys, PFRPG-rules-wise. So yeah, so far, so good.

Anyone who played Castlevania will recall whipping candles. A LOT of them. The pdf does provide some advice on how to use this as a very transparent leitmotif in the game – and it sports a treasure table for candles. The use of this table, however, remains limited – one table is provided for all levels. I get it. Castlevania had no level-increases for Trevor. It was a platformer, not an RPG. That being said, PFRPG IS an RPG- and as such, more differentiated tables for different PC-levels would have significantly increased the value of this section.

The pdf then proceeds to present two new weapons, the first of which would be the cross boomerang – and as sad as I am to say this, it does not work RAW as written, requiring a readied action to catch (an impossibility) or a weird immediate action attack versus AC 10 that just eats an important action and is yet another delay at the table. It also fails to specify how many hands you need for it – assuming default 1 for thrown weapons, but yeah. The second item, the star whip fails to specify this as well. While both of them have been cleaned up in an errata by the author, the information has not found its way into the file and as such, can’t be taken into account.

Next up are 3 magic weapons and armors, starting with the slayer’s shield of defense…which sports one of my pet-peeves: It calls the wielder of the shield wearer instead. Shields in PFRPG are wielded. It also is a spell-in-a-can and has “goes into total defense” – which is NOT proper rules-language for that. Whip crystals can be added to a whip, bestowing the deadly special weapon ABILITY (not property!) and if the whip already possesses it or already inflicts lethal damage, it “increases the damage progression dealt by the whip by one step.” – yeah, that’s not how this is phrased. Does this refer to damage die size? Weapon size? No idea. Slayer’s Mystic Whip is a really potent star whip with spells-in-a-can. It “ constantly seeks out and can detect any undead within 60 feet, warning the wielder with its empathic link when danger is nearby.” Oh boy. How does it seek them out? Does it detect undead as the spell or instantly? What are the precise stats of the empathic link? Does the whip need to be drawn? Is it undead or danger? What are the effects – no surprise possible? No idea. This is non-operational.

The final section of the pdf deals with new magic items, ranging in price from 50 gp to 11.520 gp. The latter, btw., would be angelic wings of ivory, a jump/feather fall spell-in-a-can item. The blue crystal, a single use invisibility, also is a bit weird, in that shattering it has not been codified, action-wise. Bracers of Multi-Blow let you incur a -3 penalty to get an additional attack at the highest BAB. Which can be really strong, as it stacks with TWF. Interaction with flurry, etc. is wonky and the 1/day bonus damage is weird, as the damage is not properly codified. Candles of secrets outline secret doors and hidden compartments – like the visuals here. The holy water bomb deals holy damage. Which does not exist, and the item is even inconsistent in its own damage caused. Next. Hourglass watch is utterly OP: 1/day hold monster, AoE, for 9 rounds. For 7650 gp. WTF.

Hunter boots are better than comparable items as well. Large heart crystals replenish limited use charges when shattered, which can be rather problematic. Small heart crystals double the base weapon damage for some time when used – okay, how does this work with crits or similar multipliers?? Master keys are slightly better skeleton keys with spells-in-a-can added. The rosary of holy destruction cuases a burst of…holy damage. It also lacks an activation action. Urgh. The sapphire ring’s rules-language, alas, is also a bit wonky and contradicts itself, lacks a reach caveat…nope. Wall meat is a powerful healing item and the white cross is needlessly verbose – and for once, should reference the spell that it actually duplicates.

The final page of the pdf is devoted to a monster table, noting classic monsters and pathfinder substitutes.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting can no longer be considered to be good – while formally, the pdf does a pretty good job, the rules-language quality leaves A LOT to be desired. Layout adheres to a really nice two-column full-color standard that evokes the classic Nintendo-booklet/cartridge-aesthetics – kudos! The artworks similarly are neat. The pdf has bookmarks for the chapter-headers, but not for individual entries.

