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Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by Gregory B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/04/2017 22:50:48

My GM is planning to run Ultramodern5 after we finish our current D&D 5e campaign, so I purchased the PDF version of the book, read through it and then sat down to create a character. The review is therefore based upon significant consideration of the game, but I have not yet played it. I’m not going to go into detail on layout and editing (there are some issues) or artwork (it’s generally not very good by pro standards); I’m going to focus on the substance.

Ultramodern5 is designed to support games using the D&D 5e rules in settings ranging from the 18th or 19th century to the far future. After an introduction to a couple of the company’s own settings (purchased separately), the book offers two pages of “new rules.” This section covers rules for autofire, new skills (computers, engineering, sciences, etc.) and four new feats. You might think it incredible that Ultramodern is porting 5e to modern and futuristic settings with only two pages of rules, and you would be right. There are a lot of “new rules” scattered throughout the book, from character creation to vehicles. I’m not sure why the company chose to begin the book with a section on “new rules” that describes only a fraction of the new rules.

Anyway, let’s get into character creation. First up is your race. You’re assumed to be (non-variant) human, but you can forego one or more of your +1 ability score increases for a choice or roll on the “Genetic Benefit Table.” You can get things like an extra skill or tool proficiency, darkvision (“Night Eyes”) or the hill dwarf bonus to maximum hit points (“Extreme Fortitude”). They’re not at all balanced, and presumably aren’t trying to be. Light Sleeper, for example, says you “…cannot be surprised by sleeping.” I presume it means “while sleeping,” but even so, it probably isn’t as good as darkvision.

Next up is Lifepath: You pick a background; note that backgrounds offer one choice from two different skills, rather than the two skills in 5e, and you won’t get a special ability. Then you choose or roll on tables to fill out the details of your life. You have to roll Life Episodes -- you can’t choose them. You could get a tragedy (lose an eye, alcoholic, chronic and debilitating disease) or a windfall (favors, wealth, extra proficiencies or feats). Luck (good or bad) is limited by rule -- if you get a tragedy, you can’t get another one until you get a windfall, and vice versa. You can roll for the number of Life Episodes, or choose a number between 5 and 10.

I’m not going to say a lot about this. I don’t think 5e holds up very well to randomness in character creation, and there is opportunity here for a PC to start with multiple extra feats (though he’ll also be a broke, one-eyed cancer patient on the run from the mob). The Lifepath system also forces me to develop a fairly in-depth character backstory from the start, while I might prefer to develop this stuff in play, and it slows down character creation. Necessarily, because the tables are more limited and less complex than real human lives, the output is too. But it’s solid enough and will please those who like this kind of thing.

Now we’ll get into the crunch of character creation. I went into this attempting to create Jason Bourne -- a former soldier trained in covert ops and assassination. Bourne is really well-rounded: He can handle himself in unarmed combat, melee combat, with handguns, submachine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. He knows a ton of tradecraft and is an expert driver. We’ll see how that worked out.

You’ll construct your character by choosing three mechanical frames: a ladder, a class and an archetype. The ladder is basically an ASI/feat chain. You get something at 1st level (this usually includes the chance to use a different ability modifier, such as Wisdom or Intelligence, for attacks, AC, etc.), then again at 4th, 8th, 12th, 16th and 19th levels instead of your normal ASI. You don’t have to choose your ladder ability at any of those levels, but when you do choose ladder abilities, you must choose them in order. As an aside, I assume multiclassing isn’t allowed in UM5. While ASIs are normally tied to class level, the ladders link them to character level. Ladders would therefore offset one of the biggest checks or tradeoffs on multiclassing in 5e.

On the subject of classes, there are a lot of them that seem to cover most of the basic roles in a modern-future game. The design aesthetic of 5e is, in my opinion, nowhere to be found. I’m only superficially familiar with 4e, but I believe Ultramodern was originally created for that edition, and I wonder if some of that design approach is still present here, producing a rules set that feels converted rather than built from the ground up with 5e as the foundation. Many of the abilities are complex and fiddly in ways that don’t seem a good fit with 5e.

