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Places of Power: Forgotten Athenaeum (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/01/2018 12:36:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is the forgotten athenaeum? It is a lost place of research, of knowledge – when the peaceful kingdom of Tirinos was besieged by the Venovian empire, this massive library was secluded in the astral plane to hide it from the fanatic assailants, who seemed to be following the old adage of every few centuries requiring the burning of Alexandria’s library. (Metaphorically speaking – the supplement does not presume a pseudo-historical background.)

An interesting facet of this exile is obvious to anyone who starts to think about it: The place makes for a great place to store heretical texts, forbidden and obscure knowledge and the like – whatever the powers-that-be want purged from records, Erasmus the bibliognost may intervene to procure and conserve the knowledge. This, obviously, means that this place makes for an excellent destination for PCs, are we all know how likely it is that they will need notes on unintentionally unleashed doomsday devices, magical diseases, planar configurations, etc.

As such, the knowledge pertaining the place is relatively obscure, something that should be borne in mind by referees, and the librarians that maintain the place are a relatively eclectic lot, unified by dressing habits and appearances, in spite of their diverse worlds and planes of origin. This is as well a place as any to note that the classes referenced have been properly adjusted to reflect the preferred designations of old-school gamers: Magis-users, thieves, etc. can be found in these classes referenced. The supplement details the daily proceedings in the athenaeum, painting a concise picture of daily life and circumstances, as well as on how to get PCs actually to it, how these beings are introduced to the place, etc.

As always with Raging Swan Press’ supplements, the pdf does contain 6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events to kick off adventuring, though it should be noted that, in this instance, they are applied globally to the athenaeum, not to the individual keyed locations, of which there are 12, many of which provide their own angles as well, though they are not explicitly noted as hooks. The respective keyed locales do not have read-aloud text provided for them. The place btw. also includes a rather impressive, eternal garden…which is a fragile treasure, since the plane’s timelessness does prevent regrowth of new plants, fruits, flowers, etc. As an aside, this, to me, makes the garden utterly creepy.

The astute reader will notice a few peculiarities here: One, the existence of the two cultures is thankfully, courtesy of the planar angle, not required to use this pdf. This is SMART, since jamming two cultures into the lore of a given campaign setting, just so the background checks out, is something I hate. The astute reader will also have noticed that the Astral Plane chosen as the location is timeless – and indeed, the pdf actually integrates this component into lore and structure of the place of power, which is a pretty big plus – so far, so nice!

Now, this being the system neutral version, I obviously have nothing regarding research-mechanics to complain about. The pdf is also careful to make sure that references to spells have been properly adjusted to refer to the respective, classic monikers, so yeah – well done.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a few neat b/w-artworks. The cartography by Dyson Logos is nice and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. It also comes in 2 versions, with one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printing process. Kudos!

Richard Green makes clever use of the planar properties of the astral plane for this refuge of uncomfortable truths and heresies. The place is clever, easy to integrate into a given campaign, and while I slightly bemoan how much text is spent on its genesis, I can see the necessity. This place, in short, is a really cool sidetrek/goal-destination that can make PCs enter an otherwise unrelated dungeon: There’s an entry there, go! Easy angle to implement. So yeah, this aspect is rather cool. The system neutral version of this place, to me, is the best one – both PFRPG and 5e-versions, to one degree or another, offer only a very simplistic benefit for consulting the library, which may feel anticlimactic. Since this version eschews mechanics for the like, it is also, ultimately, the version against which I can field no viable gripes. The conversion is solid and thorough, and thus, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars for this iteration.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Forgotten Athenaeum (SNE)
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Epic! Thank you very much for your review, Endzeitgeist! I much appreciate the time and effort. Glad you enjoyed Forgotten Athenaeum!
Places of Power: Forgotten Athenaeum (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/01/2018 12:34:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is the forgotten athenaeum? It is a lost place of research, of knowledge – when the peaceful kingdom of Tirinos was besieged by the Venovian empire, this massive library was secluded in the astral plane to hide it from the fanatic assailants, who seemed to be following the old adage of every few centuries requiring the burning of Alexandria’s library. (Metaphorically speaking – the supplement does not presume a pseudo-historical background.)

An interesting facet of this exile is obvious to anyone who starts to think about it: The place makes for a great place to store heretical texts, forbidden and obscure knowledge and the like – whatever the powers-that-be want purged from records, Erasmus the bibliognost may intervene to procure and conserve the knowledge. This, obviously, means that this place makes for an excellent destination for PCs, are we all know how likely it is that they will need notes on unintentionally unleashed doomsday devices, magical diseases, planar configurations, etc.

As such, the knowledge pertaining the place is relatively obscure, particularly in 5e – the lore-DCs are pretty damn high, which, in this case, is a good thing as far as I’m concerned. The librarians that maintain the place are a relatively eclectic lot, unified by dressing habits and appearances, in spite of their diverse worlds and planes of origin. The supplement details the daily proceedings in the athenaeum, painting a concise picture of daily life and circumstances, as well as on how to get PCs actually to it, how these beings are introduced to the place, etc.

As always with Raging Swan Press’ supplements, the pdf does contain 6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events to kick off adventuring, though it should be noted that, in this instance, they are applied globally to the athenaeum, not to the individual keyed locations, of which there are 12, many of which provide their own angles as well, though they are not explicitly noted as hooks. The respective keyed locales do not have read-aloud text provided for them. The place btw. also includes a rather impressive, eternal garden…which is a fragile treasure, since the plane’s timelessness does prevent regrowth of new plants, fruits, flowers, etc. As an aside, this, to me, makes the garden utterly creepy.

The astute reader will notice a few peculiarities here: One, the existence of the two cultures is thankfully, courtesy of the planar angle, not required to use this pdf. This is SMART, since jamming two cultures into the lore of a given campaign setting, just so the background checks out, is something I hate. The astute reader will also have noticed that the Astral Plane chosen as the location is timeless – and indeed, the pdf actually integrates this component into lore and structure of the place of power, which is a pretty big plus – so far, so nice!

