Legendary Games’ Carrion Crown Plug-ins

Today I’m going to take a look at all the neat supplemental material released by Legendary Games for Paizo’s Carrion Crown Adventure Path!

 

Starting off, of course, with Pregens!

 

Gothic Heroes: Pregenerated Characters

 

This pdf is 33 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page editorial, 1 page biographical information on the people involved, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover/advertisement, leaving 27 pages of content, so let’s check these pre-gens out!

After a short introduction to how the idea for these pregens came up and an explanation how this ties in with the Carrion Crown AP, we are introduced to 8 pregens especially suitable for said AP or any gothic horror-themed campaign. Each of the characters comes with a wonderful one-page b/w-artwork by Hugo Solis, unfortunately partially obscured by a scroll with a quick round-up of the characters motivation.

We get: Agrimar Vaskel, half-orc paladin (undead scourge), a paladin struggling with his inner rage. It is here that we can see how this pdf goes the extra mile: An extended background info is provided alongside a detailed section on personality and physical traits, roleplaying leads, information to modify him to a 15-point-buy system. Excellent! Dominnia Vorsaife, an aasimar summoner with her armor-clad eidolon is just as awesome, if not even better – after all her eidolon is her angelic forefather come down to help her! Ereviss Cierdel, elven detective bard, makes for a great option for someone seeking to play a more sophisticated, mundane character sans ties to the divine, while dhampir inquisitor Jevalt Ardain is sure to arouse the interest of those seeking a character with a darker bent. Half-elf skirmisher ranger Merenso Kull on the other hand satisfies the yearning of players who’d rather play the not-too social or brooding role, but rather go for a more globe-trotter-like hunter. Xiuj Hak Leyng comes from distant Tian Xia and is an alchemist – and a great take on the wise man from the east trope. Finally, Ysabot VAskel, changeling witch completes the ragtag band of characters.

And characters they are. reading through them again and again, I feel myself actually WANTING to play these characters – they are interesting enough to be used as a set, as a stand-in for a character that has died unexpectedly or just as NPCs – add some levels and have fun with them if you don’t want to hand them to your players. We also get a page of stand-up figures to be printed out.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The 2-column-layout is STUNNING. Beautiful. Awesome. The b/w-artworks are stellar. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks as well as a full-color, but more printer-friendly second version. I encourage anybody who owns a good printer to print the screen version, though – while the drain is BRUTAL, the result is oh so sweet.
The characters are stellar and deserve the name character, going above and beyond in what one would expect of pre-generated characters – Neil Spicer has woven a web of relationships between the characters that is ensured to enrich roleplaying when using them. However, not all is perfect: The scrolls containing quotes hiding parts of the artwork are nice, but having 1-page versions of the artworks would have been even better.

Also, while the characters are cool and their rules fit on one page (even the summoner), I am missing inventories, more space for notes, spells etc. for them – essentially I’d love a presentation akin to a true character-sheet. As presented here, you’ll be forced to sooner or later convert the characters to a mundane sheet and thereafter never take a look at these gorgeous pages again. Having e.g. a char-sheet per character with a small portrait that can be filled out in the pdf or as an additional file would have made for the true icing on the cake. While not cheap, we do get quality for our money. Nevertheless, I can’t really bring myself to rating this the full 5 stars due to aforementioned short-lived usefulness. My final verdict will thus be 4 stars.

Heroes need twisted items, though:

Treasury of the Macabre

 

This pdf is 17 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page author bios and 1 page back cover, leaving 12 pages of content for the new magic items, so let’s check them out, shall we?

This little treasure trove of items contains 30 different items ranging from 600 GP to 58000 GP and even an artifact specifically designed to complement the Carrion Crown Adventure Path or any similar gothic setting.

All the items come with information on their auras, construction requirements etc. and the imaginative potential is quite astounding – from anatomist’s scalpells to veils that let you infuse other worldly terror into your illusions to items to manipulate constructs, a powder to throw lycanthropes off your trail to electroshock gauntlets, enchanted neck-bolts, shackles to chain ghosts, guardian dolls, séance candles to the Elder Talisman, an artifact to stand against the creatures of the mythos, these items are all killer, no filler. (And I want the supplement hinted at in the section!)

