Legendary Races - Rakshasa
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
Author: Stefen Styrsky, additional writing Mark Gedak
Artists: Michael Scotta (cover), Mark Radle (interior), Jennifer Taylor (interior)
Page Count: 24 (1 cover, 1 Credits, 4 pages OGL, and 18 pages of game material)
OGL Content: Yes
Price: $3 (12.5 cents per page, 16.67 if you only count game material)
Disclaimer: I was provided with a copy of this product for review purposes.
Layout: Simple, basic two column layout, Times New Roman for body text,
Art: Six approximately quarter page illustrations, four of which are tied thematically to the product and two appear to be white space filler (specifically a crystal ball and a decanter with glasses).
Content: Legendary Races Rakshasa (herein LR:R) is Purple Duck Games third entry in its Legendary Races line of supplements. LR:R offers a cornucopia of well thought out cornucopia of game mechanics for both GMs and players alike, a rare and welcome combination. LR:R breaks down into eight sections:
Rakshasa origins, physiology, habitat and society. Purple Duck has a slightly different take on rakshasas viewing them as subtle corrupters along with the standard view of rakshasas as power-hungry overlords. The intriguing concept of “face cousins” is introduced in the habitat and society section, where along with a rakshasa's loyalty going up along hierarchical lines all rakshasas that have the same animal head share a bond of loyalty or kinship that often leads to divided loyalties.
This section presents a Rakshasa school of magic for wizards and an alternate rakshasa bloodline for sorcerers. Mechanically the first ability of the school, glamer mastery worries me. It increases the save DC of all illusion (glamer) spells cast by the wizard and at 20thl level allows the wizard to see through any glamers per true seeing. With the extremely limited amount of illusion (glamer) spells in the core rules (nine total for wizards: blur, disguise self, displacement, hallucinatory terrain, invisibility, invisibility sphere, magic aura, mirage arcana, and screen) I don't think the ability will benefit a PC all that often, especially compared to extended illusions which glamer mastery replaces. Copycat provides a mirror image like ability, while fearsome hunter provide an improved phantasmal killer spell-like ability with additional uses as the wizard increases in level.
The rakshasa bloodline will be familiar to those who own Adamant Entertainment's Bloodlines supplement (also authored Stefen Styrsky). Published prior to and unlike the rakshasa bloodline in Paizo's Ultimate Magic the bloodline presented in LR:R focuses on emulating the physical might of rakshasas providing claws, skill bonuses, dexterity increases, speed increases and finally an infusion of might at 20th level giving the sorcerer DR 10/evil and SR 31 (which may be over the top).
Rakshasa Racial Class
If you are familiar with WotC's Savage Species and its monster classes you will recognize the rakshasa racial class as a spiritual descendent. Unburdened by level adjustments (which were eliminated in Pathfinder) LR:R provides a simple logical 10 level class (matching the 10 racial hit die of the rakshasa) that can be used for both PC's and NPC's. While most GM's will probably balk at allowing a PC rakshasa for more than a one-shot game, the true brilliance of the class shines through in its utility for the GM. If you're running a campaign where rakshasas figure prominently or you want to use one against a low-level party your options were pretty limited until said party reached 7th level (6th with the young template) unless you wanted a TPK. The rakshasa racial class allows the GM to create custom low level rakshasas for their players to encounter without the fear of overwhelming them. My only quibble with the class a presented is that it should +2 Int and +2 Wis as part of its initial ability score bonuses to allow the average rakshasa to built with the class to have the same statistics as found in the Pathfinder Bestiary. The sections finishes with a NPC rakshasa created using the racial class. No CR is provided for the NPC, but it looks a like a CR 6 or 7 encounter to me.
A fairly well-balanced race that focuses on dexterity and charisma with a logical set of racial abilities including spell resistance. Along with racial traits a full set of alternate racial traits are provided including abilities like detect thoughts, minor DR X/evil or resistance to mind-reading. A full page discussion on rakshasa class choices covering all the classes (including alternate classes exception the anti-paladin) published by Pazio is provided along with customized favored class options. Like the preceding section an NPC half-rakasha is presented. The half-rakshasa race is well designed and I wouldn't have any problems allowing it in my game.
