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Ssalarn's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 7,344 posts (7,368 including aliases). 26 reviews. 6 lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Pathfinder Society characters. 1 alias.

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Paizo's Back, and They Hit a Home Run


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I believe it was a couple years ago that I interviewed Erik Mona and asked him about his thoughts on Ultimate Psionics. He was actually really excited about it, and told me that he was glad someone had done the psionics and power point system such justice, because Paizo had different plans. With an almost childish glee in his eyes, Erik described to me his dream of a book with classes and mechanics informed by Lovecraftian mythos and new age spiritualism, with a healthy dose of 19th century mysticism for good measure.

Time passed. Paizo released its Advanced Class Guide, a book so poorly edited and sublimely uninspired that I had almost given up hope that we'd see anything as amazing and awesome as the Alchemist, Oracle, or Witch from the Advanced Player's Guide, the first book where they really came out and said "We're Paizo, and this is what we're about". But where the Advanced Class Guide was a barely redeemable slog of mostly uninspired and largely formulaic class design with very few bright spots, Occult Adventures immediately leaps off the shelf as something special, something that shows that spark of creativity and healthy dose of love from the writers and contributors that is hard to quantify or explain but which is immediately recognizable in their work, and which was very much Paizo's hallmark when the Pathfinder Core Rulebook first came on the scene.

Occult Adventures features 6 new "psychic" classes, the Kineticist, Medium, Mesmerist, Occultist, Psychic, and Spiritualist. I'll touch on each of them briefly-

The Kineticist: This is your classic elementalist, with mechanics clearly inspired by 3.5 D&D's Warlock. You have 5 elements to choose from starting out, either aether, air, earth, fire, or water. Your chosen element will determine the basic characteristics of your primary attack form, the kinetic blast, and most of your ancillary abilities. At 7th level you gain the ability to either hyper-specialize in your chosen element, or gain access to a secondary element. In practice, playing the Kineticist is actually very simple. You have your "simple blast" which is an at will ranged attack where you shoot your chosen element at the enemy. Later you'll receive "composite blasts" which are essentially upgraded versions of your simple blast that incorporate either your secondary element or give you new facility with your primary element if you chose to specialize. Rounding the Kineticist out are Wild Talents, which are divided into a small list of Defense Wild Talents, and a very expansive list of Infusion Wild Talents. The Defense talents are gained at 2nd level and are entirely determined by the element you chose to focus on. Essentially, you get a barrier or form of the same element type that either whirls around you protectively, surrounds you in a protective layer of flame that sears anyone who strikes you, or something similar. Infusions are your main opportunity to customize your character, choosing new ways to use your kinetic blast that may include launching yourself through the air with blasts of flame, creating a giant ball of earth and bowling your enemies over with it, wreathing the battlefield in a fog of ice that slows and chills your opponents, or something similar. The Kineticist is very much the psychic analogue to the Fighter - easy to pick up and play, but relatively limited in scope and power.

The Medium: Another 3.5 inspired class, the Medium has some distinct similarities to the 3.5 Binder, where you essentially channel an outside entity into your body to borrow its power and skills. The Medium holds a ritual called a "Seance" to invite a spirit to inhabit his form, and then gains abilities based on the chosen spirit. For example, you could channel the spirit of the Archmage to gain improved spellcasting abilities, the spirit of the Champion to become a superior melee combatant, or the spirit of the Heirophant to become a potent healer. The spirit abilities of the Medium are shored up by a variety of thematic abilities and a fairly solid 4 level spellcasting list. This is a really great class for that player who can never quite make up their mind about how they want to fit into the party, as it gives them a high degree of flexibility and the option to be a skillful rogueish character one day, an indestructible tank the next, and then wrap up the week as the party healer. The class is surprisingly effective at filling any of its available roles, something that's a little unusual in a "jack of all trades" chassis, but which I very much enjoy.

The Mesmerist: So, this class flew entirely under my radar when Paizo was running their playtest. It was this kind of not-very-great remake of the 3.5 Beguiler, and it just fell flat. I can't really explain what happened between then and the final release, but I can tell you that whatever it was, it was awesome. The Mesmerist is probably my favorite class in the book, combining an at-will debuff called Hypnotice Stare with a very high facility at feinting and a slew of cool abilities and rider effects. The Mesmerist has 6 level spellcasting with an excellent selection of spells to choose from, 6+Int skills with a skill list that's probably second only to the Rogue in its scope, and in addition to the various abilities tied to its Hypnotic Stare, it has "Tricks" it can use to plant magical effects inside itself or an ally that can be triggered to grant benefits like an illusionary flanking partner, a shadow double that takes some of the damage you might have taken and redirects it to another target, and more. Add in the Touch Treatment ability which allows the Mesmerist to cure a variety of negative mental status effects, and you have a potent and well-rounded character who can is both an excellent adventurer in his own right and a fantastic contributor to any group.

