RPGNow.com
Close
New Account
 
  
 
 
You will lose your chance to get the free product of the week.
One-click unsubscribe later if you don't enjoy the newsletter.
Close
Log In
 
 Forgot password?
 

     or     Log In with your Facebook Account
Browse









Back
Other comments left for this publisher:
Amethyst - Hearts of Chaos - 4E
by Megan R. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 06/17/2014 09:44:51
Opening with a concise overview of what the Amethyst setting is all about - a contemporary world overrun by a fantasy one, with the resulting conflict between magic and technology - this adventure is itself designed to introduce players to Amethyst's concepts.

To help players come to grips with the setting, their characters should all come from the 'technology' end of things. Pre-generated ones are supplied, or you can create your own with that constraint - that, and they are also members of an international mercenary company tasked with finding a former senior member of the unit who has gone rogue and vanished into the deep wilderness, where fantasy and magic hold sway. Worse, he has a lot of knowledge about the group and poses a severe security risk.

There is a lot of information for the DM to absorb to run the adventure effectively, but it is all laid out clearly. If he is already familiar with the Amethyst setting, all to the good, but there is sufficient here to get by even if this is his first encounter with it. Of particular note is the incompatibility between magic and technology - if there's magic around, your tech doesn't work so well and eventually breaks down, and so the DM has to administer the effects of being out in the wild fantasy lands on everything the characters are using. This is explained in great detail so provided the notes are studied in advance you should have little difficulty.

The adventure begins with the party several days into their mission, although things have been peaceful so far. Needless to say they will not remain so quiet for long. Everything is laid out clearly and is easy to run, with all the details - and even hints to pass on particularly if your players are new to the setting - provided just where you want them. The only drawback - and this is throughout the work - is an overly-heavy background which, although quite beautiful, sometimes makes it difficult to read every word. When appropriate maps are provided (there are a whole bunch of separate images provided with the download, as well as full-page ones included in the PDF).

The real joy of this adventure is the profound moral dilemma it poses the characters, based on the very essence of the setting's tension: fantasy or technology? This ought to get the players thinking about what makes this setting unique, as well as what their place in it is, and what it might become. Yet this is not the only challenge to ideas and motivations, there is an underlying struggle between different forces out here where fantasy holds sway as well. Fear not, however, this is not an adventure of quiet contemplation or even heated debate, there's plenty of combat to keep everyone occupied.

Not just a good introduction to Amethyst, but an exciting and thought-provoking adventure in its own right.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst - Hearts of Chaos - 4E
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Ultramodern4 - OGL
by Zero C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/23/2014 19:57:26
I am very happy with the Ultramodern4 OGL. Despite some minor typesetting issues and typos (the most notable being "d28" in several places where it should be "2d8", this is a quality product full of useful game info. As far as I know, it has all the crunch and at least some of the fluff from the full-game product. You do need a copy of the 4th edition D&D Players Handbook or D&D Essentials Rules Compendium to use the OGL in a game.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern4 - OGL
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Amethyst: Renaissance 2.0 (Color)
by Kevin W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/26/2014 19:32:52
This is a great refresh of the original product. It looks great, and read well. A lot of errata and other updates are slipstreamed into the text. This is the first product of a huge update and expansion of the Amethyst line, including support for Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition (when 3pp is fully defined and live) along with Fate Core, 13th Age and Savage Worlds in addition to Dungeons and Dragons 4th edition and Pathfinder.

The author and team did a great job with the original product and this refresh ups the bar for independent game producers.

If you want a science fantasy setting, this is one of the best ones on the market. It is versatile enough to accommodate most playing styles easily.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Renaissance 2.0 (Color)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Amethyst: Renaissance
by James F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/23/2013 11:50:52
I picked up Amethyst through Drive Thru RPG. Loved it!! I just started gaming again after 20 years away and went with Pathfinder so Amethyst was a nice addition to my gaming library. I literally stayed up all night and read the book straight through. (400 Pages folks 400) Its been a long time since I have done with with any gaming book. Looking forward to more. Keep up the good work.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Renaissance
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Apex
by Josiah B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2013 10:30:57
APEX is the latest in a great line of supplements for 4th edition D&D. I use the term supplement in it's truest sense, all of the DEM products bring completeness to the 4e library of games.

APEX is no different, it brings to the table a great set of rules to use with almost any kind of super hero genera. From X-men to jumper, its a good tool kit for an supers game.

