Review of Amethyst: Foundations

Review Summary
Comped Capsule Review
Written Review

August 2, 2010


by: Cason Snow


Style: 4 (Classy & Well Done)
Substance: 4 (Meaty)

An interesting blend of high magic and high technology that pushes the Dungeons and Dragons 4th Edition system in intersting directions.

Cason Snow has written 14 reviews, with average style of 3.93 and average substance of 4.43. The reviewer's previous review was of Earthdawn Player's Guide Third Edition.

This review has been read 5291 times.

 
Product Summary
Name: Amethyst: Foundations
Publisher: Goodman Games
Line: Dungeons & Dragons: Amethyst
Author: Chris Dias
Category: RPG

Cost: $34.99
Pages: 281
Year: 2010

SKU: 4370
ISBN: 9780984112746


Review of Amethyst: Foundations


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Introduction

Amethyst: Foundations is a new setting book for the Dungeons & Dragons, 4th edition game. The main thrust of the setting is that the modern world underwent a radical change in the (near? It is never really made explicit) future where the fantasies of mankind return. This change is neither gradual nor seamless as it is brought about by the opening of two magical gates allowing magic to flood the world in one great wave. Unlike Shadowrun, where the magical elements are integrated into modern life, Amethyst establishes a direct conflict between technology and magic. This adversarial relationship has drastically altered the socio-political organization of the world, with large walled cities serving as bastions of technology, surrounded by magical wilderness inhabited by fae and humans who have chosen to join them.

The layout of the book is very solid with a good text density and no background image on each page, except in the outside margin, which does not obscure the text. The art work is well done and is of a uniform appearance which this reviewer enjoys as it lends to a better visualization of the world. This review is based on the digital version of the book. Also in the interest of full disclosure the reviewer has received this digital file for no charge.

Chapter 1: The Choice

This chapter provides an introduction to the setting and themes of Amethyst. The main conflicts of the setting are established as technology vs. magic, and order vs. disorder. Here also a brief glimpse of world history is given. Immortal fae races ruled the planet in peace many years ago until the arrival of the black star, Ixindar (more on that later). This force of stasis and corruption lured many fae into its service, thus starting a devastating magical war. This war came to an abrupt end when the Chicxulub meteor hit the Earth. The fae fled into the realms of magic and planned to return to Earth later. In the intervening years the human race evolved and established various cultures with the resonance of the fae influencing mankind’s myths.

Religion and magic is briefly touched upon as well. Magic can be used in three different ways in Amethyst. First is by active manipulation using the language of dragons. This is how wizards cast spells in this setting. Second is the utilization of magical materials. This includes alchemy and newly discovered magical metals; this forms the basis for all magic items in the setting. Third is the infusing of organic materials with magic resulting in various monsters. Magic derived from religion has no place in this setting and all of the various real world religions are present, including two new fae gods, but all are as silent as they are in the modern age.

Also included is a convenient bullet pointed list of rule changes made for the Amethyst setting. All of the standard races (except humans) are replaced with new ones detailed in chapter 2. All classes from the Player’s Handbook are allowed, except for cleric, paladin and warlock and four new classes are introduced in chapter 4 Rounding out the chapter is a short glossary of various in-game terms.

Chapter 2: Races in Amethyst

Races in Amethyst are divided into three categories. The first are the fae races. These races spring forth from magical forces and include all playable non human races. An intriguing development in this setting is the establishment of taxonomy of these races, as a new race emerges it is more bestial than older races. A very nice cladogram is provided on page 232 illustrating the lines of descent. The second group is the evolved races, of which there is only one, humans. Spawned races make up the third group. This group of races is formed from natural creatures that have attained intelligence and formed some kind of culture.

