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Keep of the First Scion - An Adventure for Troika!
by Theodore K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2021 14:24:38

I will attempt to run this as a starter adventure if the group decides to try Toika instead of 2 other options, tho I plan to run at some in the future all 3 game systems. The only issue I have is the hand writting and the map, I know it was a design choice but it makes it tough for someone with out the best eyes to read it.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Keep of the First Scion - An Adventure for Troika!
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Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 6 Iridium Frigates & Cybernetic Corpses (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 08/13/2020 06:35:44

An Endzeitgeist.com

The sixth zini in the Ætherjack’s Almanac-series clocks in at 2 pages, which, as always, contain essentially 4 pages – print them, fold the booklet in the middle, done. The first half of these pages contains the front cover.

This review was requested to be moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review via direct donation.

On the first half of the second page, we get the Cyber Corpse AI Hub background, making you the AI of a decaying warship; you are an old warship at 2d6% capacity, and have a corpse soldier as well as a barely-functioning plasmic cannon. You have an internal armory of advanced weapons and armor, but it is lost. Within you. Why? Well, that’s a curious thought, isn’t it? Your possessions also include the hole in your heart that captain and crew abandoning you left. Oh and works of art from cultures you helped destroy.

The advanced skills include a solid 4 Strength, 3 Iridium Frigate Piloting, 2 Fusil fighting and Fist Fighting, and the basics of Mathmology as well as a bit of Astrology, Religion, and Arts so you can be pretentious in your loneliness. (George R.R. Martin’s scifi stories, anyone?) Here’s the cool thing: You do NOT have awareness of your internal structure; you don’t have a proper engine for sailing within a sphere, but you can, provided you have the charts, sidestep reality and switch spheres.

Of course, we do get stats for the ravaged iridium frigate ship, a fully repaired version for reference, and stats for the cyber corpse drone, which has 9 Skill, 15 Stamina, initiative 3, and armor of 0, 2 or 4; it deals damage as a Modest Beast or weapon wielded; the Armor 4 is only deployed when not caught unaware. A full d6 Mien table is provided. Minor nitpick: The background lists the possession as “corpse soldier”, and not as “cyber-corpse drone”; as an aside – a less potent ravaged cyber-corpse drone would have imho made for a good addition here. Why? Well, when comparing this to the Shellfolx background in #4, the cyber corpse drones are superior in every way: I Skill more, 7 Stamina more, 1 Initiative more, and vastly superior armor, plus more weapon capabilities. The same holds true for the Iridium Frigate versus the Golden Barge of the Shellfolx. Oh, and the advanced skills. Indeed, the background is VERY MUCH like the shellfolx, just stronger in pretty much every way.

The second half of the first page, traditionally the back cover-ish one, contains only brief notes on ship-based hyperspace generators; something more substantial would have been nice here. I did, however, enjoy the shout-outs to two indie supplements by other publishers that work well in conjunction with this series.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-color standard using dark blue and lighter-grey-blue-ish white text; easy to read; a b/w-version is included if you don’t like the colored version. The collage-style artworks employed are charming as always. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ian Woolley’s sixth Ætherjack’s Almanac provides a pretty neat, fun background with lots of roleplaying potential; however, I couldn’t help but feel that the background would have benefited from a better balanced cyber drone body (perhaps more of them to make up for that?), a frigate in line with the shellfolx, an Advanced Skills array in line with the Shellfolx – you get the idea.

I’d be much more impressed by this, were it not in quite a few ways a super-up version of Shellfolx. I know that Troika embraces chaos and uneven characters, but the comparison here, within one series, makes this feel like overkill. I like the design, but I hate how inconsistent it is regarding the baseline of power of comparable backgrounds in its own series. It’s, essentially a reskinned #4. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 2.5 stars, rounded up only due to the fact that Troika! is more resilient regarding such inconsistencies than many comparable systems.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 6 Iridium Frigates & Cybernetic Corpses (Troika! Compatible!)
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Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 5 More Æthercraft (Troika! Compatible)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/27/2020 12:28:53

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fifth installment of this series of mini-zinis providing essentially spelljamming rules/rules-conversions for Troika! clocks in at 4 pages – the pages are presented in a broad, landscape style, and can be folded in the middle to make a digest-sized booklet, so it’s more closer to 7 digest-sized pages than 4; the first page of the pdf contains the front cover, as well as supplemental text, while the other 3 each provide a new dogfighting-sized æthercraft.

First of all, the Locksley MK 9 and two of the new æthercraft herein are classified as moon-rat vessels, and glade at maneuver ½, with SR 1. The WNG-F/LC has an enclosed cockpit and twin fire-linked engine-mounted fusils. How is fire-linking represented? Two attack rolls per attack. Makes sense. As before, the vessels are portrayed as a silhouette, and come with weight, wing-span (also, thank the spheres, with values in both imperial system and metric system), and its cargo is contingent on whether it’s designed to carry cargo or passengers. This one also has two engines – a fact elaborated in the text, which, in combination with the previous examples and fuel-rules, actually can be rather interesting!

The second æthercraft, the Swyer no.3 also has fire-linked fusils, but those are mounted on the nose; with a SR of 9 and Armor 3, but relatively low Hull, it’s a surprisingly-resilient dogfighter, obviously designed to battle monsters and other vessels.

There is a third vessel, the L5er Fritillary, which can sail on its wings at SR 1 with no maneuver change – because it’s essentially a massive, genetic/arcane-engineered butterfly! I love this, and it’s weaker than the other vessels, but has a distinct engine – the butterfly has fire-linked thorn throwers that operate like crossbows, making these pretty great bosses for less experienced groups. They also showcase how you can use this engine without ever getting even close to scifi, steampunk or dieselpunk territory…or spelljamming, for that matter. Big kudos!

Speaking of which, the supplement comes with a couple of nice guidelines pertaining to Stars Without Number, called attacks and the like. Oh, and as an aside, with fire-linking now covered and the amount of material accumulated by now, we can use the Ætherjack’s Almanac series to relatively easily draw upon the wealth of e.g. Starfinder-ships without too much of a hassle.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres, as noted, to a standard that lets you fold the supplement when printed into a digest-booklet. Color-wise, we have yellow/green this time around. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Artworks, as noted, are fitting, colored silhouettes. The pdf comes with a second b/w-version that is easier on the printer – kudos!

