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Judge Dredd and The Worlds of 2000 AD Quickstart

8 October 2018 - 7:23am
Publisher: EN Publishing
Rating: 5
This manages to explain an awful lot in just a handful of sentences - even if your exposure to Judge Dredd is minimal you should be able to pick up on the general gist of the setting, as well as understand the rules you'll need to play - or GM - the adventure presented here. As expected, the rules here are a cut-down version of the final rules, but as I haven't seen those yet I cannot say how the play experience differs from the full ruleset. However it does state that special ablities called Exploits are not used here, although a few sample ones are given if you want to give them a go. It appears that to accomplish something you'll need to roll a handful of d6s, the number based on your skill and the relevant attribute. Combat is much the same, and is explained clearly.

Four pre-generated characters are provided, all Street Judges. A note explains that the core rulebook provides for playing civilians and perps as well as Judges, should you harbour such ambitions. The adventure is written so as to be played with any of these options, although if you are using the pre-gens you will have to default to the Judge option. Basically, a Judge was killed recently in the Empire State Building and the adventure deals with the aftermath: as Judges the aim is, of course, to bring justice to the perps responsible. The adventure is well constructed and exciting, although it will run best if you are thoroughly familiar with it before play starts.

The floorplans are a bit cramped. Apart from one or two principal NPCs, all the 'foe' stats are at the end rather than where they are ecountered in the module - it might have been worth adding some bookmarks to make them easier to find in the heat of the moment.

Overall, though, this gives a good impression of a game that has captured the spirit and flavour of Judge Dredd; and which should prove enjoyable to play. If a Quickstart leaves you looking forward to seeing the full game, it has done its job... and this one has!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

DARK PLACES and DEMOGORGONS - The Ghost Hunter's Handbook - and use w/other OSR games

2 October 2018 - 4:19am
Publisher: Bloat Games
Rating: 5
Nothing beats a good ghost story and the early 80s was full of them. From the old school hauntings of 1981's Ghost Story to 1982's Poltergeist to the old guard in House of the Long Shadows (1983) and even to 1984's Ghostbusters. And this is now where near all. If you loved ghost stories it was a great time.

Thankfully Bloat Games hears you and has what you need.

DARK PLACES and DEMOGORGONS - The Ghost Hunter's Handbook is 60 pages (digest sized) with color covers and black and white interior. It has the same feel as the other books in this series. The art is good and I recognize a lot of the names inside.

With this book, like the others, we start out with new classes.
The Clairvoyant can see things the others can't (we have a couple "I see dead people" classes already, but this is a good one).
The Parapsychologist is great, but I think it is stretching what it means for a "Kid" class like the core book is filled with. Though, I guess reading the starting equipment this is also the class that best fit me in High School! Yes, I did write a program to emulate a PKE meter on my TRS-80 Color Computer.
The Mystical Ghost Hunter covers your basic exorcists/cleanser type.
But the class I was happiest to see was the Nullifier! This is the guy who walks in the room and all paranormal activity stops. The class might have limited growth, save that they are the ones that will survive any magical attack, but I like them all the same. In college one of my "hippie" friends claimed I was a "Null" because his Ouija board never worked when I was around!

Pages 14-24 cover different kinds of ghosts, spectres, and haunts and their reasons for haunting. This is one of the parts that make this book "and use w/other OSR games". You can drop these spookies into any OSR game (some will require tweaks) and you are good to go. They can all be run as-is really; especially if you are playing Swords and Wizardry. In fact, there is a lot here in the DP and D that the S and W game master can use.

A few pages on what you can find on The Other Side! (uh...Thanks! but I didn't get you anything. OH! THAT Other Side.)

There are a couple pages on equipment including Ghost Hunter kits to fit your price range.
Next, we have some new ghost-related magic items.
A couple pages of minor and major spells.

And what book on ghosts would be complete without a haunted house? Well, this one taped into that 80s feeling well and gives us a haunted asylum! It's like you guys read my Christmas lists or something!

Information of the J'town Paranormal Society (which feels like it is somewhere between Supernatural's "Ghost Chasers" and Doctor Who's LINDA).

We end with a great, but incomplete, list books, movies, and television shows.

Author Josh Palmer did a hell of a job here and this is a worthy addition to the DP and D line. The book is worth every penny. In truth at just $5 and 60 pages you are getting a hell of a deal.

Print on demand is coming soon.