Following this is a discussion of various customs practices by the fae races and how they interact with humans. This section can be used to add verisimilitude to the setting and can lead to interesting in-game interactions, especially if the characters are ignorant of fae culture. This section of the chapter has no real organization and tends to leap from one subject to another, forcing this reviewer to reread it several times. Common fae traits are laid out and all present the fae in a very positive light; for example members of an individual race do not fight one another, rarely get divorced, and in general are very socially liberal. This trend is continued in the mechanical section on racial traits, fae are immune to all mortal diseases and congenital genetic defects and only need to sleep four hours a day. The only drawback is a vulnerability to Fae Iron, a special alloy of iron and lead. This reviewer finds the lack of negative fae cultural traits relative to other beings to be more than a little hard to swallow, but tastes will vary. Each of the five new races is discussed in detail, including both setting and mechanical information. The races do not follow the traditional elf/dwarf/halfling; distribution of a typical fantasy role playing game. The races of Amethyst represent more of an archetype that human legends and ideas of the fae sprang from. The layout of each racial description follows that of other D&D 4e products, allowing quick and easy reference. An interesting bit is included in each racial description stating why each race is the best to play. For example the chaparrans are the best to play as they are the archetypal elves, while the narros are the model for dwarves, with more rationale given in each description. Following this is a short discussion of names appropriate for the race.

The first race discussed is the chaparrans. These are the xenophobic wood elves of the setting. Like elves in many other settings they are tall and lithe, though the weight range at first glance looked absurd (height 5’8” – 6’3”, weight 65-75 pounds). This is explained in a side bar that the bone structure for the fae allow for super light bones with no reduction in strength. Advice is given to potential players as to how to integrate a chaparran in to an adventuring party, along with other cultural notes including discussions of religion and how the chaparrans view other races. The racial abilities are very thematic and include bonuses to moving through forest terrain, proficiency with bows and a form of limited teleportation. Damaskans are a bit like half elves of D&D 4e, they are the most widely accepted race of fae and have the most contact with others. They greatly respect knowledge and organization, but seem reticent to speak up in group settings. Their racial abilities support the use of Knowledge skills and general communication, though they are penalized when using the Diplomacy skill.

Gimfen are the Halfling analog in Amethyst. Short, outgoing and curious they are the fae race that most closely associates with humans. The main distinguishing characteristic of the gimfen is their ability to use advanced technologies. All other fae races (and humans who have lived outside of cities too long) cause high technology devices to fail, the gimfen do not, and this makes up for their lack of spell casters. Gimfen assisted many human settlements in the early years after the return of magic and during this time discovered that technological items could be shielded from magical interference. Their racial abilities are focused around using technology and movement, the latter reflecting their small stature.

Laudenians are a very arrogant and isolationist race of fae who live in hidden floating fortresses. They are extremely tall and long lived, and resemble high or grey elves of more traditional settings. Laudenians are very rarely seen outside of these cities and are often held in awe by the other fae races. Their racial abilities are centered on movement and balance with a very useful shifting encounter ability.

Narros are the dwarven analog in Amethyst, but diverge the most physically from the stereotype. They are the most selfless and militant of the fae races. The narros strive to be the best at whatever they set out to do; they work harder and play harder than any other race. Of all the races introduced, only the narros have ingrained hostilities toward certain other fae races, i.e. the tenenbri (another underground dwelling race) and the pagus (twisted fae who serve Ixindar). All narros receive basic weapons training, giving the mechanical advantage of narros being proficient in their racial weapons. The other racial abilities all support the enduring aspect of the narros, including their encounter power which functions much like the feat Ferocity from the 4e Player’s Handbook.

Tilen are a race that was originally created by powerful undead, ghulath, to be thinking servants that would command the armies used to conquer the world. As the undead horde marched forth the white gate of Attricana opened and the positive energy released destroyed much of the army and sundered the control that the ghulath had over their servants, thus the tilen were “born.” The tilen spend much of their time in the present keeping control over their darker impulses which they fear will drag them back to serving the ghulath. They resemble living vampires being tall, pale, and attractive to other races, cast no reflection and take on a more feral appearance when in a heightened emotional state. Tilen are shunned by most other races due to their past as servants of the ghulath and due to their attractiveness to other races. Their racial powers support the living vampire theme granting bonuses against undead and necromantic attacks, penalties when in sunlight and the ability to heal by drinking blood.

