Friday, October 10, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 5 Slaver's Galley

Small Packages: Slaver’s Galley

Having activated Defiance’s larger form Valen managed to whirl the double mace like a bo staff to simultaneously block a coordinated number two (high left) strike and number ten (low right) strike, and side step the follow up number 8 (deep lunge) but not the rapid roundhouse kick follow up Jared loaded a cold punching snowball spell strike that rocked him back on his heels. The old man was serious today. Valen recovered his wits in time to see Jared complete a spell that created a half dozen illusionary doubles of the famed hero.

“You fight well my son, but you seem to think that matters. Your enemies will not wait to see if you’re ready to fight, they will simply look for the most expedient way to kill you.”

Valen spun Defiance again like a bo-staff and launched into a spinning assault that would offer him many strikes at the price of true momentum, it cleared all but one of the illusions solidly connecting with his father’s  shoulder with perhaps too hard a clip. Jared vanished in that moment to reappear with the tip of his rapier two inches deep under Valen’s floating rib.

Unapologetically, Jared withdrew his blade and flicked of his foster son’s blood. “Take a healing potion and fetch one for me while you’re at it. You need to stop relying on your eyes so much my son, or some clever spire mage will kill you one day.”

The words were a gentle but serious rebuke. Valen realized two things in that moment, it was the first time he had ever hit his adoptive father in a sparring match, and that his father had was pushing him harder today with a purpose.

“Something is wrong?” Valen had never been a man of many words, words came awkwardly to his lips. He preferred silent action, monks in his order rarely spoke.

Jared nodded. Before he could explain a messenger burst into the practice courtyard.

“General Ambassador, pardon my interruption but there’s a slaver ship on its way to the harbor.”

Jared’s face darkened, with deadly swift grace that Valen had heard tales of but never witnessed from his father, the half elf half goblin sheathed his blade into his walking cane, made a number of practiced arcane somatic motions and ran out toward the harbor casting spells as he moved.

Valen had seen his father shirtless enough times to know the brutal lash marks on his back, the brand on his ribs, and the deadly serious glint in his father’s eyes when the subject of slavery was broached. Jared had been a slave early in his life and few things infuriated him more thoroughly.

The bards told tales of Jared freeing himself from the southern slavers. His full elf wife was a former slave the hero had freed. Many of his men were once slave troops or caravan guards effectively stuck in a cycle of debt akin to slavery. He had fled north and begged sanctuary in Briar Hills for the price slaver’s had put on his head. Jared was worth six figures to those men, it would end up being the low bid compared to what the Imperium was willing to pay.

Jared became Briar Hill’s greatest hero. He was the high general of their armies and chief ambassador. At one point a mercenary company form the southern cities came to collect the reward on Jared’s head and their ships were burned in the harbor of Briar Hills. Since then no slave ship had dared enter halfling territory.

Valen raced after his father. No slaver would dare try to dock in the harbor, Jared was famous for what he did to slavers as he was for anything else. Valen fished a potion out of the pack he carried, it would lend him speed. He would likely have to fight his own father in more earnest if he was to prevent a terrible mistake. There was only one reason a slaver ship would harbor in Briar Hills, that reason being it wasn’t piloted by slavers.

Valen watched his adoptive father’s mental decline with silent distress. In the moment the man was deadly and sharp and with a little coaxing he could match wits with any foe, but his short term memory was declining and sometimes he acted rashly to cover for his deficiencies. Today that could mean the death of innocents, Valen buckled down and ran faster.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 4 Stones and Bones

Small Packages: Stones and Bones

Jared’s left knee thudded with a dull ache that usually indicated an approaching storm. The throbbing pain of that knee would act as a baseline, a lifetime of battles had made his body a symphony of aches and pains when the weather was about to turn. Each note was a reminder of a battle won, some by a minute detail and a little luck. The pains served as reminders of the best and worst moments in his heroic life.

Jared’s star-stone rapier was now sheathed in a cane, serving double duty, weapon and support. His boot still housed to his returning dagger won off a gnoll assassin, he could summon it to hand as an act of will. Defiance, his signature mace, was slung across the belt of his squire, along with his pack and most of his wands and potions.