Though there is a bit of a balance issue, namely there isn't much. But it is part of the whole super experience. But once you can get past that the game looks great!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Apex
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Apex
by dwayne b. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/30/2013 02:02:36
I have been a DM from 1st edition D&D to every incarnation in between and at first did not even like 4th but after some friends made me read the books found the game very easy to run and simplistic in a good way reminded me of 2nd edition in some ways, with it ease to run. And then Dias Ex Machina came along and took it to the next level I have bought every book he has put out pdf download and hardback, the man sense of humor and ability to use and understand the spirit of the game and system is phenomenal. This is a company to watch as they are to 4th edition as pathfinder was to 3.5 so if you have not picked up or looked at 4th please give this companys books a look, who knows you might find something you never knew you missed.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Apex
by Jesse C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 07/29/2013 10:57:03
If you are a DnD4e gamemaster or even player and you've been looking for a way to bring your Role Playing into the realm of Supers from D.C. or Marvel, then this is your vehicle! As is or combined with D.E.M. Games excellent "Modernized" DnD4e product - Ultramodern4, APEX will provide the spark to fire-up your Super Hero Slug-fest! The combination of Ultramaodern4 and APEX will allow your RPGaming to step up from straight fantasy and step out into modern times - Victorian Steampunk thru the Last Century and into the 21st Century and Beyond! D.E.M. Games has set the standard for 4e modern and has no apparent challengers. --G.M.Adeptus, 2013.07.29

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Ultramodern4
by Jordi F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/29/2013 10:36:49
It seems I deleted my previous review trying to edit it ... (is what happens when the site doesn't have all the buttons for other languages) ... so I'll put a short version of it.

If you wan't a d20 Modern version of D&D 4e ... this is it.

Have a nice day.

You need more? ... ooooookey ....

You'll have classes, ladders (a typical D&D class has been divided in two, class and ladder, and you combine them as you please), new skills, feats, equipment, monsters and new rules involving firearms and such. I suppose clases and ladders could have even more powers and such ... but I suppose this would be more expansion related or maybe web features.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern4
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
NeuroSpasta (FREE PREVIEW)
by Chris F. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/17/2013 17:15:15
NeuroSpasta looks like its going to be an excellent cyberpunk campaign setting, one obviously inspired by great anime like Ghost in the Shell and Appleseed, as well as computer games like Dues Ex. I'm looking forward to the full release. I'm not even much of a D&D 4th fan, but I really like the twists Dias Ex machina has put on the rule set. Just an aside to the authors: lower the opacity of the 'circuit' page borders, please. Those things are so dark they're very distracting.
CHRIS

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeuroSpasta (FREE PREVIEW)
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Publisher Reply:
The full game has been released. We'll address the page border opacity with the next update. Thanks for the positive comments.
NeuroSpasta - 4E
by Jefferson D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/15/2013 10:57:26
So this is not a proper review yet since I just received this but I wanted to give a five-star shoutout to all the folks at Dia Ex Machina for putting this out. I've been looking forward to this ever since it was mentioned in Ultramodern4 & I will be using up a lot of my spare time reading & digesting this. Hakcing for 4thEd - Hells yeah!

Review to come later....

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
NeuroSpasta - 4E
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Ultramodern4
by Rodney G. M. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/25/2013 20:41:45
Ultramodern 4 is a sci-fi rpg and you are going to need Dungeons and Dragons 4 editions rulebook. Now, this book was written before Essentials in mind, so just remember that. Also, this book is a mixture of D20modern and D20future.
The ladder system is a much more robust version of WoTC’s themes. The seven ladders look like classes and give option all the way to level 29. The ladders and class can almost seem like an easier version of multi-classing. Also, the ladders are a source of enhancement bonus.

You don’t have as many powers for classes in this game compare to 4th edition, but the ladders make up for it. There are eleven classes, and along with the ladders you can still multi-class like in DnD 4th edition. There is a lot of optimization for your character.

The class of the specialist I felt that many of the powers could have been gear. He is the combat medic, and the powers are named after drugs, but that is easy to house rule. You can always use the powers, but less potency than the Specialist.

I really liked the way the powers were written in this book as they don’t feel like the same powers. As you know DnD 4th edition was plagued with, and the powers can be pretty entertaining as hell.

Now this game does not have rules for cybernetics or space travel, but what it does have will keep you busy for a while. It has different levels of range weapons and armor which can be collection of rifles to laser and tactical vest to power armor. I know the upcoming book Neurospasta is going to have cyber rules, so be on the lookout. Most of the equipment rules have to deal with weapons and armor. Also there is a tech level, so you can decide how far into the future you want this.

One of the bad things I have to say is the PDF book marks a name just Ultramodern4 chapter one, Ultramodern4 chapter two, and so on. The contents pages have no links to them either. For these omissions, I give 4 out of five stars.

I really can’t wait to get a game together for this game and really put this system through its paces. I do go a little be more in depth about it on my YouTube channel.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mb0oLf86YLc&list=PLi3QsKz-
s_6sJhXmgEp5yFRi8FTf4fN_Wr&index=3

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern4
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Amethyst: Renaissance
by Angel G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/15/2012 14:32:27
First of all, let me say that Amethyst Renaissance is a superb product, lavishly illustrated and full of awesome content. It is one of the very best RPG settings I've read and the best supplement for the Pathfinder game system (with the Midgard Campaign Setting from Kobold Press).

So, why the bad rating? Well, I bought the hardcover printed book.
Had I bought a PDF, I certainly would have rated Amethyst Renaissance a shiny 5/5. Sadly, the printed product barely deserves a 1/5.

The binding is correct and seems solid, though both covers tend to bend naturally toward the outside of the book. I would rate this just one step lower than traditional (non-POD) binding from most rpg publishers.

The glaring problems lie with the print job. The printing is so dark it is often impossible to see anything of the illustrations. It is plain ugly. I could do a better job with my personal laser printer and this is definitly not professional quality printing.

