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: Six feats designed to augment the options and utility of archons (from The Genius Guide to the Archon) or, if archons aren't being used in a campaign, that can be taken by warrior-wizards of other classes and multiclasses (replacing archon levels prerequisites with a base attack bonus and caster level of the same value).
So my favorite all time character I played was in 2E DnD. He was a militant wizard. For those who don't know, it was a kit (basically an archetype). He was an invoker (now called an evoker). I loved playing him so much. I have converted him a few times as new products came out and I have been able to find a closer match to what I wanted from the character.
This product brings me much closer to that vision. I didn't buy it for that though. I bought it because I have a magus in the party and I thought he might see some use. I was right. He will have a lot of fun storing spells in his weapon, giving penalties to saving throws, and giving himself a bonus to hit and damage in the process.
Now that I have bought this, I felt compelled to get the archon class. Isn't that what a great product does? It makes you want to get more great products.
Weighing in with the standard 3 page, 3 column format that has become a staple of the Bullet Point series, 6 Archon Feats gives us two pieces of B&W art from Per Sjögren, with both pieces being fairly good. Formatting wise I noticed in the High Concept (used to explain the intent of the product), that this PDF has fallen victim to a cut and paste job, as it states that the six feats are designed to augment the options and utility of Armigers, not Archons. Small mistake, more amusing than anything.
This bullet Point continues the recent trend to focus upon a Genius Class, while still giving us alternatives in the instance that the class is either unavailable, or simply not represented. Our six feats are as follows:
Add Invocation to Injury: By dealing damage without the usage of spells, spell like abilities or any supernatural ability, you can weaken your foe towards such an attack until your next turn.
Eldritch Insight: Foes failing saving throws against spells you've cast will gain you bonuses towards atk/dmg rolls with weapons and such when attacking the same target.
Second Spell-Weapon: Attune two weapons instead of one. Will state that, where-as I understand the alphabetical listings, this feat should have been listed under the next one, as it is in effect, a greater version of the next feat.
Spell-Weapon: Attune a weapon to allow for a greater range of benefits from certain spells when cast upon the attuned weapon.
Spell-Weapon Charge: “Store” a touch spell within an attuned weapon until you wish to “deliver” it.
Spell-Weapon Gestures: Allows an attuned weapon's movements to replace the gestures of one's hands that are required for somantic components while casting.
Whereas four of the six feats are all focused upon the attuned weapon concept, I have to say, I really like the idea of the attuned weapon, and would like to see it expanded further. It very much invokes some nostalgia for old school blade-singers, and has me wanting to take a further look into the genius guide for the archon. I very much like the fact that the first feat out of the stable relies on the character to use their abilities other than magical to even gain an advantage, and the second, whereas it requires the magical side of things, rewards in the more non-magical sense. Far to many players playing a “spell casting sword wielder” forget they are carrying a sword sometimes. Am going with a solid 5 stars on this product, as the only flaw I found was not disturbing enough to cause real issues, and the feats are all solid and useable.
This pdf is 3 pages long, 1 page front cover/introduction, 1 page SRD - 1 page new feats - straightforward as it gets! So let's check it out!
The Archon was the first Gish-class for PFRPG and is still one of my favorite classes, mostly due to the fluff and the fact that it is sufficiently unique and different. The other Gish-class by SGG, the Vanguard has recently seen an upgrade in form of new feats in RiP's "101 Renegade Class Feats" and these feats added a truly distinct fighting tactic and very special options to the class, proving that some exclusive feats go a long way in making a class memorable.
Does this Bullet Point-pdf reach this level of quality? Well, the feats we get are:
- Add Invocation to Injury: If you damage a foe via mundane (i.e. non-magical/supernatural) means, you can penalize her/him/it until your next round with -1 or -2 (depending on the weapon) on her(his/its saves. Cool feat - while not too powerful, it does offer a mechanic that rewards fighting both with magic and weapons instead of focusing on one of the two.
- Eldritch Insight: This feats does the same in reverse: If a foe botches a save against your spells, said foe becomes easier to hit by your mundane attacks. The ability works for 1 minute, taking into account that spells are limited for a greater duration. A great feat for the same reason as the first.
-Spell Weapon: Via a ceremony, you attune yourself to a weapon: When casting a specific set of spells: Greater magic weapon & keen edge can be cast as a swift action without M/DF component. Locate Object gets an expanded range. Magic Weapon and Light work longer. Obscure Object hides your attuned weapon for 24 hours.
-Second Spell Weapon: This grants you a second attuned spell weapon. I really like these two feats, as they reward specific tactics/ability synergies with bonuses. I hope to see more feats in the future that reward fighting styles/ enhance buffing.
-Spell Weapon Charge: Somewhat a misnomer in the English language, this is no charge attack, but lets you store an undelivered charge from a touch attack in your blade to cast other spells, effectively making your attuned weapon a kind of battery - once again, a cool idea, flawlessly executed.