Humans in the Amethyst setting are divided into two distinct groups. The first are the techans. They are descendants of the humans who retreated to the bastions (large fortified cities) when Attricana appeared and magic returned to the world. Their population was greatly reduced; only 10% survived and many of those chose not to live in the bastions. This small population and huge pressures from the outside have forged a fairly tightly knit techan society, at least within one bastion. It is now over a millennium since the return of magic and technology has advanced in the bastions to a relatively high level. These bastions are typically closed to outsiders, unless they are other techans as magic can disrupt technology.

The other group of humans is the echans. These people chose to embrace the return of magic and live outside of the bastions alongside the fae. These humans now use magic and their presence will disrupt technology as the fae would. This leads to a great amount of tension between the techan and echan humans. Mechanically humans are no different than as presented in the 4e Player’s Handbook. Included in the human section are several techan organizations that players can belong to or serve as inspiration for creating their own, as most techans need more equipment and organization to venture outside of the bastions. Most of these organizations are of a military nature and typical missions would consist of defending a bastion against internal and external enemies. This reviewer particularly liked the Orobas group, as they operate out of the Selkirk bastion, and even though techans, work with the narros to keep the surrounding wilderness secure. Another nice feature is that there is a mechanical benefit to belonging to an organization as well, for example, the Orobas organization allows a member to switch an encounter or daily power of their class with one of another techan class.

A discussion of fae human interbreeding follows detailing the advantages of bonding. It is only through this bond can a fae and human interbreed thereby creating the half fae. The half fae are typically shunned by other races and dwell on the fringes of society. They exhibit a blend of physical features of both the human and fae parent. An interesting set on rules governs the creation of the half fae, in that; certain fae races dominate each (?) other “genetically.” This mainly comes into play when two different fae have a child or when half fae and fae mate, with the unique exception of the tilen. Any child born with a tilen parent is a full blood tilen. The mechanical aspects of the half fae are similar to half elves with the character receiving abilities based on their fae parent.

Chapter 3 Lifepath

This chapter provides a series of lifepaths that players may chose from to further round out their characters. These are not typical lifepaths from other RPGs, where players roll on multiple tables to determine their character’s past. These are backgrounds that grant benefits and open up various feat choices. A lifepath must be chosen at character creation and only one lifepath may be selected. Each lifepath has prerequisites, typically racial, that must be met and provide three or four benefits and access to certain feats. Lifepaths are divided into three catagories: regional (where a character grew up), discipline (specific professional training) or supernatural (affected in a unique way by Attricana). Players can also opt to not select any lifepath and still receive a few bonuses to skills. Each category has a good mix of lifepaths catering to both echan (and fae) and techan backgrounds. The regional lifepaths impart very distinct feels to each bastion and echan nation. The discipline paths reinforce specific features of each race or allow access to various professional feats such as herbalism A very useful supernatural lifepath, in light of no divine classes in Amethyst, is the vivicator which grants a characters the paladin’s Lay on Hands ability. The benefits granted by each lifepath are well-balanced against each other with the exception of the “no lifepath” option, while most grant abilities useful both in and out of combat, the “no lifepath” simply grants three skill bonuses with two of those being applicable to a certain region.

Chapter 4 Classes

This chapter opens with a list of available fantasy classes (which has been updated in the errata), followed by a discussion of how magic works in the setting. The language of dragons is utilized by wizards to harness the magical energies of Attricana and Ixindar (more on these later). These energies are captured using Pleroma, a language invented by the fae to record magical formulae, the magical formula is then shortened and inscribed on a wizard’s implement and used to cast spells . Although wizards can utilize energies from both sources, players only have access to Attricana. Wizards can chose books, orbs, shields, staves and weapons as their spell totem (the item required to cast spells). The meat of this chapter is taken up by the new classes introduced in this setting. All of them are techan classes and emphasize cooperation due to the inhospitable nature of adventuring out into the echan countryside. Four new keywords are introduced: Auto which allows an additional benefit if a character is using a weapon with autofire; Explosive which works with grenades; Sniper requires a sniper weapon; and Vehicle works with vehicles.

