Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quick Review - Dragon Empires Primer

Just got this as part of my Paizo subscription...it's good!! While the Dragon Empires Gazeteer was underwhelming when I looked through it, this Player Companion, makes up for it.

This is part of the Player Companion Series of booklets, coming in at 32 pages for $10.99.

I loved Oriental Adventures back in the day, 3rd edition didn't re-use Kara Tur as the base setting, they used Rokugan, AEG's setting for Legends of the Five Rings; While I love Rokugan the translation wasn't so great for 3rd edition. So far from what I've seen of Tian Xia, I absolutely love it, Paizo makes sure to include all aspects in their settings, and this preview of the full book is no exception.

The book starts with a quick introduction, and quickly moves into the races, while it doesn't include the images of the races like the gazeteer does, it provides all the player info for the five non-human races; kitsune, Nagaji, Samsarans, Tengus and Wayangs. What's awesome is the three feats for kitsune, that play with their shape change abilities.

The next 14 pages covers 28 different regions, with 56 traits!!! I have a feeling one of the most selected of these traits will be the Quain trait for the Quain Martial Artist. This trait gives a straight up +1 trait bonus damage to all unarmed attacks. On the same page will be the most contentious trait, Chosen One, which is the same as Rich Parents. Which is often banned in games, and not allowed in Pathfinder Society.

The next two pages present 4 new archetypes.

Lotus Geisha is a bard archetype. It's decent, but not a class I'd play myself, however it will make an NPC-perance.

Next is the Sword Saint, a Samurai archetype, however this is probably the ONLY samurai I'd play as they're presented currently, as I feel the Cavalier wasn't the best choice for the class, They're too horse related, so this one that replaces the Samurai's mount. Perfect Fit. Iaijutsu strike acting against a challenged opponent, with drawing the blade and delivering a devastating blow similar to a sneak attack, however it doesn't note the damage as being precision damage specifically. The other abilities play off the Iaijutsu strike, increasing critical confirmation chance, effectively causing a "dazzling display", and finally deafening their opponent.

The White Haired Witch (Witch archetype), this is a really cool interpretation of a classic myth. The class swaps out the powerful Hex ability, so it needs to deliver, and does it. The hair able to attack as a natural attack that does 1d4+Int damage, with a free grapple attempt, which also uses Int instead of Str in the CMB. This power advances with the character, the reach which starts at 5 ft, quickly increases 5ft per 4 levels, and adding additional maneuvers to the hair, including constrict, trip, pull and finally strangle. To top it off the White Haired witch gains rogue talents at 10th and every 2 levels thereafter!

The final archetype is the Yokai Hunter (Ranger archetype). Having watched the entire Claymore series last month, this one intrigues me. However, I would have made it an Inquisitor Archetype (see below for my conversion.) It's a good archetype, especially for a Tian based game, where you want to hunt kami, oni and ghosts. Favored Yokai replaces Favored enemy, basically just changing the favored enemy list for a ranger, with the addition of a check to identify the Yokai. Yakai Sense gives blindsight against identified Yokai. Resist  Yokai gives some nice resistances and and the ability to break enchantment.

Combat comes next. 10 new feats and a New Samurai Order, Order of the Black Daimyo. The feats are Blinding Flash, Disorienting Blow, Enhanced Ki Throw, Feinting Flurry, Hold the Blade, Improved Feinting Flurry, Quivering Palm Adept, Quivering Palm Versatility, Sleeper Hold, and Stunning Fist Adept. Of these I think my favorite is the Enhanced Ki Throw, nice to cause damage with the ki throw.

One of the last sections is the Faith of the Dragon Empires, covering the Major Deities, and some minor deities and philosopher. In addition the Moon sub-domain. (a sub-domain of Darkness).

Finally, Magic, the Arcana of the Dragon Empires. Only three items in this section, but they are all very Asian inspired. The Oni Bloodline for sorcerers. The Void Elemental School for Wizards and a Sorc/Wiz, Witch spell, Call the Void. The Oni Bloodline is my favorite out of the section, one of the bonus feats is Weapon Proficiency (katana), and the level 15 Oni Healing being the best.

Edit: Forgot to add the Honor Section, new mechanics for honor...pretty well thought out, however, I would add some additional entries. Merely being accused can cause honor loss, until proven innocent. Levelling false accusations can also cause honor loss, so there's definitely room for improvement; but it's a good start


Yokai Hunter (Inquisitor archetype)
Favored Yokai remains the same, replaces Judgement.
Yokai Sense at 8th level instead of 7th level. Replaces Second Judgement.
Resist Yokai at 11th level instead of 12th level. Replaces Stalwart