The boy was a mixed blood, human and halfling, and the lad and had all of his father’s strength, but little to no cunning. What Jared found troubling was that he had trouble remembering the boy’s name. No the lad was half human and a genius next to his true father, Jared admonished himself for getting forgetful.

Briar Hills had spared no expense in keeping their most famous hero propped up. Jared wore a belt that enhanced all of his physical attributes and a circlet for his mind. He had a magical hat that could make him look however he pleased, and several magical protective items. What they couldn’t do for Jared was restore the arrogant confidence of his youth or bring back the brave men he once led.

The Starstone mercenary company lived on and had grown to two hundred irregulars and fifty auxiliaries. Jared had seen to each recruitment and subsequent training. Each was trained in precision striking and had a weapon made from the meteor. They were an elite force but their true mettle had never been tested these past thirty years.

Jared would trade the lot of them for the heroic bakers dozen spearmen he once led. Those men were the kind of warriors that would challenge hell with a smile and come out better for it.  But they were gone, just like their sergeant, Sergan Daine.

Orcs began training at age seven and one in three of them never lived to adulthood and military service which was mandatory for five years on reaching their majority. They then policed a population that largely despised and occasionally tried to murder them. They had conquered all but three far flung corners of the northern continent, and they held those three nations to the stalemate of a long siege.

If the orcs training was all there was to them, Jared Swift was confident he’d have ended their empire thirty years ago. For the second time in twenty years the orc empire sent a true invasion force to conquer Briar Hills, using Red Keel across the bay as a staging point. Jared beat them in the air by using a rusting grasp spell channeled through bird familiars to rust open their bomb bays early and bolts of magical lightning to ignite the sky ships’ alchemical payloads. They then tried landing forces onto the famous black sand beaches. Jared had spent the previous evening mixing tar into those sands, the screams of the landing parties still haunted his dreams at times.

The battles while costly to the orcs were not the true campaign though. Jared had sown the seeds of a hundred revolutions with spies, instigating bards, hidden weapon and supply caches, and a variety of safe havens all networked with a secret mail service. Every attempt to keep their invasion forces supplied was either robbed or destroyed. The wild fire plan predicted the orcs would remain stubborn and start rationing their empire’s citizenry to keep their invasion on. Such an action would have set in motion a series of revolts, riots, protests, and assassination attempts. The orcs would have had to scramble troops everywhere and their entire house of cards would have crashed. In the end they backed out the invasion force and actually started increasing social aid programs.

An entire human generation has grown up as a permanent merchant class, well fed, educated, and with steady work. Jared suspected the orcs could invade now without risking anything, the embers of revolution had all but died out to cold ash. Only the humans had the population numbers to challenge orc rule, and they were a complacent bunch at best.

The boy’s name came back to Jared in that moment, along with a terrifying realization. The boy was named Valen after Jared’s older brother who died a slave. He was a bastard boy from one of the men he dismissed from the mercenary company on the grounds that he was too stupid to follow orders. Jared adopted the boy and he was the third  he had adopted. The boy wasn’t exactly a genius but wise beyond his years and a fair monk.

Forgetting his adoptive son was troubling indeed, if he were to lose his mind then Briar Hills was about to be without it’s general. If Jared was right about the reports he was reading, Briar Hills was going to need a general again and soon. More importantly Briar Hills was in desperate need of more allies that only the southern continent could provide.

Jared began his stretching routine. He’d put Valen through his paces today, pain or no. The very thought made Jared smile a smile his enemies had grown to fear, it was a smile he only wore when he was properly motivated to fight.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 3 Scars

Small Packages: Scars

Luca hated fire. Fire had killed his parents and as a winter gnome, fire was especially painful to him. As Marius charged past him drawing his blade, acting without caution or forethought Luca was reminded of how like fire his brother could be.

There was little choice; Luca whistled the loose command to the pack of three wolves that served the brother’s as companions. There would be other orcs with torches, followed by more orcs with bucket. Luca recognized the implications immediately, this was a burn brigade keeping the grounds of the fort clear of cover. It was a standard tactic when expecting an attack.

The chance to reason and calm Marius passed in a blink, when something offends a paladin’s convictions it was best to get out of the way. Luca followed his brother in a guarded trot and called the eldritch cold to blast any foes.

The orc spotted Marius and called out for reinforcements. The orc was no slouch, he dropped his torch a couple feet ahead of himself drew his spear and braced it off his rear foot angled low and further supported with his shield. The moves were practiced and near mechanical in their precision. This was a soldier that had drilled until such movements were second nature, and he would be joined by at least two others before Marius closed the distance into melee. Luca sent a dart of freezing energy over that orc’s shield.

Luca had once skimmed an orc tactical manual and could hazard that this was likely a foot patrol unit. There would be eight legionaries with tower shields, longspears, a brace of pilums, and the deadly legion issue orcish gladius. They would try to form up ranks which made them more deadly as each man was trained to guard the man to his left with his shield. They’d form two lines with 4 spears in the back making attacks between the gaps while those out front stabbed and slashed with their deadly blades from closer quarters.

Allowing the orcs to form up into even a partial defensive formation would mean death for the gnomes and their wolves. It would take the orcs less than a minute to gather and form so every second counted. Luca had a magical bond with Calia and Seline, the two female wolves who he ordered into either side of the tall grasses to flank, the tactic would at least hopefully stall the orcs.

Closing more distance, Luca dreaded doing what he knew he must, as he dismissed Iz after launching another eldritch dart at the same orc he had already wounded. A flood of weakness and pain brought tears to the Winter gnome’s eyes but he needed his summons. Three of the orcs were set for Marius when Calia leapt from the grasses and scored a deep calf bite on Luca’s wounded orc dragging him down. He foolishly tried to regain his feet rather than a short blade exposing the back of his neck, Calia didn’t miss the opportunity.

Maruis adjusted the angle of his charge and caught a second orc patrolman who had drawn his sword rather than spear. This orc was perhaps a green horn as he lacked the skill and grace of his dead companion; he chopped a sloppy overhand strike that Marius easily evaded as he charged into his foe. The blade was that of an orcish longsword that had about half a foot cut from the base the handle, modified to serve as a bastard sword for a gnome. Marius drove the blade will all his charging momentum through the weak point of the footman’s breastplate, the sides where the armor is strapped. The green horn footman was dead before he hit the ground.

Seline and Kane occupied the third orc who had both his spear and his short sword out. He was using the spear tucked under arm and braced across his back to ward off Seline, while his sword stood in a defensive posture for Kane. The wolves had him flanked and would circle and strike.

In the chaos of melee, Marius had not yet noticed the other five orcs from the patrol who formed up with two in the rear pilums in hand and three up front with their shields covering one another and short-blades at the ready. The marched steadily holding their tentative formation.

Luca called a small elemental of earth to flank and harry the orcs from below. With a spell he called a hawk to dive and attack from the skies. His brother drew a pillum from the fallen and lazily chucked it at the wolf flanked orc with his off hand. The orc easily dodged but was put off balance enough for the wolves to strike him down rapidly, finishing him brutally in front of his marching companions. They responded with a pilum volley the wolves easily dodged, but held.

Luca was nearly to his brother’s side when he called the power of the cloak and turned into a winter wolf. The pack jumped into the tall grasses for soft cover and stealth. They’d circle round the rear and try to break the formation, Marius and Luca just had to hold up for a few moments.

Luca blasted the front with his new form’s breath weapon. Formations were bad at dodging. Marius drew and a specially carved bit of chitin and spoke a word of command in a passable draconic. Webs quickly formed and held the formation in a sticky mess.

Luca dropped wolf form and called out to Iz. There was no point in watching what came next. Held fast Marius would use either the remaining fallen’s pilums or long spears to finish the patrol and avoid the mess. Trading at the Fort was now a pyrite errand.