Each new class follows the basic 4e format with a shaded box listing the role, power source, etc. Each class has two suggested builds with feats, skills and powers listed. All of the classes are fully developed and have powers through 29th level and paragon paths (discussed in the next chapter). Slight mechanical gaffs have been addressed in the errata freely available at the company’s website. Overall, the author shows an excellent command of the 4e system which allows him to create well-made classes that are different tactically than the standard classes.

The grounder is a defender/controller focusing on heavy weapons and armor. The suggested builds emphasize the controller aspect (front grounder) or the defender aspect (heavy grounder). The class abilities consist of dealing with movement and attack penalties imposed by heavy weapons. An evocative ability is the Meat Shield, this allows a grounder to take cover behind an adjacent opponent equal in size that has been killed by the grounder that turn. Another is Brotherhood, granting an attack bonus against enemies who hit an adjacent ally. This gives a nice mechanical advantage to working closely as a team, which may be a new experience to some 4e players . Many of the grounder’s powers provide benefits to adjacent allies as well further emphasizing the teamwork mindset of techan humans. This will definitely force characters to act in slightly different ways to take advantage of the grounder’s full effectiveness, and ignoring these abilities could be a source of frustration to a player of a grounder.

The marshal is a defender/leader focusing on keeping the team out of trouble and combat effective. The marshal’s suggested builds focus on interpersonal relations (faceman) or combat control (officer). The class features strongly support the leader role, for example, For the Good of the Team allows the marshal to grant an extra action to an allied character. Once again, the class features, like the ones from the grounder, grant bonuses to adjacent allies keeping with the teamwork theme and a more militarized origin. This leader class is a very active one and should hold most players’ interest as it maintains a good balance between offensive capabilities and team assistance.

The operator is a leader/striker focusing on keeping the team’s equipment up and running (very important considering the presence of echans and fae can disrupt technology) and team members in the battle. The operator also typically has the most experience with the outside world and understands the relationship between technology and magic. Operators typically chose to focus on either repairing items (mechanic) or people (medic). The class features are a bit more varied than the other classes with the player needing to make some choices from a list of available powers. This allows for some customization and focus for the character in what they wish to repair. Not all of the features focus on fixing things; Not Like the Others, for example, negates the penalty for learning non human languages. Natural Healer is a very nice feature that replaces the target’s healing surge value with the operator’s Heal skill (which is typically higher than most healing surge values). An interesting twist on the maneuverability of a striker is that several of the operator’s powers, if the attack hits, grant extra actions and impede the opponent from attacking him. Overall a good leader class that seems a bit light on the striker side, but will be very useful to a team out in the wilderness and perhaps underappreciated until weapons and technology start failing.

The stalker is a defender/striker with a heavy emphasis on the striker role. The two builds are splint in traditional striker fashion into ranged (sniper) and melee (deadeye) specialties. Stalkers gain a number of class abilities focused on using small arms. An evocative At-Will power is Passing Kill, a minor action, minion killing power that epitomizes the ability of a striker to drop targets, it strongly reminded this reviewer of the various gun ballet films and how the protagonist would defeat multiple opponents handily and with little disruption in his movement. As a striker, the stalker’s powers have less of a complementary aspect to them and do not greatly benefit adjacent team members.

Chapter 5 Paragon Paths

Unlike standard 4e, the paragon paths presented in Amethyst are not tied to specific classes. They are linked to lifepaths (a further incentive for players to chose a specific path), though it is noted that the class dependent paragon paths from the Player’s Handbook are available to the fantasy classes endorsed for play. The paths are divided into two section based on origin. The first section is for echan paths presented here run the range from defenders of bastions (Janoahn Wall Captain) to masters of the arcane (Koana Academic). The other section is for techan paths and come in two varieties. The first are paths that, while not class specific, are heavily tailored to a class (Field Medic and Overseer, for example). The second group is tailored to specific locations (Angles Sniper and Selkirk Brawler, for example). Overall there are a wide variety of paths available for both types of characters.

Chapter 6 Skills and Feats

Skills, like many things in this setting, are divided into echan and techan lists. There are only three new skills introduced (all techan) and include demolitions, engineer and vehicle operation. All three of these skills have fairly extensive rules associated with them, but no more so than the more complex skills in 4e. There is one other twist concerning cross culture skills. These skills are available for both cultures, but if learned as cross cultural only give half the normal bonus; while minor, this difference does add a bit more book keeping for the players, due to the reduced benefit.

Many new feats are introduced here along with reference to which feats are available from the Player’s Handbook. The new feats break down into racial, lifepath and paragon path catagories. The feats are well designed and mesh well with the abilities of the various classes and paragon paths. A personal favorite is the Fragon Disciplined paragon path feat, Cornerstone Ability, allowing a daily attack power to gain the reliable keyword, a most useful keyword. Other feats include vehicle specific feats and techan multiclass feats.

Chapter 7 Equipment

The equipment chapter begins with a brief discussion of the material culture and economies of the setting. Echan culture, due to magical disruption, retains a pre Industrial Revolution technology level though items are of higher quality due to advances made based on knowledge from the era before the resurgence of magic. The techans in their bastions continued to develop a high technology society and some pursued a lucrative trade in shielded items, resistant to magical disruption, with echans. Following this is a discussion on the various monetary systems. The echans use coins based on precious metals (much like a standard fantasy setting), while the techans use bastion specific fiat currencies. There is a second currency used, the universal credit, and techan characters can have their coins found adventuring converted into universal credits in order for them to purchase new equipment. Suggestions are included to create additional levels of economic complexity if it is desired by the DM (and players).

On a technological level bastions are rated according to tech levels on a scale from 0-6, with 0 being current 21st century technology and level 6 being space opera levels of science fiction. The main purpose of tech levels is that they apply a bonus to rolls made using said items.

The next major section discusses the Echan Disruption Field (EDF). This is the deleterious effect magic has on technological items. The mechanics of adjudicating the background level of disruption is based on a d20 roll with applicable modifiers added. Each character carrying technology must make a roll at the end of each combat round. If items are affected then they cease functioning until the player makes a series of saving throws similar to death saves. There are limits in place to check the disruptive nature of the EDF. A single item affected and reactivated cannot be affected again until every other tech item a character is carrying has been affected. Additional checks are required based on criteria listed. Certain pieces of technology are also immune from EDF and are listed. EDF shielding can be added to equipment for an additional cost which allows a disrupted piece of equipment to be reactivated as a free action.

Echan weapons for the most part are covered by the weapons found in the Player’s Handbook. A list of new weapons is included to represent advances in technology (namely the Limsahu weapons) and bastion exports (including compound bows). Techan weapons are covered and include some new rules concerning switching weapons, reloading, and a basic autofire attack. Weapon properties are explained next including various categories of firearms. Overall the techan weapons are well balanced against echan ones in regards to damage. The cost of this equipment is very high and with the potential of EDF disruption techans could become underpowered very quickly in an encounter. The chapter is rounded out with an exhaustive list of equipment for techan characters, with a few echan items list, as the majority of those come from the Player’s Handbook.

Chapter 8 Expanding your character

This chapter delves into various setting elements of Amethyst. The first section discusses languages and provides a brief description of each and a table of writing systems. The number of languages, at 21, is more than a typical fantasy game due to the fact that there are multiple human languages represented (though over the years they have collapsed into a single language for each linguistic group). This could potentially lead to communication issues in game, especially with techans who need to spend three language slots to learn an echan language. This does well to play up the isolationism and us vs. them attitude prevalent in the bastions.

