Aug 292014
 

The Blessed and the Hunted: The Story of the Usa-Chan

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This little supplement by Storm Bunny Studios is 4 pages long, 3/4 of a page SRD/editorial, leaving us with 3 1/4 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We kick off this little pdf with a short origin-myth of the new race of the Usa-Chan – who are essentially bunny people in the style of Usagi Yojinbo (and if that does not ring any bells, google it!) and ties it neatly in with an alternate origin legend for the kitsune.

 

Usa-Chan get their own subtype, +2 Dex and Str, -2 Int, +2 to climb, -2 Disable Device & Sleight of Hand, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, get a base speed of 40 feet, always treat as having a running starts, may move freely through any undergrowth and 1/day as an immediate action, these guys can enter a rage for +2 to Str and Con and will saves, -1 to AC, maintained for con-rounds.

 

As far as FCOs are concerned, we get those for barbarian, cleric, druid, monk, ranger and oracle and we also get alternate racial traits: Spell-like abilities (disrupt undead, guidance, stabilize, protection from evil OR detect poison, know direction, longstrider, pass without a trace) 1/day, +2 to acrobatics, no penalty to AC when raging, better shadow-bloodline/darkness domain cha-score/CL, two primary natural attacks at 1d3 or +4 to CMD versus bull rush and trip.

 

As a variant, some Usa-Chan are born with Black Furs – these are small, get +2 Cha and Wis, -2 Con, chooses two skills to always be class skills AND gets +3 to both, +2 to initiative and run as a bonus feat, +2 to climb, -2 to Sleight of Hand and Disable Device, normal speed AND burrow speed 20 feet and can move unimpeded through undergrowth. They also get their own FCOs for the cleric, monk, oracle, rogue, sorceror and witch-classes.

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to ana easy-to-read, printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes with a drop-dead gorgeous piece of line-drawing b/w that is almost worth the price alone. The pdf comes sans bookmarks, but doesn’t need them at this length. The pdf comes with a second, hyperlinked version that sports the good, unobtrusive type of hyperlinks.

 

This is one of *those* races. On the one hand, the writing by Cleveland English and Jaye Sonia is awesome, the races are high-concept and cool. But damn, are they BLOATED AND OVERPOWERED. These guys mop the floor with just about all ARG-races. Yes, that bad. They are geared towards classes in stronger ways than the races of Rhûne (and this setting includes races that are literally made for certain purposes!) and overall feel like a typical Mary-Sue-race. One has this concept one loves, adores and all the cool stuff a character of this race ought to be able to do. Well, it’s NOT the job of a race to do that. What can’t be done via classes, feats etc. – THAT is what a race should do. And this one fails. The power is beyond tieflings, aasimar etc. – far beyond them. The superb mobility (Hey, let’s have them have the most useful power of a friggin’ druid in wilderness at low levels and devalue this class choice!), burrow speed at first level. URGH. Remember, that means EVERYONE of the Usa-Chan can do these things. To quote Sam & Max: Let’s all bow to our lagomorph overlords.

Another thing that irks me to no end would be the lack of an age, height and weight table: How old do these guys get? What branches can sustain them? Don’t know. Finally, if you’re halfway adept at Japanese, you’ll know that -chan as a suffix denotes something cute and is usually used in a patronizing way or to refer to e.g. a cute girl, a sister etc. For guys, you’d usually use -kun to achieve the same end, unless you really wanted to emasculate them. I know that in my game, my players would never, ever stop complaining about this, but let’s face it – in the presence of these overpowered races, that is a nitpick, though one I felt compelled to mention since some people might be annoyed to no end by it.

 

Personally, I only got fluff out of this book. I wanted to like it and ended up loathing the overpowered crunch. I’d strongly discourage all but the races-wise most high-powered games from using these fellows. The fluff is glorious, though, as are the production values and the artwork and bang-for-buck-ratio save this from being trashed to smithereens by yours truly. Since I have to take all of these into account as well as the possibility that you just might happen to be looking for this insane power-level, my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded slightly up by a margin to 3. If you want to get this for a balanced race and not the fluff, though – steer clear.