I really wanted to like Derek Blakely’s pdf. I’m a huge Castlevania-fan and these items tug at my heart’s strings. Their execution, alas, is simply not up to par. They provide bland spells in a can, sport a lot of glitches, and even if I could take the errata into account, this would constitute a failure as far as I’m concerned. Unless you are a really hardcore old-school Castlevania-fan, I can’t find a justification for this pdf, even considering its very fair and low price. Even then, this falls very short of what it easily could have been. Personally, I did not get anything from this pdf – there are too many issues here. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars – if you really are a hardcore Castlevania-fan, you may want to round up…and since these fans are the target demographic, my official verdict will also round up. Otherwise, I would have rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
8-Bit Adventures: Vampire Slayer Gear
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vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Lights of Sand Island
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/11/2017 05:39:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This adventure for the fun vs. Ghosts game clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content. The pages are laid out for digest-size (6’’ by 9’’/A5), which means you can fit up to 4 of them on a given sheet of paper if you’re conserving ink.

Now, first things first: The adventure takes place around mysterious circumstances in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore – my US-readers will probably be aware of this beautiful area at Lake Superior, but for an ole’ German like yours truly, checking them out via google etc. was rather inspiring and really made me wish I could visit them. This also grounds the module in a believable sense of reality.

In my review of the rules-book, I mentioned that the engine can be easily used to run games for both adults and kids. Well, this module retains this aspect. As a whole, I consider this to be a child-friendly module. As an aside: If I had the option, I’d probably run this on site! Running this around the campfire while staying on the islands would add another, special touch to the proceedings. Now, I strongly suggest reading the module in its entirety – this is not necessarily a go-play module and its brevity may warrant further research if employed at the table rather than while on a trip, but that as an aside.

This being an adventure-module, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

..

.

All righty, only Ghostmasters around? The residents of Duluth are worried. In the few weeks, a couple of boats have stranded on Sand Island, ostensibly following lights. While none of the big lakers have stranded so far, it is only a matter of time. The module does provide some guidance regarding the general area and also points towards further articles on the net for research, should additional details be required. Since the area is known for being rather touristy, it should be no problem to get the PCs involved.

The night the PCs arrive on location, the Benjamin Lark runs ashore on the east side of Sand Island – working with Coast Guard and/or rangers (who include a fair share of “believers” in vs. Ghost’s world), the PCs get a chance to interview the captain, who speaks of malfunctioning navigational instruments and lighthouse-like light – which seasoned ghosthunters may tie to Ghost orbs – but much larger! The Benjamin Lark could have almost hit the Sevona – a wreck popular with wreck divers.

Cool: The pdf does note that investigation may actually take the form of real life online research – the Sevona is a real wreck! 7 men died in the wreckage of this ancient ship, with two bodies found on the beach. Talking to rangers and collating further information from previous incidents will help: The PCs may even question the grandson of a survivor from the Sevnoa’s wreck. Mysteriously, the lighthouse sports no malfunction – though diligent research will unearth that a cottage of Camp Estella has been built from a part of the Sevona and is currently undergoing repair.

Which also would be the poodle’s core: The damage to the cottage has disturbed the rest of the per se noble D.S. MacDonald, captain of the Sevona – and when visibility is poor, he haunts the shores. Ghosthunters can find him in the fog – and he thinks he is warning the ships away from the shoal that wrecked his ship. A benevolent, if misguided division IV ghost, he does have stats for combat, if desired, but he may similarly just be convinced that he isn’t helping, allowing for a happy ending for the module and the option to solve it sans violence. Destroying the whole cottage may be another way to stop the haunting, but ultimately how the finale pans out s left up to the discretion of the GM.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any serious glitches. Layout adheres to the colorful, nice 1-column full-color standard of vs. Ghosts and the pdf doesn’t sport bookmarks. At the brief length, that’s okay and only represents a minor comfort-detriment. The hyperlinks to real world homepages help enhance the illusion of plausibility, as does the stock photography used as artwork. The pdf has no maps, but neither system, not set-up require them and the real-world backdrop means that there’s plenty of cartography to go around.