I received this book some time ago, and took the time to read it before posting this comment. The content is really good and Dias Ex Machina can be proud of the work done. But even then, I can't rate it better than 1/5. The final product delivered through Drivethru is a complete shame.

Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Renaissance
Click to show product description

Add to RPGNow.com Order

Click here to issue a publisher reply
Publisher Reply:
Thank you and we appreciate the praise. If you'd prefer, we'd love to offer you complimentary PDF. I would like the opportunity to earn those four stars back.
Amethyst: Renaissance
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 09/02/2012 21:14:42
The goal of a campaign setting is to provide a location that’s not only conducive for running a game, but actively helps to stimulate the creative process involved in doing so. One of the primary ways of doing that is by providing a world with developed verisimilitude; the more “realistic” the world feels – “realistic” here meaning that is has internal logic and consistency – the more alive it seems, and the easier it is to role-play in.

Given that, if we judge campaign settings by how alive they seem, then there are none better than Amethyst: Renaissance. That’s a lofty claim to make, but this massive campaign book backs it up solidly and then some. I reviewed the original 3.5 version of this setting, and said that it was a world brimming with possibilities even as it felt like the surface was barely scratched in the main book, and that’s still true with its Pathfinder incarnation. Let’s take a closer look.

The download consists of several files, five being gorgeous full-color pictures, four being equally pretty wallpapers, and the last one being the PDF of the book itself. I did frown slightly to find that there were no options for a printer-friendly version, nor any special files for things like Macs or e-readers. Of course, the former may be a bit of a pipe dream for a 399-page folio, but still, it would have been nice.

In terms of the book’s technical presentation, it mostly does okay. Copy-and-paste is fully enabled, which is as it should be, and bookmarks are present...but aren’t nested. This means that the bookmarks are all in a single, unbroken column that makes it somewhat hard to distinguish one from the other; if the chapter titles weren’t in lowercase letters where everything else was in capitals, they’d be easily lost amidst the clutter.

Of course, the book itself has many virtues to offset these minor flaws. For one thing, it is resplendent with artwork. I cannot overstate the quality of the interior art in Amethyst: Renaissance – the book has a grand total of three artists and between them, they’ve produced what might possibly the single best-illustrated book ever made for Pathfinder. The fact that almost all of the pictures are in black and white does nothing to detract from the quality of what’s here. Even if you’re not interested in the setting (and you should be) you’ll be captivated by the pictures.

Of course, the setting is pretty captivating itself. In a nutshell, the world of Amethyst is planet Earth set five hundred years in the future, after the cataclysmic return of magic. If that doesn’t sound too original, rest assured that there’s more – the nature of magic, for example, is divided in this setting. Whereas most campaign worlds put arcane magic as being just sort of “there,” magic in Amethyst has definitive sources.

For most creatures, the source of magic is Attricana, the White Gate, faintly visible as a bright star in the sky. This is the original source of magic, that produced dragons and fae races long ago before it was originally sealed away by the titular Amethyst himself; the first dragon. He did so because of the coming of Ixindar, the Black Gate, which is present on the Earth itself. Amethyst’s sacrifice sealed not only Attricana but also Ixindar, along with the mysterious intelligence that resides beyond the Black Gate, Mengus, and ended the age of magic, all long before the rise of humans. Now, with a second meteor strike reopening Ixindar, and for unknown reasons Attricana, five hundred years ago, magic and the creatures born of it are back.

The tone of Attricana and Ixindar cannot be overstated in the setting. Interestingly, while the White Gate is the source of magic that most are familiar with, it’s presented as a source of chaos as well as magical life – life itself is a chaotic thing, and Attricana encourages its growth and mutation without restraint, breaking down technology as a side effect. By contrast, Ixindar is a force of law as well as evil. It corrupts even as it encourages order, sublimating everything to its own design…and it doesn’t corrupt technology, either.

Speaking of which, the technological aspects of the setting are too large to be ignored, and indeed add the most readily-apparent manner in which this setting is different from most fantasy-medieval worlds. While most civilizations now are “echan,” or magic-touched, and many humans live among them, there are plenty of humans who live in mega-city-like bastions. Here technology barricades itself against magic, and life progresses much like it did before the return of magic; indeed, in many the level of technology has improved beyond what was available at the end of the twentieth century.

Ahem…but I’ll stop rambling here, and try to get hold of my enthusiasm long enough to give a more coherent review of the book.

The book’s first chapter acts as a much-needed overview of the setting. It talks about things like the history, common terms, and the overall feel of the campaign. It’s worth noting that the book is very upfront about what it doesn’t have being just as important as what it does. High-level spellcasting is exceptionally difficult, there are no other planes of existence (ethereal notwithstanding), and many monsters simply aren’t to be found. While you can certainly cherry-pick a lot of what’s here, Amethyst is a setting that is upfront about setting its own style.

