Reading Dark Matter 4.3: Path of the Wrecker (Barbarian)

Here we go, another Barbarian. Let’s hope it’s a good one. Dismantle Kind of like becoming a siege weapons if it wasn’t really cool. You ignore damage threshold of non-magical items, whatever that means, and you deal double rage damage to constructs. Not double damage, double rage damage. Maybe with that it should have been higher level but if this is the Wrecker then let it wreck. Percussive Maintenance I’m all for it. I’m actually thinking that this should be the 3rd level feature and what I suggested for the last one should be the 6th level feature. This one allows the Wrecker to hack system with brute strength instead of intelligence, ultimately breaking the thing. It’s great. Disarm Foe This is kind of funny and cool. A Wrecker is a master of breaking things and ripping things apart? This one applies to creatures. The full mechanical description is more specific but you can, basically, rip enemies limbs off and beat them with them. I like this a lot. Just, too bad we had to get to 10th level to get this. Crush, Smash, Bash This is a cool ability but not good enough. You can now start breaking armor to the point of reducing its effectiveness. As it is, it costs nothing but only reduces armor by 4. I would say it should cost something but can eventually break worn, non-magical armor entirely, something like ‘reduce it but no more than 10 + Dexterity Modifier. That would be something. Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 4.2: Path of the Dreadnought (Barbarian)

A kind of cross between all the big heavy hitters you might recognise from various media with Mandalorian mercenaries from Star Wars. The main feature of this subclass is the helm. It’s a sort of conduit that enhances rage but also puts some limitations on it. It transforms rage into what I remember from playing Pathfinder, not a number of rages but a number of rounds of rage. I just don’t like the number of half level + con. We can probably get something similarly balanced with less math. I would go with just level or maybe 2x Proficiency Bonus. Level will feel better for a player. Fearless, at 6th level, gives you advantage vs charmed or frightened, super advantage if you’re raging. That is quite thematic, especially for this subclass, and just about powerful enough for 6th level. 馃憤 At 10th level, we get Unstoppable Charge, which is kind of like the Charger feat except you get advantage on the attack and not bonus damage. Considering the power difference and you can get Charger at 4th level (1st for Humans), this is quite underwhelming for a 10th level feature. For a 14th level feature, we have Focused Rage, which gives you a reason to attack one target (of your choice) because you get bonus damage. It’s a nice bonus but I still think it’s underwhelming for 14th level and definitely quite bland. Overall, it’s a cool idea but quite annoyingly implemented. Most features are underwhelming and in the theme Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 4.1: Ionizer (Alchemist)

The alchemist, from its description, seems like something out of Pathfinder, a class focusing on alchemy, manipulating elements, and creating concoctions and bombs. Sounds similar to the Artificer Alchemist but leaning towards more focus on its field like the Alchemist from Pathfinder. The Ionizer tries to replicate blaster and shield technology, energy manipulation, using their own niche. They get Bonus Proficiencies at 2nd level with Technology and two specific types of martial blasters. The blasters make sense in this setting and that’s about it. But Technology is something I am yet unsure of because it doesn’t feel like a very techy class. I’m guessing Alchemists get some formulas they can make under certain conditions but I don’t know specifics. On 2nd level, they get a Plasma Bomb which does radiant damage instead of fire and if you manage to hit with it, it sticks to a creature and deals additional damage. It’s cool and a kind of bellwether for this subclass but it’s not very exciting. Heatsink, at 6th level, allows you to remove overheating from blasters a number of times. It’s nice to have but I’m not sure it’s an equivalent 6th level subclass feature. At 10th level, they get an Electromagnetic Shield, a reaction to negate damage from a ranged attack from some damage types. It’s cool but the fact it only works on a 6 on a d6 is very problematic. Imagine you get Shield spell that is a cantrip and always gets you above the to-hit Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 4: Character Options

