88682-thumb140[1]By Enzeitgeist

This pdf is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, leaving 15 pages for the Kappa, so let’s jump in.

The pdf begins, as all the ITC-pdfs, with an aptly-written IC-introduction to the race and, indeed, their outlook on religion, alignment and the like is presented IC as well, helping one to immerse in the feeling of the race. We even get an origin myth. This takes up 4 1/2 pages. Unfortunately, I encountered two editing glitches: On page 6, in the paragraph on physical description, it should read “lumbering gait” instead of “lumbering gate”. On page 7 in the paragraph on relationships, it should read “tolerate our humor” instead of “tolerate are[sic!] humor.”

On to the racial traits of the Kappa:

Kappa get +2 Str, are small, have a movement rate of 20 ft., low-light vision, +2 natural AC, a swim speed of 40 ft. and +8 to swim, don’t get the small-penalty to CMB and CMD but rather a +1 bonus, always treat stealth and survival as class skills,, have a natural claw attack that deals 1d3 damage, weapon familiarity with Kappa weapons and can be weakened by successfully draining the bowl on their head of water, resulting in Str and Dex-damage.

They come with 5 alternate racial traits:

  • Goblin Nature: +2 Dex -2 Wis, goblinoid subtype
  • Hard-shelled: natural AC-bonus rises to +4, speed drops to 15ft., swim speed drops to 30 ft.
  • Kami-friend: Replaces natural wrestler; Ability to cast dancing lights, ghost sound, pass without trace, and prestidigitation 1/day and a +2 bonus against enchantment. I have several problems with this trait: On an editing note: The spells are not in italics in the text. On a rules-note: What is the caster-level of these abilities? The key ability-modifier? I don’t know, as it is not mentioned in the text.
  • Natural Prankster: +2 Cha, -2 Wis
  • Soft-shelled: Only get +1 natural bonus to AC, but gain a plus to bonus to acrobatics. I gather the bonus is racial, but no specific type is given.

In the table containing the ages and heights, there is a editing glitch, putting the “age” from “Maximum Age” in the beginning of the next line instead of e.g. in the blank space below “Maximum”.

In the next section on Kappa adventurers, we get their attitude towards the different classes and how frequently they usually follow the specific calling. As a nice bonus, each class is presented with a Japanese-flavored moniker. To my pleasure, the APG-classes have also all been covered here. Two thumbs up for this! I don’t get, though, why (kappa-kannushi), the term for the clerics, has been written in lower caps, while all other fluff names of the class are written with a capital letter in the beginning.

After that, we get 14 new favored class options for the following classes. Alchemist:1, features a missing “+” sign to fit in with the formatting of the rest of the pdf; Bard:1; Bone-Breaker:2; Cleric:2; Fighter:1; Ranger:2; Sorceror:2; Wizard:2, features another typo ” bonus to stealth checks “out of doors[sic!] and in a natural environment” would be a bit specific, so I gather it should read “outdoors”;

After that, we get 2 new class archetypes:

-Cleric (Kappa-Kannushi): Can work without focus, focuses on spirits. Once again, “kappa-kannushi” is written in lower case.

-Fighter (Kappa-Bushi): Nice wrestling-focused Kappa-only archetype.

We also get a new Sorceror-bloodline which I found surprisingly cool – you get enhancements to AC, eventually even DR, water and earth-based resistances and even cold claws and an antimagic shell. The capstone ability is also nice.

After that, we get to the crunchy heart of the pdf, the 20-level racial paragon-class, the Bone-Breaker. Unfortunately, we have yet ANOTHER editing mistake, the first paragraph, including the header of the class, is printed twice, once at the bottom of the left column on page 13 and once on the upper right column.

They get d8, 4+Ints kills per level, medium BAB-progression, a good fort- and will-save, improving unarmed damage and bonuses to natural AC. Their table features another formatting glitch, with the columns of the individual stats not being in line with the headers of the table and “damage” from “Unarmed damage” being located under “Will”, “AC” from “Natural AC” being located under “Unarmed”.