Jennifer R. Povey’s module is what I’d call a “Feel-good ghost story” – it lacks any malevolence, is a bit educational and provides a simple, brief mystery to unearth for the players. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, but it doesn’t have to. As per the writing of this review, this module is ridiculously cheap and for its very fair price-point, it is a truly entertaining little set-up. This is not a module that will challenge seasoned investigators, but as a sidetrek or, as a first investigation for kids, it makes for a great offering that may actually expand the player’s horizon. Kids in particular will enjoy the module – for this audience, I’d rate this 5 stars. Adults may be less impressed by the simplicity of the proceedings and plot; such audiences should probably deduct a star. My official verdict will reflect the use for kids and thus, the 5-star rating.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts Adventure: The Lights of  Sand Island
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vs. Ghosts
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/04/2017 03:52:30

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This game clocks in at 64 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 58 pages of content. It should be noted that the pages are laid out for the digest-size (A5/6’’ by 9’’), which means that, if your sight’s good enough, you can fit up to 4 of the pages on a single sheet.

So, what is vs. Ghosts? To put it simply, it’s a game hat lets you play in a Ghostbusters/Supernatural-esque scenario; whether you prefer grim realism or a fun, kid-friendly Scoobie-Doo-esque playstyle depends on your personal taste, though the often really FUNNY text herein and the comic-style artwork does emphasize the less serious takes on the tropes.

The GM (Ghostmaster) is…the GM. To play, you eed one deck of playing cards, sans Joker. Character creation is simple: A character has 5 Attributes:

Offense and Defense are used to attack/defend in physical combat. Mental is the attribute for knowledge, willpower, etc. Physical is the Attribute used for feats of strength, endurance, etc. Investigation is used for noticing clues, research, etc. You assign the following values to these attributes: 6, 4, 4, 3, 3.

You also get to choose Gimmicks: There are Good and Bad Gimmicks and you can have up to 4 good gimmicks. For each Good Gimmick, you have to take a Bad Gimmick, and when you take more than 2, you have to lower one Attribute by 1 for each additional Gimmick – I assume this refers to Good Gimmicks – otherwise, each Gimmick beyond 2 would cost 2 Attribute points, one for the Good and one for the Bad Gimmick. These include Attribute modifications and other tricks and include classics like allergies etc. on the Bad Gimmick side.

A character begins play with 10 Health, which represents how much damage you can take.

The core mechanic of the game is as follows: when performing an action, you draw a number of cards equal to your appropriate Attribute score. The highest card’s value is compared to the target value of the difficulty of the task – if you equal or exceed the target value, you succeed. Otherwise, you fail. As cards are drawn and used, they’re put into the discard pile. When no more cards can be drawn, that pile is shuffled back into the draw pile. Jacks are equal to 11, Queens 12s, Kings 13s and Aces as 14. However, low cards are better when dealing damage, so aces count as 1 there. A dice-based alternative is provided, but personally, I’d suggest sticking to cards here.

When multiple characters use teamwork to best a challenge, the highest score is used and +1 card is drawn per assisting character. Opposed actions are resolved by drawing and comparing the highest value.

Combat is divided into Turns, which are not precisely codified – they could last an hour or a few seconds, depending on your needs. Typically,a character may move and attack during his turn. Other actions, like drawing weapons etc. can freely be taken. Initiative is determined by drawing cards. Ties of the card-values are resolved via the Physical attribute, and if that still ties characters, we go clockwise. Surprise is represented as a free attack. A character can move a number of units equal to his Physical attribute. Ranged combat determines its difficulty by range. Melee attacks are resolved as a contest between Offense and Defense.

A character takes a penalty to all attributes at 50% Health and 1 Health and 0 Health equals death, unless playing with an alternate rules for death at -1 or below. If you succeed in hitting your foe, you take a look at your Offense cards: Each card that managed to surpass the target’s Defense lets you draw one new card. The value of each of these new cards is then compared to the damage cap of the target: Each card that has a value BELOW the damage cap then inflicts 1 Health damage. Character recover 1 Health for every 10 hours of uninterrupted rest. If a physician attends the character, he may also draw a card – if it’s a heart, he gains an additional Health. Situations may instill bonuses or penalties to attributes.

Equipment is gained at the start of each session: In initiative order, the players name one equipment and then draw a card: If the card drawn is equal to or exceeds the equipment’s value, the character gains the equipment; otherwise, it’s a failure. After a maximum of 4 successes (or one failure), the next player may draw. 4 successes do net a bonus card, though. Old equipment is kept. This also includes living space, transportation, etc. – just fyi. And yes, you can get less reliable vehicles, for example. Weapons come with values and damage caps, range modifiers etc. and the section also includes ghosthunting equipment like lucky totems, aura analyzers, etc….and yes, these include e.g. spirit containers.