There is not one bad item among them. Not one. All of the items are appropriate for even low-magic gothic horror campaigns like Ravenloft and serve as disturbing, imaginative tools that thankfully go beyond “creepy armor” or “bloodsucking sword”. Instead, we get an array of unique items that can be categorized best by the word “unconventional” – in the best of ways.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a BEAUTIFUL, Paizo-level quality parchment-like look with bloodstains and a horizontal, easy to read two column standard and the artworks of the items stand up to this quality, being on par with Paizo. Stunning!
The pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with an extra printer-friendly b/w-version. I’m a sucker for gothic horror. I love the genre. It’s what my home game is mostly about. But even if you don’t like the genre, you have to admit that this is the apex of what one could hope to see from a 3pp, any rpg-publisher, really – both in quality, writing and presentation, this pdf is stellar. Yes, it’s not cheap. But it’s worth every cent and I’d argue that it’s well worth the price. Try as I might, I can’t bring myself to saying anything negative about this first offering of Legendary Games – my final verdict will be 5 stars with the Endzeitgeist seal of approval. Legendary indeed, Legendary Games! I’m looking forward to more supplements!

 

And then there are two different mini-modules to enhance the AP, the first being

 

The Fiddler’s Lament

 

This adventure-path plug-in adventure is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction/how-to-use, 1 page author bios, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 13 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

This being an adventure review, the following text contains SPOILERS. If you’re a player, don’t risk your immortal soul and incurring your DM’s wrath by reading on!

Still here? Righty right! Early in the Carrion Crown AP, this plug-in can be considered interesting in that it centers on the tragic elf-maid Alhindriosa – fair and out of touch, the dancing maid lived a life with the gypsies until a sinister figure massacred her adopted kin with only her surviving – traumatized, she’s been in custody of varying institutions, catatonic and all but a shell of a being. The stranger has returned and he’s taken her back to the village and given her one task: Play this violin for your kin. And for the first time in over 80 years, the maid reacts and plays a dirge of the saddest kind- and her dead kin rise.

The mini-module kicks off with a cool establishing encounter in a fully mapped, full-color shop and zombified grand-parents coming to visit their living kin. and from here on, things get worse and the Pc can hire themselves out to money-lenders, save old local dogs, the postboy and even an old councilor from varying undead threats before, finally, the PCs will have to stop Alhindriosa at the cemetery by vanquishing her now resurrected brethren and destroying the dread Rebec Malevolenti, the fiddle she unwittingly plays that resurrects the undead menaces. Once they have destroyed the fiddle, the PC’s victory will be bitter-sweet, for the elven maiden falls back into her stupor and the townsfolk asks for blood – hopefully the players can prevent further death. The pdf has a one-page, stunning artwork of the final confrontation as well as another piece of beautiful cartography of the final confrontation and full stats of the devilish fiddle as well as a nice table to track the trust the PCs can get (and lose!) during the course of this module..

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ two-column landscape format and is delivered on par with Paizo-level quality. Especially the beautiful artworks by Colby Stevenson are legendary indeed and we get two versions of the pdf, the second being more printer-friendly and backgroundless. The cartography is also up to the highest quality. This module is beautiful, the artworks stellar and the production values are awesome and up to the highest demands. And the module can easily be dropped into not only CC, but also into just about any village- that being said, Greg A. Vaughan can write adventures – we all know that. The writing is thus creepy, cool and imaginative. BUT: This module is SHORT. Very short.

And honestly, I would have enjoyed slightly more detail or choices on part of the players. Perhaps a sandboxy format with a timeline and consequences for dillydallying would have much improved my enjoyment – as written, the module feels rather like a string of sequential encounters that borders on the railroady but manages to skirt that dread appellation by virtue of its excellent writing. In the end, the “Fiddler’s Lament” is a neat little plug-in module, but one that will, at the maximum, occupy for players from 2 to 4 hours and is about as long as 0onegames’ “The Sinking”-installments, of which you could get 2.5 (albeit in b/w) for the same price. Content-wise, e.g. “Politics Unusual” and “Ascension of the Prophet” will serve as my frame of reference for rating this module.

If Legendary Games’ quality production values would not be up to these high standards with original artworks and cartography etc., I’d rate this down another star. Taking everything into account, my final verdict for this module will be 4 stars – a good, though not a stellar, short module.

 

The second short module would be

The Murmuring Fountain 

 

This pdf is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page introduction to how adventure path plug-ins work, 1 page bios, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving a total of 12 pages of adventure, so let’s check this out!

This being a review of an adventure module, the following contains SPOILERS, so potential players might wish to jump to the conclusion.