It's Halloween. Get out there and bust some ghosts!
Categories: Game Theory & Design

The Great Big Random d100 Table of Interesting NPC's (5e)

28 September 2018 - 11:07pm
Publisher: Aurican's Lair
Rating: 5
Aurican's Lair's "The Great Big Random d100 Table of Interesting NPC's (5e)" isn't exactly random, and can be used for more than D and D. The free supplement is a table of 100 NPCs. Each NPC has the expected description and stats, but also a relevant *plot hook* and carried equipment, as well as a link to a picture of the NPC. (I haven't checked if all the pictures work.) Entries were made by individual redditors. Most of the NPCs are better in villages and urban environments, rather than as adventurers on the road.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds

22 August 2018 - 9:55am
Publisher: Lamentations of the Flame Princess
Rating: 4
Going Through Forbidden Otherworlds, or GTFO (cute huh) is again a case of me getting something that is exactly what I need. While I am not going to play it as-is, there is a tweak mentioned in the book itself that works perfectly for me. In fact, a lot of this book works perfectly for me and my next set of adventures. I can't believe I am saying this, but I will turn up the gore factor in this Lamentations product for my needs.

Not a real fan of the art inside but I see why it works for this.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #6: Borderland Keep

8 August 2018 - 3:42am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 3
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing, including sparring dummies and smoke rising from a chimney of the fort. Minor complaint here: Dressing outside and inside should probably be separate. The second 10 entries are devoted to sights and sounds, which does have a bit of an overlap with the previous table: A single boot jutting from the mud due to rain (table 1), compared to a raven squatting on the battlements (table 2) – I fail to see a distinct differentiation here. Making one table focus on inside, one on outside, would have probably been smarter. The final column features 10 whispers and rumors, telling us about the strange behavior of the priest, rumored bandit activity and the bedbug infestation of the tavern, these are okay, but nothing too exciting.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. These include human female and male sample names, alternate names for battlements, castles and wilderness, as well as for soldiers. A few castle descriptors are also noted.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


I wanted to like this GM-screen insert more than I did – Creighton Broadhurst usually does better and the information has more thematic overlap than the previous screen-inserts. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars – easily the weakest of the first 6 screen-inserts.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #6: Borderland Keep

8 August 2018 - 3:42am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 3
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing, including sparring dummies and smoke rising from a chimney of the fort. Minor complaint here: Dressing outside and inside should probably be separate. The second 10 entries are devoted to sights and sounds, which does have a bit of an overlap with the previous table: A single boot jutting from the mud due to rain (table 1), compared to a raven squatting on the battlements (table 2) – I fail to see a distinct differentiation here. Making one table focus on inside, one on outside, would have probably been smarter. The final column features 10 whispers and rumors, telling us about the strange behavior of the priest, rumored bandit activity and the bedbug infestation of the tavern, these are okay, but nothing too exciting.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. These include human female and male sample names, alternate names for battlements, castles and wilderness, as well as for soldiers. A few castle descriptors are also noted.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


I wanted to like this GM-screen insert more than I did – Creighton Broadhurst usually does better and the information has more thematic overlap than the previous screen-inserts. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars – easily the weakest of the first 6 screen-inserts.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #5: Noisome Sewer

8 August 2018 - 3:41am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing, which include bricks that have fallen to create a slippery surface, a roughly-hewn niche, and also evidence of something large slithering through the much…nice table. The second 10 entries for sample events, which include rumbling from above (yay for paranoia!), muted splashes of something heavy falling in, sudden wings driving the abominable stench home… The final column features 10 things to find in the sewers, including a small tree floating in the effluent, a silver necklace on one branch, ropes dangling from hammered in spikes dangling over a channel, a dagger tip wedged between rocks – some nice pieces of detail here.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we learn alternatives for “damp”, darkness, for decay, disgusting things, for excrement and similarly delightful concepts.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst provides a nice GM screen insert here – it certainly is helpful for sewers and has been well-curated and chosen. My final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #5: Noisome Sewer

8 August 2018 - 3:41am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing, which include bricks that have fallen to create a slippery surface, a roughly-hewn niche, and also evidence of something large slithering through the much…nice table. The second 10 entries for sample events, which include rumbling from above (yay for paranoia!), muted splashes of something heavy falling in, sudden wings driving the abominable stench home… The final column features 10 things to find in the sewers, including a small tree floating in the effluent, a silver necklace on one branch, ropes dangling from hammered in spikes dangling over a channel, a dagger tip wedged between rocks – some nice pieces of detail here.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we learn alternatives for “damp”, darkness, for decay, disgusting things, for excrement and similarly delightful concepts.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst provides a nice GM screen insert here – it certainly is helpful for sewers and has been well-curated and chosen. My final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #4: Seedy Tavern

8 August 2018 - 3:39am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use.


One column notes 10 entries for events – like men sitting alone, yelling for more wine before being slapped by the serving wench. Dice-based gambling, Conan-like warriors entering to immediate quiet and the like are featured here. The second 10 and third column sport 10 entries each, and feature 10 atypical patrons or staff members, with alignment and race noted: Fat gnomes in finery, clearly out of place, halflings indulging in drugs to quell fears – some surprisingly descriptive and evocative entries here! And yes, these brief NPC-hooks do come with suitable names.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. These include synonyms for “dim”, but e.g. “s mashed” is probably a typo. Alternate names for taverns, for being seeds, and sample food/drinks are noted.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed only one minor typo. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Jeff Gomez and Creighton Broadhurst provide a helpful, nice screen-insert here. Well worth checking, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #4: Seedy Tavern