For example, let’s look at the grounder -- the fighter or soldier class. At 1st level, you get an ability called Fire Support. You have to choose a path -- Assault or Precision -- and there are five tiers in each path. It’s not clear if this is a one-time choice or if you can take a combination of tiers in both paths. Anyway, you get a new tier at 5th, 9th, 13th, and 17th level. The Assault Tier 1 ability is that when you make an autofire attack, you inflict extra damage equal to the amount by which your attack roll beat the target’s AC, to a maximum of 5. Then, at higher tiers, you don’t add to the damage maximum; no, you add to the value of the attack roll, but only for the purposes of calculating the extra damage.

I have two things to say about this. First, as I suggested above, it doesn’t feel like 5e design. It’s complex, fiddly and kludgy in execution. And second, it seems more appropriate for the Precision path: the more accurate your shot, the more damage you do. It seems like the Assault Fire Support path should give you bonuses to hit with autofire, maybe, or special features such as suppressing fire. (The grounder does get a “Covering Fire” ability, but it’s an option in a completely different multiple-option menu ability.)

Okay, so to summarize, the classes don’t feel like 5e design to me. Maybe they would feel like 4e design, or some hybrid of the two, if I was more familiar with 4e. Or maybe the design approach is nothing like 4e, either, and it’s just something else entirely. In fairness, some abilities of some classes feel more 5e. The medic has “exploits” complete with slots that are spells in all but name. The sniper has “marksmanship points” and “talents” that are kind of like sorcery points and metamagic. So, yeah. I report, you decide.

Finally, you choose an archetype. Instead of each class having a number of subclasses, there are a number of subclasses you can combine with any class. This is a really cool and ambitious feature -- cool, because it provides a big boost to customization options, ambitious because the combinatory effects will make it hard to balance.

Archetypes provide benefits at 3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th and 18th level. There is a broad range of archetypes. The anti-hero gets a “dead pool” (yuk yuk) of damage dice he can add to attacks and replenish when he kills folks or there is otherwise mayhem inflicted on or around him. The authority is an expert who gains a lot of abilities to control skill checks -- manipulating dice results, spending Hit Dice for bonuses, etc. The militarist grants bonuses and special abilities to allies using Tactical Points. The pathfinder has a “dust pool” that gives him a limited ability to teleport. The pool starts at 20 feet at 3rd level and increases to 40 feet at 18th level. The pool replenishes 5 feet for every 10 feet you don’t move on your turn.

Okay, so I’m trying to make Jason Bourne. I pick the Drifter background (there’s another pun, if you recall the intro from Bourne Identity), which gets him a skill proficiency and a couple languages. I sacrifice one of my human ability increases for Stealth proficiency. I only figure out later what skill proficiencies I’ll need to fill in, as we’ll see shortly.

At first I think Bourne should take the infiltrator class, though even with this class I note the apparent absence of the kind of tradecraft Bourne knows. The problem, most broadly, is that the infiltrator -- especially considering that it is a class and not a subclass -- is super-specialized.

What do I mean by that? Well, his weapon proficiencies are very limited -- his only firearms proficiency is one-handed small arms. Bourne is an ex-soldier and should be able to use submachine guns, assault rifles and sniper rifles. But that’s not really the problem -- weapon proficiencies are limited for many classes in 5e. The bigger problem is the class abilities: many of them only work with one-handed small arms or melee weapons. If you want Jason Bourne to use his infiltrator abilities with a sniper rifle or unarmed attacks, you’re out of luck. Furthermore, the 5e rogue, in terms of combat, is really built around being sneaky, getting advantage or attacking targets engaged with his allies. The infiltrator is really built around getting advantage and getting in close and attacking with specific weapons.

I suppose this provides niche protection -- you don’t want the infiltrator stepping on the toes of the sniper and/or the martial artist. But it speaks to how the infiltrator is super-specialized. He’s not really a good fit for even a fledgling Jason Bourne. I looked at different combinations with ladders and archetypes, but couldn’t make it work to my satisfaction.

