This installment of the Echelon Reference Series clocks in at 290 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 16 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 269 pages of content, so let’s take a look! (This page-count is the one of the 3pp + PRD-version, mind you.)
This review was requested by my patreons, to be undertaken at my earliest convenience.
So, at this point, I have covered multiple Echelon Reference Series pdfs, so I’m going to be brief regarding the details: There are basically three different steps of completion for these pdfs: They grow, and once they have grown, their price goes up as they become more refined. There are three steps: RAF (Rough and Fast, 50% discounted), WIP (Work in Progress, 25% discounted) and the finished version. However, the “Rough and Fast” or “Work in Progress” monikers imho are actually a bit deceptive, in that they usually conjure forth images of Beta-tests for games etc. – this is nothing like that. Even the Rough and Fast versions already have full functionality provided, with bookmarks, etc. – however, a couple of the unique comfort functions of the series are not yet implemented in these versions.
Most importantly, the RAF-version does not yet include the flow-charts that depict the connections between feats, talents and similar class features – these can be particularly helpful when building characters or planning progressions. The RAF-version also does not yet feature full, internal hyperlinking (though there are plenty of working ones!), though navigation is sufficiently convenient, courtesy of the bookmarks provided. And yes, as you can see on the cover and probably have guessed by now, this indeed is the RAF version. The version already does provide the efficient presentation that makes ability types easier to grasp: With little bubbles noting minimum levels etc. noted at a glance, the added convenience the series offers is really nice; however, in this one, these have not yet been 100% implemented among the archetypes.
Now, structure-wise, we begin with the base class and the archetypes collated and collected from various sources among the more refined 3pps as well as the Paizo books. The version, right now, goes up to ACG and provides a solid selection of different archetypes – unlike the later versions of the series, we have the archetypes not yet integrated into statblocks, for example. It is due to not being (yet) the going-the-extra-mile level of convenience that this is characterized as a RAF-book.
However, this still is a curated compilation, and as such, it does offer a significant level of convenience. Particularly for fighters, the massive chapter that collects combat feats makes for a rather worthwhile section to check out. Note that suitable Style-feat progressions are provided in this compilation, and that the battle master with his martial techniques and derived feats – there is some nice, in-depth coverage here, though, alas, the Bravery feats by Roge Genius Games, for example, are not part of this compilation. Still, as a collection, this offers quite a few uncommon and lesser known, interesting components. I am looking forward to seeing the flow-chats here, though!
Of particular note when compared with other installments of the series would be the massive fighter NPC-section – the ToC alone takes up three pages, so if you needed a couple of statblocks collated, there you go! Many employ NPC races, templates like lycanthrope, etc., so yeah – there is quite a lot content here! Some have a bit of flavortext, some don’t. As always, this massive pdf comes with an extensive, detailed index that spans no less than 18 pages, making finding the proper components even easier.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no grievous glitches. Layout adheres to the functional and efficient 2-column b/w-standard with brown spliced in. This is a pretty printer-friendly file. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with individual bookmarks for the archetypes, for example, but not for every single feat. The book is internally hyperlinked and the index further helps making navigation simple and painless.
Keith Davies’ Echelon Reference Series is a massive ton of work; if you ever have worked in academia or in a position where you had to collate and compile data, you’ll definitely appreciate what this does. In one book, you get a metric ton of fighter options – just material for the class, nothing more, nothing less. Now, you know that I really adore the flow-charts and added conveniences that the more refined versions of the series provide, and while the RAF edition does not yet have them, the matter of fact remains that this is indeed a worthwhile compilation. While the added convenience is not yet as pronounced as in the finished or WIP-version, this remains useful to have and a handy addition to e.g. the GM’s arsenal. Players can certainly appreciate getting all this content in one place. As a whole, this RAF-version is already a good compilation – not as cool as the finished ones, but enough to warrant a final verdict of 4 stars.
You can get this massive compilation here on OBS!
Want just the PRD-content? You can find that version here!