For any who care... I originally wrote this ovreview for Arcana Uneathed on the TCR Games forums. Though I never quite finished it, I put enough work into it that I believ I need to post it here.
Okay where to begin...
Okay basic character creation.
Most of this is fairly familiar from the regular d20 system, roll 4d6 six times, etc., etc. So lets focus on what's different.
No Alignments: There are no Alignments in Arcana Unearthed, I know some of you will be cheering about that.
Experience Table: The experience table in Arcana Unearthed costs about 10% more to advance each level than in standard D&D. The reason for this? Arcana Unearthed classes are more powerful (At least in the begining) than D&D classes. (Whether their exactly 10% more powerful or not I haven't tried to figure out ) The basic rundown I've heard is that AU characters are a little more powerful at low and medium levels, but are outstripped by D&D classes at high level.
Multiclassing: Multiclassing is completely unrestricted in AU.
Feats: Okay, one of the big differences between AU and D&D
is the Feats. First of all, there are about three different types:
*General Feats: These are the basic feats were familiar with. Pretty much Unrestricted.
*Talents: Talents are feats that may only be taken at first level. Generally a character may only have one Talent unless their Unbound (Covered later.)
*Ceremonial Feats: Basically, a ceremony is performed that binds a power to your soul. The spell templates, and such feats as Alertness and Weapon Specialization fall under Ceremonial feats. You generally have to have a Truename (covered later) to be able to take a Ceremonial feat.
Also, a second note. All AU characters start with two feats. Humans get three.
Truenames, and the Unbound: At character creation, each character must decide whether they have a Truename, or whether they are Unbound. Each have certain advantages and disadvantages
*Truename: A character with a Truename starts with one Ceremonial feat and one Talent (Or one General feat if they don't want a Talent) Humans get an additional General feat. Other advantages of a Truename? Beneficial spells are often more effective if the caster knows your Truename, and some spells can only be cast on you if they do know your Truename. Disadvantages? Certain spells are often more effective if the caster knows your Truename, and some spells can only be cast on you if they do know your Truename.
*Unbound: A character who is Unbound starts with the ability to take two Talents. Though they have the option of taking General feats instead, Unbound are kinda up a creek already without a Truename, the two Talents are to offset that. Human Unbound get an additional general feat. Other Advantages of being Unbound? Well you don't have a Truename, so it can't be used against you, you also can't be brought back as Undead. Disadvantages? You can generally never take a ceremonial feat, certain beneficial spells won't be as effective, (Or sometimes effective at all), You can never be ressurected if you die.
Death and Dying: Instead of automatically dying when you reach -10 hit points, you die when you reach a negative number equal to your constitution score (So someone with a 16 Con would die when they reached -16 hit points) Characters may stay conscious until they reach a negative number equal to their constitution bonus, though any strenous activity after reaching 0 automatically infers another hit point of damage.
Overview, part II: Races
Another intriguing part of Arcana Unearthed are the new races. These are all new races (Well, with the exception of the basic human) which I'm going to try and cover here.
Another intresting part of the AU races, is that many have 'racial levels' That is, they have the option, at any time when they would normally gain a level, to take 1 to 3 levels in their race, and thus gain corresponding racial abilities.
Though not included in AU, the standard D&D races plug in well. The only real problem I've seen is with the Half-Elf. Multi-classing is unrestricted for all races in AU, so one of the Half-Elf's big advantages just went flying out the window. I'd personally recommend giving them skills like a human.
Okay on to the races:
*Human; Basic human from D&D, no real change.
*Faen; Faen are small humanoids standing between 3 and 3 1/2 feet tall. There are three varieties (Two of which you can start play as) One of the intresting parts of the Faen is there tendency to have religious visions. (Basically they make up gods for each and every thing that happens, constantly.) Examples include; Yeochir, god of dancing without shoes, Boink, god of running into hard immovable objects at high speeds and Goison, God of Half-cocked plans.
--Loresong Faen; Loresong tend to be the taller heavier type of Faen. Their smart, though not physically strong (+2 Int, -2 Str) and they have innate magical abilities, and Low-Light Vision.
--Quickling Faen; Quickling are the smaller, lighter type of Faen. There extremely fast though not physically strong (+2 Dex, -2 Str) They have an increased run multiplier, an intiative bonus and Low Light vision.