8 August 2018 - 3:39am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use.


One column notes 10 entries for events – like men sitting alone, yelling for more wine before being slapped by the serving wench. Dice-based gambling, Conan-like warriors entering to immediate quiet and the like are featured here. The second 10 and third column sport 10 entries each, and feature 10 atypical patrons or staff members, with alignment and race noted: Fat gnomes in finery, clearly out of place, halflings indulging in drugs to quell fears – some surprisingly descriptive and evocative entries here! And yes, these brief NPC-hooks do come with suitable names.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. These include synonyms for “dim”, but e.g. “s mashed” is probably a typo. Alternate names for taverns, for being seeds, and sample food/drinks are noted.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed only one minor typo. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Jeff Gomez and Creighton Broadhurst provide a helpful, nice screen-insert here. Well worth checking, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #3: Goblin Caves

8 August 2018 - 3:36am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing – these includes blankets separarting an area to work as a toilet, junk and rubbish piled up and a murdered goblin; the second 10 entries for sample events sport a terrified goblin child hiding in a heap of sheets, arrows flying from the darkness and the sudden rise of goblin battle chants. The final column features 10 things to loot, which include a black furred scarlet cloak, a wolfskin hat and the like.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we get synonyms for dancing and singing as well as insulting or wounding targets. Male and female names, as well as last names complement this section.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst’s inserts for goblin caves are solid and fun – if you need a page of handy screen-inserts, this is worth checking out for the low price. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #3: Goblin Caves

8 August 2018 - 3:36am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, partially compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing – these includes blankets separarting an area to work as a toilet, junk and rubbish piled up and a murdered goblin; the second 10 entries for sample events sport a terrified goblin child hiding in a heap of sheets, arrows flying from the darkness and the sudden rise of goblin battle chants. The final column features 10 things to loot, which include a black furred scarlet cloak, a wolfskin hat and the like.


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we get synonyms for dancing and singing as well as insulting or wounding targets. Male and female names, as well as last names complement this section.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Creighton Broadhurst’s inserts for goblin caves are solid and fun – if you need a page of handy screen-inserts, this is worth checking out for the low price. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #2: Borderland Forest

8 August 2018 - 3:35am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, in the classic tradition of Raging Swan dressing files.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing, noting, for example, sodden floors that render boots muddy and wet, gnarled oak trees looming or small bones, tied together with thin cord – creepy!

The second 10 entries for sample events, with sounds of laughter followed by pain, darting foxes and the faint smell of smoke in the air. The final column features 10 entries that depict a read-aloud text for an uneventful days’ journey, allowing for excellent foreshadowing and mood creation. Kudos!


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we get descritors for trees, some flowers and trees, descriptors for vegetation both dead and alive, and parts of plants. Nice one!


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


This screen insert proved to be more useful for me – the dressing is broader, has quite a bit new entries, and Mike Welham and Creighton Broadhurst are both very good at their craft. For a buck, I consider this worthy of 4.5 stars, though I feel I need to round down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #2: Borderland Forest

8 August 2018 - 3:35am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, in the classic tradition of Raging Swan dressing files.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing, noting, for example, sodden floors that render boots muddy and wet, gnarled oak trees looming or small bones, tied together with thin cord – creepy!

The second 10 entries for sample events, with sounds of laughter followed by pain, darting foxes and the faint smell of smoke in the air. The final column features 10 entries that depict a read-aloud text for an uneventful days’ journey, allowing for excellent foreshadowing and mood creation. Kudos!


Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, we get descritors for trees, some flowers and trees, descriptors for vegetation both dead and alive, and parts of plants. Nice one!


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


This screen insert proved to be more useful for me – the dressing is broader, has quite a bit new entries, and Mike Welham and Creighton Broadhurst are both very good at their craft. For a buck, I consider this worthy of 4.5 stars, though I feel I need to round down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #1: Kobold Warren

8 August 2018 - 3:31am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing – here, we can find mottled scales, crude dragon drawings or suitable graffiti; the second 10 entries for sample events: Clatter, rattling chains, taunting from an unseen kobold… and the final column features 10 things to loot, which include half-burned candles plus flint and steel, a ragged belt pouch holding an ornate dagger hilt, and the like.



Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, kobold epithets are included alongside names for males and females, and some basic trap ideas complement this one.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Aaron Bailey, Creighton Broadhurst and Paul Quarles have made a humble screen-insert is solid and handy to have. While the screen insert probably won’t blow you away, it's handy and per se well-structured. My final verdict, considering the low price, will be 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

GM's Screen #1: Kobold Warren

8 August 2018 - 3:31am
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
Rating: 4
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This GM-screen-insert clocks in at 6 pages, though only one page of these is actually content.


Now, it should be noted that this insert, structurally, sports dressing that you can spontaneously use, compiled from previous Raging Swan Press dressing books.


