||It's not often that one sees a setting written for Anime d20, especially given the discussions cropping up regarding Guardians of Order's status as a company as of the writing of this review. So, it was a pleasant surprise to see Arakos: the Eighth Age made available, even more so considering that it comes from the author and artist duo who brought us Livin' on a Dream for Heartquest. So how does Arakos stack up?
Overall, it's not bad. The writing's good, and so is the layout for the most part (though the font used for titles and headers could've been a little better). The character artwork's good as well, fitting the anime fantasy style well, even if it is dominated by female characters. Editing is also good for the most part, though a few errors have slipped through (?King NAME?, anyone?).
Mechanics-wise, we're given eight races, along with five classes (though one of them is Anime d20's Adventurer class, reprinted to keep it handy). The races include a few tribes of humans, along with a race descended from alien refugees long ago, another offshoot of that race, the almost-requisite cat-people race, and a race descended from giants. Aside from the Adventurer class, the other classes presented are variations of standard fantasy classes.
It also provides some guidelines as to which attributes, defects, skills, and feats to use and not to use in an Arakos campaign, along with providing new ones associated with the setting. Perhaps the most interesting of the new attributes would be the Ki Guardian, which not only provides a protector for the character who has it, but also gives a background hook for that character in that it requires that someone in that character's life engage in ritual self-sacrifice in order to become one.
There's also a comprehensive section of magic specific to Arakos, divided into four schools of magic for Spirited Sorceresses (one of the classes in the book), along with both light and dark divine spells for the Pure Priestesses (one of the other classes). With all the spell lists, this section easily takes up nearly a third of the book.
The last portion of the book is for the setting itself, and this is where it disappoints. Simply put, the information given on Arakos itself as a world is a bit bare-bones and could've used some fleshing out. Information is given only for a few important locations and only one important NPC (Naomi the Pure, and no stats are given on her, just her backstory). Furthermore, with all the player races available, it's surprising that there aren't any creatures unique to Arakos listed, just some templates to use to convert creatures over to the dark side. It also gives some information on a few artifacts, but no game stats, either.
All in all, this is a book that had a lot of potential, and is still good for what it gives the reader. However, it could've used some beefing-up in terms of the setting. This is even more disappointing given the work that the author has done with just one city in his previous work, Livin' on a Dream. Still, it's not a bad buy, and if you're willing to do some extra work to create more NPCs as well as various creatures for the setting, it's worth a look.
LIKED: Nice artwork, some new races, classes, and various attributes, feats, and skills for the setting.
DISLIKED: The world could've used more development, as well as more NPCs (along with stats on them) and more info on artifacts.
[3 of 5 Stars!]