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(5E) C01: Alagoran's Gem
by Mark S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/16/2018 15:26:16

There was a time when I first started gaming that our characters lived and died in dungeons. Death traps that kept us constantly on our toes. This adventure is an ode to those days in the 1970's when you could loose two or three characters in a weekend of gaming...Total Party Kills happened and you reset and went back at it. This is the perfect way to remind your players that they aren't immortal - and that bad things happen when you do things without planning or taking precautions...



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
(5E) C01: Alagoran's Gem
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5E Mini-Dungeon #053: Ne'er Trust The White Wolf's Tameness
by Mikhail M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2018 10:25:40

This is just a murderhallway with no space for meaningful choices. Kill the monsters, avoid the traps - all with no crossroads. And some parts don't even make sense - the last rooms don't explain how to exit the dungeon properly or what the NPCs are doing there.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #053: Ne'er Trust The White Wolf's Tameness
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5E Mini-Dungeon #024: The Lapis Maiden of Serena Hortum
by Mikhail M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/02/2018 10:22:55

Mediocre. There is some story to this mini-adventure and a clever basilisk-related idea, but the dungeon itself makes no sense. There are no servant's quarters, no barracks for the guards - it is just a glorified office with a bed.

A paragraph adding a servant's wing and a dining room would make this better - otherwise this is just a hallway with guards.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #024: The Lapis Maiden of Serena Hortum
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A25: Flute of the Four Winds
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/31/2018 06:10:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

All righty, this adventure for levels 4 – 5 clocks in at 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 47 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

All right, so this is an installment of AAW Games’ A-series of adventures, which means that they are set in the world of Aventyr. It also means that they are pretty much canon and thus, they usually are penned by the most seasoned veteran writers of the AAW Games crew. The series as a whole is very evocative and interesting, so let’s see if this module holds up!

As you know, this is an adventure review. As such, from here on out, there will be a ton of SPOILERS. Players who wish to play this module should skip ahead to the conclusion.

..

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All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the seasons and control of the weather has been a theme of sorts for the A-series, which makes sense, considering the shamanistic leanings of the unique Vikmordere-culture; the seasons are incredibly important and, in fact, the weather also plays an important part here. We once more visit the frontier village of Rybalka, outpost of the mighty Klavekian empire in the Vikmordere valley. It is this outpost that is once more ravaged by the brunt of the elements and worse, as a tragedy that has turned into history bears fruit.

The local Vikmordere tribe, the Snoqua, know of a mighty tree, imbued with the primal, elemental forces of the seasons; during the Klavekian incursion, the council of druids, elders, etc. decided that they would need to do something about the mighty magical tree. The invaders showed no care for custom or lands as their mining operations cut swaths into the majestic forests – thus, a plan was devised, one that would lead to the creation of the eponymous Flute of the Four Winds – a branch of the tree, one that, by law of sympathetic magic, would carry its power. The magic power removed, the invaders never grasped the significance of the once sacred site.

Unfortunately for the Vikmordere group designated as guardians of the mighty relic, the Klavekian soldiers littered the landscape, forcing them to take shelter in a cave system…one that was inhabited by lizards with a strange hive-mind. Beset on two fronts, the shaman and wife of the flute’s guardians, Shertayli, fell in battle. This tragedy tainted the mind of the leader of the guardians of the flute, on Manahzo, who beseeched the council to allow him vengeance against the invading forces. Being denied, he and his disgruntled band of Snoqua Vikmordere left tribe and area behind, to wander into the mists of legend and time.

As is wont to be the case in such cases, alas, the wrath of Manahzo and his band of renegades was not quenched by the years and instead festered – it is this wrath that is unleashed upon Rybalka as the PCs are enjoying a beverage in the Thirsty Serpent tavern while Mayor Igor Leonid is tipsily singing a Klavekian folk song: Rogue Snoqua and their animals may attack under the cover of a massive storm; if the mayor is in dire straits, a mighty totem golem may animate to defend the village, adding to the mystical themes that suffuse the module. (It should be noted that the module contains copious amounts of read-aloud text, which helps portray the proper atmosphere.)

After the attack, the somber task of assessing damage is up next: The PCs are part of the emergency meeting, where sage Yuri Statel plants the seed of dissent: He suggests vengeance against the Snoqua tribe, a people that already have a tenuous peace with the mostly Klavekian denizens of Rybalka – in fact, the extremely smart man may have planted suggestions (not italicized in the text) prior to the meeting, so yeah, it won’t be simple to dissuade the Rybalkans from the course of retribution, at least not sans proof. Thankfully, it falls to the PCs to undertake the scouting assignment – and after the meeting, Sulwotik, a former Vikmordere, contacts the PCs to fill them in on the very likely innocence of the Snoqua. In fact, perceptive PCs may have noted that it was he that controlled the mighty totem golems. He also fills the PCs in regarding the flute of the four winds as well as Manahzo’s exile – this section is particularly important when not playing this with players already familiar with Rybalka and thus maintains a broader appeal.

The next task for the PCs would then be to walk into the wilderness (random encounter table included) and find the Snoqua tribe; curiously, beyond the dangers of the wilderness, there is a significant likelihood that Statel will be crying them, adding a layer of potential paranoia to the proceedings that are pretty much guaranteed to be tense when the PCs are surrounded by the Snoqua’s warriors. Thankfully, Sulwotik’s name carries weight with the tribe, and thus the PCs get to participate in a mystical ceremony; in the aftermath, the location of Manahzo is revealed – he is actually on a high ridge atop Rybalka itself! Here is the problem: In order to reach the ridge, the PCs will have to brave the notorious Dark Wood, a place where infernal powers have corrupted the natural order of things. It is here that the PCs will be attacked by Arakel, the demonic wolf and her pack, ally to Manahzo and his Dark spirit. When the wolves have been vanquished, the PCs will see the massive storm resuming – and as the PCs venture nearer, the mighty Vikmordere prepares his last stand…and as the PCs are obviously to formidable a match for him, he jumps to his death.

This ends the module, right? Wrong. This is basically act one. Rybalka resumes a state of vigilant calm in the aftermath of Manahzo’s death, and while the local populace treats them well, Statel is not so easily deceived and, as an agent of the Klavekian crown, suspects complicity. The flute broke in the fall, becoming mundane and bereft of magic, so, as far as all are concerned, this seems to be the end of Manhzo’s misguided revenge. That is, until 3 days pass. Suddenly, non-Vikmordere people of Rybalka are targeted by a rather deadly phenomenon: They hear the sound of a flute playing, right before being buffeted by air geysers or even struck by lightning! It’s not over yet, and thus, Sulwotik counsels that the PCs once more travel to the Snoqua to deal with the issue….hopefully in a diplomatic manner, for they were expected to return the flute, now broken.

