Publisher: Alea Publishing Group
Review Dated: 20th, July 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
Mindcraft is a d20 psionics product from Alea Publishing. For the most part Mindcraft is a d20 supplement you would use instead of the usual suspects on the psionic scene. You can use Mindcraft as an additional system and power alongside “traditional” psionics butI’m not sure it’s a good idea. Quoting directly from my reviewer’s notes – “replace psionics – or not if you want (and are mad)”.
For many gamers the first question to ask might be whether they want mindcraft/psionics in their fantasy romp in the first place or not. Mindcraft does its best to charm its way into our D&D games. At one point I thought the angle it was going for was to pitch that psionics are the /human/ power (whereas, say, some schools of magic might have been the elves power). Psionics/mindcraft had been forgotten or largely overlooked by jealous humans keen to master what others had and they did not. I might have bought in to this. However, we find that non-humans can level up in the Mindcraft classes so that’s not an idea with much juice.
The main difference between typical psionics rules and mindcraft is that mindcraft is more subtle. The Mindcraft PDF likes to remind us of this often, the point is made clears to us and not left to subtle clues.
Mindcraft is the first Alea Publishing PDF to reach electronic shelves and then our hard drives which was published by a non-Alea author. Doug Meerschaert does well out of the deal. He gets his name in a prominent scroll graphic at the head of every other page.
This PDF features full frontal nudity (wow – I think more copies just sold) and I think that makes it a rare (but not unique) d20 supplement. I can’t say I was expecting it either. Oh. It’s offered to us in the quasi-artistic way. The “Monsters and Mindcraft” section has an “only slightly fuzzy” naked and winged woman sweeping down to the land on the introductory text. I think she might be Mindfire , a young adult copper dragon. She was drawn by Edward Robert Hughes who died in 1914 ergo she is art. This chapter goes on to give us some mindcraft centric monsters.
Along with our art we get 64 pages for our $7 in this PDF. That’s typical PDF value. Pages 24 through to 47 are chock full of powers. That’s good news if you’re looking for a meaty psionic supplement. There’s certainly no shortage of crunchy bits in here. The catch, of course, is that since this is an alternative system you will have seen many of these effects before. Sample powers include Sense Spirit, Faeslumber, and Read Aura.
Fae? Spirits? Mindcraft manages to insidiously ease quite a range of topics into its remit. There’s a connection between spirits and your mind – though this seems to be something along the lines of using your mind to talk to and influence spirits (so perhaps there’s a connection between tongues and demons?). This relationship evolves to allow Mindcraft to include non-magic but exotic weapons, er, mindcraft weapons such as spiritwork arms and armour which although not magical are semi-sentient. I have to say that I’m not won over by that. My whole vote of confidence in Mindcraft is that it’s not “just like magic”. The minute you can have like-but-not-magic-weapons is the minute the distinction blurs.
There is actually a Mind Vs Magic rules section in Mindcraft and this is excellent. I imagine many DMs will be at a loss when the two powers seem to conflict. Magic’s often easy to deal with because you can say; “It’s not logical! It’s magical!” but this rules arbitration suffers horribly when logical and yet supernatural forces demand a say.
There are other little tangents that Mindcraft ventures down. We have rules for Reputation in this supplement. They’re warranted on the grounds that some of the new Mindcraft classes use the attribute. Still, I really like the concept of a Reputation score for d20 (where most issues of note are written down on the character sheet) as it provides something for players to chase and which has long term consequences beyond your sword getting messy.
We’ve new feats with a Mindcraft focus and that’s welcomed. We have epic rules for the new classes and that’s unexpected. I suspect the percentage of D&D groups who push the Epic boundaries is far higher than the percentage of D&D supplements which provide Epic rules.
The new classes themselves are a mix of core and prestige. The most common Mindcraft class is that of the Mind Walker but we have Mental Warriors too. Unfortunately slang for this adjective does create some rather interesting concepts for the “mental warrior”. If Mental Warriors are trouble enough to deal with then Mindcraft ups the stakes and puts Mental Inquisitors on the scene in a prestige class form. Also in the pot we’ve the Master of the Craft which is one of those prestige classes with a mere five levels.
All in all I was satisfied with Mindcraft. I wanted an alternative to the mainstream psionics rules for my d20 gaming and this is exactly what I got. Mindcraft is easily good enough for the $7 cover price and should be easy enough to adopt into any new or young campaign (it even addresses this issue and offers some help – rare). Mindcraft isn’t spectacularly good though and does get a little distracted at times.