Not all too long ago, TPK Games joined the fray of 3pps and have since evolved into quite an interesting publisher focused on dark themes. Their growth can easily be seen when taking a look at their Infamous Adversary-line, which kicks off with a free one,
This pdf is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages advertisement, and 1 page SRD back cover, leaving 13 pages for Slogar the Uncaring, so, what is he about?
After a full-color, one-page artwork of Slogar the half-orc and his zombie-steed daisy-pusher, we get a new short-fiction, Slogar’s statblock (half-orc cleric 8[theologian], btw.) as well as an elaboration of his motives and appearance as well as his background story. He is a prophet of the endtimes (no, that does not necessarily grant him leeway from my wrath ;D ) and seeks to hasten the inevitable final showdown between good and evil by vile deeds. The sample stories given center around gruesomely killing innocents and feeding them to his zombie horse. Slogar, as a rather straight-forward loner does not offer much in regards to network, resources or allies. It should be noted that Slogar's Hideout get a neat, beautiful full-color map as well as greatly expanded hooks to draw the PCs into conflict with Slogar. Full stats for his CR 4 Undead warhorse Daisy Pusher are part of the deal, as are 3 iconic signature magic items that enhance Slogar's fighting style and his uniqueness. Have I mentioned his new spell, which lets him divine from the entrails of those he has slain?
Editing is ok, but I noticed some rather awkward phrases that could have been written more compelling. Formatting is ok. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and the statblocks feature some hyperlinks to d20pfsrd, which is nice. Layout has been updated to TPK Games new, much improved standard and feels more cohesive. The pdf has finally gotten a vast amount of bookmarks, which is awesome, as is the additional HeroLab--support..
I'm quite frankly positively surprised by the vast improvements TPK Games has made to Slogar - bookmarks, short fiction, magic items, a full-color map - there's not much left to be desired, honestly. Slogar's first incarnation left me unimpressed and this one has eliminated almost all my gripes. While I think he can't hold a Torch to Raxath'Viz and Temerlyth, he is FREE and you'll be hard-pressed to find any that well-written, professionally-presented NPC out there, even if he is not as compelling as TPK's other offerings. Without the "Free"-factor, I'd settle for a final verdict of 4 stars, but with it, there's no reason to not dl Slogar. And rest assured - the commercial releases by TPK Games are even better and thus, my final verdict will now be 5 stars.
This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 8 pages for Cytheria, the first commercial release of TPK games. Does she hold up to her name?
Well, before getting to the mechanics, you should know that she gets a cool 1-page hand-drawn artwork by Michael Fall that shows her true depravity in the mirror while presenting her angelic, innocent exterior. Nice!
So, who is Cytheria? Mechanics-wise, she is a level 9 Antipaladin 9/Holy Vindicator 1, which, from a crunch point of view, didn't impress me at all - with Faces of the Tarnished Souk's extremely complex multi-templated statblocks, one PrC is not too exciting. Good fluff, though, can save a lot, a does presentation, so how does she fare in these regards?
Cytheria was bought and indoctrinated into an order devoted to spreading pain at a young age and the Zon-Kuthonesque clergy purged any vestige of goodness from her she might have had. In order to soothe her damaged soul and to pay homage to her order's master, she now repeats this vicious cycle, manipulating peasants and buying their children for a supposedly better life, only to subject them to the same depravities that broke her. I hate to say it, but story-wise, that's not interesting or imaginative - in fact, I've seen this background-story executed x times.
What is interesting, though, is the duality of her being - her adaption of good cleric roles to fulfill her vile goals and her contrasting true appearance hint at some kind of deep-seated psychological issue and could have easily been expanded into a full-blown MPD, which would have not only added a dimension to the character, but also would have made for a good basic for some unique rules, but oh well. Morale, Network and resources as points to consider have also been addressed, which I consider a definite plus. Even better, her tactics (involving kidnapping and taking hostages) make for cool Mexican stand-off-like situations and might well offer an aspiring DM easy ways to let her get away from the PCs. She also comes, with a quote, a babau servant and plot hooks.
Presentation-wise, the pdf gets some things right and some things wrong - almost all of her items, traits, feats and special qualities come with hyperlinks to d20pfsrd, which is a boon for any GM running her from a laptop or wanting to check out some rules details. Her babau servant does get some of his abilities hyperlinked as well, but e.g. not all feats, which is a pity. The layout itself is printer-friendly, clear and concise, however: I don't get why the statblocks have a grey background. That is just an unnecessary drain on the printer.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any mistakes. Layout adheres to the two-column standard and the one piece of artwork rocks. The pdf has two bookmarks - more would have been nice. I'm a bit torn on this one - this pdf feels like it didn't realize its own potential, either with regards to her mental state or its d20pfsrd-implementation.
