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!
After a brief introduction to the subject matter and the context of soldiers in the Xa-Osoro system, we begin with the first of 3 fighting styles herein, the berserker. These folks can enter berserkergang (NICE and kudos for getting the name right!), which translates to a +2 morale bonus to melee attack rolls and damage rolls as wellas to these roles with thrown weapons and on Will-savesm but at the cost of -2 to AC (collective term used; this, this applies to both EAC and KAC) and 2 temporary hit points per soldier level. This mode does, like the rage it’s clearly based upon, prevent the use of concentration-requiring skills with some exceptions, but manages to get gear boost etc. interaction correctly. Activation is a swift action, and the mode lasts for 3 rounds, fatiguing you for a single round thereafter, and yes, this does prevent, foresight be praised, rage-cycling, should the options ever raise their heads. At 5th level, we get deadened nerves which translates to DR 1/- in berserkergang, and that increases by 1 at 7th level and every 2 levels thereafter. Cool: Gets augmentation synergy right! 9th level nets immunity to shaken and frightened while in berserkergang, and 13th level upgrades the bonuses to +4 for atk and damage, +3 to Will, and the temporary hit points granted increase to 3 per class level. You also gain a +2 insight bonus to the DC of critical effects of weapons you wield, including synergy with class abilities, feats, etc.. 17th level upgrades the Will save to +6 vs. enchantment effects, charms and compulsions and gets rid of the fatigued cooldown, but in a cool catch, still doesn’t allow for cheesing. The duration also changes until ended. Cool fighting style!
The second would be the rapscallion, who gains Improved Maneuver (dirty trick), and enforces a save on an application of the maneuver. If the enemy fails the save, it takes a standard action to remove the trick’s effects. 5th level nets Spring Attack with a dirty trick synergy; 9th level provides the trick fighting ability, which nets a +1 insight bonus to dirty trick attempts, and it basically adds dirty trick effects to your critical hits as an alternate critical hit effect. 13th level nets an onslaught version of dirty trick that has a unique feature: If you focus on one target, you get to substitute one of the 4 different conditions for the regular ones, using the second roll’s effects to determine duration. 17th level provides AoO and charge synergy with dirty trick, and removing the effects now will cost a full action on a failed save, a standard action on a successful one.
The third style herein is the striker style, which allows you to take no atk-penalty when fighting defensively, but nets only a +1 bonus to AC. You may also fight defensively as part of a standard action or as part of charges and Shot on the Run or Spring Attack; in such cases, you take -2 to atk. 5th level nets the ability to intimidate unarmed opponents you threaten sans actions. If you succeed the target is off-target on all attacks against you until the start of the next turn. 9th level yields Deflect projectiles, and may use any melee weapons to do so. This gets better in conjunction with fighting defensively, and the ability makes damage type matter. Evasive maneuvers, at 13th level, nets you evasion while fighting defensively, and the bonus to KAC from fighting defensively is applied to Ref-saves when fighting defensively. 17th level increases all damage reduction and resistances you may have when fighting defensively or in total defense.
The pdf also sports 4 gear boosts: You’ve got three guesses of what Danger Sense does: Bingo, bonus to AC and Ref-saves vs. traps, hazards and surprise round attacks; additionally, Perception becomes a class skill, and the skill gets a +3 insight bonus that increases at higher levels. Finesse Soldier lets you, when you hit with an operative weapon adding Dex to atk and Str to damage, add ½ class level to the weapon damage. This bonus can’t exceed your Dex-bonus. Grappler Dash is cool: When hitting a target with a grappler, you can spend 1 Resolve Point as a move action to immediately move to an open square adjacent to the target, up to a maximum range of 500 ft. Movement must be a straight line, and moving more than 240 ft. renders you flat-footed, and when you do this, the foe gets a free Acrobatics check to break free. This is a very powerful movement tool, but one kept in check by its clever balances. As an old bionic commando fan, I love this. Uncanny Agility, finally, nets you the operative ability whenever you’re in light or no armor.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules language level. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, and the pdf has a nice artwork, as seen on the cover. The pdf has no bookmarks, but requires none at this length.
Alexander Augunas delivers some truly core aspects for soldiers here – the berserkergang will be a boon for barbarian fans that have migrated to SFRPG, and the defensive style is also pretty nice. The gear boosts have a true “Did you see that?”-gem with Grappler Dash. All in all, a great little installment in the series. My final verdict will be 5 stars.
You can get this neat player-option book here on OBS!