The Player's Guide to Skybourne (PFRPG)

2.00/5 (based on 1 rating)
Facebook Twitter Email
"I have become the destroyer of worlds."

So begins a player's adventures in Skybourne. A wizard's arrogance left a world broken, ravaged by a sentient forest, and surrounded by the planar wound called the maelstrom. Yet in this aftermath lies a world of adventure, where airship pilots delve a world's worth of ruins looking for ancient treasure, where aasimar kings and barbarian lords battle for control of a dozen new cultures, and where anyone with a ship and a will can make their fortune, if they have luck on their side.

Built for both the traditional and Spheres of Power magic systems, Skybourne is a campaign setting for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game built around the adventures of an airship and its crew, and borrows as much in tone from Firefly, Star Wars, and other shows as it does from classic sword and sorcery adventures. In this, the Player's Guide to Skybourne, you'll find:

  • A host of new races, including the plant-born Alraun, the octopus-like Cacaelia, the dinosaur-blooded Cherufe, the magically-constructed Created, the draconic Cuazaj, the pheonix-like Fenghaung, the plant-like Leshy, the fey-blooded Sidhier, and the insectoid alien Tatulani.
  • Over a dozen new archetypes, including the Halfling dragonrider, the tranquil barbarian, the Alraune bodysnatcher, the gun chemist, and more!
  • New traditions, a 'tradition trait' system, and the Fallen Fey racial sphere for the Spheres of Power magic system.
  • Religions and magic rituals.
  • Rules for using crews- swarm-like groups of hired hands that aid the PCs in sailing ships and attacking their enemies!
  • Airship rules, including sailing, customization, and combat!
  • New feats, new skills, new equipment, new magic items, and more!

Product Availability

Softcover/PDF Bundle:

Available now

Will be added to your My Downloads page when your order ships.


Available now

Ships from our warehouse in 11 to 20 business days.


Fulfilled immediately.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at


See Also:

Average product rating:

2.00/5 (based on 1 rating)

Sign in to create or edit a product review.

An review


This massive book clocks in at 109 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 104 pages of content, so let's take a look!

"I have become the destroyer of worlds." With Oppenheimer's famous quote, we begin the flavor-introduction of this massive book of rules-supplemental material for the world of Skybourne. When the Walkways that joined the planes shattered, the Great Forest began growing and every civilization built in millennia was irrevocably destroyed, consumed by the growth of nature's retribution; it is beneath the waves, in the mountain tops, where the last fragments of civilization remain, where the forest cannot yet reach. The old world is gone and this is a world of a new, deadly and green frontier, one where adventurers literally are the first and last line of defense. Tone-wise, skybourne basically takes the tropes of space opera and translates them to a somewhat post-apocalyptic fantasy context, though one that inverses the classic theme of desolation and replaces it with abundance - though an abundance that is pretty hostile towards the established cultures.

The first chapter, which spans a significant portion of the pdf, does cover a ton of races that can be found in skybourne - in the case of established races, we get racial archetypes and options; in the case of new races, we get proper racial let's not lose any time. Aasimar may elect to become God-blessed Thaumaturges...wait, what? Yup, skybourne uses the evocative and interesting Spheres of power-rules. God-blooded thaumaturges get a domain's powers (a second domain is gained at 10th level) instead of occult knowledge and a different capstone that lets him grant cleric and divine petitioners magic alongside DR and an end of aging.

Next up would be a new race - the alraun...and they are creepy. Plants with humanoid shapes, they mimic other races and can be either Medium or Small and do not incur penalties to pass as a member of the race they're fashioned after. They get low-light vision and at-will detect poison (divine to detect poisons when using Spheres of Power) and may use scent to track foes at below 25% hp or bleeding. They may form prehensile vines that can hold objects, which may then be retrieved as a swift action. They get +2 Diplomacy and Bluff and may shift attitudes via Diplomacy by two steps. They also gain +4 Cha, -2 Con and Wis, which gears them too much towards Cha-based classes for my tastes. Another issue: They are humanoids with "the plant subtype" - which is not something PFRPG has per default; there is a plant TYPE, but not a SUBYTPE - so ultimately, I have no idea how many/if any of the immunities the race receives. That's not all, btw. - each alraun also has one of 5 subtypes; these net climb speeds and more vines, a non-save penalty aura, water breathing and swim speeds, poison eating (and poison), critical hits with bleed - the general ideas are nice, but as a whole, the race is too focused on Cha-based classes and suffers from a bit of feature creep when compared to even the powerful races like aasimar.

