Welcome to our little Review section here on the Open Gaming Network.
We take products and review them, intending to give the reader the best chance of evaluating whether this particular release is for them.
There is, of course, a scoring system, similar to that used elsewhere, in a 5-star rating, which we have determined as follows:
1 * – Bad
2 * – Mediocre
3 * – Decent
4 * – Good
5 * – Excellent
The following review is an OPINION piece and only reflects the opinion and tastes (because ultimately, all reviews will be based in personal taste) of the reviewer.
That disclaimer out of the way, let’s get on with the show!
This week we give you Legendary Worlds: Terminus!
Publisher: Legendary Games
Author: Jeff Lee
Cover Artist: None specified, but artists are listed as Arrahman rendi, Julio Rocha and Takashi Tan
Page count: 18 ( 1 page cover, 1 page inside cover, 1 page credits, 3 page OGL (interesting choice, starting that at the front along with your “About Legendary Games” – I’ll be honest, it’s a bit off-putting. Why not have your “About” on the inside cover, or along with the Table of Contents?), 1 page Table of Contents, 9 pages of content, 1 page back inside cover, 1 page back cover)
Right, so let’s look at the cover first. It shows us two people who appear to be in prison. One wearing some sort of plate mail, and electricity coming out of his fist, and the other, with their back turned, bald (possibly an elf? Not sure if the ears are pointy enough), carrying something that I can’t actually see what is, as the image is blurred over there, but it looks like some sort of long-handled dagger, while that person is wearing plate mail pieces as well as a more barbaric looking fur collar. Right, so this image is of a prison break, at least that’s how I read it, though if I’d had to guess from the image, it’s not a particularly high-tech prison, and more like something I’d find on a low-tech world. A bit odd for Starfinder, but when looking at the other Legendary Worlds releases, it looks to fit their overall feel.
Right, to the content!
So, I’m going to skip straight past the Table of Contents and the OGL beginner there on this inside, and move to the “Welcome to the Legendary Planet Adventure Path”.
OK, the pages labeled 1 and 2 are basically a short history of “This is what inspired Legendary Planet” and by extension “Legendary Worlds”, and it doesn’t really add or detract from the books. It’s nice to see people acknowledging where their inspiration came from, but I’d hoped for more of a “This is how you use this book in your campaigns, whether it’s Legendary Planet or not”, especially as the blurb for the product on the websites state “You can use these in conjunction with an ongoing adventure saga like the Legendary Planet Adventure Path from Legendary Games or with any sci-fi campaign that spans the spaceways.” – And yeah, it is pretty “drag-and-drop”, but nonetheless, it would have been nice to see.
Then we have an introduction to Terminus, as well as a short Planetary Gazetteer, giving us surface conditions (nice touch) and gravity. While the information is there, it doesn’t really stick to Starfinder’s formula for it, so you need to read the whole text block, instead of getting a quick overview. While that’s fine, it would have been nice to have a quick overlook as well.
And here starts the juicy bits: The locations, the factions, the inhabitants, and the conditions. They’re all here, but they are a bit hodge-podge, as they don’t adhere to a particular order. It starts with a location, then a faction, then another location (well, inside), then another faction and so on. It’d have been nice for it to be “Locations, Factions, Condition, Inhabitants” or something similar.
All the locations, factions are pretty cool, though I’d have liked a bit more information on the Overseers. Leaving it as a mystery is a bit annoying. It’d have been nice to know WHO was abusing these folks and why, but oh well. What’s REALLY cool about this though, is the Corruption, Chimaerism, and Undead sections. I like the call-out to people devolving more quickly here than elsewhere (though I’m sure the duergar wouldn’t call it that), and the increase in rises of corporeal undead, i.e. automatic rising. I’d have liked there to be some sort of time frame for when they arose, but as a GM, I’d probably hand-wave it and go “Within 1d6 hours” as the clans are described as taking their time to destroy the bodies of other inmates immediately after death, which seems to require some sort of time pressure. The fact that races that are normally infertile together can have children here, is a VERY nice touch. (Finally an excuse for owlbears! – well, sort of!)
Next up is a more in-depth description of the Clans of Terminus, so maybe this’ll reveal a bit more.
It details 3 clans, the All-folk (the casts out offspring from parents of mixed races), the Glorified (a bunch of power-hungry maniacs who believe that Terminus is a test of faith) and the Ironmongers (who specialize in destroying wardens). All of these are well detailed, but most detail is given to the Glorified. And I am lacking an answer to WHY the Ironmongers are so keen on destroying the wardens. I mean, sure, every prisoner likely wants to kill the guards, but why are these guys so set on it, that they prefer attacking wardens to taking over other clans?
Next up we get a few monsters, the blackfire wight and terminus warden. The Blackfire wights are undead who’ve been killed by blackfire (an environmental hazard on Terminus, that’s described a bit later), but they’re actually CR 6, where the Blackfire itself is CR 4. AND they can create spawn. They just seem a bit overpowered for something that was killed by an environmental hazard. I would have expected them to be a lower CR, than the hazard itself, especially since they can guard the actual black fire.
The terminus warden is a large robot, that has a weakness to critical hits, which I think is really odd. Constructs are already susceptible to critical hits, but does this mean that the warden takes 50% more damage from critical hits? (It’s also vulnerable to electricity, but that’s a common thing for metallic constructs). It’s pretty cool and has some nice artwork.
One thing that’s important to note here, is that the Starfinder Alien Archive has not been launched yet, so these monsters do deviate from the standard that will be established there, looking at First Contact, you can for example see that the Terminus Warden has feats that would not be listed in that entry for Starfinder as it only lists the active abilities. I’m hoping this’ll be updated once Alien Archive becomes available. The Ration Replicator ability is a nice touch as well, though it probably won’t see much use in a normal game.
Next up is New Rules, a section on a hazard (blackfire), stygia (a drug), 2 weapons and an armor. A side note to two of these, it would have been nice to have a page reference to them or even a “see below for details”, for both blackfire and stygia, as they’re both referenced before we see them, within this product. Having a little note stating that “yes, you’ll be able to read more about them later” would have been nice.
Blackfire can be roughly described as a magical backlash effect, and your spellcasters will soon learn not to use area of effect spells near the nightglass mineral deposits, as it’s going to hurt. Stygia is a drug that provides spell resistance (wow!) and immunity to blackfire, but here we run into some real problems. Because it’s not clear what the withdrawal effects are. It merely states that “an addicted creature goes a full day without a dose of the drug, then it suffers the effects listed.” – it would have been nice to restate what these actually are here.
The equipment in this section is also OK, as 2 of them are just variants of existing Starfinder equipment, but the Magebane Bomb is cool. Being able to deliver a Hazard as a weapon is a smart move on the author’s part.
Lastly, you have some adventure hooks, which are pretty standard fare for a prison planet, an Escape (hello Riddick), an Infiltration (hello Escape from New York / Los Angeles), and a Survival (Running Man/Battle Royale!). While they’re standard fare, they’re also pretty evocative, so there’s no need to re-invent the wheel here.
And so we come to the conclusion:
This is a decent (3½-star). I feel like this had the potential to be a 4-star product, but there’s a number of small missteps, and it is annoying with the short introduction being a bit of a shambles. Along with the critical weakness in the terminus warden, and so on, I can’t justify rounding it up from 3½ to 4, so I’m going to have to settle on a 3 star.
Sorry, folks, but this one could have provided better, and while it has the potential, it could use another look. If those issues are addressed (not so much the order of the items, but the other niggling bits), this would become a 4-star instead.