Sometimes rules supplements read like the world-setting bible of frustrated novelists. While solid world-building is a useful skill, you don’t always need four paragraphs of flavor text to tell you swords are cool, magic is power, shadows are scary, and orcs are savage. Sometimes a GM doesn’t have time to slog through a page of history for every magic weapon. Sometimes all that’s needed are a few cool ideas, with just enough information to use them in a game. Sometimes, all you need are bullet points.
#1 With A Bullet Point is a line of very short, cheap PDFs each of which gives the bare bones of a set of related options. It may be five spells, six feats, eight magic weapon special abilities, or any other short set of related rules we can cram into about a page. Short and simple, these PDFs are for GMs and players who know how to integrate new ideas into their campaigns without any hand-holding, and just need fresh ideas and the rules to support them. No in-character fiction setting the game world. No charts and tables. No sidebars of explanations and optional rules. Just one sentence of explanation for the High Concept of the PDF, then bullet points.
The High Concept: Nine feats designed to augment the options and utility of armigers (from The Genius Guide to the Armiger) or, if armigers aren’t being used in a campaign, that can be taken by fighters (using their fighter class levels as armiger levels for prerequisites).
The very first feat that caught my attention was Soak It Up. If you are looking for a lot of hit points, this feat will get you there. I also really like the idea of using your Armor Check penalty as a bonus to your CMD. If you have a character that has a low Will save but lots of armor, you will find Helmed Confidence to be very useful. I can see Shield Crush being used by sword-and-board fighters (and you should pick up that PDF too).
You don't need to have the armiger class to use these feats. It wouldn't hurt to buy that one too though.
9 Armiger Feats weighs in with the standard Bullet Point look and feel with 3 pages and 3 columns. 1 page given to the cover (which includes the concept introduction behind the Bullet Point series), 1 page for the new material, and 1 page to the OGL. Artwork consists of 3 B&W's, two of which are stock from Elmore and Forge Studios, the other a piece from Smith. The art for this one, unfortunately is a clear example of why art styles need to stay similar throughout a piece of work. The cover piece (the only non stock), looks really bad in comparison to the other two pieces of artwork, and detracts from the overall product because of it. Grammatically I found nothing worth noting, nor were there any format errors.
This Bullet Point continues the concept of supporting Genius Guides for a specific class, this one being the armiger, but still supplies alternatives in the case of the class not being present within your campaign, or not allowed. The 9 Feats are as follows:
Armored Hulk: bonus to your CMD based upon your armor check penalty. Now this is a feat I think has been missing from the game mechanics for a very long time, in penalizing characters for wearing armor, without giving a positive other than AC, the game ignores the various advantages to having that much weight and bulk at your disposal when it comes to physical combat. Well done.
Brace For Impact: This feat allows one a greater range of usage for the brace weapon feature, and essentially allows you to stand before a charging foe with more than just a spear as an option.
Hard To Kill: Wearing heavy armor allows you to convert a set amount (based upon level) of lethal damage to nonlethal damage.
Helmed Confidence: Bonus to Will saves based upon level as long as your wearing your helmet...let's face it, we all feel a little more bad ass when we put on a helmet.
Push Back: Failed attempts at certain CMB's against you provoke AoO in the form of a shield bash attack from you. “Don't target what you can't handle, you might end up on your back.”
Shield Crush: Sometimes, some folks are just a little more dangerous with a shield in their hands.
Shield Parry: Being good with a shield pays off, granting a better AC bonus from using a shield.
Shrug It Off: Use heavy armor/tower shield to gain temp. hit points to reflect the game mechanics behind said armor or shield absorbing more damage than weaker armors.
Soak It Up: Retroactively gaining HP per HD when the feat is taken, this feat then changes how you'll gain HP for each future level. Am not entirely sure I'm feeling this one, as it fails to address the issue of the armiger's “minimum 6” when it comes to HD rolls.
Between the Soak It Up failing to explain how it works in tandem with established mechanics, and my personal feelings towards the front cover artwork, I am going to have to give this one a strong 4 star rating.
-EDIT- Having just read through the comments section for this PDF I see that the Soak It Up feat has been clarified, and the rule of minimum 6 stands, which at this point I have to wonder about this feat, and how unbalanced it becomes. A 1d12HD becomes a 1d8+4...using a minimum 6, it is now a guaranteed 10-12 every level. 1d10HD is now a 1d6+4 (guaranteed 10 every level), 1d8HD is now 1d6+2 (maxed again), this concept continues down the line, and becomes a real issue at the 1d6HD, that is now a 1d4+4...which by rule of minimum 6 actually gives you a total of ten, since no matter what you role, you get a 6. Am going to leave the rating at four, as I feel the other 8 Feats are well written and balanced, but this, as it stands, unless I am totally not understanding this feat, is a serious power players wet dream.
This pdf is 3 pages long, 1 page introduction/front, 1 page SRD, leaving 1 page for the 9 new feats of the Armiger. Let's check it out!
-Armored Hulk: Gain armor check penalty as bonus to CMD vs. bull rush, drag, grapple, reposition, overrun and trip.
-Brace for Impact: Treat all 1-and 2-handed weapons as braced. If you brace, you get +2 to attack to roll and AC.
-Hard to Kill: Convert limited amounts of damage into non-lethal damage. This is in addition to the DR the Armiger gets.
--Helmed Confidence: Gain a bonus to will-saves when wearing a helmet.
-Push back: If you resist a selection of combat maneuvers, you may make an attack of opportunity/shield bash.
