Each compendium in the Echelon Reference Series: Classes line contains all the content I could gather regarding a particular class. In the case of classes that are very similar — rogues and ninja, cavaliers and samurai, etc. — both classes are presented in the same document.
Each book contains
- the base class;
- compiled class features such as bloodlines, cleric domains, and rogue talents;
- feats that suit the class (have class or archetype features as prerequisites, or are commonly taken by members of the class);
- compiled spell list (same as the one from the matching spell book; see below) if appropriate;
- roster of NPCs with levels in the class.
There is a large, sometimes immense, amount of work in producing an Echelon Reference Series class book. The information must all be gathered and organized, of course, but then additional information is created. The Pathfinder Roleplaying Game has a practice of ‘design by exception’ (“this is like that, except…”), which can mean looking in multiple places and combining the base element with the modifying elements (such as class and archetype) before it can be used. In the final version of the Echelon Reference Series class books this has already been done for many things, including:
- Archetype classes (applying each archetype to its base class);
- Subraces (applying alternate racial traits to the base race);
- Domains (applying subdomains to the base domain);
With the number of relationships between game elements, such as feat prerequisite trees, it can become difficult to see how things fit together. The final version of each Echelon Reference Series book includes many diagrams illustrating these relationships.
All of this additional work is very time-consuming, and it all increases the size of the final document. Interim documents are now released as certain milestones are reached.
RAF: Rough and Fast Edition
The ‘Rough And Fast’ edition is the first version ready for release. The additional information has not yet been created, the diagrams certainly aren’t (well, mostly; there are many diagrams that end up appearing in more than one book… but they aren’t present in this edition). Some editing and layout is rudimentary, it likely hasn’t been proofread since the original publisher released it.
And yet, it is still a useful book. The game elements are still present and organized, it’s the extra work that isn’t done yet. Some titles have been released in this form, but at a heavy (50%) discount of the expected final price. When the WIP (see below) and final versions are released they are added to the title, so you’ll get those as well when they’re available.
WIP: Work in Progress Edition
The ‘Work In Progress’ edition is just that. The RAF edition has been cleaned up, some of the additional content (a mix of applying archetypes and class feature modifiers, and creating diagrams) has been created and added to the document. Things are progressing toward completion, but there is more to be done.
These are sold a lesser (25%) discount of the expected final price. As above, all editions released are included in the title. Waiting for the WIP edition means getting a document that’s closer to completion, but missing out on the deeper discount.
The ‘Final Edition’ has all the content, all the additional content, and the layout has been polished. There is no longer a discount for this version.
However, ‘Final Edition’ is a slight misnomer. There is always new content being created and to be aggregated, diagrams to be updated, and so on.
‘Final For Now’ would be more accurate, but doesn’t seem to sound as good.