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 Post subject: Jedi Academy Training Manual Review!
PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:39 am 
Droid Army Commander
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Jedi Academy Training Manual Book Review
By: Fool

The Jedi Academy Training Manual from Wizards of the Coast is an excellent addition to the Star Wars Saga Edition Role Playing game from Wizards of the Coast – especially if your campaign focuses on an element of the Force (which many of course do). Significantly different then the “Campaign Guides”, the Training Manual instead focuses on several Force filled elements and enhances the use of the Force while adding a few new twists to the RPG.

Covering everything from the Power of the Force (Chapter 1), the Philosophy of the Force (Chapter 2) we also see some new and interesting Equipment and Artifacts, Affiliated Programs (such as the Aing-Tii Monks, Baran Do Sages and Wardens of the Sky) as well as Chapters revolving around Instructors and Alumni, Dangers of Study and Studying Abroad (Chapter 7).

The perspective of the Manual is refreshing. Told from the vantage point of a Padawan learner of the Force, delving into the material makes it quite an easy read as you picture yourself (or more accurately the character you are planning to build or to “upgrade”) as you peruse the training manual learning from the Force and new ways to “use it”.

Chapter 1: Power of the Force delves right into pertinent information right off the bat. After a small introduction prior on the perspective of the book including tips such as “Messages from the Faculty”, “Holocron Lessons” and the Dark Side targeted “Whispers of the Sith Spirit” the book goes right into listing the new Skills followed by Force Regimens and Force Training Regimens such as Eyes of the Force and Quiet the Mind.

Lightsaber Training Regements are also covered in this chapter opening the cadences as taught by Vo’ren Faalo – an ancient Jedi Battlemaster of the Old Republic. Of course, players that have existing Campaigns and characters already will want to learn of the new Talents and Feats. We see additions to the Jedi Guardian and Consular Talent Trees as well as a new Lightsaber Combat Talent: Shoto Focus which gives you a +2 competence bonus on attack rolls made with a shot if wield both a Shoto and a one-handed lightsaber.

There is also a wealth of new Force Talents on top of the Jedi Talents introduced. The Alter Talent tree is greatly expanded with the addition of over 6 new Talents to choose from. The Control Talent Tree and Dark Side Talent Tree, Guardian Spirit Talent Tree and Sense Talent Tree also receive new talents to choose adding more diversity to character creation.

Prestige Classes also receive new talents. This includes the Dark Side Devotee, Mystic and Telepath Talent Tree from the Force Adept Talent Prestige Class as well as several talent trees (Jedi Artisan, Jedi Instructor and Jedi Weapon Master) from the Jedi Knight Prestige Class and Several also from the Sith Apprentice Prestige Class. These additions greatly expand open the variety of abilities and character diversity offered strengthening many Jedi and Sith characters.

Although the number of Feats introduced in the Jedi Academy Training Manual is minimal (there are only 5 new Feats to choose from), there are a multitude of new Force Powers (as well as the addition of the Telekinesis descriptor next to the Force Powers that are affected by talents such as the Telekinetic Power and Telekinetic Savant). The Guidebook introduces over 15 new Force Powers covering some popular ones such as Fold Space as well as Force Storm and Force Track (which allows you to pick up the tail of your quarry).

A new group of abilities is also introduced in the Jedi Academy Training Guide – a group referred to as “Lightsaber Form Powers”. Each power represents a single technique associated with on the Jedi lightsaber combat forms (Soresu, Djem So, and Makashi style for instance). These forms are intended to assists Jedi (and Sith) characters make use of special attacks associated with the various lightsaber forms before they have access to the talent however.

Some of the more powerful abilities such as Fluid Riposte (which allows you to deflect your opponents melee attack and make an attack in return – based on the Djem So form) and Rising Whirlwind (which allows you to deal damage to attack two separate targets and gain bonus Hit Points in the process. In total there are 24 Lightsaber Form Powers which cover 12 of the different Lightsaber Forms in the Star Wars universe.

Chapter one wraps up after covering over some Force Techniques (abilities that represent a deeper understanding of the Force – there are 14 of them) and finally Force Secrets – an interesting representation of a connection to the force between Fore disciples, Jedi Masters and Sith Lords.

The “Force” as it’s described in the Star Wars Universe has many different philosophies and Chapter 2 covers many of these. The obvious focus of the Jedi Academy Training Guide focuses mainly on the Jedi viewpoint (which hopefully a Sith Praxeum Training Guide will not be too far in the future). It discusses the Jedi Code and how it is broken up into Self-Discipline, Reasonability and Public Services – the three main credos of the Jedi Order.

The second Chapter on Philosophy also covers some new in-game rules on taking on a Padawan (or Apprentice) and how they function in adventures and achieving knighthood. The nice addition about this section is it does give a few different options on how to go about this which will give different Gamemasters different options about approaching this circumstance during an adventure.

The Dark Side is also covered – if only for a page or two before the three main applications of the Force are covered – Alter, Sense and Control. Chapter Two wraps up with a small paragraph on the influence of the Dark Side on these three categories.

The next Chapter focuses mainly on the Equipment and Weapons of a Jedi and although this mainly means Lightsabers (and LOTS of them) it also goes over many of the Lightsaber Crystals which are also available. 13 different weapons are introduced as well as a multitude of Lightsaber Crystals – everything from the popular and common Adegan and Ilum crystals, the Synthetic Crystals of the Sith, the Traditional Jewels such as the popular Bondar Crystals for Padawans to the Extremely Rare Crystals such as the Krayt Dragon Pearl and the Heart of the Guardian.