The racial archetype, however, is disturbing and amazing - the body snatcher rogue is better at nonlethal sneak attacking and may better impersonate others; moreover, at higher levels, the archetype has a cool 8th+ level ability that lets them make cocoons to keep creatures asleep and tap their knowledge. *shudder* As a minor nitpick, the ability does not specify a maximum number of cocoons the archetype can maintain and nope, no unchained rogue alternative.

The next new race is the Cecaelia, who get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Wis and Cha. 30 ft. swim speed, immunity to low-depth pressure, 120 ft. sight in darkness, but only under water, are amphibious, may 1/day as a standard action emit an ink jet (sphere underwater, touch on land) with different effects on land and under water. As half-tentacled humanoids, they get +4 CMD and may use two tentacles as hands and while these may not use weapons etc., they can hold or manipulate objects. I assume they don't provide more slots. As a swift action while not grappling or grappled, they can use their tentacles to grant them blindsight 10 ft., but may neither move or attack with the tentacles. I love this ability! The alternate racial traits include increased land speed + climb speed to replace the water-based abilities and +2 Dex and Wis for -2 Int and Cha. I love this race's concept and some abilities it has...but it imho suffers from unnecessary feature bloat that makes it stronger than the more powerful races...though said strength is predicated on environments and as such, can be offset and controlled by a they get a tentative pass. The racial archetype presented would be a monk, who may wield weapons in tentacles, but gains no additional attacks - basically, you can have more weapons drawn at a given time and instead of stunning fist, they gain more AoOs. They also gain a sequence of Tentacle-based racial feats as bonus feats on 1st, 2nd and 6th level. - these btw. are the sequence of Style-feats for the race and enhance grappling etc.

The Cherufe would be basically dinosaur-people and have two different castes: Amet gain +2 Wis and Cha, -2 Con, and Zavr receive +2 Str and Dex, -2 Int. They have 40 ft. land speed, reptilian humanoids, have low-light vision, fire resistance 5, are always treated as having a running jump. Amet can 3 + Cha-mod times as a swift action sweat lava and fling it as a ranged weapon or enhance their weapon attacks with it. The ability should imho specify ability type - is it EX? I assume it is. Zavr instead get a 1d4 primary bit, secondary when used in conjunction with manufactured weapons. They also have a tail attack at 1d8 - I assume tail standard here, but for convenience's sake, specifying primary/secondary would have been nice to see. Cool: They are xenophobic and suffer from a language-restriction. The race once again is very clearly geared towards certain classes; more so than I personally like to see. The supplemental material contains the magma sorceror bloodline, which enhances the amet's magma sweat - and generally is a nice, fun option. The primordial leaper barbarian archetype is a minor engine tweak that emphasizes better leaping and leaping charges.

The Created suffer from much like the same issue as the Alraun regarding type/subtype, being denoted as subtype construct, when there is only a type, which makes it impossible to know what kind of immunities/resistances etc. they get. They gain +2 to an attribute of their choice and begin play with a head, torso and 2 arms, but no legs. They may be Small or Medium. Unless they have other movement means, they need two free hands to get a speed of 20 ft., otherwise having only 5 ft. They may ignore crits or precision damage 15% of the cases (stacks with fortification) and get created traits - 4 creation points are gained. If the created wants to, he can get rid of arms for +1 creation point. A massive 1-page list lets them purchase abilities, with each costing 1 of these points. These include additional arms, heads, legs, senses, natural attacks, fins or even wings - for 2 points, these provide first level unassisted flight, which many a GM considers problematic. The balance of the respective abilities is pretty nice - but the race has one issue: How do the flexible limbs influence magic item slots? No idea. The race comes with the Deathmachine fighter archetype, who may install internalized weapons and gains more creation points at higher levels, allowing for a brutal natural attack-shredder, if you want to. Still, pretty creative.