-Shield Crush: deal more damage with shield bashs and threaten more crits with the shields.
-Shield Parry: Gain more Ac-bonus when using combat expertise with shields.
-Shrug it off: Use your tower shield to get limited amounts of temporary hit points.
-Soak it up: Retroactively adds hp for all class levels and future levels and change HD you gain in future levels: d12 e.g. becomes 1d8+4. However, it is not explained how this ability interacts with the armiger's "always at least 6 points on a d12"-rule, which is somewhat of a pity.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. layout adheres to SGG'S 3-column-standard. The pdf has no bookmarks, but neither does it need them. I did enjoy these feats, although the Armiger-class probably won't ever be my favorite. What somewhat bugs me, is that "Soak it up" needs a clarification, otherwise it actually makes the Armiger (d12+ Con-mod, at least 6+con-mod) WEAKER: 1d8+4+con-mod may result in having less HP than before! This being a major hick-up, my final verdict will be 4 stars.
Inventive, practical perks for shield and heavy-armor enthusiasts.
In the Bullet Points series we have short, sweet collections of extras at a low price point to further flavor and enhance the options available in a campaign near you. Here, we've got a set meant for the Armiger class in its inception (which itself is a curious offering, a fairly flavorful)--but helpfully given an out for consumption by traditional fighters as well. Let's take a look!
We've got nine feats to contend with, each oriented around an adventurer very keen on getting the most out of their armor and the premise of stalwart durability; following this concept, most are oriented around combat maneuvers in particular:
Armored Hulk offers bonuses to combat maneuver defense derived from a character's current armor check penalty; this is fairly neat conceptually, since the intention is to reward wearing especially bulky and ponderous armor--but I think a caveat ought to be included to account for special materials and enchantments (e.g. apply whatever the original penalty would have been) so as not to devalue the feat for upgrading your heavy armor.
Brace for Impact allows you to treat all your weapons as if they had the brace weapon feature, and if you brace with one that ordinarily does have the feature you can do so more effectively; certainly allows for more use of something that I feel folks often don't engage, but I'm unconvinced this would be something a player would want to spend a feat on.
Hard to Kill has a peculiar angle in that it converts a small portion of lethal damage taken to nonlethal when wearing heavy armor; this amount 'scales' mildly, but I don't think this one has enough oomph to be particularly desirable as a feat in its current iteration. SGG offers a feat in Feats of Battle which provides DR 2/-- when wearing heavy armor, which is patently better than Hard to Kill in practice; I don't think it would be terribly unbalancing to up the ante with this one a bit.
Helmed Confidence is one I quite liked--requiring Iron Will and a helmet, one wearing the latter gets a bonus to their Will saves which scales with level. I could definitely see a player being keen to pick this one up and the flavor for it is a lot of fun (though I can't help but think of the Juggernaut for some reason...!) This one's a winner.
Push Back racks up steep prerequisites and hedges off of shield usage, but allows a character to bash back against a failed attempt at a combat maneuver and potentially knock their assailant prone; fun mental image and holds potential in the field--this one has promise. On a minor note, though it notes that the failed maneuver provokes an attack of opportunity, this could use with an assertion as to this overriding the Improved maneuver feat suite in their avoidance of provoking.
Shield Crush is very straightforward--upping the damage on shield bash attacks and broadening their critical threat range. I love this feat if only by virtue of it further augmenting the viability of being a shield-bashing menace on the field and offering more incentive to do so over turning to a trusty two-hander for damage. A nice perk for a character devoted to the concept and a feat I'm surprised hasn't surface in core material.
Shield Parry is a further boost to armor class when toting such about, with the added perk of increasing the difficulty an opponent faces in sundering said shield. Very straightforward and likely to get snagged by a character devoted to further hardening their bulwark.
Shrug it Off is fairly neat--as a move action, a character can prepare themselves for an attack in the form of gaining a small pool of temporary hit points; these hit points scale with character level and I could certainly see it adding up in healing saved over the course of an adventurer, making this a pretty practical pick. Nice!
Soak it Up caps us off with a boost to a character's hit point pool retroactively and then converting further hit dice gained by augmenting die rolls with static numbers; the usefulness of this could vary greatly depending on how a particular campaign is handling such rolls, but this could certainly serve to beef a character up over the course of their career. Not bad, just a bit curious.
Overall: 3 pages, one dedicated to the intro and cover and one advertisement / licensing page, keeping the nine 'bullet point' feats on a single concise page. There's some black and white art in the mix, but frankly the product is very straightforward as one can imagine: a page you can print off with the offerings all racked together.
On the whole, I like the feats presented here and could certainly see a character beholden to the concept behind them finding much appeal from the product; while the execution of some of the feats included is a bit curious (and in the case of Hard to Kill, just flat-out inferior to a similar feat from a sister offering of SGG), nevertheless there's enough cleverness and creativity here to certainly warrant a look.
None of the feats struck me as overpowering or as a potential source of imbalance--and enough are presented with an inventive twist that I feel this deserves consideration if you're apt to incorporate 3PP feats in your game. If you have a player that is utilizing the Armiger class from SGG, picking these feats up should be a gimme.
Even if this is not the case, if you have a player that is excited about a heavily armored or shield-loving character, I think they'll be quite happy if these are made available in the mix as well. I'd rate this installment of Bullet Points a comfortable four out of five stars, with the footnote that I'd like to see SGG revisit and reconsider a few tweaks mentioned above.