This supplement clocks in at 33 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, leaving us with 28 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All right, in case you didn’t know: Porphyra RPG is a continuation of Pathfinder’s first edition, with slight tweaks to formatting conventions, some rules-stream-lining and the like. As per the writing of this review, the RPG is still in the playtest phase, so how/whether formal criteria change is still up in the air – as such, I will de-emphasize these aspects in my discussion of Porphyra’s Anpur. That being said, rules-wise, this is pretty much 100% compatible with Pathfinder 1e.
As for the patchwork planet as a setting, the respective races tend to have a *slightly* higher power-level than core races; compared to many settings and supplements out there, they are still rather conservative, and I rarely find myself considering a race in the setting to be overbearing/too strong, particularly in view of how Pathfinder 1e’s power-curve has increased over the years.
As far as the anpur are concerned, we begin with a brief piece of flavor text before diving into the racial stats: Anpur receive +2 Strength and Wisdom, are humanoids with the gnoll subtype and get darkvision 60 ft. They are Medium, with a base speed of 30 feet, and courtesy of their practice of ancestror worship, they are treated as one level higher with regards to divination school spells, the benefits granted by the Ancestor subdomain, the Destined bloodline or the Ancestor mystery. Capitalizing the respective class feature names is a peculiarity of Porphyra RPG, and serves pretty well to differentiate the respective class features, so as far as I’m concerned, that’s a plus. Anpur are skilled travelers of the deserts, and as such receive a +4 racial bonus on Constitution checks and Fortitude-saves to avoid exhaustion and fatigue, as well as to resist the effects of harsh environments, forced marches, etc. They also get a +2 racial bonus on saves vs. fear-effects, and treat exotic flails as martial weapons, and may use heavy flails one-handed. Additionally, they may use the flail weapon group as a blanket choice when choosing a fear or ability that focuses on one weapon.
This is a very interesting design choice that will, in the long run, positively influence weapon diversification among races: You’re not locked into a single weapon for many of the feats you choose, and weapon training matters more. I like this choice. The anpur also are proficient with khopehses, longbows, shortbows, temple swords, flails and heavy flails. So, that’s the base racial write-up…and it is pretty cool – certainly more compelling than many a gnoll write-up I’ve read!
As far as alternate racial traits are concerned, we have 6 of those: One replaces the divination et al.-improvement with an increased duration for elemental summoning. An alternate choice to replace ancestor worship instead nets a +1 natural AC. One limits starting languages, but nets the anpur 1/day speak with animals. Fearless may be replaces with 1/day deathwatch. The increased resiliency versus harsh environments may be replaced with a 20 ft. climb speed, and finally, the flail specialization may be replaced with taking no negative effects from negative levels (though they still can kill you).
We follow this with something absent from many racial books: An ecology that discusses their temperament and societies. Dubbed “city gnolls” by outsiders, the anpur, the children of Anubis, are a proud and religious warrior race that, while exhibiting a kind of inborn aggression, temper this with restraint, creating an interesting racial psychology here. Speaking of interesting aspects: The primary food source of the race are flightless birds, like chukks, krakka or kochok – dodos, emus and megafauna moa. This is just a line, granted, but it added something to the race and made it stand out to me. The association with Anubis obviously conjured forth images of quasi-Egyptian cultures, or of the Sibeccai from Monte Cook’s Arcana Evolved, but this humble line made me think about dodo breeders, moa-cavalry and the like, and I honestly couldn’t help but smile. But I digress.
There is some quasi-Egyptian notion here – as a race with Anubis as patron deity, the Anpur obviously have a structured day that focuses on plenty of religious rites, with a special emphasis given for funerary rites, and the concept of having a building-debt to the deities makes for a great impetus for civilizing efforts and expansion on a scale beyond the personal realm. Age, height and weight tables are btw. provided. The pdf sports an assortment of race traits, 5 to be specific. However, the application of bonus types is inconsistent here – 2 of the traits lack the “trait bonus” moniker, while the other 3 do properly codify the bonus type.
As far as racial feats are concerned, anpur may take Keen Scent and Improved Natural Armor sans making the prerequisites. Two of the racial feats, Desert Warrior and Desert Defense, are assigned to a variety of races, and allow for improvement of offensive and defensive capabilities, though the offense feat also nets you a Persuasion penalty versus the chosen races against which you apply your offense training. Eyes of Death requires aforementioned deathwatch alternate racial trait and nets at-will deathwatch, and +4 to saves versus effects that cause the shaken condition. Eyes of Endless Death builds on that and is locked behind 10th level, providing 1/day death ward and a +4 bonus to effects that cause the panicked condition. Fate-Servant of Anubis. Nets you one additional hero point – I assume this to pertain the maximum of hero points and not a one time gain, but I’m not sure. The feat also lets you reroll 1 Fortitude save per day. Pack-Hunter Block’s a combat feat that…honestly, is kinda cool, but until Porphyra RPG is done, I can’t judge it. It lets you sacrifice an iterative attack to cancel an AoO against an ally or yourself. Does the iterative attack vanish next round? Do you have to hold it? I like the notion here, and frankly, it’s one that could speed up gameplay if built into the core combat mechanics, but as a feat, I’m currently puzzled as to how precisely it’s supposed to work. Servant of the Gods nets you a specialized familiar if you don’t already have one – the choices are pretty intriguing.
The equipment section introduced crescent axes and ternion flails, both of which are interesting. The latter is exotic and has a dual physical damage type – which is something that Porphyra’s rules have a chance to precisely classify. It always irked me that PF 1e didn’t exactly do a great job there, so here’s to hoping that Porphyra will do better. One glance at the magic items will note something interesting – the DC-rating is included in the header for your convenience. 3 are provided: The finis crossbow is pretty cool: It doubles as a melee weapon (counts as a dagger +1) and comes with a extra-dimensional storage container that allows the wielder to reload it with specific bolts stored inside; otherwise, the reloading sequence is a bit faster and more linear. Minor complaint: It imho wouldn’t have hurt to explicitly specify that the bolts are not conjured ex nihilo. The crossbow may also 1/day turn a bolt fired into a slaying bolt. The ranseur of conviction counts as a divine focus and may, in a 1-hour ritual at the start of the day, be attuned to exhibit one of several special weapon properties. Additionally, the ranseur can temporarily suppress fire resistance. The scarab armor is per se cool: It is lighter than usual, protects against swarms and lets the wearer call forth a scarab swarm. However, while such a swarm is called forth, the armor loses its light fortification quality, which is mislabeled as light fortitude once. Formatting is also not 100% consistent here.
On the REALLY interesting side, the spell-section here introduces new descriptors – one for Anubis, one for psychopomp ushers and one for Shankil. These ultimately mean that only followers of said entities may cast the respective spells, allowing for more meaningful differentiation between magical traditions. As an aside – spells also note e.g. (Exotic) or (Complex) behind the spell level to denote how common they are. I really enjoy this direction! An immediate/swift action instant pyramid-low level protection, or a buff versus soul imprisonment and the like make for some compelling options here.
Of course, the pdf also contains archetypes and class options. Black dog slayers get a modified skill list and replace studied target with a variant that provides skill bonuses and damage boosts versus targets of the sacred mission. Tracking is replaced with more swift application of oils and weapon blanches, and later holy water etc. 2nd level’s talent is replaced with Endurance and Diehard. Instead of the 2nd studied target and the 8th level’s talent, 5th level provides the means to blend in crowds, while 7th level replaces stalker and swift tracker with an inquisitor’s judgment at -6 levels, with 11th level adding an additional use. 10th level and later provide an assassin’s death attack, with 13th level, 15th, 17th and 20th level improving the ability. Nitpick: The 20th level ability refers to angel of death: “a black dog becomes an angel of death” – this should probably note that the character gets the ability, not “becomes” it.
Stalwart dredge fighters get a modified skill and proficiency list, focusing on mobility over heavy armor. The archetype gains brawler’s cunning, can fight better while squeezing and focuses on weapon training with a given group, gaining Weapon Specialization, as well as Weapon Finesse synergy. 6th level nets a counterattack that does not rely on annoying opposed rolls, instead focusing on retaliating, and at higher levels, we get halved duration of stunning or enchanting effects.
The pdf also features a the sand elemental subschool of earth: Acid cloud is replaced with the ability to make sand traps, and 8th level nets the ability to blast searing sand at foes – via caster checks. This is, obviously, an interesting angle, though once more an aspect where we’ll have to wait for the final RPG. For use in conjunction with PFRPG 1e, this should probably be a ranged touch attack, using casting attribute as a substitute governing key attribute.
The pdf also includes the Ahmutou – a crocodile with a lion’s mane around head and neck, as well as a golden crook under each eye. The critter clocks in at CR 2 and is an option for Monstrous Companion.
Next up, the pdf discusses how the anpur race views a metric TON of different classes, allowing you to think about the respective role in their society, and the pdf comes with a ton of favored class options that cover all Paizo classes, as well as a best of chosen from Purple Duck Games’ classes, including e.g. illuminates, living monolith, etc. The pdf concludes with a sample CR ½ PC, a cleric of Shankil.
Editing and formatting are good on a formal level, and just as well-executed on a rules-language level, at least as far as I’m able to determine that by now. Layout adheres to the printer-friendly one-column b/w-standard with purple highlights that PDG favors, and the pdf has a few really nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked with nested bookmarks for your convenience.
Derek Blakely’s anpur are an interesting and rather compelling take on the concept o jackal-folk, one that goes beyond the defaults of what one would expect. In another supplement, we’d probably just have seen an inversion – replace the barabaric tendencies of gnolls with being rigid and civilized. Here, it’s particularly in the small touches that the anpur come into their own, start feeling distinct. The items and notes on their culture and how the respective classes behave in a societal context all are interesting and deserve being lauded. The archetypes, alas, are slightly less interesting and didn’t blow me away – they’re not bad, mind you, but in comparison, they are not as well-wrought as the rest of the pdf, which includes the rules-language here.
That being said, many of the changes of Porphyra RPG shown here actually are aspects that do make one excited, and the race itself as well as its overall presentation is generally nice and has some inspiring tidbits. All in all, a solid offering, definitely on the positive side of things. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up, since the pdf is definitely closer to 4 than to 3 stars.
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