To make a long story slightly shorter, I ended up choosing the Juggernaut ladder, the Grounder class and the Grandmaster archetype for Jason Bourne. Sounds just like him, right? Okay, not. But it was the best combination I found to create a character with Bourne’s well-rounded combat skills. (He’s never going to get the well-rounded tradecraft skills.) Juggernaut makes him harder to kill, which is helpful in pretty much any combat situation. It also makes him less Multiple Ability Dependent (MAD), since he can use his Strength modifier for all ranged attacks. The Runner ladder would have been a better thematic fit for Bourne. It allows him to use his Dexterity modifier on Athletics checks and attack and damage rolls with melee weapons. Problem is, per the 5e errata, unarmed strikes are melee weapon attacks but not melee weapons, so Bourne would still need Strength for unarmed combat if he chose this ladder.

Moving on, the grounder class gives Bourne weapon proficiencies, vehicle proficiencies (though he’s not an expert driver and never will be), as well as firearms and tactical combat abilities. Grandmaster gives him Karate at 3rd level -- though he can only use it once per day for 5 minutes. Must make it hard to train. As he goes up in level, he’ll learn to use his karate more often and can even learn to use other martial arts for five minutes once per day. Anyway, Karate is good because it gives Bourne an unarmed strike that’s better than the default 1+Str modifier damage. Specifically, he can use his action to make a kick attack that does 1d10+Str modifier damage, +7 damage for each additional attack he could normally make. The grounder class effectively gets Extra Attack (up to 4 attacks at 14th level), so this seemed like a good choice. At 14th level, he could use his karate kick to attack with advantage for 1d10+26 damage.

In summary, there are a ton of customization options, but the design doesn’t really feel like 5e, and the options are so specialized that the net result feels unexpectedly limiting.

After character creation, you get a lot of gear, from modern stuff to science fiction. And this brings me to the element I dislike the most about Ultramoder5. Warning: This is entirely subjective preference. A large-caliber semiautomatic handgun deals 1d6 piercing damage. Keep in mind, you’re supposed to be able to combine UM5 with D&D 5e, so the Desert Eagle does hand crossbow damage. A direct hit from a rocket launcher appears to do 2d6+1 bludgeoning damage.

Now, the different classes and archetypes do have ways to increase damage, but in general, they seem more limited and super-specialized than those in the 5e core rules. For example, my grounder basically gets Brutal Critical (which isn’t great in D&D, either) when he gains the second tier in the Precision path of the Fire Control ability at 9th level, but it only applies to “a non-autofire attack.” Given that it’s “Fire Control,” I assume this means “a non-autofire attack with a firearm,” but who knows. Maybe this Fire Control ability also works with melee and unarmed attacks, which would make it less limited. It’s still Brutal Critical, and that’s still not great, but whatever.

Regardless, the bottom line is this: ACs generally aren’t very high, so targets are going to get “hit” a lot, and when they get hit by modern civilian and military weapons, they’re not going to take all that much damage. This will have a dramatic effect on the feel of the game. In my preferred style of modern combat, training, surprise, maneuver, position, cover, tactics -- these things determine the results of a firefight. They determine who gets shot, and who doesn’t, and that’s it. If you get shot with a modern firearm (or rocket launcher), you’re probably down, and often dead or dying. At 1st level, my grounder can take three average hits from a large-caliber handgun and keep coming. He can shrug off a direct hit from a rocket launcher and keep fighting. Of course, the GM can narrate the action such that those “hits” aren’t really hits -- and then he or she just has to explain why the Medic is restoring those hit points with his medkit.

Now there are a lot of first-person shooter video games that play this way, and maybe that’s the design goal. This is a game that has a medium human enemy NPC called the Big Boss with 207 hit points. He has a regeneration ability called “Health Bar.” He has a reaction called “Second Phase” that he can use once: When he’s reduced to 0 hit points, he regains 190 hit points and more legendary actions. Obviously, the influence here is not modern combat, or even Hollywood -- it’s video games.

But here’s the thing: I don’t get immersed in my character in a FPS the way I want to get immersed in my character in an RPG. In an RPG, I don’t want to be jumping around and circle-strafing through the streets of an urban combat zone, blazing away and taking hit after hit until I die and respawn. I want my character to be thinking about avoiding combat, because it’s lethal, and if forced to fight, I want him to be thinking about how to make it as unfair as possible. I don’t see how these rules are going to support that style of play, and I suspect they aren’t meant to.