In the 5e-version, the research bonuses conveyed by the library are translated into Intelligence checks made at advantage, with +2 to the check if the knowledge sought is banned/heretical. I’m good with that, though I wished that the rules specified how this interacts with features that already net a character advantage on such a check. References to NPCs have been redesigned properly to point towards the respective default NPC-stats 5e employs.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a few neat b/w-artworks. The cartography by Dyson Logos is nice and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. It also comes in 2 versions, with one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printing process. Kudos!

Richard Green makes clever use of the planar properties of the astral plane for this refuge of uncomfortable truths and heresies. The place is clever, easy to integrate into a given campaign, and while I slightly bemoan how much text is spent on its genesis, I can see the necessity. This place, in short, is a really cool sidetrek/goal-destination that can make PCs enter an otherwise unrelated dungeon: There’s an entry there, go! Easy angle to implement. So yeah, this aspect is rather cool. The 5e version of this supplement works smoother than the PFRPG-iteration, courtesy of the lack of a unified research rules-array in 5e. That being said, if you’re REALLY stingy about 5e’s peculiarities, you may object to a druid having an owl animal companion, for example – this is only mentioned in the flavor text, but yeah. Some of you may object to that. All in all, I consider the 5e-version to be slightly stronger than the PFRPG version, which is why my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Forgotten Athenaeum (5e)
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Epic! Thank you very much for your review, Endzeitgeist! I much appreciate the time and effort. Glad you enjoyed Forgotten Athenaeum!
Places of Power: Forgotten Athenaeum
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 05/01/2018 12:32:47

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, what is the forgotten athenaeum? It is a lost place of research, of knowledge – when the peaceful kingdom of Tirinos was besieged by the Venovian empire, this massive library was secluded in the astral plane to hide it from the fanatic assailants, who seemed to be following the old adage of every few centuries requiring the burning of Alexandria’s library. (Metaphorically speaking – the supplement does not presume a pseudo-historical background.)

An interesting facet of this exile is obvious to anyone who starts to think about it: The place makes for a great place to store heretical texts, forbidden and obscure knowledge and the like – whatever the powers-that-be want purged from records, Erasmus the bibliognost may intervene to procure and conserve the knowledge. This, obviously, means that this place makes for an excellent destination for PCs, are we all know how likely it is that they will need notes on unintentionally unleashed doomsday devices, magical diseases, planar configurations, etc.

As such, the knowledge pertaining the place is relatively obscure and the librarians that maintain the place are a relatively eclectic lot, unified by dressing habits and appearances, in spite of their diverse worlds and planes of origin. The supplement details the daily proceedings in the athenaeum, painting a concise picture of daily life and circumstances, as well as on how to get PCs actually to it, how these beings are introduced to the place, etc.

As always with Raging Swan Press’ supplements, the pdf does contain 6 whispers and rumors and 6 sample events to kick off adventuring, though it should be noted that, in this instance, they are applied globally to the athenaeum, not to the individual keyed locations, of which there are 12, many of which provide their own angles as well, though they are not explicitly noted as hooks. The respective keyed locales do not have read-aloud text provided for them. The place btw. also includes a rather impressive, eternal garden…which is a fragile treasure, since the plane’s timelessness does prevent regrowth of new plants, fruits, flowers, etc. As an aside, this, to me, makes the garden utterly creepy.

The astute reader will notice a few peculiarities here: One, the existence of the two cultures is thankfully, courtesy of the planar angle, not required to use this pdf. This is SMART, since jamming two cultures into the lore of a given campaign setting, just so the background checks out, is something I hate. The astute reader will also have noticed that the Astral Plane chosen as the location is timeless – and indeed, the pdf actually integrates this component into lore and structure of the place of power, which is a pretty big plus – so far, so nice!

Now, there is one thing that I particularly bemoaned regarding the locale as presented: RAW, it yields a bonus to Knowledge checks (+4/+6, respectively) to research materials. Which is all fine and dandy, however, Ultimate Intrigue did introduce rather nice and compelling rules for research, and it would have been really nice to see those implemented, at least in a sidebar or the like.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious hiccups. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a few neat b/w-artworks. The cartography by Dyson Logos is nice and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. It also comes in 2 versions, with one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printing process. Kudos!

Richard Green makes clever use of the planar properties of the astral plane for this refuge of uncomfortable truths and heresies. The place is clever, easy to integrate into a given campaign, and while I slightly bemoan how much text is spent on its genesis, I can see the necessity. This place, in short, is a really cool sidetrek/goal-destination that can make PCs enter an otherwise unrelated dungeon: There’s an entry there, go! Easy angle to implement. So yeah, this aspect is rather cool. That being said, I do not object to the relatively rules-lite way in which the benefits of the library are presented, but implementing research rules/library stats would have added to the immediate functionality of this pdf for its PFRPG version. As such, while I really enjoy the location, I am slightly less smitten by the execution for this system. My final verdict can thus not exceed 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Forgotten Athenaeum
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Epic! Thank you very much for your review, Endzeitgeist! I much appreciate the time and effort.
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:52:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitability and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well. Kudos: The marketplace has been properly adjusted to represent old-school sensibilities and items.

A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.

The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended, courtesy of the pdf not really talking about means to evade detection abilities – but since this is system neutral, I will not penalize it for this. That being said, since this is the system neutral version, I can’t well complain about the mechanics being a bit sparse. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (SNE)
Click to show product description

Add to Roleplaying Tips.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Endzeitgeist! I much appreciate the effort and time.
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:50:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitality and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well. These have been properly adapted to 5e, just fyi.

A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.

