Part II of my review:
The second one would be the adamantine fist initiate for the brawler class. Instead of brawler’s cunning, the initiate may, after being hit in melee with a critical threat, attempt to sunder armor, shield or weapon of the attacker as an immediate action, gaining +4 to the sunder attempt if the crit was confirmed, which btw. does not provoke AoOs. Instead of the bonus combat feats gained at 2nd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the archetype gets the adamantine fists ability, which lets the brawler ignore 1 point of natural armor the target possesses at 2nd level, increasing by +1 at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter. If the ignored bonus exceeds the natural armor, the brawler instead applies + brawler level to damage. So, lot of flexibility and player agenda lost for bland damage boost. Not a fan. Instead of maneuver training, we get +2 to bull rush and to resist it, which increases by +1 at 7th level, where +2 to CMB and CMD versus trip are gained. 15th and 19th level further increase these bonuses by +1. At 4th level, we get crashing assault: When making a melee or ranged attack versus a target with hardness, the brawler ignore ½ class level hardness 1/day, +1/day every 6 levels thereafter, replacing knockout. Instead of close weapon mastery, 5th level yields titan’s disruption, which allows the character to use martial flexibility sunder unattended objects for shards that cause all three types of physical damage in 10 ft., with the save to halve based on Strength. Yep, basically Shrapnel Strike. Having the feat doubles range. At 10th level, two uses of martial flexibility may be used to attack a vessel component: If damage exceeds twice the object’s hardness, it is disabled for 1d4 rounds, +1 round for every 5 by which damage exceeded that threshold. Multiple such attacks only increase a disruption’s duration by +1 round. The ability comes with an engineering remedy for it, btw. Easily my favorite archetype ability in the book.
The race gets 4 racial feats: Abjurant Shell nets SR 11 + character level while enshelled; Enshelled Concentration allows for the casting of psychic spells or those sans somatic components etc. while enshelled. Quick Enshell lets you assume or end enshelled status as a swift action. Shell Shield lets you treat your shell as a tower shield, granting total cover, but at the cost of -4 to atk. We also get a new technological weapon, the shock bat (guess what it does…) and 5 new cybertechs: Ley Matrix, at implantation 1, allows the shell to be enchanted as a shield and allows the tortonian to use its special abilities while enshelled. Shell cannons clock in at Implantation 4 and integrates a technological firearm in the shell, which may not be disarmed and the wielder is proficient with it. Shell spikes add a 1d6 slam for Implantation 1; the spikes may be enchanted. At Implantation 3, spell absorber can store a spell, releasing it as a full-round action into a single space adjacent to the wielder, with space affected being chosen anew each round as a free action. To offset the flexibility, the wielder is staggered while using this one. The effects may be ended as a standard action. Finally, the underwater exploration kit (implantation 4) nets +30 ft. swim speed, +20 to Swim checks and the ability to breathe under water, as well as providing full buoyancy control. This one does eliminate the enshell ability while installed, though. The magic item, the shellbrooch nets 3/day the option to store the shell in the brooch, gaining +4 to Dex and freedom of movement, but can mean potentially losing the shell. The race comes with an age, height and weight table as well as a new spell, namely shellsight, which allows the caster to see through the shell while enshelled, providing line of sight, but not effect.
Editing and formatting on a formal level are good. On a rules language level, I noticed a few hiccups, but no truly grievous accumulation of them; however, some of them do influence rules-integrity. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports original pieces of full-color artwork for each race, which I applaud, even though, personally, I didn’t like them that much. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks.
Tyler Beck’s races herein have in common that they all have cool concepts and that I have not see them executed before; that alone is worth something. He has also attempted to do something unique with each of them, which is something I really like.
That being said, this originality unfortunately does not extend to the majority of class options and feats within, which could have gone more creative routes as far as I’m concerned.
This pdf also stands as an excellent example to illustrate that the RP guidelines presented in the ARG, as I have observed time and again, SUCK as a guideline of the power of a race. While the races herein are not overpowered per se, they significantly exceed all core races in power, potentially limiting their appeal to games that favor higher-powered races, needlessly limiting their appeal. They also are bit too strongly geared towards specific roles for my tastes. Bisoni spellcasters, for example, are a bad idea, while their martial representations are ridiculously potent and mop the floor with comparative races of their RP. This overkill will certainly find its fans among the more min-maxy-minded players, but I maintain that the power-level of the races is not in any way required by the respective concepts, representing an artificial limitation of the cool ideas.
As a person, I liked the idea of all 3 races, but not the execution of any of them, which means I, alas, will never use them. That being said, I attempted to provide you with a good overview of what can be found within this pdf, so you shouldn’t have a hard to judge whether this appeals to you or not. Additionally, I do try hard to leave my own biases at the door when rating a product, and ultimately, this can be a worthwhile, if perhaps not an overwhelmingly awesome, book. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars. If the strength of the racial concepts sells this on you, then round up. Considering the fact that a significant part of the supplemental material didn’t blow me away, I still feel justified in rounding down for my official verdict. All in all, this represents a mixed bag, slightly on the positive side for groups that enjoy really potent races.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.