My other big gripe, and its entirely unfair, is that I just don’t care for class and level systems in modern and future RPGs. I think “zero to hero” works fine in traditional fantasy (and the D&D genre, in particular), but I don’t think it transfers well to most other genres. I also believe these games need either a robust skill system or a very freeform and flexible one -- “I’m an ex-soldier trained in covert ops, so I know spook tradecraft, dammit.” The 5e system works fine for D&D, I think, but it’s neither robust nor flexible.

So, for me, UM5 is a decidedly mixed bag. I love the idea, the ambition and the effort. But ultimately, the design doesn’t feel like 5e, the abundant customization options are super-specialized and therefore unexpectedly inflexible and the rules support a style of play that is very much not my preference in this genre. If your preferences are different, you may find it’s the perfect way to bring 5e into the modern age and beyond.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
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Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by Daniel E. T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/16/2016 08:57:21

Pretty disappointed. Feels like the POD was rushed out. Updates coming out right after to the point that the Errata is pretty huge. It feels like that all should have been tighten up before the POD was offered. It feels like my physical book has so many changes that I wont even really have a book I will actually use at the table. I don't think I will be giving this very good reviews around the internets. A half done product is okay for PDFs but a killer on people who buy a physical copy. I wish I had of waited till it was done and being stuck in this position makes me leary of spending money on any Dias Ex Machina Games products in the future. And I am a huge collector of physical books. I have a massive 5e collection. Perhaps I will give a different review if I ever get a more finished physical copy. But at this point, meh.



Rating:
[1 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
If you count up the number of changes made, Ultramodern's errata is smaller than 5th Edition's Players Handbook. But I understand your concern.
Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
by Rowan G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/13/2016 17:18:59

This gets a 4/5 because although the presentation and stats are great, the lore is only good. In order to use this product as a place for fantasy adventurers from Dungeons and Dragons to end up in (which is the best use of this product) the book does not setup any continuation with the world the fantasy characters are from. Instead they are thrust into an ongoing storyline between the fantasy and futuristic populations. Although the writers do not know the setting you have been using, they could at least allow for some ideas on how the players ended up in this world that is spelled out rather than a muddle of lore that is not well explained. After reading the lore, I was still unsure of where the fantasy characters were from. Yes there are good and evil portals, but only intense rereading and rewriting could make this a digestable world for a dungeon master. A competant dungeon master could mould this setting into something useful. And it gets a 4 and not a 3 because it is undeniably the best I have seen of future melded with fantasy in the roleplay universe. We need this in order to give variety to our sessions and to explore new frontiers, although my advice to other dungeon masters is that fantasy should still be on the tables.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
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Amethyst: Renaissance 2.0 (Color)
by Todd S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 11/09/2016 18:01:48

I only recently came upon this setting, but I like it quite a bit having now read through the (lengthy) book. I got this version because I'm most familiar with the Pathfinder system, but I may pick up the Savage Worlds book(s) as well since I think a setting like this might do better with a less-well defined class sytem.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Renaissance 2.0 (Color)
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Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by Patrick E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/14/2016 17:37:45

This is nicely done and I really like the ladder and general archetype system - it provides a nice framework, and is an enjoyable read, with the supplied scenarios being an added bonus. I fully intend to run an Ultramodern 5/Stars Without Number campaign - the two should mesh together pretty nicely.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
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Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by Customer Name Withheld [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/01/2016 13:45:30

I'm really impressed with this product. The sheer number of options for characters is brilliant. My full review/overview can be found on my blog. I look forward to future products in this line. -Gaming Ronin.

http://gamingronin.blogspot.com/2016/09/ultramodern5-review.html?m=1



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Publisher Reply:
That link doesn\'t work--I think you mean http://gamingronin.blogspot.com/2016/09/ultramodern5-review.html
Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by Jonathan J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2016 19:42:00

Pros: Human Diversity, Life Paths, Backgrounds, Ladders, Classes, and Archetypes are all outstanding. I will be integrating them into all future 5e games, modern or traditional fantasy. The two adventures featured in the book are top notch. The art is good quality, and doesn't take up too much of the book. The layout and formatting is pretty good.

