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Villain Codex IV: Monsters for Meddlesome Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/15/2017 06:24:44

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The fourth installment of the Villain Codex-series clocks in at 17 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue at the request of my patreons.

Okay, so we’re changing the formula this time around: Each of the characters featured herein is a monster with unique additionata – class levels, archetypes, etc. Analogue to the regular Villain Codex monikers, this book covers the middle level range: CRs range from 3 to 14. Each of the monsters herein comes with its own b/w-artwork and entry-wise, we focus on stats, though thankfully not to the extent, where this would be a traditional NPC Codex: The respective characters gain depth via the inclusion of goals and plots, which also act as inspiration for the GM. The respective entries note tactics, morale, etc., a nice feature that makes use of the NPCs herein easier.

All right, general characteristics out of the way, we begin with Chudwix, at CR 3. Chudwix is a creature many PFRPG rightfully loathe – a pugwampi spiritualist (ectoplasmist) possessed by the spirit of an evil witch; his lash manifests as a spectral tooth and he bears the scars of a not always particularly amicable relationship. Kin of the Pumps gets a really badass artwork – the gourd leshy feyspeaker druid at CR 4, is a thief of food, seeking to animate scarecrows to end the blight upon the land that the civilized folks are to his mind.

Smoke is interesting – the advanced worg thug rogue (CR 5) was always smarter than others and he has done a rather good job at keeping both his kin and goblins in line…but he is growing old; already middle-aged, it’s only a matter of time before a powerful alpha challenges his position. As such, he has had craftsmen create gear for him…but whether that suffices, only time will tell… Really cool angle here!

Reyshu the Great, at CR 6, is a more straightforward monster/class pairing – we have a faerie dragon illusionist here, one whose artwork in particular struck my fancy – the chameleon/butterfly crossover is a cool take on the concept! He is a controller and sees himself as a benevolent guide for the stupid humans and their cruel tendencies…which can make him an uncommon, well-meaning adversary.

Radnii, at CR 7, is an aranea unchained rogue and frankly sports the most disquieting aranea picture I’ve seen so far. Really creepy. Cool: We get both Halfling AND hybrid stats as well! She is, just fyi, operating a business that has invigorated the whole area…and who cares about a few strangers that go missing…right? Gramblethorne is amazing: At CR 8, the unfettered eidolon bloodrager sports one of the most amazing artworks in the whole series; the entity’s oversized head and hands and disfigured proportions are positively creepy. This is enhanced by the nature of the eidolon: Made to act in social situations, the eidolon hated the indignity and is pretty bloodthirsty. Yeah…definitely one of my favorites herein!

Clovendell the Deathmare is a true villain: An unchained barbarian/ranger multiclass unicorn with the broken soul template, the once proud creature was broken by ogres; now covered in scars that weep, the mad unicorn wants to make others understand her suffering…and she has found a way to use the broken souls of giantkin to help her control massive humanoids… At CR 10, Khaalkthys of Jagged Teeth Cove , the blind sahuagin oracle has heard the voices of the Great Old Ones…and will do their bidding. Pretty classic combination here.

Now pure badass and win would be Rimefyr. At Cr 11, we have a really cool critter, namely a young remorhaz ranger 2/skald 5. A) Remorhazes are kickass critters. B) With intelligence, base stats included and the added tricks, this fellow becomes positively nasty. Bid kudos for this fellow!

Glenleven Linden (CR 12) is a druid (skinshaper) – while the subtlety component is pretty cool here she is yet another scarred treant killing off folks for burning down forests – you know, the motivation of more than 95% of treants adventurers face. Her methods are different, but I wished her story would be a bit more creative. Anyways, at CR 13, we move on to something more interesting: Azagog was bred as a living weapon – the awakened giant squid antipaladin is now raising idols to the Great Old Ones and considers himself their divine will. He is the most interesting take on the trope of the smart squid I’ve seen since Spires of Xin-Shalast.

Now, the final villain herein would be Tezcatlopala – a CR 14 couatl lich sorcerer, born out of despair when trying to save her subjects, has become to consider herself a god; the nomenclature does evoke Tezcatlipoca, which is a rather neat nod, though I wished the feathered snake also had some additional mythological resonance there – where is the smoking mirror? Anyhow, that is criticism on a high level.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as I’ve come to expect from this series, is excellent on formal and rules-language levels. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the high density of neat b/w-artworks is a big plus – kudos to Ger Curti. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Kate Baker, Kim C. Frandsen, Nikolai Geier, Jeff Gomez, Joshua Hennington, Jennifer Jones, Mike Kimmel, James McTeague, Matt Roth, Loren Sieg, Jeffrey Swank and Robert Thomson have delivered a rather cool array of adversaries here. Mikko Kallio, Jacob W. Michaels and Mike Welham acted as devs, polishing the material, just fyi.