The kind-of draconic-looking Cuazaj gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str and Con, gain +2 to saves versus diseases, mind-affecting effects, poison and exhaustion/fatigue-causing effects. They have gliding wings and may use the Lighten Enhancement sphere talent, but only when not wearing medium or heavy armor or heavy load and may even travel straight up in the air via jumps for not-really flight and some unique tactical options. They treat Acrobatics and Fly as class skills and may 1/day breathe a cone of electricity. They also get 5 acid and electricity resistance, +2 natural armor and vulnerability to cold and sonic damage. Instead of the lightning cones, they may learn to add +1d8 acid or electricity damage for a limited number of rounds. This is the first of the new races that feels diverse, versatile and bereft of anything I could complain about. The racial archetype is the dragon mimic sorceror, who basically gets the breath-enhancing feats, claws, flight at higher levels and resistances; standard and none-too-interesting draconic apotheosis.

Dwarves of the setting replace the Wis-bonus with one to Int and the racial archetype is a machinist alchemist gets slightly less extracts and no mutagen, but actually a mechanical companion with improving construction points, Craft feats, etc. - per se a solid pet-alchemist. Elves in Skybourne were once immortal - and like famous Joneleth Irenicus, they did not take their fall to being mortal well. They have developed a unique sphere for use with spheres of power, the fallen fey sphere. This sphere allows nets +1 to ini, Knowledge (geography), Survival, Stealth and Perception within a terrain of choice, increasing the bonus at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. It also allows you to be treated as a fey as a swift action via activation of the so-called fey-link; when thus affected, you may spend spell points to activate fey blessings, a subtype of magic talents granted by the sphere. WEIRD: Aforementioned terrain-centric ability is called fey blessing, even though it obviously is not a fey blessing, making me think of some development or cut-copy-paste snafu at work here. Oh, and no advanced talents, making this a sucky choice in most contexts.

The fenghuang (erroneously called "fenghaung" in their header, of all things) would basically be somewhat phoenix-style creatures of the fey type, who gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Con, get 2 languages for every rank in Linguistics, low-light vision, Knowledge (history) and (local) as class skills, +4 Diplomacy to gather info, fire resistance 5 and are fingerless and as such gain modified item slots (this races takes that into account...odd, but who am I to complain). They also begin play with 30 ft. unassisted flight, which may be somewhat problematic for some GMs. Alternate racial trait wise, social skill bonuses can be replaced with fire resistance 20 (ouch) and they may "change their resistance from fire to frost" - being an ice-themed fenghuang. There is no such thing as frost in PFRPG-rules-terminology. It's cold. The racial archetype provided would be the frenzied dancer, who replace fast movement with better AoO-AC and the 2nd level rage power with a 1/day wild card rage power. Not a fan.

Two ethnicities of gnomes are provided with minor modifications to their racial traits and a hedgewitch archetype, the forest trickster, who may sniff out the badly wounded and dead and feed on the dead for bonuses. Alas, while duration is tied to creature HD, the lack of a minimum means that you just have to bring enough kittens with you to keep munching them. Other than that, they're illusion specialists.

Goblins of Khrone are organized by clan and generally get 2 or 3 skills to which skilled is applied, with merchants and craftsmen gaining also an edge when using Diplomacy or handling one's own crafted weapons. Ability score modifications would be +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str; +2 Dex and Wis; +2 Dex and Cha; -2 Str +4 Dex, -2 Cha (too minmaxy for my tastes); +2 Dex and Int,-2 Str. The Goblin Expert rogue archetype enhances clan skills and gains bonus feats, but loses sneak attack advancement. Odd: The archetype may use free variant multiclassing from PFU and depicts it as basically optional, when it's the one thing the archetype has going for it that is remotely interesting. Haflings in the setting replace sure-footed with +4 to Ride-checks and there is a cavalier archetype called hafling dragonrider, who only gets light armor and shield proficiency and can best be summed up by being designated as a blending of the conjuration sphere's rules blended with the dragonriding rules released by Rogue Genius Games. Nice to see the shout-out here. Human fighters may elect to become sky sailors, gaining 4 + Int skills (thank you!) and replaces bravery and 2nd level's bonus feat with skill bonuses and armor training with even more bonus feats. Not very exciting.

