Aug 242015
 

137321By Endzeitgeist

This module clocks in at 47 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 43 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion. Really. The outrageous premise is a part of the fun.

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Still here? All right! First of all – if your PCs have completed the superb “Death and Taxes”-module, they’re likely to be familiar with the subtle, off-kilter humor this module sports – if not, well, then all the better. The PCs are contacted by one gorgeous lady called Sylvia Towntree, the very top-brass of Hordenheim’s real estate brokers and agents. The lady contacts them to clear out a haunted manor constructed by an eccentric gnome/architect, edgewaith manor. The encounters, though, quickly show that this is not yet another grim-dark delve into a family’s tragedy – oozes in the closet just are part one of the challenges that hilariously echo the tasks real life people may face when restoring an old manor: Of course, the place has a vermin problem.

Only we’re talking fantasy world here, and thus, alas, the vermin are sentient – a Formian queen has set up shop in the place and while the unseen servants may have been intended as a rare form of luxury, the well-meaning magical constructs can result in pretty much hilarious accidents on the side of the PCs. Heck, even the bound fire elemental providing central heating can be reasoned with and be played up for a glorious blending of the horrific and genuinely funny. It should also be noted that the house’s depiction regarding rooms is anything but rudimentary, coming with rather exquisite details even before the superb maps in full color (including player-friendly versions) come into play.

Yes, the place has a rather nasty fuse-box. Oh, and yes, PCs may actually do battle with animated chicken coops trying to eat them. No, I’m not making that up. More impressively, they receive artworks that make them genuinely creepy! Now sooner or later, the queen will seek diplomacy, rather piqued by the bad form of the home-invading PCs…and either by combat or diplomacy, hand over the deed to the manor – which coincidentally allows for the free re-arrangement of rooms – all rules for that are perfectly described in a nice, concise handout. And here, the module becomes totally awesome and bonkers – in a twist, the real-estate agent arrives with a full-blown mop-up crew to kill friggin’ everybody! She didn’t get to the top by playing nice, after all! So yes, the PCs, with full command of the house (and hopefully a couple of Formians) may defend the house and use its powers to essentially turn all those tricks they witnessed upon their wannabe assassins for one of the most glorious, iconic showdowns I’ve read in ages. Home alone, anyone?

The pdf provides full stats of for all creatures for both PFRPG and D&D 3.X.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to AAW Games’ 2-column full-color standard with copious amounts of awesome full-color art and superb full-color cartography. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Do you know how many modules I read per year? How many I’ve read in total? Hint: Probably too many. I have seen just about everything and only very, very rarely do i encounter a module that instills a total sense of jamais-vu in me. This module managed that. But it did so much more – it is logical, concise and downright glorious. It is also the funniest module I’ve read in years. Now don’t get me wrong – unlike many comparable modules, this one is NOT a “joke module” – it is superbly crafted, sports great writing and thoroughly iconic ideas and is professional in every way. In order to note how this module brilliantly skirts the boundaries between the creepy and funny, between high-fantasy and tongue-in-cheek nods towards our own culture, all without breaking the 4th wall, one practically ahs to run this exceedingly fun beast.

I am not engaging in hyperbole when I’m saying that playing this module saw one player fall from his chair, laughing. This is one of the most unique, inspired modules I’ve read in AGES. Colin Stricklin’s first module was great – this is ridiculously good. And yes, pun intended. Even the premise would be enough to qualify this as awesome, but add the optional, subdued and INTELLIGENT humor, the unique adversaries and superb production values and we quite frankly have a module that belongs into the collection of every Pathfinder DM. Yes, that good. Unless you have even less humor than the stereotype accredits to Germans like me, this is a must-have blast of a module. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval and nominating this as one of my candidates for teh Top Ten of 2014.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Aug 192015
 

desperate_alliesBy the Farsight Blogger

‘Use your words to fight for freedom with Desperate Allies, a sourcebook for Diplomats in the Star Wars®: Age of Rebellion™ Roleplaying Game. War is one of the major themes of Age of Rebellion, but without Diplomats to spread hope and convert new systems to the cause, war is just meaningless bloodshed. With this career supplement, you can join in tense negotiations, make last-minute deals, and keep the flame of freedom alight in a galaxy overwhelmed by fear of the Empire.

In this book, you’ll find three new playable species – Caamasi, Neimoidian, and Gossam – as well as three new specializations for Diplomats: Advocate, Analyst, and Propagandist. You’ll also find plenty of items and vehicles to ensure your Diplomats are completely outfitted for whatever dangers they may face in the service of the Alliance to Restore the Republic. Finally, Desperate Allies introduces rules for creating Rebel bases, allowing you to enrich your campaign with any kind of base.’