Ian Woolley’s Ætherjack’s Almanac-series is a genuine boon to Troika! The engine is fun, and while these pdfs are brief, they deliver quality. I consider them all appropriate, and considering that #2 and #3 combined unlock a TON of ships from a wide variety of systems, this series is most assuredly worth getting if you even remotely enjoy Troika! – particularly since Troika!’s Golden Barges etc. scream for these rules.  I can’t wait to see where the author goes with these. My final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 5 More Æthercraft (Troika! Compatible)
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Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 4 Shellfolk & Spheresailing (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/24/2020 09:20:48

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth of the pamphlet-style zinis dealing with spherejamming in Troika! once more clocks in at 2 pages, with half of one of those pages devoted to the cover image; once more, printing this and folding it in the middle is the intended use, so it’d be most prudent to think of this as a 3-page pdf suited for A5/6’’ by 9’’.

So, what are shell persons? Well, they are a new background of people with a bad immune system, which starts with a small golden barge, a megacredit student/ship loan debt and an autostell drone, as well as a variety of suitable skills. The background states that the character is encased in a sealed container 1/4th of the size of a human, which can be connected to ships to fly them. Hits kinda close to home for me, as I only narrowly avoided a fate of such isolation as a kid…but how can this be fun to play?

Well, first of all, it should be noted that we get full stats for the starting ship, using the ship rules introduced in volume 2. Additionally, you get to control the autostell drone – essentially vacuum cleaners with a knife and an attitude (pdf’s words – got a big chuckle out of me!), and these drones may be upgraded later (that’d be a cool future installment!), and we get a mien-array as well. So, essentially, we get a playable monster/pet here, which also acts as a tool for the GM. I really like this background – alongside the one in #1 of this series, easily one of the best the author has penned, as it wrings a unique playing style out of the engine.

The second half of the page containing the front cover provides a definition of terms such as hyperspace, and proceeds to differentiate between lesser, common, greater, and grand spheres. Beyond that, we also have an explanation of æther and a brief discussion on navigating the spheres. I liked this concept generally – it feels magical, and the distinctions made sense.

It should be noted that this cross-referenced briefly the High Fructose Hyperspace-series of pdfs in a side-note that is purely optional. I own only #1 of High Fructose Hyperspace, and that pdf seems to be missing some stuff – at least I couldn’t really figure out what to do with the system based on HFH#1. I’ll let you know when/if the High Fructose pdf gets updated, and modify this review to remove this caveat.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, I noticed no hiccups. Layout adheres to the series two-column standard, with the collage-like/abstraction artworks we’ve come to expect from it. This time around, the colors chosen are red and yellow, and as before, we get a handy printer-friendly b/w-version as well.

Ian Woolley’s fourth Ætherjack’s Almanac is a bit more conventional than the previous two, featuring one genuinely great background that offers a unique playing experience. It also provides some rather welcome definitions that you can easily use and tweak to sail the humpbacked sky. I had nothing to really complain about here, but I also wasn’t utterly blown away by what I found, and there is a bit more dressing here than before. This is a good pdf: It has charm, and the shell person background is certainly worth the asking price if it even remotely interests you. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded up.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 4 Shellfolk & Spheresailing (Troika! Compatible!)
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Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 3 Locksley Mk 9 (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/21/2020 08:17:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Ætherjack’s Almanac-zinis clocks in at the usual 2 pages – if you print it out and fold it in the middle, you’ll get a neat pamphlet of 4 A5/6’’ by 9’’-pages, with one front cover, so three pages of content – this time, though, I probably wouldn’t fold it, since two of the pages sport the artwork for the Locksley MK 9 and its stats in a full-page offering on the second page – the most prudent way of thinking about this pdf thus would be to consider it a 1.5-page offering.

The Locksley MK 9 fighter/bomber æthercraft comes with full stats according to the guidelines laid out in #2 of this series; it can house a crew of up to 2 people, can be fueled for 5 hours of operation, and has a maneuver rating of 2, a ship rating of 8, armor 2 and 55 Hull. Its weaponry is interesting, as we have a forward-facing fusil, and swivel-mounted twin-fusils for the gunner. How are these used? Well, the pdf does make that clear – nice! We also get notes on tonnage, length and wingspan.

The æthercfraft also has a bomb-magazine with two sizes of bombs (small and large), and notes that variants are possible, including a removal of said bombs in favor of additional seating. Damage-wise, I am not sure where to place the bombs. I do think that the bombs are intended to default to Troika’s standard values for creatures (Small and Large beastly weapon damage tables), but getting proper stats here (or a note of the like) would have been nice.

This obviously opens up a couple of questions, which the pdf then proceeds to answer: The low fly time makes this a dogfighter, which is also evident in the high SR. This, though, is contingent on good fuel, and the pdf notes that similar engines might be pushed in similar manners, alongside comparable values for unpowered sailing/gliding, which is a really neat expansion of the base mechanics.

Also interesting: The open cockpit, which allows for the direct targeting of pilot and gunner, but the rules still provide a benefit to the people inside the vessel. Also important: Unlike big, full-blown ætherjammers, these vessels have armor on the scale of persons and use anti-person weapons, which are defined as having a range of one hex, and attack with disadvantage beyond that range. On the plus-side, ship weapons also attack with disadvantage against personal æthercrafts like this.

But what is disadvantage? Well, that’s defined as well: Rolling three dice and keeping the worst two.

The pdf closes with some previews and shoutouts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column standard on the first page, with the second devoted to a full-page spread of the æthercraft and its stats – this time around in green-yellow. As before, a more printer-friendly b/w-version is included – kudos for that! The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none.

I am starting to really like Ian Woolley’s æthercraft rules! Where the global ship rules in volume two were super-impressive, this pdf provides something just as compelling – an extension of the engine to encompass smaller vessels on a personal level, so if you want dogfighters whirring about a dreadnought. You can have that! This also makes characters fighting small æthercrafts as bosses etc. (think Metal Gear Solid…) a possibility, and it manages to achieve that with precision. My one gripe with this pdf would be the lack of stats/definition for bombs…but if you like the engine proposed in #2, you’ll have fuel-based boosts and dogfighting added here…and that’s darn cool. As such, my final verdict will be 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 3 Locksley Mk 9 (Troika! Compatible!)
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Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 2 Cabbits & Combat (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/17/2020 08:14:35

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the Ætherjack’s Almanac-zinis clocks in at 2 pages – 1/2 of the first page is devoted to the front cover of sorts, which leaves us with 1.5 pages of content. If you fold this in the middle, you’ll have a nice pamphlet-style supplement, so you should rather consider this to be a 3-page pdf.