The second chapter covers the nature of the fae races, with humans mentioned almost as an afterthought. None of the standard fantasy races, such as elves, dwarves, etc. are present here…except they are. Sort of. Each race has its own unique name, such as the damaskans, the laudenians, the gimfen, and many more…but more than a few of them strongly resemble standard fantasy races. That’s not an accusation of unoriginality either – rather, the setting plays up that these creatures resemble the fairy tales that humans told each other for centuries, but at the same time are worlds apart in terms of society and culture.

It’s that culture that’s given a heavy prominence in this chapter, though the racial stats are not glossed over for it. Things like cultural practices, social habits, and traditions are emphasized rather than being ignored, and it’s a big part of the reason why this campaign world feels so holistic. Despite how beautiful damaskans may look, for instance, they have very little sex drive, since they’re being of magic for whom procreation is much less of an issue. Amethyst: Renaissance knows that the little things are what make a setting stand out.

The third chapter covers different organizations in the game world, each receiving roughly a few paragraphs’ worth of description, along with the game stats of their prerequisites and the benefits of belonging to them.

The fourth chapter covers traits, as defined in the Pathfinder APG, and there are quite a lot of them here. Moreover, these aren’t tossed out quickly and with little context – these all receive paragraphs of descriptive text regarding what these traits actually mean for someone who has them. Several are more powerful than normal traits and count for both trait choices (though I wonder if that makes them essentially feats).

The fourth chapter is also where I do have one gripe – the lack of a reference table. If you prefer to have a handy table to quickly reference what traits are available, along with their prerequisites and benefits, you’re going to be disappointed here – and make no mistake, there are enough here that the absence of such a table is keenly felt. The feats chapter got such a table, and the lack of one here is an oversight.

The fourth chapter discusses classes. Perhaps surprisingly, there’s very little attention paid to the basic classes from the Pathfinder Core Rules; the big ones are a few classes being disallowed (mostly so they can be reintroduced later as prestige classes) and some changes to spellcasting classes – clerics, for example, don’t use verbal components for their spells, whereas wizards use no somatic components.

The major thrust of this chapter are the techan classes; those that rely exclusively on technology. This is no minor restriction, these guys can’t even receive the benefits of magic without it having serious consequences, namely in that doing so causes “saturation” which if driven high enough causes technological disruption.

That’s all explained later though, for now we have eight new tech-focused classes. From the heavy grounder (using super-heavy weapons – think rocket launchers and particle beams) to the medic (who has various medical treatments that are written similar to spells, though they’re entirely non-magical) to the sniper, these are the guys who venture out beyond the bastions into a hostile world and utterly demolish it with superior firepower. Interestingly, the classes are all d20 Hit Dice with fill BAB, or d8 Hit Dice with full BAB-minus-one. What does the latter mean? It means they start with a BAB of 0 and end with a BAB of 19. An interesting choice, if an odd one, but it doesn’t detract from the overall appeal of the classes.

The fifth chapter is devoted to skills and feats. There are only three completely new skills here (“completely new” discounting things like Knowledge (science)), being Demolitions, Engineer, and Vehicle Operation. Perhaps surprisingly, this last one is by far the most complicated, and doesn’t even cover everything regarding operating a vehicle (there’s more in the equipment chapter when you come to the vehicles themselves). I strongly recommend that everyone who wants to use a vehicle read both sections thoroughly, as they’re fairly rules-intensive.

As for the feats…I know I said the traits were numerous, but the feats are beyond expansive. The reference table takes over seven pages just to list them all. Racial feats, trait feats (feats that have a particular trait as a prerequisite), general feats, techan feats (most of which enhance using high-tech weaponry), vehicle feats, and more are here. I didn’t even try counting the sheer number of feats found here, but it’s far more than you could ever see if you had a full party going from levels one to twenty.

The sixth chapter covers equipment, and as with the chapter on classes, it’s a playground for the techans. Super-heavy guns, powered armor, vehicles that make Batman’s look like they had training wheels in comparison…there’s a plethora of toys here for those who embrace the science-fiction aspect of the setting. It’s not all weapons, armor, and vehicles either. From the currency to particular vehicle modifications to explosives to injections (e.g. drugs, nano-machines, etc.), as well as how magic disrupts these are all covered here.

Chapter seven covers prestige classes, of which there are slightly more than a dozen for the echan and techan each. Surprisingly, there’s little in-character development for what it means to have these classes. While some (such as paladin or ranger) are self-evidence from what we’re bringing to the game, there’s less intuitive understanding regarding the nature of a Selkirk brawler or an Ur-mage.

Chapter eight deals with magic, and I have to say that this is an area where I was grateful for the depth regarding the nature of magic as it exists in-character. All too often books with a magic chapter devote them solely to pumping out new spells, magic items, and similar material, and while you’ll find that here it helps a lot that the chapter opens with a discussion of where magic comes from and why it functions the way it does. For example, the language of magic, Pleroma, is discussed, as is the manner in which magic saturation disrupts technology (for Attricana), the corruption of Ixindar, and how to use high-level magic (otherwise known as “foundation spells”). Chapter nine ostensibly discusses magic items, but spends most of its time talking about the artifacts that are specific to the setting – again, this is far more of a function of what they mean in the world rather than what they do.