The Vikmordere have an idea on how to put the horrific haunt that is threatening to annihilate Rybalka to rest: They know that Manhzo was never able to reclaim the body of his lost love Shertayli. Thus, the PCs will have to travel to the gloomy coal mine (which belongs to the guy Yuri manipulated in the meeting, just fyi) where she has met her fate. The mine is a pretty amazing dungeon: For one, it is extensively mapped: A vertical mineshaft, with the tracks descending in a spiral pattern, for example, features a full-blown and proper side-view map. A total of 5 full-color maps are provided for the mine, including grid-less versions and ones with grid, for full player-friendly action. The maps are also very detailed, sporting spider-webs, tracks, etc. – depending on your own drawing skills, the cartography alone may be worth the price of admission here!

Things become even coaler…her…cooler here, though: There is a vast amount of coal dust in the air, which makes the proposition of handling fire pretty dangerous. A handy table lists the percentile chance to ignite a 10-ft.-cube at the source of flame, as well as at longer ranges. I LOVE dungeons that sport such unique, global mechanics and the table and principle is one that is convenient and easy to both scavenge and adapt to your needs. The workers in the upper reaches of the mine are not exactly friendly folks, but they can also warn the PCs of the spider infestation in the lower reaches, where “The Dark Lady” awaits, a giant black widow. There is danger beyond her lurking in the depths, though: An agent of Yuri has prepared an ambush and may require that the PCs deal with him…oh, and the guy is no saint: A murder victim of his may be found, the spirit of the dead miner put to rest, provided the PCs care enough.

Ultimately, the PCs will have to venture into abandoned sections of the mine, where the PCs can find wondrous “flowers” – really anglers, weird, subterranean predators. Oh, and the tunnel horrors and their queen await beyond a mushroom garden, making for a nice boss battle. Securing Shertayli’s remains, the PCs may return to the Vikmordere, have them consecrated, and thus end Manahzo’s thirst for revenge. Yuri, meanwhile, bides his time – he’s not one to argue with results, and as long as the PCs seem to be interested in keeping Rybalka safe and under Klavekian rule, he will spare them further machinations…at least for now.

It should be noted that the massive combat stat appendix not only covers the creatures, but also random encounter stats, etc.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no issues worth complaining too loudly about. Layout adheres to AAW Games’ aesthetically-pleasing two-column full-color standard. The interior artworks are high-quality full-color pieces, with only a few that I’ve seen before. The full-color cartography by Michael Allen is amazing in its detail; the fact that we get not one, but two arrays of player-friendly maps is a HUGE boon for guys like me, who can’t draw. In this case, the fact that the maps are this detailed for regions in the mine where no combat is expected also means that it’s very easy to create tension as the PCs explore the place…and if you’re like me, you’ll probably plan a follow-up return to the complex.

Only few authors get to play in AAW Games’ A-series, particularly in the Rybalka region,and for good reason: The main draw of the series is the ability to evoke an incredibly concise and flavorful atmosphere unlike any you get from other publishers. There is a distinct complex of themes that constitutes Rybalkan adventures, one that is hard to pin down, as it happens almost imperceptibly. There is a touch of the wonder of fairy tales, of frontier’s spirit in these modules; there is a sense of wonder that is hard to describe, harder to capture. This is distinctly fantasy, sure – but it feels different from other adventures; it sports distinct themes.

It is impressive that Maksim Kotelnikov (with additional content by Michael Smith) has managed to capture the essence of what makes AAW Games’ A-series stand apart. From a structural point of view, the emphasis on the clash of cultures is a great backdrop; the subtle intrigues are smart, and I particularly enjoyed how it bucks the clichéd structure of a revenge-plot and makes it about closure, about how it deviates from the “slay guy, done”-paradigm. This conscious deviation from expected structures also pertains the encounter-design in the mine – just because you would expect an encounter in an area that is truly remarkable doesn’t mean that there has to be one. You may not notice it consciously, but unconsciously, playing experience does carry with it such expectations – and when these are not met, it enhances the feeling of encountering something fresh.

What could have been one-dimensional instead feels like a compassionate tale. Additionally, unlike many module or supplement centered around a clash of cultures, neither the Klavekians, nor the Vikmordere are truly bad guys – they are just different cultures, with both good and bad people. As a whole, this creates an atmosphere that is enjoyable to read and that leaves the reader with a satisfied, warm feeling. So yeah, I did enjoy this module, much more than I imagined I would, considering that this is, to my knowledge, Maksim Kotelnikov’s first published module.

This is not a world-shaker of a module and it doesn’t e.g. sport the brilliance of Jonathan Nelson’s A24, but it is a damn fine adventure, particularly for veterans of the game. It also acts as a nice alternate means of introducing the power-dynamics of Rybalka and the Vikmordere, if your players have left the first couple of levels behind already, as this establishes the key themes and leitmotifs of the series rather well. So yeah, all in all, this is a thoroughly enjoyable adventure and an impressive beast, particularly for a newcomer. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, with my seal of approval added for being a freshman offering.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
A25: Flute of the Four Winds
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Into the Wintery Gale: Ancestral Appellations
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/26/2018 05:41:50

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 49 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 45 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Now, the first thing you should know is that the information depicting the basics of Vikmordere culture and valley from the FREE Vikmordere Player’s Primer can also be found herein; the list of names has been moved to its own chapter, though, and there is some reorganization done – after all, this supplement is basically the crunchy GM-book on the subject matter, which also means that it contains pieces of information not intended for the players. I will attempt to remain as SPOILER-free as possible, at least until we get to the discussion of the mini-adventures contained in the book. As always, I will preface the discussion of the adventures with a spoiler-warning. A well-rounded group is generally suggested for attempting the modules.