This chapter details new character options. Mainly subclasses for the official D&D classes as well as for the proprietary ones. Also detailed are new feats, backgrounds, and new skills relevant for a more sci-fi, space-faring game. Dark Matter sits on top of D&D5E so anything from the core system is compatible with DM and, should be, vice versa. Proficiencies The first thing we see is the new proficiencies for classes. Of note are the antimattter dagger, arc baton, Avia-Ra sunstaff, blasters (simple and martial), blitz cannon, impactor, laser swords, magnus opum, phaser, photonic lash, psionic helm, REC gun, repeater, Skathari warclub, swarm pistol, thermal lance, and volcanic. This also tells us that the entire class of the original ranged weapons have been excised from the setting and replaced with various blasters. I guess we’ll get into what exactly are the new special ones later in the book in the equipment section. What looks like the martial classes (I can’t really judge the Mage Hand Press ones as I am unfamiliar) get the simple and martial proficiencies or some specific martial weapons if they don’t get the whole class (Barbarian, Rogue). The less martial, or caster, classes get only simple and some specific weapons. I like the fact that almost everyone gets the simple blasters proficiency because I expect these kinds of weapons to be rather easy to operate successfully, even if it’s not with deadly accurately. Equipment Packs DM introduces the optional rules to modify the equipment packs. I like Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 3.1: Gadgets

Gadgets for the Gadgeteer is somewhere between invocations and spells for the warlock. They get 1 at 1st level and amass more, up to 10, at higher levels. They are items that they carry about and use. They can be taken away or destroyed but can be recreated easily and freely. So let’s see what we got here. Adaptable Omnitool This is another multi-choice questionnaire. It says “can be configured” but not when and how. So I’m going to assume over a long rest. It can be an Auto-Entry Device, basically a lockpicking gun. Because of that, I would add something about it damaging the lock and leaving obvious signs of entry. It can be a Rebreather, a device to allow you to survive environments with no breathable atmosphere, even in space. Also cool but I would put a limit on use time and a need to refill it, like over a long rest. It can be a Scanner, which allows you to scan for energy signatures and even residuals. Also, very neat in a science fantasy game. Finally, it can be a Taser, which is like Shocking Grasp in everything but name. I expected more. Overall, I think that’s too many options for one gadget. I would model something like that after the Mass Effect omni-tool or something like that and allow it to do a lot of things at the same time, not as competently as the real deal, and not have it be a weapon at all. Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 3: The Gadgeteer

Let’s talk about the Gadgeteer, Dark Matter’s version of an Artificer-like class. As expected, it’s a low hit points support, not-exactly-caster, using only light armor but leaning into energy weapons, and pretty much every tool you can think of that fits thematically. So, they get a blaster in their standard equipment pack and also the tools of the trade. The class’ first defining feature is called AI Companion. It starts by giving you a kind of Reliable Talent on Tech checks which I think is a bit overpowered in a setting like this and it can do this for additional skills as you level up. The second defining feature is Gadgets. These are like an Alchemist’s Elixir, a Blood Hunter’s Maledicts, or a Warlock’s Invocations. There’s a big list of them after the class section so they will be detailed appropriately after. Overcharge is the Gadgeteer’s ability to enhance their blasters, so even at 2nd level, they are more damaging with the weapons than anyone else using them. With Prototype at 2nd level, they’re also leaning more into Artificer territory by getting another cool instrument only they can use but can only choose one. The Experimental Frame is an exo-skeleton that resets their size and speed, making them very useful for small and/or slow races. They also come with regenerating temporary hit points (which I choose to theme as advanced self-repair protocols) and weapon mounts that allow the use of Intelligence as the attack ability. I get why it’s done Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 2: Races

Let’s talk about races again. This time, mechanically. Amoeboids are a classic space fantasy race so I would expect them to be included. As previously stated, they function here as the caretakers of the Maw stations, maintaining the ancient structures that allow everyone to traverse the galaxy. You get the predictable ability to change into the form of other races (I just don’t get why you get their language as well) and the ability to squeeze through very small spaces. I like the reform ability to heal some damage after being hit, symbolising their blob body. The Avia-Ra race bothers me on so many levels. They are obviously taken from the Aarakocra, yet they have very humanoid, non-feathery, bodies but with a bird head and what seems like bird feet with talons. They are relentlessly, hopelessly, unapologetically, annoyingly, missionary religious. They draw their theme way to heavily from Egyptian mythology. They also get three signature Cleric spells (Thaumaturgy, Sacred Flame, and Bless) from the get go which I think should be more spaced out. Nautilids are really interesting. They are fish-like, exact form unknown, because they are always encased in massive armor suits. They are obviously swimming and amphibious. I don’t get the investigation proficiency. However, I like the armor bonus, the powerful build granted from the suit, the ability to take on more armor, and that it grants fire resistance. Not sure about the universal translator though. I do like the idea and design for the race but I Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 1.2: Factions