It’s on that note that we come to chapter ten, which is all about the setting. This is distinct from chapter eleven, because whereas that chapter acts as a guide to Canam (the new name for North America – the book never expands beyond that continent, though mentions are made of regions beyond it), chapter ten is devoted to aspects of the setting, such as languages and religions. The book’s twelfth and final chapter covers new monsters, including lists of monsters that are in the “canon” setting, those that aren’t but can be used without breaking the feel of the world, and those that are “banned” in the setting.

I also haven’t mentioned that there’s a story that progresses throughout the book, mostly at the ends of various chapters; the last fifteen pages or so of the book are devoted to ending the story, though it ends on a cliffhanger that makes it seem more like the end of a large prologue. Hopefully we’ll get more of it in further supplements.

By this point, my thoughts on Amethyst: Renaissance should be abundantly clear, but it bears repeating – this campaign world is breathtaking in its scope. There’s so much here, so artfully presented and with a tone that’s so holistic that it seems to leap off the page. A full campaign could easily be run from levels one to twenty without using half of what’s here; that’s how much material is found within these pages. It’s almost intimidating how high the bar is set; a sort of implication that says “for real role-players only!” but if that’s the case it backs it up.

The bottom line is that Amethyst sets a standard for campaign settings, one that won’t soon be matched. If you want a true renaissance for your Pathfinder game, look no further: it’s Amethyst.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Amethyst: Renaissance
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/24/2012 02:53:01
This massive pdf is 399 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 1 page Index, 1 page SRDs and 1 page back cover, leaving us with a whopping 391 pages of content, so let's check this out!

I'll just come out and say it: I'm not familiar with any old iterations of the Amethyst-setting, thus I can't draw any direct comparisons. What is Amethyst then? Essentially it is a what-if scenario of vast ambitions: What would happen if a logical fantasy setting, with all its consequences, with its magic etc., was thrust upon our technological world. Not a black/white dichotomy, nor a stylized version of fantasy. The ambition is to create a setting in which the problems, social and ecological are very much intact, including all the topics that move us - only that now the force of magic has entered the world and while it does change the options of the people, it is also a force that is at direct odds with technology - but even this dichotomy is too simple to properly explain the intricate web of themes and topics opened by this book. But let me try to explain via the setting's history: Essentially, it presumes that there once was a magical age here on earth, when the world was still called Terros and people worshiped a benevolent entity of unbridled creative energy and chaos- until the arrival of the black gate and a deity of order and syntropy started to lay waste to the world, culminating in the K-T-extinction event, resulting in the death of legendary dragon/god amethyst and the extinction of magic from the world. Technology and natural evolution reigned. Until a second impact, a meteorite saw the resurgence of magic. The forces of order and chaos have returned and in-between, mankind has to witness its technology ceasing to work in the presence of magic, thus creating enclaves of the size of nations, cities of hyper-technology in a world where magic looms beyond the walls and dragons and fae have reclaimed the planet. Add to that the legend that there's an artifact that may expel magic again and forever or make the one bearing it a god and we have ample potential for the earth-shattering things your PCs can do in AR. "Which side will you stand on in the end" is a question that will be hard to answer in the setting...

After a brief description on altered magic (though that is covered in more detail later) and the origin of power for clerics, druids and mages, we are introduced to a glossary before we get into chapter 2, where we are introduced to the variety of races available for character creation in the Amethyst Renaissance setting and from the start an interesting consideration is put into focus: Traditions. Tenebri curse and swear loudly while executing daily affairs, Laudeni never wear undergarments etc. - while these points may seem boring and mundane, they actually prove a point I often try to make: Races are more than the conglomerate of their stats and should be treated as such. This chapter thus includes a stunning wealth of gestures and peculiarities, from considering silent gestures rude to kowtowing to one's tools and even a complex appropriation of the "metal-gesture", i.e. the devil's horns as both a potential greeting (with a thumb in the fist) or an request for intercourse (with the thumb exposed). Sexuality and the Fae race's take on it is also thankfully covered, being rather open and non-discriminating regarding e.g. homosexuality and monogamous when married, but rather polyamorous before, thus creating further potential for cultural conflicts and misunderstandings. Add to that the existence of a particular form of ironlead that is particularly toxic to fae and an inherent magical nature that disrupts technology, as reflected by a saturation level that can never plunge below 20 and we're in for cool and complex creatures even before we delve into the respective racial entries, which are spearheaded by the Chaparrans, who can essentially be considered wood elves that believe their existence is eternal and changes between being a being of flesh and blood and being a tree. These wild fae are truly deadly experts with their bows, get climb speeds etc. and can even teleport in forests, making them feel truly unearthly.

The Damaskans, on the other hand, can be considered a race of intellectual, bibliophile,obsessive chroniclers of the things that happen in their chosen field. Equipped with a vastly supreme sense of balance, gravity etc. and being universally ambidextrous, they also make for stellar swashbuckling-style characters and warrior-scholars, as their intelligence-modifier influences their combat prowess. Gimfen are a peculiar race of Fae as well, lacking the disruptive field that characterizes many echans (slang for magic-users and magical beings) and being obsessed (and rather successful) with melding magic and technology. While not being as apt as humans, they make for interesting alchemists, tinkerers and could be seen a s a type of gnome/halfling-hybrid, also due to their height. Laudenians then, would make for the classic high elves - a pure first race in decline, their culture is determined by a fear of degradation (as their descendants turned into other fey) and hence they have turned to living in a fabled city in the sky - however, they are not only haughty, immortal and rare, they also have lost any connection to nature due to their hatred/fear of the corrupting influence of walking the earth.