It was Luca’s sincere hope that the Fort didn’t spare a wizard from Black Spire College to investigate.  The last thing they needed was to get on the empire’s wanted list. Every orc would be a potential enemy, not to mention the bounty hunters.

Fire made scars on the land and in the hearts of two orphan gnomes, the burn squad that cleared the Fort’s killing fields would pay for being careless with their fire today. Marius was easy to underestimate, he was usually so kind and warm, like a crackling hearth on a cold day.  Though like that same hearth, if things got out of control he was capable of as much destruction and violence as any raging fire.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 2 Marius

Small Packages: Marius

Marius didn’t like the idea of stopping over to trade at Fort Furthest. Most orcs found the sight of Luca bonded to Iz unsettling and while both brothers had a charming manner, a nervous orcs on the edge of a warzone could mean trouble. A low whine from Kane his riding wolf echoed the sentiment.

“They don’t like short folk in that Fort Luca,” Marius argued again.

“We don’t look like Halflings, Marius and I want to know what they know of the road ahead,” Luca replied again.

Marius thought about it again. Luca was wearing Iz at the moment and Iz made him about the size of a muscular human, excepting for the fact that Iz also had razor sharp claws, gills, and a crocodilian head. Iz was also translucent so Luca wore his large winter wolf pelt covering most of his body despite the heat. Luca chose Winter so he radiated a low degree of cold and his hair was a shocking mix of snow white, ice blue and hints of a deep purple. The clothing he wore under Iz was all about hiding the shape of his thin sickly body under folds of fabric.

Marius in contrast to his brother had orange hair as wild and bright as a fire. He was short but clearly muscular with wide shoulders and a nice tan. He wore heavy mail and an array of weapon handles jutted from various angles from his back and his belt.

One had to look carefully at the gnome brothers’ faces to see the resemblance. While Luca rarely smiled, when he did those who knew Marius would recognize it. Marius was always smiling. They both had dominant noses that anchored the face and ensured their potency to gnomish women. They shared sharp cheekbones and solidly proportioned chins. Marius chose to allow mutton chops while Luca remained more conservative and cleaned shaven.

On his chest, Marius wore a tabard with the canine face that was the symbol of loyalty, clasped hands echoed that sentiment as a symbol around his neck, and his sword arm had an armband with a rose symbol for beauty. Like all paladins he was open about his convictions and shared them publically, being an example.

Luca took care of Marius growing up when they were orphaned by a fire. Later Marius had to take Luca to different healers when the wasting sickness started robbing his brother of vitality. Luca was fierce and enriched his mind, with Marius’ aid he searched library after library seeking answers on his disease, and the type of magics that could cure it.

There was nothing Marius would not do for Luca. No challenge he would not overcome, short of betraying the Summer court. Keeping loyal to both was not easy, but convictions weren’t meant to be. Being a Paladin wasn’t meant to be easy either. Luca was frequently bitter and difficult, he resented needing Marius, and at times the feeling was mutual. Marius believed that the core of love was loyalty, of staying with someone through the hard times and being there even when they push you away. That within everyone there was beauty.

To Marius, his brother Luca had a beautiful mind. His brother had such a will that he made a better body for himself on sheer will and an innate talent for magic. He read dozens of languages and absorbed facts like a thirsty man drinks.

It was hard for others to understand why a paladin consorted with someone who used warlock magic and who called on an otherworldly Eidolon. Or why a summer gnome served and protected a winter gnome. Marius usually answered such inquiries with a smile and said: “when I was a child and I cried for my dead mother, Luca always read me my favorite story no matter how sick of it he got.”

In his reverie, Marius almost bumped into Luca who had stopped. His hand had reflexively landed on the handle of his re-hilted legion blade, as Marius looked for the threat. There was an acrid burnt smell that hung in the air.

“What, brother?” Marius inquired.

Luca pointed ahead, the orcs had burned a swath around their fort a half mile wide. The tall grasses that had straddled either side of the road abruptly ended and the earth was blackened with ash. The smell was that of a drowned fire, it was purposeful.