The Occultist: Where the Mesmerist really seemed to undergo an incredible transformation between the close of the playtest and the final release, the Occultist just.... didn't. This was my favorite class in playtest, but ti definitely had some flaws that I was hoping would get ironed out. Unfortunately, most of them didn't, so we're left with a class that is solid and interesting, but struggles to successfully fill roles other than skill monkey. It seems like it can be an effective blaster, a powerful battlefield controller, or even a deadly warrior in its own right, but unfortunately, many of its abilities simply don't scale well enough to stay relevant for any length of time. In fact, some abilities that desperately needed buffing during the playtest got nerfed by the final release!
The Occultist is a 3/4 BAB, 6 level spellcasting, INT based class with 4+Int skill points and the potential for a fairly reasonable spell list. I say "potential" because of how the Occultist gains access to his spells. The Occultist gains a variety of "Implements" that serve two purposes: the first, is that they can be invested with "Focus" and grant a variety of supernatural abilities depending on the school of magic the Focus is associated with and the amount of class resource you dedicate to unlocking additional abilities. The second, is that the implements serve as "keys" to the Occultist's spell list. An Occultist who uses a Necromancy implement gains access to Necromancy spells, one who uses an Abjuration implement gets Abjuration spells, etc. The number of types of implements you can use expands as you level up. Ultimately, for me, the Occultist just lacks the flexibility and power to be interesting, and instead ends up being more of a "magical Rogue" who uses magical relics instead of sneak attacking. The class is great at being a scout or trap finder, reasonable at being a party buffer, and just kind of falls flat elsewhere after the first few levels. There are going to be people who absolutely love this class and the way it lets them play a kind of Miskatonic archaeologist, but it doesn't make it onto my personal favorites list.

The Psychic: I actually don't have a lot to say here. It's a 9th level spellcaster with a cool list of psychic spells, a "Phrenic Pool" that can be used to apply various "Phrenic Amplifications" that modify its spells as they're cast, and who gains a variety of psychic disciplines that are reliant on a secondary ability score (either Wisdom or Charisma in addition to the Psychic's core spellcasting attribute of Intelligence) and help modify and personalize the Psychic similarly to domains or arcane schools, but better fleshed out. It's a solid class that plays fairly similarly to a Wizard or Sorcerer, but with a more distinct flavor and some new mechanics.

The Spiritualist: So, the Spiritualist takes one of the more divisive classes, the Summoner, and reimagines it as a psychic character with a personal spirit. The Spiritualist is a 6 level CHA reliant spellcaster who gets a very solid spell list, a variety of supernatural abilities, and a protective spirit called a Phantom. The Spiritualist's spell list includes a decent (though not comprehensive) list of healing spells, allowing them to step up into the healer role with some degree of success. If you're familiar with the Summoner, the phantom is essentially a powered down eidolon with a few unique psychic twists and abilities to it. Where the eidolon is customized via evolutions, the phantom gains an emotional focus, the driving force that keeps it tethered to the Spiritualist and the world of the leaving. As an example, a phantom's emotional focus could be Despair (perhaps its the soul of one of the Spiritualist's loved ones who committed suicide and was unable to move on?), and the phantom would gain a variety of abilities keyed around that theme, such as attacks that weaken an enemy's ability to fight back and an Aura of Despair.

One of the things that really surprised me about the book was the quality and quantity of the archetypes. The mechanical quality of many of Paizo's archetypes seems to fluctuate quite a bit even within the same book, with the majority of their archetypes ending up in the "flavorful but not particularly spectacular" pile, with the occasional amazing archetype like the Zen Archer monk or Vanguard slayer. The archetypes in Occult Adventures are consistently awesome. I struggle to find any I don't like, and in quite a few cases, like the Vexing Daredevil mesmerist or the Necroccultist occultist, I actually like them significantly more than the base class. There is a huge wealth of material in the archetypes section, covering all of the Paizo classes. In addition to the Vexing Daredevil and Necroccultist I already mentioned, some other stand-outs are the Ghost Rider cavalier (the name pretty much covers it, you ride a ghost), the Sensate fighter (who sacrifices heavy armor proficiency but gets an improved skill list, replaces Bravery with a Guarded Senses ability that protects against a variety of sensory based effects, trades Armor Training for Uncanny Dodge, Improved Uncanny, Dodge, and Evasion, trades Armor Mastery for at-will blindsense and true seeing, trades Weapon Training for a Centered Senses ability that provides a bonus to attack and damage rolls of any weapon the Sensate wields and boosts their Will save, and trades Weapon Mastery for Precision, which allows the Sensate to roll twice and take the better result when confirming a critical hit and forces enemies to roll twice and take the lower result when confirming a critical hit against the Sensate), and the Mindblade magus (who can form weapons out of psychic energy and even create two weapons in that manner and still use Spell Combat).

