The Genius Guide to Races of Hoof and Horn (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Super Genius Games
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Fantasy should be fantastic (and by “fantastic” we mean the dictionary definition—conceived by unrestrained fancy; beyond the realm of the ordinary). That might seem like an obvious thing to say, but fantasy fiction has become so common in popular entertainment that in many ways it has lost its sense of fancy. Elves and dwarves and orcs… we’ve seen them all before. They’re as familiar to the modern audience as private eyes, foreign spies, and femmes fatale were fifty years ago. What was once fantastical now represents the status quo, and we have to look further abroad if we truly want to find something beyond the realm of the ordinary.
As a small offer in that regard, The Genius Guide to Races of Hoof and Horn presents a trio of new fantasy races—the asterion, the lapith, and the pipers—suitable for use as player characters or NPCs. These races share a common trait of sporting hooves and/or horns—a small connection, but one not found in any of the standard races. They also all hale from remote—some might even say exotic—locales, making it sensible that encountering them would be a rarity in almost any world (and making it easier to incorporate them into an existing campaign).
Of course, it takes more than just a few cosmetic peculiarities to make a creature feel truly fantastic. Like the elves, dwarves, and the other classic character races, each of the new races comes from a culture with its own unique perspective on life and their place in the world—a set of cultural norms that GMs and players can use to understand how the group would fit into a campaign and build characters that fit within (or purposely stretch themselves beyond) those expectations.
Like any good rules expansion, The Genius Guide to Races of Hoof and Horn is meant to introduce new possibilities to your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game campaign and give everyone at the table a chance to expand the horizons of the game and create adventures that are truly fantastic.
This pdf is 13 pages long 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial and SRD, leaving 11 1/3 pages of content, let's give them a closer look!
After a short discussion on fantasy races and how the regular races have become staple and not too fantastic, we are introduced to the first of the three new races, the Asterion.
Asterions feature prominent horns (at least the males do) and fur on the lower parts of their body. They get +2 to Str and Con, -2 to Int, are better than average when charging, get low-light vision, 40 ft movement, endurance, a penalty when not standing on their own two feet (due to e.g. being mounted) and access to 4 exclusive racial feats: From being able to make a gore attack to being more stable to a feat that shows the stubbornness and lets you ignore a compulsion to repeat last round's action to attacking viciously for bonus damage at the cost of your own well-being, the feats are neatly designed and serve to enhance the fluff of the race.
The next race, Lapith, is actually quite interesting: Being the product of experimentation, these half-elf/human/elf-looking individuals can change into a quadruped form similar to the centaur. Lapith's ability to change form improves over time, enabling them to change more often at higher levels. Their second form grants them a bonus to attributes and 40 ft. movement rate they otherwise don't have as well as access to some of the exclusive racial feats. Additionally, Lapith are socially adept and never get the ride class skill, substituting another one (either acrobatics or swim). Their bipedal form obviously move with "Norman speed", which is thankfully 30 ft., making William the conqueror quite average with regards to movement rate. Lapith get 7 racial feats dealing with quicker transformations, hardier transformed forms and 2 feats that enable Lapith to get hoof-attacks.
The final of the 3 races, the Pipers, are descendants from satyrs and as such, compassionate musicians with a mischievous edge. They get +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Wis, a bonus to perform, need music as a kind of sustenance and can ignore any somatic components when casting, but to balance that out, they are dependent on their voice and always cast with verbal components and can never cast still spells. Following the format of the first 2 races, they get 5 new racial feats dealing with enhancing their charming qualities, bluffing fast, sacrificing spell slots to enhance their singing and even stagger foes with your looks. They also have "Norma1 speed" and in the prerequisites of the final racial feat, the scores for the respective attributes are in front of the abbreviations instead of behind it.
The pdf closes with some advice for the DM on how to handle the natural attacks of the new races.
It should be noted that there's a 2 1/3 page free enhancement to this racial book, covering alternate racial traits and favored class options, the latter also including the plethora of SGG-classes available at the time of this pdf's publishing -commendable and a definite plus!
Formatting and Editing could have been better, I noticed some rather humorous glitches - at this length something that could have been easily avoided. Layout adheres to the three-column standard and the interior artwork is partially stock, partially by SADE and other artists. The clash of styles between computer-graphics, full-color b/w etc. unfortunately make the pdf feel more fragmented than necessary. The pdf has no bookmarks, but the additional web-enhancement is a definite plus.
The three new races per se are concisely presented and especially the Lapith, which makes playing a centaur without worrying about being large and not having legs possible is a stroke of genius. However, I feel that the pdf would have benefited from either more material on the respective races or a tighter focus: We don't get information on height, weight, age categories, how the races relate to the different classes or similar information.
