Game: Races of Evernor – Part 2
Publisher: Silverthorne Games
Review Dated: 16th, December 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
Races of Evernor is a PDF collection of new fantasy races. There are plenty of similar products available and this includes another Races of Evernor. This review looks at Races of Evernor – Part 2. This version of Races of Evernor would need to do something special to stand out from the masses. It would be all too easy for this supplement to drop the ball or wobble just slightly and fall below the average mark.
Races of Evernor is actually a collection of new player character races. That’s a good start. Immediately the number of rival products has been cut down. This version of Races of Evernor does manage to produce that something special, that something extra which gives it a leg up and pushes it clear of the unwashed crowd. This winning ticket isn’t anything particularly exciting but it is an extremely important thing to get right. Okay, okay, so what is it? The Races of Evernor is wonderfully thorough. On average each race has four pages all to itself; four pages to introduce the race and it’s culture, for the crunchy stat bits, for new feats, skills and a detailed NPC as an example. There’s more. The PDF’s contents list spans two pages as it not only lists the page number that each race starts on but the page numbers for their appropriate traits and feats too. The appendixes and illustrations have a contents section of their own up front too. This level of detail might be better suited to an index but when you’re dealing with the PDF format you need to re-arrange things. You can’t open the PDF at the back as you can a book. If you click on the bookmarks tab, the actual index for a correctly designed PDF, then you’ll find everything is present in expandable lists and colour coded too. You just need to expand the index for any one race to see just how thorough everything is. As the PDF concludes there are a number of handy quick lists. If you want to find one of these fantasy races without a level adjustment, a race roughly on par with human, dwarf or elf in terms of power then there’s a table with the races indexed by level adjustment just for that sort of thing. The appendixes include charts of random heights and weights for these new races as well.
Thoroughness is one thing but the product would still be a waste of money the content was not up to standard.
Evernor is a campaign world that is being introduced to us through the intelligent races first. Evernor is made up seven continents but with this plethora of different races and mix of cultures. I find myself thinking of it as some sort of giant scale Galapagos Islands. The inclusion of notes from the journal of Frilf the gnome explorer and bard reinforce this perception. Every race has an indication of just how rare it is in Evernor too. You might not be running your game in Evernor though. There is the attempt to keep the campaign specific information down as much as possible but the introduction notes that it was impossible to do without some. I don’t think this is a serious problem. If you’re buying PDFs from Silverthorne Games then you’re not a rank amateur who needs everything presented to you in the simplest of terms.
The PDF is entirely black and white. It is without sidebar illustration and uses two columns for text. There are some large illustrations in it but the largest of them have pages all to themselves and if you’re willing to print the product out in bits and don’t want to include large illustrations then you don’t have a problem. Races of Evernor gets the thumbs up on the printer friendly check. It would have been possible to bundle a lite copy of the product without illustration along with the main copy but I think the benefits would have been negligible. Every race has an illustration and this is an important quality check too.
The Aavail are a race of spindly humanoid avians. We’re told about their society and lawful view on life. We’ve notes on their diet, their languages, the names they pick, the places they live and that they’re often perform the role of a diplomat. Since the Aavail have clawed hands, you know – birdlike, they have a penalty on any attempt to use tools and weapons not designed for their anatomy. This isn’t too much of a problem because as a race they’re excellent craftsmen and this explains the new craft skill. One of the two new feats cancels out this penalty. Much of the work here can be used for any avian race. As with all other races there’s also a few suggested adventure seeds and a completed NPC.
The Damorlinn are monstrous humanoids. Now, if you’re wondering that’s singular/adjectival – Damorlinn/Damorlinnian and plural Damorlinns. Pronunciation is DAM-ohr-lin. That’s the sort of thing I trip up on and so it’s the sort of information I like to see there. If you take a centaur as having the top of a man and a body of a horse then the Damorlinn have the top of gnome (plus horns) and the body of a gazelle. As in the pattern throughout the PDF we’ve got their full racial traits, notes on language, culture, religion, diet, names, lands and what the typical adventuring Damorlinn might be like. Let’s start a count of the non-humanoid races. One.
Ach. Flitterings. You know what the Flitterings will be like. Small. Annoying. Magical. Yes, it’s that particular stereotype’s turn to appear in Evernor. On the plus side this “not-quite-the-reviewer’s-favourite” race is given the full Evernor treatment and if it can be turned into a playable race as part of cohesive group then you’ll find the makings of a good attempt here. Besides, where would fantasy d20 be without stereotypical races?
You’ll be thankful for the pronunciation guide when it comes to the lizard-like Hrulian-Tensu but there are more strenuous tests still to come. These humandoids really are tough blighters. A number of useful special abilities like Tremorsense, Natural Armor and Multiattack to name just a few give them durable bonuses over and above the straight stat power ups. They’ve got a level adjustment of just +1. I’m not from the breed of gamers who can balance up the stats in a blink of an eye but let’s just say that the Hrulian-Tensu seem to be in the upper side of what +1 would allow.
