As a slightly crusty (and on occasion odd-smelling) gaming veteran, I haven't been content with psionics since 1st edition AD&D. So I dove into Mindcraft expecting the worst while hoping for the best.
I always like to get the bad stuff out of the way first. Most of my complaints with this particular product are style related. The first of these is the advertised page count: the listed 64 pages includes the front and back covers, ads for other Alea Publishing products and the OGL notification.
As advertised it comes with two versions; one with all the bells and whistles, and one stripped down to be less abusive to your printer. While it's not that I dislike this, I would have personally preferred a landscape version for a more comfortable on-screen read.
Despite my small complaints, the overall visual presentation of the product is excellent. The backgrounds and page borders are attractive, but I never felt they were intrusive or distracted from the content. Mindcraft is bookmarked, enabling you to easily jump from section to section.
Moving on to the game content itself, we are presented with two core classes: the Mind Walker and Mental Warrior, which are similar to the Psion and Psychic Warrior classes. There are also two prestige classes, the Master of the Craft and Mental Inquisitor, rules for epic progression of the two core classes and rules for using reputation. Mindcraft also introduces four new skills; three of which are used in conjunction with the power system, 13 mental feats and three epic feats.
The power system presents several changes from the Expanded Psionics Handbook. Powers are assigned to slots which can not be changed later. Rather than a number of uses per day, a nonlethal damage based fatigue system has been used; overuse of powers can leave a character drained or unconscious.
The individual powers are assigned to one of eight categories. While most of the abilities do not have a level requirement, the more efficacious abilities will have one or more prerequisite powers. This new system has its good and bad points. While it allows you to customize your power selection, the inability to switch out old powers can leave you stuck with something you don't like down the road. The Energy Control powers may disappoint some players; while many of them have quite powerful or interesting effects, you are limited to pursuing only one of the elemental trees.
The remainder of the book details several new items, a selection of monsters and finishes with a brief overview of a psionic organization.
While it certainly isn't for everyone, Mindcraft presents an interesting take on psionics. Anyone dissatisfied with the regular system, or simply looking for a change of pace should consider taking a look.<br><br><b>LIKED</b>: Good presentation and layout. Well bookmarked. Interesting variation on the psionics system.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>: More accurate page count needed, would have liked a landscape formatted version. <br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Very Good<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>