At the end of each session, a player may remove a Bad Gimmick, improve an Attribute, add a Good Gimmick or take a bonus card from a separate deck – this card can then be substituted for one the player draws at a later time. If it’s a 2, the player can use it to add +2 to the value of a card instead.

The pdf provides simple rules for window-dressing NPCs (bystanders) and Nemesis rivals as well as simple rules for hordes of foes. Extras are NPCs that make a difference, and as such, the pdf provides some sample stats and unique Bad and Good Gimmicks. Ghosts can similarly easily be created. Fear is resolved by drawing Mental attribute number of cards and comparing them to Offense + Defense of the target (OUCH!) or the value determined by the GM. Failure imposes a -2 penalty to all Attributes for a length of time determined by the GM.

This is where we begin with the GM-section: “Dr. Corontze’s Spirit Guide” – which comes in a COMPLETELY different layout, looking like an old, weathered document – kudos for going the extra mile, aesthetics-wise. It also looks sufficiently different to keep e.g. kids from diving head-first in, looking less playful. In this section, GMs learn about the divisions of ghosts, special abilities…and there are some sample ghosts, with sketch-like drawings/stock-art/photos that actually can be a bit creepy – nice array. The pdf concludes with a selection of sample hooks to create adventures.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – apart from the aforementioned one hiccup, I noticed no glitches on a formal or rules-based level. The language employed is furthermore didactically sensible and makes grasping the system EASY. That’s a big plus. Layout adheres to a nice, full-color two-column standard with kid-friendly, comic-style artwork…apart from the GM-section, which becomes more creepy, though not to the point where it should become problematic for all but the most sensitive of younger readers. Pretty cool! The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Okay, let me come clean first: I didn’t want to review this book. Vs. Ghosts didn’t interest me. At all. I like Ghostbusters etc. well enough, but I’m not enamored with the franchise. Furthermore, it was explained to me as pretty much a nostalgia-trip. Well, I don’t do nostalgia well. Perhaps I’m too analytical or cynical for it, perhaps my excellent memory is responsible – but those nostalgic goggles…they just don’t work for me.

Well, I got the first coupon. Deleted it. The I got another. Ignored it. This went on for a while. Then I finally caved and figured I’d give it a fair shake.

Guess what? My congratulations to Rick Hershey and Lucus Palosaari – this game is actually MUCH better than I anticipated it’d be. Vs. Ghosts is no complexity monster, but it doesn’t try to be – it’s a perfect game for a longer trip, for a relatively quick session – it plays fast and rather well, can easily be modified and while it can carry real horror stories, its RAW focus on the goofier aspects makes it a real good candidate to teach folks how to play. The tactile notion of drawing cards can be fund for kids and the easy teamwork rules similarly can make the game particularly rewarding for younger audiences.

In short: This is a well-made game using cards as randomizer; it’s easy to learn and explain, the presentation is concise and makes grasping the rules super simple. The stereotypes and tropes employed don’t necessarily hit home with me, but that may be because I am probably as far away from the target audience as I can possibly be. In spite of that, I do consider this to be a neat, inexpensive and fun, relatively rules-lite game, well worth owning. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
vs. Ghosts
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Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends
by James E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/02/2017 13:24:50

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product for the purpose of this review.

This is a 30-page, full-color product. The book focuses on a region of hyperspace called the 'Fiendish Wastes', created by accidentally mixing the planes of Hell and the Abyss through hyperspace engines. As such, it's home to both Devils and Demons (who explicitly do not like each other, but are willing to at least pretend to work together in order to work home).

Aside from offering a flavorful realm to explore, though, this is mostly just a setup for the bulk of the bulk: Starfinder conversions of the Babau, Balor, Dretch, Glabrezu, Hezrou, Marilith, Nalfeshneee, Succubus, and Vrock demons, and the Barbed, Bearded, Bone, and Horned devils. In addition, there are two new ships - the Tier 10 Abyssal Dreadrazor and the Tier 6 Hellish Soulreaver.