At third level (Or any level where you gain a standard feat, 6th, 9th and so on) a Faen may choose to give up their feat to trigger the transformation to the third type of Faen; the Spryte
--Spryte Faen; Spryte are Tiny creatures, they take an additional +2 Dex and -2 Str in addition to their Faen stat adjustments, lose their old Faen special abilities(Though they keep their Low-Light vision), their type changes to Fey, they gain the ability to fly. They also gain the ability to take up to 3 Spryte racial levels (Which involves improving Dexterity even further, gaining spell-like abilities and improving flight maneuverability)
*Giants; In AU you can play a Giant. Now these are not the
monstrous Giants we're used to in D&D. AU Giants are actually
a Lawful and (relatively) peaceful people. The Giants actually
call themselves Hu-Charad which means "The stewards"
The other races call them Giants. The Giants rule over the land
in the default AU setting "The Diamond Throne"
Giants start as medium creatures (Though average height is 7' tall) their strong, but clumsy (+2 Str, -2 Dex) they are excellent craftsmen and diplomats. Giants can take up to three Giant racial levels. (Which involves increasing their Strength, Wisdom, and Constitution, and at third an increase to Large Size(average height of 12 feet))
*Litorians; Litorians are basically Humanoid Lions. Litorians are extremely fast, but tend to act impulsively (+2 Dex, -2 Wis) They have Low light vision and certain bonuses in the wild and with their senses. Litorians can take up to three Litorian racial levels. (Which involves increasing Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, base land speed and gaining th scent and bite feats)
*Mojh: Mojh (Pronounced Bob ) are actually a human who has magically modified themselves into a genderless lizard (Or Dragon) humanoid being. In the default setting they are modeled after the Dramojh, a demonic race that once enslaved humanity (and most of the other races as well) until the Giants discovered, and then eradicated them. Needless to say, Mojh are not well liked. And the Giants are not particularly happy that they exist at all. Mojh are very intelligent, though physically frail (+2 Int, -2 Con) They have Darkvision and a natural armor bonus. Mojh can take up to three Mojh racial levels. (Which involves gaining innate magical abilities, the Sense the Unseen feat, a breath weapon and an additional natural armor bonus.)
*Runechildren Runechildren is actually a template that can be added to any race rather than an actual race. you basically give up a level once your 6th level or above to gain the template. (Additional requirements are completely up to the DM) You basically gain a load of innate magical abilities by becoming a Runechild.
*Sibeccai; Sibbecai look like Humanoid Jackal type of being. They were raised up from simple beasts by the Giants. Sibbecai tend to take on an arrogant attitude with other races, with the exception of the Giants. Sibeccai are a hardy race, though there not very book smart (+2 Con, -2 Int) They have Low-light vision, and a scattering of skill bonuses. They have a shorter life-span than Human's do. Sibeccai can take up to three Sibeccai racial levels. (Which involves increasing Constitution, Dexterity, Strength, and gaining the Bite and Scent feats)
*Verrick; Verrick look like humans, except that they have wine-red skin, and their hair tends to be white or blue-black. They are contemplative, and tend to think things through. On the other hand other races observe that there is something not-quite-right about them. (+2 Wis, -2 Cha) Verrick have the ability to selectively shut off their senses, and Innate spell-like abilities. In addition Verrick spell casters gain acess to spells with the psionic descriptor that they wouldn't normally have access to. Verrick can take up to three Verrick racial levels. (Which involves gaining more spell like abilities and an option to take either a +2 Int or a +2 Wis at third level.
Overview, part III: Classes
Okay on to the Arcana Unearthed classes. For those of you without the Arcana Unearthed book, I will be putting the base D&D class that is closest to the AU class in brackets by it, though this is often like trying to stick the infamous square peg in the round hole. (Such as with the Akashic)
Of course one class that was not carried over into AU was the Cleric. There is no distinction between Arcane and Divine magic in AU, and as such the typical magic user can cast heals (And at higher levels ressurections.) Of course for those who still want to play a religious figure, there is the Priest feat.