The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste…and one nasty hook pertaining spiced ale is particularly interesting. That being said, this is almost system neutral in that there is e.g. no DC noted for a locked door, no DC to break bars, etc. – this may or may not bother you, but it is worth noting. In 5e, I also found myself expecting a bit more regarding the effects the primary antagonist can unleash – the inn is pretty much the epitome of a lair, and not getting a unique lair action or the like is a bit of a lost chance.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. There is, however, also a component here that, well-implemented, could have elevated this further – magic. The issue with this type of narrative lies ultimately in the fact that there are plenty of ways to detect foul shenanigans, and a sidebar of counter-measures or the like, customized for the system, would have significantly enhanced the immediate usefulness of the pdf. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended and the mechanical aspects are a bit sparse for my taste. Hence, like the PFRPG-version, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn (5e)
Click to show product description

Add to Roleplaying Tips.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Endzeitgeist! I much appreciate the effort and time.
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/26/2018 06:48:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of Raging Swan Press‘ Places of Power-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisements, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Soulspur Inn has always been there, as far as most folks are concerned – the much-beloved Inn is a sort of neutral ground for adventurers, both regarding legal and moral conflicts. The Inn’s mistress, a woman named Erlgamm, is an epitome of hospitality and oddly, her sharp tongue seems to actually succeed in keeping the tavern a neutral ground of sorts. She is also notorious for her thirst for knowledge, and more than one adventurer has had free drink and food for sharing the latest exploits. Homely and refined, the fully mapped inn is a rather distinguished place and smart players may well find some interesting tidbits regarding the inn and its environments. 6 different whispers and rumours are included for your convenience, and a brief marketplace section allows for the purchase of a variety of low-level alchemical/magical goods as well.

A table of 20 sample dressings/events allows the GM to generate a sense of life within the Inn, and we learn about the inn being the only commercial business in an otherwise rural, secluded valley. Erlgamm is an important employer and powerful figure in these parts – as such, she actually gets a full NPC-write-up with personality, mannerisms, etc. noted. No stats are provided for her, though. Now, the inn’s write-up sports no less than 6 keyed areas, all but one of which get their own event table. Beyond these, we get read-aloud text for all of the different keyed rooms. Beyond that, there are actual adventure hooks provided for each of the keyed areas, which makes the pdf more immediately useful – basically, they act as a potential means for cluing in the PCs that not everything may be as perfect as it seems. You probably figured it out at this point: Yep, Soulspur Inn is not the haven it purports to be – at least not wholly.

The interesting angle here is that the place is very much what it seems to be regarding most aspects – however, there is a second side, all but removed from the proceedings in the inn, and it is not pleasant. That being said, the valley all but requires the inn, so how to handle everything will be an interesting decision, perhaps one that will carry with it a bitter-sweet aftertaste…and one nasty hook pertaining spiced ale is particularly interesting. That being said, this is almost system neutral in that there is e.g. no lock quality noted for a locked door, no DC to break bars, etc. – this may or may not bother you, but it is worth noting.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, with cosmetic components à la using the word disguise twice in the same sentence being the only level of glitch I noticed. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard. The b/w-artworks are nice, and so is the b/w cartography by Dyson Logos. The pdf comes in two different versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. The pdfs comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Josh Vogt’s Soulspur Inn is a fun environment that unleashes its full potential when you establish it as a home turf of sorts for the PCs. That being said, the “too good to be true”-component that oozes from it, the slightly uncanny angle, is not exactly new. I maintain that actually NOT having an evil twist would have been the more interesting option here, as the type of narrative provided here is pretty well-represented in gaming. That being said, there is one aspect here that elevates this from being an okay supplement, and this aspect lies in the execution of how the trope is presented – the pdf does a good job at depicting why the inn works as such, why the truth hasn’t surfaced. There is, however, also a component here that, well-implemented, could have elevated this further – magic. The issue with this type of narrative lies ultimately in the fact that there are plenty of ways to detect foul shenanigans, and a sidebar of counter-measures or the like, customized for the system, would have significantly enhanced the immediate usefulness of the pdf. As written, a GM will have to work a bit to make this play out as intended and the mechanical aspects are a bit sparse for my taste. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – a well-executed supplement that falls short of excellence, but remains an interesting and worthwhile set-piece.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Places of Power: Soulspur Inn
Click to show product description

Add to Roleplaying Tips.com Order

Creator Reply:
Thanks very much for the review, Endzeitgeist! I much appreciate the effort and time.
Village Backdrop: Byrnfort
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/30/2018 05:58:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Huh. When I posted the latest Village Backdrop-review in my attempt to catch up with the series, I noticed that, while I had access to this village’s files, I never actually downloaded them or wrote a review. Weird. Anyways, since I am a completionist and pretty OCD regarding the like, here we go!

Byrnfort’s pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Byrnfort is situated in the ancient Barainwood, and its frontier-status in a hostile wilderness becomes immediately apparent to anyone who sees it: With thick walls of timber and sharp stakes encircling the village (lavishly mapped by Maciej Zagorski), it is obvious that this place, hunched and somewhat claustrophobic, is a refuge from the horrors out there – but not necessarily one that can withstand all that is out there. More a fortification that a village in the traditional sense, the local dressing habits and “industry” mirror this reality, and so do the community leaders, who hearken to the nature-themed side of things.