A hot fire of anger burned inside of Marius at the thought. The fort was a menacing mound of stone surrounded by a scar burned into the grassland. It spoke of something ugly about those that resided within those walls and offended the appreciation of beauty that ran deep to Marius’ core.

Marius was running with his weapon drawn before he realized he had spotted an orc with a torch.

With an act of will his own fire sprouted from the blade.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Celtris Tales: Small Packages Chapter 1 Luca

I would imagine that the first question all of you, our valued readers, are asking is "what is Celtris."  Without spoiling the whole kettle of fish, the answer simply put is that Celtris is a campaign world that I, Jeff Harris, started many years ago for the simply reason that I thought orcs deserved to not suck.  Little did I know that years later my friend and co-owned Frank Gori would take a shine to the world and end up helping me turn it from just a home brew into something much more.

Now nearly 20 years after I started creating Celtris it has become a major project for TFPC games.  In the not so distant future we hope to be able to share Celtris with the much greater gaming community, and will likely be doing so in a way that is rarely seen but hopefully greatly appreciated.  But while there is still a ton of work to do before that auspicious time, we at TFPC would like to introduce the wider gaming public to Celtris with a short fiction series based in our conjured world.

Thus begins "Small Packages" by Frank Gori.  Also keep your eyes peeled as a new chapter of this fine tale will be added each week here on The Flying Pincushion blog, and both Frank, I, and the rest of the TFPC staff hope you enjoy this look into the world we have created, a world called Celtris.

Small Packages: Luca

Luca awoke with a familiar sickening panic. His eyes scanned the area for Marius on reflex to see if the fool had fallen asleep on watch again. Sometimes his eyes would meet his dutiful brother’s and Luca would feel a pang of fleeting remorse, then the routine would take over.This time his eyes found Marius' back which was just as well. Luca kept to his rituals and ran a mental inventory, confirming that he could still feel and move all his extremities.  The wasting sickness stalked him like a thief, halted but never cured. If it returned he’d typically lose grip first, then his limbs, his ability to eat, to speak, and ultimately to breathe. His mind would remain sharp as his body became an inert prison. It was a terrifying sickness.

On an intellectual level Luca knew his brother would never fall asleep on watch again, it simply was not in Marius’ character to be so careless. The paladin had not tried dwarven spirits before that night and he only had a normal tankard full. Not only had Marius apologized, he had sworn off drinking all together. Luca just couldn’t help resenting his dependence on Marius.

The healer's amulet had halted the wasting sickness seven years ago, Luca’s slow appointment with invalidity and death had been forestalled, but his brother knew as well as he did that without more potent magic, Luca was living on borrowed time. The disease was still inside of him and could be triggered by any number of environmental factors.

A magic belt lent Luca the strength to move without assistance, though not without pain, and he was clumsy. Another magic trinket reduced Luca’s need to sleep and entirely removed the need to eat. It meant that once he merged with his Eidolon, he need not dismiss it to take a meal, or take a trip to the jakes. It meant that the amount of time a child could overpower him was reduced to two hours and a little over a minute every day.

A silent act of will and a single murmur of Iz’s name, would summon the otherworldly being that Luca wore like armor. When joined with Iz’s body his mind was no longer locked into a prison of weakness, ruin, and pain. Despite its fragile appearing translucence, Iz’s body moved with speed and power. It was almost enough.

Luca didn’t like to think about women, or more specifically one woman. There was no point in pursuing something that is so far out of reach, and she had married a few years ago. Nothing is more haunting than a kiss. Even one given out of pity.

Luca banished that line of thinking and focused on the body he had shaped with the force of his will and the bond with an otherworldly presence. When he was one with Iz he could feel the faint glimmer of a mind that was somehow distant yet content to be joined. To be whole was joy for both.

Luca rose, “get some rest Marius, tomorrow we leave this easy road for a war zone.”

Marius hunkered down with the wolves. Barely articulating a “thanks brother” before falling into a deep slumber. Like many traits Marius took for granted, Luca envied him for his ability to simply carelessly sleep. Luca’s mind was usually too loud and it took a good half hour to quietly sort his thoughts. He loved his brother, needed his brother, envied his brother, and hated his brother all at once. Cold reason battered away a deadly urge. It would be so easy.

