Superior Synergy: Fantasy
Author: Steven Trustrum
Page count: (landscape) 10 plus OGL; (portrait) 8 plus cover and OGL
Price: $1.50 at RPGNow or DriveThru RPG
One of the things I like about D&D (3/3.5) is the concept of skill synergy bonuses. If you have 5 ranks in a certain skill, you might get a +2 bonus to one or more other skills. Great concept, but it stops at 5 ranks. Once you have those 5 ranks, you do not get any more synergy bonuses. Superior Synergy: Fantasy addresses this. It attempts to expand the synergy bonuses provided certain skills and feats, and it does this well.
Superior Synergy: Fantasy goes though each skill that provides synergy bonuses and expands on these bonuses, detailing the bonuses provided at 5 ranks. Each skill also provides additional bonuses at 10, 15, and 20 ranks. In some cases, these bonuses are simple progressions. For example, Escape Artist:
Synergy (5 ranks): If you have 5 or more ranks in Escape Artist, you get a +2 bonus on Use Rope checks to bind someone.
Synergy (10 ranks): If you have 10 or more ranks in Escape Artist, you get a +3 bonus on Use Rope checks to bind someone.
Synergy (15 ranks): If you have 15 or more ranks in Escape Artist, you get a +4 bonus on Use Rope checks to bind someone.
Synergy (20 ranks): If you have 20 or more ranks in Escape Artist, you get a +5 bonus on Use Rope checks to bind someone.
Others provide additional abilities with increased ranks. For example, Search:
Synergy: If you have 5 or more ranks in Search, you get a +2 bonus on Survival checks to find or follow tracks.
Synergy (10 ranks): If you have 10 or more ranks in Search, the time needed for a Survival check to find tracks is halved; what would typically take a full-round action now takes a standard action.
Synergy (15 ranks): If you have 15 or more ranks in Search, you get a +4 bonus on Survival checks to find or follow tracks.
Synergy (20 ranks): If you have 20 or more ranks in Search, the time needed for a Survival check to find tracks is reduced to one-quarter normal; what would typically take a full-round action now counts as a free action.
However, Superior Synergy: Fantasy does not stop with skill synergy bonuses – it also provides information on synergy between feats. For example, see the effect of Acrobatic, Agile, and Animal Affinity:
"You may use fast mount of dismount (see the Ride skill) on a mount up to two size categories larger than yourself."
Alternatively – Combat Casting, Spell Focus, and Spell Mastery:
"If the spell you are casting defensively is covered by Spell Mastery and is of a school you have Spell Focus for, you do not lose the spell if you fail the Concentration check to cast on the defensive. Instead, the spell merely fails without further consequences (such as loss from one’s memorized spells.)"
Layout and Style
The landscape version uses a brownish page border. I think it's supposed to resemble the pages of a book, but I'm not sure. I do know that it is not attractive. I blame Dungeons and Dragons for this. Used to be, most gaming books I looked at didn't have the ubiquitous colored/designed page border, but once D&D came out, every d20 product seems to have these borders. I can't stand these borders, especially in landscape files. I would much rather have that extra space (and in many products, it's a lot of extra space) devoted to text. This would reduce the page count, and be less distracting.
The layout is standard two-column with an easy to read font. However, the headings are black, outlined in read, and, to me, look like Flintstones writing. The headings are very difficult to read, especially at a glance. Simply spacing out the font would improve the readability of the headings. Sacrificing style for function would improve them even more.
There are a few tables in Superior Synergy: Fantasy (landscape). Not only do these use a reddish-brown coloration that is unpleasant, but the text is blocky and all bold. This text is difficult to read carefully, let alone when quickly checking a fact.
The portrait file uses the same font for headings, except that the letters are not outlined in red. While it is still an unattractive font (really, what's wrong with simple bold Arial?), the lack of red dramatically improves the readability of the headings.
Superior Synergy: Fantasy has three pieces of art. All three are quite small and decent quality. They are actually quite unobtrusive. It was only looking through it a second time that I even noticed it had art. This is how it should be in more gaming products.
Superior Synergy: Fantasy is very open. I think, with a product of this nature, that is unavoidable. Open content is good.
Superior Synergy: Fantasy includes two files: one landscape with graphics and color for screen reading, and a portrait version minus graphics and color for printing.
One of the main things I look for in a pdf is the ability to copy and paste the text from the product. Next is the ability to extract pages. Superior Synergy: Fantasy is an unlocked document – you can C&P and extract all you wish. This is a huge plus.
Superior Synergy: Fantasy has minimal bookmarks, leading only to the primary section headers, and not to each entry. This makes the bookmarks nearly useless.
Superior Synergy: Fantasy is a simple product, but a good one. It expands on something that should have been expanded on in core texts. Despite some formatting and style issues, Superior Synergy: Fantasy is an invaluable resource for players that like skill- and feat-heavy characters like Rogues and Fighters, and for DMs who want to create particularly capable NPCs.