We get a sample marketplace section here, and, as always, village lore for smart PCs to unearth as well as 6 sample whispers and rumors. The local inn, the Stout Draught gets its own little notes on the price of food and accommodation. Cool: There is a charhouse, which fabricates specialized alchemical coals, three of which are provided. These include one that potentially helps with poison at the cost of being sickened. I really like how flavor and mechanics are married here. The events do hint at something more going on here, and indeed, there is a secret society of sorts, the Green men – who have a pact with a rather deadly fey ghost. As such, they are obligated to conduct strange rites, of which 6 are provided, adding further flavor.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the cartography, as always, is excellent. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. They are both fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My apologies to author Amber Underwood for missing this nice village previously; Byrnfort has a cool, almost Twin Peaks-y vibe going on, and the emphasis on coal and the like is a seldom seen or developed aspect in villages, which adds a sense of authenticity to the village. The rites are really cool and further add local color to the place. So yeah, all in all, I found myself really loving this one! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars +seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Byrnfort
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Epic! I'm delighted you enjoyed this village so much. Thank you for the review!
Village Backdrop: Byrnfort (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/30/2018 05:56:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Huh. When I posted the latest Village Backdrop-review in my attempt to catch up with the series, I noticed that, while I had access to this village’s files, I never actually downloaded them or wrote a review. Weird. Anyways, since I am a completionist and pretty OCD regarding the like, here we go!

Byrnfort’s pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Byrnfort is situated in the ancient Barainwood, and its frontier-status in a hostile wilderness becomes immediately apparent to anyone who sees it: With thick walls of timber and sharp stakes encircling the village (lavishly mapped by Maciej Zagorski), it is obvious that this place, hunched and somewhat claustrophobic, is a refuge from the horrors out there – but not necessarily one that can withstand all that is out there. More a fortification that a village in the traditional sense, the local dressing habits and “industry” mirror this reality, and so do the community leaders, who hearken to the nature-themed side of things. Important for purists – the classes referenced by the NPCs include thief and wizard, so if you’re one of the folks firmly in the magic-user section, this may be a very minor aesthetic gripe.

The system neutral version, alas, does not gain a marketplace section, which is a minor bummer. and, As always, village lore for smart PCs to unearth as well as 6 sample whispers and rumors can be found. The local inn, the Stout Draught gets its own little notes on the price of food and accommodation. Cool: There is a charhouse, which fabricates specialized alchemical coals, three of which are provided. These include one that potentially helps with poison at the cost of being sickened, which can mean different things, depending on your system – just stating “can’t act” or “halves movement” or something like that would have been more elegant here.

Still, I really like how flavor and mechanics are married here. The events do hint at something more going on here, and indeed, there is a secret society of sorts, the Green men – who have a pact with a rather deadly fey ghost. As such, they are obligated to conduct strange rites, of which 6 are provided, adding further flavor.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the cartography, as always, is excellent. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. They are both fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My apologies to author Amber Underwood for missing this nice village previously; Byrnfort has a cool, almost Twin Peaks-y vibe going on, and the emphasis on coal and the like is a seldom seen or developed aspect in villages, which adds a sense of authenticity to the village. The rites are really cool and further add local color to the place. The absence of the marketplace section and not 100% perfect conversion of the alchemical coal represent very minor detriments for this version of the pdf, but not enough to cost it the well-deserved 5 stars for a rather cool little settlement.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Byrnfort (SNE)
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Village Backdrop: Byrnfort (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/30/2018 05:54:55

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Huh. When I posted the latest Village Backdrop-review in my attempt to catch up with the series, I noticed that, while I had access to this village’s files, I never actually downloaded them or wrote a review. Weird. Anyways, since I am a completionist and pretty OCD regarding the like, here we go!

Byrnfort’s pdf clocks in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Byrnfort is situated in the ancient Barainwood, and its frontier-status in a hostile wilderness becomes immediately apparent to anyone who sees it: With thick walls of timber and sharp stakes encircling the village (lavishly mapped by Maciej Zagorski), it is obvious that this place, hunched and somewhat claustrophobic, is a refuge from the horrors out there – but not necessarily one that can withstand all that is out there. More a fortification that a village in the traditional sense, the local dressing habits and “industry” mirror this reality, and so do the community leaders, who hearken to the nature-themed side of things. The 5e-version refers the default NPC-stats where appropriate.

There is no marketplace section in the 5e-version, which is a bit of a bummer. As always, village lore for smart PCs to unearth as well as 6 sample whispers and rumors can be found. The local inn, the Stout Draught gets its own little notes on the price of food and accommodation. Cool: There is a charhouse, which fabricates specialized alchemical coals, three of which are provided. These include one that potentially helps with poison at the cost of a temporary exhaustion level. I really like how flavor and mechanics are married here, and while there is a typo here (one instance where “poison” should read “poisoned”), I applaud that the items have been converted to 5e. The events do hint at something more going on here, and indeed, there is a secret society of sorts, the Green men – who have a pact with a rather deadly fey ghost. As such, they are obligated to conduct strange rites, of which 6 are provided, adding further flavor.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant 2-column b/w-standard and the cartography, as always, is excellent. The pdf comes in two versions, one optimized for screen use and one for the printer. They are both fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My apologies to author Amber Underwood for missing this nice village previously; Byrnfort has a cool, almost Twin Peaks-y vibe going on, and the emphasis on coal and the like is a seldom seen or developed aspect in villages, which adds a sense of authenticity to the village. The 5e-conversion is nice, though the absence of the marketplace was a bit of a bummer. The rites are really cool and further add local color to the place. So yeah, all in all, I found myself really loving this one! My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars for this version.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Byrnfort (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Epic! I'm delighted you enjoyed this village so much. Thank you for the review!
Village Backdrop: Masquerade
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2018 05:04:28

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first things first: This is NOT your everyday village. Much like in every village backdrop, we do get notes on local nomenclature and dressing habits, as well as village lore and 3 rumors (instead of the standard 6)…but that is pretty much where the similarities with the regular installments of the series end.

Masquerade is not a fixed locale. Instead, it is a rickety conglomerate of three barges forming a floating village-theatre of sorts, with the performers masked and in costume at most times, at least while outsiders can witness them. This is Richard Pett, though, and as such, there is a theme of the grotesque, of underlying decay and grime suffusing the village – this case, represented by the bane of the village, the unifying factor that ties together this community: Masquerade is a colony of lepers, masking their affliction behind the gaiety they bring.