Cons: Weapon, Armor, and Vehicles lists are too elaborate, and redundant. While cybernetics, robotics, and biotech equipment are omitted. Likewise there is nothing for physic powers, aliens, or pseudo-science.

Minor gripes: The auto fire rules aren't the best. I like how the adversary list is kind of generic, but it needs more templates and options.

Summery: Worth the money for the character creation section, the rest is just a nice bonus. I have heard that a cybernetics, and a super heroes books are in the works, I'll probably pick them up, but I'm a little disappointed that that content isn't included.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by Christopher C. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/27/2016 11:10:02

Ultramodern5 is a great toolkit, providing everything you could need to place a 5th Edition Campaign in a modern/sci-fi/western or similar setting. Included are rules for modern character creation including new classes, Archetypes, backgrounds (Lifepaths here) and Ladders (an expansion of your class, determines very general traits). 5th Edition has already had some awesome Homebrews, but this book coming in at a bulky 217 pages is high above your regular releases.

Quality of the Product (Still waiting for a print version, will update)

The artwork is every bit as strong as you'd see in the 5th Edition WotC Source Books, the black and white nature of the product does little to detract from this. Some of the art is used repeatedly across the scope of the book, sometimes zooming in on specific characters for a class description or cutting away other elements and placing it diffrently. Considering the amount of content that's hardly a negative point, but some classes are lacking artwork to get a general picture of what the character could encompass. I know my players love seeing what a character might look like before reading 2 and a half pages of class descriptions. This applies to only two Classes, but both could be especially hard for new players to envision, which are "FACE" and "Martial Artist" and some of the others have very generic, sometimes slightly unsatisfying designs, this of course is higly subjectiv.

The Equipment Section has some great Weapon designs and also includes Artwork for some of the more Sci-Fi Armors and even some of the Vehicles available.

Also as described later in "Additional Content" you get even more Art towards the end of the book.

There are some spelling errors (you'll find many in this review I'm sure) and there are some formatting errors (almost annoying is that some of the tables have an additinal column for Tier Levels, while some include it only in the Proporties Column)

The Content

Character Creation represents the meat and potatoes of the book. And this core is very solid, you get 10 classes, which you can combine freely with 7 Ladders and 24 Archtypes (Archtypes are not bound to a certain class) + every class has an option of running it without an archtype which technically gives you a further 10 Options. This alone is a staggering amount of options, but the ability to freely combine them and that classes have even more options to choose from when leveling up means you can create truly unique characters.

Ladders are new and are explained to add more power to a world wihtout Fantasy Magic. The major change implemeted with Ladders is that a player uses them to choose which ability score they use for most of their attacks. In my opinion a good solution filling the niche that cantrips fill in Standard 5th Edition.

Backgrounds, replaced here by Lifepaths are also included, thought they are slightly more generic. They offer Skill Proficiencies, Tool Proficiencies, Languages and starting Equipment. Traits, Ideals and Flaws and additional background features are missing, parts of which can be found within Ladders or Class options, and Bonds are replaced with an origin table where you roll for the kind of upbringing you've had. This origin table is actually a mix of 24 diffrent tables, where you find information about your parents, siblings, enemies, relathionships and friends; each fleshed out beyond who these people were and include a current standing towards you.

Sadly there are virtualy no race options within this book. It's explained that due to the nature of the book the only races they could offer would be very generic options, but even with that explanation I think a few even simple options would have been nice. It would only have to be a few types of aliens, Robots or Hybrids and a GM would get a feel for the creations. However it does come with a very nice alternate human option, which takes the basic human from 5th Edition and adds potential for genetic Traits and Flaws, which can even be used again in your traditional Fanatsy Setting.

Equipment comes in Technology Tiers, each of the Tiers is explained briefly at the beginning of the chapter by the sort of medicine, weapons and vehicles you'd expect within that Tier. Also where applicable a Tier will be given a Time Period where similiar technology was available in our human history. Tiers 0 to 2 reach from the mid 18th century to present technology, Tier 3 representing near future and the Tiers above being closer to magic. Weapons, Armors and Equipments here are solid for all Tiers. There are additional Vehicle rules (far more than standard 5th Edition) and only lacking in the space flight options. The vehicles presented are still many, comprised in three ground categories, one aircraft and one watercraft categorie. These again are all sepearted by a Technology Tier, and even have customizable options for adding speed boosts or mounted guns.