All right, that component out of the way, we are introduced to the cultural production of the Vikmordere, here in the guise of new magic items, namely ones that make sense in the context of the society: Home stones are attuned to a settlement – even if it moves due to a semi-nomadic lifestyle, the stone allows the bearer to find it once more. Suffice to say, this is helpful for kids lost…and a potential quest waiting to happen, as they’d allow enemies of the settlement to track it. As an aside, they also act as a cool stand-in explanation for being great navigators at sea, as the pdf aptly mentions. AAW Games does the fairy-tale like really well; in a crossover of themes, the eerie loom represents a loom that weaves autonomously…an item that, if its construction is ever unveiled to more industrialized societies, could well shake the economy of nations to the core. Once more, we have a cool, simple item with a ton of adventure-possibility built into it. Clement cups heat beverages and can be helpful when de-icing surfaces…but also interact with the neat hypothermia-rules from the “Into the Wintery Gale” mega-adventure. Totem amulets, usable 1/day, can duplicate summon nature’s ally I. Prismatic vestments enhance the Stealth of the wearer, adjusting chameleon-style to the surroundings.

We also get an array of low-level spells that are available, RAW, exclusively for shamans: Showing snow makes tracks made in 24 hours in the affected area reappear from the snow. Complaint here: The range is incorrect: Long spell range is 400 ft., +40 ft./level, not 500 ft. + 50 ft./level. These deviations regarding ranges also can be found in subsequent spells, which may indicate that there’s intent here; still, as presented, I do not necessarily think that this is the best way to handle balancing these, considering that the existing spell-range defaults already provide a pretty solid selection. Anyway, the level 2 icebloom spell generates a beautiful flower of sharp ice from existing ice, but considering its relatively low damage output and terrain-based use-restrictions, I found myself wishing it had some sort of scaling mechanism – as written, damage remains static. Hunter’s companion is a cool idea: You touch a felled creature and it then follows you, lifted and animated by an invisible force to follow – great for bringing home prey. Not so great: RAW, it can’t affect anything in PFRPG. You see, it affects only “beasts” – and that’s 5e-terminology. Is it supposed to affect magical beasts? Yes? No? No idea. I assume it should only affect animals…but yeah. Avoidable glitch there. Detect Wellsprings detects hot springs; cast scent has another 5e-ism, though a cosmetic one, with a target of “Self” instead of “You”…and as a cantrip, it is pretty OP and lets you basically rid yourself of your scent and attach it to another being, making scent…rather useless. Not a big fan here.

Okay, so next up are rules for Vikmordere battle chants – these are combat feats. Formatting is a bit odd – the feat type is usually put in brackets after the name, not below it – as presented, these would be (Battle Chant Mastery) feats. Okay, so, these chants can only be learned by the Vikmordere, and we get 5: One for each of the saves, one for attack rolls and one for AC. All of them provide a +1 bonus that is applied to the character and all allies that can hear the chant (OUCH! – a scaling maximum number would have been more elegant…).

Okay, so I like this concept per se. At the same time, the 5 chants, even though they stack with themselves up to +3, provide a bit of a conundrum: They fail to denote what action, if any, is required to start and maintain them, making them RAW unusable. Secondly, from a design-perspective, they simple aren’t interesting. No matter how cool the concept, granting minor bonuses to self and allies is just so utterly anticlimactic. If their range wasn’t as wide open, they could grant something cool…or, well, let the Vikmordere do something unique. As presented, they#re a great idea, mired in an execution that is just an escalation of numbers.

Next up, we learn about the Northern Fury Council and the book thankfully regains its composure: A total of 12 one-page write-ups of the clans tell us about their settlements (yes, with settlement statblocks) and customs, as well as their totems, leaders, etc. – it is here that the full-blown wonder once more suffuses the pages – and we even get teeny-tiny full-color maps of the respective settlements…though, alas, we do not get one-page versions, so yeah…a GM can only use these to get an idea of the layout, not use them as proper handouts. Missed chance there.

All right, this concludes the setting supplement section of the pdf; from here, we move to the adventures. The 3 adventures follow a format somewhat akin to mini-dungeons, in that they depict small environments/dungeons suitable for one session of gameplay. Unlike most mini-dungeons, we have less constraints regarding page/word-count, which is why the respective entries for rooms etc. sport read-aloud text for your convenience, so that’s a deviation in presentation you should be aware of. Each of the full-color maps is btw. included in a proper 1-page, player-friendly version – big kudos there.

Since we’ll be looking at adventures now, the following will contain SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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Okay, only GMs around? Great! The first adventure, “Eye of the Ice King”, is intended for PCs level 5 – 6 and begins in Horasheimur, a Vikmordere village that suddenly found its populace to be susceptible to even mild temperatures…something potentially rather fatal in these environments. Thankfully, the village shaman suspects the culprit: The clan once defeated the mighty Ice King, his soul bound to a wretched golem and in the time since, they have, alas, been less than perfect at tending the site…the shaman suspects that this evil once more stirs. Hence, the PCs travel to the symmetrical tomb, where they have to explore a place that is suffused with, you guessed it, ice-themed adversaries. Drakes, elementals and spirits/undead…and, the fears of the shaman hold true…but to defeat the ice-king, the PCs will have to be smart and first unlock the seal. A carving helps provide a hint here which of the items is the correct key, requiring a bit of thought without feeling hamfisted. The boss-fight is also neat, with infinite, spawning minions complicating the combat. All in all, a solid adventure.

The second adventure “Caves of Cursed Ice” for level 7 – 8 PCs, brings the PCs to the caverns in defense of Therinholm, which is experiencing escalating raids by ice trolls. The adventure begins with the PCs helping to repel an ice troll raid and, provided they accept, gaining tools to survive the task at hand. The PCs exploring these caves will soon note a rather interesting feature: The ice trolls seem to be infected with growths of dark ice…and indeed, the tribe has been taken over by Grenda…a blighted hamadryad. Yeah. That’s CR 17 and pretty much an assured TPK if she’s played even to half her capabilities. Sure, she pretty much doesn’t care about the PCs slaughtering her troll slaves, but she’s the big bad here…and she can’t be realistically bested at this level. She also seems strangely bereft of agenda and just de facto spares the PCs or wipes them out; either feels like fiat.

Neither she, nor the troll chief get stats and the latter is an “advanced icy troll ripper CR 10”, which is actually an interesting way to use pregenerated monsters…but considering that the book doesn’t have the usual limitations of Mini-Dungeons, I still think we should have gotten stats for these fellows at least. On a weird side: The fey’s pet is a hound of Tindalos, which is completely out of left field as far as I’m concerned. Also rather weird: While the complex sports a couple of nice terrain features, it does not capitalize, at all, on the ice-cavern angle. Shoes? Equipment? Irrelevant. Apart froma slope and hard to scale walls, the place seems to favor safe footing. Final complaint: A readaloud-text sports a CR-reference in an obvious search-and-insert hiccup. All in all: A rather weak adventure, consider the oeuvre of both author and company.