Leshy would be more humanoids with the non-existent plant-subtype, +2 Con and Int, -2 Dex and may be affected by spells that affect only plants, but gain +2 to saves vs. types of effects and conditions plants are resilient to. They breathe, but don't need to sleep and when they used xylem healing, they don't need to eat. Xylem healing means basically planting yourself in soil - which generally would be nice, but the book fails to specify whether uprooting/rooting would take actions or not or how much soil's required. Can you carry around your own soil like a bedroll? The plant body resistances also make me wonder about the Alraun and how/what the effects of the plant subtype are supposed to be. Anyway, they have a 20 ft. land speed, gain +1 to all knowledge skills and these are class skills for them. They also gain Endurance as a bonus feat and are vulnerable to fire. Generally, a pretty balanced take on the plant race, though the subtype-hiccup galls me. There is a brawler archetype that replaces maneuver training with scaling DR and weapon mastery with woodland stride. I wouldn't take the archetype; its intentions are flavorful, its execution is bland.

Merfolk may elect to choose the soul weaver shepard [sic!] -which would be a common misspelling of shepherd...and an archetype that may "expand" the energy of one of their souls to attempt an exorcism vs. an undead with HD < the shepArd's level. The ability fails to specify activation action, is save or suck and riddled with deviations from rules language defaults...extending also to the mass version gained at 8th level. Non-functional. Orcs of Khrone come in two variants - the default race and noble orcs - the latter gain +2 Str and Wis, -2 Int and lose light sensitivity. Their archetype would be the elemental druid; the best thing I can say about it is that it maintains compatibility with the sphere druid...other than that, it's a bland domain-based option. The Sidhier, progeny of the fey, gain +2 Dex and Cha, -2 Str, low-light vision, 1/day reroll of 1s (2/day at 10th level), get +1 to all saves, always are treated as having a running start, gain two favored classes at 1st level and may turn themselves into a planar anchor with increasing range and potency - which is an amazing ability...kudos there! They also are adept at using Enthrall, which fits the theme. The race is one of my favorites herein regarding its options and while I consider it slightly too strong, it has something unique going for it. The racial archetype the skyscourge swashbuckler gets bonuses when airborne or using flying vehicles and also makes ample use of Planar Swing - which let you expend uses of the anchoring ability to swift action move. Generally a solid one.

We're not even close to finished. Here is part 2 of my review!

Community Manager

Now available!

OK, this sounds like a lot of fun. I look forward to reading the reviews.

Dark Archive

Nice! I was a backer, but I wasn't able to get in for the actual books in time so glad to see it's finally available here at Paizo! :)

They have the books, but they're on 'preorder' until they've been officially processed through their system.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

1 person marked this as a favorite.

For anyone whose itching to get their hands on some more Skybourne materials for free, there's a playtest for the new Vigilantes of Skybourne handbook going on.

Dark Archive

Any chance you might provide at a later date a combined hardcover edition of Skybourne? I, at least, would be more then willing to pay the additional cost, and it would be nice to have at least the core books all together instead of as separate softcover books.

Part II of my review:

Speaking of one of the better races: The Tatulani would basically be Thri-Kreen by another name, stranded on Khrone and only finding its place. The 4-armed race may not use the additional arms for full-blown weapon-wielding, but allows for the balanced wielding of 1-handed weapons when TWFing or even wielding oversized monster-weapons. They also begin play with claws (1d4) and +2 to Knowledge (engineering) and a Craft skill. The claws may be replaced with +2 to Disable Device. The tech-savvy may be replaced with +2 to Survival/Diplomacy. Cool: The racial archetype here is for the artisan class and provides functionality with the Technology Guide (and alternative abilities when playing without it). As a whole, the tatulani's racil entry is my favorite in the book - it's also pretty consistent and the only racial entry that managed to elicit a contemplation on whether I'd allow it or not in my non-playtesting games. Tieflings in Khrone may elect to become Dominator eliciters, who replace convincing with the Mind Control advanced talent at 9th level. Yeah, that's it. Pretty cookie-cutting. Oh, no FCOs for any of the new races.

