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Iconic Characters $3.99
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Iconic Characters
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Iconic Characters
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Jason C. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 07/28/2016 17:04:46

Let's talk about pregenerated characters for D&D3 et seq. (You can't make me stop using "et seq"!! I'm a rebel!)

When D&D3 landed in 2000, it was at the tail end of a somewhat stumbling and haphazard assemblage of AD&D rules. One of its great strengths was to gather in all of the various mechanics into a single volume in a way that hadn't even been attempted in years. Still, making a character in D&D3 was the most arduous part of playing it, unless you were a cleric player in 2006 trying to pick out your spells for the day from a list of three or four thousand, a 15th level fighter trying to figure out why you exist, or any living being trying to grapple any other being.

What's interesting about D&D3 character creation is that it puts the tools of character creation almost entirely in the hands of players, but eschews the worldbuilding that would have to wait until the DM's Guide. In other words, characters are created by people who not only have no means of establishing the situation that their characters exist in, and are given the sole responsibility to launch them into an adventurous situation that not even the publishers of the game know very much about. Only the DM knows these things.

If we have the luxury of a leisurely conversation about what the game will be, then this isn't a serious concern. But if we're going to play in an organized play situation (in which published materials that may not even exist yet control the adventures we'll be on) or at a convention (where our time is limited), we often turn to pregenerated characters.

People will post their characters online for free. So what does purchasing pregenerated characters do? It gives us an opportunity to play not just someone else, but someone who we didn't even fully create. This can be a fun challenge even for experienced characters. Raging Swan Publishing brings something solid to the table with Iconic Characters. Sticking to the more central Pathfinder classes in order to make it easier for characters to be brought into various campaigns, the main advantage of Iconic Characters is that the characters all have strong reasons to go on adventures: to find a sibling, to escape evil spirits, to get revenge. Even the most simplistic motivations make dungeon crawling more exciting and psychologically real-feeling roleplay.

As always, you can count on Raging Swan Publishing to have simple, workable layouts and well-turned mechanics. The only area of improvement I can suggest is to make the layout less a typical character stat layout and more usable at the table. The attribute bonuses are connected to so many things all over the sheet, the most used thing on the sheet (current hit points) will be repeatedly erased and rewritten until it wears through the sheet faster, etc. Maybe it's unfair to hold Raging Swan to these standards when the whole rest of the D&D3-playing world makes the same mistakes, but, as I say, I'm a rebel!

All in all, the iconic characters bring simple, interesting motivations to fantasy action-adventure scenarios, which is something that elevates it above the simple assemblage of statistics, but doesn't overstep its boundaries. Another top quality, simple release from Raging Swan.

(An earlier version of this review was posted when I had a brain fart about the name of the publisher. I apologize for the error.)



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Iconic Characters
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/15/2012 08:27:19

This pdf is 27 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial/ToC, 1 page SRD/author bios, 1 page advice on how to read statblocks and 1 page back cover, leaving 20 pages of content for the 10 characters - one page crunch and 1 page fluff per character.

This is not all this pdf is, though - just as much as it's a supplement and a promotion, Iconic characters can be considered a kind of social experiment: The basic stats contained n this pdf are available for free, while the paid version includes massive amounts of information on the individual characters. Created with the 15-point buy system and belong to the core-races. All the characters are first level, come with their own respective b/w-artworks and would make for ready to use characters suitable both as go-play player characters or NPCs under the control of the DM.

We get a nice slew of characters, including an oracle (life), an elven magus, a human cavalier of the order of the shield, a human witch (agility), a half-elf cleric, an elven ranger, a illusionist, a half-orc fighter, a halfling rogue and a dwarven fighter. No love for gnomes, unfortunately.

That is the content we get for free - the background information of the respective characters, their distinguishing features and mannerisms as well as hooks for them are each devoted a whole page and the additional space provided makes each character a truly distinguished individual indeed. In fact, the writing is compelling enough to make me potentially want to play these characters - tragedies and past failures and victories are detailed, as are hooks to get them into adventuring. While they are not bereft of all clichés (the half-orc has been adopted, his father ostracized by the community...), the backgrounds are well written enough and detailed enough to make this a worthwhile purchase.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to RSP's classic two-column b/w-standard. The pdf comes with a screen and a print-version and is fully bookmarked. The b/w-artworks are neat, but if you're like me and own a lot (or all) Raging Swan-pdfs, you'll be familiar with them. When all is said and done, I do like the characters presented in Iconic Characters - as go-play adventurers you can use without rolling the dice, the guys and gals work well indeed. If, as a DM, you're looking for cohorts or low-level allies, these characters may also work well for you, as the writing per se is neat indeed. HOWEVER: We don't get any gnomes, no sample summoner, inquisitor, alchemist, gunslinger etc. and familiars and similar creatures have been left out of the equation as well. There's another catch. Legendary Games' "Gothic Heroes". This pdf set the standard so high for good pre-gens, it's hard to beat indeed and while Iconic Characters is a very good file, it somewhat blanches when compared to the admittedly more expensive Gothic Heroes. On the other hand, the characters presented here are slightly more conventional and depending on your taste, might fit better with you. Seeing that I consider Raging Swan's offer of providing the crunch for free extremely fair, I'd settle for a definite recommendation that you check these characters out and, if you like what you see, buy the file. That being said, I can't rate this higher than Legendary Games' pregens and will thus settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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