This is a great book. It feel like these are the classes and magic that Golarion was always meant to have, and it feels like Paizo's entire collective heart and soul was poured into making this thing awesome. The fluff and flavor are top notch, the mechanics are excellent, and everything about this book is a reminder of what the team at Paizo are truly capable of.

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Arabian Wonders, and a Bunch of Other Cool Stuff


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So, I hadn't heard of "Southlands: Adventures Beneath the Pitiless Sun" until I stumbled across it at PAX. I'd somehow completely missed the Kickstarter, hadn't heard it mentioned or seen any reviews, and yet it leapt right off the shelf at me.

The art, obviously, was the first thing to catch my eye. The cover features this kind of fantasy Arabian woman with a huge lion behind her, set against the backdrop of a desert vista with the hint of a magnificent city in the background. The thing that really struck me as I was leafing through the pages, was that every piece of art seems like it could have been drawn by the same hand, or at least by a team of artists who were all working in the same room. It's all high quality, beautiful, on theme, and there is a lot of it. One of my favorite pieces is on page 259, where a trio of priestesses of Bastet, the cat goddess, are routing a group of duergar.

The fluff and story hooks are excellent as well. You've got a couple rakshasa who are all angling their way towards stealing divinity through one nefarious scheme or another, titanic demigods walking amongst their people and serving as both religious and secular ruler, and tons of other interesting hooks and settings for adventure. One of the new playable races, the kijani, have an interesting backstory where they're fostering the seedlings of their children with human and minotaur hosts in an attempt to become more mammalian, which has lots of interesting story potential all on its own. There's also an expansive description of the various deities that make up the Southlands pantheon, with fairly detailed descriptions of all the interactions and relationships between the various deities.

The crunch, not surprisingly given the quality of the rest of the work, is also excellent. The book is rife with archetypes custom designed for the setting, including a summoner archetype that gets a genie in a magic lamp, gnoll caravan raiders, zebra-mounted cavalry sorcerers, and lots more. The pantheons come with a selection of cool new domains, like Bastet's Cat domain and the new Speed domain, as well as interesting choices for the various deities' favored weapons. The crunch isn't just for the players either; there are variant mummies (including the mummified monkey swarm, which is either horrifying or hilarious, I can't quite decide), tables of Primal Magic Events that can be triggered by casting spells in certain magically unstable areas of the Southlands, and lots more. Did I mention the array of divination spells, new familiars, and the alternate heiroglyphics casting system? Because those seem important to mention too.

This is just an awesome book, both in quality of production and quality of content. I seriously can't recommend this enough to anyone who may want to add a splash of the exotic to their campaign with story elements and mechanics drawn from India, the Middle East, and north Africa.

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An Amazing (if not super difficult) Adventure


Shadows of the Dusk Queen is a great adventure with some very talented storytelling, great art, and generally great play.

The basic premise is that once upon a time a fey queen of shadow falls in love with a scion of light, and there briefly seems to be a time where her love can overcome her dark nature. Unfortunately, she comes into possession of a magical mirror that feeds her paranoia and darker nature, and ultimately the scion of light shatters her mirror and binds her away from the mortal realms for a few eons, until she eventually frees herself (which is where the actual adventure starts).

The twisted nature of the shadowy forest where most of the adventure takes place makes it difficult for the party to use magic to shortcut through most encounters without breaking logical consistency, which is nice, though the adventure can be relatively brief depending on the party's choices.

I absolutely loved how the art and writing worked so perfectly in sync, creating an awesome " Brothers Grimm" kind of dark fairy tail feel that was just awesome. As the party quests to restore the dusk queen's shattered mirror and lay her dark powers to rest once and for all, they'll face swarms of shadowy stirges, meet an acid-weeping treant, be tested by a pool of shadow nymphs, and more!

