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Return of the Techans: A Preview of Amethyst: Evolution

Amethyst Evolution Cover Art

Amethyst Evolution Cover Art

Nearly one year ago, I had the opportunity to do a preview review of an exciting adaptation of the 4E rules.  Dias Ex Machina Games, or DEM Games for short, was producing a sci-fi/fantasy game setting in which high-tech and magic battled for dominance of a post-apocalyptic future Earth.  Amethyst: Foundations daringly mixed genres under 4E rules, allowing players to choose between standard D&D classes like fighters, rangers, and wizards who wield their powers using swords and sorcery, or to take on technological classes like the grounder, operator, and stalker, who fight with plasma grenades and ion rifles!

By the way, you can check out the two-part preview review by clicking the links below:

Pre-Release Review of Amethyst: Foundations by Dias Ex Machina (Part 1)

Pre-Release Review of Amethyst: Foundations by Dias Ex Machina (Part 2)

Last week, Chris Dias, founder of DEM Games and co-author of Amethyst: Foundations released a couple of very interesting previews from the upcoming release of Amethyst: Evolution, which is due to contain new supplemental material in addition to updated and errata-ed content from their original setting.  In a long-running thread on the WotC Community Forums, under the GSL heading, Chris listed off the new material to be found in Evolution:

  • New races (kodiak, pagus, and tenenbri).
  • Essentials techan classes:  Front grounder, heavy grounder, officer marshal, mechanic operator, medic operator, gunslinger stalker, sniper stalker, sentry vanguard.
  • Nine traditional paragon paths
  • 19 Essential paragon paths (translated from Amethyst Foundations)
  • 13 Epic destinies
  • 4 weapons with the new “nuclear” property
  • 3 ESP swarm weapons
  • 7 super heavy weapons
  • 9 techan melee weapons
  • 7 hostile injections
  • 5 alternate ammunition types
  • 5 advanced armors
  • 7 aircraft
  • 5 new rituals

And in case you’re not sure if you read correctly, that said “Essentials Techan classes”.  As far back as last fall, Chris had been looking into the new player-character “chassis” that Essentials characters use for their powers and abilities, and had been contemplating how this could be used to make the next Amethyst supplement better:

From an email on 10/2010…

I recently decided that the next Amethyst book will have Essential builds for techan classes.  Because of the singular approach to Essential classes, five techan classes have turned into nine distinct Essential techan classes.  I got all but 2 done over the weekend.  And what do I think of them?  I think they’re awesome.  I think they are way better than the original classes from Foundations.  They can be simple or they can be difficult depending on what you put into them.

The Heavy Grounder is a controller, so he still has plenty of power options.  I adore my mechanic operator and gunslinger stalker builds.  The mechanic has a single encounter power, like power strike, but called “Shiny Red Button” and as you progress, you gain additional presses of the candy-like button.  Each press can do one of two things, giving you options from the one power.  The gunslinger is built around the Kata, paying homage to [the movie] Equilibrium, allowing different stances dealing with how you use your firearms.

amethys action imageAnd last month, I was fortunate enough to receive an advanced copy of a couple of the new Essentials builds for the Grounder class – called the Front Grounder (defender) and the Heavy Grounder (controller).  Interestingly, the use of an Essentials build allowed the author to split the original class, which was a defender/controller hybrid into its two distinct roles.  And both builds are designed to fulfill their roles very well!

In fact, while I am not always a big fan of the Essentials builds for the standard D&D classes, Amethyst’s techan classes, being gunfighters and soldiers, really do appear to be more focused and potent.  For example, the Heavy Grounder’s choice of 5th level Daily Powers demonstrate solid controller type attacks which would be welcome on almost any battlefield:

You unleash a barrage of gunfire so intense, enemies are sent flat on their backs.
Daily * Auto, Martial, Weapon
Standard Action Ranged 5
Target: One, two, or three enemies
Attack: Dexterity vs. AC, three attacks
Hit: 2[W] + Dexterity modifier damage, and the target is knocked prone.
Special: If you use a heavy auto weapon, target also suffers ongoing 5 damage (save ends).
Miss: Half damage, and the target is knocked prone.