The pdf begins by presenting us with the æthernautical ship and combat rule breakdown: The days of air available are divided by the crew; the Crew value lists a minimum number to operate, and a maximum number for optimal operation. Cargo values are given in tons, regardless of mass or volume. The Maneuver value determines the number of hex-sides a ship can change facing sans piloting checks. Ship Ratings (SRs), hinted before in #1, are not always listed, as they are a factor of the engine and pilot. Armor has the same categories as personal, with the important caveat that personal weapons deal no damage to ships with armor unless specified. Hull is the HP_equivalent, and weapons will instakill regularly-scaled characters. Alternatively, they get to test Luck vs. Skill test to hit to remain standing with 1 Stamina.

Movement and combat takes place on a hex grid, and exceeding the Maneuver rating requires Piloting checks minus 1 per facing change. Minor nitpick – it should be “on the pilot’s initiative”, not “one the pilot’s initiative”, but this is a nitpick. Ship combat is resolved as ranged combat, and the ROF (Rate of Fire)-rating determines how often the weapon may be fired: ¼ would e.g. be one shot every 4 rounds. Considering Troika!’s swingy initiative system, this can be rather volatile.

the cuddly synthetic meta-lagomorph background, and come with fluffy ears (which does net you a +1 bonus to the Cute skill, and a singular appetite for a particular vegetable – you get +1 to Chomping on those. You also start with 3d6 outstanding warrants. Why? Well, the strange skill list notes plasmic cannons, so guess what? You can transform into a warship, and are thus illegal on a LOT of levels. Full warship stats are provided and include notes on how much cargo you can hold, minimum and maximum crew (and yes, the background makes you the minimum crew, so you none nobody to pilot you), Maneuver, Armor and Hull ratings, as well as weapons listed.

Beyond those, we have stats for naval vessels (static) and pirate vessel stats (which are much more prone to fluctuation, noting Skill, Maneuver, Hull, etc. Brief stats for crew members of these additional vessels are provided, in case you were wondering.

Okay, cool so far, right? Well, the pdf provides more: We get a pretty massive table that allows you to convert Stars Without Number, BECMI, and D20-based ships to Troika! regarding maneuverability; Armor conversion is provided for descending and ascending armor class, and we get proper Troika stats for 3 types of plasmic cannons, 2 ballistae, and 2 catapults. Some weapons can ignore up to 3 armor; plasmic cannons require electricity, ballistae etc. ammunition.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level – I have nothing to complain about here. Layout adheres to a delightfully-jarring purple-green 2-column standard that some people are bound to love – weirdoes like me, for example. (A “negative” version is included, flipping colors.) If you consider it rather jarring, fret not, for the supplement comes with a more eye-and printer-friendly b/w-iteration. Artworks seem to be adaptations of weird public domain images. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ian Woolley delivers big time here – on just two pages, you get a great, mechanically precise engine that lets you seamlessly convert space ships/spacefaring ships/vehicles to Troika!, and we get some default stats as orientation, and a neat high-risk background. What more could you want? This is a resounding success of a mini-zine. Final verdict: 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 2 Cabbits & Combat (Troika! Compatible!)
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Keep of the First Scion - An Adventure for Troika!
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 04/13/2020 07:14:12

EDIT:

The publisher has responded (in an kind and professional manner!) to my review with an explanation:

"That being said. Each design choice, down to the atrocious handwriting and over all roughness of this module is deliberate, and at its core a response to the consistent and overwhelming laments of new GMs unfairly comparing themselves to professional APs, like Critical Role to say to these new folk where the bar is for starting out."

I consider this to be an admirable goal! That being said, this is nowhere evident within the module, its description, etc. - it doesn't change my review, but it contextualizes the author's intent rather nicely. So if you think that going DIY might be for you, then this may warrant taking a look at!

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This zine-style 2-page dungeon clocks in at 2 pages; these can theoretically be folded, with 1/3 of the first page being devoted to the front cover.

So, there is one thing you need to know about this, and it can be a deal-breaker for you: while the text that explains the premise and background on the first page is properly printed, and so is the explanation of the NPCs, the actual stats of the adversaries faced herein are depicted in a scan of hand-written notebook pages; the map of the complex to be explored also is hand-drawn and scanned in.

Why is this relevant? Well, the handwriting was REALLY hard for me to decipher, and I’m grading a lot of student papers and see quite a lot different handwriting styles. Even after quite a bit of puzzling. And there is really no reason for either choice – you could just type the material, and the map could be drawn pretty easily in free software like explain everything whiteboard and pasted in, making it easier to read and parse. The map also sports no scale.

That being said, what’s the module about? Well, in order to discuss this, we need to go into SPOILERS. Potential players should jump ahead to the conclusion.

..

.

All right, only GMs around? Great! So, the premise is simple: The village’s sheep are slaughtered in the night by some horrors, and the sphere-traveling PCs are obviously blamed, which necessitates closer inspection of the eponymous keep. The pdf briefly talks about priest, mayor and constable, and how they interact with the PC’s task.

 Inside, a small clique of goblins has been drawn to the resting place of one of the “Creepy God’s eyes” – I genuinely liked this notion of a “Creepy God”; it straddles the line between puerile and evocative; who’d worship such a god? The notion of the deity fits Troika well. The goblins are led by a self-styled priest of the Great Dragon, who believes to eb chosen by “the this God”[sic!]. The Great Dragon is btw. not a dragon per se – it is an insectoid thing nesting around the eye, which also created it. Its “Children.” The remainder of the module is pretty simple – the PCs have to enter the keep (which smells of feces and rotten meat), and gather 4 keys in outlying rooms, while dealing with goblins. While they do that, there’s a chance for interaction with a traumatized Knight of the Road, and fight both goblins and the properly statted (if you can decipher the handwriting) children of the dragon. With the keys, the PCs can open the central, locked door and vanquish the centipede-ish monstrosity.

Interesting complication: Until the place is cleansed, the goblins constantly reanimate as zombies. Okay, cool, how long does it take? Is that immediate, or should it take a bit of time? Considering that the centipede-ish monstrous “Great Dragon” and its ilk have a poison that damages Skill, this could render the module into a bit of a survival experience, which I generally like. The theme of feces is btw. also represented in the pit traps featured in the complex, but no depth or guidance is provided for the effects here. Now, I don’t want high-complexity RPG-levels of detail here, but a brief note about depth at least would have been nice.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are not very good, particularly considering the brevity of the offering. Layout adheres to a three-column horizontal standard, and we get public domain centipede-images as art. The hand-drawn cartography genuinely looks worse than mine, and I SUCK at cartography; whipping something up via a free program would have taken perhaps 5 minutes – the map’s that simple. The pdf has no bookmarks, but does come with one version optimized for the A5, and one for letterpack (US) paper sizes. Kudos for that – I wish more authors would do this.