Another problem would be, that the Asterion somehow feels like a horned half-orc and falls short of being even remotely as captivating as Rite Publishing's (longer and, granted, more expensive) In the Company of Minotaurs. The Piper is a great idea, however, there is a disparity between the race and what I consider a good design philosophy for it: Needing music as sustenance is a great concept, but the race as a whole is VERY strongly geared towards spellcasters and bards in particular, up to the point where e.g. a fighting class would be a rather poor choice for the Piper. This makes the race more one-dimensional than it should be. The Lapith, though, is an extremely well-crafted example of a race that finally ends the centaur-pc-conundrum once and for all - if you ever wanted to play a centaur, this pdf is a must for you.
If not, though, you might feel somewhat disappointed by the other two races, the Asterion in particular. My final verdict due to the shortness of the pdf, the lack of information and the glitches will thus be 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 due to the free web-enhancement.
I was agonizing over a recently dead character's reincarnation and this pdf came to my attention by way of my spouse (who was also GM for the game in question). It fit the bill perfectly, and here's why.
Fluff: Well, the fluff went out the window for my newly reincarnated character. And I'm sad about that, as it's very good fluff. I especially like the fluff for the Piper, that being the race I reincarnated my former Human Cavalier to. She's now a Cavalier/Bard.
Crunch: This is where the product goes from 5 stars to 4 for me, and possibly for a silly reason. When poring over the text, I was hoping to find age/height/weight tables like those found in the Core Rules. Having a description that reads out the race as being built similarly to an existing race, but smaller, didn't quite fit that need.
Art: I agree with the previous reviewer on the matter of 3D rendered art. The first bits of art in the book are great, but it slowly goes downhill. Now, that said, this is the sort of pdf that could do with very minimal art and still be good. Thus, it's STILL 4 stars.
Proofing: Only one typo that caught my eye. That, sadly, was on the first page. Hale instead of hail. But easily overlooked.
Overall: 4 stars. If you're looking for something off the beaten path, this is the place to look.
This product is 13 pages long. With a cover and intro section taking up 1 page. This product introduces 3 new races.
Asterion – Half Minator race. The first section deals with their introduction, description, society, religion etc. That takes up 2 pages. Next is the racial traits section and new feats. Which includes 4 new racial feats. This takes up just over 1 page.
Lapith – A sorcery created race out of centaurs, humans and elves. The first section deals with their introduction, description, society, religion etc. This takes up 2 pages. Next is the racial traits section. One of their race powers is the ability to switch between centaur looking and bipedal form. There is also 7 new racial feats. This takes up about 2 pages.
Piper – They are half satyr and half other. Often from pairings with druids. A interesting side part is they are typically born twins and the vast majority are female. The first section deals with their introduction, description, society, religion etc. This takes up 2 pages. Next is the racial traits section and new feats. Which includes 5 new racial feats. This takes up just over 1 page.
It ends with half a page about magic and the races using natural attacks and 1 page for the OGL.
Closing thoughts. Each section also has a list of sample names for each race. The races where interesting and well written. I personally liked the Piper the most. The racial feats fit the race and seemed fairly well balanced over all. The Lapith might be a bit weak IMHO but fun for those looking for something different. Layout and editing was good. I didn't notice any big errors. Now I do have one complaint about this book and thats the art. The first couple of B&W art is pretty good, there is one color art which is meh. The rest is 3D art, I suppose it is ok for 3D art but I just don't like it. I don't even think the 3D art used is great 3D art. But art aside this is a nice book for those looking for additional fantasy races of something a bit different and I recommend it for the price. I am giving this a 4 star review despite the art.
Allright, I'm going to try my hand at a review here.
13 page PDF (1 page credits/OGL), Landscape format, contains 3 new thematically connected classes, and racial feats for each class
The fluff for the new races is great, and makes me want to play or include these races in my campaigns. Each race has an interesting backstory that sets them apart from each other and from the other playable races.
Each of the classes is well balanced. Some of the ability modifiers will cause some drama with some players (Asterion having bonuses to two physical ability scores), but this is not something that bothers me--in fact it makes more sense that a physically impressive race would have these type of adjustments IMO. The Lapith's lack of ability modifier is both justified and made up for with their shape-change abilities (and modifiers while shifted), and the Piper's ability adjustments fit the race and "conventional" ability adjustment norms.
Each of the races' other racial abilities fit the race and are well balanced. The only racial ability I have issue with is the Piper's removal of somatics, but it is backed up flavor-wise and balanced with the inability to cast silenced spells.
The new feats fit the theme of the races and, with the exception of two, solely benefit the races presented here. This is a bit of a departure from the norm (there are no PF core feats that have a race requirement that I am aware of), but I believe it is justifiable when dealing with non-conventional races.
Artwork is good, formatting is good, and I didn't notice any typos.
This is a great supplement for anybody wishing to add races to their campaign without scouring the bestiary for inspiration or home-brewing races. I am giving this product 4/5 stars (wish I could give it 4.5), and hopefully this will be the first of many Genius race guides.