Jedi Academy Training Manual
"So, you wish to learn the ways of the Force..."
Written as the ultimate Jedi training manual, The Jedi Academy: Training Manual game supplement reveals the secrets of the Jedi across all eras of the Star Wars saga, from the earliest days of the Old Republic to the Dark Times and the reemergence of the Jedi Order after the fall of the Galactic Empire. It gives players exciting new talents, feats, Force powers, and equipment for their Jedi characters. It also elaborates on the known Jedi fighting styles and provides new ways to build your character around a particular fighting style.
As with many role-playing game systems, the current Star Wars RPG, Saga, has been supplemented by a variety of sourcebooks giving expanded character building options, background information, and equipment. The Jedi Academy Training Manual
, or JATM, focuses on one of the central parts of Star Wars - the Force, and those who use it, including Jedi, Sith, and many other traditions.
Of the three character-class sourcebooks currently available - Scum and Villainy for scoundrels, Galaxy at War for soldiers, and JATM for Force-users - I was most eagerly looking forward to JATM, and wound up buying two copies (the first copy being temporarily lost in the mail, I decided to go ahead and get another, not realizing the first would eventually arrive).
The book is written from the in-universe perspective of a student at a post-Return of the Jedi academy on Ossus (possibly the "Legacy of the Force" era, or that of the Legacy comic book). The JATM thus benefits from being able to touch on literally thousands of in-universe years of Force lore, and is full of new Force powers, talents, feats, and equipment.
Players looking for a variety of lightsabers - dual-phase lightsabers, lightfoils, lightwhips, and more - will find a wide selection, while a long list of alternate lightsaber crystals offers specific effects. Need to take down a pesky droid? The firkrann crystal - with 27 others - is listed, as is the difficulty of what it takes to rebuild a lightsaber with the new crystal.
There's no fewer than 10 alternate Force traditions, each with unique talents, covering an array of the Expanded Universe's Force-users: the Aing-Tii Monks, the Baran Do Sages, the Fallanassi, and more, including two new Force traditions, the Shapers of Kro Var and the Wardens of the Sky. Players looking to have their Force-user be someone other than a robe-wearing mystic with a lightsaber have a wide variety of new options.
For fans of the EU, the JATM is full of little hints and references: the dark-side Force power "memory walk", for example, is a renamed version of "torture by chagrin", used by Rokur Gepta against Lando Calrissian. Likewise, fans of the Knights of the Old Republic video games will find familiar dark-side beasts from shyracks to tuk'ata to the dreaded terantatek, with many other creatures. And Felanil Baaks, Jedi artisan, makes a cameo appearance in one of the pieces of art.
The Force power selection is nicely varied, adding powers directly from the EU ("Force light" from Dark Empire, for example) while also offering powers pioneered by non-Jedi traditions ("intercept", the signature power of the Zeison Sha, or "fold space", the teleportation ability of the Aing-Tii), and some exotic abilities ("inertia", which allows limited walking on walls).
Two new sets of Force abilities are the Force regimens, which allow for a Force-user to spend time in meditation-like focus to gain the benefits of a specific effect for 24 hours, and the lightsaber form powers. The latter, which can be taken with the Force Training feat like other Force powers, widely augment lightsaber combat, becoming especially effective when used with the lightsaber form talents of the Jedi Knight prestige class.
A new set of dark-side powers also are available, including an expanded Sith alchemy talent tree that allows for the creation of Sith abominations, and the Transfer Essence talent, that allows a dark-side player to (possibly) survive death.
And for those looking for holocron creation techniques, or how to train a Padawan (or the equivalent apprentice for their Force tradition)? It's all here, along with several observations on what it means to be a Jedi, and the nature of the Force.
The JATM also offers many new character stat blocks, ranging from the Tales of the Jedi era to the Clone Wars and into the New Jedi Order. Luke Skywalker as the Jedi Grand Master, Jedi Master Thon, Nomi Sunrider, Kueller, Hethrir, and many more receive full-page write-ups.
While the JATM does a good job offering Force-using characters a wide array of options, it does have some rough spots. Some of the character stat blocks have errors (Mara Jade Skywalker, for example, has scoundrel skills that don't match her listed classes), while the book also contains some continuity errors (despite the information in Cilghal's entry, Mon Mothma was never possessed by the Sith spirit of Exar Kun).
The book also is shorter than its scoundrel and soldier counterparts, with 160 pages to their 200-plus lengths. Still, for players who seek to expand their Force-sensitive character's horizons, size matters not - the JATM does that and much more.