Ian Woolley’s little module kinda surprised me; I do admit to having a serious kneejerk reaction of WTF-proportions when I saw the hard-to-decipher handwriting. The set-up is basic, and in contrast to all of his offerings I’ve read so far, this feels like the author didn’t care, or at least not as much. In contrast to e.g. his lovingly-crafted Ætherjack’s Almanac-zini I recently reviewed, this one is, well, is not something I can recommend. It has plenty of white space on the first page that could have been used to explain further, add details or cool ideas – and instead, we get what clearly feels like either a joke I don’t get, or a minimum effort offering. It’s not per se atrocious, and you can run it if you can decipher the handwriting, but it’s rough, unpolished, and ultimately not as interesting as many comparable, more polished system-neutral or system-agnostic offerings. As such, my final rating can’t exceed 1.5 stars, rounded up, as unlike some material I reviewed, you can potentially have fun with this. But then again, you can also probably improvise something more compelling.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Keep of the First Scion - An Adventure for Troika!
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Creator Reply:
First I thank you for all the in-depth reviews you've been doing. That being said. Each design choice, down to the atrocious handwriting and over all roughness of this module is deliberate, and at its core a response to the consistent and overwhelming laments of new GMs unfairly comparing themselves to professional APs, like Critical Role to say to these new folk where the bar is for starting out. Again, thank you for your thoughtful and thorough review.
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 1 Engines & Elementals (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/23/2020 06:59:25

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The first installment of Ætherjack’s Almanac clocks in at 2 pages – these are intended to be printed and folded in the middle, essentially providing 4 pages, with one devoted to the front-cover.

The ‘zine starts with a new background – the unemployed drive elemental: You see, in some savage spheres of the humpbacked sky, elementals are imprisoned in engines, but thankfully, you hail from a more enlightened place. You were at once licensed, bonded and insured. The possessions provided include some fractions of a mortal soul, an expired Intersphere work permit, undue overpaid traffic citations – there is a playfulness here that I rather enjoyed seeing. The Advanced skills section also is interesting – while we have 21 “ranks” of skills, the less specific ones like “Elemental Bureaucracy” and “Human Sexology” are just evocative enough in two words to spark ideas. The background also offers some directly functional advanced skills. The background also explains the 4 different pilot skills (and how to alternatively handle them) and nets you some ideas. I really liked this background.

The pdf then proceeds to present stats for apprentice, journeymental and master air/fire elementals, including mien noted, and differentiates between damage of air and fire elementals, provides some concise fluff, and mentions SR.

SR? Well, on the first page, of what would be the back cover if folded, we have the rules for engines: SR is the ship rating. For spell engines, SR is based on skill and level of the spell being cast; essentially, these engines are powered by fueling magic into them: As though casting a spell, you expend stamina, and the SR is Skill + level of the spell being thus “cast” – the verbiage here is a bit odd; just explaining the stamina cost would have been imho more prudent. Minor and major helm costs are provided.

Elemental engines have a SR based on the elemental’s Skill, and furnace-based engines always have a SR of 2, with consumption to operate for a week listed for iron, lead, semiprecious & precious metals, as well as for ultra-rare metals. What does SR do? Well, actually, the pdf doesn’t say and I so far only have #1, but I hope that future installments illuminate this for me.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and good on a rules-language level. The pdf makes fantastic use of evocative public domain art, with one piece per page; I am particularly partial to William T. Horton’s “Path to the Moon” being used on the back cover.  The pdf has no bookmarks, but it doesn’t need them at this length; it has a delightfully old-school red/mustard yellow standard version, and a printer-friendly second iteration.

In case you were wondering: Yes, this little booklet does look like Spelljammer in Troika, with the game’s trademark humor. It is a refined offering, and certainly the best file I’ve read by Ian Woolley so far – enough to make me excited for more! Aesthetically-pleasing, the supplement has but one shortcoming, and that is that we don’t really get an idea what this SR actually does, even though it seems to be important for the future installments. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ætherjack’s Almanac Number 1 Engines & Elementals (Troika! Compatible!)
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Axes & Orcs Compendium: Volume Two: Science-Fantasy Potpourri Backgrounds (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/20/2020 13:42:40

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second Axes & Orcs Compendium clocks in at 24 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page artwork inside front cover, 2 pages of editorial, leaving us with 20 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The back cover sports the stats for the plasmic cannon – a weapon that requires two hands to use, holds 3 charges, and ignores 2 armor; a damage table is provided, starting at 4 on a roll of 1, and escalating to 30 on a 7+, making it a very powerful weapon.

This book contains a whole new d66 table of backgrounds, Troika!’s combination of race and class, essentially doubling the available backgrounds in comparison to the core book. In many ways, Troika’s anything goes mentality, and system-inherent notion of a pretty high lethality work well in combination with this booklet, for the backgrounds herein are pretty powerful, and at times, a bit lopsided, but Troika’s system-inherent design does mean that none of these powerful backgrounds will break the game itself mechanically – particularly since the few backgrounds with a very strong slant towards one component have other potential downsides. I will note the ones I consider to be somewhat problematic. It should be noted that the pdf makes copious use of Troika’s notion of providing new advanced skills that, as a whole, tend to be self-explanatory.

I can only speak of the pdf-version of this supplement; while there was a limited edition print run of the booklet, I do not own it, and thus can’t comment on its qualities or lack thereof.

If you enjoy outrageous humor in your gaming supplements, you’ll have quite a bit of that here. Let’s take the first background, the “2.3 pounds of hallucinating pudding”; you may be a pudding; you may be hallucinating, and you have a rad, but disgusting bio-mech that looks like a normal person. Totally. You also begin with Anxiety as a possession –noting ”<This Is A Quest Item And Cannot Be Discarded Or Sold>” – which got a chuckle out of me. The second background is one of the ones that is one of the very focused and lopsided backgrounds: You can be a 1995 3/4ton pickup! Yep, a friendly compact car. You’ll have 5 Strength, 3 Drive and 2 Car Fighting…but, you know, you can’t speak. You can flash your lights and honk and stuff like that. And yes, Strength 5 may seem like overkill – until you try playing this fellow, for RAW, the communication can be…interesting! Oh, and the size, obviously… Plus, you don’t regain Stamina by resting – or eating, I assume, though that’s not specified properly; while you do come with a repair manual, but you need others to take care of maintenance. This should probably have a similar cap as healing by eating, though – as a whole, mechanically, one of my least-favorite backgrounds herein.

