Martial Flavor is a 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons PDF supplement published by Chaotic Shiny Productions. Rather than write a standard crunch supplement, “Martial Flavor” focuses more on the cultural background of five PC ethnic groups and mixes in some feats and powers that reflect the different cultures.
The cultures are:
The Daikort Pack: A mercenary group with a complex code of behavior based on personal debt and deeply ambivalent morality.
Elessim: Nomadic horsemen with a love of the open steppe
Ikanoi: Ferocious dwellers in a frozen waste with a fondness for body art.
Legions of Arytis: Citizen-soldiers in the vein of ancient Sparta. Military/civil service guarantees citizenship in the city of Arytis.
Sijara: Nomadic traders and rogues, clearly inspired by the Roma/Gypsy cultures of Europe.
It is important to understand that this book is more focused on the cultures than the rules crunch. Each entry has a page of powers, feats for low/high level play and multi-class feats. The ratio of fluff to crunch is about 2:1. The Sijara have 6 pages of culture for 3 pages of rules. The ratio works because this supplement clearly states it is more interested in character background than adding yet more feats to the 4e mix.
Art is of good quality and a bit unusual. The style reminded me a bit of some early twentieth century Spanish paintings. A nice change from the hyper-realistic 4e paintings that seem to populate all of WOTC’s offerings.
Editing is clear and the writing style easy to read. The layout is also very well done. There are no power cards for the powers in the PDF, but it comes in a separate download included with the purchase. There is also an included “printer friendly” version of the PDF in black and white and no color art.
A preview of Chaotic Shiny’s upcoming Martial Cultures supplement comes with the download as well.
I enjoyed this supplement and think it has utility for any 4e campaign that needs some fresh ideas for cultural backgrounds. However, there is one aspect of it that I found problematic and bears mentioning.
I received a comped review copy from the publisher, but the retail price is $19.95. It is a well done PDF supplement, but $19.95 for a 55-page effort is excessive. I like this supplement and think the author has a bright future in writing game supplements, but I cannot recommend this product at $19.95 per copy. My suggestion is to wait for a significant price drop before picking this one up.
Update: The price for this supplement has been dropped to $14.95.
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