Okay, the racial section done, next up would be magic traditions, which include two drawbacks and the bound creature boon and over 10 new traditions - the cool thing here would be that the traditions actually acknowledge both Pact Magic and Psionics; while the traditions themselves are decent, this little inclusion is well-intentioned...but how do they actually interact with traditions? I read that a couple of times...and simply didn't get it. These traditions, obviously, have also brought forth professions; notes are provided for the roles of classes within a tradition and...we get EVEN MORE ARCHETYPES! So please, bear with me, the book just offers a ton of material! The Gun Chemist alchemist replaces bombs with gunslinging and gets a slightly modified deed-list, with explosive and poisonous shots. Tranquil barbarians gain inner peace instead of rage, which provides a bonus to AC as well as Ref- and Will-saves. Generally decent modification, but I've seen the trope done more interestingly. Now, on the fluff-side, the chapter has some nice ideas for the place of the respective classes and yes, occult classes are included in the deal.

The pdf also sports a diverse selection of feats, upon some of which I have touched before: Better engine-coaxing (more on that later), speak with plants, reduced speed, but better defenses via Steel Skeletons for the created...some nice customization options can be found here. When a character multiclasses and gets two traditions of the same general type, they choose a dominant tradition which then provides drawbacks, benefits etc. of the tradition; to gain more, you need the corresponding tradition trait. These...well, are problematic. There would be, for example, one that lets you use on casting attribute for all your psychic class casting ability modifiers. Trait. Yeah....others, like affecting vermin with Expanded Charm...are pretty much significantly weaker, so not really sure where the balancing/devs looked here; it's not that the traits are bad, but they're all over the place regarding their balance. Oh, and they are utterly confusing - the verbiage implies you get them when multiclassing and never mentions it again; the interaction is messed short, I'd strongly suggest pretending that this chapter does not exist.

On the plus-side, the skill-chapter is interesting, providing concise and neat rules for Craft (cartography), Profession (navigator). Gods are opposed by the "fiends", the dark gods of the setting and philosophies as well as nature gods can be found...that being said, each deity-entry is very short: No aphorisms, no obediences...and while domains are listed, the presentation of favored weapon at the end of the little write-ups deviates from how deity write-ups are usually handled. That being said, it's nice to get symbols for each deity. The ritual writing and creation rules presented next are tight, concise and one of the highlights of the book.

But...skybourne's SKYbourne, right? Well, this is where we finally get to that part, the unique selling proposition of the system, if you will: Airship sailing and combat. This system generally makes use of some optional rules, the first of which would be the overland round: An overland standard action takes 8 hours, an overland move action 4 and an overland swift action 1 hour. Simple. Reputation, as presented here, may range from 0 to 100. Reputation is equal to character level + Cha-mod + modifiers accrued and mythic tier, if applicable. Additionally, fame and infamy are tracked - from -100 to 100 on both the law-chaos and good-evil-axis. Deeds and behavior is codified in a handy table, with alignments notes, if required. Temporary increases are noted and the effects and even secret identities are accounted for. Simulationalists like yours truly may also enjoy the optional rule of reputation distances. This system basically allows the PCs to potentially recognize it if they're about to bite off more than they can chew and steer clear of trouble/gain appropriate options. Thirdly, the pdf employs the GMG's upkeep rules to potentially cap PC power.