The Narros can be considered the strong warrior/miners of the Fae races, determined by a 100% commitment and making for natural born soldiers. Speaking of good soldiers - the Pagus, Fae changed by the black gate do not disrupt technology, but are stigmatized from birth as heralds of the black gate and are prone to old-age insanity. And then there are the Tenebri, a race of deceptively fragile-looking blind Fae with a deadly scream, these beings have allegedly been cursed by a god and are interesting in that they are more or less at war with the Narros and, due to their blindness, have a completely different take on attractiveness etc., thus subverting preconceptions of beauty ideals. The final Fae race then would be the Tilen: Fragile and graceful, yet strong, these beings are essentially fae who have clawed themselves back from undeath and can be seen as a playable Fae vampire race: They have no reflections, are blinded by light etc. - but in a twist of the theme, while they can heal via draining blood, they are passionate and rather non-violent creatures and thus make for a great duality between dark pasts, themes of hereditary sin and kindness in the face of xenophobia and aversion. Among the evolutionary races, Humans are first and detailed just about as much as the other races, taking the fall of old ideologies and virtues and the varied nature as well as the cataclysm that decimated their race into account before going on with the Kodiaks - upright walking bears that are a recent phenomenon and which have only begun to rise from hunters and foragers to farming communities. With such a diverse roster of races, a whole entry is devoted to crossbreeds between Fae and human as well as crossbreeds between the different types of Fae.

And we're only just past the playable races - now, let us turn our heads towards the background of the setting! The section kicks off with an idea I whole heartedly endorse - a selection of backgrounds and organizations for the whole group to belong to - essentially providing a way for the player characters to know each other and get a benefit and starting point to properly develop their backgrounds. After that, we are introduced to new traits, though it should be noted that a new class of traits, so-called Amethyst Traits, are introduced: Every character may only have one of these slightly more powerful traits. Since the setting's peculiarities, religious and belief-based traits are subsumed and/or replaced by supernatural traits that enable a slight tapping into the forces that be via an unexplained natural talent. Traits, to be honest, have swiftly become my least favorite thing to review - they provide paltry bonuses, boring one-liners and half of them boil down to "You have been bullied by X/grown up in Y/etc." -BORING. Now this is what this book does perfectly right: Each trait comes with an extensive, long flavor text that immerses one in the respective background and best of all, also roots the character believably and deep in the world of Amethyst Renaissance. This is how traits should be handled. Kudos, respect and two thumbs up - 3pps, take heed, this is how it can be done!

In the next chapter, we deal with classes - rather important, taking the peculiarities of the setting into account- magic is usually channeled by a totem, for example, meaning that wizards may use other things as focus - for example orbs, shields and even more esoteric things. Of course, we also get a variety of new Techan classes, starting with the Grounder (d10, 4+Int skills, full BAB, good fort- and ref-saves) that gains access to brotherhood abilities, improved recoil absorption etc., while the heavy grounder is the heavy arms/explosive specialist variant of the class. We also get the new Marshal base-class (d8, 6+Int skills per level, weird 19/20 BAB-progression, good ref-saves), who can be considered a war-master-like support class with auras to enhance team-mate capabilities and enhanced benefits for teamwork. What I was missing from this class was the option to utilize teamwork-feats/solo-tactics - a good class that could have been better by being more streamlined with PFRPG-content. The mechanic operator (d8, 7+Int skills per level, weird 19/20 BAB-progression, good ref-saves) can be seen as the tech with the customized weapons, including a cool ability called "Shiny Red Button" that enables the operator to do rather deadly stunts with his deadly modified weapons like automatically hitting, dealing additional damage etc. - very cool! The Medic (d8, 7+Int skills per level, weird 19/20 BAB-progression, good ref-and will-saves as well as 4 levels of exploits) can be considered the techan combat medic, able to negate e.g. the last hit to strike an ally and use his injections to strengthen allies. VERY cool, though I would have loved more exploits. The next general category of classes is called stalker and can be considered soldier-specialists - from the blazing Gunslinger (d10, 4+Int skills per level, full BAB, good ref saves) that can put a deadly ballet of bullets (flurry-style) through his enemies and the diametric opposite, the Sniper, who learns to enhance his single shots to further maximize his deadly potential. The Vanguard (d8, 7+Int skills per level, weird 19/20 BAB-progression, good ref-saves) is the final of the classes herein, gaining knowledge to fight with primitive powers, unarmed attacks etc. - essentially a mundane, dirty and cool alternative to the esoteric monk. (Also nice: Fighting-game inspired ability-names as inside jokes.)

