Review: Thunderscape: The World of Aden
At GenCon 2014, I was lucky enough to be introduced to the Kyoudai Games crew, and they graciously provided me with a review copy of THUNDERSCAPE: THE WORLD OF ADEN (DriveThurRPG) to review for EBR.
Thunderscape is the product of a labor of love from Shawn Carmen (of Legend of the Five Rings fame), and his team. Based on older video games, the best genre to describe the setting as (using buzzwords) is post-apocalyptic, techno-fantasy, horror.
Sounds like a win right?
Let’s start with the quality of the book since RPG books tend to get a lot of use. The cover is nice and solid, and the binding appears to be of a quality that will keep the book safe and intact. The print on the inside is a little small, and could have benefited from being been a little bigger. My eyes have to strain to read some sections and it’s easy to get lost. A minor quibble, but when I’m constantly looking at a book, it can become a real issue. Overall the art direction is really good and the pieces grab and drive you towards the world. However, a few sections (which I’ve noted below) struggle with dynamic and engaging art.
The book is broken down, like any RPG books into chapters. I’m condensing some of the chapters to provide a more brief review. I know your time is valuable.
Thunderscape adds several new races, and modifies several old ones. Dwarves, Elves, Humans are all present. But then you gain Faerkin, Ferrans, Goreaux, Jurak, Rapacians, Echose, and Illithix Exiles. That’s a lot of new options for any Pathfinder game. I’m always a fan of options.
In practice and after testing out races during creation, they balance out really well without adding too much complexity and still remaining interesting. The art for the characters is very flat, and that irritated me. It wasn’t dynamic enough. I needed more.
The game gives a list of how to modify existing Pathfinder classes and includes options and new archetypes for all of them to make them fit in the Thunderscape World. All are very well done and very cool.
But the new classes. Let’s see what we have.
If you like Pathfinder's rules but want more technology, THUNDERSCAPE: THE WORLD OF ADEN will provide just what you're looking for.
That’s a lot of new options. And all of them are all fantastically interesting, well-balanced, and unique. I really liked the take on all the new classes and how they played out. The world feels very crowded with options at this point, and I don’t find that a bad thing for a new setting book. Same art complaints here though.
Score: 9/10 (the classes could have used better art).
The next chunk of the book deals with the nations, kingdoms and history of Aden (the World of Thunderscape). I was a pretty big fan of the detail in the setting here, and Shawn’s experience in writing for AEG clearly shines and comes out here. The nations are presented coherently and with just enough detail to inspire a GM’s imagination and help him come up with ideas. I find a lot of the art in this section dramatically more dynamic and interesting and those earlier complaints started to rapidly meld away.
The Rest of the Book
The rest of the book deals with new spells and equipment for the characters and various sundries like vehicles and such. These are all interesting and new, with a very cool fresh feel to a lot of the vehicles and equipment. The new magics are fun, but nothing unusual or game changing in the way they are presented.
RPG reviews are hard to write. How far into the rules do you go? How far do you go into the setting? Obviously I don’t want to tell you everything in the book (or you’d have no need to buy it), but I want you to find what’s interesting in it. Would I suggest you buy this book? If you like Pathfinder’s rules, and you want a more technologically updated setting, this is the book for you. Thunderscape: The World of Aden is well-developed, thoughtful, and will provide tons of fun for you group. I highly recommend it.
Final Score: 9/10
Get your copy here: THUNDERSCAPE: THE WORLD OF ADEN (DriveThurRPG)