While Cytheria is a nice adversary, she unfortunately is also one I could improvise on the spot.
Having all her gear ready to go is neat, yeah, and if there were no other 3pps out there, I'd rate this higher. However: Rite Publishing's Faces of the Tarnished Souk offers 3 statblocks of one character per installment, each being more complex than Cytheria. NeoExodus' Widowmakes Scarlet is also 3 creatures in one and has the superior artwork. And then there are Raging Swan Press' excellent Antipaladins and Villains I + II books. Unfortunately, all of the blow Cytheria out of the water in at least some regard. The d20pfsrd-innovation, her central advantage over the other pdfs, has unfortunately not been implemented to its logical conclusion. Don't get me wrong. This is a good file. It does nothing truly wrong. However, it has to be judged among peers that can be considered excellent and thus trump her. Cytheria is a step into the right direction from Slogar, but can't yet play on a level field with her contemporaries, who offer universally more content and/or content you couldn't easily put together yourself. Unfortunately barring any striking argument why you should/must buy Cytheria, my final verdict will be 3 stars. I definitely hope the guys and gals from TPK-games continue their endeavors to create more villains and expand upon their significant potential.
This pdf is 10 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 6 pages of content for Ichor Humansbane, so who is he?
The latest addition to the Infamous adversary-line, Ichor Humansbane, clocks in at CR 9 and is a surprisingly cunning troll ranger 5. The full-color one-page artwork by Michael Fall of the dread troll is distinctive in its style and does its best to make the creature creepy and indeed, he is. What could have been a boring brute can actually be considered a nigh-unstoppable one-man army at low-to mid levels, easily lending himself to being a dread guerilla-menace who slasher-flick style, could make for a dread foe for a whole party of PCs, even without allies. His knowledge of the terrain he inhabits alongside the very smart combination of magical items he employs make it easy to picture some rather interesting tactics for the troll. Have I mentioned his cape of weeping faces, which he took from his victims - his signature magic item?
It should also be noted that each magic item, his spells, special qualities etc. are all linked to d20pfsrd, making this file very easy to use. On the final page, the whole statblock of Ichor is repeated in a printer-friendly way sans grey-background - very cool and nice to have.
Formatting and editing are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. The layout adheres to the 2-column standard and the artwork is stunning and not something I would have expected at this price point. The new magic item and basic concept of Ichor are very cool and his stats are rock-solid. One the one hand, I REALLY love this character, the artwork, his unique signature item, the d20pfsrd-support etc. On the other hand, though, Ichor provides not as much content as e.g. the Faces of the Tarnished Souk series. A special companion animal or similar allies, with stats, would have made this a perfect 5-star offering. As written, though, he falls a bit short on the content-side for my tastes. My final verdict for Ichor will be a close 4 stars - I almost went 3.5, but he simply deserves the 4 for the smart item combinations and cool artwork.
The latest installment of TPK Games' Infamous Adversary-line of NPCs is 17 pages long: 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving 13 pages of content for the Undying.
Temerlyth is the first of TPK Games' adversaries that fulfills my complexity criteria with regards to NPC-supplements, i.e. creating him would take some time, as he is an elven lich alchemist 6/wizard (enchanter)6/loremaster 3 and thus cannot be considered an easy statblock to create. What is up with this guy, then? Well, once upon a time an elven nation relocated to another forest, only said forest was already home to savage were-wolves. In a twist of their colonial arrogance and endeavors, the elves actually found themselves on the losing side of a battle they started themselves. Consumed by an ever-growing obsession of wanting to eradicate lycanthropy once and for all and save his people, the elven noble Temerlyth gradually descended down a slippery slope of evil and corruption. To the extent that his wife wanted to run off with a human woodworker. Finding out about her plans of abandoning him proved to be the final straw to break the by now fragile grasp the elf still had on his sanity. In a fit of vilest rage, he slew her and her lover as well as his children, reanimating them as his undead slaves. These minions all get their individual stats as well.
While his nation has crumbled to ruins, his people long-since forgotten, Temerlyth still roams the world, twisted into an undead monstrosity, forever seeking a way to eradicate lycanthropy once and for all and thinning the ranks of the shapechangers while conducting his amoral experiments in his dread laboratory Silvermote. A new spell, Silvermist, is also included in the pdf to reflect the innovations of Temerlyth. The spell is a combination of concealment and damage against lycanthropes. Neat!