The bone-breaker class is focused on, surprise, breaking things (bones in particular), but also gets a ki-pool, the ability turn into turtles and water, abilities to temporarily enhance its Str-score. I have a problem with this class, respectively and unfortunately, with its signature ability, “Leg-breaker” and the 3 follow-up abilities, one of which is the capstone. I will elaborate:

The “Leg-breaker” is a combat maneuver that imposes a minus 2 to the Kappa’s AC. If the damage dealt by the manoeuvre exceeds 1/4th of the targets current hit points, it inflicts Dex-damage equal to the bone-breaker’s Str-modifier+1/5 bone-breaker class levels minus the hardness of the opponents bones. Ok, let’s get that straight, shall we? This is a combat manoeuvre, i.e. it can be used unlimited amounts of times. It requires the GM to calculate 1/4 of the max HP of the target creature (after the blow or before it, btw.? -It does not specify which one in the text…) and then deals Str-damage depending on the hardness of a creatures BONES. Ok. 4 is given as the usual standard. Are there hard-boned people out there? Do Dwarves have harder bones? What about Shapechangers, are they more malleable? Let’s assume, as a DM I just handwave this ability and settle for 4. Then we still can have a Kappa with a Str-score of 21 at 5th level, when he gets this ability. That would result in 2 points of Dex-damage per manoeuvre AND a speed-reduction of 5ft.. Against which the target gets no save. Now add some magic items to the mix and you get an attribute-damage-machine with very clunky mechanics that leave me, quite frankly baffled. At higher levels the Kappa can substitute Str-damage and Con-damage. Three good ideas, one mechanic that is quite frankly flawed in my opinion. I don’t know whether to use the HP prior to or after the attack, have to quarter HP on the fly and then improvise the hardness of a creatures bones. That’s an on-the-fly improvisation solution I’d come up with in my homebrew, not some rules I’d expect in a published book, especially not in one by Rite, who usually are masters of cool, imaginative rules.

After this disappointment, I’ll move on to the 10 new racial feats:

  • Greater Shell and Shield: “kappa” in the prerequisites should read “Kappa”. Gain cover when equipped with shield as long as you are not in melee. Nice idea.
  • Improved Natural Armour: +1 Natural AC
  • Kappa Crawl: Move at full walking speed when prone, reduce AC-penalty to minus 2; Great idea.
  • Kappa Kiyup: Big brother of kappa crawl, no more Ac-penalty while prone, standing up provokes no attack of opportunity and is a free action.
  • Master Shrinekeeper: When within reach of your shrine, you get a bonus to channel energy and DCs.
  • Practised Swimmer: I’ll reprint the text:
    • “Your swim speed increases by 1 for every
      rank of the Swim skill you possess. You must possess 5 ranks (or a multiple thereof) to increase your speed in combat.”
    • Swim speed is not a prerequisite of this feat, nor does “kappa” stand there. Can character without a swim speed take this? What does “by 1” mean? 1 gather ft? 1 square? And what does the second sentence mean? Do we get a second set of swim-movement-stats for combat if we don’t have enough ranks?
  • Shell and Shield: Gain partial cover when equipped with a shield. nice.
  • Shrine-keeper: Attaches you to a shrine – when close to it, you gain +1 DC to all spells you cast. Boring.
  • Swimming Jump: Jump from the water, Dolphin-style. Nice one. Why is there no charge-follow-up-feat? Would have made a nice feat-chain.
  • Turtle Speed: Run while being prone or on all four limbs, gaining a +4 AC bonus against ranged attacks.

Finally, we get two new Kappa weapons. The Kappa dagger, which can be used under water with no penalty and the Kappa net. What does the Kappa net you ask? I have no idea. None. Why? Because the pdf closes mid-sentence before explaining what the FRIGGIN NET DOES.

Conclusion:

The layout of this file is beautiful and Japanese-themed, plus, it is actually full-color. The cover artwork is stunning and made me see the Kappa with whole new eyes. The IC-writing filled me with anticipation. And then the errors started to pile up. High. From typos to clunky mechanics to cut off text, this pdf has just about every kind of editing mistake you can make, spoiling what have could been an excellent, cool addition to the series. Utterly. At least for me. I HATE the central mechanic of the new class, some feat-choices are just strange and the fact that the weapon at the end is cut off just makes me want to claw at my hair. As much as I loved the other ItC-installments, as much have I been disappointed by this one. I like the beginning and the writing, but considering the huge pile-up of glaring botches, I’ll settle for a 1-star rating: Keep away, at least until this pdf had a serious revision.

In The Company of Kappa: A 1st-20th level Player Character Racial Class is available from:

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