So yeah, these adversaries are very much worth getting. The material is diverse, fun and challenging; the builds are interesting and for the most part, I also enjoyed the respective fluffy components. My complaints should be taken within the context of impressive creatures contained herein and not as disheartening. As a whole, I thoroughly enjoyed this collection of adversaries, and while a few of them didn’t blow me away to the extent of the others, this still deserves a heartfelt recommendation. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villain Codex IV: Monsters for Meddlesome Heroes
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Villain Codex III: Enemies for Epic Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 10/16/2017 04:55:13

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The third installment of the Villain Codices clocks in at 20 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 17 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing-queue as a non-prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

All righty, so the respective villains all come with full stats,a brief history, a suggested plot (or more) and some goals the villain may have. The respective foes span a CR from 15 to 20. Each NPC gets a cool b/w-artwork.

All right, the first foe herein would be a former dwarven war-hero – Daegrim Siegebreaker, consumed by his hatred of orcs, the CR 15 foehammer fighter is looking for an artifact to eradicate everything with even a drop of orcish blood – the Greenbloodstone…and he may not share his genocidal intent with adventurers he hires to retrieve the artifact.

Also at CR 15, the pdf depicts The Final Star – an advanced lantern archon amnesiac psychic 12. The creature awoke with shattered memories of the end of all existence and a list of 1000 names– and is convinced that it has been sent back in time to stop the end of existence itself…sending out minions to strike the names from the list. This guy is amazing. It not only reminds me of my first published work (I did a similar angle, though inverted, in Coliseum Morpheuon), it also reminded me of one o my favorite Ayreon lines: “Send back visions of war and decay/paradigms of fear in a world of dismay/shape the present, alter the past/create a new future, one that will last/we can save this ill-fated race, who are lost in the ocean of space/find a way to prevent their decline/guide them back on the river of time.” So yes, beyond being a cool idea, this fellow resonates with me on a personal level. Huge kudos!

At CR 16, Kalina Marsh is a half-elven bard 9/master spy 8 – she is basically all about controlling the narrative, a propagandist and demagogue with a star-like reputation and serious combat capabilities to boot. Oh, and she may well start a war if you’re not careful…Surprisingly tough for her professions! Well done!

Ye Mi Goshi, at CR 16, is the yeti survivor of a planar congruence with the elemental plane of fire – witnessing the horrors and wonders of flame, the yeti has become infused with power – he is a potent pyrokineticist, obsessed with flame. Creative, cool and fun – kudos for the delightfully strange yeti!

Fyrek of the Bones clocks in at an impressive CR 17 – she is a Halfling iconoclast inquisitor, obsessed with death, bones…he’s pale. She’s also basically a fun riff on being a goth: She is obsessed with becoming a vampire and serves the undead as a willing champion/killer/executioner. She is ruthless, deadly and seeks to destroy the holy relics and champions that prevent “her” people from spreading across the land. Fyrek is a deadly adversary – and I generally enjoyed her as well – creepy Halfling is something not done too well that often.

Okay, now things become AMAZING. Know the old saying of “power behind the throne” – well, think what’d happen if that was wrong. Big time. CR 17’s second foe would be Throne. The throne. Who controls a whole nation. Throne is a mimic first, a mesmerist second and 100% amazing. I can’t believe I haven’t pulled this guy before. Two big thumbs up!! One of my favorite villains herein!

The villain depicted on the cover is up next – Adonia Grivas, a vampire unchained rogue: Once a master thief, the CR 18 lady is currently the king’s favored concubine, extending the power of her reach in the government’s highest circles.

At the same CR, there is Astralis, an advanced human skinshaper urushiol druid – she travels the world preaching peace and complacency – sounds nice, right? Well, unfortunately for all involved, she is the chosen of the mi-go, reconstructed from the ground up to be a superior lifeform and herald to their plan, preparing the world for harvesting…

The CR 19 vigilante Valene Azurian gets a really long and detailed story – the vigilante has had some sociopathic notions from the get-go, her royal parents sending her off to be raised by her grandmother only ended in enhancing her hatred for the monarchy – and so she presents a dazzling dilettante’s smile, while using her Halfling alter ego/identity to commit crimes that are aimed at changing the very notion of rulership.