You can this glorious fluff (or for high-powered campaigns) here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop.

Endzeitgeist out.

 

 

Comments

  3 Responses to “EZG reviews The Blessed and the Hunted: The Story of the Usa-Chan”

  1. Endzeitgeist Thank you so much for taking the time to review our product, and not just a review, but a well thought out one. I really appreciate that. I just want to give a little feed back as to where we’re coming from here, and clear up some of our thought process. Particuarly for those who may be considering picking up a super fun race that fills an empty niche, of a cute, but feral people that you can design great melee and Oracle characters with.

    Thank you for showing me Usagi Yojinbo, I never saw him before until I read your review. But yeah, kinda like that but more, forest chaotic, less disciplined samurai. This class actually came out of a discussion we were having on forum about the Advanced Class guide, and what where some cool races folks had made with it. I had a idea for a feral, but gentle rabbit man barbarian, inspired by a old flash movie on newgrounds called “pysco bunny”. So I made this race up and built the story around them. The one I played ended up being a Barbarian, and I ran him through the RoTRL AP. It was the most fun I had with a character in ages.

    I apologize about not giving the age charts, I’ll be sure to include them with future publications. But that said, I always envisioned them living for about 75% of the lifespan of humans. Their hearts just give out. UsaChan live short, exciting lives filled with danger, love, and adventure.

    As for balance, Meh, I believe they have around the same point totals as Assimar and Teifling, heck Assimar can FLY, at first level, if they pick the right racial variants. But truth be told, I believe that when balance gets in the way of story, it should be run over, then backed over, than ran over again for good measure. Story, and what makes sense, should always trump some artificial sense of balance.

    However I realize that every party is different, if you play in a group were the game accounting is a really big thing, then this may not be the right race for you. However, if your game is more open and flexible, then you will have a super fun time with the UsaChan. I guarantee it’s worth your buck.

    Oh and about the Japanese language aspect not being quite correct, sorry , I just picked the name because it sounded cute 🙂

    Thanks again Endzeitgeist, good, thorough, honest game reviews, like you do, are great for everyone.

    Bests,

    Cleveland English

    • Dear Mr English,

      first of all: Thank you for being a gentleman and replying to an arguably harsh review in a civil manner. You have my utmost respect for your professional conduct.

      Let me address some of your points:

      I do not dispute that there is fun to be had with these races; Indeed, as mentioned, for groups that have a very high power-level race-wise, this might work. Might.

      You see, the point is, I *get* that you wanted these guys to be awesome and I understand that you had this bunny-ninja picture that you wanted to make. The thing is, certain abilities are VERY powerful. Whether it would be the movement rates, burrow speed or some of the other issues I mentioned.

      PFRPG is a system that has an established hierarchy of components that build on another. Later components may reflect back on the first, but this is the general hierarchy: Attribute->Race->Class->Traits/Skill/Feats/Class features.
      If you hardcode a certain ability, which would require high-level spells to work, into a race, then the class and all subsequent elements will be influenced by it.

      Now you may have any attitude you like towards balance in your home-game. The moment you design ANYTHING for the open market and charge people for it, you should at least keep a semblance of balance. There are many groups out there and while I get that you won’t cater to those who consider Aasimar or Tieflings OP, aiming for at least that level of strength is a courtesy towards the players of Non-Usa-Chan if a campaign elects to use them. It’s a matter of fairness. Now how do you manage to get all these cool options into a race sans bloating it? Via alternate racial traits.