Okay, got that? Onwards to airships: Airships are generally defined by hardpoints: One hardpoint is a 10 ft. cube and are used for hull, sails and dirigibles, etc. They determine hit points and carrying capacity. When a ship's so large hardpoints become stupid to track, you track by deck instead; each deck is a collection o 9 connected hardpoints. Airships larger than 5 decks start having locations, which track HP separately -basically, they are treated as connected, Colossal objects. With not enough crew, you get increasingly less power output. Vehicles spaces are 30 ft. Base AC is determined by ship size (Between 4 and -3) and so is ship CMB/D and saves. A handy tables collates movement in spaces per round, ft. per round, miles per hours, etc. Shipsize affects the maneuverability of the vessel, obviously, and the pdf covers siege engines and their use as well. Environmental considerations (wing speed and altitudes) are also how does airship combat work?

Well, first of all, a ship has a facing. D'uh. At the end of a round, all ships move separately from the creatures involved in the combat, in a sequence from highest to lowest rolled Profession (sailor) check by the pilots, with uncontrolled ships moving as though they had rolled an unmodified 1. Kinda lame: Instead of providing a more fluid system, the rules here just tell us to use group initiative for ship + crew combats...and I HATE group initiative. I don't need a book to tell me that I could use it. On the plus side, hiding in a vehicle's shadow, sharp turns, diving etc. are all covered regarding special maneuvers, though the 20 base DC is pretty high...and the really weird, far-out ace-pilot maneuvers...aren't covered. More space devoted to that aspect would have been really nice to see. Now where I once again start smiling from ear to ear is with the vehicle conditions: From on fire to freefall or rolling, these add a nice tactical edge to combat and are something that I most certainly will employ.

Now here is my main gripe with the system presented herein: It, much like almost every d20-based vehicular combat system, is...just not that exciting for players. The system presents a number of crew roles with special actions that bestow benefits...but with the exception of the head engineer, the roles don't have much to offer in actual combat. I sincerely hoped the aerial combat would offer more things to do for each player...but nope. So, is the whole system flawed here? Not exactly - it just fell short of providing a truly dynamic experience. That being said, the pdf does achieve a resounding success in one component featured here: The crew-rules, which basically represent a twist on the troop-subtype that is EXTREMELY modular, with scaling potency, racial benefits, levels, saves, siege attack bonuses and special perks to further customize them. Even the equipment you buy for them has direct consequences! Yeah, crew-rules here are just as cool and surprisingly rewarding for players and GMs alike and definitely constitute a big highlight here. They may, depending on what you're planning, warrant the pdf's asking price.

The need to hire officers and a ton of tables as well as loyalty checks and modifiers can similarly be found here. The pdf also features some nice mundane weapons as well as several new items tied to the respective races of the themes of the setting and the pdf also offers several magic items, ranging in price point from 42K to 750 gp. From an ersatz appendage that may act as a crawling claw to arm-prosthetics that act as a mighty 4d8 ranged attack that regrows to a conch that draws gigantic creatures closer, the selection is pretty decent, if not mind-boggling.

After that, we're back to ships (slightly odd - why splice the single-character item-info in there?) and their 6 engine-types as well as 14 room types and several direct and indirect siege engines to outfit the vessel with, including modifications of siege engines like weapon swivels and bottom mounts. Dirigibles, pumps and goods are similarly covered, as are trade goods and various fuel types. Trading of goods is a good idea, with settlements being suggested to feature modifiers for the goods, with each modifier influencing the price by 10%. The pdf concludes with 7 sample ships.


Editing and formatting are inconsistent: There are some sections that get everything right; then, suddenly, bonus types are not properly allocated or crunch suddenly does no longer adhere to rules-language conventions. The lack of a truly experienced, nit-picky rules-developer that was NOT one of the authors to bring the disparate elements in line. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with a mix of stock-art and original pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Adam Meyers, Mike Myler and David Silver's Player's Guide to, as much as I'm loathe to say, a mess. The races and racial options provided are mostly cookie-cutter options and failed to grasp my interest; the takes on the races can't decide on a power-level, they have min-maxy lopsided races and worse, are inconsistent with internal rules-terminology and wording. The races, in power, oscillate between slightly over core-level to above and beyond that of aasimar and tieflings. There is no internal consistency regarding the racial power-levels whatsoever. The racial feats have some decent ideas...but ultimately, are based on flawed races and hence will not see use at my table. One final issue I have with the races: I have seen each and every twist before: Evil gnomes? Noble orcs? Yeah, not excited there, seen that done x times, often better.

