I recently received a review copy of Martial Flavor from Hannah “Swordgleam” Lipsky of Chaotic Shiny Productions, a new 4e book. Let’s dive in and see some of the excellent features.
The book is a 55-page pdf, with some great cover art by Rachel Yung, featuring a human and Tiefling fighting one another. Yung’s art is featured throughout, and is top notch for a 3rd-party publisher.
The idea behind the book is that it is a book of various cultures for your martial characters. But this isn’t just a book of fluff, it also features background benefits, feats, class features and powers.
These are cultures that can be dropped into literally any campaign setting and used as is, simply incorporating in the history of the world to make it match their specific culture.
The first group featured is known as the Daikort Pack, a band of nomad mercenaries who are willing to do whatever it takes to get the job done. Their allegiances change as often as their camp. The book states that the recruits the Daikort take in are either “the best of the best, or the worst of the worst, depending on who you believe.”
The Daikort will take in anyone who is good enough to make the cut, regardless of race or sex. Most often, members of the Pack are either Rangers or Warlords.
There are some pretty cool Utility powers for Rangers and Warlords for you to use, includimg my favorite of the bunch, Turn the Tables, a 10th level Warlord power which allows you to use it to cancel out you and any ally’s ability to be surprised who is within Range 10, as well as a few other bonuses.
The Elessim are known as the “people of the horse”. They are a proud, noble culture, who believe that there is no better life than on the back of a horse. Their villages are small, surrounded by vast grazing land. The people have no written language and are seen by some as primitive and poor.
The book advises you to use Eladrin, Elves, Half-Elves, Halflings or Humans for your Elessim culture.
The Elesim are most commonly Fighters and Rangers, of which there are Utility powers to match.
The Ikanoi are very similar to the Inuit of North America, living in the snow and ice of the bitter north. They cover themselves in tattoos from head to foot, each tattoo telling stories about their cultures and tribes, as well as their ancestors. Each part of their body tells the story of something else. Very fascinating and adds a lot of deep backstory to your character.
It is advised you play the Ikanoi as Dragonborn, Dwarves, Half-Elves and Humans. I thought the idea of playing a Dragonborn Ikanoi as an excellent and unique idea.
In this chapter, all four Martial Classes are given a nod, each being given three Utility powers to choose, as well as feats.
If I were to choose a favorite culture in the book, the Ikanoi would be it.
The Legions of Arytis are a very Romanesque culture, in which every citizen becomes a member of the Legion, known for their Rogues and Fighters. They are a mixed lot of races, who are not highly spiritual, and instead worship the spirit of the city itself.
The Sijara are another nomad culture, reminiscent of Gypsies. They look disdainfully on the “Bound People”, those who live in one spot. They travel in family groups, “ranging anywhere from small troupes of three or four to huge extended families with members numbering in the dozens”.
The Sijara wear their wealth through jewelry and ornate weapons. The book says that a “quick glance at a Sijara’s many earrings is usually enough to determine his or her current monetary situation”.
The Sijara are most often Rogues and Warlords.
This is my second favorite culture in the book, as I was looking, in the past, at playing a gypsy character in 4e.
In the future, I’d love to see “Arcane Flavor”, “Divine Flavor”, “Primal Flavor”, and even “Psionic Flavor”.
Near the back of the book, it mentions that they will be coming out with more books featuring even more details about the five cultures, each book focusing on a specific one of the cultures. I look forward to these as well.
If you are playing 4e right now, I can’t praise this book enough. It’s got everything you need to introduce new and fascinating cultures to your current game.