Posted on February 25, 2010 by Robert A. Howard
Available at RPGNow.com
Restless Souls comes to the gaming table with the interesting idea of playing a character who is not quite dead and not quite living either. This thirteen page add-on to your d20 or Pathfinder game is an expansion of the Questhaven campaign world by Rite Publishing, but the content within can easily be adapted to just about any fantasy setting. Within its pages, you will find a new template which will transform any (now dead) creature into a restless soul, along with twenty-two new feats and ten new spells.
The idea behind Restless Souls is a good one, and even as I read the opening introduction, as told by one of the restless dead themselves, ideas were already running through my head about how I could use this in one of my games. Restless souls, it is explained, are those who died having left some critical task yet unfinished — what adventurer doesn’t, right? They are returned to life either by their sheer will alone or perhaps by the ever meddling hand of the gods. While this may well be a planned part of any character’s background, it also provides a mechanism for the crafty DM to overcome the dreaded Total-Party-Kill and either keep a game going after disaster has struck or change directions entirely.
Creating a restless soul from an existing character is relatively easy and since the template does not affect the character’s effective class level, it can be applied at any point in a character’s career. The trade off though is a punishing penalty of two negative levels or two points of constitution drain if the character died at first level. Oh, and being an unnatural sot, you’re going to have a pretty tough time gaining the trust of animals or even coming anywhere close to them, as well as a smattering of other phobias and limitations typical to undead types. Fortunately, since you aren’t really undead, you can still be healed normally, and all of the negative (and positive) effects of becoming a restless soul are sloughed off the moment your character is resurrected or otherwise returned to life.
But, while your character is still walking the fine line between the living and the dead, you’ll have access to a variety of new feats provided alongside this template. Higher level characters who become restless souls can immediately switch any feat they have to a Restless Soul specific feat, and so long as the character retains this template, he can continue to gain new feats. Once resurrected, these feats are lost and replaced by normal feats again, just as the other features of this template.
It is this access to the specialized Restless Soul feats which really make this template worth taking, beyond the very cool background idea, of course. The biggest challenge for the DM will be in balancing these feats out. Some seem underpowered, such as one–“Converse with the Dead”–that allows you to ask a question of a roaming spirit once per day that requires no more than a one word answer. Others like “Baleful Gaze” seem to have serious scaling problems, which at twentieth level can dole out as much as 3 to 24 points of dexterity damage to multiple opponents.
Closing this supplement out, we have a selection of ten new arcane and divine spells. Most are accessible by multiple spell casting classes, so everyone is getting at least a few goodies, and wizards and sorcerers can access them all. There are a couple of really nice gems in these, including one spell that will awaken your spell caster’s tome with a spark of intelligence and personality — of course, whether that would be weal or woe for your PC really depends on just how evil your dungeon master really is…
Beyond any balance issues this supplement may have, there was one thing that unfortunately detracted from the overall product — editing. Throughout the entire supplement, there are numerous punctuation, spelling, and syntax errors that made some parts either difficult to understand or muddled the meaning. These errors by no means make the product unplayable, but they take away from what otherwise comes across as a professionally produced product. All is not lost though. This is a PDF product after all, which means perhaps Rite Publishing will consider circling back around and correcting some of the more glaring errors.
So, bottom line, is this product worth spending less than you might on a fancy cup of coffee? Even if you aren’t playing a game set in the world of Questhaven, this supplement still provides some interesting options for both the dungeon master and the players. Having an undead player character in a party has always been problematic, but Restless Souls provides an elegant solution that keeps it playable and still has the right flavor. With twenty-two new feats, ten new spells, and a solid foundation for an interesting character theme, I’d say it is well worth it.
Review by Robert A. Howard, Pen & Paper Games.