This massive expansion book for LRGG's glorious, innovative Necropunk setting clocks in at 122 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page list of kickstarter-backers, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with a massive 117 pages of content - now this is *a lot* of material, so let's dive in, shall we?
This massive supplement's central theme would be war - and it does show - from the introduction onwards, we obviously dive right into the matter at hand - an explanation of how the diverse ethnicities of the Necropunk setting handle the concept of warfare. Now, where's war, there are vehicles and if you're like me, you love the concept of vehicles and have changed the overly demanding requirements of driving skill-checks in lieu of more friendly DCs - it should come as a relief, then, that Little Red Goblin Games also have identified this issue and make driving work easily - unless you want to execute some complex maneuvers. Something I never got in certain sci-fi setting is also addressed - a focus on faster, smaller spacecrafts: Swarms of small vehicles simply are more lethal than unwieldy huge crafts. The revised driving rules provided for the vehicles are quick, concise and fun - and should be considered great indeed. Moving on the Z Axis and the component of height is also addressed, though I'd suggest you check out "Companions of the Firmament" for more detailed and diverse aerial combat solutions - the combination will work in Necropunk's space just as well as in a fantasy context.
Vehicle combat and highjacking other vehicles are also covered in the detail one would want - attacking engines, bridges, etc. - all part of the deal, with sizes making an impact. The section also covers vehicle materials and diverse vehicles maneuvers and vehicle conditions before introducing the unique and very odd vehicle designs - the Ewgee Bladderwort, for example, captures the technology/organic cross-section that defines necropunk aesthetic: These also provide artworks for quite a few of them, including lotus-shaped ships or ones that look like d12s with odd, three-fingered fleshy-arms extending from them - an aesthetic somewhere between Lexx: The Dark Zone and never seen before - cool!
We also get a new base-class with the Pilot. Pilots receive 5 PPI, d8, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort-and ref-saves and a 3/4 social bonus progression. Pilots may tap into the T'jek to make their own fortunae and enhance attacks, craft-checks, saves, etc. and receive bonded vessels. At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, a pilot may select a maneuver, which include options to wilder in fighter's toolkits, granting ships temporary evasion via barrel rolls or even temporarily double the acceleration. At 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, the pilot may tune up his vessel, optimizing ramming capabilities, armor, maneuverability, etc. and this theme is also reflected in the options that are available as a capstone, allowing you to truly make your bonded vessel the stuff of legends.
Okay, so the next chapter is about the Partisan and teh Zeitgeist - no, not related to me or the Zeitgeist movement, but rather the intangible conglomerate of a people's consciousness. Partisans can be considered the leaders and champions of an age, someone that taps into the flow of possibility. They receive d8,PPI 7, 2+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, full Social-progression, good will-saves. As idealists and champions of people and ideology, they choose a cause and/or faction and treats these somewhat akin to deities in other settings - with titles, social tricks to quickly get bearings of rooms and the like as well as smites, you'll note something - the partisan, unabashedly, is a more charismatic paladin, a champion of a cause without the component of magic - and I really like this class!
In the wonderful tradition of Necropunk, we also are introduced to new languages, variations thereof, and yes, dead languages - I did enjoy the inclusion of Norse as a dialect of Old English (being fluent in both, yes, they are this similar - though, as the book asserts, there are significant differences...) and after this glorious little chapter, we get a significant array of new items: From biolocks to anti-radiation medication to organic computers to fast-growing, acidic vines, the items herein are INSPIRED and even if you do not use Necropunk, with some reskinning, you can use quite a few of these in different settings as well. Ball turrets with upgradeable blindsense up to dragonflys, infrasonic soundwave detonations - there is a lot of nastiness to be found herein.
Particularly interesting for story purposes would also be the rules for assassination-costs and yes, deadly melee weapons are part of the deal as well and includes the new shovel weapon group as well as quite a few nice full-color illustrations of the weaponry. Where there are offensive options, there also are defensive ones - hazmat suits, skirmisher pattern bone skins...or what about a gravity sink that accompanies the Ramses Casing? Do you have a ghoul? well, you're in luck, for now, you can have your very own Igor as a faithful assistant! Now, as before, I am only touching on the very basics here - why - because there are A LOT of modifications, grouped by technology tier, to add to armors etc. - many, many micro-templates that exponentially diversify the options available for the discerning customer - and yes, this does include penalties and flaws of certain designs. Now while I do adore this system, I noticed some minor formatting issues regarding bolding here and the penalties, for example, don't always line up - blindness/deafness is less grievous than being paralyzed, for example, though both flaws have the same value. Some minor tweaking would have helped here.
Now since the topic is war, one would be remiss to forget to mention the feared atomic priesthood - much like the necromancer's guild, this organization has a dread monopoly, the monopoly on A-packs, atomic bombs. And yes, concise rules for these weapons of mass destruction, including degrees of sickness for radiation poisoning and the creation of e.g. power plants etc. have been covered - we for example receive the information on how much a given world spends on energy a year - so yes, if you want to go for a resource-scarcity effects. The atomic brotherhood's priests, btw., also are featured as an archetype of medics, which come with its own code of conduct - said priests can also generate anti-radiation supplies as well as regenerate ability drain or damage faster. Pilots may elect to become an admiral, particularly adept at teamwork. Chevra fighters are those that bury the dead - masters of fighting with shovels, they are deadly cyber-gravediggers, the stewards of the dead, including high-level options to entomb foes or even burrow through the earth in rather quick ways. H'shen welshen pilots can be considered the welshen equivalent of the admiral, while the R'zo pilots can be considered the more combat-inclined pilots.