Still here? All right! Antrellus should have known better. When he made a pact with the priests of the King in Yellow, the price was not only his wife, but also his sanity, their depravity transforming his one-time love into a lobotomized incubator of a spawn of the tapestry as well as making her a slave to the cult. Driven mad and obsessively paranoid, the mad-man has long since stopped having anything resembling a grip on reality and his paranoia has sparked an act of cruelty that serves as the catalyst for this plug-in module – he murdered a pet-raven (believing it to be a familiar of a disguised cultist) and after the professor’s funeral, the PCs will suddenly hear a tapping at their window, rather than chamber door. The ghost raven leads the PCs to the fully mapped murmuring fountain, where a ghostly girl is holding a strange kind of memorial service. Turns out, though, that the ghost is in fact an innocent child mourning her pet raven – and that the girl needs their help, since a rather fatal haunt is ready to kill her.

Tracking down the murderer of the raven via a signet ring lodged in the raven’s beak, the PCs can find Antrellus in his tree-house and confront the obviously mad hermit. Whether they’ll be up to conversation after braving his traps and pets or not, the madman has some rather interesting, albeit delusional theories on the cult that destroyed his life. Whether there’ll be combat or not, at the worst possible moment, the embryonic Neh-Thalggu inside his body starts to gestate and end his misery, alien-style, to attack the PCs. Once they have dealt with the dread horror, the only thing left to do is to grant the ghostly raven his final rest – only that as long as a certain prison has not been cleared, the raven does not rest and instead, the dread forces that be make for yet another deadly grasp for the PCs in the guise of shadowy gargoyles, before the adventure ends with an uplifting, yet slightly sinister tone. In contrast to “Fiddler’s Lament“, no table listing the respective trust-bonuses that can be gained is included , though several of the PC’s options will have an impact on the townsfolk.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting, as I’ve come to expect from Legendary Games, is top-notch and I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a 2-column landscape format and ranks among the most beautiful I’ve ever seen, being on par and even surpassing many 1pps. The full color artworks and 2 pieces of cartography also adhere to this highest of possible standards and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with a printer-friendly version.

“The Raven” – if you want to hear a nice musical rendition, I recommend typing “Omnia” and “The Raven” in youtube, but back to the review: I love Poe, I love Lovecraft – these two authors, perhaps more than any others, made me who I am today. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been in love with both authors and their vivid prose. That said, while this may seem as a positive bias, it e.g. made me abhor the terrible “Raven” movie and thus I also dreaded this homage – making a module out of the most famous of Poe’s poems is a daring move. And it thankfully only takes a basic nod, bows to the tropes of the poem and then goes on to tell its own story, entwined with Lovecraftian horror.
The module per se is rather interesting, albeit not too challenging and in the end, I can only commend the good execution of the prose and crunch. However, the pdf is also rather short and honestly, I would have loved to get an homage to Poe in a rather more pronounced length. Personally, I’m also not too big a fan of mixing Poe’s style and Lovecraft’s and while this is a tribute to both, two modules, one devoted to each master, would have been preferably for me. That being said, I preferred this expertly-crafted, albeit not per se cheap module to “Fiddler’s Lament” and while the price is steep for the amount of content, the superb production values make this still an excellent buy. My final verdict, in the end, 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 – missing 5 stars only due to the lack of a trust-gain-table and the fact that a focus on one type of horror would have been neat.

 

Now, we all love us some dread, dusty tomes, don’t we? Well, Legendary Games also has us covered in that area!

Tomes  of Ancient Knowledge

 

This supplement is 19 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page author bios, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 13 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

Legendary Games, back from the hiatus, continues to provide us with plug-in products that further enrich the APs of Paizo and to the everlasting joy of yours truly, have returned with a triple offering of further supplements for the wonderful Carrion Crown AP.

After a short introduction on how to use this pdf, we are introduced to Sanity rules! Yes, sanity rules! The system herein is more geared towards providing general penalties and being tied to the books provided and thus can be considered serviceable, if not as elaborate as the one I use in my home-game – I still would love a vast system of madness and sanity with quirks, disorders etc.: Preferably at around 30 – 100 pages, but honestly, I hope legendary games expands the basic rules and eliminates the generic penalties for madness effects in the revision – the basic system is well-made and great at the scarce space devoted to it. Following these neat pieces of crunch, we are introduced to a new descriptor – the mythos-descriptor, which denotes creatures and spells associated with the dark tapestry. For those not familiar on what to expect, here’s a short run down: Some regular spells also have [Mythos]-versions, which can potentially unhinge one’s sanity and several creatures are also categorized as being Mythos-creatures. And then there’s the introduction of Mythos rituals, which enable people who’d otherwise be unable to cast a spell or ritual to do so, but at the cost of the caster’s sanity. Cool ideas that need to be expanded further.