Following this rules content, the book includes some advice on setting adventures in the Fiendish Wastes at various levels (2-4, 5-7, 8-10, 11-13, 14-16, and 17-20, each with a unique adventure hook), and closes out with a copy of the OGL.

This book is pretty handy as both a flavorful setting and a quick conversion of some common infernal foes (if you'd like to add them to your Starfinder game without doing the conversion yourself). It's a solid product overall - and while it's clearly not for every game, Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Close Encounters: Hyperspace Fiends
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Madame Mombi's Forbidden Tomes
by Stephen D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/29/2017 18:35:43

Madame Mombi's Forbidden Tomes is a 2012 release from Fat Goblin Games. It is intended for use with Pathfinder. The author is Doug Lilly and the cover is by Rick Hershey.

Presentation This is an 8 page pdf in letter size. It contains two illustrations -- the one on the cover shown at right and the Fat Goblin Games logo. The text is black on a light grey background and is laid out in a fairly standard two column format. The editing and layout are clean if not particularly visually exciting.

Content Of the 8 pages, 6 are given to content. The first page includes a brief bit of fiction as the introduction and a the credits. The final page is the OGL declaration. The rest of the PDF describes 10 unique tomes with magical properties; some of them have spells while others reveal other potential magical secrets.

The books as described take a variety of formats, some of which are pretty unconventional.

The Baseborn Lover is presented as a play for five participants and includes lines for each of them. At the conclusion, the worst actor is put to death. Studying the play takes a week and requires a knowledge roll; because the book is presented as part of the Shadows over Vathak setting, there is the possibility of a loss of sanity. Success allows the character to learn the formula for two second and five first level spells.

Songs of Aegis is a collection of children's poetry. The poems are written to encourage children to live according to the tenets of the Church of the One True God. This book takes a week to study and also requires a knowledge check. The successful reader can learn to cast two third, four second, and five first level spells. They can also learn Benevolence of the Flock which grants bonus hit points to character's healed by a priest of the One True God.

The Right to Resist is a flexible book whcih can be tied to the owner's limbs to help hide it. The book is filled with marginalia from later owners and so has many authors. The book has an arcane mark which might reveal the owner to authorities. It takes 2 weeks to study and the caster can learn four third, four second, and five first level spells. They can also learn Defiant Stand which allows the character to upgrade the damage dice of a spell by one step.

Penitence and Mastery is part diary and part scientific journal, it was written by a cambion alchemist. The topic of the book is his belief that he was a terrible monster sent to punish his mother and his ongoing attempts to become a true monster. It takes 2 weeks to study this book and it can cost a lot of sanity (2d6). The character can learn a third level, three second, and four first level spells all of which grant the caster monstrous abilities. There's also a preparation which grants bonuses when using mutagens and penalties for not using them often enough.

Case Study, Patient #27705 is a collection of papers in a loose leather cover. It coudments the attempt to treat a mental patient and ends abruptly with no sign of the patient having made any progress. Studying it takes 2 weeks and may cause 2d6 sanity loss. Characters can learn two fifth, four spells each of second, third and fourth, and five spells of first level. There's also a boon which allows the character to dump some sanity loss on someone who fails a save against the character's enchantment spells.

Flight from the Filth Reaches describes the escape of a group of svirfneblin escaping from some Old Ones. The book is charcoal gray leather and the cover has bite marks. The interior pages appear blank but the letters have been pressed in as if by a quill with no ink. Studying the book takes two weeks and can cause 2d6 sanity loss. It teaches a lot of spells: four sixth, four fifth, four fourth, four third, four second, and five first level spells. There's also a preparation which allows the character to double his move for one round and make the terrain behind him difficult. This boon does 2 points of temporary Con damage.

Untitled (or The Book of the Harvest) is a collection of bound tattoos taken from living subjects and preserved. This book has a cov er made of bones and must be carefully opened or it falls apart. It takes 2 weeks to learn its secrets and can cause 2d6+1 Sanity loss. Characters can learn four spells each from levels four through seven, five at level three, four at second, and five at first. Resistance to Transformation allows the character to return to his normal form one round after being affected by a polymorph spell.