We also receive an array of prestige classes - and were I to analyze them step by step, this review would be bloated even further. And yes, some indeed are PRESTIGE classes. Advisors, for example, require an Int of 22+. Yeah. Ouch. As masters of deduction and reading people, they have a mechanism of anxiety points that can be used to duplicate spell-like effects or achieve unique things, with each trick being assigned to a skill. Anxiety points can be countered by indulgences that range from sleep to vices and self-mutilation. The PrC can be considered a truly interesting social scion, a nice representation of the smart character that has an incredible, unfiltered perception and thus suffers the strain from it, with ample roleplaiyng potential hardcoded into the very way the crunch works. Black Cards are similarly interesting - belonging to a secret cabal of immensely powerful and rich brokers, these people are ridiculously rich - their black cards allow them to purchase just about anything their hearts desire. So yeah, if you wnat to play the CEO with the exclsuive space station/terraformed asteroid, the guy who rubs elbows with the cadre of secret movers and shakers, then this is the PrC for you -if you can afford the 1-million-buy-in...
Darrig are specialized assassins that utilize fear as the tool of their power - with PPI-powered fear-pheromones and options to instill unrest or tamper with the minds and memories of others, the darrig are interesting. with their subtle hypnotic suggestions, though annoyingly, spells, when referenced, are not italicized. Living Lions are immune against fear, may exert their will to heal themselves - and that's about it. Some armor training, some bonus feats - pretty boring when compared to most necropunk options. The Necronaut, once again, is a return to form - a character that hears the whispers of death, these guys can feign death and see the future when nearing death. Beyond that séances and ethereal out of body experiences provide for a cool PrC - as a cool bonus, the class also provides help for vanilla PFRPG-conversion, with a capstone "reduce-to-0-hp"-touch making for a fitting endgame. Snipers...well, are snipers. Apart from a bolding glitch, exactly what you'd expect from such a class - I'd btw. recommend this class as a means to make crossbow snipers relevant in vanilla PFRPG. The Swordslinger PrC chooses slashing weapon and greatly increases BAB and damage-output, while also gaining talents etc. - these include one-handing two-handed weapons, more AoOs, etc. - solid. Thoughtguards would be diplomat/psychic-combo-classes with enchantment SPs and the like - okay, but nothing to write home about.
Now where there are vehicles and war, there better be mass combat - and indeed, that's what we get - with technology-factors, crafts etc. as well as squad rules, this system allows for some quick calculations that help you determine the winner of a combat. In contrast to such off-screen combat resolutions, direct squad combat provides a slightly more hands-on option to resolve this. Still, I would have loved mass combat rules from Ultimate Campaign fully converted to Necropunk - with phase combat and all.
We also, of course, get a significant array of new feats and also new uses for skills to repair vehicles etc., also as service, making codes, etc.
The pdf ends with an awesome short primer of handling Graveworlds, including some pregenerated ones and an iconic image of one of the threats found thereon...
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor glitches, from formatting to wording, which could have been slightly tighter. Still, for a book of this length, the formal criteria are pretty impressive. Layout adheres to Little Red Goblin Games' two-column full-color standard with awesome original artwork and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Scott Gladstein, Dayton Johnson, Caleb Alysworth - gentlemen, you have done a good job! The Necropunk Advanced Player's Guide is a massive crunch-book that adds a vast array of options to the Necropunk world - the atomic priesthood, the vehicles - there are a lot of awesome options herein and more often than not, the options indeed are FUN.
They add a massive dimension to the game and expand the setting in meaningful ways. Indeed, this is a huge grab-bag and some options herein would work rather well in mainstream PFRPG - indeed, I'll be converting quite a few bits and pieces herein. Now while I love the pilot-class, the fluff of the partisan and the vehicles, there are also some components I wasn't that impressed by - some of the archetypes and PrCs obviously are less inspired than others and quite frankly, overall, I expected perhaps too much. I would have e.g. very much loved further options for phase combat trickery with vehicles and similar far-out options.
Now don't get me wrong - there are great pieces of crunch herein, but at the same time, when compared to the Ewgee and Welshen-books, while the crunch herein may be better on average, there just isn't that much fluff, and that was what blew me away in hose faction-books. It took me forever to nail down this component, but while the crunch is more refined, I did also feel like it was less ambitious and does not do too much with the unique mechanics provided by necropunk - where are the unique tricks with Zero-G-combat and phase combat? Vehicles that enhance social combat (propaganda cruisers)? More unique tricks regarding radiation and the iconic organization in charge of atomic blasts? Yes, the advisor PrC etc. does sport some awesome ideas, and yes, some of the content herein had me cackle with glee...but still.
Perhaps I love Necropunk too much. You probably know by now how much I adore this setting, its worldbuilding and utterly unique premises. I want fiction and many, many more books - but to me, Necropunk never was about even more archetypes, PrCs and options, it is about the world, the unique concepts - and yes, they are expanded, but the feeling remains that I would have loved to see more of this superb universe. After careful deliberation, I determined that this is my own problem - I can't penalize a crunch-book for not sporting enough fluff. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars (the half star due to the aforementioned glitches and some a bit filler-ish components), rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform. Personally, I'd still prefer the two faction-sourcebooks, more flawed though they may be, over this one. Still - a must-buy for fans of necropunk.