After this initial crunch, we are introduced to new tomes and here I have to inject something: I was always concerned about spellbooks and magical tomes sucking in iterations of D&D and being just collections of spells. Raging Swan Press’s “So what’s that spellbook like, anyways?” has addressed the problem, but this supplement takes the idea up to eleven with the first tome being the Sarkulis Shards, which are a collection of strange, red glowing crystals inscribed with nordic runes by dread witch-cannibal cults devoted to the serpent world eater. An extensive section of lore as well as 6 new witch spells are contained in this most-intriguing tome, the spells enabling a witch to create razor sharp, vampiric diamonds from their blood, call hellish ghouls, implant cannibalistic compulsions in foes, dazzle foes with weird flying serpents, entangle and crush them via madding illusions and even call servants of the dread World Eater to serve your whim.

The second tome in this book is another one in an uncommon form – the Xanthutep Tablets, written in ancient hieroglyphics, were once penned (or rather chiseled) by heretics of an ancient pharaonic hierocracy (Osirion, anyone?) and include a spell that bends space to grant you a massive miss chance and get an AC-bonus, increase your reach, can dimension door with a shockwave that sends your foes to their knees, wrinkle reality to gain a luck bonus (though that one is rather petty),a shield against force effects and t5wo improved, mythos-related scrying spells as well as a variant summoning that can call Hounds of Tindalos as well as a mind-damaging true seeing. All of these spells have some kind of cool cost/danger associated with them and frankly, I’d enjoy magic in PFRPG even more if all spells were designed like this!

The third tome is the Palestone Analects, a collection of disturbing and weird poems that includes a version of false life that can be improved by etching diagrams into a victim’s face (!!!) and pouring acid on him/her. Faces are a topic here, and a disguise spell is twofold and shows you as a disturbing, faceless being and there’s also a version that adds a rage effect. And then there are three elemental body mythos spells that also make you partially amorphous.

The final tome contained herein is called “All Flesh & Form by Flame made Ash” and is different from the other books in that while it contains spells, it also contains 4 different Mythos Metamagic feats:
-Ashen Spell: +3 caster levels, fire damage results in a glitterdust-like effect by ash,
-Atomic Spell: +1 or +2 levels, adds bubonic plague radiation sickness effects to your spells, either with onset or immediately.
-Incinerating Spell: The fire-spells ignore hardness and deal 200% damage instead of 150% to vulnerable creatures. Also incinerate foes slain by the spell. +1 level.
-Smoking Spell: +0 or +2 levels: Leave a fog cloud or a stinking cloud with fire area spells.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to a horizontal, two-column standard in gorgeous full-color. Legendary Games’ gothic, cool layout in full color, with blood splotches and glorious full color artworks, one for each book, is stellar and up to Paizo standards -beautiful indeed! The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the pdf also includes a full-color background-less version for ease of printing out.

I’m a sucker for things Mythos-related and that’s no secrets, but even if you don’t like the great dark tapestry this pdf still has something to offer to you – perfect examples on why “Necronomicon” and “Von unausspechlichen Kulten” are household names and why your players don’t even remember the name of the latest tome they’ve found: CoC tomes are characters in their own right, with quirks and dangers and significant, unique benefits to be obtained. And these tomes finally bring this sense of uniqueness and identity to PFRPG, providing an awesome example on how to make books stellar protagonists in your game.
Add to that the cool concept of providing benefits beyond the normal at the cost of detrimental effects to one’s body/sanity and we have spells that work very much how I’d prefer magic to be – powerful, but with an inherent risk that needs competent practitioners and still leaves the sense of danger and wonder intact. That being said, not all of the new spells herein feel perfectly balanced and honestly, while the production values are stellar, I still feel this pdf is rather on the short side. If you don’t mind any of that, you will love this pdf as much as I did and if you’re one of the players/DMs who enjoy flavorful spells and concepts over powergaming utility, I can definitely recommend this to you, if not, you might wish to detract a star. Personally, I love this pdf and thus, my final verdict will be 5 stars.

 

And finally, there is a neat small bestiary, the

 

Construct Codex

 

This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page editorial, 1 page introduction/how-to-use, 1 page contributor bios, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a total of 21 pages of content so let’s check this out!

