Thunderscape: The World of Aden (PFRPG) PDF

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A World of Steam and Darkness!

In Aden, a thousand-year Golden Age of prosperity gave rise to an unprecedented development: the fusion of magic and technology into a unique discipline called mechamagic. Arcane power, steam power, and gunpowder changed the world almost overnight. The Golden Age ended, and the Age of Thunder began. It seemed there would be no limit to the industry and ingenuity of man.

Until the Darkfall.

A supernatural cataclysm of unknown origin, the Darkfall plunged the world into darkness as the sun was blotted out for only a moment. In that moment, every nightmare and horror imagined by the people of Aden sprang into existence, and the world was thrown into chaos. Villages were wiped from the face of the world, entire cities burned, and tens of thousands perished in an instant. It seemed that the world would die in flames.

But Aden will not die so easily.

Now, ten years later, the people of Aden struggle to survive in the face of unrelenting assault by horrors beyond imagining. It is a world of magic, a world of industry, a world of horror.

It is the world of Aden.

Thunderscape: the World of Aden is a setting and mechanics sourcebook compaitble with the Pathfinder Role-Playing Game. Within the pages of this book you will find the following:

  • Details on twelve different races of Aden, eight of which are new to this work!
  • Nine base classes heavily integrated into the setting but portable to all manner of campaigns, from the golem-commanding mechamage to the legend-summoning thaumaturge!
  • New traits and feats, and new uses for existing skills!
  • New spells, new technology, and new magic items!
  • A sample bestiary of eleven creatures from Aden!
  • And much, much more!

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Thunderscape Review

*****

What is Thunderscape?

Thunderscape - The World of Aden introduces readers to the battered but unbroken world of Aden, a world where knights and sorcerers fight shoulder to shoulder with mechamagical golems against the nightmarish hordes spawned by the Darkfall, a supernatural cataclysm of unknown origin.

It uses the Pathfinder Roleplaying system that I currently consider my favorite setting when playing D&D games.

LAYOUT
Overall look and feel of the book is very good. From its parchment like pages to the small details of gears, shadow beasts and good artwork says “This is Thunderscape – the World of Aden”.

For me the book reminds a mix between the old 3rd edition D&D Forgotten Realms Campaign Settings book and Pathfinder Hardcover books. Some small details are noticeable though; many of the chapters begin with a artwork and a small description of what’s inside, while others begin with just the headline. This was the only detail that bothered me.

CHAPTER 1. Races of Aden
Chapter details who the most common races of Aden and introduces all the new races found in it. While the chapter does provide decent information regarding each race much like many other campaigns settings books out there. It did leave me wanting more, but that might only be because I compare everything to one of my personal favorites “The Advanced Race Guide” which details each race with multiple pages.

This is a shame since the game brings a couple of really nice races to the game, I would have like to know more. Also artwork of the races while good seems little plain when comparing with rest of the book.

CHAPTER 2. Classes
Now this is where the book begins to shine, Chapter 2 might be the best chapter in the book. Not only does it bring nine new core/base classes in to the game, each one as detailed as any provided by Pathfinder books, they are accompanied with the best artwork in the book to show us iconic character for each class.

Each of the classes brings flavor and detail to the world of Aden that will be hard to match by any other product out there. The dark Fallen that wield powers granted or cursed by Darkfall, Golemoids that infuse themselves with Mechamagic while trying to survive its price the Wasting and my personal favorite the Seer that combine the power of divine spell casting with a gift of prophecy. Also classes provided are very different from each other, so that you will find something that you like. You could even create a whole party just from these classes and you would have very versatile group.

Chapter also provides details how all the existing core and base classes function in Aden with a couple of example character descriptions to each class.

CHAPTER 3. TRAITS/FEATS/SKILLS
While the chapter does provide nice amount of new feats it doesn’t quite reach the numbers that some of the campaign settings usually provide, but after 9 new classes full of new features to play with it doesn’t matter. It also provides a new trait called Folk Magic which speaks to how much magic is part of Aden in everyday life of its citizen.

Chapter also provides some new info regarding skills related to Aden’s technology.

CHAPTER 4. History of Aden
This chapter is the first that doesn’t provide its own preview page which is little shame since it starts right after mechanics heavy sections in the book and first time I turned the page to it, I was certain my book was missing couple of pages.

Chapter itself while quite short, only half a dozen pages did provide nice amount of info about Aden’s history, which is expanded later in the book when it details each nation and its history. Also world of

Aden is still quite young in real life so it’s understandable that it there isn’t more information.

CHAPTER 5. Life in Aden
Also another one of my favorites, this chapter details the world of Aden and how it is different from so many other worlds we might already know. While the chapter only goes little inside each aspect of Ade, its those small details that bring the world to life in my mind.

Whether it’s a secret language of Thrun, what the cosmology in Aden is or how in the forest of Sylfanus elves tame Griffons, it all says this is Aden. Because when you read about Aden’s agriculture or what sort of wildlife is found in this part of Aden, you can immediately see in your mind what sort of place this might be.

