A Necromancer's Grimoire: Faces of the Rakshasa (PFRPG) PDF

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Monstrous Fiends that are All Too Human!

Rakshasas have long been a source of fascination for tabletop gamers, and are at once among the most beloved and recognizable fiends, and also the most underused. Unlike most fiends, which dwell in distant and unimaginable hellscapes, rakshasas live on the material plane, lurking amongst the other races like a wolf in sheep’s clothing. They are cunning shapeshifters, powerful sorcerers, adept mind readers, masters of deception, and evil to the core.

A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Faces of the Rakshasa provides a 20-level base class that allows you to play as a rakshasa from level one, slowly gaining their abilities until you not only have all the powers of a rakshasa from the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Bestiary, but, by 20th level, have a number of additional, rakshasa-themed abilities found only in this book.

The book also presents nine new rakshasa castes, each of which bears the head of a different animal, has its own stat-block, with unique special abilities and powers that are tied to the caste’s theme, and also contain detailed tactics, caste, and operations descriptions which provide details on that caste of rakshasa.

From the makers of Liber Vampyr: Secrets of the Blood and Codex Mechanica: On the Creation of Fabricants, A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Faces of the Rakshasa provides all the information you need to make rakshasas a greater part of your game.

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Imperfect, but not broken


Rakshasas are one of those foes that work much better outside of a purely combat-focused scenario, I always thought. More than anything, they seem like scheming manipulators, being more inclined to extort, blackmail, and otherwise make others do their bidding without ever having to spill any blood. Despite their monstrous nature, that level of subterfuge can be tempting to a PC who wants to run the same sort of character. With the release of A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Faces of the Rakshasa, that path is now open to PCs everywhere.

Faces of the Rakshasa comes in two PDFs. The first is the full book itself, and the second is its printer-friendly counterpart. While I applaud the Necromancers of the Northwest for including a printer-friendly version at all – something that gets ignored all too often – its implementation here is imperfect. For one thing, the color cover is kept, as are all of the interior illustrations. What’s changed here is that the full version sets the background to a cream-colored parchment look, whereas the printer-friendly version is set on a while background.

Both files include full nested bookmarks, which is handy. However, the Necromancers still don’t seem to have licked that problem with copy-and-paste. The printer-friendly file doesn’t have it at all, whereas the main file does, but the pasted result has weird symbols and characters, resulting in a copy whose usefulness is limited at best.

After an opening piece of fiction that does an adequate job displaying the evil narcissism of a rakshasa, the book can be largely divided into three sections. The first deals with the rakshasa PC class.

A sidebar covers the basics of how this works, but what’s basically here is a 20-level base class designed to emulate the powers of a standard rakshasa from the Bestiary. Note that it achieves this in about fourteen levels; the remaining six levels add new powers to better make your rakshasa a paragon among its kind.

The second portion of the book is devoted to dealing with rakshasas in society, which spends a good deal of time talking about how to play a rakshasa PC. There’s some good advice here, talking about what to do with a PC that has mad powers to read minds, and also how rakshasas are typically evil creatures. However, I wish at least some time had been devoted to talking about how to play a creature that clearly looks inhuman (with their animal head and all). The rakshasa PC does get some disguise-based ability, but not right from the get-go, and it takes several levels before they can permanently disguised. This is something that should have been dealt with more.

The final part of the book is a bestiary of nine new rakshasas. Ranked in ascending CR, each is given an impressive amount of discussion for their tactics and their caste – this latter idea is one that’s explored more heavily in the book’s previous section, discussing how each rakshasa reflects a various form of sin among mortals, whether lust, greed, sadism, etc.

My major complaint with this section wasn’t about anything that was here, but because it makes the rakshasa PC racial class seem somewhat rigid in comparison. That class will let you advance as a standard Bestiary rakshasa, but what if you want to play as a sadistic makari rakshasa instead? There’s no support for that, and it’s disappointing – this would have been a good place for archetypes to come into play. Hopefully a further supplement will expand on this.

