And now for something completely different!!

Posted by Daniel On January 9, 2011 ADD COMMENTS

For a change of pace I thought I might do a product review.  After all, I may be a publisher myself, but I am still a gamer, and I can appreciate the works of other publishers.  This review is going to focus on Psionics Unleashed published by Dreamscarred Press.

First, the general overview.  Since Paizo has made it plain that they didn’t intend to convert the rules governing psionics (the powers of the mind) to the Pathfinder rules set for at least the next few years, Dreamscarred Press chose to make an attempt at it themselves.  This book includes many familiar things including core classes like the Psion and Psychic Warrior, feats, powers and many other things previously found in the Expanded Psionics Handbook published by Wizards of the Coast.  Of course to bring them up to par with the strengthened character classes of the core rulebook a fe extra abilities have been added.  Each discipline a psion can specialize in grants its own abilities, similar to specialty schools for a wizard.  The psychic warrior gets a number of bonus feats that rivals the fighter, but has psionic abilities instead of the direct combat-related abilities of the fighter core class.  These are just some examples.  They did similar things to the races and prestige classes found in the previously mentioned book.  Most to good effect.

Many of the feats are exactly the same, though a few have been tweaked a bit to increase their usefulness.  In my opinion they did a good job tweaking without making any of them overpowered.  I know from experience that this can be a hard balance to maintain.  They have added a few feats I didn’t recognize from previous editions, however I will leave those for you to find out on your own.

Regarding the powers: Other than retitling some of them and perhaps adding a few augment possibilities to the powers there wasn’t much change that I noticed.  Given I didn’t compare every ability to see if they had added anything new.  Though I don’t remember seeing Entangling Ectoplasm in the previous edition.  You won’t find anything called “Psionic (insert spell name here)” in this book.  Psionic Invisibility is now called Cloud Mind.  Ectoplasmic Sheen has replaced Psionic Grease.  The renaming is rather creative and definetly calls to mind the image of the ability they have renamed, but the general function is pretty much the same, with only slight variations.

Now to the monsters.  Like the rest of the book they did a pretty good job of converting the stat blocks and making the creatures on scale with the more powerful Pathfinder RPG monsters and characters.  Though now we have stats for a Crysmal (which was previously found in the Wizards of the Coast book) in the Psionics Unleashed book as well as a non-psionic version in Paizo’s Bestiary 2.  Though some people might find numerous stat blocks for the same creature annoying, I find that they can throw the players off a bit, since they don’t know exactly what to expect.

Overall I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars.  The primary reason they would not get the fifth star is because of the artwork.  I personally am not a fan of line art.  I completely understand the costs involved in finding quality artwork and that was likely the limiting factor.  And much of the artwork is good for what it is, I just personally would prefer a more refined art style.  I don’t want to downplay the general quality though.  There are some shaded images that are very good, done by some talented artists.  Others could use a bit of conceptual improvement.  But then again that could also be my bias against the style speaking out again.

Well, there ya go.  I tried somthing a bit different for a change.  I hope you enjoyed my ramblings and my opinions.  Enjoy your day and good gaming to all as always.

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