We’ve spent so long running around the galaxy blasting Imperials, running blockades and defeating the bad guys that we’ve hardly had a chance for any kind of breather. Once, just once, we’d like to put down the weapons and try something a little less violent and confrontational. If only there was only a way to play the game with conversation and negotiation! If only!

Oh. Desperate Allies. Cool.

Now the very nature of Star Wars is pretty much fully described in the name. Star. Wars. Wars in the stars. Great big battles and explosions, as is the driving force behind the franchise. But, there’s always a little room for diversity, and the Desperate Allies book gives you that option. In addition to the Ambassador, Agitator, and Quartermaster from the Age of Rebellion core rulebook, this book gives us the Advocate, Analyst, and Propagandist. These new additions add a lot to the game and allow for new paths to be taken, which adds a lot more depth to the roleplaying experience. Now players have the chance to try and use diplomatic methods and more non-violent skills like computer use and great new talents such as ‘Positive Spin’, and their skills enable negotiation and NPC-influencing talents. That’s quite a step away from the high-adventure nature of the game.
But it’s not all about sitting around tables and agreeing on the price of space cheese. There’s still some room for action adventure types with a selection of weapons and non-lethal grenades. Armour and vehicles, including starships, get a section, but by far the most interesting part of the book are the ideas and seeds for diplomatic missions. There are some great things in here that you could get some lengthy campaigns out of, and diplomatic missions suddenly become quite attractive prospects.

And I think, when all is said and done, that diplomatic missions in a Star wars campaign is going to come down to a group decision. With my group, Star Wars is all about running gunfights and space battles, and the idea of doing more non-action adventures didn’t come easy and took a little convincing. Not only that but there were a few moments of PC conflict, when the diplomat of the group wanted to try the negotiation route and the gunbunnies were all about the laser blasts. It made for some great roleplaying scenes but I was concerned that a part of my group was getting a little bored and just wanted to skip the chit-chat and get on with it. That was specific to my group, that’s for sure, but it is something I can see cropping up.

The games turned out to be a success but I can’t see them being a regular occurrence, but that’s fine; the book is there if we need it.

All that aside, this is a great addition to the Star Wars RPG line and adds a whole new dimension to the game. Groups will get a lot of use out of it and the new types of missions give you an entire new angle on the game, and anything that adds to the overall scope of any game is a good thing.

Recommended.

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Aug 192015
 

By The Farsight Bloggerage_of_rebellion

As with all Fantasy Flight Games’ products there is no doubting the quality of the product here; the card stock is hardy and will last a long time, the artwork and layout are all top quality and the content is useful and well designed. Still, it is one of those products that fall into the ‘do I really need it?’ category.

‘Keep your Star Wars roleplaying campaign focused on the action with the Star Wars®: Age of Rebellion™ Game Master’s Kit. The GM Kit includes a GM screen which will keep all the information you’ll need as Game Master at your fingertips during your Age of Rebellion sessions. You’ll also find new rules for running military squads and squadrons. The GM Kit also includes a complete adventure, Dead in the Water, so you and your players can stand strong against the Empire, even after you’ve finished the adventure featured in the Core Rulebook.’

I like my GM kits to be solid and worthwhile, so that I’m safe in the knowledge that I’m getting my money’s worth and the product itself will get a lot of use. If I’m spending money on something I want to make sure it’s an investment worth my while.

First and foremost, the GM Kit gives me something I find invaluable in my games; a sturdy GM’s screen for me to keep my notes and designs hidden behind. I usually use the screen for secret die rolls in other games but I feel the nature of the FFG Star Wars game, and the way the dice help decide the flow and ebb of a story, doesn’t really call for hidden rolls. It’s still handy for keeping your adventure hidden, and as long as the player’s aren’t actively looking over the screen – which, as any GM knows, is punishable by PC death no matter what the game – it’s high enough to hide stuff and there’s room enough to keep plenty of details hidden comfortably. In regards to that function the kit does it’s job well, and the tables are useful in a game (it’s very similar to what we got with the Edge of the Empire screen). With each chart including a page reference so that you can refer to the core rulebook if you have to, it’s really handy.

The adventure, ‘Dead in the Water’, is a decent romp that you should get a couple of  sessions out of; the Rebellion needs droids, and they turn to some ne’er do wells to supply them… and things go wrong. Which isn’t shocking at all. It’s a good solid adventure with action and investigation, and it’s designed to fit in with other adventures already released. That’s a great idea and gives a proper sense of progress to the games, creating an overall campaign. Also in this kit there are also extra rules for military squads and squadrons, which is handy and makes certain elements of the game a bit more dynamic.

