Swan Maiden

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Good, But Falls Short of Great

4/5

Initial Reaction: 5/5
In this first edition of Mind Over Matter, we’re given archetypes and options for two psionic classes, compatible with Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Dreamscarred Press’ psionics line.

Cons: 16 pages of content is pretty slim, and most of the art is unrelated to the material around it. I’m honestly not sure if the homestuck fanart on the fourth page is a pro or a con.

Pros: Four archetypes (two each), sixteen feats specific to the two classes, four general feats and three new powers. That’s a lot of stuff crammed into one small book, and makes up for the smaller number of pages. The archetypes sound cool and interesting, and like something I could get my teeth into

All Around: Flipping through the pages, I feel excited to delve into this a little deeper. It also includes the first third of a new mythic path. Having little experience with mythic rules, I can’t say much on the topic, except that it was cool to include (and that without it there would only be a dozen pages of content).

Presentation: 4/5
Cons: Switching between points of view (“your ability”, “they may do x”) makes the reading inconsistent. The weird indenting (with a + in it) feels out of place with the rest of the book’s style.

Pros: Formatting is reminiscent of Paizo publishing, yet unique in and of itself.

All Around: Certainly a pretty book, and enjoyable to read. The cons didn’t take too much away from the overall feel. I wouldn’t mind flipping through a book that was presented this way, even if some things could be improved.

Content: 6.5/10
Let’s first look at this piece by piece:
The Locus is a nomad Psion that focuses on splitting space and time to be in two places at once. Very cool. A problem that almost immediately comes up is that their biggest ability is a little muddy in its description. This sibling is unable to interact physically, though you can expend power points to allow it to take physical standard actions. I’m not sure whether it can take purely mental actions (manifesting, for example), and whether you have to expend extra power points for such things. Also, I’m unsure of what happens when you have an active power or spell on yourself and then duplicate, or what happens if the phantom has an ongoing spell or power on it while active. The capstone power is, however, much more clearly written, and is very awesome.

The Mindreaver is a non-good Psion archetype (in that they are restricted to not being Good-aligned) restricted to Telepaths. I love the style of this archetype, it builds up a cool, twisted mind-controller. I have a small issue with one of the first level powers which lets you spend ¼ of your level on it, which means 1 at first level, 2 and eighth, 3 at twelfth, which leaves too big of a gap between the first increases (but this is a personal complaint, mostly because I don’t like having abilities that increase sporadically). Aside from a mechanical oopsie, and a capstone ability that includes a flat DC (Pathfinder typically uses scaling DC’s in the format of 10 + ½ level [or full for PrC] + ability), the archetype is very useable. Even if I didn’t want to play one in a game (which I do), I would love to implement one as an NPC.

Seven Psion feats are listed, specific to the two archetypes included in this book. Some minor issues come up, such as one feat increasing the daily uses of a key Locus ability by 50% of the maximum natural amount, which seems too much, and the Folding Force feat and the Greater version having issues regarding the range of the effects. Three issues out of seven feats isn’t a great ratio.

First of the two Soulknife archetypes is the Attenuator, who kills by degrees. An ability from first level and one from third level are replaced by one at sixth level and tenth level respectively. Getting rid of early game powers for such late game effects seems detrimental to me, as it narrows player options in the early levels. Also, having an ability useable a number of times per day equal to Dex modifier instead of scaling (since it’s introduced at 10th level) also inhibits the feeling of a natural progression. Still, an interesting archetype for characters who like to whittle down their foes.

Last up is the Manic Magpie, a soulknife who steals equipment and powers. The magpie’s greed ability allows them to pull a weapon from an opponent’s hand and wield it as if they had drawn it. Which you already get to do with a successful disarm check, so this ability feels like a weird limited times per day reiteration of that. The fact that it increases to include some benefits later on somewhat redeems it, but it feels like an oversight. The capstone ability, however, is very unique, interesting and useful. The archetype would be great if the main ability it uses was worded in such a way to function alongside disarm checks instead of ignoring them altogether.

Nine Soulknife-only feats come next, including one that increases the magpier’s greed daily uses by 200% (if taken before 6th level, or by 33% later), which feels like a LOT too much. Another feat (mindlight ammunition) allows you to add a +4 equivalent magic ability to a piece of ammunition with no cost whatsoever, unlimited times per day, starting at fourth level (which is absolutely broken). A few of the feats were very useable and quite good, these two feats felt so gratuitous and unnecessary that the rest look bad by association.

Wrapping this up, we come to the four general feats and the three new powers. The first feat allows you to bypass the Golden Rule of psionics (you cannot spend more points on a power than you have levels) to a degree, a rule which should only ever be fudged carefully. The rest are only adequate, with one standing out as being worth introducing to a game. The first power, Ego Lash (no, not ego whip) comes with a really obscure and oddly out-of-place flavour text. It’s an occasionally useful power with a too-high-level pricetag, despite seeming pretty fun [if evil]. The second power doesn’t fit the feel of the psionic powers, in that its main effect- a bonus to some rolls- is based on the manifester’s Intelligence modifier instead of being a set value that can be augmented (also, having it be ONLY Intelligence-based excludes half of the classes that can manifest it). The final presentation is both interesting and adequate in balance, though the augment section doesn’t go with the typical feel of powers.