One column notes 10 entries for dressing – here, we can find mottled scales, crude dragon drawings or suitable graffiti; the second 10 entries for sample events: Clatter, rattling chains, taunting from an unseen kobold… and the final column features 10 things to loot, which include half-burned candles plus flint and steel, a ragged belt pouch holding an ornate dagger hilt, and the like.



Finally, at the bottom of the page is a cool little list spanning the whole width of the insert: This would be “Words have Power”, and it provides neat, descriptive synonyms and miscellaneous information, providing some on the fly variety for your descriptions, with bolded words highlighted to differentiate the general concepts from the examples/synonyms. This time around, kobold epithets are included alongside names for males and females, and some basic trap ideas complement this one.


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant typos. Layout adheres to a 3-column landscape b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity. The insert also comes in two versions – one intended for screen use and one optimized to be printed out.


Aaron Bailey, Creighton Broadhurst and Paul Quarles have made a humble screen-insert is solid and handy to have. While the screen insert probably won’t blow you away, it's handy and per se well-structured. My final verdict, considering the low price, will be 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Everyman Minis: Fey Shaman Spirits

31 July 2018 - 2:03am
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
Rating: 3
An Endzeitgeist.com review

This Everyman mini clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 5.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!


After a brief introduction, which also expounds upon the realms of faerie in a sidebar, we begin with the new shaman spirit included within, the fey spirit: The spirit magic spells provide a nice mixture of fey-related tricks, with invisibility at 2nd and conditional curse at 4th level as remarkable low level tricks. The hexes include a fey-themed disguise self that later upgrades the scaling fey form spells. There is also a 1-minute duration curse that enhances damage taken on a failed Will-save and the old teleport from one plant to another striding, with distance traveled as the limit. Better illusion disbelieving (with see invisibility added at 8th level) and memory lapse-use complement the hex-section, making it, as a whole, feel distinctly fey. The spirit animal gets fast healing 1 at 1st level, which can be problematic in conjunction with HP-sharing abilities. Fast healing should have a scaling daily cap. The sprit ability nets a dual blinding/stagger-gaze with a 1-round duration, which is very strong, but kept from being OP by only affecting a target once per day. The greater ability nets DR and a 10-ft. glitterdust burst. The true spirit ability allows the shaman to 3/day increase the save DC of an enchantment, illusion or transmutation spell. The capstone is a fey apotheosis that nets immunity to death effects and fast healing 5, as well as respawning in the faerie realms after death, with a 1/month cap.


The pdf also includes an archetype, the fey conduit. This archetype is locked into the fey spirit and replaces the wandering spirit ability with 3 + Wisdom modifier times per day standard action summon nature’s ally II, which improves over the level. As a balancing caveat, no more than one such effect may be in effect at any given time. The ability may also be used for crafting purposes. Instead of 6th level’s wandering hex, the archetype may, whenever the conduit uses the aforementioned summoning ability, choose to call from a lower level spell list and add the fey creature template. Instead of 14th level’s wandering hex, the fey conduit may not call a creature from her highest level summoning list with said template applied, but only Wisdom modifier times per day. Basically a fey summoner archetype. Okay, I guess.


The pdf also includes a new spell, available at 6th level for druid, shaman, sorcerer/wizard: Pixie pollen. Oddly not included among the spirit magic spells of the fey spirit, in spite of being a perfect fit, this spell can target up to 6 creatures with a batch of specifically-created pixie dust. Unique: When targeting a creature, you choose the duration individually and modify the spell save DC accordingly: Permanent effects have a lower DC. I like this! These allow the caster to make targets behave age-appropriately (using the mental age rules from Childhood Adventures), modify the age of the affected, reincarnate targets (also into 0-HD-critters, for -4 to the DC), erase all memories of the current age category, shrink targets (Microsized Adventures-synergy…) – and that’s not all! The spell is amazing. Potent, yes, but also limited enough, and by far, the coolest thing in this pdf. Kudos!


Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the new two-column full-color standard of Everyman Gaming’s latest layout style, and the pdf has a nice full-color artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.


David N. Ross’ fey spirit is a solid expansion for the shaman. Personally, I was rather underwhelmed by the archetype, and I am not a fan of the easily cheesable first level fast healing. The spell is inspired, though, and elevates this beyond what I’d otherwise rate it as…but not enough to increase the final verdict beyond 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Hybrid Blood

27 July 2018 - 2:31pm
Publisher: Silver Games LLC
Rating: 5
Miscegenation has long been a thorny issue in tabletop role-playing games that involve racial hybrids. The question of why there are half-elves but no half-dwarves, or elf-dwarves for that matter, have long been one of those unanswered questions that has never had a good answer. Most of the time, the answer is a shrug and some utterance of “because that’s how it is,” since the alternative is to either begin charting out every possible combination (a task daunting in its impossibility) or disallowing crossbred characters altogether.

