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Amethyst D20
 
$14.99
Average Rating:4.7 / 5
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Amethyst D20
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Amethyst D20
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Michelle M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/08/2008 00:58:54

(I bought the limited edition hardcover of Amethyst, which was signed and included a beautiful colour print by Nick Greenwood. I have read the book but have not yet playtested the game, so I will speak less to the rules and more to the worldbuilding and concept.)

Amethyst presents a rich world that has been developed down to the niggling, wonderful details. While reading the book I was delighted to come across "bubbles" detailing culture-specific hand gestures, and eating utensils in both fey and human cultures. These are details that are rarely thought about but which are essential to a truly immersive roleplaying experience. The stunning, professional artwork included throughout the book do excellent justice to this vibrant world.

What I really love about Amethyst is that it brings the mystique back to fantasy. Clerics are no longer a dime a dozen, but instead number less than 50 in the entire continent of Canam (North America)--and each is glorified for his or her amazing gift. Reports by confounded scientists describe how fey skeletons should logically collapse under their own weight. This is a world in which magic "almost takes an intelligent delight" in suspending the rules of science. And yet, though romance and idealism can flourish in Amethyst, these almost childlike delights are tempered with a mature side that incorporates history, politics, ideology, and sexuality.

Some may complain that science and magic do not "blend" in Amethyst. This, I believe, is exactly the point. The incompatibility of science and magic provides a wonderful thematic conflict that is much less black-and-white than the old "good vs. evil" conflict--though that still exists, too. And don't think that science is the bad guy in this world--both magic and science have their dark sides in Amethyst, whether that be the incorporeal evil mastermind Mengus, or the xenophobic city of Mann. Each also has its limitations: technology malfunctions in the very presence of magical creatures, and magic has been limited in power, with the most powerful spells being extremely difficult to earn. I see these limitations resulting in interesting and challenging situations.

I will dip into the rules aspect by saying a few words about classes. I find the class system in Amethyst highly organized while remaining open to many possibilities. It also makes a lot of good sense. On the fantasy side there are fewer basic classes than in standard D&D, but within each is an array of possibilities, each with its own advantages. For example, within the "Fighter" base class, there are "class focuses" such as Cavalier, Bowman, Juggernaut, Virtuous Warrior, and more. Add to this the eight classes of "Techa" (no class focuses for these) and there are actually far more class choices than is first apparent. An interesting feature is that for the prestige classes of Paladin and Ranger, the prestige class is actually slightly different depending on how you entered it. For example, a Paladin from a Monk would be different than a Paladin from a Fighter. Also, a Ranger from a Druid would be different than a Ranger from a Fighter. Once again, this makes excellent sense.

While Amethyst is a rulebook, it is also part fantasy novel. Little blurbs of narrative throughout the book show glimpses of the world "in action," as it were, as do segments of an ongoing narrative at the end of every chapter. I enjoyed reading every one of these, and in my opinion these are excellent tools for DMs, as they familiarize the DM with the world as it would actually be lived in.

Finally, while I can't say I speak for all female roleplayers, I can say that personally I appreciate the designers' attention to little romantic details such as cultural marriage ceremonies, and relationships between fey and non-fey. While male roleplayers might balk at the idea of roleplaying a romance, I have to say that it's something I think is lacking in roleplaying in general. After all, what great fantasy novel doesn't include a romance?

Overall, the game designers have created a game that is not only backed by a beautifully rich world, but also one that encourages more challenging, more engaging roleplaying--something that I've been looking for more of.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst D20
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Lari H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/29/2008 14:06:11

I just finished going through Amethyst. Took me about two days to really read it through carefully and now I feel confident enough to post a review without having yet really playtested it.

The PDF with its recent alterations leaves very little to complain about and for all technical parts of the review. The PDF has never been my favorite format (I like real books I can hold) but here it still manages to accomplish it's purpose very well.

Then onto the most important part, the setting itself. I have to say I'm hard to please when it comes to technology vs magic settings and so I am glad to say Amethyst does not let me down at all. The fluff and writing is interesting and well written with many fine details that give life to the setting. All the background information is there, giving a DM all he needs to run a campaign (or two!).

I found all the changes made to basic 3.5 D&D rules well thought and all seems balanced, with changes to old classes, races (old and new), spells, etc. Special mention goes to the new prestige classes which are interesting and seemingly alot of fun to play (Can't wait to test out the Limshau Custodian!).

All in all a great product and definitely worth the money I put in it. Oh and if you don't know whether to take the softcover, hardcover or the PDF I can say that it is really all only about personal preferrence. I have both the PDF from RPGNow and the hardcover version from Lulu and both works look great.

If you love magic vs technology in an interesting and a refreshing setting then Amethyst is definitely the book for you!

-Larry



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst D20
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Shane O. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 04/25/2008 15:00:33

Some books are harder to review than others. In some cases, this is because they’re so different from other products that it’s hard to have a baseline to compare them to. For others, it’s because the book doesn’t attempt to go in a direction that one would normally critique it on. And then, there are books that are hard to adequately review simply because reviews are short, and the book is pretty darn huge. Amethyst is one of those latter types.

Weighing in just under four hundred pages and slightly more than eighty megabytes, Amethyst is a very large d20 setting book. The PDF does have bookmarks, but these aren’t labeled as well as they could be, and only take you to the six major sections of the book. There should be better layout for these, as well as links to various sub-sections; in a product this large, ease of navigation is very important.