Sharing the deserts with the Hrulian-Tensu but encountered extremely less frequently are the Jinoor. They’re a bit of a paradox. Jinoor are native to Evernor but are Outsiders too. The Jinoor inherit a +3 to their effective levels. They can fly, communicate telepathically and very firmly fall into the stylistic category of mini-genies. The effective level penalty this time round would certainly be too high if it wasn’t for the pair of Jinoori Power feats. It’s here that the race starts to flex its muscles.
Humanoid but not very human-like; the Magnars are an elemental bred race. Actually, the exact why-fors and how-comes aren’t explained. Magnars reproduce asexually by storing up their magnetic energies for a year and using it produce an adult twin. They use these same energies to produce a whole range of racial special features too. It’s noted in the text that this asexual reproduction – there’s only the need for one parent and that parent then produces a fully asexual adult child – and their long life of 300 years has led to a somewhat rapid increase in Magnar numbers. I can see the logic in that. Adventure seeds offer up ideas wherein local nobles have decided to cull the local population of this sentient race. Nevertheless, they’re marked as being rare on Evernor at the minute.
Evil halflings. Nephogg are probably more conniving than evil and certainly smaller at only one foot plus but just one look at the illustration will make you think – evil halfling. I rather like this race. It helps that they’re listed as very common too. It’s rather fun to have a race that isn’t immediately thrown into the monster or villain group and yet is one that the characters will know to watch closely. It can be hard to get this balance right and I think Silverthorne have managed.
I’m not increasing the non-humanoid count for the Pofferil. They’re small furries. They look like humanoid racoons and are actually powerful Outsiders. I remember picking on the Myrrond as being that fur covered race most likely to appeal to wives and girlfriends and I’ll tar the Pofferil with the same brush.
A “chosen race of elves” is the phrase used accurately to describe the Raellorian. Quite a few fantasy settings have elves are nearly angelic creatures, especially our lord and master Tolkien’s Middle Earth. Here the game designers stop beating about the bush and give the Raellorian a fully-fledged set of angel wings. They’ve got an appropriate pack of race powers too. It’ll not surprise you to find these elves listed under the +3 level adjustment category and that they’ve been blessed by the lawful good god.
Snakes with arms, feather covered snakes with arms for that matter. The Raziran really do reinforce my fantasy Galapagos Islands view of the continents of Evernor. They also move the non-humanoid count up from 1 to 2. This sort of snake-like race isn’t unique in Evernor since the indications suggest that the evil worshipping Dreth have a similar anatomy. We don’t have the stats for the Dreth yet so we won’t be able to exploit the racial tension between them and the Raziran.
The non-humanoid count goes up again. The count for monster rugs with gaping maws and vicious looking claws begins! The Vorl gets my vote for the most original race in the product. You might just have guessed from the presence of the new count that Vorls are, well, monster rugs with gaping maws and vicious looking claws. The poor souls aren’t actually evil, despite not having any aid from the forces of law and order and being a slave race they’ve, as a general rule, rejected the dark path. Slave race? Yes, the Vorl race is another Mind Flayer victim. You could say that the mind flayers treat them like doormats and walk all over them! Boom. Boom. I think the Vorl are a great race. It’s great to have something that looks as if it belongs in the monster manual – but doesn’t. If you’ve got a group of players who still insist on fireballing first and asking questions later then you’ve got the perfect guilt trip set up for maximum exploitation here. On the other hand, the unique shape of the Vorl makes it especially hard to arm and armour and since they look so scary they’re an unlikely choice for a diplomacy and conversation heavy game. The Vorl might just be a tad awkward to use as player characters.
The Yaal-Tensu is the last new race in the download. They’re another desert race but not as powerful as the others. They are related, somehow, to the other Tensu suffixed race mentioned previously. They look human but their healing abilities prove that they’re not.
At the conclusion we have our non-humanoid count sitting three. This is about right; any higher and there would be too many and any lower would leave Races of Evernor open to accusations of not being imaginative enough. It’s just a matter of deciding which of these races you want to use in your game – almost everything else is included, covered and thought of. I’m not convinced that you’re likely to use many of the races from here in your game unless you’re enjoying playing in a world as chock-a-block with intelligent races as Evernor is and this seems unlikely. We don’t have much of a look at Evernor itself yet although there is enough introductory text to the campaign setting in this supplement to ensure you know the basics. You’ll know which of the three gods is the evil one, which is the good one and that the goddess is neutral. As I said at the start Races of Evernor – Part 2 does pull itself up into the better than average realm but there’s only so much you can do with 64 black and white PDF pages. Some of the links in the bookmark section need to be looked at again, not every one of them work. I look forward to seeing other offerings from Silverthorne Games.