More recently, race-creation systems have been proposed as the answer. Any Pathfinder aficionado, for example, will likely be able to tell you all about the Advanced Race Guide’s use of Race Points (RP) as a means of generating a character of unique parentage. But even then, problems still arise: from issues of stark lists of abilities whose RP costs fail to invoke any ideas about what sort of beings would possess them to an overly-permeable scale of how many RPs a character can have before being “too powerful,” that and similar takes on standardizing the act of custom-race creation tend to be unsatisfying in what they offer.

Then we come to Hybrid Blood, the race-creation supplement from Silver Games, and the problem is solved.

Before I go any further, I need to make some disclaimers. The first and most important is that I have a potential conflict of interest here. Not only am I Patreon supporter of this company, I’ve also worked with the author on several projects. Make of that what you will.

Another thing that needs to be stated upfront is that this book, while it does deal with anthropomorphic characters (i.e. furries), contains absolutely no fetish-fuel whatsoever. Don’t expect anything even remotely suggestive here; the most you’ll find are a tame notation that “beast people” are able to interbreed. The artwork is likewise no more tantalizing than anything you’d find in a contemporary mass-market product. This book is all about being a role-playing game supplement, and nothing else.

Finally, let me note that Hybrid Blood is configured for no less than THREE distinct role-playing games: Pathfinder, Starfinder, and Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition (though the Starfinder material is often folded into Pathfinder). While I know a lot of gamers for whom that’s a huge issue (i.e. no one wants to buy material that isn’t for the game they’re playing), I can’t stress enough just how much the books use of layout and formatting makes this feel like a non-issue. The brilliant use of color-coded backgrounds/headers (always paired with a small two-letter symbol – PF, SF, or 5E – to make sure things are completely clear), completely eliminates any ambiguity and makes it easy for your eyes to instantly be drawn to the section of the page that’s relevant to your interest. The degree to which this mitigates the feeling of wasted space cannot be overstated.

With all of that said, how does Hybrid Blood tackle the topic of custom-race characters? Interestingly, the book presents two different answers to this question. The first is for “beast people” as an overarching race, while the second is present hybrid characters. The two are held as being distinct from each other, but their presentation is exceedingly similar in how they’re built.

For beast people, a standard PC racial write-up is given. The rub lies in the fact that a given beast person needs to pick not one, but two special qualities from a list: one for how they acquire their food, and one for their method of locomotion. This takes us to the book’s answer to the how races are built: by selecting multiple thematic packages of racial qualities.

To put it another way, your beast person character might (after noting the basic racial qualities given under the “beast person” racial outline) take “tooth and claw” for their diet-based quality, which gives them a choice of where they allocate their ability score bonuses and penalties, and gives them natural weapons. They’d then choose “tunneler” for their movement-based quality, potentially modifying their ability score distribution and giving them a burrow speed. Of course, height and weight tables are given, along with a robust selection of feats and traits to round things out.

Then we come to the next section, which takes up roughly three-fourths of the book: hybrid characters.

Hybrid characters, as noted above, are built similarly to beast people characters. The difference is that, while beast people are essentially a single race with some comparatively minor modifications based on their diet and movement, the qualities of a hybrid character have no standardized aspects to them: everything is determined by their construction. In this case, that construction is chosen by taking two “physical quality” packages and one “upbringing quality” package. I have to take a moment to point out the conceptual brilliance in making upbringing be an integral part of building a character this way; this is a (metaphorical) hobgoblin that the tabletop gaming community has struggled with for some time (i.e. “would an elf still be good with a bow if he was raised by dwarves and never taught archery?”), so clearly delineating which parts of a hybrid character are nature and which are nurture is a brilliant move that deserves notable props.

The packages denoting these qualities, both physical and upbringing, make up the bulk of the book, and for a very good reason: there are a LOT of them! Insofar as physical qualities go, the book presents the basic races, Ponyfinder races, Advanced Race Guide races, Starjammer races, and a collection of even more unusual races such as worgs or phoenixes alongside more familiar groups such as dragons or the undead. All for Pathfinder/Starfinder and 5E. Interestingly, the more familiar races are presented as having two physical qualities: “X Blooded” and “X Bodied” (where “X” is the race in question). The former denotes intangible qualities that are nevertheless biological, where the latter are gross physical attributes. This means that, if you take, say, Elf Blooded and Elf Bodied – along with the Raised by Elves upbringing – you’ll essentially have a bog-standard elven character, rather than a hybrid per se.

The book doesn’t end there. It makes sure to denote what you do if your qualities make you have different creature types (i.e. if you’re an Outsider or a Fey, depending on your choices), how this impacts reincarnation, sub-races, and other topics. There are also several new feats, traits, spells, and other character options to complement what’s given here.

