By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Rite Publishing is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover and 2 pages SRD, leaving 20 pages for the Tengu, so let’s check them out!
In tradition with the series, the pdf kicks off with three tales that illustrate the mind-set via 3 tales – I really enjoyed the read, though on the nit-picky side there are some quotation marks missing. After that, we get the concisely-written and compelling IC-narrated origin myth of the Tengu race as well as a great introduction to the unique, enlightenment-seeking nature of the race as well as its concept of honour. The Tengu society and their relationships with other races (including the Kappa, Hengeyokai and Korobokkuru) and we also get discussions on alignment and religion, languages (including their love of poetry), discussion of their adventurers and nomenclature. It should be noted that the IC-narrative is consistent and consequently used and thus makes this a very enjoyable read.
After that, we get the racial traits of the Tengu: They get +2 Dex, -2 Con, +2 Wis, low-light vision, a natural bite attack, get two additional skills as class skills, +2 to Stealth and Perception (here is a blank line too much in the block), +4 to linguistics and learn more languages and proficiency in swords. Alternate racial traits are also provided, in case you want your Tengu to use axes or spears instead of swords, a tengu proficient with riding and handling animals, Tengu born in forests or mountains, especially gifted poets or brown especially fierce Kite Tengu. We also get an Age, Height & Weight table and an extensive discussion (including the Japanese terms) of the Tengu’s take on almost all classes. The Magus-class is missing from the list, though and I hope it will be added in a web-enhancement, as I can really see a Tengu-magus combining swordsmanship with enlightened magic. Following RiP’s excessively detailed and customizable standard, we get 9 favoured class options covering the base classes as well as one for the summoner and one for the cavalier – nice!
Speaking of the cavalier: The Tengu get new archetypes and the cavalier gets one of the most kick-ass takes on the class imaginable.. I’ve got 4 words for you. Dire-boar Tengu cavalry. HOW AWESOME IS THAT??? I’m a jaded cynic, but this just blew my mind! And the mechanical execution rocks, too, providing you with mount stats and an extensively detailed order. Believe me, this one ROCKS! The next archetype is less awesome, but still nice, offering a valid take on a dexterous fighter. Their very own paladin-archetype, focusing on interaction with nature and kami and awakening the spirit within one’s blade is nice, but suffers from another superfluous blank line that somewhat irritated me.
After these, we get the Hishoken, the 20-level Tengu racial paragon class. The class gets full BAB, good fort and ref-saves, 4+Int skills per level and d10, being a fighting class focusing on agile attacks, lightning fast strikes and finally can become weightless (standing on e.g. thin branches) and even getting limited flight and the ability to temporarily transform into elementals. Unfortunately, there’s another formatting error here: the b/w-artwork’s white background conceals part of the text in the table that lists the abilities of the class.
After this rather cool class, we get a short discussion on the Daitengu, the legendary Tengu-sages of their respective mountains. The pdf closes with 10 new, Tengu-related feats, centring on improving their flight and swordsmanship. Mechanically, I didn’t have a problem with any of the feats, but there is one capital “d” in the savage bite-feat where it should be lower-case.
Editing is quite good, I only noticed two minor glitches. Layout is full-colour and adheres to the beautiful, bamboo-lined Kaidan-standard. The artworks are mostly ok, but the b/w-artwork depicting the Tengu simply kicks ass – kudos to Mark Hyzer, I love this piece! The pdf is extensively book-marked and I’ll come right out and say it: It’s my favourite book of the “in the Company”-series to this date. I have no complaints regarding the racial class and the archetypes rock hard. I love the mind-set of the Tengu and where “In the Company of Kappa” sometimes felt a bit confused with regards to IC-narrative/crunch, this book, like the wind and the mountains that gave birth to the Tengu, creates a concise and serenely beautiful work that makes for a great read while providing you with the tools to use the Tengu. I’d quite frankly award this book full 5 stars with the Endzeitgeist seal of approval, were it not for the unnecessary formatting glitches. Especially the artwork that covers part of the racial classes’ table is simply annoying and somewhat impedes usability in a minor way. I might ignore the superfluous blank lines in e.g. the paragraph on Tengu adventurers and the section on the “sneaky”-racial trait, but this one is annoying enough to make it impossible for me as a reviewer to give it full 5 stars. I sincerely hope for V.2.0 to get rid of them, because this ItC-instalment is glorious in its content and prose. I highly recommend it to you and remain for now with a final verdict of 4 stars, that will hopefully soon be upgraded to 5.
In the Company of Tengu is available from: