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PaizoCon 2014!

Heroes of the Jade Oath (Arcana Evolved) Beta PDF

****½ (based on 3 ratings)

Our Price: $29.99

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Think Oriental Adventuring is all about accepting your place on The Great Wheel?

Think again!

Heroes of the Jade Oath takes the choices and flexibility of Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved and adds an immersive, fully researched, and instantly playable Oriental background.

So kick karma in the butt and choose your own destiny with Lands of the Jade Oath—the largest setting for Arcana Evolved ever published.

    Heroes of the Jade Oath includes:
  • Detailed information on the new setting Lands of the Jade Oath
  • New marvelous player races like Bakemono, Mandragoran, Qahngol, Shenxue, and Yueren elves and 11 other variants
  • Evocative new character classes like Demon Hunter, Enlightened Scholar, Kensai, Kusa, 7 different Monks, 6 new totem warriors, 4 new witch types, and two new champion causes
  • The new Fung Shui skill and 42 pages of feats including two new feat types Ch’I and Unbound feats
  • Optional Rules for Cinematic Combat, New Combat Rites, Zodiac Signs, Oaths of Power and Villain points
  • Spellcaster options for Sutra Casters, New Spell Templates, and Ch’I
  • A Huge selection of weapons, armor, and alchemic items from the Far East
  • ...and much, much more

Requires the use of Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved

338 pages

The PDF will automatically be updated to the final (Omega) version when it is released at no additional cost. The final (Omega) print edition is not included in this offer.

Author: Frank Carr
Artists: Claudia Burgos, Jason Rainville, Wayne Anthony Reynolds, Jonathan Roberts, Hugo Solis, Kurt A. Taylor, Jeff Ward, Amanda Webb
Editor: Bill Collins

This product was created as part of the Heroes of the Jade Oath patronage project.

When the finished ("Omega") PDF edition becomes available, you will automatically gain access to that edition.

Product Availability


Fulfilled immediately. Will be added to your My Downloads Page immediately upon purchase of PDF.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at webmaster@paizo.com.

RIP0052E


See Also:

Product Discussion (45)

Due to our ENnie nomination the PDF only verison of this will be on Sale for $29.99 (just sent the update to Vic

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Ok I am guessing the old one is gone since it offered the beta book and this new deal is cheaper but not book. Which makes sense but my review seems to have poofed with it as well. So here is my review again. With the lower price I am raising my rating from a 4 star to a 4.5.

Heroes of the Jade Oath by Rite Publishing.

Let me start by saying I don't play Arcane Evolved. I own the book and I have read it, but I personally just use it to steal idea's and such from for my other D20 games. So this review will focus on the content and less so on the game mechanics. Since I am not a good judge on if they are balanced etc for what they are made for. So I am looking at this product more as a person looking to steal idea's from it. I was given this product for the purposes of this review.

This product is 340 pages long and is in beta. So the page count might change between now and then and go up. It cost $59.99, for that you get the beta PDF now, the finished PDF when it is done and the full color print hard back book when it is finished.

Cover, credits, ToC, and introduction take up 6 pages. The artist are Claudia Burgos, Jason Rainville, Wayne Anthony Reynolds, Jonathan Roberts, Hugo Solis, Kurt A. Taylor, Jeff Ward, Amanda Webb. The art ranges from fair to very good color art.

This product is a fantasy Asian inspired world setting.

Chapter 1 – Themes and Overviews (34 pages)
This is basically a world setting gazetteer, it talks about the culture, countries, religion, organizations etc. It just gives a very good over all view of the setting.

Chapter 2 – Races (84 pages)
Human – varies human ethinic groups
Bakemono – golbiniod like creatures with a limited shapechange ability, with race levels.
Daharen – variation of the giant race from Arcane Evolved.
Faen - variation of the faen race from Arcane Evolved.
Garude - variation of the Dracha race from Arcane Evolved.
Goushen - variation of the Sibeccai race from Arcane Evolved.
Hushen - variation of the Litorian race from Arcane Evolved.
Kirin Shen - variation of the Runechild race from Arcane Evolved.
Mandragoran – A plant people race.
Naga - variation of the Mojh race from Arcane Evolved.
Qahngol – variation of the half-orc
Ruishishen - variation of the Litorian race from Arcane Evolved.
Sanesaram – variation of Dwarves.
Shenxue – off spring of mortals and spirits, with many variations.
Verrik - variation of the Verrik race from Arcane Evolved.
Yueren – variation of elves.

The races are all very well done, listing history, outlook, relations with others races, names, personality, physical description, lands, languages and sometimes racial levels(when they are not covered in Arcane Evolved already). I especially like the Shenxue.

Chapter 3 – Classes (102 pages)
Demon Hunter – Just what they sound like, they hunt down demons and other such like creatures. A bit like a Paladin in concept but only in very general terms, there is several variations.
Enlightened Scholar – These are sorta like a monk/cleric type class. With several variations.
Kensai – Martial Artist/Weapon Masters, they focus on using light armorer and mastering a single fighting stlye.
Kusa – A thief/Assassin based class.
Monk – variations of the monk class from Arcane Evolved. With several variations.
Totem Warrior – more version of for the Totem Warrior from Arcane Evolved.
Witch - more version of for the Witch from Arcane Evolved.
Xia - more version of for the Champion from Arcane Evolved.

Many of the classes are very well done and very interesting, they remind me a lot of some of the Chinese fantasy movies I have seen. I think the monk is much better than the base monk class in other D20 games and the rest fit well in a Asian style fantasy game.

Chapter 4 – Skills and Feats (48 pages)
This chapter talks about existing skills and feats and how they are different in the setting. It includes the settings languages, a new skill and a host of new Asian themed feats. There is 152 new feats in this section and they all have a very nice Asian feel to them and most reminded me of varies Chinese fantasy movies or anima I have seen at some point or another.

Chapter 5 – Combat Rites (4 pages)
These are new types of Combat Rites, used the same way as they are used in Arcane Evolved. There is 25 new combat rites.

Chapter 6 – New and Optional Rules (14 pages)
This is a chapter on new ways to handle some rules and some new rules all on it's own. Most of them seem optional. Including the Zodiac signs, these give a benefit and drawback to those born under them.

Chapter 7 – Equipment (16 pages)
A list of gear, weapons, armor, clothes and services that is available in the Jade lands. I very much liked the alchemy section, enough I plan to steal many of the items for my other D20 games.

Chapter 8 – Magic and Chi (24 pages)
This has new spell templates, discuses how Ch'i works and Sutra magic, as well as Oath of power. Chi power can be used to enhance things. Sutra magic is a way for normal non spell casting classes to learn some magic. Oaths of Power require a feat and only one can be in use at a time.

It finishes with 1 page for the OGL and 1 page for the back cover.

Closing thoughts, as I mentioned I only have a passing knowledge of Arcane Evolved and this is also the beta draft of the book. So I didn't focus heavily how balanced game mechanics are, instead I looked the rest of the book. How it read, the fluff, how the game mechanics fit the setting and how interesting they was. I should also note I am not a bit fan of Asian fantasy myths and legends. I find it interesting but less than most other myths, legends and settings. Yes I know I was a bit light in my review above, but mostly because I quickly realized if I went in depth I would end up with a 10 page review.

Now what can I say about the product? Well simply this, I think it is hands down the best Asian based game setting I have read. Certainly for D20 based games, if not all games. It is also the first such book to make me actually interested in running/playing in a Asian themed setting for D20(Pathfinder). It is well written and really to me at least captured the feel of the Asian culture, while still presenting it in a way to draw in and appeal to those not overly familiar with it.

My biggest critic and this isn't really a critic, is that I wish it was written for 3e edition DnD or Pathfinder instead of Arcane Evolved. It would then have been a lot less work for me to adapt much of this for my games when I run or convince someone else to run this setting. My rating is a solid 4.5 star so far, based on content, price and size. That might change with the finished product depending if it grows in size. If you have any questions I will be happy to try and answer them.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Thanks for updating your review, DM. As always, your input is appreciated.


Thanks Dark Mistress

Just FYI

It did not poof. The Print/PDF bundle version is out of stock at Paizo, and rather than invest in a restock we are investing in new art for the Omega version.

Cheliax

Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I meant poof as in, the old one is gone. When I went to click on my old review it didn't take me anywhere and there is no product link like with my other reviews. Nor could I find out. So i assumed that meant this was a new product posting and the old posting was removed. Hence why my review poofed.


Its still there you just won't be able to get to it as long as its out of stock.


Much as I'd love to help Beta test the game, I can't in good conscience spend $29.99 on the PDF of a Beta. I know Paizo set a new standard with they offered the PDF Beta for free, and the Print copy for $25. I know it takes a LOT of work to produce a great book, and I'm sure this beta is close to being complete, just needs more playtesters. I have trouble spending $30 on a PDF to begin with, $10 sure, $15 maybe, $20+ not likely, $30 not gonna happen...

Please note I'm not slamming you for trying to make money, I'm just saying I won't. I did download the preview and the art so far looks AMAZING! Perhaps when the book is in print I'll buy the real book, but I can't beta test for you.

I just noticed the auto update to final version...nice touch, will it be available in print ever?


The BETA was available here in B&W print. It is now only available through our print on demand store, which still offers the print and the pdf copy of the BETA (the the free pdf update to the OMEGA).

The sale of this product is about funding additional art for the OMEGA version, hence why I offer the free update to the OMEGA for one who purchases this PDF.

I would only ask that you look at the cost of a PDF by page count, If you bought a 60 page pdf for $5 from paizo it would be 0.08 cents a page, this book also runs you roughly 0.08 cents a page at 338 pages.

Also some background about why this price point is there, This is a Asian themed setting for Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved a product that is out of physical print. It was produced as a patronage project, The patrons allowed me to sell it as a product and even allowed me to reduce the price to $30.00 from the patronage cost of $60.00. The product never would have been made if not for patronage. Also no one but Rite Publishing is producing new material for Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved material. Patrons had access to The Print on Demand at Cost.

If you prefer dead tree over digital that's fine, but the content and the cost to produce it is exactly the same for a PDF/POD publisher like myself.

Steve Russell
Rite Publsihing

Shadow Lodge

Xaaon of Korvosa wrote:
Much as I'd love to help Beta test the game, I can't in good conscience spend $29.99 on the PDF of a Beta. I know Paizo set a new standard with they offered the PDF Beta for free, and the Print copy for $25. I know it takes a LOT of work to produce a great book, and I'm sure this beta is close to being complete, just needs more playtesters. I have trouble spending $30 on a PDF to begin with, $10 sure, $15 maybe, $20+ not likely, $30 not gonna happen...

Paizo's 'betas' have been partial works, less than 25% of the final product; this is a complete book which is a usable, complete product when you buy it. You could easily use this product and never upgrade to the Final version, you could not say the same for any Paizo beta.

Also, keep in mind the economies of scale here. Rite publishing is selling 100-300 copies, Paizo is selling tens of thousands of copies (I suspect well over 100k copies but have nothing to corroborate that).


Curious how close this product is to entering the Omega stage.


bump.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Steve is updating classes and races from the book to Pathfinder and releasing that content as individual PDFs (Kusa, Demon Hunter, Enlightened Scholar, etc.) and has also asked me to write some new material for the book. I am working on that now.


Ashanderai wrote:
Steve is updating classes and races from the book to Pathfinder and releasing that content as individual PDFs (Kusa, Demon Hunter, Enlightened Scholar, etc.) and has also asked me to write some new material for the book. I am working on that now.

This is very good news. This sounds like a very excellent product with an oriental theme to classes that is lacking in current Pathfinder compatible rules.

One question for the folks at Rite: How is this going to work with your Kaidan materials?


Another question regarding Heros of the Jade Oath: is the price listed above only for the Arcana Evolved compatible pdf?

I located the webpage on your site that lists the price as $60 but also says this:

"This special preorder bundle works a bit differently than most products here at paizo.com. At checkout, you will immediately be charged the full bundle price, and you will immediately be given access to the Beta PDF. When the finished PDF edition becomes available, you will automatically gain access to that edition. When the final print edition becomes available and is shipped to you, you will be charged the shipping fee."

Is this still correct or was that for the patronage only? Will the pdf be updated to the PFRPG version? Will a hardcover copy be published for a PFRPG version or was this only for the Arcana Evolved version?

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Kaidan is Rite Publishing's Japanese Horror-inspired RPG setting made for Pathfinder from the start and Jade Oath is Rite Publishing's Asian Wuxia setting RPG made for Arcana Evolved at the start; however, Jade Oath is being converted for Pathfinder.

I am afraid I lack the expertise to answer your other questions, but I will let Steve know about your questions.


Ashanderai wrote:

Kaidan is Rite Publishing's Japanese Horror-inspired RPG setting made for Pathfinder from the start and Jade Oath is Rite Publishing's Asian Wuxia setting RPG made for Arcana Evolved at the start; however, Jade Oath is being converted for Pathfinder.

I am afraid I lack the expertise to answer your other questions, but I will let Steve know about your questions.

I am not a fan of 3.0, 3.5, & PFRPG monk classes as a good fit for asian style martial artists.

Your classes sound like they would be a much better fit. Color me intrigued.

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
Dark Sasha wrote:
Ashanderai wrote:

Kaidan is Rite Publishing's Japanese Horror-inspired RPG setting made for Pathfinder from the start and Jade Oath is Rite Publishing's Asian Wuxia setting RPG made for Arcana Evolved at the start; however, Jade Oath is being converted for Pathfinder.

I am afraid I lack the expertise to answer your other questions, but I will let Steve know about your questions.

I am not a fan of 3.0, 3.5, & PFRPG monk classes as a good fit for asian style martial artists.

Your classes sound like they would be a much better fit. Color me intrigued.

The monk is the one 3.5 core class that was almost completely rewritten in the pages of Heroes of the Jade Oath. It is far more mystical and uses chakras with sect templates to make different types of monks that include the sutra-casting contemplative monk, spellcasting kenza, cooperative fighting sohei, sadhu ch'i masters, the soft martial art huashan, hard-hitting seng, the grappling and philosophizing thaskalos of the west, and the armored and minor spellcasting yamabushi. The Monk Archetypes PDF takes that material and applies it to the Pathfinder monk class as archetypes.


Dark Sasha wrote:

Another question regarding Heros of the Jade Oath: is the price listed above only for the Arcana Evolved compatible pdf?

I located the webpage on your site that lists the price as $60 but also says this:

"This special preorder bundle works a bit differently than most products here at paizo.com. At checkout, you will immediately be charged the full bundle price, and you will immediately be given access to the Beta PDF. When the finished PDF edition becomes available, you will automatically gain access to that edition. When the final print edition becomes available and is shipped to you, you will be charged the shipping fee."

Is this still correct or was that for the patronage only? Will the pdf be updated to the PFRPG version? Will a hardcover copy be published for a PFRPG version or was this only for the Arcana Evolved version?

This refereed to the B&W BETA print copy and BETA pdf with an free PDF update to the OMEGA. This was before our partnership with cubicle seven. When I do the update I will include the pathfinder PDF as well.

I won't discuss the benfits of patroange in paizo's sales thread dark sasha this is there sandbox, but I will shoot you an email.


Ashanderai wrote:
The monk is the one 3.5 core class that was almost completely rewritten in the pages of Heroes of the Jade Oath. It is far more mystical and uses chakras with sect templates to make different types of monks that include the sutra-casting contemplative monk, spellcasting kenza, cooperative fighting sohei, sadhu ch'i masters, the soft martial art huashan, hard-hitting seng, the grappling and philosophizing thaskalos of the west, and the armored and minor spellcasting yamabushi. The Monk Archetypes PDF takes that material and applies it to the Pathfinder monk class as archetypes.

You might be interested in my Anchorite base class, which replaces monks in my Pathfinder Homebrew.


Any news on the pathfinder version for Heroes of the Jade Oath?

In the meantime I'm going to check out Kaidan but I have a question is the Curse of the Golden Spear campaign the only resource for the setting or are their other products for Kaidan I have overlooked?

Kind regards

HarryJJ

Lantern Lodge

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber
HarryJJ wrote:

Any news on the pathfinder version for Heroes of the Jade Oath?

In the meantime I'm going to check out Kaidan but I have a question is the Curse of the Golden Spear campaign the only resource for the setting or are their other products for Kaidan I have overlooked?

Kind regards

HarryJJ

I am afraid I don't know much about what is in the works for Kaidan and I think Steve is on his way to GenCon right now. But, I think it is okay for me to tell you that work is proceeding well for the Pathfinder conversion of Jade Oath and I would like to tell you when you can expect to see the Jade Oath conversion come out; however, some recent [positive] developments MAY HAVE altered the schedule some. As I am not a publishing/production guy, and just a writer I am afraid I don't have the greatest grasp of the production schedule.

I am sure Steve will be along as soon as he can to answer your question and possibly chastise my overeagerness to address your question; lame as my answer is.

I hope that addresses your concerns at least a little.


Ashanderai wrote:
HarryJJ wrote:

Any news on the pathfinder version for Heroes of the Jade Oath?

In the meantime I'm going to check out Kaidan but I have a question is the Curse of the Golden Spear campaign the only resource for the setting or are their other products for Kaidan I have overlooked?

Kind regards

HarryJJ

I am afraid I don't know much about what is in the works for Kaidan and I think Steve is on his way to GenCon right now. But, I think it is okay for me to tell you that work is proceeding well for the Pathfinder conversion of Jade Oath and I would like to tell you when you can expect to see the Jade Oath conversion come out; however, some recent [positive] developments MAY HAVE altered the schedule some. As I am not a publishing/production guy, and just a writer I am afraid I don't have the greatest grasp of the production schedule.

I am sure Steve will be along as soon as he can to answer your question and possibly chastise my overeagerness to address your question; lame as my answer is.

I hope that addresses your concerns at least a little.

Thank you for the reply Ashanderai you have got me all excited now ! :)


Yes there are other Kaidan products besides the trilogy, there is In the Company of Tengu and In The Company of Kappa and there are two more products in the works right now.

Heroes of the Jade Oath Pathfinder should come out this coming winter DEC-FEB. I will not say more than that, as we want to take our time on layout and proofing. but I want it to go along with Jade Regent.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

So, from this and Pathways #10, I take it that Heroes of the Jade Oath is getting a complete PF version next year?


there will be a complete AE and PF version next year.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Tales Subscriber

Very cool.

Andoran

Okay, so I have a question. Heroes of the Jade Oath is being converted to Pathfinder, does that mean the Arcana Evolved version will not be available? Or have you wonderful folks at Rite Publishing found a way to merge Arcana Evolved and Pathfinder?


@stardust: We will be doing a PDF and Print on demand only version of AE and a PDF and normal print distribution (via our partner Cubicle Seven) for the PFRPG

UPDATE
Chapter 1 of Heroes of the Jade Oath (PFRPG) is off to proofing, soon to be followed by Chapter 2 as we are using multiple proofreaders for this project. Chapter 8 is in layout. If things go smoothly I will solicit for release in 3-5 months (damn print distribution time.) via our lovely print partners at Cubicle Seven


Update

Just released the Heroes of the Jade Oath (PFRPG) full color pdf advanced copy to the project's patrons. Public Release in January. (The reason for the delayed release is I like to do a simultaneous PDF release with the print product that Cubicle Seven will be releasing in January, we will follow this with a finalized Arcana Evolved version).

All of these files will be added to this product at no additional cost.


Heroes of the Jade Oath (PFRPG) printer files are off to Cubicle Seven.


So are we looking at a print PDF bundle available early next year?


Yes the Heroes of the Jade Oath (PFRPG) Print/PDf bundle will be a separate item offered by Cubicle Seven (we do this with all our Cubicle Seven partnership products).


So the bundle only available direct from C7?


Short answer No, for example here on paizo 1001 spells, In The Company of Monsters, The Breaking of Forstor Nagar etc.

Long asnwer if you notice those are under the Cubical 7 Entertainment (not Rite Publishing), I give the files to C7 they pay for the print run, they warehouse here in the sates with Publishers Services International, Alliance distribution orders from PSI, and Paizo orders their copies form PSI and I provide Paizo with the PDF at no additional cost.


Cool so I shall await the bundle appearing here.


mach1.9pants wrote:
Cool so I shall await the bundle appearing here.

And here you are


:)


Part II of my review:

We also get a new Monk-class who get HD depending on order (d8 or d10), 4+Int skills per level, deal a minimum damage with unarmed and melee weapons, up to +5 AC-bonus, up to +6 Ch'i-bonus, up to 3rd level combat rites, 3/4 BAB-progression, full BAB-progression with their favored attack bonus, good saves for all saves. Beyond the standard class, we also get different ability-suits that make the respective types of monk very distinct, somewhat akin to PFRPG-archetypes. And yes, there even are spellcasting monks, the so-called bodhist Kenza among them as well as the almost paladin-style yamabushi-monks. Even better, there are so-called chakras that require the character to be ki-focused to work. Characters may invest ki-points into chakras when ki-focused and there's a limit depending on level on how many points can be invested into a given chakra. Much like other points, these allocated points on the chakra allow the character to do uncommon things while focused and grant additional options via expending them. Moreover, each chakra has 3 different sets of potential ways to invest ki: Ki can be invested in Balanced Ki, Yang Ki or Yin Ki, granting different benefits for being focused or expending the aligned ki. (by the way: While the book refers to the ability as Ch'i, it's essentially the same as ki.) Better yet, depending on the amount of ki invested, the end result is different, making e.g. the difference between summoning a dog and an 8-headed hydra.

Totem Warriors now also get new options with the centipede, elephant, horse, monkey, tiger and praying mantis totems and witches can now become dragon, ghost, jade and five elements-witches, while champions may now focus on ancestors.

After that, we delve into new uses for the skills available, dealing with ch'i abd its replenishment as well as Feng Shui. After that, we delve into the massive selection of feats, coming with ceremonial, unfettered etc. feats as well as ch'i and chakra-feats, the former requiring a ch'i-pool and granting bonuses for expending the focus, while the latter further enhance the options available with chakra-feats, further expanding upon the already awesome concept. It should also be noted that faster alignment of ch'i to yin, yang or balanced chakra is also possible via the contents contained herein.

In chapter 5, we are then introduced to an array of new combat rites, a total of 25 to be precise, allowing you to increase jump or swim speed by 10 feet or even, as a 4th level rite, make a full attack as a standard action!

We also are introduced to a new way to spend hero points as well as concepts like The Green and The Dark, yin and yang and the good/evil axis, damage reduction, knockback rules, the suggestion to make improvised weapons available for anyone, rules for throwing opponents and unbound in the setting as well as zodiac signs. Named after the Chinese zodiac, each of these signs coming with bonuses and penalties that heavily rely on hero/villain points and which should make for stellar roleplaying opportunities that should enhance character interaction. Of course, a vast array of exotic weapons, the topic of currency, new alchemical items (stun gas, baby!) etc. are also in these hefty pages, as is a maneuver on breaking swords.

In the section on magic, we are introduced to new spell templates, which cover the cursing casters of the Bakemono, the mandragoran tree shamans, the Sanesaram integrating elementalists, the Qahngol truename adepts, and the moonlight/moonshadow mages of the Yueyangren/yueyinren, respectively. No balance concerns on my side regarding them.

Now, I've already extensively talked about Ch'i, but here you have the rules once again explained to you concisely and the extremely iconic art of making ofudas to vanquish foes is also covered via Sutra magic, which is available to all character classes. In contrast to the traditional magic system, access to sutras is rather limited AND mostly feat-based - which works surprisingly well to its advantage, since it allows badass warrior-monks to banish those spirits with sacred ofudas without resorting to the help of one of the casting classes - all without invalidating them or wildering in their covered territory. Brilliant! The rules for sutras are concisely presented and thankfully also provide advice on how to create more of them - for my only gripe here is that there are not that many of them.

No Arcana Evolved-sourcebook would be complete sans a selection of Oaths of Power and the pdf closes with 15 different oaths.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are VERY GOOD. While there are a couple of instances where the original race-names are left in the variant entries and while some minor glitches here and there can be found, the overall book is surprisingly glitch-free. On a formatting-level, I noticed some headers of feats, spells etc. standing alone as the last line on a page, with the rules-content on the next one, which I'm not a big fan of, but which still can be considered a minor hick-up.
Layout adheres to a GORGEOUS 2-column, full color standard with green borders and golden kanji, making this book extremely beautiful. I think I don't have to lose any time gushing on the cover by Wayne Reynolds, but what I noticed is that this and the PFRPG-version (the review of which is also coming) have partially different artworks, with the latter getting the better artworks and higher art density imho. However, the font used in this book make it slightly easier to read than the PFRPG-version, so that's also a plus. The pdf comes with extensive, nested bookmarks.