As mentioned, the tradition-section similarly falls behind, is inconsistent...and then, we come to the aerial combat/airship-rules. And here the problems begin for real. Noticed something above? Yeah, I commented about the parts of the system like liking the crew system; like enjoying the conditions and the general way in which the ships can be constructed...but here's the issue: I have not talked about how everything comes together. Because...frankly, it doesn't. Beyond the organization being pretty bad (why slip character-equipment smack in the middle of the ship-rules?), I had a very hard time actually using this system as presented here; frankly, I think I would have failed, if I didn't have experience with a whole array of ship-building/customization systems for d20-games. I think I have managed to use the rules properly...but it wasn't easy. If I went be just the text dice. I was also shocked to see, instead of a cool system that switches between characters, crews and vessels, this lazy group-initiative solution. It doesn't do a good job simulating aerial combat.

Similarly, the actual way in which aerial ship combat works basically has to be deduced from several disparate locations and then you still have blanks to be filled up. And it frustrates me to no end, because frankly, the system presented here, or what I can see, has the potential for being absolutely amazing, but it suffers from a fatal case of what I'd call designer blindness: When *you* know how something's supposed to work...and then write it down and it makes sense in your head...but to another person, to the reader not familiar with your background knowledge, it becomes opaque and puzzling. The whole presentation here is so confused, even I, with years of experience regarding systems like this, had to halt and look stuff up. Multiple times. Worse, the individual character options to influence ships...are all over the place and similarly confused.

The system looks like it tries to take some of the amazing ideas of Fire as She Bears and adapt them, but gets totally lost along the way...which is an adapt metaphor for the pdf, considering the nice Navigation-rules. The reputation-system, as far as I can see, has no immediate benefits that influence mechanics; the trading system is needlessly complicated and the modifiers suggested add a TON of numbers to a settlement; so many that even I, as a passionately simulationalist GM who loves tracking numbers, equipment, etc., throw the towel and handwave it. The fact that the pdf ignores downtime rules in favor of its own system would be no issue - if the system presented was a bit more concise.

Oh damn. This book is not all bad...but I sure as hell know almost nothing about the world after reading it; so in that aspect, it's not a good player's guide either. I don't want to play any of the races and there are plenty of better takes on each and every concept featured herein out there, both in AAW Games' Underworld Races-series and Purple Duck Games' Porphyran player-guides. Let's sum it up, shall we: The PC-level options failed to impress me; the ship-level system is flawed and obtuse. There are gems here, but ultimately, this whole book feels like it has been pushed out the door to meet a deadline or like the designers had lost interest halfway through. It tries to be many things and fails to get even one truly right. The different voices of the authors never gel, never blend and come together.

As written, there is not a single system I will use in my games in this book; I will scavenge vehicle conditions and a couple of components...and take Fire as She Bears by Frog God Games and modify that system to present aerial combat...or go get Ships of Skybourne, but skip this. FaSB's quick, easy to understand and concisely adding aerial options isn't that hard. Oh, and each PC gets a ton of cool, relevant stuff to do. Yeah, I know. Where does this leave this pdf? As a book that feels half-finished; that had desperately needed a dev who said: "These archetypes are bland, boring and cookie-cutter-designs"; as a book that needed someone to streamline rules-language and presentation. There is a spark of greatness here, but it is buried deep. I certainly hope we'll get to see a more concise presentation of these rules at some point. As a player's guide, this book sadly fails and leaves me hoping that Skybourne's evocative setting and concepts will receive better treatment in the future. My final verdict will clock in at 2 stars, due to the scavenging potential; if you have some serious time on your hand and want to flex your design-muscles, this may be for you.

Reviewed first on, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine, posted here, on OBS, etc.

Endzeitgeist out.

Community / Forums / Paizo / Product Discussion / The Player's Guide to Skybourne (PFRPG) All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.