This is a must-have adventure for any fans of fey or dark fairy tails, and can be a great addition to any campaign. If you're a GM looking for that next amazing adventure hook, or even just needing to fill in a few hours for a party of 7th - 9th level characters, I strongly, strongly, suggest you pick it up and give it a spin.

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Shadows and Steel


You'll have to forgive me for the brevity of this review, but this product deserves a review and I haven't had a lot of time to get one posted.

Path of Shadows presents the Nightblade class, a combination rogue/shadowcaster with a variety of interesting and unique paths available. With everything from miasmic clouds of umbral energy to chains of pure shadow, the nightblade wields shadows as weapons in ways that are refreshingly original and absolutely fun to play.

Alongside the nightblade are a variety of shadow-based archetypes for the core classes and an excellent array of new shadow-themed spells.

The mechanics aren't the only thing interesting in this work though; the art presents an interesting blending of classic fantasy and modern anime giving Path of Shadows a visual look that perfectly matches the edgy but familiar mechanics of the supplement.

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An excellent supplement, full of awesome additions for any game

I need to open this disclaimer with the fact that I was both a Kickstarter backer, and a contributor. I wrote the Battle Lord and his archetypes, so I'll try to avoid any claims as to his quality or strength. The rest of this book though, I saw at the same time as everyone else when they got to open their .pdf or hardcopy for the first time.

This book contains 14 new classes, roughly 10 pages of new feats, archetypes for almost all the new classes (and the one that doesn't get archetypes is with good reason, which I'll explain later), and a chapter full of haunts and environmental hazards to expand the breadth of your game. I'll start by digging into the classes.

The first class is the Battle Lord. Since I won't be discussing the quality of my own work to maintain the integrity of this review, I'll just tell you how this class came to be. I love characters with a "martial" bent, guys who swing swords and lead armies, holding their own in a world full of guys who can command dragons and create their own dimensions. I never felt like the Fighter really did that. I wanted to be able to play characters like Dujek Onearm or Sergeant Whiskeyjack from the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, Admiral Akbar from Star Wars who pitted his military cunning against an army led by a powerful force user, or Captain America, a relatively normal guy whose leadership and tactical acumen not just had him standing side by side with beings far more powerful than him, but leading them. Enter the Battle Lord, a full BAB class with 4+Int skills and Good Reflex and Will who uses "Drills" to coordinate and share feats with his allies, and "Auras" to influence people off the battlefield. I also really wanted to incorporate some of my own military background into the class, which is where "Specialties" come in; each Battle Lord chooses a Specialty like Artillerist, Medic, Scout, or Soldier, further defining the way they interact with combat and what role they support on a team.

The next class is the Conduit, a 3/4 BAB, 4+Int skill, Good Will save magic-eater. It's obvious that the designer has had some experience with flawed magic-eater classes before; the 3.5 Spellthief was notorious for being exactly as powerful as the campaign allowed him to be. The conduit has several tools for regulating his "Mystical Conduction" ability, his focus for eating/absorbing magic:
1) Starting out, he can only absorb targeted effects directed specifically at him, and they must have a minimu level of power as defined in the ability (he can't have the party wizard fill him up on cantrips, for example).
2) He has a "Maximum Conduct Pool" laid out in his class table dictating exactly how much energy his body can store; not enough room left means he can't absorb an incoming spell.
3) "Desperate Measures" is the ability that separates the Conduit from failed predecessors like the Spellthief. He can convert his own life force into mystical energy, taking damage in exchange for filling his pool with mystical energy. This means that even if you don't run into a single spellcasting or SLA using enemy, you're not relegated to being a non-magical peasant for the day.
The Conduit also gains "Powers", fairly similar to Oracle Revelations or Alchemist Discoveries, so as his level progresses he gains more and more ways to utilize absorbed mystical energy.
At the end of the day, the class really does function better in a high magic setting; I had a couple low level adventure arcs where I was burning hit points so I could fling a Mystical Bolt, and that was about the only time I got to feel particularly magical. The higher magic the setting, the more awesome the class feels. While I wouldn't recommend it for low point buy (it needs at least decent CHA, DEX, and CON, in that order, and STR doesn't hurt either) or gritty Conan-esque campaigns, it definitely has a place in the games I play, and I really love it.