Uldin the Gray also receives some advanced story etc. – the CR 19 half-orc bloodrager/dragon disciple. Uldin is actually the raging spirit of a vanquished dragon, reborn into the body of a half-orc. The dragon has since managed to infiltrate a group of dragon-slayers – he needs 33 body-parts from different dragons to regain his proper form…and woe to his “allies” and all that stand in the way of him reclaiming his dominion…

At CR 20, Thanadan was reared by a legendary general - who adopted the green dragon. The duo became legends…and while his rider was slain, the grief-stricken Thanadan is still a dragon…and a cavalier (cough AC 40…) and likes using lances…Ouch! Speaking of which: There would be one final foe herein.

Also at CR 20, we get Tyrin the Implacable. He is an awakened iron golem slayer (vanguard)…and he was forged in the battle god’s forges to rid the world of weakness – an implacable, huge force of destruction. Cities that face him and his host have 3 days – each day, the terms become worse, the price higher. Tyrin, in the meanwhile, sees himself as the savior of the mortal world, as he forges his empire in blood and steel…

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no serious glitches on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a series of several pretty neat, original b/w-artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

My congratulations to the authors of this pdf: Kate Baker, Phoebe Harris, Scott Janke, Mikko Kallio, Matt Kimmel, Jeff Lee, Luis Loza, Jacob W. Michaels, Matt Morris, Stephen Stack and Mike Welham – these villains are a step forward, even when compared to the already rather cool first 2 Villain Codices.

Complex, deadly and evocative, there are a lot of truly creative foes in this book. The villains offer a ton of cool ideas for the GM and many of the potent villains could carry whole adventure arcs, perhaps even campaigns. Stories and motivations are diverse, and from the weird to the more mundane, the villain cadre as a whole is varied and interesting. In short: This is an excellent NPC-collection, well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villain Codex III: Enemies for Epic Heroes
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Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 12/08/2016 02:53:00

An Endzeitgeist.com review

The second installment of the Villain Codex-series clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page of introduction, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let's take a look!

We begin this pdf with Evetta Laxley, a changeling dreamweaver witch, running an inn as a front for her nefarious operations. Solid one. Ferracyr would be a metal elementalist wizard...but he actually is a venerable elf, which is an interesting twist on what you'd expect - and yes, the ancient pioneer has schemes to prolong his life in nasty ways...but may his mind perhaps even warrant it? Interesting angle!

Speaking of interesting: Nagasorko the Unblinking would e a nagaji mesmerist (a natural fit in concepts), his operations include raids on the nearby settlements and operating a diamond mine...and considering implanted suggestions etc., I can envision a complex escape scenario here...nice. Bimsen Malfilex, a tiefling skald raised by traveling musicians when the black-skinned child was expelled from his family, has sworn to bring the cultural elite down and make them see the error of their ways for flaunting him.

Rhikka Verminclaw, the ratfolk preservationist/vivisectionist featured on the cover is not only build-wise one of the most interesting characters in the series so far, her quest for vengeance after the holocaust of her family to "better the city", she actually has very understandable motivations for her grisly handiwork... The halfling unchained summoner Julia "Foxglove" Apalla was once a greengrocer's girl...until she inadvertently smashed a figurine in a wizard's workshop, unleashing a powerful outsider, who promptly slew the wizard and became the eidolon (sparing her due to her apples - nice nod towards Death Note). It, and Ferrycyr's shield guardian, btw., can be found in the book as well. Similarly, an alternate elemental form, a doppelganger simulacrum...pretty amazing supplemental statblocks here.

Professor Laeroth Rydel is an interesting occultist: First, he is a dhampir...secondly, he has unearthed the robes of famous necromancer Shaf-Ka-Sar and now behaves like the necromancer...is he possessed, has he gone off the deep end...or was he always waiting to snap? The GM decides. Gordakash Saltenclaw would be a cleric of Dagon, a dwarf in league with the clawed forces of the deep. Lucretia Tropin, a famous investigator who dresses the part, is amazing, for she, in fact, doubles as a serial killer - seriously cool angle for a battle of wits!

Rayri Shaden is an interesting twist on the shadowdancer - he actually is a fighter/shadowdancer multiclass, complete with heavy armor! Nice twist here! Madison Grand, an old elven psychic of considerable power, has plotted the downfall of the elves that exiled her.