All Around: While some ideas in here are ingenuitive and great, there are typos that reduce comprehensibility, vague descriptions, ability replacements that don’t reflect Pathfinder rules/style, and feats that are far more powerful than they should be. There are some good pieces in here, a few feats worth keeping. All around, I’d say only about 1/3 - 1/4 of the total feats and powers can be dropped into any psionics game with no modification, and most of the classes need alterations to function as advertised.

Final Interpretation: 15.5/20. This is an adequate book with some good pieces in it, though lots of it needs touching up. I feel like if the producers had gone over it again, making the necessary revisions, it would have been better by far. As it is, I might recommend buying it if it was on sale or in a bundle, or if you don’t mind doing touch ups to make it fit your game.


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Not a Critical Hit

3/5

Initial Reaction: 4.5/5
The book is five dollars for about 23 pages of content. We’re presented with options for three psionic classes, compatible with Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and Dreamscarred Press’ psionics line.

Cons: The wording often switches between using a 3rd person and 2nd person perspectives (“his ability” to “your ability”) in the middle of blocks descriptions.

Pros: We’re given four new archetypes, 2 new powers, and 8 new feats. The descriptions of the four new archetypes are appealing, and sound like characters I might be interested in playing.

All Around: Eight new feats isn’t bad for a five dollar drop, although adding more powers would have been welcome. Initially skimming over it, I felt fairly excited about jumping into it.

Presentation: 4/5
Cons: Whitespace around art made them standout and made the whole thing look unprofessional. I also think it’s very printer-unfriendly, and some of the art seemed not to fit with the content. While I understand the need to advertise, taking a full page (plus another half a page for smaller advertisements) to do it when there’s less than thirty to begin with… that’s a bit excessive.

Pros: But! I dolike the amount of art included. I’m forgiving of the artistic inconsistency, since what’s included is an amalgam of many artists’ work, and likely the result of only picking through what was already made. The general layout is reminiscent of Paizo’s publishing, which is appreciated, and I like the colour pattern.

All Around: Overall, an appealing book

Content: 5.5/10
Let’s first look at this piece by piece:
The first archetype given is the Bulwark. There are things that confuse me about some of this content, including the actual effects of the size alteration granted by the class. As written, the rules don’t seem to overlay well- such as a direct change to base land speed instead of a penalty, which doesn’t interact well with base land speeds that are not exactly 30 feet to begin with. There is also the addition of fifteen new customizations, which is a nice upgrade, even though only the Bulwark is able to utilize them.

Next up is the Reverie Templar, a psychic warrior who specializes in pulling opponents into the Templar’s mind for a quick bout of mind-fighting. I’m more than a little confused what this archetype does. I’ve read it top to bottom and back more than a few times, and it still strikes me as just a bit too vague. They gain a lot of abilities that affect their cerebral combat, and it’s not made clear what kind of action it is the ones that don’t seem like automatic effects. Honestly, I’m not sure how useable the archetype is, as written.

Verdant Metamorph: a plant-themed variant, the psionic equivalent of a Druid. The ability to activate a metamorphosis effect multiple times per day is superb, although the wording could be a little clearer. Another ability refers to the Fungal template, found only in Pathfinder’s Bestiary 4 (or of course on d20pfsrd.com), so I hope you have access to one of those. And it ends with an ability that has a flat DC (instead of being based on level + stat).

Lastly is the Vivere, Vitalists who are completely overflowing with life energy. This archetype adds a curse to the character, and replaces their method with a unique one available only to Viveres. Again, it’s quite unclear in some places, leaving me to wonder how often one of the powers can be used, and what the exact effects of the capstone ability are (bleed damage against undead?).

And then we get to the feat section. Out of the eight feats provided, six are specific only to the archetypes provided, which is to be expected. While quite specific, the feats added to the new archetypes, and one included feat seems like an interesting addition for almost any Aegis. Lastly is the two powers added- I’m not going to complain about them only including two new powers, as they’re harder to create than new spells. I WILL complain about the first being vague about its augmentation (does it increase the damage, or increase the number of attacks, or what?). The second one is a psionic reiteration of contact other plane, which isn’t exactly hugely impressive.

Right at the end they included over a dozen mythic feats and more mythic abilities for their new Medium path. I’m not sure I’d call this “bonus material”, since without it they would have only had about 17 pages of content.

Final Interpretation: 14/20. Even if this weapon was keen, it’s not exactly a critical hit. Even at only five dollars, I don’t think this product would get my entertainment dollar, unless I had a lot of extra gold pieces to spare. Frankly, a lot of clarity could have been added, and more explanations are needed. If the book was edited again to fix these issues, the rating would be higher.