The Genius Guide to the Armiger introduces the armiger base class—a warrior who specializes in defensive techniques and the use of shields and heavy armor. As a great tactician once noted, the best way to win a fight is to be the last man standing. Or, put more colloquially, sometimes the best offense is a good defense!
Armigers are masters of defense, able to shrug of attacks that would destroy lesser combatants, and even increase the survivability of those around them. The armiger is built around maximizing the benefit of armor and shields. With large hit point totals, special defense-related talents, and an aptitude for unusual shields, armigers can carry the fight forward under the most difficult circumstances. The best armigers often find themselves the main thing standing between victory and a total party kill.
While armigers can fight with most martial weapons, typically they focus on pole arms with reach or crossbows, giving them the ability to strike at foes without having to be on the front line of a battle. This allows armigers to play strong supporting roles and still manage to inflict damage on the enemy. An armiger certainly can fight with other weapons, but just as monks are generally at their best using unarmed attacks, most armigers function better when using reach or simple ranged weapons. Of course they also wear the best armor they can afford, regularly spending much more on shields and plate mail than weapons or comfort items. Armor is the core of an armiger’s identity—an armiger treats his protective gear the way a cleric treats his holy symbol, or a samurai treats his katana.
Many armigers are famous heroes, well known for surviving horrific trials that crushed others before. An armiger may begin his career as a small town hero who, through sheer cussedness, outlasted a terrible troll on a battle over a local bridge. Or he may be a noble-born guardian of his people, trained from birth to wear the heavy armor only members of the upper class can afford. In some lands, entire brigades of armigers are legendary as specialty troops who provide an impenetrable blanket of protection—groups with names such as the Dwarven Ironhides or the Bullette Brigade.
Other armigers are the trusted aids of mighty knights, priests, and archmages—the right-hand men and most loyal supporters of important individuals. These armigers are often less well known than the great leaders and dignitaries they serve, but there presence is palpable and they are perceived as powers to be reckoned with. Killing an armiger’s charge is almost always a secondary concern, to be handled only after you’ve disposed of the armiger.
This pdf is 11 pages long 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial & SRD and 1 page of advertisement, leaving 8 1/3 pages for the Armiger-class, so let’s check out this defensive bullwark!
The new Armiger base-class is an interesting concept, as it’s a primary melee-class with ¾ BAB, 4+Int skills per level, good fort and ref saves and a unique rule regarding hitpoints: They get d12, but if they roll less than 6, they treat the result as 6. Interesting concept, as it ensures that the Armiger has a lot of hitpoints, conceivably more than all other characters. A variant rule for groups that use other means to determine hit points is also presented. This concept of being tougher than everyone else is continued in the Armiger’s abilities, granting him both improving DR while in armor as well as the ability to count as cover for his allies as well as changing places with allies to absorb incoming attacks.
Of course, as with almost any halfway-decent class, the armiger has choices for the player – he gets a selection of talents (10) and advanced talents (6) – from counting as hard cover, gaining more defensive feats to bracing crossbows on shields, gaining elemental resistance.
I have a little concern with regards to the spellguard advanced talents that enable the armiger to cast some abjuration spells from either cleric or wizard lists. Unfortunately, we don't get any information which key ability modifier he uses.
I’m a bit wary of the second level-ability Reflect, too: It lets the Armiger, sans save, halve any damage from a source that enables a reflex save, essentially making the Armiger’s one bad save not too important. I have some balance concerns here. The same goes for the follow-up advanced talent.
The capstone ability sees the Armiger become immune to critical and several other attack-forms.
The pdf also offers extensive advice on how to use the Armiger in your game and offers 5 new feats centering on improving shield attacks and even halve armor penalty to movement.
The pdf closes by providing information on 5 new exotic shields to complement your defensive bulwark.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the three-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks. I like the idea of the Armiger, but I don’t like its execution: Reflect is simply too strong and gained too early and players being players, my DM-experience is screaming to me, in capital letters, that this class is prone to munchkinism, combined with enough magic items this will become problematic. The fact, that two of the advanced talents lack necessary information does not improve the pdf, either. The ability to become hard cover for allies is cool, but healing them as well feels like not really belonging to the class -healing others is usually the providence of divine characters. In the end, I will settle for a final verdict of 2.5 stars, rounded up to 3 as the class has potential, but could become problematic fast, scaling the AC so high that either the Armiger gets rarely hit and everyone else always, or having the Armiger practically as an unhittable brute. Both are not necessarily viable options in my book.
The class is good at defending itself, but it is also great as a bodyguard type class which is how I intend to use it as a DM. I don't like the fact that it gets energy resistances as an extraordinary ability, but I can get past that. I don't think myself or my group will see this as fun class for a PC which is why it gets 4 stars instead of 5. In any event I think it is a job well done, and I don't a little rule breaking in character class creation as long as it is justified, and in this case it is.
You will crave feats like a dragon craves treasure
I have been meaning to review this one for a while. I like the concept. And I like it for one very big reason. Though the class is primarily defensive, there are lots of ways to make it offensive. Few options in the class will add to any offensive punch, but many of them mesh well with feats and specific equipment.
Hence the title of the review, you will want a billion feats for this class, but because of the design you wont get them all, keeping it balanced. On the flip side the fact that certain abilities synergize well with offensive feats means you are capable of not being the unhittable non-threatening tin can, that ends up being pretty useless in many encounters. (If intelligent enemies are completely unthreatened by a defensive character, his defense is less useful as they will just attack someone else).
I am currently adding a group of 'hoplite' armigger npcs into an encounter to see how some of the polearm and shield synergistic abilities work. I expect it to be different, and interesting to fight against for my party.
Overall, while not my absolute favorite SGG class, I definately think it is a good one and worth picking up if you want a new take on 'the tank' in a party, or as npcs.
The Armiger is an interesting class. The concept is a neat one, that being that its a combat class that is all about maximizing defensive capabilities.
The class has a d12 hit dice and a medium BaB . . . it gets talents at various levels, and it has DR whenever the character has armor on, and can do things like granting cover to adjacent foes.
I really, really want to like this class. I like the concept. But I have a hard time with the various, and I mean various, deviations from Pathfinder standard rules.
A lot of times, I know that SGG pushes the boundaries and sees what works. I appreciate that, and sometimes I don't always agree, but I understand and think the experimentation is a good thing.
This class has medium BaB with a d12 hit dice (one deviation)and treats any hit points rolled on their hit dice under a 6 as a 6 (meaning they get a minimum of 6 hp per hit dice no matter what). . . I'm not quite thrilled with those deviations from "Pathfinder RPG Norm". The core conceit of the class is to twist and break the standard rules to attempt to make sure the class always has more hit points than anyone else. That doesn't feel like a strong basis for a class.
Sorry guys . . . I still love you for trying though! Also, I amended a bit of the review as I misinterpreted a rule on my initial run through, and a mistake was corrected in the PDF in the meantime.