Religion is discussed next and examines how modern religions have drastically changed in the face of world events. The various gods of the echans are discussed next, handlinghow each race sees the god, its dogma and pattern of worship. The echan deities are not limited to Berufu and Oaken previously mentioned in the Races chapter. Some echan venerate one of the two gates, Attricana or Ixindar, dragons, and in the case of gimfen, a mechanical god. Techan (human) religions are covered next and consist of a basic overview of the religion and how it has adapted to world events.

Two new wizard rituals are included as well, one for disrupting traps and another for enhancing one’s mount. A short list of excluded rituals from the Player’s Handbook is provided.

Chapter 9 The World That Changed

This chapter looks at the history and present condition of the world of Amethyst. Leading with a discussion of who Amethyst was and his influence during the first time of magical influence. Attricana is discussed next and its influence on the world and how humans have reacted to it. The appearance of both Attricana and Ixindar are shrouded in lost lore due to the chaos after their appearance. Some humans believe that eventually technology will be so advanced that the disruption of magic will no longer affect it, many fae believe that human will never reach that level of advancement.

Then the chapter jumps to a discussion of the echan adoption of an aristocracy and the intermingling of fae and human families to secure power. There were several nations formed around human idol worship of the fae and the human’s desire to be ruled by these long lived, beautiful creatures. This section is followed by a discussion of the current human nations and how humans create differing cultures while the fae divide racially (like an accelerated Darwinism). This section unfortunately struck this reviewer as far too brief and contrived. It also returned to the fae-centric attitude that is common throughout this book.

A discussion of Echalogical Influence and Corpus Continuity outlines the beliefs of both attempts to explain the changes wrought upon the world. These theories are attempts by humans to explain the similarity in general physiology, Corpus Continuity, of fae and humans through the influence of some kind of creator; and Echalogical Influence is used to counter Corpus Continuity by placing the influence of the two gates as primary.

A short description of the geopolitics of Canam (modern North America) is given, emphasizing the relative isolation of most villages and lack of contiguousness or the larger nations. This is contrasted with the relatively unified empires of Lauropa (modern Europe). Here the free houses are introduced. These are micro states (typically one city and the land needed to support it) that fill in the unclaimed areas of the continent. These provide places for groups to recover from adventures and to perhaps get caught up in small scale high level politics, and provide an origin for echan characters who do not want to be from one of the larger nations. This also gives a DM plenty of room to tailor settlements to their taste.

The two asteroid impacts are touched upon with the second one being discussed in more detail. The first asteroid was the one that triggered the Cretaceous extinction and closed the gates and shut off their magical influence. The second asteroid reopened Ixindar by landing directly on top of where it was buried in Siberia and Attricana opened in response, reflooding the world with magic. Ixindar is discussed in some detail and serves as a dark mirror to Attricana. Where Attricana encourages random creation and change, Ixindar corrupts and twists. Interestingly the magic used by most echans comes from Attricana and creates the EDF, while using magic from Ixindar does not and, in fact, can negate Attricana magic. Ixindar magic is very rare and not available to player characters at this time. The magical paradigm of Amethyst is discussed next opening with a discussion of how magic interacts with the world. There are three primary ways it does so. First is through the draconic language used by wizards. The second naturally enchanted inorganic materials such as those created through alchemy and the new magical metals. Third are naturally enchanted organic, people who have an innate magical ability outside of wizardry. The “laws” of magic are looked at, as defined by scientists studying the influence of the gates on the material world. It appears that magic amends various physical laws rather than breaks them, and this influence is enhanced by a kind of feedback loop, the more magical events that occur in an area the stronger the EDF is, with the converse being true as well which allows the continued existence of the bastions. A very interesting concept is that of dragons having the ability to grant a “kiss” to a particular fae noble house. This sanctioning would set that house above others. This boon is only ever granted to aristocrats but is not required to reign as king or queen.

