Star Log.EM: Arich (SFRPG)
This installment of the Star Log.EM-series clocks in at 7 pages 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 3 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As always, we start with the query-like meta-narrative of characters accessing the Star Log-databank, and a contextualization, which this around, is pretty entwined with the awesome history of the Xa-Osoro system: The spiderfolk known as Arich are nomads and orphans, survivors of a vanished planet that did not make it into the Nova Age. Stemming from the survivors of a vast vessel, the arich as encountered today represent what was considered to be the best of their species – athletes, scholars, etc., who created an idealized microcosm of the conditio arichana, if you will. Surprisingly, a sense of optimism and openness to other species characterizes their dominant approach to other cultures, and indeed, in a refreshing take on the trope, the arich are not angsty or traumatized. We learn all of this and more in the flavor-centric write-up, which is only missing the “If you are an arich, you…” sidebar.
Rules-wise, the arich get +2 Dex and Int, -2 Con, 4 HP and are monstrous humanoids with a 20 ft. base speed and, interestingly, a 30 ft. climb speed. I’d *really* love to see what a creative designer/cartographer could make from this as far as space ships are concerned, but I digress. They have exceptional vision, i.e. both low-light vision and darkvision 60 feet, and are treated as under the constant effects of an extraordinary variant of spider climb. As ambassadors to the arich way of life, they get a +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Sense Motive, and +2 to saves vs. slow and staggering effects; additionally, they increase the duration of haste and similar effects on them by 1 round, implying a cultural narrative of time as a net, which once more is something I’d love to see expanded upon.
The race comes with a properly codified subtype graft to represent arich and associated creatures, as well as 4 feats: Arich Bite nets you a natural weapon (1d3 damage, not codified type-wise, alas – akin to the blunder of vesk, though, so I won’t penalize the pdf for it). The other 3 feats represent a miniature feat-tree that is based on Arich Web, which lets you 1/day spray web on a 10-ft.-square within 30 ft. Versus creatures as a standard action; this targets EAC and entangles targets, with the Strength check to break free equal to 15 + the Arich’s Constitution modifier. Said modifier also determines the number of rounds this web remains valid, and webbing HP scale over the levels, and webs are vulnerable to fire damage. On squares, webbing instead generates difficult terrain. Something missing? Yep, the second feat in the tree, Resolute Web allows for the Resolve-based replenishing of the ability. Two feats seems a bit costly to me, but I get the design decision here. Odd here: The usual caveat for Acrobatics as a means to escape the web is missing – RAW, only Strength allows for escape. While I would have deemed this a conscious decision, this does not seem to be the case, as the final feat in the sequence does reference Acrobatics, which makes an oversight likely. Not a bad hiccup, mind you, but yeah.
Arich that can use Arich Web and that also have Improved Maneuver for grapple may elect to take Web Grappler, which nets a +2 bonus to grapple attempts; at 6th level, you may spend 1 Resolve upon pinning a target as a swift action to cocoon the target, prolonging the pinned condition until the target uses Acrobatics or Strength to break free. KAC is properly defined, and fyi – this one does reference the means to escape webbing via Acrobatics.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level. On a rules-language, there is the one oversight noted, but apart from that, nothing to gripe about. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none. Jacob Blackmon’s artwork for the race is neat indeed.
Luis Loza is a veteran, and the arich show – a friendly cosmic race of utopian spider-folk? Heck yeah! Conductive to all those spider-man puns you can throw, the arich are an interesting species that has, courtesy of its design decisions, plenty of potential to flesh out, make unique…and ALIEN. In the best sense of the word. Playing against trope and making them nice, master diplomats even, is cool. A minor downside would be that the unique web ability would have imho made for a good core race feature, perhaps supplanting one or two of the racial abilities; I think they’d be cooler with it. It’s also notable that the feats require Constitution 13+ to take, which is an uncommon choice, seeing how that’s the penalized ability score of the race.
That being said, they are conceptually genuinely interesting, and as such, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to them being too interesting for a 3-star rating.
You can get these friendly, cosmic web-slingers here on OBS!