Chapter also goes more into detail how religion in Aden is very different from most of other settings out there, because its people don’t worship gods. It also details shortly the major and minor faiths found in Aden.

CHAPTER 6 and 7. Nations of Aden
I have reviewed these two chapters as one because they both focus on nations of Aden.

The chapter expands the info you already got in chapters 4 and 5 as each nation gets brief description of its own history, lands and culture. As well as some major settlements found in it, what military they have and how they’re relationship is with other nations.

Every nation has enough information that you can decide where they want
to adventure. It also provides enough info for GM’s to build from it.

While I would have like to know more about everything, details provided are in line with what every other campaign setting provides in their main book, with additional details provided in future supplement books.

CHAPTER 8. Magic in Aden
This chapter provides info how arcane and divine casters are defined in Aden with some information regarding the unique magical disciples. There are three major unique magical disciples in Aden that are Entomancy that involves insects, Mechamagic the most common that is fusion of Magic and Steam, and finally Thaumaturgy that is related to the most common belief people of Aden about spirits and afterlife.

While information provided is quite short it gives the reader enough info to use them in their games and provides some hints to possible sub disciples expanded in future books.

Finally the chapter provides list of new spells that bring Aden’s unique feel to every spell casting class, old or new.

CHAPTER 9. Technology in Aden
Again this is a chapter that in my mind is one of the best in the book. Not only does it provide info much technology is a part of Aden but it provides many examples to varies technological and magical wonders.

New wonders include things like Lightning sword and Magmaxe. There are also details to various firearms that are much more common in Aden then in Pathfinder setting.

There are so many new items, vehicles, alchemical items and armors found that you can really feel how much technology is part of Aden.

Finally the chapter provides more details to the Golemoids unique illness the Wasting and rules for piloting the new technological wonders.

CHAPTER 10. BESTIARY
While relatively short chapter it does provide enough new information to show what sort of creature’s you might encounter in Aden. This is mostly done by providing sort of templates that you can add to any creature to create those unique creatures that roam the lands.

NATURE OF DARKFALL
In the end the book provides a small section detailing the mystery of Darkfall and many theories surrounding its origin.

For me Darkfall is a brilliant way to provide a sort of mystery that many gamers want to solve, while giving players a common enemy that even the most greedy thief or power hungry wizard is quick to oppose.

I’m certain that we will discover many new things about Darkfall in the future books.

CONCLUSION
In my mind Thunderscape – World of Aden is one of the best Campaign setting books released and if I had to say anything bad about it. It would be that its 224 pages left me wanting more, more artwork and more details about everything that is Aden.

As a backer of the Kickstarter campaign that launched this product I’m really happy how great product Thunderscape Campaign setting turned out to be. And when considering that the Kyoudai Games is quite a small firm they have really shown us their worth with this. So if this is the sort of quality we can expect from them in the future, you can count on me to getting those as well.


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Liberty's Edge

I am just wondering when the supplement(s) for the mechamancer and the steamwright are coming out? All of the supplements already out are for the least interesting classes to me.


The Goreaux's Guide to Golems (And Various Other Servitors), a Sourcebook for Mechamages & Steamwrights, is the next class book on the schedule.


Pathfinder Starfinder Accessories, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I went ahead and reviewed up as part of my promise to review more things. Starting with the things I have hard copies of.

Can't wait for the remaining two class books. Any insight as to what the extra stuff in the Entomancer one is? Please say it's more technological items that aren't almost Golemoid exclusive.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Malwing wrote:

I went ahead and reviewed up as part of my promise to review more things. Starting with the things I have hard copies of.

Can't wait for the remaining two class books. Any insight as to what the extra stuff in the Entomancer one is? Please say it's more technological items that aren't almost Golemoid exclusive.

Sigh, I did to do that as well. I did really enjoy Thunderscape and need to get a review up.


Hello! In case anyone who enjoys Thunderscape might be interested, we're currently running a Kickstarter for the Savage Worlds edition of our core rulebook. Drop by and check it out! We'd love to have you on board. :)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1860935013/savage-thunderscape


Savage Worlds Thunderscape Kickstarter

Link'd for you...


Man I just can't get the links on this board sorted out. Thanks, OSW!


I was making a new character of the Steamwright class and while reading over it's abilities I noticed that the 'Magnum Opus' class ability only seems to give two free mod slots to a primary invention, which seems kind of weak to be a capstone ability to me. Am I misreading this or misinterpreting it or something?