The book includes a Jessica Rabbit background (2D Girl in a 3D World), whose possessions include a fan-service outfit and assorted booby-traps…and you’re actually pretty darn hard to kill, like toons in the movie. There is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle background (Adolescent Anthropomorphic Assassin Animal), and there is a designated background for Biker Mice from Mars!! (As an aside, these come with customization options ranging from mechanical limb with built-in fusil to half-mask with multi-function flares.) Fan of Final Fantasy VII? Lionwolf is essentially Red XIII, who comes with 4 Brooding and 3 Hair Accessory Fighting, among other things. Want to be the Discworldian oblivious, but extremely wealthy Tourist? There’s a background for that. We have two pretty potent Transformers-backgrounds (the second, Truckbot, being the one background that is imho a bit too much regarding all the benefits it enjoys – I wouldn’t allow it in my game), a Robocop background, and if you’re a fan of Dark Souls’ Sif or the great old Okami-game’s rendition of Amaterasu, you’ll appreciate the inclusion of the swordwolf background – you get 6 Wolf, 3 Greatsword Fighting, 3 Tracking, 2 Awareness, 2 Calligraphy, 2 Run – but you can’t speak people. 6 Wolf looks like much, but functionally, it ensure you’re good at being…well, wolf-y.

Beyond pop-culture references, you can find backgrounds for being an astronaut, a cosmonaut dog (!!), an arcanotech engineer, a brain-in-a-jar (complete with 2 Obscure B-Movie Trivia and 3 Underwater Basket Weaving); cat-rabbit things, watercolor-world rabbits, cabin boys (with negative grog-drinking skill)…what about ghosts of chickens? Kitchen goblins and kobold bankers? L5ers and orcs made by magical mishaps may be found alongside a Troika-version of the Nautilium. Did I mention the orc exchange student, or the fact that you can be a space rock? No, really! Cannibal space mermaids and void squids are included alongside door-to-door salespersons – and don’t confuse a businessman with a business-slime. They’re very similar, but obviously rather different – the businessman has more equipment, but the slime has a special ability. Oh, and did I mention that you can now play a disenfranchised Lady of the Lake (Formerly Watery Tart) in search of new lands to distribute swords in? Or the fact that you can play a giant flatworm? This fellow has penis sword fighting, and I’d appreciate it if the supplement actually codified the damage to be used by that.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the compendium is much more precise than the first compendium, and it’s more often consistent power-level-wise with Troika’s standard backgrounds than not – with a few exceptions that imho go too far, or could use some slightly more precise rules, as noted before. Layout adheres to a two-column b/w-standard with no frills, and the artworks seem to be using public domain artwork and collage-techniques, with colors added. The pdf-version sports a bookmark every few backgrounds, which made navigation simple. The pdf comes in two versions – one intended for 6’’ by 9’’ standards, and one for A5-kudos!

As noted before, I can’t comment on the print version, since I don’t own it.

Ian Woolley’s collection of backgrounds got several genuine chuckles out of me; the irreverent humor and Troika’s rules blend very well. The backgrounds are functional, fun, and run a pretty large gamut of cool tropes. Particularly if you’re into pop-culture-references in your game, this’ll deliver in spades. If you’re looking for more of Troika’s more focused weirdness, or for something more subdued, then this won’t scratch that itch, and might be distracting in some instances. All in all, I consider this a fun addition for Troika games that enjoy plenty of pop-culture references in their games. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Axes & Orcs Compendium: Volume Two: Science-Fantasy Potpourri Backgrounds (Troika! Compatible!)
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Axes & Orcs Compendium: Volume One: Hon-Human and Monster Classes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/18/2020 07:35:33

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 23 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 21 pages of content, laid out for 6’’ by 9’’/A5, so let’s take a look!

This supplement is intended for generic OSR, and does not subscribe to a single rules-set, which can be a bit of a detriment, considering how the power-levels of e.g. B/X and OSRIC can diverge, so that’s something to bear in mind. “Skill”-like abilities are noted as x-in-6-chances, with initiative and surprise being assumed to have ascending values; similarly, saving throw bonuses are noted with plusses, with the classes doing something relatively smart, namely referencing e.g. “As clerics” as a default, making integration simple. The classes assume an ascending attack bonus.

All right, so, we begin with what I’d consider a combination of regular classes and race classes, with the halfling druid, who requires a minimum Dexterity of 9, and a minimum Wisdom of 12. The halfling druid has saves like a cleric, and weapon proficiency as a cleric or druid; armors are allowed as long as they’re made of animal or plant matter. The class gets the standard halfling abilities and spellcasting as a cleric or druid: They get +1 to attack rolls with missile weapons, as well as 5-in-6 chance to hide outdoors, 2-in-6 indoors; the class also gets +1 to initiative and surprise rolls. The halfling druid gets +2 to saving throws versus fire and lightning. Depending on the game you use, you get either access to the cleric or druid spell progression. 3rd level allows the halfling druid to automatically discern animal and plant types, as well as safe water. Starting at 7th level, the halfling druid may change their forms up to 3/day into a natural animal, The size assumed may not be smaller than a mouse, no larger than double the druid’s normal weight; the shapeshifting also replenishes 1d6 x10 percent, but doesn’t properly codify how long it takes to shift. This is a bit of an awkward mechanic, as it requires calculating percentile HP healed on the fly – fixed values would have been more elegant. It also doesn’t specify whether to round up or down. The shapeshifted form is also immune to charms and mental enchantments cast by faerie critters.

The race-class suffers from some inconsistencies between text and class-table: The first is that the text states that the class gets d6 HD every level, until 13th; the class table, however, caps this at level 9, with each additional level only yielding a single HP. The latter is obviously the correct one, but yeah. Less obvious: The text refers to 9th level as the archdruid-title, which nets a sanctified grove and followers, but the class table situates this at 10th level. As fitting in old-school games, the halfling druid notes that there are only so many druids of higher levels, which will require besting higher level druids to take their place. It would have been nice to get some information on whether this should be a separate thing from non-halfling druids. Attack bonus starts at +1, and increases by +2 at 5th level every 4 levels thereafter, which is a bit odd. As for XP-progression, we start with 2,125 XP, and twice that amount (or slightly more) for the next level – to illustrate these negligible increases beyond doubling, 7th level requires attaining 70K XP, even though 6th level takes 34K XP.