Tragedy and comedy entwine with one another in an intricate manner, for Masquerade’s founder, the enigmatic Silent Queen and absentee captain Absinthe Morell (take a look at that name and the connotations it automatically causes!) created this place as an exile and trap of sorts…but in a twist on trope, the place has become something more for her, a family of outcasts of sorts…and thus, she has taken on an oath that requires nigh-unparalleled willpower to maintain…but whether she can maintain it and for how long…only the GM decides.

Indeed, while Richard Pett has a knack for writing great locales, the extended cadre of characters herein deserves special mention – no less than 9 sample NPCs with potentially complex motivations can act as a foil or allies for the PCs and include some intriguing angles, with the theme of the masquerade itself obviously acting as a good reason to not provide read-aloud texts for their looks.

We do get such texts for the respective locations on the ships, though, and, as in all the new village backdrops, the respective points of interest come with services that can be purchased. Now, as you can glean from the set-up here, masquerade is very much depending on retaining its secrecy, which is upheld by the magical talents of the crew…but PCs may well pierce the veil, which can provide truly intriguing moral conundrums. Should they out the leper-troupe and their dangerous mistress?

An alternate angle for adventuring would be the fact that the troupe does regularly try to cure its members via magic when funds allow for it, but this also, to a degree, represents a parting of sorts, adding a bittersweet flair to the whole proceedings, something that ultimately suffuses the whole cast of characters – this place’s inhabitants are as multi-faceted as the masks and gowns they wear are outlandish and colorful. Indeed, none of the characters on the ship are evil, and while they may come into conflict with the PCs, this is ultimately not a location intended to be solely murderhobo’d through. I can easily picture compassionate PCs becoming very attached to the troupe, perhaps using it to cross borders or infiltrate enemy lands…but that may be me.

Indeed, one can obviously use this village just as well as a take on the trope of normals vs. “freaks”; one could run it in a vast plethora of ways, and indeed, we do get some suggestions on how to adventure in masquerade. Oh lord, I just made a formatting-based joke. Sorry, that’s a new low for me. Anyways, it should also be noted that, yes, we do get a list of 20 entries of village dressing and events, and the PFRPG-version comes with the usual settlement statblock as well as, rather cool, a nice little global effect pertaining magic in Masquerade.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant, printer-friendly b/w-two-column standard and the pdf sports some nice b/w artworks, though I have seen one of them used before. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is really nice, though it is GM-only, noting secret doors and the like. High-res versions player-friendly were made available, at least to my knowledge, to Raging Swan Press’ patreons. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Richard Pett is perhaps the undisputed master of the tragically or comically horrific, or the grotesquely touching. His adventures and supplements (and his novel Crooked) show not only a capacity for great world-and location-building; there is always something deep and resonant in his prose. He can evoke the visceral and dark, and yet it never truly devolves into grimdark bleakness, instead settling in a more oscillating and thus, efficient manner. His spooky supplements work because they are relatable and this is no different. Masquerade will surely be considered dark by some, but ultimately, it represents a tale of hope and will overcoming the odds, depicts a company of uncommon outcasts that have been forced into the roles they now play. The duality of themes, of the eponymous masquerade, is mirrored in every little component of the pdf, bespeaking a careful and precise use of the evocative prose featured herein.

This book is very much an act of deliberate craftsmanship and wordsmithing, and thus manages to stand apart from favorites of mine and benchmarks, be that Ravenloft’s Carnival, the phenomenal Blood Bayou, or Nick Logue’s grisly fey carnival. Masquerade, in spite of having chosen perhaps one area in RPGs where absolutely superb supplements abound, manages to carve out its niche as a truly remarkable place; indeed, it almost feels like a village that could carry a whole series of novels…or, well. Adventures. The characters and general location are immensely captivating, rendering this a masterpiece, even within the context of the extremely high level of the Village Backdrop-series, rivaled only by some of John Bennett's and Mike Welham’s legendary contributions. Even in master Pett’s impressive catalogue, this stands out in its achievement of this level of depth so in so few pages.

This humble supplement set my mind ablaze with ideas and managed to really touch my heart…and considering that it’s only 7 pages long, that means something. This pdf thus gets 5 stars + seal of approval and actually qualifies as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2018.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Masquerade
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Thank you for this review! You'll not be surprise to learn I'm delighted you liked Masquerade so much!
Village Backdrop: Masquerade (SNE)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2018 05:00:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first things first: This is NOT your everyday village. Much like in every village backdrop, we do get notes on local nomenclature and dressing habits, as well as village lore and 3 rumors (instead of the standard 6)…but that is pretty much where the similarities with the regular installments of the series end.

Masquerade is not a fixed locale. Instead, it is a rickety conglomerate of three barges forming a floating village-theatre of sorts, with the performers masked and in costume at most times, at least while outsiders can witness them. This is Richard Pett, though, and as such, there is a theme of the grotesque, of underlying decay and grime suffusing the village – this case, represented by the bane of the village, the unifying factor that ties together this community: Masquerade is a colony of lepers, masking their affliction behind the gaiety they bring.

Tragedy and comedy entwine with one another in an intricate manner, for Masquerade’s founder, the enigmatic Silent Queen and absentee captain Absinthe Morell (take a look at that name and the connotations it automatically causes!) created this place as an exile and trap of sorts…but in a twist on trope, the place has become something more for her, a family of outcasts of sorts…and thus, she has taken on an oath that requires nigh-unparalleled willpower to maintain…but whether she can maintain it and for how long…only the referee decides.

Indeed, while Richard Pett has a knack for writing great locales, the extended cadre of characters herein deserves special mention – no less than 9 sample NPCs with potentially complex motivations can act as a foil or allies for the PCs and include some intriguing angles, with the theme of the masquerade itself obviously acting as a good reason to not provide read-aloud texts for their looks. In system neutral version, their references obviously have been changed appropriately to the respective old-school monikers and classes.

