Game: Emerging Forms – Aegire
Publisher: Primal Urge Games
Review Dated: 30th, December 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 3.50
The introduction to Primal Urge Games’ first Emerging Forms says the supplement is a seed for players and for GMs. Hmm. I’m not sure this is the best tact for the introduction to take. The supplement is a seed for players insofar as it presents a new PC race. It’s rare that a new PC race actually helps inspire current PCs – in fact is can be an anti-seed as it de-enthuses players on their current character. The d20 supplement is more of a seed for GMs as a new race can inspire ideas for scenes, scenarios and even campaigns.
Although I think I see where Primal Urge is coming from with the seed idea -Primal Urge Games is all about allowing ideas and creatives to mature – I would have packaged Emerging Forms as just a specialised race book. It’s clear when you buy the PDF that you’re getting one fantasy race for d20 and so I doubt anyone will be surprised. I doubt anyone will be disappointed in Emerging Forms – Aegire either. For US $2 you get 15 pages and supporting PDFs. That’s value for money.
It wasn’t strictly accurate to describe the Aegire edition of Emerging Forms as the first either. A peak at the product id (PUG2002) hints at this too. In fact Emerging Forms was briefly a product with four races in one PDF. Primal Urge have split up the original PDF and now there are six (with more to come, no doubt) in the Emerging Forms series. You know what? This approach works for me. There is a growing number of highly specialised and lowly priced PDFs with a professional gloss available in the gaming market. A couple of bucks can buy you nearly a half dozen alternative character classes, prestige classes, magic or mundane items and in this case – a thoroughly detailed race. This specialisation works for me because it empowers me. I can buy what I need, when I want it and not pay for what doesn’t interest me.
As I said; I doubt anyone who buys Emerging Forms – Aegire will be disappointed. It’s impossible to miss the front cover illustration of a four legged “insect-taur” standing on the surface of a pool of water. If you have a niche for such a concept in your game then go out and buy Aegire. If you think it looks too daft or too extreme for your fantasy game then there’s nothing Rodney West and the Primal Urge Games’ team can do to change your mind. If you’re on the fence, if you’re not sure if you want to use the Aegire, there’s every reason to believe that the product will win you over and no reason to suppose that US $2 will be a tragic loss if this isn’t the case.
Emerging Forms deliberately goes for unusual races. Emerging Forms tries to shake off the Tolkien-esq shtick which saturates D&D fantasy. You’re unlikely to see elf-like, dwarf-like or orc-like races here. Having made that clear in Emerging Forms – Aegire, Primal Urges Games had better fulfil it in the other Emerging Forms products.
The Aegire are swamp dwellers. They are terminally shy and avoid, almost pathologically, other creatures. The Aegire are good by default and stealthy. Many adventurers who’ve managed to survive travelling through dark and dangerous swamps may unknowingly have the Aegire to thank. This is a racial quirk and clearly one of the concepts for the race. As it happens it works as a race feature and as nice game solution. As a personal bugbear I dislike it when a whole new race of form of magic appears out of nowhere half way through a game. I’m an experienced wizard. I’ve studied in the ancient libraries. Why haven’t I heard of Magic Y or Race X? At times it threatens the atmosphere of the game. With the Aegire we have an attempt at an answer here – the race itself is fairly unremarkable, it’s not a threat to anyone and it’s very obscure. There’s every reason not to have heard about the Aegire before and no reason to remember them if you’d seen a note in a tome somewhere.
The Aegire don’t name their young. They fully expect many of the hatchlings to die in the harsh swamp. Some Aegire take this distancing to the point where they refuse to refer to single children and simply talk about the collective group. Should an Aegire see adulthood then he’ll be named by the tribe.
The Aegire have no concept of ownership. Items are used by the collective. This seems practical for a swamp and also appropriate for an insectoid race.
The Aegire are animists – they believe in the spirit of things; the spirit of the swamp, the spirit of the large stone in the centre of their village, the spirit of the sky, the spirit of the arrow, etc. Once again this makes sense for a community living in such a harsh environment and in such a natural way but it’s a pain to translate into d20. There are some third party books which introduce a spirit system (they tend to be the larger Shaman class books) and some campaign worlds will accept it more easily than others. But don’t the Aegire have a god? Gods are ten a penny in d20 fantasy. Are the Aegire a godless race? Doesn’t that make them rather unique? Doesn’t that make them a bit of a “conversion target” for deities looking to boost their power base? I suppose it’s not necessarily fair to dwell to long on campaign specific issues on a product which is exclusively there to present the race.
There’s no effective level for the Aegire. Huzzah. The Effective Level system isn’t my favourite as it’s a bit crude and next to impossible at the lower levels. Instead there are three levels of Aegire “class” which can be taken instead of character classes. As the Aegire player advances in the Aegire class they pick up the races special abilities – like being able to walk on water even when they’re carrying a lot.
There are 15 pages here (minus a few when you knock off the index, legal foo and covers). That’s plenty more than the expensive and bulky hardbacks offer. In addition to the almost mandatory new spells and magic items there are little gems such as an “Effects of Aging” chart.
In addition to the expansive core product (available in “On Screen” and “Printer friendly”) there are bonus PDFs. Emerging Forms – Aegire comes with a set of round and a set of square counters. These counters use the front cover image and are designed to be used as 2D paper miniatures; tokens to move around a map and help coordinate large melees or scenes where such coordination of placement is important.
What do I think of the Aegire? I think they’re a good NPC race. They’re atmospheric but lean towards shorter encounters rather than any long term campaign material. They’re not as good PC material simply because they’re so fiddly. If you have one in your group then you’ll have to watch that your dungeons are large enough, you don’t leave her behind in a horse back chase, that they’re not always the centre of attention (good or bad) in courtly politics or entirely inappropriate for a gritty city.
The Emerging Forms – Aegire product is good. It’s bookmarked. It is well written and nicely formatted. You don’t notice the lack of illustrations. It’s value for money. I think it’s a fairly simple choice; if you think you might need an unusual swamp race or an insect-taur race then go dig US $2 from the back of your sofa.