Which side will you choose? Which weapons will you wield? Earth is torn between the order of science and the chaos of fantasy. These two worlds cannot mix. Venture into lands once claimed by skyscrapers and factories, now overrun by elves, goblins, and dragons. Choose your path and commit to the quest. Monsters will hunt you; machines will track you. No gods will help you; no prophecies will choose you. The fate of the world rests with you.
The following two chapters deal with the leitmotifs of the Amethyst Renaissance setting, ranging from familiar foreignness and constructions of alterity to eschatological ramifications of the cataclysm that was the second hammer and the canonical continuation of human religions, belief, ideologies and science as well as covering the plethoras of alternative models for society as introduced by the Fae and adapted by the echan races - which, of course, is anything but unilateral and in fact a topic not to be neglected. The corrupting influence of Ixindar, transportation and travel, languages, ideologies and warfare - you name it and these pages provide. A gazetteer of the world, introducing us to the bastions, their tech levels, to the kingdoms and also the homes of the worst infections is also provided and makes for a nice lead-in to the new beasts- While most beings can work in the Amethyst-setting, several creatures are replaced by races unique to the setting and thus, the bestiary section kicks off by introducing us to said replacements. Special mention in this section deserves the beautiful representation of the fae and the "degenerated" subtypes that have developed from them. The corrupted Dragons of Ixindar also get a nice treatment herein and the pdf hints at the worst of these beings and their special strengths.
In Chapter 13, the DM gets the grand gamut of inspirations for campaigns - whether you and your group would go for a theme of echan/techan differences, mixed groups or campaigns focused on a place, this section provides even further ideas and guidance for DMs before presenting us with a beginner's adventure, which serves as a nice starting point for both echan and techan or mixed groups. A nice module, though I would have preferred an echan and a techan start scenario.
After that, the expertly written narrative that leads us throughout this massive tome concludes and an Index finishes this massive tome.
Editing and formatting are very good - I noticed not a single wording that would have impeded my understanding of the text or rules, though I did notice several passages where text was in italics that wasn't supposed to be. Generally, though, the formatting is excellent. The layout adheres to a drop-dead gorgeous b/w-2-column layout with graphics on the borders and no printer-friendly version, which is a minor bummer. The artworks, oh the artworks: They belong, tops, to the most iconic, awesome, evocative and brilliant pieces I've seen done in b/w and the couple of full-color artworks herein are no less dazzling in their beauty. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks, though no nested bookmarks, which is a bit of a pity, since nested bookmarks would have imho further improved the ability to navigate this massive book. The pdf also comes with high-res jpegs of 3 full color artworks, a map of Canam and 4 different wallpapers.
Now, this review took me much longer than anticipated due to several reasons - first of all would be the ambition of the setting: Essentially its endeavor of creating a what-if-scenario that is logical is laudable - what is truly stunning, though, is the variety of play styles it can accommodate. Yes, you can play a fantasy campaign laced with sci-fi elements in this setting. Just as easily, you could participate in a technology vs. magic, scifi vs. fantasy war of the worlds, a gritty cyberpunk scenario or even explore themes of ideologies, races, conflicting society models or a theme of technical evolution vs. chaos that is stagnant in its magical creations etc.
Amethyst Renaissance accommodates all of these playstyles and infinitely more. Secondly, this review took forever to write due to the crunch being so different from what we usually see in PFRPG. Due to the peculiar nature of magic an technology in the setting, checking the balance of the classes, PrCs and options makes for a monumental task I can only hope I partially achieved in completing. Balance is precarious and there were many an instance where I actually thought that a given race, feat or other class option was overpowered, since e.g. automatic hits and similar concepts are used. However, the setting's unique balancing factors like the EDF and ideological differences/conflicts, tech levels etc. also mean that there are a lot of uncommon factors that mitigate the relative power of the races and options herein. To make matters perfectly clear: This is probably not a setting to scavenge from, since just about all crunchy elements are tightly inter-connected both with crunchy and fluffy bits to weave a complex tapestry of both exciting and uncommon options.
