By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Raging Swan Pressis 27 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD/author bios, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks and 1 page back cover, leaving 20 pages of content for the 10 characters – one page crunch and 1 page fluff per character.
This is not all this pdf is, though – just as much as it’s a supplement and a promotion, Iconic characters can be considered a kind of social experiment: The basic stats contained n this pdf are available for free, while the paid version includes massive amounts of information on the individual characters. Created with the 15-point buy system and belong to the core-races. All the characters are first level, come with their own respective b/w-artworks and would make for ready to use characters suitable both as go-play player characters or NPCs under the control of the DM.
We get a nice slew of characters, including an oracle (life), an elven magus, a human cavalier of the order of the shield, a human witch (agility), a half-elf cleric, an elven ranger, a illusionist, a half-orc fighter, a halfling rogue and a dwarven fighter. No love for gnomes, unfortunately.
That is the content we get for free – the background information of the respective characters, their distinguishing features and mannerisms as well as hooks for them are each devoted a whole page and the additional space provided makes each character a truly distinguished individual indeed. In fact, the writing is compelling enough to make me potentially want to play these characters – tragedies and past failures and victories are detailed, as are hooks to get them into adventuring. While they are not bereft of all clichés (the half-orc has been adopted, his father ostracized by the community…), the backgrounds are well written enough and detailed enough to make this a worthwhile purchase.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP’s classic two-column b/w-standard. The pdf comes with a screen and a print-version and is fully bookmarked. The b/w-artworks are neat, but if you’re like me and own a lot (or all) Raging Swan-pdfs, you’ll be familiar with them. When all is said and done, I do like the characters presented in Iconic Characters – as go-play adventurers you can use without rolling the dice, the guys and gals work well indeed. If, as a DM, you’re looking for cohorts or low-level allies, these characters may also work well for you, as the writing per se is neat indeed. HOWEVER: We don’t get any gnomes, no sample summoner, inquisitor, alchemist, gunslinger etc. and familiars and similar creatures have been left out of the equation as well. There’s another catch. Legendary Games’ “Gothic Heroes”. This pdf set the standard so high for good pre-gens, it’s hard to beat indeed and while Iconic Characters is a very good file, it somewhat blanches when compared to the admittedly more expensive Gothic Heroes. On the other hand, the characters presented here are slightly more conventional and depending on your taste, might fit better with you. Seeing that I consider Raging Swan’s offer of providing the crunch for free extremely fair, I’d settle for a definite recommendation that you check these characters out and, if you like what you see, buy the file. That being said, I can’t rate this higher than Legendary Games’ pregens and will thus settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.
Iconic Characters is available from: