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Part II of my review:
The second PrC, the Soul Arbiter, sports 5 levels and gets d8, up to +3 BAB, 1/2 Fort-and Will-save progression and 4+Int skills per level. The class gets 3 levels of manifester level and power point progression and 2 levels divine caster level progression. The first level ability allows for the standard action implantation of phobias in target creatures, though a trigger needs to be available...and, alas, while the ability has a hex-like 1/target/24-hour cap, I do think the ability should specify its range - the fluff implies crunch or close range, but I'm not sure. First level also adds +2 to mind-influencing or "telepathic" power DCs...which deviates from Dreamscarred Press' established nomenclature. At 2nd level, the soul arbiter adds +1 to the effects of her judgments and stacks prestige class levels for the purpose of judgment effects. 3rd level has a broken ability: No Bluff or Diplomacy when someone is under the effect of a soul arbiter's telepathy - this makes in-game logic come apart HARD. 4th level allows for CL or ML-checks versus alignment hiding effects and 5th level provides nonlethal damage and Wis-damage when a target tries to lie to her and ignore immunity to mind-influencing effects. While wording-wise not perfect, the PrC still can be considered kind of okay - not my favorite part of the book, though, and as far as rules-language goes, the least precise component herein.
Okay, this is NOT where we stop, though - we also get inquisitions, a LOT of them, though there are central themes, the first of which is the Foe Slayer: Aberration Slayer nets you, for example bonuses against Will-based effects and retributive, potentially stagger-inducing damage for those that try to break your mind, while construct slayers get Disable Device as a class skill as well as the option to hamper them via your skill in minor ways. Balance here is not always perfect, though: Smite Evil at full paladin level for Fiend Slayers, for example, is a bit of overkill. Humans, Elves, Dwarves, as well as DSP's Elans and Maenads get racial inquisitions. Particularly interesting is the elven ability to make all unattended objects within 60 ft. count as attended - haven't seen that one before and it allows for some interesting tricks...
At the same time, the Elan's option to burn ability points for power points needs a note that it can't thus exceed the power point maximum and the 8th level ability also asks to be broken: As an immediate action, for each 2 power points you spent, you increase the CL or ML by 1. No cap. This rewards nova-style gameplay and while I get the intent (making psion/inquis keep up regarding CL), this is not the right way. The Maenad on the other hand is pretty cool - retributive skin when outbursting and an aura that can end mind-influencing effects fit pretty neatly into the racial concepts. The final page provides 6 new mundane items - from the folding holy symbol for secret agent inquisitors to gauntlets housing scrolls and holy dust, the items are interesting. The traveler's shrine (collapsible altar) also makes a return. Particularly so the bolt feed - up to two of these can be attached to a crossbow, allowing for swift action reloads that make crossbows suck less: THANK YOU.
Editing and formatting are very good -while I noticed minor formal glitches here and there, there are less than in previous installments of the series. The rules-language is also more polished than in previous iterations of "Into the Breach." The pdf adheres to a two-column full-color standard with a great cover artwork and thematically fitting, though slightly less awesome interior artwork. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Dylan Brooks, Kiel Howell, Richard Litzkow, Jeff Harris, Jacob W. Michaels, Jason Linker, Mark Nordheim, Taylor Hubler - congratulations. This is, by far, the most refined Into the Breach-supplement in the whole series. While the last one oscillated between highs and lows, this time around, we're all about solid and yet far-out options. A significant array of the archetypes and options provided in this book are fun and cover niches that so far did not see much love, many of which resonate with powerful concepts - that's a very good thing. An even better fact about this book is that the balancing, over all, is much more streamlined than in previous offerings by Flying Pincushion Games. Indeed, to the point where I can recommend this pdf - not simply for the shining stars, but for the majority of the content herein. While there are some pieces in this book that are less refined, over all, this is a quality supplement that adds some nice tools to the inquisitor's arsenal. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. If the crew of authors can maintain this pace of improvement, I'll be able to slap my seal of approval on one of these pretty soon. So, again: Congratulations!
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.