Additional Content

What I was surprised to discover, is that the book comes filled with 15 pages of Antagonists & Enemies, which has full statblocks for "Creatures" (5th Edition Term; largely Humans, Aliens (kinda), Robots/PowerArmors/Vehicles) you can expect to find in a more modern setting. Some of these come bundled with minion options, which are weaker versions of the enemies. There a even adversary traits, which give weak enemies a theme and power boost; hive mind bots, or fanatic goons are easy to create from a single Statblock.

Don't go in expecting a fully fleshed Monster Manual, none of the Creatures come with flavour text and with 15 pages there's only so much you can do, but as an added bonus it's nothing the sneeze at. And as explained those 15 Pages actually hide a few more monsters within the minion and adversary trait options.

There are even (full color) Maps, encouters and two Adventures; A Zombie Apocalypse for Level 4 Characters and an Alien Invasion for Level 14 Characters. Both come filled with even more Creatures, Flavour Texts and even a Modern City Map.

Also you get some pre designed PCs in the Appendix, which are designed for use int the two Adventures and are either level 4 or level 14.

So adding all of this together you get about 93 Pages of additional content, which includes everything past character Creation and Equipment.

In Conclusion I'm quite impressed with how much quality content is inside. And only slightly bummed at the lack of Race Options (making my final review a 4,5 / 5 if I had the option). If you’re looking for some great DM content to travel to modern seeting with your table check this book out, it’s a great read and has some solid Rules!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Ultramodern5 (5th Edition)
by andrew g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/26/2016 02:20:35

Ultramodern5 is a toolkit. It is not complete by no means. So why five stars? Because it does what it does so well. it allows You to play and run almost any type of modern or future game. It is missing rules for supers cyberpunk and starships. However we are assured they will appear in an expansion at a later date. The rules blend seamlessly with the 5th edition ruleset and there are some great additions in there. Everything seems well balanced. This product replaces d20 modern with a slicker faster ruleset. Go buy it!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
by andrew g. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/16/2016 16:06:00

Ive been waiting on my harbound copy of this before i took to reviewing this product, And what a big book it is. I picked it up having never heard of it but drivethru recommended ultramodern5 and upon looking at that i thought wow this needs a couple of settings to go with it. This is one of those settings. Post apocalypse of sorts where magic has invaded our world and started bringing the world around us back to nature. Full of fae, dragons and all manner of typical and unusual fantasy beasts. So what does man do? He walls off his cities and holds back the tide of magic by developing his technology. This isnt strictly tech vs magic either.. magic comes with a dark side if you will, Corrupting the minds of Light sided fae and techans. Also some of the corrupted fae have defected, Unhappy with things the way they are. This gives you the opportunity to create unlikely and very shaky alliances within your party which in turn creates a very fun session all by itself just the characters relationships alone create an amazing game. There is alot stacked up in here, The techan classes are astounding. I loved the medic ability to pass on any damage done to himself while helping a team mate onto another character, Essentially using your team as meatshields. That is just one example. The classes are all well balanced and work so well together. This is a team game where you will be well rewarded by working together. I for one look forward to future products in this line. Oh and also, you dont need ultramodern5 to run this setting.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
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Amethyst - Aiden's Way (Novel)
by Stirling N. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 08/11/2016 09:47:51

The prose in this novel is, to be frank, not very good. The diction is flowery and intelligent, but it comes across as someone trying really hard to sound like they're a good writer but the actual prose is basically fanfiction level. It does not flow at all, and has tons of short abrupt sentances. Like someone who wrote for teens trying to write more heady stuff. It just doesn't work for me.



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst - Aiden's Way (Novel)
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Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
by Luke W. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/29/2016 14:55:57

Amethyst is a setting for D&D5e set 500 years in the future following the apocalyptic return of magic. In this new world, technology and magic clash as those that wield them struggle to survive.