It’d be easy to say that if you already have the Edge of the Empire GM Kit then you don’t really need this one, but in terms of the adventure alone I think it’s worth picking it up, and the screen itself is angled more towards the nature of the Age of Rebellion game than Edge of the Empire.

For collector’s it’s a great addition, for completists it is, of course, a must, and for gamers it’s a helpful, if not essential, tool, especially for the adventure. Personally, I’m happy with the whole thing.

Recommended.

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Aug 142015
 

135307By Endzeitgeist

This module clocks in at 42 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?

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

All right, still there?

As often, the powerful have fallen in this module: Neevoth-Ka, formerly a man of power and reputation, has succumbed to his paranoia. Served by only the spirits of his dead, consumed by his madness – he perished, but unlike Ozymandias, his creation remained – the tower of the screaming sands resurfaces, blown clear from the sands once every 60 years. The time has come. Enter the PCs.

The module begins with the overland journey towards the eponymous tower, with opportunities to save the innocent from dread silt traps, research opportunities and exploring a desert oasis to arrive at the tower, where the DM has to decide whether to opt for a lock-in option upon the PCs entering the place or not: While a time limit is implicit and can certainly be enforced by the DM, it is not required or an integral part of the module.

The exploration of the tower per se may seem run-of-the-mill at first glance – yet another tower? *yawn* This, however, would be a tragic miscalculation: In fact, the challenges presented herein are pretty interesting, innovative, even. Level One, for example, is haunted by whirlwinds screeching through the floors. Even before chambers of flooding sand, the perpetual screech of these dread, scouring winds prove to be a particularly interesting feature which may not look like much on paper, but in actual playtesting proved to be rather ingenious. Better yet – unlike quite a few dungeon-explorations, there is also ample chance for research and even social skills to be used – by e.g. cajoling information from spirits, helpful information on the tower and its dangers can be gleaned.

The second level, with its “chamber of a thousand teeth” and combination fo adversaries also makes for an interesting, though more combat-centric level, whereas the main attraction (and boss) await on the final, third level. Now unlike many a comparable module, the adversary herein comes with advice on foreshadowing his presence as well as completely unique tricks – defeating what once was Neevoth-Ka does require capable PCs!

It should be noted that the tower comes with full-color maps, including player-friendly versions, as well as stats for the adversaries for both PFRPG and D&D 3.X.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a slightly Egyptian-style, beautiful custom 2-column full-color standard and the module comes with copious, beautiful full color artwork. The module comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

This is the first module by Matthew Eyles I’ve read and I can definitely say that he knows how to craft an iconic locale – the tower’s location a special hazards are downright brilliant, extremely iconic and hint at a potential to reach a level of craftsmanship in the footsteps of Greg A. Vaughan. That being said, the module does have some minor imperfections in its details.

For one, the journey towards the tower feel like it should either have been its own module or cut – it feels less detailed and ultimately, not necessary to the plot. Secondly, the tower’s first floor with its GLORIOUS hazards overshadows the follow-up floors by quite a margin, seeing how they become more conservative as we go. Why not instead utilize the damn cool theme more? Vault doors, wind puzzles, flying sections…the module practically begs for more weird, far-out challenges and instead opts for a by no means bad, but definitely more conservative take on the topic. Now yes, this fits seamlessly in with Legacy of Fire, Khemit, Osirion, etc. – but it also feels like it falls slightly short of the vast imaginative promise its cool beginning and furious finale show. I definitely hope the author will expand his strength for cool terrains/locations – the talent is there and the module remains easy to run and a fun, good dungeon crawl on the brink of greatness…but not completely there yet. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Aug 122015
 

mythic_slotless_items By Endzeitgeist

All right, you know the deal – 3 pages – 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let’s go!

