NeoExodus Chronicles: Usual Suspects
By Thilo Graf
This supplement is 51 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of advertisement, leaving us with a whopping 47 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Now the NeoExodus campaign setting has been around for a while and this book fills a niche I think any 3pp who endeavors to create a campaign setting should try to fill. Which one you ask? Well, whether it’s the NPC-Codex or the general statblock section in the Gamemastery Guide, any DM needs a selection of statblocks to fall back on. Now the problem, often with 3pp-settings is that there are many cool classes and options – and no pregenerated statblocks for them. “Usual Suspects” is a breaking away from this trend, providing us with statblocks for the elite organizations of NeoExodus and making copious use of the respective PrCs introduced in both the campaign setting and the supplemental pdfs that detailed the secret organizations released so far. CR-wise, the statblocks herein span from CR 2 to CR 14 and each type of character/organization gets 3 statblocks, one at low levels, one at mid levels, and one at the higher ranges of mid levels, though you won’t see extremely high-level builds in here.
Additionally, each of the statblocks comes with boons, which of course vary depending on the iteration of the statblock – A recruit of the Caneus High Guard, the bodyguards of the empire’s royalty may be game for adventuring, while a CR 10 Aegis may even get the PCs an audience with the empress.
It’s rather interesting to note that the respective iterations of the statblocks don’t necessarily are straight progressions – while the High Guard begins at fighter 5 and the officer is a fighter 5/ high guard 3, the Imperial Aegis is a cavalier (honour guard 6/High Guard 5 build. This non-linear build adds variety and versatility to the respective organisations and is reflected in e.g. the statblocks of the Reis Cofederacy’s Panther Warriors and sentinels as well, offering multi-class builds of multiple baseclasses combined with PrC-levels.
The Sanguine Covenant (Catholic Church of the medieval ages meets bloodmagic) gets a variety of inquisitor/paladin-based daemonslayers as well as secret agents and the Dominion is covered as well: Both the Khalid Asad, the elite-force serving the realm and final checks-and-balance-institution versus potentially disruptive khagan and the notoriously powerful wyrdcasters are also part of the deal, making ample use of the mobile fighter-archetype as well as of sorcerer and conuror levels, respectively. If you’re in need of an experimental field doctor, then Imperial Apothecaries will have you covered and for those seeking to blend monk-training and psionics, the notoriously powerful Janissaries might have you covered – though at least for them, psionics remain mostly a fluff concept.
Beyond these elite forces, we also get statblocks for the men-at-arms of the Imperial Alliance and the civilization-shunning berserkers of the Janus Horde (who btw. get a barbarian/oracle/rage prophet-build at higher levels) and their more esoteric fist of the dragon barbarians that draw strength from their draconic ancestry.
Now if the Sanguine Covenant is covered, we of course also need to cover the Order of Kaga and its Augurs and graft-using harbingers. Among the less openly militaristic (but no less dangerous) individuals, we also get phoenix guard terrorists and the men and women that wield teh really big guns with protectorate artillerists that use among others, machinesmiths and gunslingers and combine their talents with the really big guns. The Protectorate also gets new stats for their peacekeepers.
Finally, fans of Dreamscarred Press’ psionics system should rejoice, for the secret organization of psi-special-op called Section Omega also gets 6 new stats, making use of the ID Hunter and psychic overseer PrC introduced in that nifty book. And that’s it – no frills, about one paragraph of fluff for each organization and the rest is stats.
Editing and formatting this time around are actually very good – I didn’t notice any significant glitches and while I didn’t do the math on all statblocks, I did it on some and they seem to be sans flaws, so kudos there! Layout is as beautiful as we’ve come to expect from LPJr Design and adheres to a truly gorgeous two-column full-colour standard that is further complemented by an array of at least one full-colour mugshot of Paizo-level quality of one member of the respective class. While some of these artworks are known from other NeoExodus-books, not all are – kudos at this fair price point. The pdf also features heraldry for the nations and symbols of the organizations to complement them. The pdf comes in two versions, with the second being backgroundless and still beautiful in full colour and about 30 MB less weighty. Both versions come with extensive bookmarks.
The title of this product is either ironic or a misnomer indeed – or born from the fact that there’s a Frog God Games-book that is called UNusual suspects. Why? For these statblocks are anything but run of the mill – utilizing a broad variety of archetypes and classes, these go beyond what I would have expected. Also, they provide ready-made statblocks that utilize PrCs of NeoExodus for the beleaguered GM and for those not using the setting/who don’t have the books, still provide all the pieces of information needed to run the stats from the book. I really hope that some other campaign settings out there will see a similar treatment, for even though these statblocks never reach the level of complexity of e.g. the Faces of the Tarnished Souk-series, they provide a tantalizing glimpse at NeoExodus and provide DMs with statblocks that have abilities distinctively set apart from what you see in similar stat-compilations. Varied, fun, making copious use of both the options of standard Pathfinder and NeoExodus, this collection is all but mandatory for DMs of the setting and useful to get a sneak-peak for those who don’t that wish to add some uncommon options to their NPCs. All in all, a professional offering for a very fair price and worth 5 stars – omitting my seal of approval only because I would have loved to see an advanced animal companion/mount/familiar or witch in this book.
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