Part II of my review

Now something I touched upon before becomes much more important in Aden: Magic works differently: Divine casters are not restricted in domain choice by their deities - instead, they may freely choose domains; their belief shapes the power they command and the absence of gods in the traditional sense opens, obviously, the way for numerous heresies and ambiguous options - which is kind of awesome. At the same time, I consider free domain-choice highly problematic - there is a reason domains are grouped for deities - some are simply better than others and being able to cherry-pick domains is not something I'd advise a GM to let her players do. The chapter also, obviously, contains a significant array of new spells - as mentioned before, these interact (often) in unique and interesting ways with the mechanics introduced in this book and several new, unique spells that e.g. deal with constructs, piloting, etc. Some spells also feature an interesting mechanic that makes repeat casts more likely to succeed. Clothing yourself into your swarm of insects would be one intriguing option, to give you an example.

The most intriguing chapter of this book, at least to me, though, would be the one on technology: From the basic concept of manites to the steamreaver mecha-weapons used by golemoids. Firearms in Aden operate btw. via different rules than those presented in Ultimate Combat - the crit multiplier is smaller, they do not ignore armor and suffer no failure-chance. An interesting array of weapons is presented here, with several pretty nice artworks - though their style does not live up to some of the most stunning artworks in the book. Siege and vehicle weapons alongside a significant array of the latter, from thunder cycles to steamwagons and dragon gliders can be found in this chapter with full stats. Alchemical items poisons complement this section with some cool ideas, though e.g. alchemical oil lacks the obvious "fire" damage type it should inflict, at least judging from the item's fluff.

Manite-powered items and implants (along the aforementioned threshold that you should not overstep...) and the process of golmization are intriguing - much like Shadowrun's Cyberzombies, these beings may gain power, but also lose parts of their humanity - and the slow death sentence of the wasting constantly looms, putting these rules once again in the hands of the GM and the story to be crafted. Especially the rules here are great - e.g. alternate options that make the manite threshold unknown to the player and similar gritty options to evoke questions of humanity make this section top-notch in the inspiration-category. The greatly expanded and streamlined section of vehicle combat and customization also renders this component significantly more pronounced (and interesting) than I would have thought -with vehicle maneuvers, speeding thresholds and the like providing a rather exciting array of tactical options. This pdf's rules to avoid constant (and pretty meaningless) skill-checks for basic operation definitely are appreciated! I consider the rules herein more suited and closer in line to my own take on the concept, so yeah - kudos!

The book also sports a bestiary - on the plus-side, the awesome full-color artworks here should definitely be considered awesome and on par with the best out there. On the downside, most statblocks in PFRPG sport a very *DISTINCT* separation from offense, defense, etc. - while this is maintained, its visual cue is less pronounced - the respective headers for the statblock sub-sections are just as small as the rest of the text, which makes reading the statblocks slightly less comfortable than they should be.

We end this book with a brief treatise on the Darkfall, some fluff-only renditions of powerful corrupted and a handy index that facilitates utilizing this book.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-level - while I noticed quite a few small inconsistencies and minor hiccups, they did tend towards the type that does not (overly) impede the book's usefulness. Especially considering that this is the first book of Kyoudai games, you can color me intrigued for any further Thunderscape material. Layout adheres to a beautiful, yet still relatively printer-friendly two-column full-color standard. The book sports MANY original, beautiful full-color artworks - though the weapons and races fall a bit behind the otherwise Paizo-level artworks. Yes, this is a beautiful book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.

Don't start with the campaign setting. It's an old truism and one that mostly holds true - a campaign setting requires great fluff, great crunch, a big budget and it can go wrong in many, many ways. It requires a plethora of skills and is HARD to pull off. More so even when attempted for an established setting - even if that setting has not so far seen too much exposure.

Let's cut this short, shall we? Due to the unique options of Thunderscape, playtesting this took forever -there are many entwined components that require one another. Surprisingly, the rules-language employed is pretty precise even when tackling rather complex concepts. More surprising than that, though, would be the fact that the new classes, more often than not, offer a pretty unique playing experience. Shawn Carman, Rich Wulf and Christopher Koch have definitely excelled beyond my expectations in this book. Aden, as depicted herein, came more to life for me than it ever managed in the games of old - to the point, where I actually consider this a thoroughly compelling campaign setting I will gladly revisit. Granted, there is some sand in the finer components of the otherwise pretty well-oiled machinery that is this book, but seeing that this *is* a freshman offering, not for the authors, but for the company, and I'll gladly rate this 4.5 stars...and since I really enjoy the majority of choices herein, since the book offers so much coolness to scavenge and/or use, I will round up and slap my seal of approval on this book.

On another note - from now on, you'll also see Thunderscape-supplement-reviews, provided I can get my hands on them - I'm definitely intrigued to see whether they can live up to the excellent quality established in this book.

Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to NErdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

Endzeitgeist out.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for the review, EZG! Much appreciated. :)


Looking forward to more Thunderscape! Damn impressive first offering for a company!


I made a thing! In case anyone's interested.

Dark Archive

Any options when it comes to the new classes for an Illusionist themed character, or perhaps an alternative for the Bard?

Sovereign Court

There is a new Bard Type in the Iron Guard book and an Illusion-Based golemoid option as well.

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