It Hides Behind the Stars is a study of the constellations which predicts that a change is coming to each of them soon. No one knows why these changes will come. The book takes 3 weeks to study and costs 2d6 of sanity. It teaches thirty-three spells of up to eighth level. There is also a boon called Ghastly Premonition which allows the character to avoid sanity loss by reducing the roll of the dice.

A Look Beneath, a Treatise on the Necessity and Merits of Vivisection provides details on the inner functions of many creatures but also has information on necromancy and undeath. It carries a disease which those studying the book could be infected with. It takes 3 weeks and can cause 3d6 of sanity loss. Successful study can teach the character 34 spells of levels one through nine. There's also a preparation, Transient Organs, which allows the character to avoid some critical hits and precision damage.

The Hypostatical Golden Fragments is a book written by a heretic priest who sought to become a God himself. It is considered a sin by the church of the One True God. The book contains knowledge of many spells; 39 spells of levels 1 through 9. Insightful Preparation allows the caster to cast a prepared spell as though it were quickened.

Evaluation First the confession, this is the exact sort of product I love. I love the notion of unique books and tomes with secret knowledge. I like that each book has a unique perspective from the author to the descriptions of the books and their contents.

There are a few knocks, but they are minor: because this uses the Vathak setting, it uses Sanity Loss as a mechanic; absent that setting the limitation is meaningless. A few of the spells to be learned are also included in that setting and so full use of the book probably requires owning the setting book. Likewise, some of the books mention specific groups and histories which are unique to that setting and so some of the impact is lost without using that or knowing the setting.

With those things noted though, it's still a pretty interesting book. These new magical tomes are interesting with good stories and the spells and boons/preparations are nicely tied thematically to the contents of the book. Overall, I think this is a pretty good buy and I like having it my collection.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Madame Mombi's Forbidden Tomes
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Astonishing Races: Tiefling
by Mario P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2017 08:33:10

Astonishing Tieflings does what any racial splatbook should do: it presents threads of ideas and evocative mechanics that make you want to go make a character. The editing is good but not perfect, with a few loose threads that slipped past editing but don't interfere terribly with the overall charm and success of the book. The layout meets the high bar set by other Fat Goblin products: highly readable, professional, and attractive, with six pieces of original art that more than justify the asking price.

The alternate racial traits and class archetypes are a strong spice that GMs should use carefully. Some are just fine, laterally trading racial abilities to help establish the tainted background of your tiefling--"Seeding the Air," for example (p 13), trades darkness for fog cloud, an even spell-level-for-spell-level switch that no storyteller would protest. A more unique ability swap is Cage of Ribs (p 10), which trades the minor 1 RP fiendish sorcery racial trait for a hollow lung-pocket in your ribs to use as a hiding place. Yet for the same price, Astonishing Tieflings offers "Beastly Brutality" (p 9), which increases the threat range of unarmed strikes to 19-20/x3! So too with the class archetypes, where Abyssal Brute grants +2 to hit and damage for an additional -2 to armor class and trades uncanny dodge for a scaling fire aura that deals multiple d6s as the barbarian levels.

While the mechanics are hit and miss, the fluff hits home every time. A tiefling subrace of sorts called "Croakers," for example, breed boggards and hezrou demons to create amphibious toad-like demons who wield oversized shields that double as basket boats. I was only halfway through the section when I started fantasizing about using Croakers to replace goblins as disposable mooks in my next game. There are many moments like this in Astonishing Tieflings, where the writing is so on point that you start playing D&D in your head mid-paragraph. Even the poorly balanced mechanics benefit from vivid description to the point that, if a player was absolutely seduced by a mechanic I disagreed with on a game design level, I'd probably still approve it in the name of story.

One final gripe. Amid all the excellent writing is a great deal of reprinting from the Advanced Race Guide. It's all OGL and copyright-legal, but nothing distinguishes the original Paizo content from Fat Goblin's contributions. Despite being a 35-page PDF, roughly half is a reprint, which devalues the product in my eyes as it pads the pagecount with borrowed content.

Overall, I am happy with my purchase. The writing and layout are excellent; the mechanics and editing are fair. I'd have preferred a different way to handle the reprinted Paizo text, but even so, there is enough quality writing here to make this worth a trip through the Drivethru.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Astonishing Races: Tiefling
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