The final adventure would be “The Tomb of the Crooked”, for PCs level 11 – 12. Rand the Crooked was the only non-Vikmordere to ever rise to the title of Jarl…oh, and he was a minotaur. Yeah, that is pretty badass. Alas, the shaman of the tribe wasn’t too thrilled, but Rand was a good Jarl and mighty leader; he led a great life and his newformed tribe, the tribe of the bull, prospered. On his death-bed, alas, when he received the final rites, the Vikmordere Ancestor spirits refused him…enraged for being ostracized after a lifetime of faithful service and rulership, the minotaur died, a tragic figure, with a curse on his lips. His tribe did not survive his demise for long. Ages have passed, and now, the PCs have been hired as treasure hunters by a wealthy Klavekian, one Sigmund Torvan, to make their way through the haunted Black Pine Forest (random encounter table included), to find the ruins of the minotaur’s erstwhile settlement and his tomb. This is, by far, the best of the three modules: The traps employed are brutal and breathe an old-school aesthetic; the threat of undead is constant and the final boss fight against the dread wight-ified Rand is a fitting finale…though, again, stats would have been appropriate – this is no mini-dungeon!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, on a formal level, are pretty good; on a rules-language level, we have a couple of unpleasant inconsistencies here, some of which influence rules-integrity. Layout adheres to the gorgeous two-column full-color standard AAW Games employs for the “Into the Wintery Gale”-supplements. The full-color artworks are fantastic, though fans of AAW Games will be familiar with most. The cartography is nice and in full-color, with the player-maps for the modules being a nice plus; on the downside, not getting properly-sized settlement maps sucks a bit. It should be noted that the FREE Vikmordere Player’s Primer is included in the DL, so you don’t have to get it separately. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Justin Andrew Mason and Jonathan G. Nelson provide something of a mixed bag here; on the one hand, I utterly adore the Vikmordere. The player#s primer-section is amazing and the everyday magic items ooze flavor; similarly, I loved the oh-so-brief (1 page each) clan-write-ups of the 12 clans.

BUT…and, alas, it’s deserves its allcaps, this book feels rushed. The spells sport needless deviations from standards; the battle-chants, an amazing idea a) don’t work and b) are executed in probably the least interesting way possible. And then there are the adventures. They are the second-most puzzling aspect here. AAW games know how to make superb adventures; the main author has penned quite a few of them. However, they feel…rushed? Tacked on? They obviously once were Mini-Dungeons that have been slightly expanded…which is nothing bad per se, but for a full adventure, I expect at least multi-templated creatures done for me. One template? Okay, if I have to. Once I have to apply two for a single creature, the workload gets somewhat annoying.

Module #1 is solid, if unremarkable compared to “Into the Wintery Gale”’s ice-themed dungeons (~3.5 stars); module #2 is just…weak. (2 stars) Module #3 oozes flavor… but, much like its predecessors, it suffers from the artificial limitations imposed by the presentation.(~4.5 stars) Why can’t we have a full-blown haunted forest exploration? A ruined village to explore? Where are the global ice cavern complications and the means to outsmart the superior boss in #2? I would have loved to see one of these modules done properly and fully detailed…but as presented, they feel as though they restrict themselves in ways that simply are not required by the format. They also eat up a ton of real-estate, word-count-wise.

You know, space that could have been devoted to more information on…Vikmordere Culture and Society, as noted in the title? Religious rites? Holidays? Food, drink, daily life? Developing them further? Or, well, the “ancestral appellations”? Where are the benefits for calling upon heroes? Where is the cool archetype that gets to channel named heroes with unique abilities and background stories? Heck, you know, you could just provide flavor-modifications à la “Vikmordere mediums call spirit xyz by the name of Ghost Serpent; channeling the spirit…”; there could be real POWER in the ancestral names…you know, traits, feats…it’s a wide open field and one that would thematically have been a perfect fit.

Okay, my disappointment of the lack of the like aside, the real estate devoted to the adventures could have been used to further elaborate the differences between the clans! The final, baffling decision herein would pertain the respective clan’s settlements. We get these teeny-tiny maps for them…even if the maps wouldn’t have been that great, it would have been useful to get them in a proper size. Some ready-to-use maps are almost always better than none and they obviously exist…so where are the full-sized versions?

Honestly, this supplement is somewhat baffling to me. It sports superb prose and cool ideas and contrasts them with problems. The good sections are fantastic, but the less impressive sections…well, are significantly less impressive. Now, I do love the good parts, but when all is said and done, I can’t go higher than 3 stars for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Wintery Gale: Ancestral Appellations
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The Vikmordere: Player Primer
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 01/15/2018 04:41:06

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 6 pages of sheets for notes/ancestral appellations, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This pdf was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue by my patreons.

First things first: This is basically the Player-friendly, SPOILER-less and system-neutral version of Ancestral Appellations; it deals with the known fluff etc. and allows a Gm control over which items and abilities to allow/use. I wholeheartedly applaud this strategy.

So, what are the Vikmordere? As the nomenclature used in the introduction makes abundantly-clear, they are a culture of various indigenous peoples, steeped in the nomenclature and cultural trappings of Nordic myth, something I find myself inexorably drawn to. However, unlike pretty much all renditions of fantasy vikings, the Vikmordere are more than that: Basically, picture what would happen when you’d replace the (amazing!) fatalism and mythology with a mysticism that is, theme-wise, more in tune with Native American aesthetics. The Vikmordere, as such, employ a thoroughly unique blending of tropes that set them distinctly apart from both the depiction of pseudo-Native Americans or Vikings; they worship the ancestor spirit and still use observe the Old Ways, but in their remote and rugged valley, they have since dwindled in numbers…though, ultimately, they are very much feared beyond.

Their home, the rugged Vikmordere valley is depicted with notes on clime, flora and fauna painting a vivid and wondrous picture. Vikmordere society centers around the use of natural resources, and while they may once have worshipped petty and vengeful gods, they have, in a surprisingly enlightened and encompassing stance, since then resumed a form of ancestral worship that should resound with quite a few contemporaries. The clans and tribes do not sport a centralized government, though a sort of Þing-equivalent does exist around Serpent Lake, with the Northern Fury Council.