Luca fled that line of thinking and got moving to check his trap lines. Luca left little to chance and set an elaborate series of warning and snare traps. The snares usually caught small game and served a secondary function in that they could trip up a stealthy approach if they went unnoticed. Then there were the dagger rakes, step on one of them and a dagger rose rapidly to stab the victim in the leg, they were outlaid in a secondary circle. Marius learned the pattern the hard way after a couple incidents.

On an intellectual level Luca knew that his brother was actually of about the average intelligence level, but he could not help finding fault in his brother’s mental abilities. Both brothers had their mother’s charm and looks, but Luca seemed to inherit all of his father’s magus wit while Marius just had his physical grace.

Luca avoided the subject of their parent’s death. Marius remembered the fire if not the cause. The failed rebellion of Lesh didn’t have a right side and telling Marius what happened would just repurpose him from useful to a creature of vengeance.

The snares yielded four rabbits, Luca would skin and cook one for Marius before dawn, he casually tossed the wolves one each raw. Less time wasted that way.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Tales from the Back Room: Into the Breach the Cavalier

The next offering of TFPC is nearly complete, Into the Breach: the Cavalier.  Stay tuned to the TFPC blog for things like discussions and sneak previews of the upcoming book.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Recession Reviews - Thunderscape the World of Aden Campaign Setting

Review written by Richard Litzkow

Thunderscape the World of Aden Campaign Setting
Written by: Shawn Carman & Rich Wulf (Kyoudai Games)
Page Count: 227
Throw Away Pages: 8 (2 cover pages, 1 toc page, 2 backer list pages, 1 OGL page, 2 Index pages)
Golden Pages: 11 (Races), 73 (New Classes and Alternate Classes), 5 (New Feats and Skills), 47 (Cosmology and Geography), 29 (New Equipment and Rules), 11 (New Monsters and Antagonists) total 179

Cover price: $19.99
Price per page: $0.09
Modified price per page: $0.09, cover price/pages + golden pages – throw away pages = modified price per page
Crunch to fluff ratio: 1.32 to 1
Our rating out of 10: 9 (highly reusable classes, feats, new equipment and races. Concepts like the Fallen class and it’s versatile and clever approach to combat, or the Ferran race are things that have been largely missing from core Pathfinder and are worthy imports into any home-brew or established campaign setting - either wholesale or with minor tweaks).

For nearly a thousand years the world of Aden knew peace, technology and magic flourished and the realms grew rich and fat. Then one day, with no warning the sun disappeared and the world was plunged into darkness – as if someone had switched off the light. And in this darkness emerged the Nocturnals – the nightmares of every sentient living creature made real, and though the darkness lasted only a short time when the sun appeared again the Nocturnals were still there. Killing, feasting on an unsuspecting world – millions fell, others gave in to the madness and terror giving their souls over to it to become another horror. 10 years after the Darkfall the world struggles grow against a land overrun and tainted by the Nocturnals.

This is the premise for Thunderscape the World of Aden a godless world where magic and technology are synonymous. The book features all new classes, races, feats, other uses for skills and an entire section to new mecha-magical equipment and the rules surrounding it.

It also adds a terrifying new monsters, and an even more horrifying template – Nocturnal, that allows you to turn old monsters into new sinister specimens for your party to fight.

There are 7 new races in the Thunderscape campaign setting as well as the classic Dwarves, Elves, Humans and Half-Elves. Many of these new races are evolved forms of classic fantasy races. Goreaux are hyper intelligent goblins, Jurak are more civilized descendants of Orcs, Faerkin are gnomes who have crossbred with fey to such an extent that they often manifest outwardly fey traits. Rapcians are almost a south american themed lizardfolk. The new original races are the Echoes – featureless humanoids with an inky exterior that can adopt the shape and features of the deceased. The Illithix Exiles, a insectoid species with the hybrid features of bees and ants and the Ferran. The Ferran are a species of anthropomorphic animals, with three different racial packages – Ferran Predator, Brute or Sneak allowing players to decide what category their Ferran wants to come from. Mice Ferrans are probably sneaks, likewise Foxes, but there are no hard restrictions.

