Echelon Reference Series: Sorcerers (3pp + PRD)
This massive reference-book clocks in at 352 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page blank, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page series-overview dashboard, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 337 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This pdf was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.
So, what is this book? Well, first of all, in case you’re wondering, this file exists in two versions – one organizes and collates only PRD material, while the other includes a smattering of worthwhile 3pp-material. I am, unsurprisingly, mostly concerned with the latter, though PRD-only groups should appreciate the existence of that version.
As a reference file, this pdf obviously is beholden to other criteria than most pdfs when it comes to determining its value; functionality and organization are king. So, let’s talk a bit about structure: After a brief introduction, we receive a recap of a class and its class abilities – here, the sorcerer. Obviously. Very helpful in cross-class categorization: The bullet point class summary: At one glance we see which saves are poor, proficiencies and the respective class skills, grouped by attribute – I have found this paradigm to present the information very helpful; it mirrors how I think of a class. The respective class features are explained, and from here, we move on to the archetype selection provided – very useful: the respective books that contained the archetypes/options are quoted; so if you liked e.g. the Bedreven archetype, this allows you to easily find the respective publisher and further books in that style.
This is relevant, as different publishers tend to have different approaches when it comes to presenting material, the type of material provided, etc. From here, we move on to so-called archetype classes: Perfect for newbies or time-starved players (or those that simply don’t enjoy building characters), here we have basically archetypes that have already been applied to the respective class: You get, to take the example above, the fully formed bedreven, including detailed class table etc. – it’s a form of convenience I thoroughly enjoy. In case you’re wondering: Tripod Machine, Abandoned Arts, Rogue Genius Games, Rite Publishing, Interjection Games (not the Big Book of Bloodlines) and Purple Duck Games material can be found herein,
Speaking of which: Not only useful from a player’s point of view, but also from a DM’s or designer’s POV – the next chapter is devoted to a MASSIVE, alphabetical list of class features that sorcerer, archetypes etc can provide; better yet, these depictions go one step beyond: They provide prerequisites and the interaction between the respective components in flow-charts, visualizing at one glance the whole construct. Exceedingly helpful: Little bubbles at the top of the class features denote e.g. prerequisite levels, allowing you to contextualize the power of the respective options at one glance…oh, and these flow-charts are internally hyperlinked! Just click on one ability and swoosh, you’re there. Obviously this cannot, system-immanently, cover all abilities, since there are features from other classes etc. also included in these interactions, but what already is here should be considered to be not only convenient, it’s helpful and sensible. I should also mention that ability type (ex, su, sp), where relevant is similarly presented at the top of an ability.
Forgot in which of your x zillion of pdfs the “Witch of the Wilds” sorcerer feat was? Well, this pdf does help remedy that issue for a lot of options. Witch is btw. a good cue: Beyond the obvious and massive section on bloodlines, we also take a look at witch hexes, including some of the more obscure ones…and yes, we also get a sub-chapter on wildblooded bloodlines. The other options section lists feats, once again provided with the helpful flow-charts, and we get a massive, collated spell-list – though only the spell-names are mentioned, obviously – that’s its own reference file! (Otherwise, this would easily blow past 1K pages…)
Anyway, we also receive NPCs, drawn from elite enemies, the NPC Codex, bestiaries, etc. Cool: The respective entries, where applicable, list racial traits for uncommon races like the gathlain. This basically provides a collated array of different NPCs, ranging from CR ½ to 19 – helpful if you’re looking for some ready-made sorcerers to drop in your game.
Now, beyond the excessive bookmarks provided in this book, we also have indices; a regular, 18 pages strong index, and a second 3-page diagram index. These, alongside the hyperlinks and bookmarks, render using the book very comfortable.
Editing and formatting, while not 100% applicable, are well done; if an option had some rules-snafus in the original version, you’ll generally find them here as well, but that’s not something to hold against this book – it’s a reference file, after all. Layout, while not necessarily beautiful, does have its appeal: It is functional and grows on you while using the file. The excessive bookmarks and hyperlinks are great and add some serious value to the file, which holds true particularly for the diagrams, which can be really helpful.
Keith J. Davies’ reference-files are great ways to embark upon the adventure; instead of having to sift through hundreds of pdfs, you have a massive array of options right there at your fingertips, all focused on the subject material that actually interests you. Beyond that, the collation of class features, etc. can be very helpful when designing/homebrewing yourself to provide a frame of reference. Oh, and obviously, this is pretty helpful when used in its intended purpose, as a reference guide for the sorcerer. There is but one minor complaint I can field against this – it would have been nice to have bloodlines granting the respective spells note such in the massive spell-list. Oh well, this should not be considered to be a detracting factor – this is worth getting if you’re looking for a well-organized, massive toolkit for the sorcerer. I also would have loved to have the wildblooded bloodlines hyperlinked to their parent bloodlines, but you still have the super-detailed bookmarks, so yeah – no real complaint, more of an observation. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this convenient, handy reference-tome here on OBS!
You can get the PRD-only-version here!