Does that sound too friendly for your tastes? Well, the Vikmordere in Aventyr (AAW Games’ default world) are basically surrounded by the Klavek kingdom, which seeks to exploit their natural resources; much like medieval Vikings, their ships are superior and they have a pronounced tradition of raiding and capturing individuals; while these captives may be considered to be slaves by some, the enlightened notions suffusing the culture also mean that these individuals are treated fairly, allowing them to gain freedom and integrate into the respective tribe, another notion that resounds with historic themes, while changing them in an intriguing manner.

Okay, at this point, you should have a good idea why I consider these fellows to be pretty much an amazing addition to a given world, but that is not where the pdf stops: In the lavishly-depicted map of Serpent Lake (included as a pretty glorious one-page version as well), we learn of the wondrous locales in the valley – from the Everflame Isle that houses a forest of red-leafed Everflame Trees in its sunken interior to Ighdenholm, the top of the world, ostensibly seat of mighty evil unvanquished to the snowfields of sorrow, where a particularly warm summer may well unearth artifacts of conflicts long past, the little write-ups are excellent.

Beyond that, we move on to something particularly important for the Vikmordere – their names. A d20-table with two columns allows you to create a spiritual name, with the first being a descriptor, the second a noun; in the aesthetics of Native Americans, you could thus end with a spirit name of “Sulking Sky” or “Ghost Shadow”; as per Norse/Icelandic nomenclatures, Vikmordere also often introduce themselves as “X, son of Y”, where Y would be the father’s (or mother’s!) name; in light of that, the massive 100-entry-strong table of sample names for males and females is certainly appreciated.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to the drop-dead gorgeous 2-column full-color standard for “Into the Wintery Gale”-supplements. The pdf sports excellent full-color artworks, though fans of AAW Games may be familiar with a few of them; same goes for the neat map. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Justin Andrew Mason, with contributions from Jonathan G. Nelson, delivers something I have been keen to see for a while: More information on one of my favorite cultures in current fantasy roleplaying. The Vikmordere have, even during the humble beginnings of AAW Games, been something that set world and modules apart; their culture, practices etc. feel plausible and fresh in a way that we don’t get to see that often.

You see, in many Tolkienesque fantasy (or non-Tolkienesque fantasy, for that matter), the depiction of cultures most often employs a construction-paradigm alongside the line of least resistance:

“Like culture x, but with twist z.” This twist is then thought through to its logical conclusion, with different degrees of success. Sometimes, something amazing comes from that procedure. However, most of the part, we end up being…well. Bored. Okay, so elves, but Egyptian. Got it. Okay, so dwarves are Scotsmen, got it. Elves that are touched by fire/abyss/etc.

Notice something? Those tropes, in and of themselves, have become cliché in the games we play. It is my ardent belief that they are responsible for the tendency often bemoaned by old-school gamers, that races are just stats in more modern games. And know what? Thinking back, I can relate. When I started playing, the German AD&D supplements about races talked about gnomish roby wine, about elven funeral customs, etc. and painted a picture far beyond “You get +2 to two attributes”; The cultures, while Tolkienesque, were WONDROUS, because they felt like more than an accumulation of stats. It is from this solely number-based design aesthetic, that soulless “template” racial variants sprang. If I had a dime for every lame desert-x variant of a race I had to read over the years…but I digress.

As a result of the customization-demands of modern gamers, many racial supplements have simply lost the means to make a culture/ethnicity/race feel plausible…and as a result, gamers skip the ever shortening flavor-texts; it’s a vicious circle and most folks that have encountered it are probably not even aware of it. So, back in the day, when I was tearing through AAW Games’ first offerings, the crew asked me what I’d consider to be their greatest strength.

I replied that it’s hard to grasp, and frankly, it took me a while to enunciate my feelings properly. As someone with a basic grasp of cultural anthropology and social sciences, it dawned upon me that one crucial, undeniable strength was that they managed to tap into a sense of wonder, while remaining plausible. I could picture this strange culture that never was…and in another world, it may well have been. Beyond just a blending and twisting of tropes, the details elevate the culture beyond a mere blending of themes, to something that is separate, but thoroughly distinct from its parents.

While the elevator pitch for the Vikmordere would be “Viking Native Americans”, that ultimately does not do them justice; I find myself excited, always, for new adventures set in the Vikmordere valley, always in the hopes of learning something new…and that is something only precious few cultures have managed to accomplish in the last couple of years.

It should be noted, that the similarities to parent cultures, while only running skin-deep, also allow the Vikmordere to be easily and seamlessly plugged into pretty much any fantasy world; it is only slowly that they transcend the connotations of their parent cultures, becoming something different…which may, in and of itself, generate a sense of tension and excitement at your table.

In short: This is a really good, system-neutral first look at the Vikmordere, one that does not SPOIL any of the modules featuring them, while giving players a good first grasp of these peoples. That being said, for maximum fun, I’d urge you to use this differently: Make the PCs part of an expedition; have them encounter and interact with the Vikmordere, separate fact from fiction…I used that particular strategy in my own campaign to great effect.

…yeah, I think I like these fellows. In fact, I find myself hoping that AAW Games will continue to craft their thoroughly and unique races and cultures, above the ground and below. My final verdict? Well, have I mentioned that this is FREE? As in “costs $0.00”? Yeah, I’d strongly suggest downloading this – well worth checking out! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Vikmordere: Player Primer
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5E Mini-Dungeon #058: The Palace of Ahmad Sahir
by Bryan E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/14/2018 03:16:23

Overall, a pretty good little adventure. The materials are well-designed and well-written, and the adventure is reasonably interesting for a one-session playthrough.

However, my main complaint is that the encounters are not very well-balanced. The two encounters with the elementals were very tough, and I had to tone them down for my group as we were playing them. The final boss fight, however, was trivially easy, and would have been over by the second round if I hadn't boosted the bad guys' hit points and attacks. Same with the hellhound fight. The bodyguard fight seemed right where it needed to be.

