||By the gods! The New Argonauts is the first product from Sean K Reynolds Games, it is a deliberately low magic campaign setting that builds off of the classical Greek myths and Greek history. The design aim is to adapt D&D/d20 to playing the ancient myths as they have come down to us, in other words to do a campaign based of the adventures of a group of Greek heroes restricted by that culture and those mythological rule. It is an attempt to adapt the d20 rules to a setting with much lower magic and lacking many of the things that are taken for granted in the normal D&D game (such as magic healing, crossbows and plate mail).
The PDF has a striking color cover by Gerald Lee, clean interior organization with a additional color art culled from classical sources to illustrate the various points, the two maps are clean and easily readable and the charts of the family of Greek gods is very well done. A Grecian pattern runs along the bottom of each page providing visual unity to the whole work. The graphic work is very strong and professional.
The heroes of the New Argonauts are human, rarely use magic and do not wear heavy armor. In other words, very different from the usual D&D campaign. The only spellcasting class is the Hellenic Sorceress which is a low powered spellcaster who is primarily designed to be used for villains (remember Circe) or if a spellcaster is needed without upsetting the balance of the campaign.
While human, the heroes may be a scion of a divine bloodline, the literal descendants of the gods, as many of the Greek heroes of legend were. The bloodlines have three strengths, minor, lesser and greater. The minor bloodline, for lower powered games, gives skill bonuses. Lesser bloodline, the suggested one to use, gives a +2 bonus to a single ability score associated with the attributes of the parent god. While a greater bloodline give the same bonus as the lesser bloodline plus the choice of one of two spell-like abilities (for example, Artemis grants true strike or a daze monster effect after striking a target with a weapon, and the Titian provides their bloodline with bear?s endurance [self only] or bull?s strength [self only]) most are which are usable once a day.
New feats are included to reinforce the theme of the setting, such as Field Surgeon (which allows the non-magical treatment of wounds), Monster Hunter (a hero who has specialized in the slaying of the monster that stalk the Hellenic world) or Scholar (for those that wish to be philosopher-heroes). The standard feats and skills are adjusted for the setting, for example, Knowledge (the planes) is virtually useless in the setting and the DM should discourage her player from taking points in that skill.
Suggestion for minor changes to the rules to take into account the lower level magic run through the book. Equipment lists are modified to account for the Bronze Age technology of the Greek heroic period. Magic items are highly restricted as they are only made by the gods or from parts collected from legendary creatures.
A nice overview of Greek mythology, the gods and the interplay between the Olympians in provided (even if it overlooks Tyche, the goddess of luck, a favorite of mine). The rules for calling on help from the gods in exchange for a later sacrifice are excellent, perfect for the setting, well balanced and fun (anything that encouraged a character to call out, ?Aid me now Zeus and I will sacrifice a white bull for you on my return!? cannot be all bad).
A complete campaign outline in provided for the New Argonauts. A selection of monsters (and a few human foes) from the myths are provided, with over twenty five monsters, some unique, described which gives most of the foes needed to run the included campaign.
A superb offering from a SKR and company. However, it is focussed on a very particular, low magic setting and therefore may not be to everyone?s taste. While most of the new feats, items and monsters here can be broken out to be used in any campaign to some extent all of them are embedded in the setting limiting their usefulness. But if you are interested in what can be done with myth and low fantasy in the D&D system, take a look at this book.
LIKED: The theme and setting.
DISLIKED: Narrow focus, but that is entirely understandable. It should have a narrow focus.
QUALITY: Very Good
VALUE: Very Satisfied
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