This supplement clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page back cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
Okay, so, after a brief piece of nice introductory flavor text, we begin this supplement with a background section that explains the advent of mechamagic in the world of Aden, and then move on to the sample environment, the Kixue Academy. Ina way, this supplement presents a ready to slot in locale for your (Thunderscape) game and does so in an interesting manner: We get a full-color map of the complex, which is keyed per se. Much to my joy, I noticed that the pdf also comes with a one-page version that labels the map with proper names instead of immersion-breaking numbers: You can hand out the map and have the players immediately know where scrapyard, eating area, amphitheater etc. are located – nice! This map does come with a grid as well as notes on scale. Kudos for that!
Now, the map represents a general mechamagic academy, and thus, the descriptions featured for the rooms also highlight this general notion. But what if you want details, if you want a sample academy? Well, you’re in luck, as each of the keyed locales features a section wherein the particular versions of the sample Kixue Academy are explained. In short: You’re covered whether you use this as a general sourcebook or as one for a simple drop in of the Academy. The respective rooms have no read-aloud text, but I do not consider that to be a detriment here. Beyond this nice glimpse into the workings of this place of learning, the supplement also features rules-relevant material:
There are two traits for adventurers associated with Kixue Academy, though it should be noted that one of them does not specify that it grants a trait bonus. Botha re obviously intended to be background traits, which can be gleaned from context. The pdf also features two item creation feats: Mystic Scribe lets you create multiple scrolls per day and reduces cost by 10%, but thankfully still has a daily cap based on GP-value. Mystic Scholar requires 5th level and the previous feat, and is VERY brutal and something usually more limited/harder to obtain – it lets you use your own stats to determine the spell effects of a spell cast from a scroll. This is extremely potent and not something I’d allow in my game.
The academy obviously caters to a couple of professions, and as such, we do get a sample statblock for low level mechamages, steamwrights and universalist wizards. Odd: The latter lacks sample spells, which limits immediate usefulness. The pdf also contains level 3 mechamage stats to represent average faculty members, but these also lack sample spells, once more requiring that you take care of one of the most grating aspects of spellcaster design, particularly at low levels where they’re prone to die fast. The supplement also features two named NPC statblocks: Baltus Aizen, the ferran sneak (raccoon) steamwright 7, who acts as the academy’s shop arden, and Dacius Quintus, the elven mechamage headmaster of Kixue academy, who does come with his rock golem companion fully statted. The statblock of Baltus is lacking the text for his attacks/damage, which it incorrectly notes in a bit of a mess in the equipment section, and it should also be noted that there are a couple of bolding glitches. Spells have also not been properly italicized.
Editing and formatting are okay, but not as tight as they should be in some instances; this, alas, does also affect the rules-language level. Layout adheres to a nice two-column full-color standard, and the pdf has no interior artwork. The cartography provided is in full color, and, as noted, the inclusion of the player-friendly version of the map is a highlight there. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort detriment, but still okay at this brevity.
Shawn Carman and Rob Drake provide a per se solid little supplement here – the academy’s map is a big plus, and the text covering both your needs for a specific and generic academy represents a big plus here. However, I couldn’t help but notice aforementioned glitches, which detract from what would otherwise be a nice supplement. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 3 stars.
You can get this supplement here on OBS.