It's definitely worth the price, but be prepared to do some tweaking.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #058: The Palace of Ahmad Sahir
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Into the Wintery Gale: Wrath of the Jotunn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/07/2017 09:53:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This massive mega-adventure/sourcebook clocks in at 199 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages panorama/art-showcases of the front cover sans logo etc., 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 page KS-thanks, 1 page encounter contributors, 1 page rune-design sheet (more on that later), 1 page back cover, leaving us with 187 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so this module takes place in the Vikmordere Valley on the planet of Aventyr – in case you’re not familiar with the culture, let me give you a brief run-down: Picture a blending of the cultures of Native Americans and Vikings. Sounds badass? It is! One of the biggest strengths of AAW Games’ early offerings is the establishment of this culture, of depicting it in a way that is plausible, that feels real and yet fantastic and different. It is, at this point, no secret that I adore the Vikmordere as a concept. In this book, we take a look at their home, the majestic Vikmordere valley around serpent lake. In fact, a significant part of this book can be considered to be a sourcebook of life and survival in this region – there are really cool rules for 3-step hypothermia and frostbite that add the survivalist aspect for groups that enjoy a challenge in that vein – they are simple, yet rewarding and make seeking shelter, exposure etc. a significant aspect of the game. Big plus for these tundra survival rules. In these, e.g. Vikmordere winter outfits (completely described and explained), rations, boneskates and frossenpine (a wooden pole used to catapult iceskaters along), bear paws – the basic set-up is great.

Beyond that, we get an amazing table that lists all traveling distances from place to place – really comfortable for the GM and something we only see rarely in modules for the more modern systems. Now, I called this both an adventure and a setting sourcebook – there is a reason for that. You see, there are two magical hazards that render this massive adventure more of a challenge – the ice fog and the wintery gale: Ammo is swept by the winds, teleportation is cursed and snow-blindness due to whiteouts is a deadly threat. On the lake, sentient icebergs (!!) make for a fantastic, yet amazing “trap” – more of a skill challenge than just a simple trap or haunt, but yeah – hunting icebergs? Come on, that is amazing and oozes fantastic North from every pore, right? The book also features MASSIVE random encounter tables, with full stats of the creatures included for your convenience.

And there are special events. 30, to be more precise. These were sourced from the contributing backers and are thoroughly creative and diverse: Stalking yetis, dazzling ice rifts, bridges across chasms, where the gale is funneled into the depths, wells inhabited by Brunnmigi, hobbled hunters, ice trolls in a feud with the Vikmordere who actually want the conflict resolved, strange shrooms that bury into the unconscious to animate them, white wyrm riders – the encounters are GOLD and feel, very much, like the notes that you can read in an old-school hexcrawl – not exactly lavishly detailed, but thoroughly inspiring.

Now, there is an issue that particularly inexperienced GMs running a hexcrawl will be all too familiar with: How many descriptions of a landscape can you create before it gets dull? How many different ways do you know to describe an icy tundra? New school modules tend to deal with the requirement for lavish descriptions via read-aloud text, but that usually only works within the context of a linear structure, not a sandbox. The rebuttal to this problem that this massive sandbox provides is glorious in its simplicity and something I honestly expect to see from comparable modules from this point onwards. The solution is, simply, descriptions. Grouped by area. Open tundra, mountain base, mountain pass, glacier – all types of arctic environments featured herein come with a TON of glorious prose-descriptions for the wilderness. More than 16 pages, to be more precise. These descriptions really help to maintain the atmosphere, are easily scavenged and make sense in a ton of ways.

Which brings me to my central thesis regarding the analysis of this adventure: This is a blending of both old-school and new-school design aesthetics; the wilderness sections behave like an easy to customize point-crawl, driven by plot, but lavish in its freedom within the traveling experience. At the same time, both highly detailed adventure hooks, read-aloud texts etc. provide an engaging plot.

Okay, at this point, I need to start going into the details of the plot, so from here on out, the SPOILERS reign. The wintery gale will take intrepid players that read any further! Skip to the conclusion or incur the icy wrath!

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All right, only GMs around? Great! We begin with potent symbolism – the PCs are surprised by a horrible snowstorm, only to be visited by an ash-grey owl that tries to lead the PCs further; as the blizzard seems too potent, the owl suddenly is wreathed in flames and guides the PCs – for they are the ones chosen by the demi-goddess Ningatha. As they make their way through the relentless cold towards Völsfiheimr, she introduces the PCs to the Northern Fury Council of the Vikmordere clans. Honoring the request of the ancestral spirit, the PCs get to participate in the gathering of jarls. You see, the Ohjaslange has approached once more and a vast evil stirs – 400 years have passed since the Vikmordere last managed to defeat, by the skin of their teeth, the dread Jötunn – and now, they and the curse of their gale has returned. In order to stop the dreaded undead, immortal frost giants, the PCs will have to reclaim the ancient artifacts that once provided the tools of the downfall of the giants – the sword Vlfberht and the shield Skojold Rustning – both, however, have fallen into deep obscurity, the bloodline that once guarded them fallen into obscurity. While the PCs are celebrated if they take the richly-rewarded quest (and may certainly engage in Glima!), they will first have to pass the unsafe waters of Serpent lake to find the old witch Arurún – and bypass her giant bear.

The PCs will have a chance to learn a unique spell from the witch and even the runepaining magic of the Vikmordere – the engine is pretty solid, if not too spectacular; as a supplement for an adventure, it is solid enough and adds some serious local flavor to the proceedings. More important would be that the witch provides an amulet that helps the PCs find the resting places of the artifacts long lost – here, I should comment on something thoroughly impressive: We get GORGEOUS top-down AND isometric maps of the dungeons – and yes, player-friendly versions included. The cartography provided for this module is masterclass – Tommi Salama at his best. Beyond the aesthetic component, it is in the dungeons that contain the artifacts that the design-aesthetics become pretty old-school: We have indirect story-telling; understanding the culture and values of the Vikmordere will make the exploration easier; similarly, the dungeons themselves feel like they have been taken straight out of the good examples of the heyday of RPGs – they ooze flavor, reward smart players and the dungeons also sport puzzles – while brute-forcing them is an option, as a person, I suggest trying them out – most groups like, at least once in a while, using their brain.

Returning with legendary Vlfbehrt to the witch, the PCs will witness a grim scene – the Jötunn are on their heels, the witch slain – and now, the deadly, undying Jötunn remain – though, at this point, the PCs may not yet know about the truth behind the undying nature of the Jötunn. Without a guidance, it is a benevolent haunt, a manifestation of the guarding ancestral spirits, that the PCs will be brought to the vault wherein Skjold Rustning lies – the dungeon will once again demand that the players use both brain and brawn to survive…And yes, the Jötunn are still on their trail…

That being said, the PCs have the artifacts – so it’s time to face the Jötunn and end this! This is where the module sports one of its weaker aspects: There is a traitor in the Vikmordere’s ranks and the wielder of the artifacts is slain; in spite of the presence of mass combat rules for PFRPG, we don’t get the like – instead, we get some regular encounters before Ningatha intervenes…as, while the Vikmordere seem to win, the Jötunn’s immortality kicks in – and the vanquished giants rise. The result is a horrible rout, one that the PCs and Vikmordere only survive due to Ningatha expending almost all of her divine powers.