The Demiurge comes next, and this class has a well-deserved complexity warning right on the first page. This 3/4 BAB, 6+INT, Good Will save pseudo-caster was inspired by ancient Greek Philosophers, and it's obvious in the naming conventions of abilities like "Enlightenment" "Sophistry" and "Rhetoric". The class' main schtick is whipping up animated magical constructs called "Facsimiles" that it can use for various purposes. There is a lot of floating math involved in creating and adjudicating these things, so thankfully there's several pages of pre-built Facsimiles to draw from until you get the hang of things. Remember how I mentioned one class didn't get archetypes? That's this guy; instead he just got more example facsimiles. Played right, this class can give you an awesome and balanced version of the Master Summoner, but it also shares some of that archetype's weaknesses, like having far too many moving parts on the battlefield. At the end of the day, at my tables this class is restricted to veteran players who have proven they have both the math and time management skills to successfully run it at the table. Probably not for every group or every game, but definitely a unique and interesting addition to the table.

After the Demiurge, we have the Medium, a 3/4 BAB, 2+INT, Good Will save diviner that at first glance isn't a complete class. Diving into the class description though, we quickly see that it's not a complete class because it's potentially any class. The Medium allows herself to be possessed by a Spirit Companion who has their own class levels on par with the Medium. While possessed by her Spirit Companion, the Medium's personality is subsumed by the spirit's and she uses those class features and abilities in place of her own. This is an awesome class for that guy who's always getting bored and wanting to try something new every month. If you're a GM who's getting tired of having to constantly weave new characters in and out of the story while trying to maintain a reason for the group to care about and be invested in the adventure, steer your fickle player towards this class. When he has a new class he wants to play with, he can swap in a new spirit, and everyone else gets the benefit of a consistent cast of characters.

Following the Medium comes the Metamorph. I seriously love this 3/4 BAB, 4+INT, Good Fortitude and Reflex chassis. This is basically your playable eidolon, with a pool of evoutions influenced by your "Genesis" and "Phenotype". Genesis and Phenotypes work similarly to Sorcerer bloodlines, with Genesis determining your primary mental stat for determining DCs and some abilities, and Phenotype determing your basic nature (Aberrant, Bestial, Draconic, etc.). This class is great for creating mutant characters adapted to particular environments; in our Third-Party Thursdays game one of the players just finished playing a gnome with the Plant phenotype who had a climb speed, 10 foot acid-dripping vines he could attack with, and invasive spores that could lower his enemies' Constitution.

Next up is the Mnemonic. This 3/4 BAB, 6+INT, Good Reflex and Will class is basically Taskmaster from Marvel comics. You gain the ability to learn your opponent's feats and eventually their Extraordinary abilities while combating them. You also gain a variety of mental techniques as your level increases, things like telepathy and the ability to sift information from the minds around you to enhance your Knowledge skills. The Mnemonic is part Monk, part Psion, and entirely cool.

Now to talk about the 1/2 BAB, 6+Int, Good Will save Momenta. This is that class you really don't see coming. It comes right out and tells you it's a henchman class, the guy who supports the "real" heroes with abilities like "Pack Mule" which increases the character's carrying capacity. Turns out, this class is unexpectedly amazing! Their main schtick in combat is "Motivation". A Momenta starts each combat with a pool of Motivation equal to his Charisma modifier, and gains an additional point for each ally who gets to take their turn before any enemy acts. He can spend these points to add a 1d6 to an ally's skill check, attack roll, or saving throw, or to activate a "Stimulus", a more complex ability that may involve changing where an ally's turn falls in the initiative order, adding a bit of sneak attack damage on a flank, or a variety of other options. The Momenta also gains Utility spells, spells that are useful for securing a campsite or smoothing over a misunderstanding at the inn, but which cannot be used in combat, and some healing capabilities that can be used in or out of a fight. This is that guy you've seen so many variations of in cinema and comic books: Subotai or Akiro from Schwarzenegger's Conan, Nodwick from the comics of the same name, or Durnik from the Belgariad. And just like that eclectic spread of characters, the Momenta somehow feels right at home in any adventure, whether the party consists of psionic superheroes from a high point buy Dreamscarred Press dream team, or low point buy Fighter and Rogue scrappers trying to scrape a living in a gritty Conan-esque world. This class is not only welcome, but actively sought after in my games.

The Mystic is a 3/4 BAB, 4+INT, all Good saves class that is unabashedly your chance to play an Avatar-style bender. Where Paizo's upcoming Kineticist could be fluffed to be a bender or a super-hero, or what-have-you, the Mystic directly incorporates martial arts and elemental abilities into its chassis, and even the iconic art is highly reminiscent of an airbender as portrayed in the Nickelodeon series. It does pretty much exactly what you'd expet, and it does it well, covering the four elements and a fifth "Force" element that basically gives you what you need to play a Jedi. This is a slick and well made class.