We do get such texts for the respective locations on the ships, though, and, as in all the new village backdrops, the respective points of interest come with services that can be purchased. Now, as you can glean from the set-up here, masquerade is very much depending on retaining its secrecy, which is upheld by the magical talents of the crew…but PCs may well pierce the veil, which can provide truly intriguing moral conundrums. Should they out the leper-troupe and their dangerous mistress?

An alternate angle for adventuring would be the fact that the troupe does regularly try to cure its members via magic when funds allow for it, but this also, to a degree, represents a parting of sorts, adding a bittersweet flair to the whole proceedings, something that ultimately suffuses the whole cast of characters – this place’s inhabitants are as multi-faceted as the masks and gowns they wear are outlandish and colorful. Big kudos: The magical healing of the afflicted has been converted to refer to the proper old-school spell.

Indeed, none of the characters on the ship are evil, and while they may come into conflict with the PCs, this is ultimately not a location intended to be solely murderhobo’d through. I can easily picture compassionate PCs becoming very attached to the troupe, perhaps using it to cross borders or infiltrate enemy lands…but that may be me.

Indeed, one can obviously use this village just as well as a take on the trope of normals vs. “freaks”; one could run it in a vast plethora of ways, and indeed, we do get some suggestions on how to adventure in masquerade. Oh lord, I just made a formatting-based joke. Sorry, that’s a new low for me. Anyways, it should also be noted that, yes, we do get a list of 20 entries of village dressing and events, and the system neutral version has been modified regarding prices of goods etc. to reflect the different realities of the system; however, there is one minor complaint here: The settlement has a global effect regarding its effects on magic, which is pretty minor in PFRPG; in the old-school system neutral version, I personally would have gone a step beyond. It’s a matter of aesthetics in this version, though, and not a complaint versus the integrity of the effect.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant, printer-friendly b/w-two-column standard and the pdf sports some nice b/w artworks, though I have seen one of them used before. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is really nice, though it is GM-only, noting secret doors and the like. High-res versions player-friendly were made available, at least to my knowledge, to Raging Swan Press’ patreons. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Richard Pett is perhaps the undisputed master of the tragically or comically horrific, or the grotesquely touching. His adventures and supplements (and his novel Crooked) show not only a capacity for great world-and location-building; there is always something deep and resonant in his prose. He can evoke the visceral and dark, and yet it never truly devolves into grimdark bleakness, instead settling in a more oscillating and thus, efficient manner. His spooky supplements work because they are relatable and this is no different. Masquerade will surely be considered dark by some, but ultimately, it represents a tale of hope and will overcoming the odds, depicts a company of uncommon outcasts that have been forced into the roles they now play. The duality of themes, of the eponymous masquerade, is mirrored in every little component of the pdf, bespeaking a careful and precise use of the evocative prose featured herein.

This book is very much an act of deliberate craftsmanship and wordsmithing, and thus manages to stand apart from favorites of mine and benchmarks, be that Ravenloft’s Carnival, the phenomenal Blood Bayou, or Nick Logue’s grisly fey carnival. Masquerade, in spite of having chosen perhaps one area in RPGs where absolutely superb supplements abound, manages to carve out its niche as a truly remarkable place; indeed, it almost feels like a village that could carry a whole series of novels…or, well. Adventures. The characters and general location are immensely captivating, rendering this a masterpiece, even within the context of the extremely high level of the Village Backdrop-series, rivaled only by some of John Bennett and Mike Welham’s legendary contributions. Even in master Pett’s impressive catalogue, this stands out in its achievement of this level of depth so in so few pages.

This humble supplement set my mind ablaze with ideas and managed to really touch my heart…and considering that it’s only 7 pages long, that means something. This pdf thus gets 5 stars + seal of approval. The system neutral version is just as strong as the PFRPG-version in its overall themes and execution, and thus shares its nomination for my Top Ten of 2018.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Masquerade (SNE)
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Thank you for this review! You'll not be surprise to learn I'm delighted you liked Masquerade so much!
Village Backdrop: Masquerade (5e)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/29/2018 04:58:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Village Backdrop-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so first things first: This is NOT your everyday village. Much like in every village backdrop, we do get notes on local nomenclature and dressing habits, as well as village lore and 3 rumors (instead of the standard 6)…but that is pretty much where the similarities with the regular installments of the series end.

Masquerade is not a fixed locale. Instead, it is a rickety conglomerate of three barges forming a floating village-theatre of sorts, with the performers masked and in costume at most times, at least while outsiders can witness them. This is Richard Pett, though, and as such, there is a theme of the grotesque, of underlying decay and grime suffusing the village – this case, represented by the bane of the village, the unifying factor that ties together this community: Masquerade is a colony of lepers, masking their affliction behind the gaiety they bring.

Tragedy and comedy entwine with one another in an intricate manner, for Masquerade’s founder, the enigmatic Silent Queen and absentee captain Absinthe Morell (take a look at that name and the connotations it automatically causes!) created this place as an exile and trap of sorts…but in a twist on trope, the place has become something more for her, a family of outcasts of sorts…and thus, she has taken on an oath that requires nigh-unparalleled willpower to maintain…but whether she can maintain it and for how long…only the GM decides.

Indeed, while Richard Pett has a knack for writing great locales, the extended cadre of characters herein deserves special mention – no less than 9 sample NPCs with potentially complex motivations can act as a foil or allies for the PCs and include some intriguing angles, with the theme of the masquerade itself obviously acting as a good reason to not provide read-aloud texts for their looks. In 5e, their references obviously have been changed appropriately

We do get such texts for the respective locations on the ships, though, and, as in all the new village backdrops, the respective points of interest come with services that can be purchased. Now, as you can glean from the set-up here, masquerade is very much depending on retaining its secrecy, which is upheld by the magical talents of the crew…but PCs may well pierce the veil, which can provide truly intriguing moral conundrums. Should they out the leper-troupe and their dangerous mistress?