I should also note that, while this is technically a Ponyfinder product, there’s very little setting-specific material here. The bulk of what you’ll find is an overview of how the gods of Everglow feel about the beast people, and how beast people tend to view other races. Other than that, you might find the odd reference to Everglow or its gods, but aside from that what’s here is completely setting-independent (save for the Everglow races being among the thematic packages). In this case, I can’t help but feel that this is a plus, since it widens the potential appeal; throw in how many non-pony-related races have material in here (tieflings and goblins and oreads and so many others) and this is essentially a setting-independent book for all intents and purposes.

Having said all of that, it should be obvious that what’s here is not just a stellar product, but one that can honestly claim to have set a new standard in answering an age-old issue among tabletop gamers. The rules here, specifically the hybrid rules, are a race-generation system that allows for myriad potential combinations that’s not only intuitive in its design, but stimulates the imagination far more than a dry listing of mechanical effects. With a layout that lets it easily work across three game systems, this book is one that you need to have in your library if you’ve ever given more than a passing thought to building a custom race.

The bottom line is this: when it comes to making new races, Hybrid Blood is the transfusion your game needs.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Hybrid Blood

27 July 2018 - 2:31pm
Publisher: Silver Games LLC
Rating: 5
Miscegenation has long been a thorny issue in tabletop role-playing games that involve racial hybrids. The question of why there are half-elves but no half-dwarves, or elf-dwarves for that matter, have long been one of those unanswered questions that has never had a good answer. Most of the time, the answer is a shrug and some utterance of “because that’s how it is,” since the alternative is to either begin charting out every possible combination (a task daunting in its impossibility) or disallowing crossbred characters altogether.

More recently, race-creation systems have been proposed as the answer. Any Pathfinder aficionado, for example, will likely be able to tell you all about the Advanced Race Guide’s use of Race Points (RP) as a means of generating a character of unique parentage. But even then, problems still arise: from issues of stark lists of abilities whose RP costs fail to invoke any ideas about what sort of beings would possess them to an overly-permeable scale of how many RPs a character can have before being “too powerful,” that and similar takes on standardizing the act of custom-race creation tend to be unsatisfying in what they offer.

Then we come to Hybrid Blood, the race-creation supplement from Silver Games, and the problem is solved.

Before I go any further, I need to make some disclaimers. The first and most important is that I have a potential conflict of interest here. Not only am I Patreon supporter of this company, I’ve also worked with the author on several projects. Make of that what you will.

Another thing that needs to be stated upfront is that this book, while it does deal with anthropomorphic characters (i.e. furries), contains absolutely no fetish-fuel whatsoever. Don’t expect anything even remotely suggestive here; the most you’ll find are a tame notation that “beast people” are able to interbreed. The artwork is likewise no more tantalizing than anything you’d find in a contemporary mass-market product. This book is all about being a role-playing game supplement, and nothing else.

Finally, let me note that Hybrid Blood is configured for no less than THREE distinct role-playing games: Pathfinder, Starfinder, and Dungeons and Dragons Fifth Edition (though the Starfinder material is often folded into Pathfinder). While I know a lot of gamers for whom that’s a huge issue (i.e. no one wants to buy material that isn’t for the game they’re playing), I can’t stress enough just how much the books use of layout and formatting makes this feel like a non-issue. The brilliant use of color-coded backgrounds/headers (always paired with a small two-letter symbol – PF, SF, or 5E – to make sure things are completely clear), completely eliminates any ambiguity and makes it easy for your eyes to instantly be drawn to the section of the page that’s relevant to your interest. The degree to which this mitigates the feeling of wasted space cannot be overstated.

With all of that said, how does Hybrid Blood tackle the topic of custom-race characters? Interestingly, the book presents two different answers to this question. The first is for “beast people” as an overarching race, while the second is present hybrid characters. The two are held as being distinct from each other, but their presentation is exceedingly similar in how they’re built.

For beast people, a standard PC racial write-up is given. The rub lies in the fact that a given beast person needs to pick not one, but two special qualities from a list: one for how they acquire their food, and one for their method of locomotion. This takes us to the book’s answer to the how races are built: by selecting multiple thematic packages of racial qualities.

To put it another way, your beast person character might (after noting the basic racial qualities given under the “beast person” racial outline) take “tooth and claw” for their diet-based quality, which gives them a choice of where they allocate their ability score bonuses and penalties, and gives them natural weapons. They’d then choose “tunneler” for their movement-based quality, potentially modifying their ability score distribution and giving them a burrow speed. Of course, height and weight tables are given, along with a robust selection of feats and traits to round things out.

Then we come to the next section, which takes up roughly three-fourths of the book: hybrid characters.

Hybrid characters, as noted above, are built similarly to beast people characters. The difference is that, while beast people are essentially a single race with some comparatively minor modifications based on their diet and movement, the qualities of a hybrid character have no standardized aspects to them: everything is determined by their construction. In this case, that construction is chosen by taking two “physical quality” packages and one “upbringing quality” package. I have to take a moment to point out the conceptual brilliance in making upbringing be an integral part of building a character this way; this is a (metaphorical) hobgoblin that the tabletop gaming community has struggled with for some time (i.e. “would an elf still be good with a bow if he was raised by dwarves and never taught archery?”), so clearly delineating which parts of a hybrid character are nature and which are nurture is a brilliant move that deserves notable props.