STANDING BARRAGE Grounder Attack 5
You lay down a field of fire against entrenched or approaching foes.
Daily * Auto, Martial, Weapon
Move & Standard Action
Area burst 1 in weapon range
Target: Each creature in burst you can see
Attack: Dexterity vs. Reflex
Hit: 1[W] + Dexterity modifier damage, and the target is immobilized until the start of your next turn.
Sustain Move & Standard: Repeat the attack against the same area.
Miss: Half damage.
Special: If using a heavy auto weapon, the target suffers a -2 penalty to all attack rolls until the start of your next turn.

Having read the power list for these two classes out to the Epic Tier, I can honestly say that I would prefer to run with the Essentials techan builds, both as a player or a DM, in an Amethyst campaign.  Of course, being Essentials style builds, they have the option of drawing on standard feats from Amethyst: Foundations, but the author made sure that the classes are “self-enclosed” in the same way that D&D Essentials classes are, and can be played along-side the standard classes with no real issues.

My preview package also contained the new builds for the Marshall class (leader), called the Officer Marshall, which also seems to really come together in this new “chassis”. You can check out this new Essentials-style build as a free download from the official Dias Ex Machina site here.

But hands down, my absolute favorite conversion of the original Amethyst class to an Essentials build has got to be the new Stalker (striker) class build called the Gunslinger.   Clearly drawing on influences from the aforementioned movie, Equilibrium, with the gun-kata arts of the Grammaton Cleric (as portrayed by Christian Bale), not to mention the uncanny skills of Roland, the gun-toting knight-errant from Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, this Essentials build for the Stalker class just kicks all kinds of major arse! 

Gunslingers are AWESOME!

Gunslingers are AWESOME!

The Gunslinger is a pure and deadly ranged striker, creating plenty of battlefield carnage by utilizing stances with names like Bullet Ballet, Cowboy Action, Dual-Wielding, and Total Disregard!  Frankly, I think the class is so neatly designed that will be hard for Amethyst Gamemasters to try and convince their players that they should not to have a pack of death-dealing Gunslingers as their entire party make-up.

Overall, I think that Mr. Dias has really brought out the best of the techan classes with his new Essentials-styled builds.  The very nature of classes which use high-tech weapons to battle against dark magical forces is a unique one, and the original Amethyst classes were more than capable of performing their duties to safeguard the bastions against marauding demons and dragons and other fey creatures lurking in the wilderness.  But these new builds using the Essentials “chassis” are well-designed, streamlined, and appear from all indicators to be effective, fun, and easy to play, and should make for a welcome addition to the Amethyst setting when Evolution is released.  And Amethyst GMs should also look forward to having techan classes that are easier to build and maintain, given the fact that WotC’s Character Builder is, sadly, unlikely to allow home-ruled material any time soon – and  Essential’s builds have the distinct advantage of being easy to write down on a character sheet!

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

About The Author

Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.


6 Responses to “Return of the Techans: A Preview of Amethyst: Evolution

  1. Keith says:

    I had a quick question. For anyone who is familiar with the Alternate Stalker Gunslinger build preview. The first Lvl 2 Utility power called “Assassin Psychology” as a requirement “You must have selected Battle Condition” and as the effect “Until the end of your next turn, you can use any of your Battle Conditions powers as a minor action”. My question is, does anyone know what “Battle Conditions” is? I looked through the Amethyst: Foundations book, as well as the entire Evolution Preview, tried simply searching google with no luck. I am assuming that it must be something new that will be revealed with the release of the Evolution book, however I figured I would at least post here about it just in case it was an existing ability that I had maybe just over looked somewhere.


  2. Hi Keith! Shot a message off to the author of Amethyst… hopefully he can pop on and answer your questions.

  3. Chris Dias says:

    Good question. That is because of the way our alternate classes are presented. For the Stalker, we have two essential classes, the sniper and the gunslinger. HOWEVER, we present all the new utility powers with only one of them, otherwise we would have to print them twice and that’s just a waste of space. Battle Conditions are related to the SNIPER class, so that’s why it is not refferenced in the Gunslinger class.

  4. Keith says:

    Thank you, he did in fact answer it on a different. If anyone else is curious, the answer I was given is as follows:

    ” For the Stalker, we have two essential classes, the sniper and the gunslinger. HOWEVER, we present all the new utility powers with only one of them, otherwise we would have to print them twice and that’s just a waste of space. Battle Conditions are related to the SNIPER class, so that’s why it is not refferenced in the Gunslinger class.”

  5. Thanks for the quick update, Chris!

  6. Keith says:

    Hey Hey, when can I expect the review of the full Amethyst: Evolution book? I’m looking forward to it!


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