A couple of Lightsaber Accessories and Modifications are also covered (such as the Blade Lock which allows the user to lock the blade in place before say throwing it to ensure the blade stays activated). The last couple of weapons cover the only 2 ranged weapons – the Discblade (a weapon of the Zeison Sha) and the R-9 Flash Canister.

Although most Jedi and Sith prefer the lightweight robes to any types of armor to allow freedom of movement, a small section on armor to cover the alchemically modified Dark armor of the Sith is listed as well as the Jedi battle Armor which was designed during the Old Great Sith War and Jedi Civil War as well. It also gives the option for Orbalisk Armor (the same Armor that encased Darth Bane) as well as the WJ-880 Blinding Helmet for lightsaber/sense training to make a Jedi more aware of his or her surroundings.

The chapter gets interesting after the Weapons and Armor are listed to discuss some minor Equipment (Medical bundles, Force Detectors and Force Training aids as well as universe energy cages, subelectronic converter and the Sith Battle harness) to then discuss Holocrons. The Artificats are covered in detail including how they can assist a party in combat as well as how to create the relics of the Jedi and Sith.

Finally, Chapter 3 lists out a few Sith artifacts such as Sith Amulets, Sith Poisons, Sith Scrolls and Tomes as well as Sith Talismans to help Dark Side users gain an edge over the Jedi Order.

The affiliated programs are covered in the next Chapter and the addition of ten new affiliated programs that do not fall under the traditional “Jedi or Sith” models. All the programs are unique in their own way and have their own distinct belief and representation of the Force. Where the Aing-Tii are masters of “Folding Space”, the Seyugi Dervishes focus on terrorism and death. Everything from the “White Current” of the Fallanassi to the strange and Unique Shards which live inside Droids known as “Iron Giants” make for many unique and different character and campaign options.

Many of the guilds are easy to create a character for and to join or explain how one became a member. Some (such as the Baran Do sages, Shards or Iron Knights and Tyia) are a bit more difficult to explain membership but still can be done with relative ease no matter what the character. If there’s one thing to remember about the galaxy – it certainly does not revolve around just the Jedi and the Sith as the only representatives of the Force. There are still many different schools of thought all which have different and unique representations of just what the “force” is and how it works meaning that each campaign can be significantly different from the next and adding a ton of versatility to every campaign and campaign options.

Chapter five is where the fun begins in terms of enhancing a current campaign. Introduced in this chapter are many of the popular Jedi instructors that have served the order over the times of the Old Republic (5,000 BBY) to the Legacy of the Force series and beyond. Everyone from Jedi Masters Ooroo and Odan-Urr to the great Luke Skywalker has a representation in this chapter as well as a character sheet to introduce in any campaign from any timeline. One twist we see in this guide book (or training manual) is a small paragraph on encountering the instructor or character. This can certainly be of use to newer gamemasters who may not be as familiar with some of the characters or eras involved. Also useful is that some of these characters have representations in the Star Wars Miniatures Jedi Academy set which was currently released (such as Grand Master Luke Skywalker, Vodo Siosk-Baas and Kyle Katarn for instance) to make it handy to represent these characters in a current campaign. Notably missing is the great Jedi Master – Grand Master Yoda however, and it is a little surprising that someone as popular and memorable as Yoda would not be represented in this Training Manual.

Chapter six mirrors Chapter 5 however it introduces the “Dangers of Study” listing out some Dark side enemies and beasts that students need make note of. Carnor Jax, Hethrir, Xanatos and Massassi Abonimations are just some of the introduced Dark side characters. Also covered is a new twist/character class – Freedon Nadd, Dark Spirit which covers how to make your own Dark Spirit – a pretty amazing addition if one were to choose the Dark Side of the Force.

The beasts section covers everything from Drochs, Dxun Tomb beasts Hssiss and the deadly Terentateks as well as Shyracks and many other deadly beasts. Again, notably missing would be Dark Siders such as Darth Maul and Sidious, perhaps even Naga Sadow could’ve received some representation in this chapter as well.

The last chapter in the Jedi Academy Training Manual breaks down some popular “Places in the Light” coupled with some “Areas of Darkness” for those that crave the twisted and evil ways of the dark side. It’s nice to read about several adventure ideas for each location. This include Jedi Temples and Academies such as the one on Dantooine in the Old Republic era, Ossus, Yavin 4 and a few other notable locations such as the Great Library of Ossus – the largest repository of knowledge the galaxy has ever known as well as the Valley of the Jedi on Ruusan.

Finally, popular Dark Side Sites such as Dxun and Korriban – popular havens for the Dark Side of the force are covered with notable adventure ideas, inhabitants of the planets, notable locations and other detailed information.

The Jedi Academy is a nice change up from the standard RPG Book that seemingly coincides with each Star Wars Miniatures set of the same name (somewhat). It is a must have for Force heavy campaigns, and especially those that focus on the pragmatic ways of the Jedi. One can only hope that a Training Manual covering the abundance of the Dark Side Wizardry may be in the works – hopefully for next year to appease those that can’t help falling for the quick and easy path.

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