By Thilo Graf
This pdf by AGES Gaming is 13 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover and some paragraphs of the sponsors. That leaves approximately 8 pages of content.
Without further ado we are introduced to the three iterations of one of the two characters contained herein, Ayldric. (3 pages) Ayldric has the Psychic Locator feat (also featured in Haunting Signals) and is presented in three incarnations: Expert 2, Expert 4 and Expert 6. While the stats seem solid enough and the fluff and the adventure hooks presented are ok, (although they are nothing to write home about) I have three major gripes: First of all, he has only his armor and a club as equipment, which is not much. (Albeit his lvl 6 incarnation has a studded leather armor+1 – magic item inflation anyone?) Secondly, his name alternates between Ayldric and Alydric in the text, which is an editorial flaw. Thirdly and most important, there is no clear dividing line between the three stat-blocks, which annoyed me as the two-column presentation of the stats makes it hard to spot where one stat-block begins and the other one ends.
While the idea behind his “psychic locator”-feat is nice (dowsing to find missing items), the mechanics give new meaning to the word “clunky”: They are, among others, based on the percentage of the raw material to be detected and contradict themselves more than once in the text: On the one hand one gets a +10 bonus (not specified which kind of bonus, btw.!) to Perception if one looks for a trap that is at least comprised of 25% of the material one is looking for, on the other hand the feat “does not detect any sort of magic traps, natural hazards, nor mechanically complex ones not made of the selected material, nor those that have been rendered safe or inactive.“ Ok. That does not make any sense. Especially due to the line “If the material is closely related (e.g. cold iron verses forged steel, then the DM could still allow the bonus.)“ Sooo… I can use this feat to detect a trap that is not a natural hazard, mechanically complex or magical. If I know the material it consists of and the general location. Yay? Furthermore, a table with aura-DCs is given, but no explanation on what the DC are for. I presume Perception, but I frankly don’t know.
I shall henceforth shake my head in defeat and move on to the next character.
The second character, the Half-elven Aristocrat Ysigold (presented as lvl 1, lvl 3 and lvl 5) suffers from the same formatting problems. Where Ayldric (or Alydric) has suffered from name confusion, the fluff of Ysigold suffers from a plethora of typos and either a shoddy job or a rather lacking grasp of the English language. Her special ability, a feat to predict weal and woe like in augury uses a very strange mechanic, imposing a penalty on predictions with a “weal”-result, rendering an already almost useless ability completely obsolete. At 10th level the user of this feat can use divination (which usually responds with a phrase) instead of augury and the description does not explaining how the feat works with regard to divination if she ever manages to get to that level. That shows a poor grasp of the rules. The character closes with two adventure hooks, one of which HAS NO CONNECTION to the character but a mentioning of the “tool” of divination used.
The mechanics are beyond poor and clunky, the editing is sub-par, the layout is horrendous, the prose is amateurish and just abysmally clichéd à la “They may notice certain
things that tell him Ysigold is more than what she seems. The customs of the land might warn them but then the lure of gold is strong. Will the PCs ever figure out her true motives or is she a master of manipulation?”[sic!] (Touch of Character, page 10, adventure hook 2) and there simply is no redeeming feature whatsoever in this file. To add insult to injury, none of the statblocks have a CMD or a CMB. The only positive thing I could say about this train-wreck of a pdf is that the cover is ok. Steer clear of this at all cost, it is not worth the space on your HD. If I could give 0 stars, I’d immediately do so. This ranks among my worst RPG-purchases EVER.
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