Animal Races: Clan of the Bear
This installment of the Animal Races-series clock in at 11 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Much like prior installments to this series, we herein receive rules for PCs belonging to one of the tightly and concisely-presented animal clans, with bear therians this time being the focus of attention.
Bear Clan therians are humanoids with the adlet subtype, have a base speed of 30 ft., scent, natural armor +1 (increasing to +2 at 10th level) and begin play with a natural primary bite attack one step in damage below what would be considered normal for a creature of the size, with the option for upgrade..but more on that later. Members of the bear clan may select one of 5 basic attribute arrays.
Regular members of the bear clan receive +2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Cha and may take the clan’s heritage feat instead of a rage power. Dancing bears receive +2 to Cha and may take the clan’s heritage feat instead of a versatile performance class feature. Grizzly bear clan members receive +2 to Str and Cha, -2 to Dex and may take the clan’s heritage feat instead of a fighter bonus feat, Honey Bear-members receive +2 to Str and Int, – 2 to Cha and may take the clan’s heritage feat instead of a rogue talent. Finally, there is the Panda Clan who receives +2 to Str and Wis, -2 to Dex and receives its own racial clan heritage feat as well as the lethargic quality – this translates bonuses to movement-rate enhancement to a bonus to CMD. Which per se is a cool idea. However, the ability does not specify that is only applies to the base movement rate, allowing for some ambiguity regarding additional movement rates – if e.g. all movement rates are enhanced by +x, does this translate to movement rates available times the bonus to enhancement or just once the bonus? A minor glitch, yes, but a glitch nonetheless.
Now I already mentioned the clan heritage feats – the base bear clan heritage feat allows for the gaining of claws, faster movement, loner survival sans food or water (and overheating, allowing you to go some days sans food and water), better bites, claw attacks and additional damage while grappling. Upon taking the feat 6 times, you may elect to become large instead – and yes, after careful consideration and some math, the entry barrier, prescribed by both feat-taking and level-restrictions, feels right to prevent low-level reach abuse. The panda does not gain this capstone, but oddly the racial traits include cold resistance, which neither of the clans receives as written.
A cool, thematically-fitting feat makes members of the bear clan less susceptible to swarm attacks (with DR and immunity to distraction) and another feat for limited daily shapechanging into human form.
In the cool tradition of the series, we receive both information on the genealogy of the clan as well as the clan’s folklore, providing information on some of the fantasy monsters and how they pertain to the myths of the clan. A racial deity can also be found herein and, like in other installments of the race, racial traits may be exchanged for a heraldic symbol, with each granting a bonus feat, but also imposing a penalty on either a save or initiative.
Editing and formatting are very good, there is not much to complain about here. Layout adheres to a very crisp and concise two-column b/w-standard with cool heraldic crests and stock art mixed. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Eric Morton’s take on clan bear is absolutely awesome – it is intelligent, smart, compelling in prose and solid in rules. That being said, the cold resistance glitch feels a bit odd to me and the panda’s lethargy could use some minor clarification. That being said, the installment, over all, remains a rather awesome installment of the series. My final verdict will hence clock in at a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 due to the rather nitpicky nature of my gripes.
You can get this cool take on bear-like humanoids here on OBS!