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Advanced Race Codex: Humans $6.50
Average Rating:3.7 / 5
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Advanced Race Codex: Humans
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Advanced Race Codex: Humans
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/23/2006 00:00:00
The opening pages of Green Ronin?s ?Advanced Race Codex: Humans? makes a very good point; after a character has gone up a few levels, the race he or she is seems to become less and less important. Players starting new (lower-level) characters might savor the ability modifiers or low-light vision offered by some of the core races, but after earned feats and ability modifiers, various magic items and prestige class abilities, a character?s race doesn?t have a huge impact on gameplay. What ?Advanced Race Codex: Humans? does is take one of the core races ? the one most-adaptable in this case due to its bonus feat and extra skill points ? and makes it ?special.?

Adapting a rule from ?The Black Company Campaign Setting,? the first section of this supplement provides rulings for how to add a character background to your human character. A background offers a player four specific skills in which he or she can place their bonus skill ranks; each gained level above first allows a bonus skill point to be added to one of these skills. The bonus feat chosen at first level also must be chosen from one of two accompanying feats. In exchange for these slightly reduced options, a background provides a ?special advantage? (like receiving a +1 bonus on Fortitude saves if the Beggar background is chosen, or a +2 bonus on all Intelligence checks if the Scholar background is chosen). While this section does inspire players to put a bit more thought into their character background when initially creating their PCs, I would worry that relying too heavily on the character background rules might actually stifle creating character creation. Use these rules carefully, and definitely with the aid of a DM.

The second section focuses on more human options by presenting more-than-human ancestries. With the number of half-elves and half-orcs running around the DnD-iverse, it?s not that much of a stretch to assume that humans can interbreed with an amazing number of different races. The ancestries presented here are for players whose human characters that may have had a celestial, a dragon, an elemental or a fiend in their genealogy. Three level progressions are presented, much like the paragon classes presented in Wizards of the Coasts? ?Unearthed Arcana,? and the development is just as sound.

The third section of supplemental rules is devoted to new feats, and there are some great ones here. Designer Robert J. Schwalb has presented a mix of combat oriented feats (Exploit Opening, for example, which provides a bonus to the first attack of opportunity a PC makes in a round) to more subtle ?character?-oriented feats (Diversified, which allows a character?s two highest-level classes to not count when determining an experience point penalty when multiclassing). The design of these feats is solid, and none of these seem over-powerful.

The same can be said of the prestige classes in the fourth section. Since a human can multiclass most freely of all the races, the requirements for these prestige classes speak to the more diversified character concepts. A battle crier mixes the best of the barbarian?s and the bard?s abilities whereas the storm shepherd blends the druid and a psionic character class. My personal favorite is the deacon, a charismatic prestige class combining religion and magic and drips with role-playing opportunity.

I was a bit disappointed with a single piece of artwork in this section. To illustrate the buccaneer, Green Ronin has chosen to use a picture of a female character who?s just had the backside of her breeches bitten away by a shark. This walks the fine line of class, and I found it distracting.

The final two sections are devoted to new spells and new items, and both sections, again, are well-balanced.

While no DM should allow any material in their game or campaign without approval, I think a player will have very little difficulty convincing their DM that the ?Advanced Race Codex: Humans? supplement is fit for the table. The rules are well-designed and ?developed, and while the ?fluff? material is a little light in some areas, I can heartily recommend this product, and would look forward to using some of this material in my own game.



LIKED: Well-designed and -developed, and makes an excellent companion to Wizards of the Coasts' "Races of Destiny"

DISLIKED: Some of the opening material will definitely need a stronger DM's-hand in implementation

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Race Codex: Humans
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/19/2006 00:00:00
Advance Race Codex: Human by Green Ronin is a product providing more options for that highly adaptable race, humans. This is part of a series that will eventually cover all of the core D&D races.

The book is divided into six parts: Part I is advice for playing human characters. It includes such ideas as social backgrounds, which narrow the choice of human bonus skills and feats in exchange for a minor bonus. Another option is cultural backgrounds, which trade the 1st level skill bonus for a bonus to a number of cultural skills.

Part II provides options, allowing for variant ancestry of human to be expressed through three-level classes that require the use of a feat to gain access to. These include celestial, draconic, elemental, and fiendish. While very interesting, they are slightly overpowered, especially the draconic one. In addition, the great ones, ascendant humans, are included as a variant race.

Part III comprises optional rules, including twenty-four new feats, including five ancestry feats (six if you include Planetouched). The ancestry feats provide a set of minor bonuses and allow the character to count as the race in questions. The feats mostly seem on the higher edge of the power curve, so a DM should look at them carefully before allowing them.

Part IV is a set of five new, human-focused, Prestige Classes. The Battle Crier, a barbarian-bard combination. The Buccaneer, a daring pirate class. The Deacon, a social-skills oriented church operative. The Houri, a magic using courtesan and seductress. And the Storm Shepard, a druidic-psionic hybrid class that manipulates storms and electricity. These classes seem balanced, though perhaps slightly on the weaker side.