In a world of both technology and magic, we also need new skills and thus are introduced to new skills dealing with the proper use of explosives, engineering, knowledge (science) and vehicle operation. The setting also includes 7 1/2 pages of feat-LISTS before giving us the feats and they do something I really like: Apart from racial feats etc. you'd expect to find, there also are a vast variety of feats that have background traits as prerequisites, expanding upon the background concepts and making the traits matter that much more. Again, 3pps, take heed - this is a great idea. But are the feats up to the quality? To cut a long, uninteresting and potentially ruinous listing of feats and what they do short (and to stop myself from blowing this review completely out of all proportions) - yes. The feats are well-designed and the techan feats, for explosive, new armors and weapons etc. make for fine additions and since I'm a huge fan of vehicles, especially the nice coverage of them, via both the extensive skill-section and the feats makes this chapter a crunchy winner in my book.

The equipment section is also rather smart, beginning with a cool recap on ever-improving technology and stagnant, unchanging magic before going into the different currencies, ranging from the familiar gold pieces (echan money, including local names for the pieces) to the universal credits used by the techan. Next would be the obligatory entries on different technology levels, up to antigrav and complete reconstruction of beings from dust as well as information on e.g. battery types and EDF - echan disruption fields that represent the disruptive effects of magic on technology as well as means to at least temporarily cancel and/or diminish said detrimental effects. Of course, Echan weaponry is also detailed. If you ever wanted to play one bastard with a REALLY big weapon, fret not, for super heavy weaponry is also covered - if you put that tripod down and aim your foes will know to weep. It should also be noted that auto fire is introduced with cohesive rules and that we get stellar artworks for many new weapons. Have I mentioned the almost mecha-like classes of heavy armor (and their respective lighter counterparts) and the class on shields, both traditional and kinetic and the rather large array of modifications that can be added to armor, enhancing customizability even further? Other cool bits are the AEN, essentially an echan-detection system, camera balls, information on viral/gene therapy, rules for exotic materials and best of all: Vehicles galore - tanks, jeeps, whatever you desire. And then there are the cool vertibird-like airships and even high-tech blimps! HELL YEAH!

In Chapter 7, we get to check out PrCs, for both the echan and techan fractions - from knights of Abraham, the PrC-incarnations of rangers and paladins (not available as base-classes) to the determined Gimfen assassins of the Crimson Leaf to the elite techan angel snipers, infantry support specialists, sierra madre gunslingers and york gun dancers, we are introduced to flavorful, regional and organizational PrCs that truly feel like they belong to their niches and make sense in the context of the world. mechanics-wise, they offer nice rules. In order to keep this review from blowing further out of all proportions, I'll refrain from listing them all. The chapter on magic is also rather interesting, as it talks about the strange dichotomies of white and black magic, disruption and the concepts of infinite creation vs. absolute syntropy as well as about theories on summoning beings and the effects of magic - both white and black magic change the user - Ixindar's black magic adds corruption points and changes you and even white magic and association with fey has the tendency to slowly turn you into an echan-like being. Also rather cool: Powerful spells are usually limited to being only learnable from an anchor, which means that learning such a spell entails quests of its own and making access to such spells rare and coveted - want polar ray? Get that crystal skull! Antimagic fields can prove lethal to echan beings not associated with Ixindar and we also get 4 technology-disrupting EMP-style spells. The magic items and what's available in Amethyst Renaissance would also cover a whole chapter - it s especially noteworthy that we get an awesome array of artifacts that come with extensive background stories before we get into the sections that especially should be read carefully by prospective DMs.

The following two chapters deal with the leitmotifs of the Amethyst Renaissance setting, ranging from familiar foreignness and constructions of alterity to eschatological ramifications of the cataclysm that was the second hammer and the canonical continuation of human religions, belief, ideologies and science as well as covering the plethoras of alternative models for society as introduced by the Fae and adapted by the echan races - which, of course, is anything but unilateral and in fact a topic not to be neglected. The corrupting influence of Ixindar, transportation and travel, languages, ideologies and warfare - you name it and these pages provide. A gazetteer of the world, introducing us to the bastions, their tech levels, to the kingdoms and also the homes of the worst infections is also provided and makes for a nice lead-in to the new beasts- While most beings can work in the Amethyst-setting, several creatures are replaced by races unique to the setting and thus, the bestiary section kicks off by introducing us to said replacements. Special mention in this section deserves the beautiful representation of the fae and the "degenerated" subtypes that have developed from them. The corrupted Dragons of Ixindar also get a nice treatment herein and the pdf hints at the worst of these beings and their special strengths.

In Chapter 13, the DM gets the grand gamut of inspirations for campaigns - whether you and your group would go for a theme of echan/techan differences, mixed groups or campaigns focused on a place, this section provides even further ideas and guidance for DMs before presenting us with a beginner's adventure, which serves as a nice starting point for both echan and techan or mixed groups. A nice module, though I would have preferred an echan and a techan start scenario.

After that, the expertly written narrative that leads us throughout this massive tome concludes and an Index finishes this massive tome.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed not a single wording that would have impeded my understanding of the text or rules, though I did notice several passages where text was in italics that wasn't supposed to be. Generally, though, the formatting is excellent. The layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous b/w-2-column layout with graphics on the borders and no printer-friendly version, which is a minor bummer. The artworks, oh the artworks: They belong, tops, to the most iconic, awesome, evocative and brilliant pieces I've seen done in b/w and the couple of full-color artworks herein are no less dazzling in their beauty. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks, though no nested bookmarks, which is a bit of a pity, since nested bookmarks would have imho further improved the ability to navigate this massive book. The pdf also comes with high-res jpegs of 3 full color artworks, a map of Canam and 4 different wallpapers.

