Game: Emerging Forms – Ryonth
Publisher: Primal Urge Games
Review Dated: 25th, March 2005
Reviewer’s Rating: 6/10 [ On the ball ]
Total Score: 6
Average Score: 6.00
The Emerging Forms series from Primal Urge Games sets out to break the mould. The goal here is to step away from the Tolkienised elves, dwarves and orcs. As a series Emerging Forms makes a good start but starts to dive in originality – the key selling point – as race after race seemed to be an insectoid, swamp dweller which seemed to have a biological personality (a pit trap of design common in D&D).
The Ryonth are different. For a start the Ryonth are not insect like in appearance and do not like the swamps. In fact, the Ryonth dwell in the desert. Ah yeah; the Ryonth do all tend to act the same but this is a valid cultural thing – it’s a common behaviour that seems realistic. The Ryonth believe they are the best, that they are superior to any other race and so is their culture. I suspect this is such a believable because it rings horribly true with common human beliefs.
The Ryonth are just under three foot tall. They’re not pretty; teeth filled fish-like heads protrude from below a thin shell, their knuckles drag on the ground, hands end in claws and they have squat, powerful legs.
The Ryonth’s unique and rather scary ability is to “mount” other creatures (no smutty jokes, please). In fact, this is even how they reproduce (no smutty jokes, please). By leaping onto the back of a creature the Ryonth can begin to merge with it. This “ability” is more genetic than it is magical – in fact there are no known Ryonth mages. The effected creature becomes subjugated to the Ryonth and will start to develop tumours which eventually grow into other Ryonth. The process kills the original Ryonth but creates many more and each has racial memories. The process has a temporary benefit to the mount but will eventually kill it too.
Emerging Forms presents these fantasy races as possible player characters and this is true of the Ryonth. This is perhaps only possible because the PDF RPG supplement does remember to mention those renegade Ryonth who do not follow the usually horribly aggressive ways of the race. Emerging Forms doesn’t use the Effective Level system. Phew. Instead there are three levels of “Ryonth”. Rather than levelling up a character class a Ryonth PC or NPC can increase their racial level. By levelling up in race the Ryonth improves abilities like their mounting trait. A level one Ryonth cannot mount and control an intelligent creature. A level three Ryonth can mount and therefore control a creature much more intelligent than it.
Ryonth can even band together to group mount (no smutty jokes, please) powerful creatures with many hit dice.
This is a 16 paged PDF. 16 pages is not large in terms of RPG supplement but it is a huge amount of text and information to devote to one race. There is tons of information. We know about the Ryonth language, about their religion, society, lands and about their adventurers. Tables provide random starting ages and even the effects of aging. There are full character creation rules.
As a d20 supplement there’s bound to be some extra splat and sure enough we have a bunch of new feats. Primal Urge Games dives straight on in with the scary Ryonth abilities and provides four feats to power up the mounting ability.
The PDF is good value at a mere $2. If you’re cheap there’s a lite version for only $1.
I think the Ryonth are an emerging form success. This race is different. I think it’s one the characters will love to hate.