The book is over 400 pages and provides a complete overview of the setting, including a wealth of mechanical tools needed to add technology and other setting specific elements to the base D&D5e system. The book is also lavishly illustrated with top quality art from just two artists, providing a clear and consistent view of the setting.

The setting is not just throwing D&D into the modern world: it isn't even a merger between the two, such as in Shadowrun. Instead, the setting is built from the ground up around its core conflict and creates a setting with strong narrative flavour filled with dramatic tension and weighty decisions. Unlike many built for RPG settings, Amethyst feels more like settings found in works of fiction like Shannara, Attack on Titan, or even Hunger Games. Humanity clings to its technology in massive walled cities, progressing it far beyond what is capable today. Outside those worlds is the world of magic, where kindgoms, monsters and fae roam. Despite the fantastical nature of the setting, the book spends a lot of effort to ground its concepts in reality, extrapolating from science, religion, and other real world concepts.

Mechanically, the book is filled with new options from new technology based classed, new fantasy races, a bestiary, setiing specific backgrounds, and a robust equipment chapter including vehicles and exo-armour. In a number of instances, such as the background chapter, I considered that less may have been more. However, more is better than not enough. The mechanical additions all work within D&D5e's framework. There are some excellent design decisions like equating vehicles and exo-armour with existing rules for armour, and introducing organisations for group resources. However, it also shows its 3e and 4e roots in places. More could have been done to bring the mechanics in line with 5e. For example, I was left feeling like the techan classes could have been combined making the existing classes branches inside those classes. 5e is built with expansion in mind (which Amethyst does recognise with the Warden being added as a Fighter speciality), where as 3e and 4e required new classes for new concepts.

The book is well written and engaging. There are a number of typos similar errors, but they never effected reading comprehension.

Overall, Amethyst is a great setting and I feel like D&D5e is a good fit for it, compared to previous editions of D&D.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
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Amethyst: Quintessence (5E)
by Jeremy E. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/23/2016 20:13:39

It's going to take time to really dig into this book and see how it plays and feels but everything is in place and looks great. Tons of lore and background, interesting new races I am already thinking about using, technology to work into my 5E campaign and I'm sure-a bunch of ideas that will be generated just reading this much unique information. The artwork is really superb and I'm excited to get the book in my hands.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
5E Compatibility Logo (Free)
by Guy D. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/18/2016 21:24:33

There are a couple of alternative logos out there. I like this one and I'm using it for my publications.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Compatibility Logo (Free)
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Amethyst: Apotheosis (13th Age Compatible)
by Christopher S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/15/2015 17:15:30

Please take this review with a grain of salt, as I'm listed as the editor and one of the authors of this book :)

This version of the book provides something essential that has been sorely lacking from every other version of the book to date, including (I regret to say) the one that I was the lead developer of: clear-cut statements of where in the real world each fantasy location is equivalent to. This may not seem like a great deal to the first-time buyer, but as someone who followed the setting from its OGL debut and its first 4e incarnation before getting involved in its development, not having to rely on vague and often-misleading maps to determine where everything is (I discovered during editing that I had been dead wrong about where quite a few places were for years) is a great boon. Additionally, the developer commentary is a great feature that I wish could be found in more RPGs, and would certainly be of value even to people who have experienced the setting in its other manifestations before (it was certainly fun to write my bits, but even more so to read the others).

13th Age is not my favorite system by any means - I find it a bit of an awkward kludge between 3e and 4e, with a few interesting unique mechanics, and unfortunately, this version doesn't engage as much with those mechanics as I would like (but I promised to stop completely rewriting the mechanics during editing after 'Neurospasta,' so I'm as much to blame as the developer is). It does, however, polish a lot of the mechanics from the 4e version and is far less mechanically bloated by comparison. It also introduces some interesting new mechanics, all of which are optional (something that I personally find very welcome, as having variant mechanics forced on me by the game's design parameters is something that greatly annoys me as a player and a GM). Given a choice between playing this version and 4e, I would choose this version even though I prefer the 4e system.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Amethyst: Apotheosis (13th Age Compatible)
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