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to TPK Games easy-to-read two-column standard and while I have already seen the b/w-artworks apart from the cover in e.g. Kingdom of Graves, I liked them. TPK games have hyperlinked just about any component that could confuse you in the statblocks to the Pathfinder-SRD, making looking up particular rules very easy. It should also be noted that Temerlyth comes with a special second 6-page version in b/w that is particularly printer-friendly. I already commented on how I liked that this adversary is complex, but I think I should also mention that his allies, i.e. his undead family and their stats do a lot to enhance the value of this pdf. Aptly written by author Richard Hunt, professionally presented, complex and somewhat relatable character with more than one dimension, the driven, sophisticated lich gets a final verdict of 5 stars!
This installment of the Infamous Adversary-line is 30 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 4 pages of advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 23 pages of content - that's quite a bunch for the low price, so let's check it out!
The pdf kicks off with a bang - a stellar, original, full-page artwork of Raxath'Viz - gorgeous and not something I would have expected for the price point. You'll hear these words more often in this review. The description of Raxath'Viz kicks off with a disturbing, well-written introduction before providing us the statblock of the villain: Raxath'Viz is a Cleric (Hidden Priest)10/Divine Scion 3/Rogue (Trapsmith) 3 and thus has a COMPLEX statblock with a LOT of special abilities. The statblock contains a minor layout error - a part of the statblock is not shaded like the rest of the block. That does not deter from his wide array of abilities or their usability, though, just an optical hick-up. Raxath'Viz has an ambition quite profound - be the instrument of reincarnation for the goddess of disease and become a demi-god himself in the process.
In order to accomplish this lofty goal, he has to succeed in 6 profane boons, which are detailed not only with prophecy-like lines, but also how Raxath'Viz plans to accomplish/accomplished them - this prophecy per se could be seen as a seed for a whole campaign, if desired. If you want to use a Raxath'Viz over the course of a campaign, you'll also get an advancement track for him as well as 3 additional plot hooks. Sample lore-DCs are provided to go along the campaign and plot seeds. If you want further ideas n how Raxath'Viz operates, you'll see it in yet another short piece of fiction before we get to his perhaps most valuable ally, Zogulryk the unholy, a male Oytugh Oracle 10 who is the one true ally/friend (if such a word is applicable) the Kobold has.
The installment does not end here, though, and instead goes on to provide sample names and personalities for the Festering Lesion, Raxath'Viz rag-tag band of kobold followers. We also get some sample custom traps the clever kobold employs and especially a consuming jack-in-the-box is worthy of Batman's Joker in its twisted humor. Of course, the Kobold also has pets, namely a variety of otyugh-mutations, one of which, the two-headed guardian otyugh, is also presented with a full statblock.
Unbelievably, we get even MORE: The profane Vessel of his goddess, a giant CR 20-super otugh remains even after his defeat, waiting for the day when a divinity will emerge from its cancerous growths and posing the final obstacle for the PCs to squash the ambitions of Maramaga, a goddess of pestilence spawned from a barbaric ritualistic druidic sacrifice and her own 2-page write-up is surprisingly compelling in imagery and tone, making her more than yet another deity of disease.
The pdf closes with information on a faction of (semi-) unwitting pawns to Raxath'Viz machinations that shall remain unnamed for spoiler's sake as well as a new devastating disease.
Editing and formatting are good, though not excellent: I noticed this one layout-glitch and an incorrect use of the -eth-suffix for a verb in the prophecy. All in all, though, less than 5 hick-ups, all minor, over 23 pages. Layout is new, different and beautiful - while not as printer-friendly as TPK Games' previous layout, the grey borders make for a visually pleasing reading experience. The artwork of Raxath'Viz is STUNNING. It makes a KOBOLD look intimidating as hell. The villain per se features a lengthy statblock, and as has been the tradition with TPK Games alongside all other statblocks in this pdf, been excessively hyperlinked to d20pfsrd.com, making usage of the file on a laptop extremely easy. The pdf is also excessively bookmarked and *drumroll* comes with full hero lab support of all the creatures herein - great for the people who use the tool (though I don't).
Content-wise, I'll just say: Wow. Temerlyth was a very good villain. Raxath'Viz blows him out of the water. The sheer amount of content provided in this pdf is awesome - the short stories are well-written, Raxath'Viz's statblock is complex, we get unique servants and allies, a new (and cool) goddess, a dread prophecy (including his plans to accomplish it - a potential campaign in itself) and a villain that acts SMART. Oh yeah, and new traps. The only thing anyone could ask for from this file that is not there is statblocks for less accomplished versions of him, but seeing that we get the high-level version, they can potentially be reverse-engineered. This pdf provides a LOT of content for 3 bucks - much more than I would have expected and at a higher quality, too. In fact, I'm going so far as to say that TPK Games have just upped the ante on NPC/Villain-supplements in the low price-range by a considerable amount. While the minor glitches would usually result in about half a star being detracted, the excellent bang-for-buck ratio more than does its share to counter this minor blemish. Thus, my final verdict will be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval - a truly deadly, devious, frightening kobold villain indeed and a great testament to the level with which the Infamous Adversary-line has been improving.