All seems lost, as the evil ice maidens lend their powers to the forces of the Jötunn – and the PCs will have but one final chance to stop them: Within the tomb of the ancestors, there lies the only way to reach the isle of the maidens – the magic ship called Sorrow’s Snekkja. En route, the PCs will be shipwrecked by a mighty sea serpent…and that is not where it ends. However, it takes the sacrifice of both Ningatha and the guiding Vikmordere spirit to open the doors, as the erstwhile lovers are once again united, their love a symbolic sacrifice and hope for the PCs to claim. With the stakes that high, the exploration of the tomb makes the dungeons so far look like child’s play – the PCs will have to activate the well of lost souls in this legendary complex and sail the magic ship out of the complex!

After the deadly dungeon, the PCs will finally be able to arrive at the island – where the mighty ice queen and her wyrms remain – and where the PCs will have to destroy the Wintyrsyrd, breaking the potent magics of the dread lady. If they manage to survive this ordeal, there will be but one final task that remains. Rendezvous with the Vikmordere, then lead one final, desperate assault, wherein the forces of the noble Vikmordere will cleave a path through the Jötunn forces, allowing the PCs to make their way to the dread keep of King Krumma – if they can defeat the mighty lord of the Jötunn, they may yet stop the relentless, seemingly unstoppable horde of undead giants. He’s btw. CR 24. Yeah, good luck…the PCs will damn well need it…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, almost very good – there are a couple of instances where blank spaces etc. are missing, but not unduly many; as a whole, this book is pretty well-made in that regard. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard that is absolutely glorious – BJ Hensley and Daniel Marshall did amazing work here. The book sports a metric TON of glorious, original artwork with a uniform style – Mates Laurentiu really rocked this book; the cover by Jason rainville is similarly amazing. Cartography by Tommi Salama is AMAZING. Even better: We actually get VTT-friendly high-res versions of the maps. Master-class in the cartography department. I mean it. The electronic version comes fully bookmarked with nested, detailed bookmarks. I won the hardcover version of the book – and, frankly – if you have the choice, get the hardcover. It’s worth owning.

Justin Andrew Mason’s “Wrath of the Jötunn” seemed to be cursed; the author, at one point, lost a ton of his notes and had to recreate the saga. It is puzzling, considering this complication, that he managed to not only deliver a good mega-adventure, but a great one.

Let me elaborate: This is, in essence, a massive sandbox with a really strong narrative that resounds with themes of love, loss, glory; this feels like a larger than life tale, straight from a mythology that could have been. This module at once manages to evoke themes of old-school masterpieces, the sense of myth, the sense of plausibility and the new-school focus on a captivating narrative, with tons of read-aloud text, diverse challenges, etc. Now, personally, I was not necessarily too happy about some of the cut-scene-like sequences and how they can feel slightly too linear; at the same time, though, the book handles these in a smart way – it moves quickly in the sequences and provides the next awesome thing; the excellent prose helps the GM to navigate these slightly weaker spots in the otherwise inspired, epic narrative. Now, I would have loved for a few of the foes herein to have a few more unique tricks on their plate, but all of that is me complaining at a high level.

In the end, the exploration of the Vikmordere valley, from the inspired threats to the mythological items, the evocative dungeons – all of that makes this mega-adventure a thoroughly unique and evocative experience. The blending of new- and old-school design paradigms has been executed in a masterful manner that I absolutely loved. This may not be perfect, but it does a lot of innovative, convenient things for the GM; it is easier to run and navigate than comparable offerings; it tells a fantastic story resounding with the classic themes, adding a unique spin to the tropes. It is suffused with glorious cultural tidbits. It is a great read. The massive dressing-entries and sandboxy aspects add a further dimension of longevity to the module. In short: I adore this book. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars (reflecting the minor imperfections), but I will round up (since this is excellent, not just good). I thoroughly LOVED this gem, which is why this gets my seal of approval. And for its blending of adventure-design-schools, for the convenience-aspects, the supplemental material, etc., for going one step beyond in pretty much all aspects, this also is nominated as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2017.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Into the Wintery Gale: Wrath of the Jotunn
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5E Mini-Dungeon #059: With a Candlestick
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/21/2017 04:11:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

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Still here?

All right!

And now for something completely different! Lord and Lady Scarlet are wealthy, well-connected and even pretty popular - the nobles have established a national embassy. When the PCs arrive, however, they come at a rather bad time. Mere minutes before, lord Scarlet was found murdered. There are a couple of guests here...and we have a powerful mastermind, doppelgangers and intrigue...as well as a gorgeously mapped massive mansion. Any GM halfway worth his/her salt can further complicate the scenario with a variety of NPCs, making this an amazing set-up...but if the PCs don't take care, that'll end up bad for them...very bad. Speaking of NPCs – we get full stats for the Verdant knight, who happens to be a guest here, as well – and clashing blades with him is a distinct possibility!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and really nice, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Michael McCarthy delivers a nice mini-murder-mystery; the map if great, the details surprisingly pronounced for the length, the whole set-up surprisingly well done, considering the limitations of the wordcount. This deserves respect and is really neat. If you're willing to add a bit of detail, consider this 5 stars; if you want go-play, 4 instead. My official verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up due to the nice bonus stats of the knight – kudos to whoever did the conversion: Well done!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #059: With a Candlestick
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5E Mini-Dungeon #058: The Palace of Ahmad Sahir
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/21/2017 04:09:36

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

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Still here?

All right!

Ahmad Sahir was once a great wizard, devotee of the three goddesses of divination and oases, goddesses whom he rescued from a scrupulous sultan - and as such, the fantastic map depicts the palace of this man at the palm-covered shore of such an oasis. Cursed by the sultan, madness has consumed poor Sahir and now, he has himself enslaved the minor deities, using the blood of his servants as a means to bind them to his bidding.