The packages denoting these qualities, both physical and upbringing, make up the bulk of the book, and for a very good reason: there are a LOT of them! Insofar as physical qualities go, the book presents the basic races, Ponyfinder races, Advanced Race Guide races, Starjammer races, and a collection of even more unusual races such as worgs or phoenixes alongside more familiar groups such as dragons or the undead. All for Pathfinder/Starfinder and 5E. Interestingly, the more familiar races are presented as having two physical qualities: “X Blooded” and “X Bodied” (where “X” is the race in question). The former denotes intangible qualities that are nevertheless biological, where the latter are gross physical attributes. This means that, if you take, say, Elf Blooded and Elf Bodied – along with the Raised by Elves upbringing – you’ll essentially have a bog-standard elven character, rather than a hybrid per se.

The book doesn’t end there. It makes sure to denote what you do if your qualities make you have different creature types (i.e. if you’re an Outsider or a Fey, depending on your choices), how this impacts reincarnation, sub-races, and other topics. There are also several new feats, traits, spells, and other character options to complement what’s given here.

I should also note that, while this is technically a Ponyfinder product, there’s very little setting-specific material here. The bulk of what you’ll find is an overview of how the gods of Everglow feel about the beast people, and how beast people tend to view other races. Other than that, you might find the odd reference to Everglow or its gods, but aside from that what’s here is completely setting-independent (save for the Everglow races being among the thematic packages). In this case, I can’t help but feel that this is a plus, since it widens the potential appeal; throw in how many non-pony-related races have material in here (tieflings and goblins and oreads and so many others) and this is essentially a setting-independent book for all intents and purposes.

Having said all of that, it should be obvious that what’s here is not just a stellar product, but one that can honestly claim to have set a new standard in answering an age-old issue among tabletop gamers. The rules here, specifically the hybrid rules, are a race-generation system that allows for myriad potential combinations that’s not only intuitive in its design, but stimulates the imagination far more than a dry listing of mechanical effects. With a layout that lets it easily work across three game systems, this book is one that you need to have in your library if you’ve ever given more than a passing thought to building a custom race.

The bottom line is this: when it comes to making new races, Hybrid Blood is the transfusion your game needs.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

Castle Falkenstein: Variations on the Great Game

16 July 2018 - 3:12am
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
Rating: 5
An Endzeitgeist.com review

Ladies and gentlemen, I bid you once more welcome in my lounge! Please, do take a seat, as I want to show you a thing most intriguing; surely, you recall the little pieces of intangible ephemera that we tend to conjure to diversify the experience of engaging in the Great Game?


Well, this little booklet now, for the first time, compiles these ephemera, while, as I was told by my servants, also getting rid of some of the minor imperfections previously noted by astute dignitaries, personas and individuals of staunch character and stellar pedigree. At 48 pages, 4 less once you subtract covers and similar components, we have a rather hefty little tome.


Oh yes, I wholeheartedly concur, my dearest. As you can see after reading Tom Olam’s introductory text (which is situated, mind you, on the page denoting the contents), the entrepreneurs that so charmingly self-depreciatingly style themselves “Fat Goblins” have not simply stitched magically the contents of our beloved ephemera together; nay, I say! They, as befitting of the care and respect due our pastime, elected to redesign the formal presentation of materials within, employing a wide cornucopia of artistry, ranging from the thematically-suitable artworks (which, it should be added, could be at home in a proper salon such as this!) to the presentation of the pages themselves: Unobtrusive, yet gorgeous aesthetics render the book a balm for sore eyes, not unlike all those looking upon me and/or reading these lines right now.


But I digress; we begin our discussions within with a further look regarding specializations and their interactions with abilities; particularly useful for debutantes in the Great game would be the explanation of the lexicon employed by our most civilized of pastimes. It should also be explicitly mentioned that a previously slightly ambiguous component accompanying the implementations of specializations in the Great Game has been done away with: The booklet now explicitly notes that extraordinary abilities are exempt from specializations – a decision that rings as sensible to me, considering that they are already designated as extraordinary, n’est-ce pas?


A table of the most useful kind indeed is provided here, providing the tools to implement these in conjunction with all of our favorite elaborations and expansions of the Great game – criminally few though there may be.


Now, as all of you may well be aware, I am a staunch proponent of the notion that all ladies and gentlemen should be able to employ and use the specific implementation of the Great Game that best suits their respective taste, and as such, I am not opposed to seeing the notion of the Divorce Variation, a modification that removes the direct tie between suits and abilities – though I do have to say that the resulting potential bickering strikes me as unbecoming of a proper environment and something more suited to those newfangled, class-less new-money people babbling about FATE, as though shouting (most uncouth…)


More steeped in tradition, though not necessarily *our* tradition, but tradition nonetheless, would be the suggestion to employ “improvement points” to determine the growth of a dramatic character; as you all are well aware, this steeps the progress gained very much in a literary tradition regarding the journey and growth of a dramatic character. As the profane rabble would call it, “experience points” or some such nonsense, though they are still kept very much in service to the demands of proper etiquette and narrative sensibilities. As such, I have no qualms about recommending these to hosts to so inclined – there even are suggestions presented for various growth velocities.