To say that Amethyst is rich with artwork is an understatement. While the covers are the only color artwork, the interior of the book has many incredibly evocative black and white pieces. The quality of this art really can’t be understated. All pages have a flowing border along the bottom and alternating sides, with an illustration at the corner of the page of either a beautiful woman or a man in full tactical body armor. All of this is grand…unless you try to print the book out. Given how printer-unfriendly the PDF is, and how there’s no text-only version of the book, you may want to try and purchase the print version instead (I’m not entirely certain there is one, but I assume there must be).

Amethyst’s setting is here on Earth. However, it’s not exactly contemporary. Set one thousand years in the future, magic returned to the world a millennium ago. The return of various magical races, along with the massive disruption of technology, has caused things to change a lot in the time that passed. Amethyst is a world of both technology and magic, but one of the main points of the setting is that the two do not get along well together. Yes you can have your mage wield a wand in one hand and a laser blaster in the other, but be prepared for the blaster to fizzle out on you (or explode violently). There’s also a much more subtle struggle between light and dark magic. The setting explains that most magic people use comes from Attricana, the white gate, and this is the power that returned magic to the world and disrupts technology. However, the power of Ixindar, the black gate, is also returning slowly. Sibilant and corruptive, this is the proverbial “dark side” that offers darker power, and doesn’t disrupt technology, making it very seductive indeed for power-seekers.

The book plays up the magic vs. tech theme by largely segregating them, both in the setting and in the rules. Anytime magical creatures (including humans who use mystic powers), items, or powers are near technology, there’s a check that needs to be made for the tech to continue functioning. Most of the alternate races offered here (which are largely analogous to the PHB races) are thus excluded from reliably using science at all. Driving up the distinction even more is the different sets of classes offered. While most of the usual fantasy classes are here (though several are modified heavily, and a few are deleted altogether), there’s an entire other set of modern-style classes, defense bonus and all, that eschew magic altogether and focus on the technology that still holds sway in the Bastions. These characters pay a very high price if they ever use magic, however, losing things like their defense bonus, not to mention that leaving the Bastions means that they likely have problems with the gear they rely upon. Clearly, Amethyst is an uphill battle for characters who want to stick to modern tropes. Of course, magic isn’t overpowering itself. Spellcasting characters can only use up to 6th-level spells. Anything more powerful than that requires finding access to the very rare “foundation” spells that let you cast these powerful magicks. And resurrection is sharply curtailed, being almost impossible to perform.

Interestingly, the only part of the world that’s covered in detail is Canam, the new name for North America. A large section of the book is devoted to the various town, settlements, Bastions, and other locations around this continent. However, despite the fact that most of the rest of the world is talked about only obliquely, the book does an incredible job giving flavor text. Everything from the framing fiction in various chapters, to in-character sidebars discussing every conceivable topic that pepper the book, to an entire chapter devoted to life in Amethyst, does a masterful job bringing this campaign to life. The book has no hesitation on talking about things like the state of real-world religions in this new Earth, or realistic race-relations (which range from elven bonding ceremonies to the legalities that come with owning sex slaves). Few d20 settings feel as alive as Amethyst does.

Altogether, Amethyst is an extremely vibrant new setting, presenting a campaign world that feels holistic in scope, even as the possibilities presented in this book barely seem to scratch the surface. My only complaints about the book are technical in nature, as the stunted bookmarks and lack of a printer-friendly version don’t seem to take full advantage of the PDF format. That’s a relatively minor complaint, however, and Amethyst is still an excellent choice for a d20 game that’s in search of something that’s both familiar and new at the same time.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
Thank your for the kind words. In response, we have made alterations to the PDF, adding in a branching bookmark tree for quick shortcut access to nearly 140 different sections of the 391 page tome. I hope this will alleviate your issues.
Amethyst D20
Publisher: Dias Ex Machina Games
by Maxime L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/14/2008 19:58:17

This is a great product. Its a campaign world for D20 3.5 set in a not so far future on earth. Simply put, magic is back with a vengeance and as reclaimed most of the globe. Some humans have adapted and may now cast fireballs and flirt with elves. Other reject this new reality and have banded together in great cities called Bastion where they defend their technological way of life.

TECHAN (the tech guys) must be wary when the stroll outside their bastions. Spells, magic items and ECHAN (magic people) generate an EDF (Enchantment Disruption Field). This can jam or break tech it comes in contact with. The more advanced the more fragile.

I wont go into further details. All this was really well thought of and the background and fluff makes sense. This is an important point. This book is full of details and reminds me of the way White Wolf presents its product. Theirs a lot of background stories sprinkled in the book witch helps define and envision this great new campaign setting.

On the crunch side, several of the base class have been retooled. This is always done with taste and never goes overboard. The bard is gone and the Ranger and Paladin are now prestige class. 7th lvl spells and higher are now very rare and require a feat to learn. Necromancy will really corrupt you. Clerics who can actually use magic are rare. Most races have also been redone and again its all good. On the Techan side you have 8 base class to fulfill all your needs. They are all well done with interesting abilities that are well explained.

Rpgs are like movies, video games and music. We get a load of trash every year and about one or two really great products will surprise us. This is one of them. The great art will lure you in. The well constructed rules will make you stay and the FANTASTIC setting will make you come back for more again and again.

You will enjoy this.... thrust me.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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