Feb 112011
 

78038[1]By Thilo Graf

This pdf from LPJ Design is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 30 pages of content.

The pdf unfortunately lacks bookmarks.

My review has two versions: The long one and the short one.

The short one is: If you have the campaign setting-book, skip this. There is nothing new herein. The new race, the Uzamati, isn’t within these pages.

The long one:

  • Exalted, the direct offspring of celestials like Zebadiah (see later), that may actually have been born from rapes and the like, adding a shade of grey to the do-goodie angels trapped in Abaddon. I liked the fact that their nomenclature features a family name derived from their progenitor/Zebadiah. They are lawful native outsiders, have 90 ft. Darkvision (where 60 ft. is more common, but ok), +2 Charisma, can summon an immaterial blade and get to choose from a very limited spell-list a spell-like ability to cast 3/day. While some of the spells felt weak, e.g. Charm Person, Disguise Self, Purify Food and Drink and Detect Magic seemed like godsends in Abaddon to me.
  • Genesai, offspring of demonic outsiders mating with angelic outsiders, felt a bit weird to me. They get +2 Con, + 2 Wis and -2 Cha, are native Outsiders, have 120 ft. Darkvision (!!!), immunity to charm and compulsion, a summonable blade and bonuses against outsiders (+1 to hit and damage, + 4 Dodge). These strengths are somewhat offset by an aura that unnerves animals, resulting in some penalties. All in all, though, I think that this race is slightly stronger than the standard ones.
  • Harrowed are the offspring of mortals and undead and as such, feared and loathed. While I personally don’t like the concept of undead being able to father children with mortals, I have to admit that the race is somewhat cool: The are not undead, but rather get a +50% damage from undead-targeting spells and heal only half as many hit points by being cured. They also get bonuses to disease, poison, death and paralysis, Darkvision 60 ft, can hold their breath longer and don’t need as much food as mortals. They also get a bonus on attacks and damage against undead. Their attributes get a + 4 Str and +2 Con bonus contra -2 Cha. While this deviates from the standard formula of 2 plus-2 bonuses and one -2 penalty, I think it works due to the healing drawback. Neatly done, although the +50%/-50%-stuff adds a bit to book-keeping for the player, but hey, you get a prime candidate for melee classes.
  • Infernals are the offspring of demonic bloodlines and as such, are chaotic outsiders. They also get a whopping 129 ft. Darkvision, +2 Con, the unnatural aura, can choose 2 qualities from a list of Infernal Taint abilities like resistances to elements and the like. They also get a plus 2 bonus against summoning and teleportation as well as the ability to cast specific spells 3/day like the exalted. They also get a natural claw attack. Due to their flexibility and the fact that you get to choose both 2 Infernal Taints and a spell-like, they felt slightly stronger to me than the standard races.
  • Khymer. Of all the new races, this concept is the weirdest by far and I didn’t know whether to love or hate it at first. Ok: Bear with me: Khymer are actually psionic, sentient, toxic (1d6 Str) and necromantically active blood. Khymer are aberrations and are immune against spells that specifically target humanoids, +2 Wis, get 60 ft. Darkvision and a bonus PSP as well as the ability to metapsionically enhance their psionics by burning out their body vessel faster. Body Vessel? Yep, Khymer die when left outside a host body for longer than 2s12+Con rounds, which means they’ll need a lot of corpses to inhabit, as limit for one vessel is 100 hours. They also get double damage from dehydration and +50% damage from fire and cold. Dreamscarred Press’s Psionics Unleashed had not yet been released and due to the fact that I’m still waiting for my dead tree copy, I can’t comment on whether they are compatible. They felt a bit strong as psionics and while their vulnerabilities somehow offset it, the body vessel (which makes Khymer cool) also makes them kind of clunky to play – they can only change bodies when within 2 hours of burning out their body or reduced to lower than 10% of their HP. Mechanically, that’s not too user-friendly. Which is a pity, as this race is among the coolest, idea-wise, that I’ve seen in quite some time.
  • Lykians are the lycanthropes of Abaddon. They get +2 Dex, – 2 Int and -2 Cha, but get low-light vision, a +8 bonus to acrobatics with regards to jumping, a +2 bonus to climb and survival, better concealment-miss-chances, a diseased bite as well as natural weapons (claws and bite). These are offset by a savingthrow-less vulnerability to silver and cold iron as well as a -2 penalty to will saves. All in all, while they make “Werewolves” playable, they felt a bit weak to me due to the significant penalties.
  • Osirian: Black-skinned humanoids, they have a cool background as a favoured race before the cataclysm. They get +2 Dex, + 2 to reflex saves and +2 against necromancy spells. They also get an ability called “Necromantic hellfire” that causes fatigue in living beings and disrupts undead. Compared to the other races, this one felt rather weak, but I’d also use them in another setting. In Golarion, they would have to have another name, though.
  • Raijin: Raijin are a fusion of a mortal and a vengeful spirit and are applied as a template t other races that could be acquired during play. I like that as a nice alternative to treasure. They get -2 Cha, get the equivalent of the Die Hard feat, +2 on Will and Fort saves and all weapons they use are treated as plus 1 for purposes of bypassing DR. I really like that concept.

The feats, though. While some are cool, there are also some among them that are severely broken or limited in their appeal to certain levels. For a more in-depth discussion, check out my review of the campaign setting.

Conclusion:

The artwork is beautiful (not for the standard races, though) and the same goes for layout. I noticed some minor editing problems.

All in all, most of the races are cool. So cool in fact, that they are what I deem “Devil-may-cry-cool”, which is not bad per se, but means that they are somewhat over the top and I think that less would have been more here. The fact remains that these races practically guarantee that people belonging to them are heroes or villains, somewhat diminishing the moral choice of becoming a hero and stand against the overwhelming darkness of the setting or succumbing to it. I can’t for the life of me, imagine e.g. a Genesai in any other profession than a PC-class. Most of the races felt subsequently a bit stronger than the base races and more inclined towards specific classes than usual. I’d have my PCs earn Raijin-status and refuse to add the template to any of the new races apart from Osirians due to balance reasons.

That’s also this books main problem – the races don’t come over as well-balanced but rather at the upper levels of the power-scale. That and they are quite…extraordinary. They are definitely MEANT to be used in the OT-setting or any setting with a plethora of rather dark and powerful races, and if you want that, you should check out the setting, rather than the races book. Especially due to the fact that all the information and artwork herein is repeated in the campaign setting book. That being said, while they are a bit strong for my tastes as playable races, I think that DMs might have A LOT of fun with these races, even in a normal setting.

Due to the severely limited appeal of this book, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2. If you just want some far-out races or just are a DM who wants some races for his NPCs and doesn’t have to take as much care about balance, check this out – for you, this might actually be a 3.5 or even 4-star file.

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Paco G. Jaen

Born in Spain with a talent for dyslexia, I am gamer, player, graphic designer, photographer and psycotherapist. Also online magazine publisher and writer. Yep.. I do lead a busy life!