An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
On the first page of this supplement, we have a contextualization of the formian race within the Xa-Osoro system before we dive into the formian paragon archetype, which requires, obviously, that you’re a formian. This archetype nets you hive indoctrination as an alternate class feature, which nets you a (Caste) feat. If you choose Aristrocratic Formian, you can opt to become Large; if you opt for Worker Formian, you can choose to become Small, and these do not influence your reach. If you already have a (Caste) feat, you can choose to get a feat that lists the (Caste) feat as a prerequisite. At 4th, 6th, 12th and 18th level, you can gain a feat that lists formian as prerequisite as a replacement class feature. Note that, since SFRPG explicitly calls it out when you no longer need to meet prerequisites, the formian paragon still has to meet these.
Now (Caste) feats are mutually-exclusive – you can’t belong to more than one, and even e.g. mnemonic editor can’t help there – only options that alter race or genetic code can change (Caste) feats.
Aristocratic Formian lets you inspire those that share your language as a full action, which nets the benefits of covering fire or harrying fire to all creatures in range of your limited telepathy or telepathy. You then choose Diplomacy, intimidate or Profession (orator), and if your skill check exceeds the opponent’s KAC by +8, the effect triggers when an ally attacks an opponent or is attacked, respectively. So, instead of fixed AC, KAC+8…so, treated as a maneuver re AC…that’s a pretty big limitation. With the telepathy upgrades available, this becomes better than Suppressive Fire, affects more targets, etc. It doesn’t consume ammo, and it is situationally better than harrying shot, and that’s a 17th level ability!! That being said, it does have a pretty strong limitation with the maneuver AC limit. Still, as a whole, I think it’s prudent to watch this very closely, as the telepathy-basis AND skill-use can become problematic. Skills do scale differently than atk, so this definitely warrants watching. Depending on your game, this may be too strong; personally, I think it would have been prudent to instead take a look at the envoy here, but YMMV. Personally, I wouldn’t allow this one in my games.
Mental Motivator is exclusively available to Aristocratic Formians, and allows you to, as a move action inspire a creature in range of limited telepathy or telepathy, granting a +1 morale bonus to atk, saving throws vs. charm or fear, or skill checks for Charisma modifier rounds (minimum 1). The feat notes interaction with the ability of the same name – and formians with the ability count as Aristocratic Formians for the purpose of prerequisites…so that’s a means to dual-caste regarding follow-up feats, I guess. Aristocratic Formians that chose to become large may take Imperial Reach, which nets the formian 10 ft. reach. The other feat available for Aristocratic Formians would be Formian Stinger, which nets your unarmed strikes the injection special property, and “injection +2” (should be “Injection DC +2”) critical effect, and when the formian rests 10 minutes to regain Stamina, they produce 3 doses of formian poison that may be transferred to the stinger as a swift action. The poison has a scaling DC, a frequency of 1/round for 6 rounds and uses Dexterity as the track. This feat may also be taken by Warrior Formians.
Speaking of whom: Warrior Formian (Caste) lets you make a melee attack with your stinger (unarmed) as a move action when you maintain a grapple. Armored Chitin nets Warrior Formians +1 racial bonus to AC when wearing armor, and reduces armor check penalty of heavy armor by 1. The third (Caste) to choose would be the Worker Formian (Caste), which nets you 5 more bulk before becoming encumbered or overburdened. Burrowing Worker nets you ½ base speed as burrow speed; upon taking this the second time, you get full speed as burrow speed.
Beyond these (Caste) and caste-based feats, the pdf also presents a selection of non-caste-specific feats. Empowered Formian Telepathy upgrades limited telepathy to telepathy 30 ft., and if you take it a second time, up to 100 ft. Resonating Chitin nets you a +2 racial bonus to saves vs. sonic effects or that deal sonic damage. Additionally, sonic resistance increases to character level or 5, whichever is higher. Fists of Fusion is probably one of the most interesting feats herein: It requires Improved Unarmed Strike or natural weapons, and allows for the enhancement of the body with fusion seals, applying the effects to unarmed strikes. This allows for the use of seals as magitech augmentations, and for their wearing as hybrid items that may be affixed to a piece of jewelry. This feat is pretty interesting, and allows you to get rather brutal unarmed/natural attacks.
The pdf also includes the Hive Mind feat, which nets you a +2 insight bonus to initiative and Perception, and if a member of the hive mind sees past an illusion, all members do; similarly, surprise can only be achieved if all members are surprised. Nice adaption of the racial trait, rebalanced and bonus type-wise codified for players. Expanded Hive builds on this feat (or the hive mind racial trait), and allows you to bring any ally within range of telepathy or limited telepathy into your Hive Mind, which makes the allies gain the appropriate benefits as though they were formians.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard, and the full-color artwork included is nice. The pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length.
I like Jacob McKiernan’s formian options as a whole, with the (Caste) feat concept making perfect sense to me. At the same time, the Aristocratic Formian base feat has me somewhat concerned and could have been solved more elegantly – it probably should get a revision at one point. Still, all in all, a solid, if not mindblowing expansion for the formians. My final verdict will be 3.5 stars, rounded down.
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Endzeitgeist, I first want to thank you for all the reviews and, to a broader degree, THE DOCUMENTATION you do on 3rd party products. I truly believe you help lower the barrier of entry for gamers who want to explore 3rd party content.
Which is sort of why I’m writing this post. Starfinder 3rd party products seem difficult to sort through. Part of that is due to some sites folding the system under Pathfinder/OGL. Another part is just not feeling comfortable understanding what hole a product is trying to fill.
There seems to be a large number of Starlog.EM books. Are they all dealing with the same part of the game? Or are they more of a magazine that provides new content to the game in general?
Furthermore, with Paizo forgoing 32 page and 64 page adventures for Starfinder in favor of just doing Adventure Paths, I’m surprised that 3rd party publishers haven’t stepped in to fill the 4-8 hour adventure niche for this game? Can you comment on this? Am I missing a product line somewhere?
Thanks again for all your hard work!
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First of all: Thank you very much for your kind words! *takes a bow*
Star Log.EM-installments provide small crunch-components; some depict races or racial options, some items, some new expansion bays, some critters, etc. They are basically short files that focus on new rules.
(As an aside: on my homepage, you can find all of them that I've reviewed so far here!)
As far as adventures are concerned, there haven't been too many so far:
Rogue Genius Games produced Blood Space and Moon Dust as a (slightly longer) introduction to the setting. Here's the review!
Iron GM Games has released the FREE Abattoir 8 scifi-horror adventure (and they are currently kickstarting the Grimmerspace game. You can read my review of Abattoir 8 here!
I'd also highly recommend AAW Games' criminally-underrated Future's Past-series of adventures. While I've so far only reviewed two of them, they both have been masterpieces that provided around 8 hours of gaming each. You can check out the reviews here!
AAW Games also released a few Star Systems that include mini-dungeon-like mini-modules. The reviews for those are right here!
Hope that helps! Cheers and once more, thank you!!