Amethyst Renaissance is also, and that should be stressed, an intelligent setting: Its logic, coherent approach demands a mature approach both on the side of the gaming group and the designers, as the elements that are relevant social topics in our everyday world still matter in this setting, including unpleasant topics like racism, fanaticism and the escalating clash of ideologies. All while retaining an identity beyond the sum of its component parts. Is this pdf universally balanced? Hard to tell, even for me. If a DM is not careful with regards to feats, equipment etc., I can see such a game being hard work - this is not the fault of this book, though, as the parts actually DO work they way they are intended. Another note for all the people with extensive PFRPG-libraries and a minor problem I see with this pdf should be mentioned, though: Rules concepts like teamwork feats, solo tactics or the gunslinger's grit mechanic have not found their way into this setting. Instead, we have setting specific solutions and rules-representation, which, while they do enhance the individuality of the setting, also mean that adding other content to the setting could prove to be problematic. It is also due to this that I hope we'll get more techan equipment, vehicles etc. in future supplements - introducing other content could prove to be a decision that should be carefully considered.
Finally, I feel compelled to mention one thing: As per the writing of these lines, I really hope for a print version of this book - BUT: This pdf is cheap. I mean it. Ridiculously cheap in fact. 15 bucks for 400 pages? Of content of this quality? Now if that is not an excellent bang-for buck ratio, I don't know what is. I'd honestly be hard-pressed to mention another book that marries stellar artworks, a truly unique and smart setting, innovative rules and interesting ideas while being this damn affordable- At the low asking price, Amethyst Renaissance is a total, complete steal. What's my final verdict, then? I've thought. I've calculated. I've pondered. Is this book perfect? No, there are some minor formatting glitches. There is the lack of nested bookmarks. I'm new to Amethyst and have no idea how this one and its prior d20-incarnations interact. What I can say is that this pdf made me want to play in the setting. That its races came more to life to me on these pages than just about ALL races I've reviewed this year. That the ideas are often not adhering to standard PFRPG-solutions, but work well and in unique, special ways. That the base-classes rock hard and feel cool. That I love the creative ideas, twists and all the unique "clash of culture"-style pieces of information. If my review left you even remotely curious and/or you're looking for a truly new, unique and versatile setting, I'd strongly encourage you to check this pdf out - Amethyst Renaissance is clearly a professional book and a labor of love. And at the low price, I can still justify to give this book my full blessing - thus, my final verdict, in spite of the minor blemishes that can easily be neglected, will be 5 stars.
Reviewed here, on DTRPG, posted about it on RPGaggression and sent it to GMS magazine! Cheers!
I don't often praise a setting that much and since I'm well versed in several sci-fi/cyberpunk-settings, I did not expect to be interested in this world. You managed to do it. Kudos! I look forward to seeing supplemental material for AR! :)
So, I picked this up from DriveThru RPG and I'm liking what I see. It's a shame that the Product Identity/Open Game content declaration is missing (making this non-compliant with the OGL). I'm going to have to sit down when I've a bunch of spare time on my hands to properly digest this book.
Also, it's nice to see someone from PG producing such a high quality product. I don't see that location mentioned too often in any publishing context.
So, I'm up to page 98 or so and I'm really impressed so far. I've spotted a number of formatting issues (new paragraphs a sentence too early, use of "for all intensive purposes" instead of "for all intents and purposes"), but nothing that has really impeded my understanding of the text.
The artwork (black and white) is very good and the lack of colour in the text does not feel like anything is missing. Rather, the black and white artwork seems to work better than colour given the style of the layout. Nice work on getting those two elements working so well together.
The little details is what makes this so great. Things like how magic does not extend into space, or the section in each racial write-up which explains why that race is the "best choice evar!", or the fact that the book does not shy away from issues like prejudice, racism, or sexuality.
I'd also love to see some of the rules like Technology and Magic Disruption available for use elsewhere, and the tech classes are another thing it'd be cool to be able to use as well (minus setting details and other PI you'd obviously not want to share). Please consider updating the document to include a product identity and open content statement (needed to comply with the terms of the Open Gaming License).
One thing I'm noticing as I work my way through is there are a number of 4E mechanics references in the text (move, minor, and standard actions), and a number of areas where the more disassociated mechanics from 4E could have been converted better (and probably fairly easily) to a more associated mechanic. There's a number of spots where the disassociated mechanic pulls me out of the setting and comes across as very board-gamish. This wouldn't be so bad, but it really stands out in this product given how well pretty much all the other rules and mechanics integrate into the flavour of the setting, probably more so than I've seen before in any other setting.
I'm up to equipment now and really liking what I see.
Picked this up today just before work so I have only skimmed the book, but wow! I have spent far more for a Pathfinder compatible setting and been disappointed. From the random pages I am reading and the art I am seeing this is a impressive product. Review to follow.
I've read through a good portion of this book, I have yet to find where the starting wealth is for the Techen classes is stated, which worries me a little as the DM has threatened to start us out dead broke.
(edit)Just found the FAQ that gives answers for such things at