RPG review – Amazing Races: Kitsune!
This installment of the Amazing Races-series is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 2 pages of content, so let’s check out these options for the Kitsune!
We kick off with two new feats for the Kitsune:
-Kitsune Chakra: Via the expenditure of spell-level ki, you may use racially granted/magical tail-feat granted spell-like ability without expending it. Powerful one – and without the racially exclusive component, I’d start complaining right now. Since it’s restricted to Kitsune, I won’t complain here.
-Shapechanger’s Reveal: This one allows you to revert to your true form by foregoing the first attack of your full attack and make bluff AND intimidate check versus every opponent within 30 ft. for a combined feint/demoralization-effect. Those aware of the Kitsune’s shapechanging capability get +4 to sense motive/have their intimidate DC increased by +4. A powerful ability – and one I can only see work on a given foe once in every 24 hours. Apart from that caveat missing (introducing it for perhaps +30 ft range?), this feat’s limit make it workable, if not superb.
We also get two new traits – one that nets you +2 to bluff to deceive humans and nets you bluff as a class skill. The second trait is useful when hiding in a crowd via stealth, you may make a sense motive check versus DC 10 to count as if the aid another action was executed by the crowd to aid you.
We also get 4 new alternate racial traits – Blazing traits allows you to replace magical talent with produce flames as a spell-like ability HD+cha-mod times. Alternatively, Kitsune may replace agile with +1 to Bluff and Intimidate as well as always learning +1 language per linguistics rank. The latter is imho bad – languages should not be that easy to acquire. Graceful Attacks nets you weapon finesse in exchange for natural weapons.
Finally, Kitsune may replace Kitsune magic with a ki pool of 1 point + 1 for every 4 level the Kitsune has. The Kitsune may spend ki to get DR 5/cold iron until the end of the turn. I wouldn’t harp on this, but since the pool stacks with ki pools from other sources, it becomes an issue: The Kitsune may use cha instead of wis to determine ki AND there’s another issue the pdf fails to specify: The ki pool gained via this racial trait can usually be used exclusively for the DR-granting purposes – so far, so good. None of the regular uses are possible – but what about Ki-based feats that require the expenditure of ki? I assume they can be taken, but I’m not sure. All in all, gaining a powerful (especially at lower levels) ability that far surpasses Kitsune magic in power makes for a problematic piece of content and one I wouldn’t allow in my home game.
The pdf also provides us with a racial archetype, the White-Furred Oracle (WFO in this review). These Oracles later their bonus spells from their mysteries with an expanded selection of spells representing the Nine Mysteries. An interesting and mythologically sound decision is to replace the oracle’s star gem -when not HOLDING this gem, these Kitsune must make concentration checks to properly cast the respective spells, spell-like abilities or supernatural abilities – with the latter getting information for the DC of their concentration-check. Still – I’m not sold on this one. Why? Because I know what I’d do -I’d sunder and shatter the living hell out of that gem. And yes, it’s supposed to work analogue to arcane bond (including the additional spellcasting) – but that does not tell me what the gem’s hp and hardness are. When compared to some curses, this gem feels a tad bit too strong – plus, even when it is destroyed, the oracle isn’t truly crippled. While the caveat that all canines get the frightful presence versus the Kitsune is nice, it’s still not enough of a drawback in my opinion.
Especially since the oracle also gets 1/2 level + cha-mod ki points. Said points stack with other ki pools, but only apply attribute modifiers once. As long as there’s one ki point remaining, concentration checks are 5 (!!!) easier for the oracle and additionally, ki can be used to increase the DC of spells by +1, increase speed by +20 feet for a round. They may also spend ki to cast mystery spells by expending spell level ki without expending said spell. But the ability specifies: “WFO can cast one of her mystery spells or nine mystery spells as a full-round action without expending a spell slot by spending a number of ki points equal to the spell’s level”.
I have no idea what this ability is supposed to be doing. Cast 9 Spells at once if the WFO has enough ki points??? Come again? Are these expended? I have not the slightest idea – but even without this spell level/ki point exchanging, the ability is MUCH stronger than the exchanged 3rd level revelation.
At 5th level, WFO may take rogue talents or ninja tricks that require a ki pool or any combat feat that requires ki in lieu of a revelation. The archetype gets a native outsider capstone.
Editing and formatting are top.-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to Abandoned Art’s two-column no-frills standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
Author Alexander Augunas (of Pact Magic Unbound-fame) is a big fan of Kitsune – and it shows. For the better in the fact that the crunch is tied to mythologies and offers iconic options. And for worse in the fact that this pdf shows a bit Mary Sueish (no offense meant!) preferences here and there -while none of the abilities (with the notable exception of the one case of ambiguous wording) are truly broken per se, they feel like they are on the upper end of the power scale and often times, especially in the case of the archetype, beyond what I’d consider balanced. The flavour is superb, as are the ideas of the crunch, but the price the archetype (or alternate racial traits) extol is not on par with the at times massive benefits they grant. While not being a bad example of his craft, it’s nowhere near what I expected after Pact Magic Unbound. In the end, this is an ok installment, but not a superb one. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.
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