The supplement includes two different Moon-rat race-classes, the first being the moon-rat arquebusier, who needs a minimum Dexterity and Intelligence of 9 or more. They get d6 HD, with 10th level and every level thereafter granting +2 HP, and saves as a fighter. The class starts play with a +1 attack bonus, which increases by +2 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter, for a maximum of +9 at 13th level. Moon-rat arquebusiers get a scaling bonus to damage with successful firearm attacks, with the bonus increasing by a further +1 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. The arquebusier may not use human-sized two-handed weapons or longbows, but may use all armors and weapons, and are trained in dual-wielding. One of the things that left me puzzled here: What about human-sized guns? Can these guys use them, or do they need small rifles? What is the dominant rule here – forbiddance of the two-handed weapons, or the proficiency-allowance for firearms?

Moon-rats as a whole get +1 to surprise rolls against mechanical devices, creatures or other constructs, and they get the detection abilities of dwarves of the same level. They are expert bargainers, and thus decrease the cost of purchased goods by 10%, and increase the value of sold goody by +10%. 5th level nets +1 to morale scores of retainers, and 9th level yields the usual mercenary company.

The second moon-rat class is the moon-rat machinist, who has d4 HD (+1 per level at 10th level and every level thereafter), saves, weapons and armor as a thief, and also may use firearms; being moon-rats, they have the same two-handed weapon restrictions due to their size that the arquebusiers have, and gain the same bonus to surprise rolls versus mechanical devices. They also share the same bargaining affinity. These machinists are master craftsrats and can produce or repair up to 40 gp of mechanical items per month or supervise other moonrats, with the number equal to the amount of retainers they’d have if their Intelligence was their Charisma score. They can identify mechanical items on a 4-in-6, as well as +2 to rolls to construct or repair complex machines. They get the thief’s opening locks and finding/removing traps.

And here is an issue: The class’s key feature is designing automatons etc., and the class doesn’t present rules, instead pointing you to use your OSR-game’s construct creation/spell research rules. That being said, many OSR-systems may have spell research rules, but how that works with automaton creation, well, that kinda thing isn’t really defined, forcing the GM to do the lion’s share of design here. To me, this renders the class inoperable; that’s the kind of thing I’d want such a book as this to handle. Instead of a whole class-design, we get a sketch that is easy enough to come up with, and when it comes to the hard put, the book shrugs and moves on. Attack bonus-wise, we begin with +1, and increase that by +2 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The class gains 2nd level at 1,700 XP, and doubles the required XP, with sometimes a few XP added on top; starting at 10th level, this formula changes and no longer requires doubling. Super odd: It takes 130.000 XP to attain 11th level; 12th level and every level thereafter only takes 13.000 XP. Not sure if something went wrong there.

The next class is the oil-surge relay, which is conceptually one of my favorites in the book: You are essentially a Transformer. You have d10 HD per level, an attack bonus and saves as a fighter, and need experience per level as an elf. You have a base AC as chainmail, and your unarmed strikes deal 1d4; you get the elf chances to detect secret doors and surprise checks. You begin with roughly human size, and your alternate form, the alt-mode, is the same size; your alt-modes can be a giant head, a giant weapon, a wheeled vehicle, a winged vehicle, a watercraft, a piece of equipment, an organic creature, or an animal. If you’re an organic creature in alt-mode, you are treated as a normal creature – this special case is known as a “Pretender.”

The engine presented here is interesting: The power of the class is offset by several limitations: Armor for the primary mode is 3-5 times as expensive as normal, and is destroyed if still worn when transforming. You need some sort of high-energy fuel instead of regular food and water; I like this. If you’re a Pretender, you instead require twice the usual food.

You can add a level of mass-displacement every 2 Hit Dice, but the pdf never defines what falls under a level of mass displacement – some sample references would have been helpful here. This is particularly evident, since you also get a new alt-mode every 3 levels, and may increase the primary mode’s size one level every 4 levels. This also affects the alt-modes unless you have mass-displacement for them, which implies having to assign mass displacement for them. Alternatively, you can build an extra headless body or load-bearer armor. The cost to pay for these improvements is based on XP, which is interesting. The class also specifies that you don’t automatically get to super-hack stuff and the like.

I genuinely loved this fellow, but I wished the book subscribed to a concrete OSR-system and properly focused on making the class work in that system; as far as generic OSR is concerned, this works better than I expected it to, though it still does require that you engage in some serious design in the details; it is only half done, regardless which system you use. One of the hard parts of the design is left up to you to execute.

The final regular race-class here is the sky-gnome, who needs a minimum Dexterity of 9, and a minimum Constitution of 6; they get d6 HD per level until 10th level, with +2 HP per level thereafter. They get armor proficiency as a thief, weapon proficiency as a halfling, and saving throws as a halfling. While airborne, they have a 3-in-6 chance while sky-borne to determine height, safety of maneuvers, speed, etc., and a +1 to rolls related to machinery. They also have some interesting flavor added – but are generally just not that interesting if divorced from the implied setting…and the class has no class table noted, nor does it state the experience progression the fellows are supposed to use.

The book also features monster classes, with the first being the pegataur, essentially a winged centaur, who needs a minimum of 9 in Strength, Intelligence and Wisdom. They get 1d8 HD per level, +2 HP at 10th level and every level thereafter; their attack progression and saving throws are the ones of the fighter. The class table notes an attack bonus that increases by +2 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Armor costs twice as much for them and the encumbrance are twice as high. Pegatuars may use weapons as a fighter. They have a base AC of 5 (or 15) and two hoof attacks at 1d6. They gain the elf spell progression, base movement of 180’ (60’) and twice as much while flying; we get MF & Takeoff, and carry capacity while aloft. The second level requires 4,500 XPs; weird: 13th level has a lower XP value than 12th – pretty sure that’s an error.

The second monster class is the skeleton, who gets d8 HD, saves as a fighter, and may use all armors and weapons; they have a base AC of 7 (1) – and their attack bonus increases by +1 every level. They get new HD until 12th level; second level requires 3,000 XP, and we have a roughly a doubled XP costs for a new level until 10th level, where that decreases. The skeletons get claw attacks that deal d6 damage, and they have a -2 penalty to reactions, loyalty, morale, etc.; this turns into a bonus when dealing with the undead. They have infravision 60 ft., but are treated as evil, regardless of alignment, for the purpose of spells like protection from evil etc. After the skeleton’s reduced to 0 HP, it will reconstitute itself after 10 minutes, though at the cost of a permanent loss of 1 point from a random ability score. If any reaches 0, the skeleton’s permanently destroyed. Skeletons may not be healed by lawful clerics, but can be healed by chaotic clerics. If spending 1 week or more in a safe place with materials, a skeleton can regain lost hit points, but the pdf never specifies how many hit points the skeleton may regain thus per week.