Part V, is new spells and magic. Well, new spells only, sixteen new spells, mostly 1st level (seven spells), or 7th or above (five spells), are included and is an interesting mix with something for every class. The 1st level Inflict Pain, a touch spell that inflicts non-lethal damage seems to fit a need (though its special effect could be changed for a good caster), and several spells that are quick or immediate actions.

Part VI is equipment containing new alchemical and wondrous items. These are all minor items, and include the humorously named Portable Cleric, a one use item in the form of a statue that heals all near to it.

The ARC Human is a useful collection of ideas but a DM will have to act with care to see which of them fits their campaign.


LIKED: A wide variety of interesting options.

DISLIKED: Concerns about balance issues, but these are minor as long as the DM pays attention.

QUALITY: Acceptable

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Advanced Race Codex: Humans
Publisher: Green Ronin
by Peter I. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 02/16/2006 00:00:00
Advanced Races Codex: Humans is a 40 page pdf product offering new and expanded options when playing human characters, and forms part of Green Ronin's new Advanced Races Codex lines of products which attempts to bring back the appeal in playing the more standard races such as half-elves and gnomes. The aim of the product is also to provide enough options for humans in any campaign setting so that the choice of being human is a choice that matters throughout the life of the character, and to expand on the scope of humans in a campaign world. Some of the material in the Advanced Races Codex is updated and reprinted from Green Ronin's Races of Renown series, although there is plenty of new material here to go with that.

The overall presentation and layout is excellent and professional, although there were some instances where the choice of font and the shadowing of fonts made it difficult to read the actual text. Cover art and interior art is of a high quality and there is a good number of art images in the product to support the mechanical and flavor material. Editing was excellent as well, although there were a number of minor errors that didn't really detract from reading through the pdf. Bookmarks and a thorough table of contents are provided to navigate the six parts of this pdf - human characters, human options, feats, prestige classes, spells and equipment.

The first part of the pdf looks at human backgrounds. Here the idea is that a human character picks a particular background such as sailor or beggar, and, within the scope of that background selects the human bonus skill points and feat to establish the background. Given the constraints of the background and the skill and feat selection there are often some minor benefits of being from a particular background, such as a bonus to certain skills. The backgrounds are aimed at expanding the scope of humans and adding more flavor to a human character, but more importantly helping in defining the character and providing motivation that's mechanically tied to a certain idea.

It also allows for more versatility between humans, and the more than two dozen backgrounds provided are a good step towards providing that. Most players out there will be used to providing background and concepts for their characters, whatever the race, but the departure here is to mechanically solidify that concept which is a strong idea. Not only are backgrounds provided as a way to create a 'different' human, but environment is also briefly discussed as a way to mechanically support a character coming from such an environment and culture. Characters from desert, swamp or plains environments can all select their skills according to their background environmental home.

The idea of paragon races and bloodlines has been around for some time, and the Advanced Races Codex comes up with its own similar idea in the form of ancestries. A human that selects the Unlock Latent Ancestry feat as his bonus feat is eligible to take levels in the various ancestry classes, such as celestial, fiendish, dragon or elemental. Each ancestry class is treated as a minor three level prestige class, with all associated abilities. This is certainly an interesting and well-executed idea, providing options for humans, although I would've preferred a wider selection of ancestry classes than those provided. Those that do no choose a particular ancestry can also choose to be called the great ones, or superior specimens of the human race, and details are provided for creating humans that are great in mind and ability.

A large number of new feats are provided. Not all of these are applicable to humans only, although most of the ancestry feats are, and so should be of use to other races as well. The pdf does a good job, though, of focusing on the key strengths and features of the human race and expanding on it. Feats such as Jack-of-all-trades and Social Adaptation fit the human race stereotype well and enhance it. Ancestry feats are interesting in that they allow humans with a specific ancestry to take levels in prestige classes such as arcane archer or dwarven defender which are normally closed to them.

A number of new prestige classes are provided (battle crier, buccaneer, deacon, houri and storm sheppard) along with the epic progressions of each. While these again are not limited to humans, they are all to a certain extent focused on the human characteristics of adaptability, learning and skill. Some, such as the Houri, an expert lover, are probably more suited to NPCs, but for the most part the ideas and mechanics are solid. The deacon, an influential member of his church, is the more interesting prestige class, providing lots of roleplaying opportunities within a campaign world.

The last pages of the pdf detail a dozen or more new spells as well as some new alchemical items and other magical items. The selection is satisfactory, although in some instances one must wonder why a particular spell or item was selected to pertain to humans. As one can expect of a pdf of this nature it uses material from a wide number of different OGL sources, including numerous other Green Ronin products.


LIKED: This is a solid pdf which provides a large number of options for creating human characters, including backgrounds, ancestry, and feats. The background and ancestry classes are particularly interesting ideas that are worthy of expanding upon, and provide some strong choices for human characters. In general the pdf succeeds well at its aim in providing options for humans and helping to expand on the race beyond the scope of most campaign settings.

DISLIKED: Some of the material seemed irrelevant to humans as a race, particularly some of the spells and magical items. It would've been nice to see more interesting ancestries for humans to choose from rather than those more 'common' ones listed in the pdf.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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