TL;DR: The book is full of content that was printed in previous books from Green Ronin (DARPG; FAGE; Blue Rose RPG; Ashes of Valkana). More than half of the supposedly new content that players have been literally waiting years for already exists - and many of you likely own it. The content that is new ranges from mediocre and lazy, or pointless, to actually helpful. New Spells are good, a robust system for Magic Items is good, but that's literally all the worthwhile content included in this book.
This book was originally slated for release nearly two years ago. It has now finally hit store shelves! And it is a Frankenstein's Monster of a book indeed and let me tell you why.
Quite simply it's because more than half of the book simply consists of recycled mechanics from all the previous publications of the AGE RPG variants. Dragon Age RPG, Fantasy AGE, Blue Rose RPG. Fundamentally the same game - with one consistent difference being the magic system. Here's a list of some of the things that have appeared either word-for-word, or in a slightly modified form from Green Ronin's previous books in this line:
- Mass Combat Rules. (First appeared in Dragon Age RPG, the sample Army Sheets also use a nearly illegible cursive-style font)
- Divine Magic (Lifted from a standalone PDF they published some time ago)
- Several Specializations (Champion, Martial Artist, Pirate, Bard, Beastmaster, Diplomat, Spy, etc. - lifted from various amongst the previous three books)
- Honorifics and Titles (Lifted and slightly modified from Dragon Age RPG)
- Realms and Organizations (Lifted from Dragon Age RPG)
- Vehicle Combat and Chases (Various previous publications, Ashes of Valkana)
- "Relationship" Rules (Blue Rose RPG)
- Stunt "Packages" (Giving a combination of different stunts that already exist and have been reprinted several times a name does not a new mechanic make. Mashing the Disarm and Lightning Attack stunts into one and literally calling it Lightning Disarm for 5 Stunt Points is something I could've done in my lunch break.)
So what is it that you're actually getting for your 16.95$?
- 4 New Races and Backgrounds
- 15 Actually new Specializations and Talents (as underwhelming as some of them are, none can match the Pirate in their uselessness. Arrr.)
- New Spells and Arcana - (Many of them are redundant between the different Arcanas, or are simply FAGE versions of D&D spells. Counterspell! Finally!)
- Magic Items - (In depth mechanics that make magic items unique and interesting, with dramatic side-effects and powerful features. Actually kind of decent part of the book that was sorely lacking in every version of the game that preceded it.)
- Optional rules for making FAGE a more lethal, or less lethal system.
- Rules for Minions, a mechanic lifted nearly wholesale from 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, a game from eight years ago. Hey, it's a good mechanic - I can't blame them.
This is as extensive and as thoughtful a rundown as I care to make of what is on offer in this product. I already own more than half of the book, because I've purchased every full-price re-release of the same RPG they've been releasing of the past few years (very responsible of me, I know). That I recognize things I've already seen on skimming the table of contents, and then finding nothing new or even visibly changed about what's on offer in the actual chapters of the book itself is, to say the least, a dealbreaker.
If they took out the redundant parts of this book - people would wonder what they spent the last several years doing, I'm certain. If they did that, however, the AGE Companion would be a tiny leaflet not worth its price-tag, not that it offers much value as is. Its only saving grace would be the few mechanics that are new and well-thought out at a glance - this chiefly being the Artifacts and Magic Items. However - as it is an example of an indie publisher taking advantage of consumer good will, passing off content they've already sold before as new, exciting product - even the good things will have to get saddled with a 1/5 rating.
I cannot more strongly discourage people from buying this book on a purely ethical standpoint. It doesn't help that much of what is actually new is also underwhelming.
[1 of 5 Stars!]