The final monster-class is the sphinx, who needs a minimum Strength and Wisdom of 9, and a minimum Intelligence of 13; the sphinx gets 1d8 HD per level, with 13th level netting just +1 HP. Their base AC begins at 5 (15) and improves up to 0 (20), which is attained at 11th level. They use saves as fighters, and barding costs 10 times the normal costs and encumbrance; they may only use natural weapons; base movement is 180’ (60’), or twice as much while flying; MF &takeoff and carry capacity are noted for flight. Sphinxes has a claw/claw/bite-routine and start at 1d4/1d4/1d6; these improve up to 3d6/3d6/2d8 at 13th level. Attack bonus increases from +1 at 1st level by +2 at 4th level, and every 3 levels thereafter. The sphinx gets their choice of either cleric or magic-user spellcasting at first level.

The sphinx also get a roar ability, and the roar has three zones (Z1-3): Those in the farthest zone (Z3) are “feared”[sic!] on save vs. spell (begins at d4 rounds, scales up to d8 turns); Z2 also requires a save vs. paralysis to avoid being stunned (1 round scales up to d8 rounds), and Z1 also requires a save vs. spell to avoid being temporarily deafened; in Z1, we have sonic damage that scales from 2d6, +1d6 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter – there is no save to mitigate this damage caused. The sphinx RAW has NO LIMIT on this potent roar – neither does it have notes on daily uses, nor does it specify the range of the roar. Granted the sphinx needs 5,000 XP to attain 2nd level, and roughly twice as much per level after that until 9th level, but still – this is a pretty damn potent class. In fact, the sphinx looks like it’s at home in a wholly different design paradigm; the monster classes vastly eclipse in power the other classes, and the sphinx? Well, it eclipses even the other monster classes. In lower-powered systems and games, these’ll be considered o be at the very least VERY strong; for most B/X-groups, for example, the words used to describe them would include “ridiculous”, “over”, and “powered”.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are not very good – I noticed a couple of typo-level glitches on a formal level, affect/effect, etc., and a couple of these also affected my ability to quickly parse the information within. On a rules-language level, the book does suffer significantly from not subscribing to a specific system. I also noticed quite a few ambiguities of the rules. The classes featured herein are not balanced against the core classes of pretty much any OSR-game I know, and worse, leave the hard design-components up to the GM. Layout adheres to a no-frills one-column b/w-standard, and there is a lot of blank space – one page, for example, contains a single line from the previous page’s class table, but that’s it. I liked the mix of hand-drawn and stock b/w-artworks for the classes and the DIY-aesthetics of the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, and, much to my pleasant surprise, in two versions: One intended for 6’’ by 9’’ paper, one for A5 – thank you!

Ian Woolley delivers a per se promising little booklet here regarding ideas, but also one that I can’t really recommend to anyone due to its flawed execution; the ideas are here, and some are charming indeed…however, in the case of the transformer-angle, they e.g. suffer from being just a frame that requires you to do the lion’s share of design for the hard part of the race-class progression. Similarly, I loved the sphinx’s zone-based roar; it is cool, but has no range noted, and the roar’s lack of limit makes its damage outclass pretty much any OSR-class I know of.

I just don’t think this is a properly functional OSR-book; granted, this seems to have been the author’s freshman offering, which traditionally grants this some leeway, but considering how many supplements out there do so much better, my final verdict can’t exceed 1.5 stars, rounded up, considering the freshman bonus. On a plus side, the author has learned and improved since then. His more recent work is much better.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Axes & Orcs Compendium: Volume One: Hon-Human and Monster Classes
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Maiden of the Shrine of the Snubbed One & Friends (Troika! Compatible!)
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/04/2020 10:59:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This supplement clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, leaving us with 6 pages of content, with each page containing one new Troika!-background, so let’s take a look!

Okay, so the first thing you need to know here, is that this is a satire-product spoofing certain individuals in the OSR/indie gaming scene. In its original iteration, this was clearly a satire in the tradition of Juvenal, i.e. designed as a take-down. Most of the backgrounds made fun in a scathing and entertaining way of some gaming tropes in a parodist manner…but two of the backgrounds featured in said original iteration were obviously very savage takedowns of certain individuals. I am not stating which (though that was rather obvious), since the author has since replaced the content, and it’s not up to me to drag that back to light.

Anyway, how savage were they? Well, if you’re into battle-rap, I’d consider them to be as close to a bodybag-level take-down as I’ve ever seen in RPG-design. I was sitting at my screen, and couldn’t help but go “Oh, damn, that’s brutal!!” Soul Khan vs. J-Fox or Caustic vs. Jefferson Price levels of brutal, in context.

Now, these two backgrounds were the only ones that targeted specific individuals, and while I considered them to be HILARIOUS, they were essentially unplayable by design, having only the most rudimentary skills, useless possessions and in fact, seriously negative skill-values.

While I fully admit to bemoaning this imho somewhat hilarious savagery being removed from the supplement as a person, as a reviewer, I am grateful for that, as the new material is actually playable, making the new iteration a better gaming supplement. The supplement does make use of Troika’s openness for advanced skills and invents quite a few, as recommended by the game.

It should be noted that this is still the most savage satire I’ve seen in the guise of a RPG-supplement; it is somewhat crude, deliberately scathing, and certainly not for everyone.

Not deterred by that? Okay, awesome, so what are the backgrounds?

The first background would be the eponymous maiden of the snubbed one. Regardless of your gender, if you’re an adherent of the Small God known as the Snubbed One, you’re a maiden, and you get zines, bronze peaches, and packets of flax seeds if you choose this background. EDIT: A minor line-break glitch has been rectified in the pdf. For advanced skills, we get Bureaucracy, Rant, etc. One of them would have warranted some minor explanation in my book: “Secret Sign: Cockroach Trails.” It’s not impossible to improvise, sure, but it’s weird and specific enough to make me want to know more.