Overall, Faces of the Rakshasa does a lot for these classic foes. It gives depth and coverage to how they function in the game world that you won’t find anywhere else. The nine new rakshasa do an excellent job of fleshing out the myriad forms that these creatures can manifest in, and the addition of a rakshasa PC racial class is excellent for those who want to take a walk on the dark side. It’s unfortunate that the lack of expanded materials, and a few technical failings, hold this product back from being a five-star book, because the potential is clearly there. Hopefully we’ll see another face to these rakshasas to round things out.

Problematic racial class with neat bestiary


This pdf is 37 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 32 pages of content for your perusal, so let's check it out!

As has become tradition with NNW-books, the latest addition to their roster begins with a short story after which we'll get the new 20-level racial rakshasa-class. I'm an avid fan of the animal-headed, shapeshifting manipulators and this is the class for all the people who ever wanted to play one as a PC. Wait, what? Yep, you heard me. The class gets d10, 6+Int skills per level, good ref and will saves, sorcerer casting at half class level, scaling natural armor bonus and 4 levels sans HD. It's the Green Hag from Secrets of the Witch all over again. The native outsiders do get DR, spellcasting, ability bonuses etc, improving detect thoughts/telepathic abilities, Spell Resistance and finally can even kill others with their latent mental powers at 20th level.
We also get a section on their height & weight, how they interact with the world and a lore section. The pdf also offers advice on how to handle the at-will-detect-thoughts ability, which unfortunately, boils down to a gentleman's agreement with the DM and the assumption to tell the player when something important comes up. That does not solve the problem. To keep the class balanced, HD-less levels are included and furthermore, playing a rakshasa means no multiclassing until 14th level.

When compared to Rite Publishing's racial classes, that just feels inferior design - necessitated due to the power of the rakshasa, granted, but inelegant and inflexible nevertheless. The small niche of people who want a rakshasa-PC might like this class, but everyone else, even those remotely intrigued, however, should not be too excited to play this class. If the DM is willing to put up with the unresolved and potentially annoying/unbalancing detect thoughts-issue, that is. As you might have gathered, I'm not too excited about either the mechanics or the premise of a rakshasa-PC, but, oh well.

The next section elaborates the new caste-system of the rakshasas and offers a plethora of new kinds of rakshasa with different animal heads. Bandara (Monkey-headed, CR 5) rakshasas for example are associated with lust with all the dark tones the affections of the creatures could entail. Siyara (Jackal, CR 7) rakshasas, embodiments of treachery can alter themselves to take the appearance of any individual. The boar-headed rakshasa (CR 9) are covetous creatures of gluttony and can steal items and draw strength from their gluttonous escapades, even when consuming only mundane goods. The elephant-headed rakshasa (CR 10) are the scholars of the race, brilliant analysts who can find weaknesses in individual combat styles. The murderous crocodile-headed Bajul (CR 11) can instill his dread lusts for death in mortals via his whispers. The Rhino rakshasa, personifications of aggression and rage can also inflict their fury in others - why they don't get barbarian-like abilities, though, is beyond me. The delightfully creepy spider-headed Makari rakshasas live to inflict pain and sadistically disable and then dismantle their foes. The vulture-headed (CR 15) variant of the race embodies cannibalsim and death and thus can consume the dead to ensure that bringing them back is a harder task - even worse, they draw strength from it. The most powerful form of rakshasa in this mini-bestiary section remains the Ular at CR 17, though, getting poisonous breath, paralyzing gazes etc. and symbolize the cardinal sin of pride while abhorring deities. Snake-men that hate deities. *sigh* Where all the other rakshasas felt like they had something going for them, this one rather elicited a yawn, at least with regards to this motivation.
When all's said and done, I was pleasantly surprised by this mini-bestiary - the rakshasas all had at least something going for them, a nice ability or two and come with a lot of fluff text, information on their caste etc., helping you present them.