      You craft a framework of a base race and bear in mind that EVERY member of the race has these abilities. The grocers, the farmers, the mushroom-collectors and lumberjacks. EVERYONE. Then, you take a look at your abilities and judge which, power level-wise, would make for good trade offs. A good guideline here is to bear in mind that no racial ability should outclass that of a class, unless its cost is high. If e.g. your honorable race XYZ receives a cavalier’s challenge at level 1 or unassisted flight at early levels, you’re making mistakes. Another balance would be weaknesses like racial penalties to saves etc. – preferably those that actually matter.

      Now your aasimar example, alas, is flawed – there is a feat available for 10th level characters that grants wings and the variant aasimar heritage-table is primarily intended for DM-use – as it specifically states. Beyond that, it represents a fallacy I loathe; Making something unbalanced and then pointing towards another unbalanced piece (and yes, Paizo makes them as well sometimes – usually to much complaint…See “useless feats” et al.-threads.) does NOT validate the design behind it. The only precedent it gives, is that other designers have botched as well.

      As a designer, your task is, (un)fortunately, to create great ideas (which you obviously can!), but also instill them with an appeal that makes them mathematically feasible within the context of a game. Overpowered races and classes tend to result in strife at tables, with players feeling that their characters are being marginalized etc. If your group is mature enough to handle such things, awesome – so is mine. But not all groups are like this and these people are your audience and customers and “balance” is NOT a phantom, nor is it “artificial.” If it were, we could just throw all rules out the window and just play make-believe. Balance may not be a monolithic entity, but it DOES exist as an AREA, and your goal should be to target this area.

      Your task and vocation is to spread joy via creations like the Usa-Chan and making sure that the potential for problems is minimal, while ensuring the integrity of your vision is what separates a good roleplaying designer for a DM that tinkers something half-heartedly together for his/her homegroup.

      The language-component is another thing entirely, but one I’d personally love to not see repeated. I still CRINGE every time I see “Märchen Der Daemonwulf” as a name (not for the content) or laugh about some pseudo-Scandinavian names and a tiny bit of research can prevent that.

      Thanks for being civil,
      All the best,
      Endzeitgeist.

  2. Thank you, Civility is key, after all, we both share the same love of the game and that means more than disagreements over balance issues. Just to address something you mentioned. You are correct, this race is perfectly fine in all of my groups, and as you mentioned, your’s is mature enough to handle races that step outside of the official frame work of perceived power as well.

    Groups like ours are the people I’m writing for. Groups were the only time a player looks over at the next player’s plate is to make sure they have enough to eat. None of this petty, “he or she has more power than I do” cry baby stuff. We have a great time, and little differences in racial power are meaningless because we all pretty much get to play the concepts we want, within reason. And for us, The UsaChan was not considered to powerful. Where would we draw the line at? Not sure, though I would say, Half-Celestial/Fiend would be out for sure. A Vampire is ok if it’s earned through play. That’s just how we roll.

    I just don’t see the big deal about the power level at all. What you see as broken,such as the Assimar flying at first level, works perfectly well for many people. Hence the allure of Pathfinder, there’s something for everyone. In the same sense that there is 3 experience progression tables and 3 character creation point options, there are varying levels of racial power. Mine are high end and fun. I make fun races for groups that enjoy a high fantasy flavor in their games.

    And again, as for the name I made it originally for the Tian areas not Japan. And while Golarian is written to be some how tied to Earth, it’s not really earth, so whats the big deal if a name isn’t perfectly aligned to it’s real earth counter part? Don’t get me started talking about the the way the Jin are portrayed compared to their real world counterparts.

    I write and engaging story, and provide a build that’s fun. That’s my love, not my vocation, or my job, but my love, and if someone is generous enough to pay me for it, then I’m super grateful. But I do not owe a responsibility to make titles that will make everyone happy. I make titles that I think are great, and some folks will like them and other’s won’t. I can’t make all of the people happy all of the time, you know?

    But I’m glad I made you at least a little bit happy with this one. And I hope I can count on your erudite and honest opinion on my next title.

    Thanks again for the review and take care.

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