Starjammer: Medical Marvels.
The first release in what is shaping to be a promising product line and a spiritual successor to Spelljammer that is living up to it's hype.
What we have here is a 32 page pdf, -5 for Front/Back Cover, Editorial Stuff, advert for the OpenGamingStore, the Open Gaming License, as well as half a page for the introduction
Leaves us with 26.5 pages of content to dig through.
From the get go we're given a the first of 7 "Audio Logs", which are sidebar flavor text sidebars from the perspective of a Dr. Karer, conveying thoughts from an in character standpoint about the topic the page it appears on is covering, the first of which even comes with a portrait of the good good doctor.
Afterwards we are given data on Pre-Tech prices (see Golarion's tech level at the time the Technology Guide was printed), Post-Tech prices (Starjammer's current day), and Legality codes. These lay out how to parse the information presented in the rest of the book with the why's and hows of each legality level, why currency moved to credits (a briefer version than Starjammer's entry), and even an odd little quirk on essentially 'sales tax' for using coins still.
After that we are given nine tables spanning across pages with fun art that can convey the different styles of Space Opera character art, laying out pre and post tech prices of things Paizo made in the Technology Guide with their Legality codes. I can't find any readily available formula they used, implying that each item was taken on a case by case basis instead with things such as the lighter going from 10 gp to 1 credit, but the Vortex Gun went from 182,000gp to 150,000 credits (as well as a hefty legality code). Gives players a more reasonable opportunity to access tech gear in a setting using this but still doesn't make past tech items such as the bow, or sword, completely outdated.
One thing I kind of wished they addressed, and I might have missed this entirely in Starjammer core, is firearms that are not presented in the technology guide and where they are assuming the technology level is for those. Just a little thing that could help a DM gauge things and manage expectations of players walking into this universe.
With the bookkeeping of the past items handled they jump into new toys for players in the shape of Cybertech and Pharmaceuticals. Each is presented in the same way you would expect to see a technological or magical item, including the pre and post tech prices and legality codes here as well, with my personal favorite being the smuggling compartments leg slot cybernetics and Altraeg for Pharmaceuticals.
The fun doesn't stop there however, we're given three new sets of option rules and one revisited, Spirit, Cyber Sickness, Pharaceutical Addiction (revisited), and Miscibility.
Spirit is the option for Cybernetics implimentation costs. Instead of being keyed off the lowest of intelligence or constitution, they instead have you base it off the average of Constitution, Intelligence, and Charisma citing mind body and soul all helping keep you grounded as you get yourself chrome'd out. This helps mitigate an issue I was little soured on when I first saw that in Paizo's book as it felt like it forced only specific people could be decked out in said tech (namley the smart tank), or have the terrible penalties apply.
Speaking of, instead of the typical -4's to all the things of the Technology you have the neat option of Cybersickness. The rules are laid out under the assumption that you do not use Spirit with a notation on the back end that replaces the appropriate saves with 'Spirit' Saves, altering the base DCs for Spirit.
Stage 1: If you go over your implmentation value you immediately make a fort save that scales based on how high you go exceed your cap by. On A failure, roll on a table for bad stuff which can be not as bad as the usual -4, only penalizing a skill or two, to reduced healing, or even electricity vulnerabilibility. On a pass, you're safe for a month, but the DC increases by 1 on your next save. So far so good right? You can have plenty of fun managing roleplay opportunities of losing yourself to the machine, or even pushing your body to the limits from decking yourself out as much as possible for a specific mission.
Stage 2: After Obtaining stage one, you make a well save, this time off of will, and with a higher base DC, every week. On a failure you roll on another chart, and these penalties do stack with your stage one bad stuff, these are going hurt dramatically more than the base penalty some dictating how you act. While Stage One was mostly inflicting penalties to how you interact with things physically, this is more corruption of the mind and how you handle things socially. If you make your save you are safe for a week but your DC increases by one for the next save.
Stage 3 (aka Severe) : After obtaining Stage three, you again make will saves. This time it is against a flat DC that scales for each previous week you succed by. If you fail this one, you shift alignments and become under the GM's control (very much like the final stages of corruption).
The way to cure these maladies? Remove your overage and wait out as your body normalizes back
With Pharmaceutical Addictions, it felt nice to to see they brought up the situation. I personally do not like how Paizo itself handled their addiction rules, but from a mechanical standpoint it makes sense how they expanded upon the rules here. If you enjoy the addiction rules Paizo presented, these will feel like a nice refinement to those things.
Lastly, we are given Miscibility. Holy cow was I excited when I saw this in my table of contents. Being able to answer "what happens if I drink/take both at once" with something more than "Effects as normal" and have an easy readily available chart to do so? It brightens my day and if nothing else I'd view it worth it buying just for this little gem. There are seperate charts for mixing Pharmaceuticals and Potions, with good and bad effects being extreme when they happen, but far from the norm (however there are slightly more 'bad' effects, making it still a risky task to do this).
A curiosity I have and I would work out with your DM should you use this system for potions is when you roll a 100, which can lead to permanent effects. The chart cites the condition as a 'curse', as curses are handled a couple of different ways in Pathfinder, ranging from needing a Remove Curse to handle, to needing a 'to restore from this point you need a remove curse or a <X> CL check' you might want to clarify with your DM how they wish to handle that.
We have a neat tightly packed PDF that gives us plenty of updated and new mechanics.
Interspaced between the tables and charts we are given fun pieces of art, and flavorful pieces of fluff to read.
It can be used with or without Starjammer Core in any pathfinder game where this technology is available.
The writing makes me feel like this was very much a labor of love project.
I'm a little saddened that nearly a quarter of the PDF is updating old products. I understand the why of it, just that could have been 8 more pages of neat things or fun ideas.
As I mentioned above, the addiciton rules didn't flip my trigger. Looking closely at the potions rules on extreme cases you can gain some pretty bonkers effects (permanent Resist Energy comes to mind)
From a layout standpoint the book is wonderful, neat, and had a nice ratio of art to text so it's not a drab technical manual but isn't using art as filler space either.
Mechanically it gives potential for so many interesting stories just on the obtaining items through the legality code, dealing with cyber sickness, or a miscibility accident gone wrong.
Final Verdict. 5/5 Stars.