I like the fact that there are organisations in the setting besides the races and their governments. It’s not the only or first setting to do it but I always appreciate it as it adds a somewhat more personal touch to the world rather then just having kingdoms and kingdoms. Astrogations Inc. is the first on the list and they are the information, cartography, and somewhat divination corporation. They deal in maps and also predictions of how the chaos of space arranges itself into trade lanes you can actually follow. Of course, because they’re heavily into predicting the future, it is said they might know very important things others might want to know. The Cabal is this setting’s Wolfram & Hart. They’re a firm of lawyers who specialise in fiendish dealings, established by an actual fiend. They commercialised the soul trading enterprise and made it easy for mortals to say yes. I just love that. They are totally not ashamed of what they’re doing (they also function as lawyers for whatever you need lawyering for) in making mortals sign contracts for favors in return to parts of their soul. I imagine them being the nicest there is because the individual life doesn’t matter, they operate in the open, they are an in-demand service, and they play on a very long timeline. Playing this, The Cabal is definitely showing up in a prime role. The Coalition is a “neutral” private military that rents out their services to whoever can afford it Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 1.1: Races in the ‘Verse

This section details the new races in the setting as well has how the classic ones fit in it. As you would expect, and the new Spelljammer books also assure us, you can’t have a space-themed fantasy without a new ooze-like race. That’s where the Amoeboids come in. They play the role of the strange and they are the race that manages the Maw stations, as previously discussed. Their origin is a mystery but they are tied to the ancient technological structures that are the Maws. As such, they are highly technological. Myself, I consider the ooze-like creatures a clich茅 in this genre but a kind of necessary one. Especially in this setting they are what I would expect every other creature except a scant few to be: wholly alien to our normal. Though they are depicted in the artwork in a somewhat humanoid form. Too bad this alien-ness isn’t represented anywhere else. The Avia-Ra are this settings’ bird-folk. They appear to be a complete rip-off visually distinct inspiration from the Aarakocra in the regular 5E collection. They are also the highly religious race, worshipping the sun (There are lots of suns in the galaxy, I know), and it’s Platonic representation, the Sepulcher Star; The massive magically stable and invariant star orbiting the galaxy’s central super-massive black hole, even establishing their HQ citadel orbiting around it. They are missionaries through and through and, thus, are treated kind of like Jehovah’s Witnesses or Habadnikim: They are disliked because they preach but Continue Reading →

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Reading Dark Matter 1: The ‘Verse

The book starts off with a map of its galaxy. As expected, it uses the classic artist’s depiction of the Milky Way. The map looks pretty much like you’d expect from a new setting based on 5E. There are territories for Humans, Elves, Dwarves, Orcs, and even a little Gnomish region. Not a lot out of the ordinary. Also, the names for planets of various races are very uninspired like Grimdark names for Orc locations and a Viking theme for Dwarf ones. What does stand out a bit is the Maw Stations Grid. Kind of like jump gates or mass accelerators, the Maws are connecting points that allow fast travel where traversing between star systems would otherwise be impossible. It also has a little whiff of Mass Effect as they are relics of an ancient race and maintained by an enigmatic race of strange creatures who are only ones that know how to keep them in working order so other races can treat the galaxy as their playground. The terms used in this more thematic chapter will be very familiar to anyone savvy in space western works: The ‘Verse, The Black, etc… What might be new is the fact that the galaxy sports a few “Dead Magic Zones” where magic ceases to function, and, predictably, the Gnomish homeworld is in the middle of such a zone. So they’re very techy instead. There is a lot of talk of technology in Dark Matter but it is so intertwined with its magic Continue Reading →

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