The classic fantasy races listed follow many of the original tropes, Elves as aloof and distant, Humans as versatile. Dwarves get a new backstory though, originating beneath the earth they eventually dug to the surface whereupon they believed themselves to have 'dug into heaven', fully three quarters of the race went back underground decrying those that stayed as heathens and waging a secret war on them.

Racial abilities are fair and balanced, with interesting note to the Jurak who gain a bonus to damage against any foe that has injured them within 3 rounds. Echoes likewise must make poppets incorporating material from the deceased they wish to appear as.

There are 9 all new core classes to play as, Arbiter, Entomancer, Fallen, Golemoid, Mechamage, Seer, Steamwright, Thaumaturge and Thunderscout. Very few of these will feel familiar, one could loosely compare the Mechamage to a Wizard but the focus on building familiar-esque golems and modifying them is a big enough difference to be worth read over a few times.
    The Arbiter is an Int based shield and weapon fighter with rogue like elements thrown in with their 'Strategic Maneuvers' picked every 2nd level after 3rd level.
The Entomancer is almost a sort of totemic druid that venerates insects, they too chose at every odd level an insect themed power from a series of lists including 'The Way of the Mantis', 'The Way of the Bee'. While they can take powers from any list they can only access the greater powers by having a certain number of abilities from within a single Way.
    The Fallen is perhaps one of the most unique classes to Thunderscape, they are those people who have been corrupted by the Darkfall but are often the anti-heroes that use their sinister powers to fight the darkness. From the 1st level of the Fallen class a player must choose one of 6 'Stigmas' (Befouled, Behemoth, Horror, Incinerator, Madcap and Seducer) these stigmas mark you are tainted but are also your source of power. As you level up you gain powers associated with the stigma you chose and each functions differently.
    As a class the Fallen is about combination, a default ability native to any Fallen is the ability to inflict a form of psychic torment on an opponent as a swift action. Opponent so marked save vs a status effect (like Shaken) and whether they save or not against the status effect are marked as 'tormented'. Tormented subjects take additional damage from the Fallen and are subject to a variety of other effects based off that mark.
    An example would include the Madcap stigma ability to be invisible to any tormented foe, allowing a Madcap to use another ability to inflict an area effect burst of torment so that a room full of enemies cannot see him until either the tormented condition runs it's course or he breaks the invisibility by attacking – at which point he becomes visible to that particular victim.
By far this class is one of the most clever in the entire book as each stigma has different ways of inflicting area affect torment as well as offering other unique debuffs that go along with their tormented condition.
    The Golemoid is another thoroughly unique class, they represent people who have either willingly or unwillingly become hosts to mechamagical implants (called manite implants) that reduce their life-span but become a part of them. As they level so given over to this magic they begin to grow new implants, shedding their organic heritage to become living constructs.
Almost all of their implants function off a grit like system called 'Steam' gaining an amount equal to their Level + Constitution modifier. This spendable resource allows them to activate many of their implants or gives them the ability to detect magic, buff their AC for a round, help them make acrobatics checks or break objects.
    Similar to a fighter the Golemoid chooses early on a specialty, in this case a form of combat. Steam powered weaponry, ranged combat or natural weapons. Their implants reinforce these decisions with a Gunner specialty Golemoid likely taking an internal ammo belt and finger guns for an optimal build. But implants are not limited by specialization allowing the player to customize as they see fit.
    The Seer is another original class, functioning as a close range bard who altered reality around her with her prophetic auras. Many of these auras allow a save, and an enemy that saves can be forced to make another save if they leave and re-enter the aura. Possibly subject to abuse by Seers who dance backward and forward to trigger a new save. The auras are unique offering things like 'decrease the amount of healing an enemy receives by the Seer's Wisdom modifier, while increasing ally healing by the same amount', or even allowing her to give additional actions to allies with her new but limited spell list.
    The Steamwright is another new class, as cutting edge techno-mages they invent volatile gadgets that only function a certain number of times per day but offer a fair bit of bang for their buck. These inventions can be modified, limited by whether it is a primary or secondary invention and by the class level of the Steamwright. Inventions include new weapons; like the Belcher (cone effect elemental damage), Grenade Launcher (the envy of alchemists everywhere) or even small auto Turrets. Utility inventions include rocket packs, translation goggles, trap detectors and so on.
    In addition Steamwrights may over-charge their weaponized inventions adding a pool of damage dice that they must declare beforehand. A Steamwright with a grenade launcher by level 5 could in theory deal 2d10 + Int mod AoE with an additional 2d8 firepower damage. In addition to deploying an auto turret that fires independently for 1d8 + Int mod. In terms of game-play balance Steamwrights pose a bit of a balance issue, outclassing all other similar level classes in raw damage even with a limited number of uses per day.
    After the Steamwright is the Thaumaturge, a reimagining of the Magic of Incarnum supplement for 3.5. The Thaumaturge has a deliberately abominable stat line, because all their power comes from drawing about legends and their aspects. These change your base saves, BAB and even give you temporary hit points. A Thaumaturge might never be able to cast spells but if you need a stand in Fighter, Rogue or Ranger then they are the Swiss army knife of classes.
    Finally the last new class is the Thunderscout, and one that impressed me least. They are small vehicle driving rangers meet 3.5ed Scouts and for certain nations they fit well with the fluff, so they make sense contextually. But mechanically compared to any of the other new classes they are far more boring. They get spells earlier but a limited selection and they are designed as swift moving vehicular ranged support. They don't have the interesting combination build up tool box the fallen have, or the customizability of the Golemoid. They don't bring highly modified golems to the party, or super-tech inventions. They aren't as flexible as the thaumaturge and they don't buff their allies as well as the Seer. Thunderscouts are a great fluff class and mechanically they are what Rangers dream of being but that doesn't make them as interesting – only competent.

