EZG reviews Tattlebox: Dungeon Depths & Wishbreaker, a Tale of the Shaitan

Hej everybody!

Today I’ll take a look at ZSP’s latest two Tattlebox-releases!

 

Tattlebox: The Dungeon Depths

 

The latest installment of ZSP’s tattlebox-series is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 page of editorial, 2.5 pages of advertisement and 1/2 a page SRD, leaving us with 13 2/3 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

 

This pdf kicks off with John Bennett, who introduces us to Gormaduc, an interesting concept: Essentially, the idea behind this dungeon-level-concept is that dungeons can use a garbage-level where all the refuse, litter, etc. goes. Inhabited by otyughs, kobolds and ghouls the concept is introduced to enterprising DMs to develop and introduce to their dungeons as they see fit. The entry also features collapsing piles of rubble as crunchy hazards as well as Ryburn Rot, the disease named after the creator of the dump-level and finally a new creature, the stone aratronus, which is essentially a 6-legged stone golem with an integrated battering ram that may use trash to regenerate damage caused to it. NEAT! If you liked the idea of Dungy in Rappan Athuk, I’d check this out and give the critter its very own realm – at least that’s what I’ll do. (I’ll also make Ryburn’s psyche captured in Dungy, making the thing intelligent. Oh yeah!)

 

James Thomas’ Mines of Madragar is another idea for a location/dungeon: Once a dwarven city with mines, the place has been overrun and now dwarves make a living off operating the entry-lift and selling ways out for the adventurers set off to explore the location. Per se a nice idea, though I prefer the proving-ground approach of Rite Publishing’s Ruins Perilous as presented in AQ#2 in concept for a controlled environment-dungeon.

 

Dungeons get stale after a while, let’s face it. John Pingo’s “Not your Daddy’s dungeon”-article seeks to remedy that be providing some ideas: The first has the PCs delve into the belly of a gigantic beast like a dragon as well as ideas on how to change existing critters to suit the locale. The second idea is the tower of terror – wall and ceiling-less, this dungeon impedes any flying and levitating, but is a set of platforms and stairs leading up to a djinn and thus a wish at the end. Other ideas include delving into a mad hermit’s dreamscapes and psyche or living dungeon-constructs created by godlike artificers.

 

Beyond all these nice ideas, want some additional hazards? Thomas LeBlanc has you covered with new hazards ranging from CR 1 to 6, include ceilings that drop stones, intense magnetic fields, swarms of all-consuming gobbler-insects and the deadly Xukolic Weed. Jesse Benner’s against the wall-article presents us with 6 new feats: Brutal rush lets you bull rush foes for damage into walls (HELL YEAH!), while compacted eidolon allows summoners to refit the eidolon to help adventuring. Bards can now essentially become daredevil and use bardic performances to find cracks etc. (but not necessarily secret doors) and get a mental image of their surroundings, while spellcasters of all breeds may now reinforce spells, granting them extra damage when cast in tight spaces! Brilliant, since e.g. the behavior of fireballs in close quarters always felt illogical to me. Faster character may now rebound from walls to enhance your charges and avoid attacks via feint to have foes hit the walls, thus potentially sundering their weapons.

Thomas LeBlanc also has some nice tools for MITES for you with vermin-themed weapons like sting-daggers, silk nets, wasp gliders etc.! We also get invisible ink that glows in darkvision, filament glue, stink pellets and quick ropes. Plain awesome and win, as it greatly adds to the unique feel of mites. Highly recommended for e.g. Kingmaker I.

 

The final article by John Bennett is on dungeon equipment and  includes retractable 10-foot poles, magnesium-style torches that may dazzle foes, glasses to grant darkvision, door jammers, portable drills, sounding rocks and spiked boots. Neat!
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Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: the ToC, for example has switched letters in one of the entries. Layout adheres to ZSP’s 3-column landscape-standard in full color, though the pdf is relatively printer-friendly. The pdf is fully bookmarked.

This installment of Tattlebox is once again a nice collection of ideas, crunch and content, though this issue suffers a bit from it chosen topic: The lack of maps and detailed information due to the presentation of the ideas and the relative shortness hurts the per se neat ideas to develop dungeons: More crunchy traits like hazards, mini-templates, sample-DCs etc. would have gone a long way there. On the other hand, the ideas are solid and e.g. the items for mites are plain genius: I hope we’ll get more unique items for humanoids in future installments. This issue feels good, though not as well-crafted as the two predecessors and thus, in the end, I’ll settle for a good, solid verdict of 4 stars for this installment of Tattlebox.

 

 

And here, we have a nice ecology-style-article:

Tattlebox: Wishbreaker, a Tale of the Shaitan

This installment of Tattlebox is more focused than usual, centering on one idea. The pdf is 6 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1/3 of a page editorial, 1/2 of a page SRD, leaving us with 4 1/6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The Jann are forever caught in an internal war between the conflicting elements that compose them and with the dawn of the material plane, one unyielding Jann named Taranushi sought to become one with the mortal sphere and become whole. Unfortunately for the multiverse, he succeeded, turning utterly and completely mad in the process and ever since spreading his ideology of transformation. The resulting beings are the Shaitan as introduced in this pdf.

But wait, you say – there already are Shaitan in PFRPG! Yes, and you can use these new ones as wishbreakes sans name changes or just take the suggestion of an extensive boxed text to realign the names and elements. But back to the wishbreakers: At CR 15, these insane fey…WAIT! Fey? Yes, So completely have they rejected their former beings that these Jann have turned into fey of the prime material, antagonists not only in spirit, but also in creature type.

Mechanically, these fey are CR 15 adversaries with several interesting signature abilities: Their destabilizing touch (15d6 – ouch!) being one. The other is the fact that they can bring one of their component elements to the forefront, gaining benefits like immunities, additional damage, spell-like abilities etc. They may also change shape, speak limited wishes making them formidable foes worthy of their CR.

Adventure-hooks, folklore and other inspirations and ideas for advancement are also part of this well-written, concise ecology.

Conclusion:

 

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect – the first line on the third page lacks blank spaces between the words. Layout adheres to ZSP’s landscape 3-column presentation and the piece of artwork depicting the Shaitan is twisted, full-color and not something I would have expected to see at this low price-point. The pdf has no bookmarks, which, due to its brevity, can be excused.

Mastermind of ZSP and designer Scott Gable has created a twisted, cool djinn that makes for a inscrutable, dangerous antagonist that should challenge both the preconceptions of your players and their PCs alike – to their very limits! This is a great ecology at a ridiculously low price point, which is also the reason I’ll let the glitch slip and still award this neat offering my full 5 stars, but not the seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

 

 

 

 

 

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Reviewer without a cause