…and now it’s time for me to write the sentences that I never thought I’d write. The second background…is the “sentient used condom.” No, I am not kidding. This one lets you fire….ähem…semen as a ranged or melee attack, as a pistolet, and you have modest armor. Each “shot” does cost 2 Stamina, though. You can also pay 3 stamina when someone eats your…ähem…content to heal them as if they had eaten a provision. Instead of consuming provisions, you must convince individuals to use you in your intended way...which obviously becomes progressively ickier. There’s a reason you get Repulse as an advanced skill…

The first of the new backgrounds would be the friendly board game. This one nets you two free-form d6s that you can add either one or both to any roll, expending them to the next day. You can also test your Luck to have the GM answer a yes/no question. You use your pieces (only some of which are actually ones for your game!) to communicate with others, which can be rather interesting if roleplayed properly.

Next up among the new ones is the haunted typewriter (Typewrighter) ; you may suck big time at Arithmetic (-6), but you do get Writing, Reading, Second Sight…and Monkey Handling for the chimpanzee that you start play with. Minor nitpick: Pretty sure Arithmetic should read Mathmology instead.

After this, we have the nemesis of the no longer represented edgy devs: The soy lord, who actually does know his Mathmology (and has a hand-held device as starting possession that helps there), and has both impeccable outfit and manly beard – as such, Barbering 4 and Etiquette are advanced skills, and these fellows do come with knife and axe fighting as well as a random spell.

Finally, there would be the “Sexy snake person.” To quote the pdf: “You are a sensuously sinuous sexy snake sophont. […] Remember, you are a sexily scaled serpent, not some slimy, but sexy in their own ways slug.” This background nets you boobies (your choice if they’re detachable or not), two penises (if you want them), a sexy snake tongue that helps with oral tasks requiring finesse, a No kink-shaming t-shirt…you get the idea. The Advanced Skills include constricting, seduction, etc., as well as Fang Fighting, but the background doesn’t specify as what weapon the fangs are treated: Small Beast or Modest Beast, or something else?

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay; not great, but certainly functional. Layout adheres to a simple, printer-friendly b/w-standard, with public domain artworks used; these artworks are not explicit, mind you. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Whether you’ll like this pdf or not will be highly contingent on what you value in a supplement. If you want some backgrounds that do a solid job at offering some unique Troika-options, then this MIGHT be for you. It’s an okay supplement if you disregard the whole satire-angle, and probably somewhere in the lower 2.5 to 3-star vicinity. Without context, it loses some of its appeal, and its rules are not always as tight as I’d wish them to be.

However, personally, I’d primarily recommend it to people aware of OSR/indie gaming-drama, who enjoy reading brutal takedowns. This delivers, and it does so in its revised version with more actually useful content. I like that, and I try to rate supplements primarily for what they are – and this is, primarily a satire that happens to also be playable content. As such, my final verdict for this will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Maiden of the Shrine of the Snubbed One & Friends (Troika! Compatible!)
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ꙮ The Panopticium: an Entry From the Soggy Warlock's Compendium of Curious Creatures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2020 08:41:08

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages – 1 page is an interesting artwork/hand-out-style version of the creature, the other page contains the text.

The pdf does not note a particular system or presents stats per se – instead, it lists the numbers that may be encounters, the suggested level range, and for Armor, it notes e.g. a name and then (as plate); similarly, weapons note analogues, like stating that it works like a two-handed sword. So yeah, you’ll need to do some adjustments.

The creature notes special defenses and attacks – in the former case, the creature here notes e.g. that they are only surprised on a 1-in-10, regardless of invisibility. The movement is noted as a normal person afoot, or thrice as fast when flying – nice: It mentions perfect maneuverability, which is helpful for plenty systems.

The panopticium is a race of peacock-feathered giants (12 ft. tall), with skin covered entirely with eyes; they can substitute their attacks with eye-beams,. And the pdf does note how certain spells may be used to counteract them – this includes a unique non-instantaneous delivery-method of the effects, which I considered to be rather cool – and no, I’m not spoiling it here. I also like that their AC can change, depending on how they’re fought.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay; I noticed a minor typo, but nothing bad. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard, and the pdf sports a nice, collage-style artwork in full-color. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

Ian Woolley’s Panopticium is a cool concept for a creature; the design can be implemented pretty easily in most systems if you know how to design creatures for the game system you’re playing. To my pleasant surprise, the creature can be fought in a pretty unique manner, and rewards player-skill and tactics. All in all, I consider this to be a worthwhile creature. My final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
ꙮ The Panopticium: an Entry From the Soggy Warlock's Compendium of Curious Creatures
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The Nautilium: an Entry From the Soggy Warlock's Compendium of Curious Creatures
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 02/20/2020 08:39:15

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages – 1 page is an interesting b/w-artwork/hand-out-style version of the creature, the other page contains the text.

The pdf does not note a particular system or presents stats per se – instead, it lists the numbers that may be encounters, the suggested level range, and for Armor, it notes e.g. Unarmored or Dressed for a Ball (as leather or mail); similarly, weapons note analogues: Attacks with their opium pipes are resolved as though they were black-jacks; radiant pistols use the stats for crossbows. So yeah, you’ll need to do some adjustments.

The Nautilium are essentially a highly-sophisticated race of pseudo-18th-century aristocrats that are known for being super-charming to those they consider to be their equals or betters. Bad news is that this doesn’t include most beings. In fact, they are small nautilus-like creatures that subsist on mammalian organs and brains, consuming them and then piloting the bodies of the victims.

If smoking, they may exhale 60 ft. conical bursts of opium that render non-nautilium confused and sluggish for 10 minutes or a Turn. (“Turn” here being used in the old-school way, not in the modern use of the term.)

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are okay. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard, and I liked the collage-style artwork of this weird race. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.

I like the idea of Ian Woolley’s strange critters here; the execution does suffer s a bit from being system agnostic, but personally, I was slightly more irritated by the prose, which the author can do better: “These well-dressed folks hail from the stars. They are an aristocratic people.” – you get the idea; not exactly poetry. All in all, this is a solid idea, but less interesting in its execution than it deserved. My final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Nautilium: an Entry From the Soggy Warlock's Compendium of Curious Creatures
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Vierhander Cool Folx Edition
by Christopher B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/19/2020 11:16:32

This is a massive tome with everything you need to play Vierhander, very well laid out with excellent use of whitespace. The author is a tastemaker who has clearly leveraged the intrinsic value of maximizing customer engagement to their target audience.



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Vierhander Cool Folx Edition
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Vierhander Cool Folx Edition
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/01/2019 09:58:50

This-is-a-thousand-blank-page-document-with-one-page-full-of-hyper-links-to-other-$5-pdf-products.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
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