This book hits a lot of topics that appeal to me so I have a lot to say before I get to the review. Don’t worry, this is really important for determining whether or not you want to purchase this product, I just want to describe where my needs come from before I tell you whether or not this product fulfills those needs.
Now I love Paizo’s Technology Guide. Up until that point I felt like there was not a real means to introduce technology into Pathfinder in a way that was easy to pick up. Most of the time there was an entire subsystem full of new terms and changes to classes and the need for new classes. Everything felt too convoluted or requiring a lot of house ruling to make work. With the Technology Guide I felt I was finally able to bring my fantasy games into the space age, full of pulpy goodness to go with my magic along the lines of Thundarr, He-Man, Thundercats and Final Fantasy. But with such a limited page count the Technology Guide had it’s limits and for as much as it introduced the logic of space age items brought with it realities of what technology does. Str and heavy armor becomes useless and the game becomes a ranged dex game. While this was very realistic it took away a bit of the fantasy aspects were a bit lost and some great fantasy tropes get left in the dust.
This brings me to Call to Arms: Fantastic Technology. The description promised one thing that I’d been searching long and hard for; melee technology. So of course I ate it right up, looking at each bit and thinking about characters. So did it deliver?
Well the first bit starts off with a discussion of technology and fantasy leading to a series of tips on how to deal with fantasy with technology involved. This includes some plot hooks and a few rules on how arcane or divine magic can interact with technology that you can take or leave.
After that we get some Kingdom Building support for technological facilities and learning centers based on technology level. To extent I felt the discussion of technology levels could have been discussed in terms of what kind of technology to allow in which age but Kingdom Building is nice. Don’t take my lack of excitement as a downside, I’m just biased because I tend to prefer playing and running heroic adventure rather than Kingdom Building so for the most part I just read through this section to make sure it made sense enough. I have nothing bad to say.
Then we get to the bit I was all worked up about: New technology. First there is a new crafting material: Plastic. OH MY GOD. Why has this not been covered before? It seems so obvious now. The plastic rules make sense enough. There is a bit of a glitch where I’m sure if the plastic takes 1.5 times damage from fire damage or the wearer itself. Its the first out of many points to bring up the question as to what happens for area effects. Logically if you’re hit with a fireball the plastic should take damage too but rules-wise this never happens with regular armor so I guess I won’t rule it that way.
Then we get to Augmentations, which are kind of the technological equivalent of magic weapon and armor properties. I don’t think it covers everything my imagination has conceived for technological weaponry but it covers quite a bit for the size of the PDF. You can put buzz saws on your weapons, make Captain Boomerang-type exploding thrown weapons, and plasma swords among other things. The armor augmentations cover some protection from firearms and beam weapons as well as just reinforcing the thing with ion tape. There are specific arms and armor that mix some of the augmentation with new functions. The entire section is just what I needed, including energy knuckles that deal a monk’s unarmed damage and a gravity hammer.
There’s also new glitches and AI for technological items somewhat mirroring intelligent magic items. It interacts with the skill chips from the Technology Guide which is probably the most interesting thing in the book. Then we get to technological artifact rules plus a new artifact, and new propulsion engines for vehicles. If you own any other vehicle book this is actually pretty useful. Really useful. I already have a use for it for a campaign.
Lastly there are new feats including robot and AI crafting feats, a thing recycling feat and a thing healing feat.
Bottomline: This book interacts really well with the technology guide and brings it to a new level. It brings technology to the Kingdom Building rules, gives actual means to make AI, introduces plastic and technological armor and weapon qualities and gives a means to put melee combat tactics into the future . Basically its everything I wanted and I love it.
There are some hiccups. There is a few weird points, like the stat blocks for the two AI being formatted differently and in the second one’s case missing it’s CR. The weapon damage from small to medium size is sometimes non-standard. These are among the occasional language that makes you have to re-read a bit carefully. Overall nothing comes out as completely unfunctional although there are situations that makes for DM fiat rulings like the situation with plastic and AoE fire attacks above.
So I wanted something and I got it with ignorable glitches. I think if you want to use the Technology Guide for a straight sci-fantasy game you need this product. Each item spun the wheels of my imagination and made me want more. It just makes the Technology Guide more complete for general use. I love it, and I’m going to use it so I guess I’m giving it 5 stars.
You can find this review and more over on malwing.blogspot.com
[5 of 5 Stars!]