Ultimately, the PCs will have to explore his exotic compound and deal with the maddened mage, braving guards mundane and magical, ranging from elementals to infernal threats. Amazing: We get full boss stats for Ahmad, who comes with unique tricks – kudos!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and absolutely glorious, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Michael Holland provides a story from 1001 nights; a high-concept fantasy, a unique environment - in short, a great little mini-dungeon. The map is amazing and evocative and the bonus boss stats (whoever did the conversion: Good job!) elevate this mini-dungeon to the level I love to see from the series, namely the one where I don’t have to complain. 5 stars + seal of approval!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #058: The Palace of Ahmad Sahir
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5E Mini-Dungeon #057: Last Stand of the Forgotten Pirate
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2017 04:12:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

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Still here?

All right!

The PCs are asked by an druid to check up on a former orc pirate, old Gnarltooth, who has been pretty evasive about some obligations, consumed by his obsession with "The Beast", an awakened elasmosaurus, which is lurking nearby, as he has had the beast magically bound. The pdf depicts his little island home - the orc is obviously afraid to face-down the creature. The mundane nature of the orc's life is depicted and provides quite a few options to engage in meaningful roleplaying...but ultimately, the PCs will have to enforce, finally, a confrontation...but they'll need to help...or the battle will be rather short...

Wait, we don’t have elasmosaurus stats in 5E? Well, now we do! The pdf contains the stats for the critter!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and really nice, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Michael McCarthy's little character study/variant of the Moby Dick trope is a compelling, fun sidetrek that can provide some interesting questions to ponder, an intriguing ally to potentially recruit. In short: This is well worth the fair asking price and also presents a nice, idyllic potential home for the PCs...at least for a while. The 5E-version (not sure who did the conversion) loses nothing of the original module’s appeal, adding the critter stats as a cool bonus…and that should be rewarded: The module is worth a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #057: Last Stand of the Forgotten Pirate
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5E Mini-Dungeon #056: The Siren's Lament
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/19/2017 04:11:20

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

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Still here?

All right!

Sirens rarely find true love and when they do, it rarely ends well; such was the case here. The lover of the siren was a wealthy captain, drowned by the wrath of the Sea King, the siren's father...which broke the siren's heart and drove her to suicide - this complex with its winding passages would be his monument to his rage and remorse. Within this complex remain the remnants of the once proud ship of the captain, guarded by haunts, animated galleon figures. From ghostly tunes to the storms unleashed and a memory child, the PCs can actually find out about this tragedy in both direct and indirect storytelling...but upon witnessing the finale, the complex will flood...with a giant shark...so good luck to the players.

In 5E, the new creature called Phantom Foundling makes for an eerie enhancer to the content – neat, though I think its attack value is off by 1 – at challenge 6, it should be +3 proficiency + 3 Dex-mod for +6, not +5.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and really nice, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Colin Stricklin delivers big time in this amazing mini-dungeon; the checks make sense, the story is surprisingly strong. The flavor of this dungeon is fantastic and somber, true fantasy and resonates with strong leitmotifs. In short: An amazing mini-dungeon that has been converted rather well to 5e (not sure by whom) – worthy of 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #056: The Siren's Lament
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Stock Art: Plant Horror
by John M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/15/2017 16:11:52

Love it, and am using it in The Gray World (5E adventure).

Minor nit: I only wish artist's name is in the licensing file, so I didn't have to find it again on DriveThru.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Stock Art: Plant Horror
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Creator Reply:
The artist's name is both in the licensing file and also on the top right of this webpage = Jacob Blackmon. Thank you! :)
5E Mini-Dungeon #055: Chrome Devils of the Swamp
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/15/2017 03:49:03

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

A fiery comet has fallen into the nearby swamp and rumors abound regarding the strange devils that have ventured forth from its insides. Indeed, within the swamp, the dungeon is composed of a strange alloy, sports an eerie glow...yep, this very much would be a crashed space-ship, with several kind of robots serving as the opposition to be faced by the PCs. Here is something cool: Doors improperly forced open, droids destroyed - all matter, for the AI that is the BB"E"G can result in enemies coming close.

Better yet: While the PFRPG version had some issues in the rules-details, the 5E-conversion remedies these and goes above and beyond: We have robots that are reskins, modified monsters with different traits and proper rules-challenges – this complex works as intended and does so in a fantastic manner that is simply better than the original.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and decent, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stefanos "The Netlich" Patelis's science-fantasy crawl, in its original version, had all the makings of pure awesome and couldn’t realize them fully; in 5e, whoever has done the conversion, went above and beyond to make the module as amazing as it should be. This is, hands down, one of the best modules in the whole series – if you even remotely like science-fantasy, get this gem!! My final verdict will be 5 stars + seal of approval for this gem.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #055: Chrome Devils of the Swamp
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5E Mini-Dungeon #054: Uneasy Rests the Crown'd Head
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/14/2017 07:39:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Big plus: This mini-dungeon comes with a key-less .tif player map as well as a high-res GM map for VTT-use – kudos!

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

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

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..

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Still here?

All right!

This is a direct sequel of "Ne'er Trust the White Wolf's Tameness", but works perfectly as a standalone offering. The PCs venture down into a sinkhole, only to find an air membrane on water that can cling to the PCs, providing 60 minutes of air... -1 minute per round of strenuous activity, so they should better manage their precious air supplies......oh, and the less minutes remain, the more is their visibility impeded, which adds a really cool tactical option to the whole proceedings!

Now, the PCs can engage in plentiful 3D-combat here, as the complex is new and intended to be nothing less than the start of a new aboleth outpost, created by two brethren of this loathsome race. These critters, alas, have not been hyperlinked, but that as an aside – aquatic treants and the like make for interesting and very lethal foes. From a breach to the elemental plane of water and its guardian to other watery foes, traps, merrows and finally, the potentially maddening battle against the bosses, this is a diverse, challenging and extremely evocative mini-dungeon.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and solid, and the inclusion of a key-less map and VTT-capable options is a big plus for me.

Stephen Yeardley's excursion to the realms below the waves here is fantastic: It provides the means for interesting and rarely faced foes in a thoroughly fantastic environment. The air/vision mechanic is well worth scavenging and could carry a whole mega-adventure complex...in fact, that's what I'll use it for! It is impressive how much flavor and coolness the author has once again squeezed out of these precious few words - and how much fun. That being said, while I adore many choices herein, the module does lose a bit of its strong flavor in the conversion (no idea who did it), which is why this will “only” get 5 stars – well worth checking out if you’re looking for a challenge!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #054: Uneasy Rests the Crown'd Head
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