This section is is aimed squarely at players. It provides one new sub-domain and four new archetypes for players choose. The insight sub-domain belongs to knowledge domain and replaces the lore keeper power with epiphany which allows the cleric to grant a single ally a bonus on an attack roll, saving throw or skill with the bonus increasing as the cleric levels. The new archetypes are Adept of the Perfect Form (fighter), Akarupe (Monk), Beast Lord (ranger) and Mind Thief (Rogue).
Adepts focus on improving the body's ability to resist damage. They lose proficiency with medium and heavy armors along with shields and gains proficiency with monk weapons. Bravery is slightly modified and armor training is replaced by mental armor which grants a natural armor progression. Armor mastery is replaced with Rock of the Ages which allows the fighter to use his Wisdom modifier to in place of one his physical attribute modifiers. The text on Rock of the Ages is confusing and could use some clarification
Akarupes stress enlightenment and gain access to ki pool one level earlier than normal, which delays access to fast movement until sixth level. They also replace diamond body and diamond soul with always ready and greater defense both of which continue the theme of enlightenment through awareness.
Beast lords gain their animal companions earlier than normal, can telepathically command their companions, the ability to sense what his companion is sensing and eventually command animals through the Wild Mind ability. Again this is an ability that needs clarification. It says the beast lord can command animals to do his bidding, but doesn't reference any existing abilities. What exactly are the limits? Is it like charm animal, dominate animal or command undead, but applied to animals? How does it last. Looking at the text it seems like concentration, but I'm not certain. It also prevents the ranger from using his favored enemy ability while he is dominating an animal, which strikes me as too much of a penalty.
Memory thieves gain several spell-like abilities that, surprise allow them to changes their foes memories. As they progress in the archetype memory thieves can use memory lapse, modify memory and eventually expend as spell-like abilities.
The archetypes presented are well designed, and feel exotic enough that they would fit in an eastern setting. With only two problematic class abilities, which only need clarification vice redesign these archetypes are sure to please players and GM's alike.
A magical khopesh used a mythical hero used to slay an might rakshasa asura. The Darsun khopesh uses Purple Duck's legendary weapons' rules to scale the power of the magic item as its owner increases in level.
Four rakshasa related monsters appear in this section: Asura, Darba, Ravenna and Vetala. The asura is a powerful rakshasa and originally appeared in Goodman Games' The Guide to Rakshasas. It has been updated to Pathfinder and essentially is an advanced rakshasa with additional spell-like abilities. The darba are members of a demonic group known as pisacha that share several traits with rakshasa. Darbas have some rather powerful travel abilities for CR 6. I'm not sure why greater teleport and plane shift are part if the darba's spell-like abilities as they are native outsiders and their lore doesn't support them being planar travelers. Ravenna are also lesser kin to the rakshasa, but are CR 4 monstrous humanoids that embody the animal side of rakshasas. Vetalas are undead that occasionally arise from those tortured to death by rakshasas. These CR 8 undead are able to possess corpses and can only be laid to rest when the rakshasa who murdered them is slain.
This section reprints three pages of OGL material used by Purple Duck in the document. In this section you will find the chameleon archetype (rogue), osyluth guile feat, the pleasure domain, 8 spells and game rules for the khopesh.
The section 15 declaration should include:
Bloodlines: New Options for Sorcerers. Copyright 2011, Adamant Entertainment: Author: Stefen Styrsky.
Likes: I really liked the rakshasa racial class, its nice way of building lower CR monsters that allow me to surprise my players with foes they wouldn't expect to see until higher levels. The player material is nicely balanced and a welcome addition to the official body of material published by Paizo.
Dislikes: The short amount of space devoted to expanding the background material on rakshasas'. The single page of material covering Purple Duck's take on the rakshasa's origin, physiology, habitat and society feels like a tease. I feel they could have easily expanded the habitat and society section into a full page or more with greater depth on inter-rakshasa relations and their relations with mortals.
[4 of 5 Stars!]