Okay, on to the classes;
The Akashic [Rogue]: The Akashic is a skill based class. With 8+Int bonus skill points, they have the most skill points of any AU class. Also, All skills are class skills for an Akashic. (This of course leads to an incredible variety of Akashic concepts, based on what skills they take.) Akashic begin with the ability to use skills that they don't have (Even those that need to be trained to use) or enchance their current skills, they gain the ability to double their Intelligence bonus to knowledge skills, and to delve into the collective Akashic Memory (Which works similiarly to bardic knowledge.) Akashic's gain Akashic abilities at several points, which gives them the option of picking one of several different abilities. Examples include; Sneak attack, bonus feats, skill focus, the ability to cast certain spells (Usually dealing with learning knowledge.) etc. At higher levels Akashic's learn to use feats they don't have, and at 20th even gain the ability to cast spells. (Both of these abilities are limited to once a day, however.)
Akashic's are actually surprisingly martial, starting with Simple and Martial Weapon proficiencis, as well as light, medium, heavy and shield armor proficiencies. Akashic's have d6 hit dice, use the Cleric's BAB, and the Wizards base save progression.
The Champion [Paladin]: There are actually several different types of Champions. Unlike D&D Paladins these include evil and not necessarily lawful concepts as well. The types of Champion are: Light, Darkness, Life, Death, Magic and Freedom. Guidelines are also included to make new types of Champions. Champions have champion abilities (Which are largely dependent on what cause they champion.) Beyond Champion abilities, champions can call a magic shield to their hand, and at later levels a magic weapon. Also by calling upon their chosen devotion (i.e. "I call upon the light!) a Champion can boost their Strength and Constitution. Both of these abilities go up as they level. High level Champions even gain spell resistance. At 10th level a champion may choose to focus their devotion to an even narrower degree, such as the Champion of a Race, a place, or even a person (For the truly devoted bodyguard. )
Champions have d10 hit dice, and 2+Int bonus skill points. They use the Fighter's BAB, the Clerics base save progression
The Greenbond [Driud]: The Greenbond is (Quite obviously) a nature affilated caster. They are one of the most powerful caster's in AU, and the most powerful healer. Greenbonds have access to all simple spells, and have access to all spells with plant or positive energy descriptors (This includes Exotic spells.) They are one of only two classes in AU with access to ninth level spells. They can identify plants and animals with perfect accuray and tell whether water is safe to drink, they have a natural healing ability (In addition to spells, they gain Trackless stepand a variety of nature oriented powers.. At higher levels they gain the ability to talk with spirits, and take on a spirit form. A high enough level Greenbond literally becomes one with nature, losing their Humanoid descriptor for a plant descriptor.
Greenbonds have d6 hit dice, and 2+Int bonus skill points. They are proficient with Simple Weapons and light armor. They use the Wizard's BAB, and a base save progression similiar to the Wizard's but with a higher Fortitude save in the higher levels. A Greenbond's casting is based on Wisdom.
The Mage Blade [Sorceror/Fighter]: The Mage Blade combine's the abilities of a Warrior and a Caster. Mage Blade's are proficient with simple and martial weapons, light armor and shields. They have access to all simple spells. Mage Blades get there name from their Athames, an edged weapon that provides several abilities to the Mage blade. An Athame acts as a magic weapon in the hands of the Mage Blade. In addition the Mage Blade does not suffer spell failure from armor while holding their Athame's. At higher levels the Athame will attack anyone other than it's master who tries to pick it up, and can be summoned to its master's hand with a thought. At 4th a Mage Blade can summon a himmering shield (Which is actually more like a force field) to boost their AC. They gain a bonus feat at fifth and every five levels thereafter, at 7th The Mage blade gains proficiency with medium armor, but they retain there normal movement rate while wearing it. At Higher levels they gain the ability to slice through magic protections, gain competence bonuses to saves and AC versus magic, and the ability to parry and dispel spells with their Athame's.
Mage Blades have d8 hit dice, and 2+Int bonus skill points. They use the Cleric's BAB, but their base save progression is not really similiar to any D&D base class. It progresses equivalently over all three saves, with no bonus to any at 1st level. A Mage Blade's casting is based on Charisma.