Chapter 10 The Look of the World

This chapter details the various nations in Canam. Beginning with the bastions each is given fairly deep coverage including physical layout, population, tech level, military capabilities, foreign relations and special notes. There are five bastions detailed: Angel (old Los Angeles), including Genai, a massive Chinatown; Mann (old Manhattan Island and incredibly xenophobic); Selkirk (sprung up in the Canadian Rockies and a corporate state); Sierra Madre (a bit more optimistic than other bastions); and York (heavily reliant on robotic labor and defense). All of the bastions are very isolated as the EDF disrupts any kind of radio communication, making contact only through overland or aerial travel, which is covered in chapter 9. The echan kingdoms are discussed next and are discussed using a more open narrative rather than a list of entries. Abidan is in eastern Canam (namely southern Michigan), is a strong kingdom founded by a very devout human. They live in close contact, and on friendly terms with the surrounding fae nations. Baruch Malkut is the evil human kingdom in the southeastern section of Canam (centered around Georgia). This nation is a theocracy and seeks to destroy the fae and conquer the other nations on the continent. Slavery is commonplace with all fae and apostate humans being enslaved , with no corollary in fae culture.

Dawnamoak in the southwest is made up of three huge trees that house many chaparrans and encompasses a large forest in the region. Fargon is a very isolated narros community in the far north dedicated to spiritual pursuits. The Finer Fire Pits are a huge mine and foundry system run by narros and is fairly cosmopolitan compared to the isolationist Fargon. Kannos is located on the open prairies of the center of the continent and is primarily a human echan kingdom. This nation, due to its size and geography, places a heavy emphasis on horses and mounted skills. Laudenia is a floating city concealed with powerful illusions. It can also move so as to confound those trying to find it, and this is exactly how the laudenians wish it to be. Limshau is a nation of scholars and the damaskan rulers have opened their nation to all races. This nation seeks to preserve all forms of learning and this openness has led to solid relations with neighboring nations. Silvabrooke is the homeland of the gimfen and is a pastoral mountain valley where the gimfen live fairly agrarian lives. They are receptive to visitors and a large tourist trade has started.

The wastelands are areas uncontrolled by “civilized” races and serve as homelands for many monsters. Apocrypha is the nation controlled by the pagus (corrupted fae) who themselves are controlled by evil dragons further north. This control is jeopardized by the arrival of several shemjaza (demon lords) from Ixindar as the pagus are mystically bound to obey them. Azhi Dahaka is the nation north of Apocrypha is the land of the evil dragons and their power is hampered mainly by a lack of cooperation between the dragons to push south into Abidan. Several other smaller nations are detailed as well.

Chapter 11 Monsters

This chapter goes into some detail about the “evolution” of the fae and how many of the monster races “descend” from older races. For example, the ogres and trolls descend from and are related to the narros. There is no understanding as to how or when the devolution occurs, but in the past isolated villages of fae have spontaneously undergone the change, and many fae fear this will happen again until only the most animalistic fae races are left. A list of monsters from the Monster Manual is given that fit the setting along with another list of monsters that can fit but not ideally. Following this are new monsters and their stat blocks. Each entry follows the format from the Monster Manual allowing DMs to easily interpret the stats. The monsters are well designed and mesh well with the setting. Particularly evocative is the cancer dragon (which helps makes sense of the fae immunity to natural but not magical causes of diseases). Common monster races are given several different types covering the common roles.

Chapter 12 Adventures

This chapter contains advice on running adventures in the Amethyst setting including common adventure themes for echan and techan characters and how to handle mixed groups. Rounding out this chapter is a short introductory adventure that has a good balance of combat encounters and skill challenges.

Conclusion

Overall this book is fairly well done. The mechanical aspects of the book are top notch and continue Goodman Games’ commitment to quality 4e products. The setting material provides a sufficient level of detail (sometimes misplaced) to allow DMs to run several campaigns and gain very different perspectives on the game world. The organization of information within each chapter could have used a bit of revision, as at times it felt like there was a paragraph inserted out of place. If a group is looking for a setting that provides a decent level of detail for a very unique take on a traditional 4e fantasy setting then Amethyst: Foundations would serve very nicely.

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