Review – Fursona: the Definitive Guide to Creating Anthropomorphic Characters

8 February, 2012

Fursona contains a considerable number of useful tools and discussion for creating anthropomorphic characters and using them in a campaign world but it seems unpolished.  Considerably more effort could have been used explaining the racial traits and disadvantages as well as discussing how to build a balanced and interesting races from the options available.  If you wish to include anthropormphic races in your campaign, this is a good reference but it is only a starting point.

Fursona: the Definitive Guide to Creating Anthropomorphic Characters is a 106-page PDF (104-pages if you remove the cover and OGL page) for the Pathfinder RPG written by Chris A. Fields and published by Otherverse Games.

Fursona has mostly a traditional two columns layout and is easily readable, though the tables are in an odd fonts.  The art is full color cover and a mix of color and black and white interior pieces in a wide range of styles.  Informative sidebars are scattered through the pages but it sadly lacks either an index or table of contents.

Fursona begins “Why Be Human?” a brief discussion about why use anthropomorphs in games -noting that they already show up in the form of gnolls and other animal-shaped races- and give some sources of inspiration (such as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Thundercats).

The idea behind the system presented here for creating anthropomorphic races is very clever, first you choose the Order (species, animal) from among 33 choices ranging from arachnids to orcas, tigers to bears, and includes fantastical one such as dragons and Lovecraftian squamous beings.  Each order has its own set of abilities and, sometimes, unique penalties.  Some of these seem quite powerful (one give +6 to Strength with two -2 penalties to other stats for example) and should be looked at closely.

Then you can choose racial traits, an anthropomorph starts with 4 points to buy such and can get more from disadvantages, trait come in major (3 or 4 cost) and minor types (1 or 2 points).  Which would not seems too unbalancing except that each Order has a handful of favored abilities, major abilities that cost -2 points for that order which allows for some quite powerful builds.

However, several of the disadvantages used to get more points simply makes a character unplayable in some situations (such as Waterbound, where the character must immerse themselves in saltwater every few hours or start to die) with no real rhyme nor reason to them.  Which is a shame as several disadvantages are quite interesting and have good roleplaying potential while others just cripple a character.

Twenty-one templates -many of which include a Level Adjustment which is not used in Pathfinder and is an artifact of 3.x- allow for further customization by playing to different origins (genetically created anthro-soldier, free familiar, god-cursed) or made of different stuff (stone, clockwork, living cartoons).  Working in those with Level Adjustment could prove to be challenging however.  Many of these are good to review simply for way to explain the existence of such creatures in a campaign.

The product concludes with advice on fitting athropomorphics into your campaign which provides a variety of ways and campaign frame to do so.  This section also includes a handful of spells and magic items, a sorcerer bloodline and new diseases as well as rules for neanderthals.

Disclosure: As a featured reviewer for RPGNow/DriveThroughRPG, I received my copy of this product for free from the publisher for the purpose of this review.

There is a version of this available for D&D 5e, review here.


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