Editing is top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches, though one of the bookmarks is called "Untitled" when it should read Ular (Serpent) . The used-parchment-look-layout adheres to NNW's two-column standard and is functional. The pdf comes in two versions, a printer-friendly one and the screen-version with the parchment-look and both are extensively bookmarked. The artwork is stock and rather cheesy and unfortunately we don't get artworks for the respective kinds of rakshasa, which usually helps immensely with monsters. Due to the very low price, that is kind of understandable. What is not understandable, at least to me, is the mess of a class the rakshasa is: No multiclassing is a bummer, but as mentioned, I understand that as a design-decision (though not one I'm fond of). What I don't get is how the plethora of mind-reading abilities are presented, but without a viable solution but a gentlemen's agreement - otherwise, the game will GRIND to a painful halt. Often.

Designing adventures for mind-readers can be fun, after all my own group has had a telepath for the last 7 years, but only if he cannot perceive thoughts constantly. Any artificial restriction, any way at all to limit the classes ability to x/day would have been a vast improvement. As written, I do not see a well-crafted class, but a detriment to fun for all participants waiting to happen, even more so than with the Green Hag-class.

The bestiary, though, is something: The monsters are well-crafted and their fluff actually makes them sufficiently sinister, devious and even downright creepy - here we can see what the guys at NNW can do.

How, then, do I rate this? The rakshasa base-class fails in all regards but the 1:1-simulation of playing a monster from the bestiary and thus I'd give it 1 star. The bestiary, though, is actually quite well-made and would usually receive a score of 4 stars from yours truly. The bookmark glitch is detrimental, as is the lack of pictures for the monsters, though. My final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2. If you're in this for the monsters and don't care about artwork, go for it. Otherwise steer clear.

Endzeitgeist out.

Faces is a good product with a few flaws


Faces of the Rakshasa is a good product for its price point. The introductory story gives a good example of behavior and sets a great tone for the product.

The full 20 level base class has some really great ideas contained within, and allows a Rakshasa character to fit into a campaign that starts from levels 1-20. There are some new features added to the racial class that provide neat tricks to players that fit well with the Rakshasa. The added bonus is that these abilities scale with level and do not have static DCs. If I really had to point out anything bad about the racial class, it would be that it uses a form of ECL that causes a Rakshasa character to lose 4 hit dice. while these levels generally provide something to the player, any level that doesn't advance bab, saves, stat increases, and feats isn't a good idea. While some of the abilities are things that player characters of standard classes don't get, they aren't in my opinion worth giving up a hit die. So much is tied to the hit die in the game that anything that has you give one up needs to be looked at closely. Also the writeup doesn't allow a character to multiclass until after 14th level, the intention is that by level 14 in the class you will have the race fully earned with experience, but would it be so bad to let a character multiclass freely? The limitation seems more like a tax than a necessary thing. As a minor nit pick, PC Rakshasa spell resistance is weaker than the monster itself, this isn't a deal breaker, just something I noticed. The abilities gained after what would be considered the monster progression are neat, and tied to the race.

The next section deals with Rakshasa in the game world and includes advice on how to incorporate the Rakshasa's abilities into the campaign world.
There is also information of Rakshasa society that may or may not fit with a campaign, but it is welcome information for any DM looking to add to the race.

The last part of the book looks at some variant Rakshasa of differing CR done by caste. This is great for any DM looking to add variant Rakshasa into the campaign. It would have been better if there were suggestions on how to incorporate these different Rakshasa into the base class provided in the book already (class feature swapping). The write ups do include social information in addition to combat tactics.

For the price, you are getting a good product that has has a few flaws that can be fixed in play. The product provides a player a solid framework to play a Rakshasa, while the rest of the book gives DMs information that will help in a game with a Rakshasa player or focus.

The background and text work well together and are easy to read, even on small screens, but the art is stock art (which for the price of the product is fine).

This product would have gotten four stars had there been more connection between the alternate Rakshasa and the player character section. The inclusion of what amounts to ECL, even if it isn't a totally dead level was surprising considering that Pathfinder in general doesn't usually have players give up hit dice.

This is a good buy for any player looking to play a Rakshasa, or for a DM who wants to add them into a campaign and focus on the animal headed creatures.

Nice review, Lohan!

Reviewed here and sent GMS magazine. Cheers.

Dark Archive

Informative review End.

Thanks, D_M!

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