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Alchemaic's page

Goblin Squad Member. Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber. 150 posts. 9 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.



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To Infinity (but not quite beyond)

****( )

The review is fresh so it may take some time before the final result comes to light, but the initial reception is very positive. The Starfinder Core Rulebook is an excellent start, keeping some of the Pathfinder feel while finally breaking away from the chains that tied it to 3.5 and letting it experiment with new design and ideas. Almost everything is well-balanced, and thanks to the modular design of the classes, feats (which have finally gotten rid of massive prerequisite chains!), and equipment, new material can feasibly be added without strange interactions and long chains of requirements that make something nearly impossible to use effectively.

Not everything is perfect of course. The Envoy is the major sticking point on that matter, and while it has some interesting ideas around using its actions to give boosts and buffs to allies, those buffs might be overtuned. Unfortunately we don't have enough material to make a complete judgement, but the bonuses may range between invaluable in combat to completely negligible depending on how the math shakes out. It feels a lot like the original Rogue: keep them around for skills and the occasional help in combat, but you don't miss much if they're not present and they don't work well alone. Other sections in the book, like Feats, feel a bit lacking too, but I imagine that's more due to space restrictions than design issues. Like Pathfinder, once the game has more material out (especially more material for the Envoy) and more room to breathe it'll be fantastic, but right now it's just an excellent start.


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Needed to be more adventurous

****( )

For the most part this is a very solid book. The equipment packages are a great idea for players who want to get started fast without hunting through pages of items for the prices of cheap equipment (and are a good value to boot), I want one of those waifu body pillows for the Butchering Axe, the Poppets are a great idea as cheap, easy-to-build, handy constructs, and I absolutely adore the new equipment tricks. There are also a number of reprinted items, but at least there's enough new material that it doesn't feel as egregious as when the Adventurer's Guide did it.

However, a bunch of the stuff seems like it was toned down or otherwise weakened in the interest of playing it safe. The biggest examples of this are probably the Armor/Weapon Modifications that were included. The basic idea is great, giving some customization options to players who want to add new effects or shiny bells to their equipment, but the system needed more room to grow and display what it could do rather than two pages overall. Most of the armor modifications aren't worth the price for the modification because the effects seem almost nerfed by committee, like the modification which dazzles a creature once per day if they fail a (admittedly good) DC, or the one which has a chance of sickening a creature if they happen to be using power attack and their mother just called last night and complained about how much better their brother is doing as a monster in The Dragon's Crypt, and have they met any nice goblin girls yet? The weapon modifications are a bit better off, but most of the modifications are miniscule bonuses that could have been boiled down to some additions to the Weapon Design Rules (from Weapon Master's Handbook) and a note on how to attach those additions to already existing weapons. As much as I'd want those rules to be expanded and refined into something really worthwhile, they're most likely just going to be forgotten as a bunch of weak non-magical weapon "enchantments".

It just feels... too toned down, in a way that's kind of hard to voice properly. Like the entire book was restrained, or the writers couldn't make a bunch of cool weird items for one reason or another. The first book had the feeling of being a treasure box of items that made your mind spin with the possibilities for each one. This one feels like a store shelf, where everything's been placed out for display in a very specific way, and you're just browsing for something that you want.

tl;dr Not the best book, but it's still fairly solid and has some good ideas and new tricks.


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Surprisingly Heroic

****( )

This is not a well-titled book. When you think of a book with this title, you think of a middling to mediocre heavily flavor-focused book with at best some fluff archetypes that are kind of forgettable after a week or two. What you don’t expect is a whole host of really cool archetypes, flavorful items and abilities that hold up mechanically, and even new options for verbal duels of all things. Not everything’s a slam dunk of course, there’s a few less interesting or questionable archetypes scattered throughout the book (like the Paladin that trades out a bunch of stuff to basically become a Swashbuckler) but there’s also a bunch of really good archetypes included, like the Fighter archetype that gets Strength-based Combat Reflexes, and the Silksworn Occultist, a great archetype for the class that only gets better as it wears increasing amounts of bling.

Definitely worth a look, especially for someone who wants a character that's regal and wants to show it in style.


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A Legacy Worth Remembering

*****

After the combination train wreck/dumpster fire that was Legacy of Dragons, I was completely prepared to write this book off as a part 2 to the Legacy of Trash. Consider my complete surprise, then, when I found that this book was not only good, it was great. Just about everything in here oozes with Fey style, and mechanically just about everything holds their own. The only notable exceptions are the Seducer Witch, which unfortunately falls into the realm of "surprise villain archetype" due to how its class features work based on seduction, and the First World Innovator Alchemist, which is one archetype that I'm still debating over. The rest of the book is rock solid though.


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Some sections are worth it

**( )( )( )

Ignoring the fairly sizeable chunk of reprints, the book is fairly average. Some sections stand out more than others (The section on the Al-Zabriti is particularly good, and the Gray Maiden section is very well done), and it seems like the writers actually had a real interest in making something both flavorful and fun. Those sections really shine as something to read for, but other sections are completely lackluster, boring, or just bad. The sections for Hellknights and Magaambya, for example, might seem familiar to people reading through them, because most of those sections are completely reprinted material (apart from two archetypes in each which tend to meet a modicum of association with the section). The Aldori Swordlord section also sticks out as particularly bad, as the options contained within (which are about half new) just feel completely phoned in both flavor-wise and mechanically, as they’re all fairly poor options besides the Fighter archetype which is actually a reprint.

And that brings up the connection to the Golarion lore, which was a major point of contention prior to the book’s release. This book honestly feels like a strike against tying the rules to Golarion proper for a few reasons. First, it affects the writer’s interest in the material. The gap between the good sections and the bad sections are night and day, and while future core books would benefit greatly from an attachment to the lore from an inspired writer, the sad fact is that it won’t always happen. That’s something that’s better left to the campaign setting line, since those books can become shorter and more focused on what the writer wants without having to split that focus on something that they find uninteresting, causing it to become lackluster as a result. Second, the focus on the lore seemed to cause this book to become filled with reprinted material or basic material in what looks like an attempt to fill empty space. Stripped of the Golarion lore, the section on Hellknights and Gray Maidens could have been combined into one mega section called “Faceless Enforcers” or something, which would have been able to share classes and options between the two (since there are thematic similarities). Instead of having to fill a specific quota of 10 pages of Hellknights (of which only 2 are filled) and 10 pages of Gray Maidens (which seems to have had to cut out a dozen good ideas), there would instead be 20 pages to share between the two of them which could be filled with feats and abilities that could benefit both groups, or similar groups in a non-Golarion game.

tl;dr Minus the reprints the book is a solid middle ground, but the reprinted material (and even reprinted art? That just makes the book feel like a cashgrab) makes it less worth it. Tying it to Golarion lore, while possibly a benefit with the right material/writer matchup, does no favors to this book and instead seems to drag it down. At least it's only $10. Also, the book has some AP spoilers, which is something that should have been prefaced somewhere.


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