This pdf is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisements and 1 page SRD, leaving a total of 21 pages of content, so let's check out!
Ischadra, the latest addition to TPK Games roster of truly vile NPCs in the Infamous Adversary-line is one of the creatures that can be considered a true joy to behold - her downright creepy full-color cover artwork might seem disjointed when compared to her title, but the introductory, first-person narrative that gives us a glimpse into her demented personality already makes sure that we're in for a disturbing, creepy ride indeed!
So who or what was Ischadra? Once, she was a mortal woman, serving the god of murders as his very best executioner and guild mistress. Then she died and a cadre of mages wanted to use her and a strange prophecy to gain control of her erstwhile organization of killers - alas, something went terribly, horribly wrong and the free-willed spirit in its soulbound doll body proved to be impossible to control. Exacting bloody vengeance, the risen murderess extraordinaire in her new doll-body returned to her fold, guiding an organization of murderers as a demented boogeyman that even assassins dread. It should be mentioned that an awesome, creepy nursery rhyme is included in the introduction - narrative gold for the DM and a great tool to evoke a creepy atmosphere!
In her most basic incarnation, Ischadra clocks in at CR 14 as an advanced soulbound Doll Assassin 10/Inquisitor 2 and is an uncommon foe to say the least - her size alone as well as her construct nature make the grandmother of assassins an intriguing foe to say the least and if you also take e.g. tactical options like her shapechanging sword and immunity to dusts of sneezing and choking into account, we get a foe that can be considered not only intriguing, but generally damn cool.
Even better, similar to Rite Publishing's Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, we get advancement options in this installment of "Infamous Adversaries" - a CR 17 and even a CR 20-version of Ischadra, (with more Inquisitor-levels), making sure that the hard-to-kill mistress remains a threat for your PCs. 4 extensive plothooks provide different ways to integrate Ischadra in your campaign - from demented prophecies of vampire oracles speaking of dead child-saviors of the murder-gods faithful to subdued allusions to potential entwinements with the dark tapestry, should you so be inclined, to straight up meeting the thing in action, Ischadra is guaranteed to send a shiver down the spine of your players.
What makes Ischadra more intriguing, though, is her network and strange affection towards children - helping the stragglers and underdogs, she might actually help you - but she never forgets and failure thereafter will never be an option. Worse, her insidious network of orphans might actually mean that innocents will willingly defend the creature that might drive them insane with its telepathic ramblings, should it choose to do so.
The supremely-crafted being is not where the pdf stops, though: Instead we are also introduced to her best pupil and quasi-friend/repair craftsman, her current keeper and the swarm of undead, ghostly children are rather disturbing, neat allies.
Speaking of allies: Naelib, Lord of Muders and patron deity to Ischadra (think a cross of Norgorber/Zon-Kuthon) and his Order of the Ebon Hand get a detailed write-up and, even better, the latter a BUNCH of statblocks: From the lowly CR 1 Acolyte, to the CR 6 (3 class-,multiclass characters, btw.) Assassins, CR 9 masters and the current CR 15 leader, which might be considered an NPC of himself and two unique items, we get a bunch of great additional content.
Editing and formatting are very good, apart from a minor formatting glitch, I encountered nothing to impede one's enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to TPK Games' 2-column full-color standard and the piece of full-color artwork depicting Ischadra could be on a movie-poster- NEAT! The pdf comes with a printer-friendly version, full herolab-support and a vast array of different hyperlinks that make using this pdf on tablets etc. rather easy. The pdf is extensively bookmarked. Ischadra is one of the NPCs that is simply a joy to behold Tom Philips and the team of TPK Games have created a villain that is simply awesome to read - captivating, well-written prose, a concept that has "horror" written in bold letters on it, multiple incarnation and a whopping 6 additional statblocks and 2 advancement options leave nothing to be desired and cementing TPK Games' Infamous Adversary line further as one of the top-lines for villainous characters. The standard is high and I look forward to seeing whom we'll meet next! Seeing my lack of anything to complain about and the coolness of the character, I'll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars, just short of the seal of approval due to the minor glitches.
All right, see you next time and thanks for reading!