As much as I hate supporting companies who use intentional misspellings in their name in a desperate bid for originality (“Lejendary Adventures” say what?), Dias Ex Machina certainly came up with a new and novel idea. (See, it’s named after the founder, Chris Dias… get it? See the pun yet? Hah-ha-ha-ha-ha! … Yeah, the feeling is mutual.) No, I’ll stop mocking their name long enough to get on to the novel idea–a new d20 setting called Amethyst. (Amethyst… gem… get it? Eh, eh? Hah-ha-ha… I’ll stop now.)
The concept of the setting itself isn’t horribly original–what if fantasy elements suddenly popped up in a modern setting–having already been done to death by (among others), Shadowrun, Vampire, DragonStar, and the Urban Arcana d20 Modern campaign. What is new and original is the fact that the two worlds are trying to coexist and rationalize themselves at the same time, forcing the players to choose between a life of adventure and mystery and a life of barricading oneself with modern technology in the city. (I can see a party divided along these lines being a pretty entertaining group, all in all). A 400-page book with a lot of high-quality-looking art, it’s definitely a hefty tome to consider.
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of the “future of fantasy” trend (being VERY disappointed in X-Crawl, and not really getting hooked by the Shadowrun backstory or half-hearted attempts to one-up Cyberpunk 2020); The Secret of Zir’an came closest with its steampunk-pulp-fantasy potpourri mixing quite well, only for the line to burn out and disappear. So, I’m very interested in seeing how Amethyst turns out. At the very least, it provides a very good idea and concept to run a game along the same lines, as 33 pages of story and setting have been included for FREE on the publisher’s website. Previews look pretty good, with a very professional looking layout, and some fantastic art and border graphics. (Don’t ask me why it switches fonts in between chapters; I guess the designer only spent one day learning InDesign, and forgot to reset his paragraph styles.)
As noted, it’s a 400-page tome, which comes in two flavors–3.5 and 4.0, though the former is getting phased out as I write this. Currently, the price is $33.95 USD for a Softcover, with a Hardcover ranging up to $43.95 USD. (PDF’s are a mere $19.99.)