An alternate angle for adventuring would be the fact that the troupe does regularly try to cure its members via magic when funds allow for it, but this also, to a degree, represents a parting of sorts, adding a bittersweet flair to the whole proceedings, something that ultimately suffuses the whole cast of characters – this place’s inhabitants are as multi-faceted as the masks and gowns they wear are outlandish and colorful. Big kudos: The magical healing of the afflicted has been converted to refer to the proper spell in 5e.

Indeed, none of the characters on the ship are evil, and while they may come into conflict with the PCs, this is ultimately not a location intended to be solely murderhobo’d through. I can easily picture compassionate PCs becoming very attached to the troupe, perhaps using it to cross borders or infiltrate enemy lands…but that may be me.

Indeed, one can obviously use this village just as well as a take on the trope of normals vs. “freaks”; one could run it in a vast plethora of ways, and indeed, we do get some suggestions on how to adventure in masquerade. Oh lord, I just made a formatting-based joke. Sorry, that’s a new low for me. Anyways, it should also be noted that, yes, we do get a list of 20 entries of village dressing and events, and the 5e version has been modified regarding prices of goods etc. to reflect the different realities of the system; however, there is one minor complaint here: The settlement has a global effect regarding its effects on magic, which has not been properly translated into 5e, as it assumes the existence of a caster level; this should instead employ the “At Higher Levels”-mechanics imho. Similarly, a -1 penalty to saves versus some effects is not very 5e-y; I’d actually escalate that to disadvantage.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to Raging Swan Press’ elegant, printer-friendly b/w-two-column standard and the pdf sports some nice b/w artworks, though I have seen one of them used before. The b/w-cartography by Maciej Zagorski is really nice, though it is GM-only, noting secret doors and the like. High-res versions player-friendly were made available, at least to my knowledge, to Raging Swan Press’ patreons. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and comes in two versions, one optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer.

Richard Pett is perhaps the undisputed master of the tragically or comically horrific, or the grotesquely touching. His adventures and supplements (and his novel Crooked) show not only a capacity for great world-and location-building; there is always something deep and resonant in his prose. He can evoke the visceral and dark, and yet it never truly devolves into grimdark bleakness, instead settling in a more oscillating and thus, efficient manner. His spooky supplements work because they are relatable and this is no different. Masquerade will surely be considered dark by some, but ultimately, it represents a tale of hope and will overcoming the odds, depicts a company of uncommon outcasts that have been forced into the roles they now play. The duality of themes, of the eponymous masquerade, is mirrored in every little component of the pdf, bespeaking a careful and precise use of the evocative prose featured herein.

This book is very much an act of deliberate craftsmanship and wordsmithing, and thus manages to stand apart from favorites of mine and benchmarks, be that Ravenloft’s Carnival, the phenomenal Blood Bayou, or Nick Logue’s grisly fey carnival. Masquerade, in spite of having chosen perhaps one area in RPGs where absolutely superb supplements abound, manages to carve out its niche as a truly remarkable place; indeed, it almost feels like a village that could carry a whole series of novels…or, well. Adventures. The characters and general location are immensely captivating, rendering this a masterpiece, even within the context of the extremely high level of the Village Backdrop-series, rivaled only by some of John Bennett's and Mike Welham’s legendary contributions. Even in master Pett’s impressive catalogue, this stands out in its achievement of this level of depth so in so few pages.

This humble supplement set my mind ablaze with ideas and managed to really touch my heart…and considering that it’s only 7 pages long, that means something. This pdf thus gets 5 stars + seal of approval. However, when contrasted with the PFRPG-version, I was a bit disappointed to see the global effects on Masquerade not adequately translated to 5e, which is why this version loses the nomination for my Top Ten of 2018. That should not deter you from checking this out, though – the prose remains phenomenal and a capable GM can easily fix the global effect snafu!

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Village Backdrop: Masquerade (5e)
Click to show product description

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Creator Reply:
Thank you for this review! You'll not be surprise to learn I'm delighted you liked Masquerade so much!
Cool Words for Gamers
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/26/2018 04:31:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

And now for something completely different!

This book clocks in at 72 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page dedication, 1 page introductory quote, 7 pages blank, 2 pages advertisement, 1 page author bio, 1 page acknowledgements, leaving us with 57 pages of content, laid out for a 6’’ by 9’’ standard, meaning you can fit up to 4 pages on a given sheet of paper when printing this one. It should be noted that the book comes with jpgs for the cover and an .epub and .mobi version as well, making it easy to use in the context of e-readers.

After a brief preface, we begin with exactly what this says on the tin – rarely used words that can enrich your vocabulary. Why should you bother? Simple: Our language obviously does not only influence our own social interactions. Within the context of roleplaying games, it illustrates very much how linguistic conventions and the use of words shape our perceptions of reality.

You see, as human beings, we all have certain associations with certain words and the words we use, while conventionalized by social standards and languages we speak, ultimately, our languages differ in crucial ways from person to person – even within the context of the same language. A rather famous example for this would be the linguistic concept of degrees of category membership – is an ostrich a bird? If so (yes, it is), is it a better bird in its “birdiness” than e.g. a nightingale or a sparrow? Our concept of “bird” is arbitrary and yet we use it every day – because that is how language works. It categorizes infinite, disparate phenomena in information-clusters whose meaning we can convey with at least moderate accuracy. It is a necessary tool for any kind of society to work.

