Pyramid #3/76 – Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Psychic Swords against Elder Evil)

This is the fourth issue that is devoted to Dungeon Fantasy.
No surprise – it’s the most popular sub-line, having spawned at least 16 or 17
books, and of course, since it occupies the same turf as the most popular game
today (D&D in all its flavors, be it D&D5, Pathfinder, or the various
OSR or D&Derived versions).
This issue is quite eclectic in its coverage, and some of
the articles are downright . . . well, somewhere between odd and squicky, but
in a *I have to put that in my game* kind of way.
So, let’s delve in.
Psychic Swords Against Elder Evil ( +Sean Punch  )
Summary: Sean reviews the history of psionics and mentalists
in DF3:The Next Level and DF14: Psi, and decides that what is needed is more
cowbell. In the form of psychic lightsabers. Which is, of course, true.  The natural enemy of the mentalist is the
Elder Thing, and this article adds the Psychic Slayer (and several variants) to
the Template list. These psis are of a more physical bent, and their weapon of
choice is the psychic sword.

Style, Writing, Execution [-2 to 2 points]: Sean’s always an
engaging writer, and this particular template – and there’s only one – is covered
in many different ways and facets. Still, and this is where my biases show, I
cannot read through a template word-for-word without my head psychically
exploding all over my movie room. 1 point.
Background, Inspiration, Epiphany [0 to 4 points]:  The template is cool and well executed, but
this one gets full marks because of how comprehensively the topic is covered.
Sure, you’ve got a full template. That’s expected. Only one? Hrm. But the
Customization notes, which span a full page (and in Pyramid, that’s a lot of
words), really hit home all the different flavors that you can scoop into your
sundae with this concept. Not content there, we get “Making the Psychic Slayer
Useful” as a C-HEAD, which serves a model to consider the utility of all
templates in DF (or Action or Monster Hunters, for that matter). 3 points.
Drop-in Gaming Utility [0 to 4 points]:  If you’re playing DF, this template is the
definition of drop-in. A template, some powers, a whole table of psychic swords
with alternate stats, psychic defenses, and a pointer to where psychic monsters
live in print, plus a bunch of new
stuff to fight and kill. 4 points.
Overall: 8/10. A ready-made template and copious advice on
how to use it. This one stands well on its own.
Would I use it? Yes. This is a fun template and a solid
alternative to other first-line fighters. Much like the Holy Warrior or Warrior
Saint, you can make a competent combatant that is simply indispensable against
monsters in his “must kill X” niche. The monsters section is useful regardless
of whether
Biases Aside: An alternate scoring if you’re approaching the
article as not-me.
Wall of Text Alert: I’m on record as finding the templates
very, very useful but also very, very hard to read in print. If you use GCA to
code these in as menu-driven choice lists, the overall article feels like it
might pick up a point (ish) each in both writing and inspiration. That would
make it a 9/10 . . . and I think given the strength of the monsters section and
the comprehensive coverage, it’s probably close to that.
Upper-Lower bound Rating: Overall, this one is probably 8-9
overall. It’s a neat concept, well and thoroughly executed. If your GM/Campaign
doesn’t have psychics or elder things, it’s probably still 5/10 because it’s
engaging and hits the “how do you think about a character archetype and its
utility in game” angle in a definitive way. If you love these things, it’s
probably 9/10. Maybe higher – this is more or less a psionic Jedi, so there you
go.

One thought on “Pyramid #3/76 – Dungeon Fantasy IV Review (Psychic Swords against Elder Evil)

  1. I liked this one a lot. I doubt I'll play a game where I use this, but I will find a way to use pieces of it, for sure. And Sean's concepts are always so solidly executed I like to see what he did even when it's something I don't need done.

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