Ætherjack’s Almanac #1 – Engines & Elementals (Troika!)
The first installment of Ætherjack’s Almanac clocks in at 2 pages – these are intended to be printed and folded in the middle, essentially providing 4 pages, with one devoted to the front-cover.
The ‘zine starts with a new background – the unemployed drive elemental: You see, in some savage spheres of the humpbacked sky, elementals are imprisoned in engines, but thankfully, you hail from a more enlightened place. You were at once licensed, bonded and insured. The possessions provided include some fractions of a mortal soul, an expired Intersphere work permit, undue overpaid traffic citations – there is a playfulness here that I rather enjoyed seeing. The Advanced skills section also is interesting – while we have 21 “ranks” of skills, the less specific ones like “Elemental Bureaucracy” and “Human Sexology” are just evocative enough in two words to spark ideas. The background also offers some directly functional advanced skills. The background also explains the 4 different pilot skills (and how to alternatively handle them) and nets you some ideas. I really liked this background.
The pdf then proceeds to present stats for apprentice, journeymental and master air/fire elementals, including mien noted, and differentiates between damage of air and fire elementals, provides some concise fluff, and mentions SR.
SR? Well, on the first page, of what would be the back cover if folded, we have the rules for engines: SR is the ship rating. For spell engines, SR is based on skill and level of the spell being cast; essentially, these engines are powered by fueling magic into them: As though casting a spell, you expend stamina, and the SR is Skill + level of the spell being thus “cast” – the verbiage here is a bit odd; just explaining the stamina cost would have been imho more prudent. Minor and major helm costs are provided.
Elemental engines have a SR based on the elemental’s Skill, and furnace-based engines always have a SR of 2, with consumption to operate for a week listed for iron, lead, semiprecious & precious metals, as well as for ultra-rare metals. What does SR do? Well, actually, the pdf doesn’t say and I so far only have #1, but I hope that future installments illuminate this for me.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and good on a rules-language level. The pdf makes fantastic use of evocative public domain art, with one piece per page; I am particularly partial to William T. Horton’s “Path to the Moon” being used on the back cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, but it doesn’t need them at this length; it has a delightfully old-school red/mustard yellow standard version, and a printer-friendly second iteration.
In case you were wondering: Yes, this little booklet does look like Spelljammer in Troika, with the game’s trademark humor. It is a refined offering, and certainly the best file I’ve read by Ian Woolley so far – enough to make me excited for more! Aesthetically-pleasing, the supplement has but one shortcoming, and that is that we don’t really get an idea what this SR actually does, even though it seems to be important for the future installments. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 4 stars.
You can get this neat little supplement here on OBS!
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