Now, this review took me much longer than anticipated due to several reasons - first of all would be the ambition of the setting: Essentially its endeavor of creating a what-if-scenario that is logical is laudable - what is truly stunning, though, is the variety of play styles it can accommodate. Yes, you can play a fantasy campaign laced with sci-fi elements in this setting. Just as easily, you could participate in a technology vs. magic, scifi vs. fantasy war of the worlds, a gritty cyberpunk scenario or even explore themes of ideologies, races, conflicting society models or a theme of technical evolution vs. chaos that is stagnant in its magical creations etc.
´
Amethyst Renaissance accommodates all of these playstyles and infinitely more. Secondly, this review took forever to write due to the crunch being so different from what we usually see in PFRPG. Due to the peculiar nature of magic an technology in the setting, checking the balance of the classes, PrCs and options makes for a monumental task I can only hope I partially achieved in completing. Balance is precarious and there were many an instance where I actually thought that a given race, feat or other class option was overpowered, since e.g. automatic hits and similar concepts are used. However, the setting's unique balancing factors like the EDF and ideological differences/conflicts, tech levels etc. also mean that there are a lot of uncommon factors that mitigate the relative power of the races and options herein. To make matters perfectly clear: This is probably not a setting to scavenge from, since just about all crunchy elements are tightly inter-connected both with crunchy and fluffy bits to weave a complex tapestry of both exciting and uncommon options.

Amethyst Renaissance is also, and that should be stressed, an intelligent setting: Its logic, coherent approach demands a mature approach both on the side of the gaming group and the designers, as the elements that are relevant social topics in our everyday world still matter in this setting, including unpleasant topics like racism, fanaticism and the escalating clash of ideologies. All while retaining an identity beyond the sum of its component parts. Is this pdf universally balanced? Hard to tell, even for me. If a DM is not careful with regards to feats, equipment etc., I can see such a game being hard work - this is not the fault of this book, though, as the parts actually DO work they way they are intended. Another note for all the people with extensive PFRPG-libraries and a minor problem I see with this pdf should be mentioned, though: Rules concepts like teamwork feats, solo tactics or the gunslinger's grit mechanic have not found their way into this setting. Instead, we have setting specific solutions and rules-representation, which, while they do enhance the individuality of the setting, also mean that adding other content to the setting could prove to be problematic. It is also due to this that I hope we'll get more techan equipment, vehicles etc. in future supplements - introducing other content could prove to be a decision that should be carefully considered.

Finally, I feel compelled to mention one thing: As per the writing of these lines, I really hope for a print version of this book - BUT: This pdf is cheap. I mean it. Ridiculously cheap in fact. 15 bucks for 400 pages? Of content of this quality? Now if that is not an excellent bang-for buck ratio, I don't know what is. I'd honestly be hard-pressed to mention another book that marries stellar artworks, a truly unique and smart setting, innovative rules and interesting ideas while being this damn affordable- At the low asking price, Amethyst Renaissance is a total, complete steal. What's my final verdict, then? I've thought. I've calculated. I've pondered. Is this book perfect? No, there are some minor formatting glitches. There is the lack of nested bookmarks. I'm new to Amethyst and have no idea how this one and its prior d20-incarnations interact. What I can say is that this pdf made me want to play in the setting. That its races came more to life to me on these pages than just about ALL races I've reviewed this year. That the ideas are often not adhering to standard PFRPG-solutions, but work well and in unique, special ways. That the base-classes rock hard and feel cool. That I love the creative ideas, twists and all the unique "clash of culture"-style pieces of information. If my review left you even remotely curious and/or you're looking for a truly new, unique and versatile setting, I'd strongly encourage you to check this pdf out - Amethyst Renaissance is clearly a professional book and a labor of love. And at the low price, I can still justify to give this book my full blessing - thus, my final verdict, in spite of the minor blemishes that can easily be neglected, will be 5 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Publisher Reply:
WOW. Thanks for the high praise! I do consider the Pathfinder edition to be our best iteration of the base setting. Pass it around and tell others. Love the read!!! We're working on a cyberpunk game next for Pathfinder. I hope that to can earn such high marks.
Amethyst: Renaissance
by Chauncey P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/20/2012 23:30:52
I am not long on words so Ill just say this is my favorite setting for fantasy and Sci-Fi. The fact that it came out with Pathfinder rules is just icing on the cake. When I read through the setting my mind wanders and conjures up images that most games fall far short of accomplishing because they just don't seem that original. A few final thoughts would be incredible artwork and layout make it a pleasure to have in my game collection.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Click here to issue a publisher reply
Displaying 1 to 15 (of 29 reviews) Result Pages:  1  2  [Next >>] 
0 items
 Hottest Titles
 Gift Certificates
Powered by DrivethruRPG