The sheer amount of options contained in this (to my knowledge) largest 3pp-book for Arcana Evolved is staggering in its ambition and scope: Not only are the races of the Diamond Throne given a massively different take, the new classes in my opinion surpass any released for Arcana Evolved so far, with the Enlightened Scholar being the very best class I've seen for this d20-variant. The sheer amount of options for base-classes is also nothing to pout at, nor the implementation of the stellar new races with their intriguing unique backgrounds.

it is the combination of said races and classes that make the setting feel so damn distinct: potentially usable for other Asian settings, yet still standing completely on its own - whether it's the Mandragoran race (which is genius) or the iconic locales, the ideas are exciting and bespeak of not only a working knowledge, but actually of a deep understanding of the myths and tropes of the WuXia-genre - which is coupled with stellar ideas rules-wise that should serve as a glorious example for the implementation of interesting subsystems that are at once complex and easy to understand, yet difficult to master and get all out of, making this crunch-wise a VERY rewarding book to read. Now fluff-wise, the ideas and iconic locales like the undead-repelling "Fallen pillar of Heaven" or the city encircled by a dead dragon are awesome and spark the imagination of the reader. Where the book struggles, unfortunately, is with the prose. While the understanding of the culture and details like mantras, produce etc. are helpful in correctly portraying the setting in question, the writing's quality unfortunately wavers - Great prose is interspersed with what I call "No-conjunctions-disease", the annoying symptom when writing resorts to bland Subject-Verb-Object-sentence-constructions, suddenly forgets that something like subordinate clauses exist and begins to start successive sentences with the same words. There also are a couple of spots where the same words show up surprisingly often and where the use of at least a couple of synonyms would have immensely helped immersion. While in crunch-writing, it's good to have a precise register with exactly one meaning assigned to a given word, in fluff it detracts from one's reading experience.

I usually wouldn't harp that much on it, were it not for the fact that the content per se is so good that these botches upset me - since they rip me out of what would otherwise be an immersion par excellence, both in setting and rules.

Now, this book has been long in the making and it shows - in the positive way. The ambition of this expansion of AE is superb and may actually breathe life and excitement back into a setting/rule-set that you may have thought you had already expended in its possibilities. And honestly - how often does that happen? The Beat-version was good - the omega is far better and, at least for me as a latecomer patron, was well worth the wait. Arcana Evolved players and GMs - even if you're not into far-east roleplaying, get this, and if only to scavenge and reskin all those deliciously concise and well-presented rules. I guarantee that your game will feel much different and richer than from how it used to. My final verdict for the Arcana Evolved-version of HotJO, will, due to aforementioned problems with the prose and minor glitches, be a 4.5 stars, rounded still up to 5 due to all the great options and potential herein, and still with the endzeitgeist seal of approval since the ambition, daring and guts of the project are something to be admired and cherished. The plethora of cool concepts deserves that you give it a chance.

Endzeitgeist out.

Reviewed here and sent to GMS magazine. Couldn't post the AE-review on DTRPG out of some strange reason. Review of the PFRPG-version (just as long and detailed) also coming up soon.

Cheers and happy new year!


Thanks to Steven D. Russell of Rite publishing for pointing me towards two minor errors in my review which have been corrected - turns out it's a bad idea to write reviews of the BETA AE-version and the OMEGA PFRPG-version at the same time...


"Requires the use of Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved"

How so? Is it unplayable without?


Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved is a d20-based system like Pathfinder, but a different system. You could use this version of HotJO without AE, but it would be hard, much like using the APG for 3.5, for example.
The PFRPG-print-version of HotJO will come out soon, as will my review of it.

Hope that helps!


Lorenzo von Materhorn wrote:

"Requires the use of Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved"

How so? Is it unplayable without?

I'd probably use the word "confusing" instead of "unplayable". For example, in Arcana Evolved classes go up to level 30, spells go up to level 10, spells are split by Simple/Complex/Exotic rather than by class, etc.


The system its designed to be used with AE. That verbiage was required for the AE version by Monte.

Andoran

I have been notified that the PFRPG version was added.

I must say that I was eagerly waiting for this and it is a VERY pleasant surprise to get it without even needing to send a reminder.

This high level of service is the way to make customers even more eager to buy your products.

Thank you :-)))


Your welcome.

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