 

The Construct Codex finds me with a weeping eye, as it constitutes, at least for now, Legendary Games’ last AP-plug-in for the gothic horror AP Carrion Crown, this time in the form of a mini-bestiary focused exclusively on constructs and thus it is only to be expected that the pdf kicks off with an introduction to the role of constructs in gothic horror settings and the carrion crown AP in particular. We also get two optional rules to better represent the creation of constructs, with the first requires research to create a particular construct, thus introducing the necessity for research in contrast to just taking a feat. Nice! The second optional rule introduced centers on uncreated constructs, i.e. constructs animated by the forces-that-be, the mists, malignant entities etc. and rules repercussions that may see them damaged by positive energy. To help the DM integrate the new beasties into the AP, suggestions for which locales would be appropriate for the constructs are also included before we delve into the creatures per se, with the first being:

 

The Bloodthirsty Manikin at CR 2 – which is frightsome indeed: Remember the carrionettes from Ravenloft? Well, these tiny dolls are their much more deadly brethren, coming with a death attack (!!!), a deceptive appearance and the option to reassemble themselves – awesome, albeit rather deadly! It should be noted that all constructs herein come with information on how to create them as well as full-color artworks, some even on their own pages, thus allowing you to print out the artworks and hand them out to your players as hand-outs – awesome!

 

The second creature herein also comes with 3 signature abilities: Crowflight Carriages (CR 9), ghost carriages driven by a spectral drover including doom-inflicting whiplashes, the option to transport people (or….things) and a team of spectral horses. If that doesn’t strike you as iconic, I don’t know what will. The CR 14 Dirge Organ is essentially an immobile organ that can project an incorporeal avatar as well as play two special bardic performances as well as the option to mislead those ensnared by the haunting tunes it plays. There also are two variants of gothic gargoyles (CR 3 and 5), variant gargoyles that gain the option to crush down on foes and gradually petrify them with their attacks. Honestly, these gothic gargoyles are the superior monsters when compared to the standard stony warden-creatures, but still are essentially a variant that is not as stellar as the other creatures herein.

 

What immediately sets the record straight again is the shambling, deadly CR 10 Living Crematory! Yes! A cinder-cloud spewing crematory that ropes you into its combustion chamber via chains! YES! Words fail to describe how much I love this creature! In another blast from the past, we get stained glass golems, something I haven’t seen since the Ravenloft-days of AD&D, both as CR 3 and 7-versions and yeah, they come with trademark dazzling light, are almost 2d and can embed themselves in  the window, while damaging foes that strike them via their shards. Smart, cool and full of iconic signature abilities – nothing to complain about…apart from the fact that I would have loved a high-level version with prismatic abilities, but maybe that’s just the sadist in me that enjoys hunting low-to-mid-level PCs with creatures far beyond their capabilities to defeat with mundane means.

 

The final 3 creatures in this tome are morgechs, cruel cyborg-amalgams of biological and mechanical elements that get their own subtype-abilities, being slightly more vulnerable than regular constructs, but also faster and come with jagged spikes and blades that make melee against them a painful experience. Humanoid Morgech Executors (CR 9) can throw bombs and come with extensive embedded weaponry and massive notes on the gruesome process of creating these beings. There also are CR Ravagers, based on deadly wolves and the final being would then be the CR 17 Griever, a truly deadly engine of destruction – 4-armed, expert swordsmen with supernaturally sharpened blades as well as a vastly enhances deflective capabilities.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice a single glitch. Layout adheres to the landscape-format and a two-column standard, at least in my version of the pdf. There now is also a portrait-version, If you prefer that one. The pdf is extensively bookmarked and comes with a background-less version that is slightly more printer-friendly. As with all offerings by Legendary Games, this pdf’s layout is in full-color and stunning, gorgeous, drop-dead beautiful to behold. And the artworks. Oh boy, the artworks. Colby Stevenson and Jason Juta have created pieces herein that are gorgeous, could feature in an official Paizo-product and in fact may even surpass several artworks from APs. The artworks are all so iconic, cool and evocative that they make you immediately want to use these things.

 

Better yet, the crunch of all the creatures herein is up to the very highest demands – each creature herein comes with multiple, deadly, evocative, cool abilities and honestly, it is very rare I can voice no gripes. None. I have nothing to complain. Not even about the Gargoyle-variants. This pdf sets the bar higher for the whole class of monster-pdfs. Presentation, fluff, crunch – everything herein is TripleA+ in execution, presentation and quality. This is the best 3pp-monster-pdf in the small files-category released for PFRPG so far and redefines what one can expect from the whole genre of monster-books by 3pps. I am not only bereft of any points of criticism, even arbitrarily nitpicking at the page-count or something like that is simply not an option here. I can’t for the love of my life find anything about this book that would deserve anything but glowing praise. This is one of the rare pdfs that I’d rate 6 stars, if I could. I can’t, though and thus my final verdict will be 5 stars + endzeitgeist seal of approval: Even if you don’t run Carrion Crown – get this. It’s so rare I get blown away by any release anymore and this pdf really did it – so: Buy it and let’s hope for a sequel.

 

All right, that’s it for now! As always, thanks for reading my ramblings!

Endzeitgeist out.

 

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About Endzeitgeist

Reviewer without a cause