The Magister [Wizard]: The Magister is all about spells. They are one of the most powerful caster's in AU, with only the Greenbond rivaling them in power. Magister's have access to all simple, and all complex spells. They are the are also the only other class with access to ninth level spells. A Magister requires their staff as a focus to cast spells. Without it they lose a caster level and double all casting times. A magister's staff is, however, exceptionally hard to break. At fifth level, and every five levels thereafter a Magister gains a bonus magic feat. At sixth they gain gain competence bonuses to saves and AC versus magic. At 12th (And again at 18th) a Magister actually becomes marked by their power (Gaining one of any number of abilities, like glowing footprints, power marked eyes, spell like abilities, the ability to walk without your feet touching the ground, etc.) and at 14th they gain the ability to substitue theit Intelligence for Strength on strength checks.
Magisters have d6 hit dice, and 2+Int bonus skill points. Magister's are proficient only with staves, though at 5th level they become proficient with Swordstaves as well. They use the Wizard's BAB, and base save progress. A Magister's casting is based on Intelligence.
The Oathsworn [Monk]: Oathsworn gain their power from an Oath. If the Oath is broken, or if it is not fulfilled in one year, the Oathsworn loses all class powers for one month. If this happens three times, the power loss is permanent. They begin with Unarmed Strike (Including the rising damage) and flurry of blows. They have an AC bonus (Greater than a Monks, but they don't add Wisdom to AC either.) and their speed starts increasing at 4th (Or 3rd for small characters) They soon begin to no longer require the basic elements of life. At 2nd they no longer need to eat, this scales so an Oathsworn soon can ignore minor enviromaental effects, fatigue, fear, water, poison and disease, air, some greater enviromental effects, sleep, effect attacks, spells, aging, ability score damage and energy drain, gains the ability to heal themselves before finally becoming an outsider at 20th. They also have a scaled shattering strike ability, allowing them to ignore a certain amount of damage reduction. They gain Evasion at 3rd, and some bonuses to athletic abilities (Such as balance and tumble. At 4th they gain the ability to throw an object as if they were proficient with it, and at 6th they can use objects as weapons as if they were proficient with them (This is important later.)
Oathsworn have d10 hit dice, and 4+Int bonus skill points. Oathsworn are proficient with... well nothing actually(This is why their objects as weapons ability is important.) They use the Monk's base save progress, but their BAB is freakin weird. It starts off like a Cleric's, but they gain an additional attack at 6th (+4/+1) and they have up to 5 attacks at 18th (+13/+10/+7/+4/+1) All I can figure is this is because their flurry of blows doesn't scale (i.e. it grants 1 extra attack at a -2 to all attacks.)
Runethane [Wizard]: A Runethane has access to all simple spells. There true power, though, lies in the runes they can create. Using a full round action a Runethane can draw a rune on an object, surface or creature. No Rune can be used more than once an hour, and only a number of runes equal to the Runethane's level can exist at once. Runethane's start with two Runes, and gain a rune at every level (Though they get more powerful at higher levels.) At first level they gain the ability to erase their own runes and attempt to erase other runes, at third they gain the ability sense runes. At fifth they can invest runes (Basically doubling the effects, though it doubles the cost as well) and at 10th they can password on a rune (To keep it from accidently going off when it's not suppose to.) and at 15th they can make a rune permanent. They also gain competence bonuses to saves and AC versus magic at 12th. Some sample Runes; Rune of Armor(+4AC), Rune of blasting (1d6 damage/level), Rune of resistance (DR 20/+2 for 1 minute per level), Rune of Slaying (100 pts of damage +5/level Fortitude save for 5d6 damage instead).
Runethane's have d6 hit dice, and 4+Int bonus skill points. Runethane's are proficient with Simple Weapons. They use the Wizard's BAB, and base save progress. A Runethane's casting is based on Intelligence.
Totem Warriors [Barbarian/Ranger]: Totem Warrior's are basically the nature warriors of the AU setting. First like the Champion, Totem Warriors pick a focus, though in this case it is an animal they choose to emulate rather than a cause. Included Totems are; Bear, Hawk, Shark, Snake, Wolf, and Wolverine. Guidelines are also included to create new Totems. As a flavor note, generally as a Totem Warrior advances in level, they start looking more and more like their Totem. Totem Warrior's gain Totem powers which vary depending on the particular totem involve (Wolf gets +10 move, Hawk gets point blank shot, etc.) At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter a Totem Warrior gets a bonus feat, and at third they get an animal companion(of the same species as their Totem). At 7th they get an empathic bond with their animal companion and an empathic rapport with all animals of the creatures type. At 9th a Totem warrior can speak directly with the spirit of their totem once per day, asking a yes or no question. And at 11th they gain the ability to speak to and understand their animal companion and all animals of that creature type. Note; Though the various totem powers are too numerous to list here, all totem warriors gain (eventually) the power to shift into that animals form. The level varies depending on the power of the creture. A hawk totem warrior, for example, will be able to change into a hawk, long before a bear totem warrior could change into a bear.