  • Book of the Banned: These books can create secret pages 1/day; furthermore, mythic wizards may inscribe spells of their opposition school on said pages by expending 1 mythic power per level level, 1 for cantrips. Thereafter, the wizard can prepare the spell as though it didn’t belong to the opposition school. Solid!
  • Bullroarer’s Bugle: Horn of pursuit with dual bless/bane effect. Halflings get higher bonuses and the user may opt to penalize only one type of humanoid, who then receives a more significant drawback. the formatting glitch that shows a strike-through box instead of a minus-sign is here, but that’s a cosmetic glitch. In the hands of a mythic character, longstrider or, for halflings, expeditious retreat is applied as well. The sounder of the horn may also expend mythic power to instead bestow the mythic versions of horn of pursuit/bless/bane or power additional uses per day via mythic power. Per se pretty cool, but can the narrowing of the bane effect to one humanoid and the subsequent penalty increase also be applied to the mythic version of the bane-effect? I’m honestly not clear on the interaction of abilities within the horn’s text, so clarification would help here.
  • Midnight Beacon: An intelligent item with full proper senses that may cast detect undead, desecrate and animate dead while also granting death ward to the wielder. The lantern may also generate darkness in conical spreads, deeper darkness for mythic users. In the hands of a mythic wielder, the lantern can emit a pulse that draws undead nearer and puts them under the user’s command. Nasty!
  • Orb of the Seventh Star: Dancing Lights, detect magic, + detect thoughts, though the latter only 1/day for arcane casters. Also, shoot up to seven sparkling stars, like magic missiles, either on their own or in conjunction with other magic missiles, in which case the action economy for adding additional missiles is more favorable. Mythic arcane casters may tap into the stars of the orb to prepare additional spell levels/spell slots, none of which may exceed 3rd level, though this uses the same resource as the missiles. Mythic upgrade is also possible. Now I like this item pretty much, but shouldn’t the max level of the spell level/ slot level scale up to 3 instead of being capped there? Not a bad glitch, mind you, but one where I can construct a corner case that could be deemed slightly problematic – though admittedly, said case would hinge on gross violations of WBL-suggestions.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches apart from the hiccup mentioned. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Jason Nelson’s slotless items provide his trademark blending of high-concept style and complex mechanics and generally, this pdf’s items breathe this sense of the magical I like. However, at the same time, they do feel, at least partially, a bit heavy on the number-modification side and ultimately, slightly less awesome than some of the glorious pieces he has crafted in the past. To me, this is pretty much a good pdf – certainly not bad, but also not mind-blowing. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

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Aug 122015
 

teamwork_feats By Endzeitgeist

All right, you know the deal – 3 pages – 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page content, let’s go!

  • Back to Back: Numerical escalation plus enemies provoke AoOs when flanking you when you’re with an ally who has this feat.
  • Improved Back to Back: Better AC-bonus for each ally with the feat for 1 mythic power. Pretty weak, imho, despite its stacking potential.
  • Cavalry Formation: Allows for overlap of squares of others for both rider and mount when charging. Also nets you a bonus when attacking a creature that was subjected to the charge of an ally with this feat. nice.
  • Combat Medic: No AoO when using Heal while threatened, even if the aided creature does not have the feat. Also, use mythic power for more daily uses of treat deadly wounds. If the target also has the feat, you can treat them faster and at increased efficiency. Nice!
  • Coordinated Charge: Charge with allies as an immediate action and move through ally squares and difficult terrain while doing so. For one mythic power, charge a foe who is twice your movement rate away from you.
  • Enfilading Fire: +1/2 mythic tier to ranged attacks granted by Enfilading Fire. On a crit, expend mythic power for bonus damage based not only on your tier, but also that of your allies. Mechanically interesting one!
  • Escape Route: Receive scaling AC bonuses when escaping through spaces or threatened areas of allies, with rank/tier as a cap. Alternatively, forfeit that bonus for better Acrobatics or overrun checks. Great – this increases the breadth of options significantly. Two thumbs up!
  • Feint Partner: Extends flat-footed duration for one round, during which feinting is only a swift action.
  • Improved Feint Partner: Provides AoOs as feint follow-ups, with damage bonus based on tier and static critical threat range that is easier to confirm.
  • Seize the Moment: +tier damage, +1 threat range for the AoO, also better crit-confirming. A bit more overlap with improved feint partner than I would have liked, though it’s more general.
  • Shake it Off: Bonus applies even if ally does not have this teamwork feat. Each ally with the feat provides a scaling bonus, which has a flexible cap based on 5 + tier. Nice.

On the SRD-page, there are 3 more feats:

  • Tandem Trip: +1/2 tier to CMB to trip when tandem tripping; If the creature provokes an AoO from you, you geta bonus.
  • Target of Opportunity: +1/2 tier to atk and damage. Bland.
  • Team Pickpocketing: When you could Team Pickpocket, spend mythic power to Sleight of Hand and pickpocket EVERY CREATURE IN REACH. This is awesome! Simple, humble, cool.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ 2-column full color standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Robert Brookes and Jonathan H. Keith deliver an interesting mythic mini here – one that oscillates between truly interesting and awesome and somewhat bland. Mind you, there is nothing bad in this little pdf, though some options arguably are weaker than others. On a design-aesthetic perspective, several feats utilize very interesting and mechanically feasible cap-mechanics and, moreover, there are some in here that are stars – they expand options in breadth and add much needed flexibility to some options herein. So yes, overall, his is a good file, bordering on the very good, but short of true brilliance with some feats herein that fall on the filler side. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.

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