And here is a unique adversary: Hanne Bullard is an oathbound paladin. No, not antipaladin. A paladin.She has instigated martial law to uphold civilization and order - and her measures are a slippery slope, well-intentioned though they may be.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no glaring glitches. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf features a great b/w-artwork for each of the adversaries herein. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Phoebe Harris, Steve Johnson, Mikko Kallio, D.L. Loutzenhiser, Luis Loza, James McTeague, Matt Morris, Rep Pickard, Stephen Stack, Robert Thomson, Christopher Wasko and Nicholas Wasko, with development by Mikko Kallio and Jacob W. Michaels, have delivered a cool collection of adversaries here. The respective villains certainly are high concept and interesting, with my favorites being the ratfolk alchemist as well as the investigator - but as a whole, each of the villains has something cool going on and build-wise, they are pretty neat as well. In the end, this pdf leaves not much to be desired and thus clocks in at a final verdict of 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Villain Codex II: Adversaries for Advanced Heroes
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The Villain Codex I: Foes for Fledgling Heroes
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 11/23/2016 04:56:17

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of adversaries clocks in at 16 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A brief history lesson first: This book is the result of an open contest to design adversaries for the PCs. Each of the foes comes with a statblock, a brief history as well as suggested goals and plots, making the respective villain come alive. Sergeant Maybn Blaine would be the first character herein, and the powerful female urban ranger actually has a cool modification: Her favored enemy would be half-bloods! This makes sense and for an adversary your players will love to despise!

Ayenna Gilfen, a half-elven arcanist would be up next and she is a poor soul: Her soulmate, Nessa Highmoon died and, grief-stricken, she has freed a very unpleasant ghost from his forbidden tome...who has since convinced her to murder on his behalf, all to regain her lost love. Fester Grizzlestix would be a shaman that is less tragic: The self-appointed fungus lord lords oer leshy and is just as nasty as you'd expect him to be.

More interesting from a build-perspective would be Hadin the Painless, an unchained monk/ninja multiclass with grand plans of creating his own dominion. His build is pretty nice, The middle-ages animal speaker Friedrich Wildheart is a nice twist on the trope of the "hermit kills anyone who ventures into the forest" -after all, you'd expect a druid...only to meet a bard! Wolton "Wolly" Venuti is a gnomish sorceror and a charismatic one at that; seemingly an idiot, he is a dangerous individual nonetheless - his tawdry robes concealing ambitions to create a deadly army of constructs....but whether due to being basically an imbecile or due to true darkness in his heart - that's up for the GM to decide.

Heffreck Threecasks would be an unconventional druidess - in fact, you'd consider her a highborn lady who has grown wealthy via the unique vintages she offers. Have I mentioned that her vintages are made from assassin vine-stock and thus...well...require nourishment? Theme-wise certainly the coolest here. Brynnhildr Sigurinn (should be -in, if you adhere to quasi-Norse nomenclature for females, but that only as an aside) is a fighter/musket master multiclass, which would be interesting. Unfortunately, however, her statblock lacks a ranged-line, which is annoying considering her musket expertise.

Voska Freehand would be a daring infiltrator swashbuckler; the halfling has shed her erstwhile slave-status and turned outlaw, but her fear of becoming penniless still remains. Jenrak, Master of Serpents would be a cool unchained summoner whose eidolon takes the form of a nasty serpent, making him a perfect foe when used in conjunction with quasi-Egyptian lands like Osirion or as an unconventional high-priest. Salduin the Black Wolf is a magus/inspired blade swashbuckler multiclass and seeks to unite several barbaric clans to take the civilized lands.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are generally very good on a formal level, though the missing ranged-line is a pretty nasty hiccup. Layout adheres to a nice, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with neat b/w-artworks for each of the villains (big plus!). The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Authors Andres Bermudez, Matthew Browett, Nik Geier, Scott Janke, Mikko Kallio, Luis Loza, J.T. MCroberts, Jacob W. Michaels, Michael Riter, Andrew Umphrey, Christopher Wasko, with development by Mikko Kalio and Jacob W. Michaels, have provided some nice and creative builds and characters - if one of the villains is not 100% brilliant in the build, it does feature some cool and unique angles for the respective adversary.

The characters herein are generally creative in concept, with a certain vintner-druidess being my favorite in concepts. That being said, build-wise, I wasn't absolutely blown away by the villains presented herein -they are good and creative, but do not reach the level that would have blown jaded ole' me away. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Villain Codex I: Foes for Fledgling Heroes
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