The Pauper, a 3/4 BAB, 4+INT, Good Will class... It's got a cool premise. You have pools of Hope and Despair that can be used to activate different thematic abilities. The class feels a bit weak to me, and seems like it is going to click better with low point buy campaigns where its somewhat unfocused spread of abilities will feel like more of a handy tool box than a random smattering of non-synergistic abilities. I can't say much more without additional playtesting.

The d12 hit die, full BAB, 6+INT, Good Fortitude save Survivor is exactly what the name implies. The Survivor is stacked with abilities that are all focused on keeping him alive and/or helping him avoid or get out of trouble. While the class' fluff and mechanics don't make him the best team player, he's definitely going to appeal to a lot of players, and he can play a similar role in the party to the Ranger, without the magical guardian of nature baggage that some people may not want.

Where the Battle Lord leads, the 3/4 BAB, 4+INT, Good Fort and Will Synergist coordinates. The Synergist has hints of classes like Dreamscarred Press' Tactician in its design, designating allies as members of its "Cast" and applying various benefits to them. If you want to see something funny, throw a Battle Lord, a Momenta, and a Synergist into the same group...

The Umbra is your custom "plane-touched in a 20 level class progression". This 3/4 BAB, 2+INT, Good Will save class picks an energy type (or energy types) to be associated with, and this isn't just limited to the classic 4. There's also negative and positive energy, and a host of demiplanar affiliations that are a combination of two of the elements. The element/plane you associate with really determines your role in the party and the nature of your abilities. This is a seriously fun class, not just for the cool theme, but for the huge amount of replay value the chassis offers.

The Warloghe, 3/4 BAB, 4+INT, Good Fort and Will, is a dark spellcaster who gains their powers by forging bonds with dark powers. This cool little class has a whole slew of special abilities that are customized even further by the spirit you form your your bond with, and it definitely has a kind of dark anti-hero thing going on. My biggest issue with the class is that it's so squishy; it specifically can't use armor or shields, and yet its spell list and abilities are almost exclusively offensive in nature. The Spirit Shield taboo is so essential to staying alive that I really feel like it shouldn't have been a Taboo (think Revelation/Discovery) at all, but rather just a standard class feature. Still, it's a lot of fun and brings some cool stuff to the table.

The Warsmith is the last of the new classes. This 3/4 BAB, 4+INT, Good Fortitude chassis is basically a combat engineer, able to Craft magic items without being a spellcaster, excelling in sundering, and with a variety of abilities called "Designs" to choose from to further customize his role in the group. My biggest issue with this class is that for some reason it uses Charisma to determine the effects of its various abilities rather than Intelligence. Everything about this class screams to me that it should have been Int-based, so much so that I'll be houseruling it that way at my tables. Other than that, it's pretty cool, though it is tip-toeing the line between PC class and NPC class.

Now, to feats...
There's all of the requisite "Extra XYZ" feats for the new classes, as well as a slew of new Teamwork and style feats. There's a bit of variation in quality between some of the Teamwork and Style feats, but RAI is pretty clear in all cases. Overall, I like the bulk of the feats presented here, and many of them give you cool ways to fill in abilities that you might otherwise need to multiclass for, like effective unarmed strikes.

After feats we get archetypes. The Battle Lord gets expanded a bit, with roles that couldn't be adequately represented in Specialties, like the Marine and Cavalryman, getting put into play. The Conduit gains some rhythm and pattern based archetypes that are interesting, though I'm still testing how they actually play out. The Medium gains some cool options, like a psionic variant and an archetype that allows her to maintain a relationship with two spirit companions simultaneously, sacrificing power for versatility. I think I'm running out of space here, so let me just wrap this section by saying that the archetypes are solid, and either explore interesting new territory or fill in any gaps I may have wondered about in the core classes.

The last section of the book contains a variety of new Haunts, awesome for creepy campaigns, unusual environmental hazards like rat infestations that eat black powder to dangerous effect, and some new templates and feats that tie into various environmental effects. There's also some facsimile character sheets, a final aid in making that complicated class as accessible as possible.

Overall, this is an amazing book, with relatively few typos (I spotted a couple "there"s that should have been "their"s and some gender reference inconsistencies ("he"s where there were "she"s in the prior sentence) but overall very acceptable. The page stock is a wonderful glossy print, and the art is of a consistent quality throughout, largely on the same level as that seen on the cover. While it may not be Wayne Reynolds, it sets the tone for the book excellently.

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