Awareness of the, at times, almost incredulous feats accomplished in our Great Game, is expected at this point; but, as well all know, when paraphrasing an adage by Hardy, “there ought to be sympathy for the less fortunate.” Or at least, that’s what my maid used to tell me the other day. Anyways, as you are well aware, the experience of those less fortunate than ours, who are living a life less characterized by adventure and great deeds as providence foresaw for us, might well be intrigued to play when given the chance; heck, we might well want to step back ourselves and be immersed in a scenario or two where we are not as…impeccably extraordinary. As such, imposing a hard limit on cards played serves as a truly fantastic way to envision a world that is, at least slightly, more mundane than the at times tiringly wondrous lives we lead. What’s that, James? Ugh, tell the faerie I want the yard clean for the late afternoon tea.


Pardonnez-moi, mesdames et messieurs – good help is so hard to find these days. Now, when recalling, as individuals of such astute faculties undoubtedly can, the Half-Off variant is pretty self-explanatory, focusing on providing half the benefits when cards do not align…like that of my fate and that splendorous debutante last year…And yes, at this point, I should not be remiss to note that the variations presented within actually can be modified and tinkered with further. Think of them like the intricate wheels of a proper clock – they run just fine on their own, but depending on your joyous curiosity regarding experimentation, you’ll have different experiences.


Perhaps one of the most vital variations ever devised upon this wondrous world, though, would be the finer differentiation between Feats difficulties that one of these provides; this one, all on its own, should easily make the truly paltry price, respectfully asked, truly worth it, and it frees the host from the requirement to play cards to enhance difficulties – in short, it enhances the fair play at a table by taking a needlessly divisive burden off the host’s back, while also enhancing the gravity of the decisions made by dramatic characters.


Now…I’d ask those of faint dispositions, those of weak hearts, to leave the room. The fairer among us may want to take out there fans, for yes…it is my outraged duty to report that the most scandalous dice-based variation, devised by the mischievous, malignant Moriarty, is also included within this booklet! The criminal mastermind’s attempted subversion of our proper world order seems to be alive and kicking, and while obviously despicable and dastardly, one cannot help but find a sick genius in the implementation of these rules. While obviously worthy of shunning and prosecution, one must be able to look into the eye of savagery, even in the variations, imposed in this case, upon the Great Game. Now, unflinchingly, I have to concede that there is a well-based foundation underlying this, but now that I have determined this, none of you will have to. If I may, ladies and gentlemen – keep this variation out of the hands of savages, staff and similar beings of less firmly-grounded morals. We don’t want them to feel entitled to play in our grand pastime now, do we?


As you may know, this series of ephemera started with a humble little offering, highlighting how one of these decks, these Tarot cards, that are all the rage right now, may be employed with the Great Game; success bred…more success. Like our family trees, correct? We did, hence, get more than one of these ephemera, which have since been properly fitted with a more evocative nomenclature, namely that of the Fortunate and that of the Sorcerous Tarot Variation. If you, like me, love to regale your astute audiences as a host, then the following happenstance may well have occurred in your game as well: You have the Major Arcana…and its effects simply would not fit properly. Quel dommage!


Now, it seems like some distinguished individuals, who shall not be named for now, have observed this as well, and thus proceeded to alter the tables of the effects of these types of cards, making them more widely applicable. While it is my firm assertion that a host of the proper caliber would not require this modification, I couldn’t help but marvel at the simplicity of the modifications added to the material at hand. Speaking of which, this book does also note an option that can combine our classic deck with major arcana, and one that would allow for the discarding of a major arcana card to redraw – this one, ladies and gentlemen, obviously does vastly enhance the power and versatility of dramatic characters. If you want to weave a truly outlandish yarn, this may well be the way to go!


Now, as noted before, the aesthetics of this booklet do not leave anything to be desired; there are these little bookmarks included for ease of navigation in the ephemeral iteration of this booklet. The compilation and refinement exerted throughout combine to make sure that these variations, transcribed by the esteemed Mister J Gray, is a masterpiece, pure and simple; had it not been for the fact that I have already bestowed my highest accolades upon the components, this would have been a candidate for my list of best offerings of the year. Since this already has reached these heights, I am in the unfortunate position of not being able to bestow these honors once more.


This, however, should not be taken to mean that this is anything but a truly required purchase – this humble offering should be considered to be an EZG Essential, a required reading for any host of distinguished character and skill, a 5 star + seal of approval supplement.


Endzeitgeist out.
Categories: Game Theory & Design

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