Many of our disputes in daily life, both domestic and in a professional context, can be traced back to misunderstandings, to people not being sufficiently precise with the language they employ and the associations they may elicit. In roleplaying games, this issue is exacerbated and may be most famously illustrated by the old tale of the gazebo, misunderstood by an increasingly desperate player as a monster. This by now famous and classic meme/anecdote obviously puts its fingers on a crucial part of roleplaying – it is almost entirely contingent on the mastery of language. In more rules-heavy systems, we need to know syntax and semantics of the system; in any system, regardless how rules-lite it may be, we require language and an understanding of language in order to create the shared imaginary worlds in which our games take place.

It is evident, then, that each individual will have a different idea of what exactly is happening, how everything looks like, etc. – and yet, there is a consensus regarding some aspects of what is happening. The task of the author and GM/Judge/referee/etc., then, would be to create vivid descriptions and prose that manage to set the neurons of the players ablaze with excitement, each in their own way.

Nothing is as frustrating as reading a per se interesting adventure that sports horrid prose; similarly, there is nothing as frustrating as not getting the elaborate, flowery prose that the GM employs – as such, this book can be considered to be a true help for PCs and GMs alike – GMs learn about strange and archaic words, while players can read the book to lower the chances of suffering from a gazebo-moment.

Chances are, for example, that many a roleplayer may know what an “adyton” is, but even with my extensive reading and expertise under my belt, I was not aware of the meaning of “agruw.” I knew what a “chamfrain” was, and “chthonic” is a word we read rather often, but I had never even seen the word “dandiprat” before. Why should you care about such words? Well, for one, immersion; secondly, to improve your writing. Thirdly, perhaps because you want to expand your active vocabulary. There is power in words, and if you’re like me and enjoy reading e.g. the old Icelandic Sögur in the original, or if you e.g. enjoy Catherynne M. Valente’s flowery prose, Voltaire’s or Wilde’s wit, you’ll know that there is beauty in the written word, in the properly phrased happenstance.

Now, if you believe that I’m just pulling the importance of language out of my academic behind, rest assured that I am not: Gary Gygax himself was known to use language to convey hidden characteristics in names – if you knew where to look. Hence, the final chapter of the book is devoted to “Gary’s Clever Names.” We take a look at pregen names and what they actually mean, which makes this book a rather interesting piece of linguistic gaming archaeology: Take, for example “Cloyer Bulse the Magsman.” As most gamers versed in old-school games will know, magsman is an 8th-level title for the thief. Here’s the thing: Did you know that “Cloyer” denotes either a pickpocket’s accomplice or the guy who blunders into a bunch of thieves and demands a share? Did you know that a “bulse” is a package of diamonds or gold dust? Or take the grey elf fighter/magic-user Ycore Rixie: This fellow may well be suffering from delusions of grandeur – “Ycore” means chosen/elect, while “Rixle” means “to rule” or “to have dominion.”

The book comes with a suggested further reading list, which is nice to see.

A drawback of the pdf-version here is that the book has no bookmarks, which represents a comfort-detriment. I’d suggest getting the PoD-version, particularly since it makes for nice reading when you put in on the table and a player has to wait its turn or has already finished the obligatory pizza during the lunch-break. For the pdf-version, you should probably detract a star from my final verdict.

Now, unlike pretty much every other book I’ve reviewed, this handy little booklet by Creighton Broadhurst is highly contingent in its appeal on whether you value cool words/language etc. If the idea sounds boring to you (which it frankly shouldn’t, but I’m not one to judge), I can understand that. If, however, the idea sounds exciting or interesting to you, then this is very much worth getting! Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Cool Words for Gamers
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Creator Reply:
Hooray! Glad you liked this, End. I loved putting this book together--I'm a bit of a word nerd!
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/24/2018 09:06:56

This resource provides the busy DM with loads of loot to tempt their party... or, for that matter, to stock residences for the discerning, provide items for an auction house or whatever use you might find for a selection of 'art objects' or gems.

It's divided into two sections. First up are the art objects - these can be any decorative item from paintings to statues, vases, trinkets, tapestries. Most are not so easy to transport due to size or fragility or just plain awkwardness, so if you do use them as loot the party needs to decide what is actually worth the effort of pilfering! They are presented in a series of lists of twenty items at a time (handy if you want to roll at random), with each list containing items of similar value ranging from 25 gp to a massive 7,500 gp apiece. They all sound beautiful - maybe one of the party fancies a pair of purple samite curtains woven with flowers in golden thread for his home, or maybe a painting in a gilded frame depicting a giant's castle in the clouds under attack from a flight of dragons is going to look nice on the wall. Or maybe he'll be hawking a soapstone bust of the dwarven king, Odvin Hammerschlag around a nearby town to raise cash for supplies for the next adventure (or a rowdy night in the best tavern in town!).

Then attention turns to gemstones. Again they are grouped by value starting with 'ornamental' stones at 10 gp a throw and ramping up to 'jewels' worth 5,000 gp apiece. Naturally cut and condition can affect the price. Each is both named and described, so you can give the description and let them wonder just what it is (an Intelligence check DC is recommended if you want them to figure out what they have found and what it's worth).

Finally, there's mention of the reputed magical properties of gemstones - which might inform, for example, which ones you use when crafting magic items - and on special appearances (fancy cuts and the like) or even complications that might affect whoever possesses the stone. For remember, all this stuff may not be mere loot, it may also be part of the plot!

A useful collection of items to scatter throughout your campaign world. Loot, plot items or just make the dungeon look prettier!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Treasures & Trinkets: Gemstones & Art Objects (5e)
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Creator Reply:
Fantastic! Thank you for the review, Megan! I'm glad you enjoyed the book!
Monstrous Lair #3: Ogre Cave
by Joseph B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2018 12:48:58

Big fan of the Monsterous Lair line! More great stuff from Raging Swan!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Monstrous Lair #3: Ogre Cave
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Our first Monstrous Lairs review! Thank you so much for posting it Joseph--I much appreciate it!
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