    After the new classes there are explanations for how all the old classes fit in, including a bunch of new archetypes to make regular classes work in Thunderscape. This is also where the first mention of godless clerics and paladins come up. See if Thunderscape ever had deities, then they aren't there now. The World of Aden lives and dies on it's inhabitants, divine spellcasters still power their spells through faith but no-one is answering any calls when they try to start up a conversation.
    Additionally we learn that Detect Good/Evil, etc spells only function on the supernatural. Monstrous Humanoids, planar beings, all detect as an alignment, but ordinary beings don't. This is because as a setting Thunderscape focuses on surviving and thriving in a world being devoured by nightmares. Mundane evil is as invested in their own survival as they are mostly avoiding corruption and losing their mind. This means that a game revolves less around party alignment and more about prevailing what ever the cost.
    An important note though about the base classes in Thunderscape, guns in Thunderscape are treated as highly common to the point where many of the base classes gain a firearm proficiency or two, the twist is that guns, work like bows. So Gunslingers are problematic as many of their abilities function on hitting touch still. Either you nerf them, or you let them out class almost every other class.
    The new feats are all fairly standard, with exceptions like the feat Studied that grants additional free skill points base on your current level and gives you 1 additional skill point each level thereafter. This could be prone to abuse, but it also indicates that the writers wanted characters not to ignore skills as is commonly a problem.

    The remainder of the book covers a detailed historical timeline of the setting, a large section dedicated to each of the countries and a section dedicated to new weaponry and rules. Including the effects of manite implants on living beings – a fascinating read and delightful new mechanic. The Bestiary section is only 11 pages long and could do with more substance, and after that the index section (along with the original table of contents) is all nicely hyper-linked – like all proper pdfs should be, allowing easy navigation of the book.

    At the end of the day I love this book, it is well thought out and while there are minor editing oversights (some inconsistent phrasing of pathfinder core rules) or omissions in detail (regarding the new spells for animating constructs) the editing and presentation of the book are superb. The art is a bit of a mixed bag with many internal chapter pages having gorgeous tableaus but other art being markedly less high in quality (most commonly in the races section).