A Totem Warrior's hit dice vary, depending on their Totem, does their starting Weapon and Armor proficiencies. They 4+Int bonus skill points. They use the Fighter's BAB, and base save progress.
The Unfettered [Rogue/Fighter]: The Unfettered is a class for the lightly armored, and agile type of fighter. (The Unfettered are far more combat based than the D&D Rogue) They have an AC bonus and a Parry ability, which allows them to add their Intelligence bonus to their AC for melee attacks (To a maximum of half their Unfettered level; minimum of 1) Both these abilities only function in light or no armor however. They get a bonus feat at 2nd level, and a +1d6 Sneak attack at 4th. both of these abilities increase every 4 levels thereafter. At 7th an Unfettered can apply their parry bonus against ranged attacks as well, and at 13th can even parry magic! They also gain Evasion at 9th.
Unfettered have d8 hit dice, and are proficient with all simple, Martial, and Agile Exotic Weapons. They are proficient with Light Armor and shields. Unfettered share many of the Rogue's class skills, though they only have 4+Int bonus skill points to use. (Unfortunately they don't have disable Device as a Class Skill) They use the Fighter's BAB, and a Rogue's base save progress.
The Warmain [Fighter]: The Warmain is the brute warrior of
AU. They are pretty much unmatched when it comes to sheer hit
points. Warmain's start with a d12 hit die and the Sturdy feat.
This feat either adds +4 hit points in place of your constitution
bonus, or doubles said bonus (Whichever is greater)
Thus a typical Warmain (As long as they don't actually have a constitution penalty) starts with 16 hit points and can go as high as 20 or 22. This is more hit points than most 2nd level (and some 3rd level) characters have, all at first level. At 2nd level (and every four levels thereafter) a Warmain gets a bonus feat. They gain Weapon Specialization at 4th. At 8th level a Warmain can automatically inflict a critical hit once a day. If they actually score a critical hit while doing this, their damage multiplier increases by 1. At 12th a Warmain gains Armor Specialization, which allows them to increase Light Armor's AC by one, and medium and heavy armor's Ac by 2. At 15th a Warmain can critical ability can be used twice a day. At 16th a Warmain can use larger than normal weapons, allowing them to use Large weapons one handed, and Huge weapons two handed. Finally at 20th a Warmain gains Weapon mastery, which boosts their weapon specialization bonus from +2 to +4.
I've already mentioned that Warmain's have d12 hit dice. They are proficient with all simple, and Martial Weapon, Light, Medium, Heavy Armor and shields. They only have 2+Int bonus skill points. They use the Fighter's BAB, and a base save progression similiar to the Fighter's but with a higher Will save in the higher levels.
The Witch [Umm... wisdom caster type Remember what I said about sqyare peg, round hole]: Okay, once again we start by choosing a type. In this case we have the Iron, Mind, Sea, Wind, Winter, and Wood Witch. However, no guidelines were included to create other types this time. Witches have access to all simple spells. They have a minor bonus, depending on type (Such as the Iron Witch's +1 AC bonus when attacked with a weapon containing Iron) The Witch's real power is there Witchery manifestations. Each type of Witch has acess to a Fire, Song, Blade, Storm, or Word manifestation. They start with 1 manifestation and gain 1 about every five levels (Thus by 20th they have all five.) At 4th they gain The sight, allowing them to determine a creatures class and level if observed for at least 1 minute. At 7th they gain competence bonuses to saves and AC versus magic, and at ninth they gain access to complex (and possibly even exotic) spells with a type similiar to their focus. At 13th a Witch gains another bonus (Once again, depending on type) and one of their Witchery powers becomes 50% more effective. At 18th another Witchery power becomes 50% more effective.
Witches have d6 hit dice, and 4+Int bonus skill points. Witches are proficient with all Simple Weapons, Light armor and shields.. They use the Cleric's BAB, and the Wizards base save