-Spell Weapon gestures: You can use your spell weapon-wielding hand to fulfill somatic components of spellcasting.
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 and at this length, needs none. These feats are GOLD for any gish -replace the archon-lvl-requirements with "Magus", "Vanguard" or whatever and you can easily use them for other gish-classes as well. The feats are expertly written and showcase why Owen K.C. Stephens has a reputation for being a true master of crunch. Having nothing to complain about and LOVING the spell weapon-feat tree, my only gripe is that I would have loved a full genius guide with feats of this quality. My final verdict will thus be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.
Spell out your martial mastery for your opponents with six synergistic feats.
Another entry in the Bullet Points series, here we have a collection akin to the Armiger set--its inception oriented towards an SGG base class (the Archon of course, in this case)--while offering a parallel to other characters if the class is not being utilized in a given campaign. Magus seems the forward-most pick in this regard--but let's take a look at how these feats play out!
Of the six feats presented in this issue of Bullet Points, two are 'standalone' and the remaining four lay focused on the new Spell-Weapon feat--which boasts additional effects for a variety of traditional weapon-oriented magics. But first, the two outliers:
Add Invocation to Injury, in addition to its entertaining name, bestows penalties on an enemy to resist spells, spell-like and supernatural abilities so long as none of the three are utilized at any point during the round--which then lasts until the end of the following turn; this penalty scales up a tad if the possessor utilizes a weapon with a higher critical hit modifier.
I like the intention of this feat, the synergy for swapping to and fro between 'mundane' attacks and magical assault--but feel that it borders on being a bit too convoluted for the small penalty it hedges out; it sets out that you must eschew any usage of the trio of magical flavors at any point during your round to give a save penalty.
Instead, why not present it such that an enemy you've hit with a regular attack but have not affected by magical proves to be a viable target? You might then, for example, alternate between two or more foes doling out your abilities, or provide boons to allies or yourself via magic--while still delaying the penalty to a particular enemy for a round and still dedicating your swift action to it.
It seems to me that encouraging a character whose flavor is based around bundling swords and sorcery together to not utilize the latter every other round is a bit of a punishing exchange for a modest penalty to an opponent; a tweak in this vein would go a long way to making the feat more appealing, in my opinion.
Moving on, Eldritch Insight rounds the opposite approach, providing its possessor a bonus to attack and damage rolls when an opponent fails a save against a spell they've cast; to this end, why not extend the conditions here--adding to CMB or CMD, triggering off of an opponent affected by your spells or supernatural abilities in general (promoting combos e.g. touching for a shocking grasp here and then slashing there, etc.)
There's room to broaden the conditions here for the modest bonus--against affects that did not prompt a save, it could last a round while the failed saves remain or renew the minute duration.
Beyond this pair, we turn to Spell-Weapon and its three follow-up feats: Second Spell-Weapon, Spell-Weapon Charge and Spell-Weapon Gestures. In and of itself, Spell-Weapon provides added functionality to a variety of spells cast upon a weapon to which the possessor has 'attuned' themselves (via a ritual, such that this selection can be swapped about).
The modifiers here vary a fair bit, from greater magic weapon not requiring materials or a divine focus to upping the duration or range of similarly affecting spells. There's the premise of a fun concept here, though I feel the implementation is a bit limiting in that it only identifies a small selection of spells for its purposes.
If instead, the conditions were broadened a bit--increasing the duration of combat-oriented weapon magics (such as magic weapon) by x factor, utility-oriented weapon magics (such as locate object) by y factor, etc.--you could open the door to accommodating forthcoming Paizo or 3PP spells for example.
I'd have also liked to see a callback to the SGG Bell, Book and Candle Loot 4 Less innovation in the Artificer's Rushlight, as it might not be out of place to provide similar flexibility in regards to greater magic weapon for an Archon or similar character--though this could certainly be presented in a follow-up feat with Spell-Weapon as one of its prerequisites.
That said, Second Spell-Weapon is very straightforward--allowing a character to 'attune' to an additional weapon; ostensibly off of the base feat double-weapons are considered one weapon for the purposes of attuning, so I'd imagine this accounts for dual-wielding or swapping to and from a backup, considering how long the attuning ritual takes.
Spell-Weapon Charge allows you to hold the charge of a touch-ranged spell within an attuned weapon as if it were a battery, but specifies that it may not be used to deliver said spell--only that it may be maintained while you cast other spells. I don't necessarily think that it would be too quarrelsome to also be able to deliver the spell later--perhaps offset by a penalty to the attack sequence, or expending it if the intended attack misses, etc.--since you're taking the time and actions to set it up anyways. There's synergy with Add Invocation to Injury here, though!
Finally, we close out with Spell-Weapon Gestures which is also fairly straightforward: an attuned weapon can be used to complete the somatic requirements of spell-casting as if it weren't being held. If this is a frequent problem for a character, I suppose this would be handy--it's another where I feel a little extra oomph could go a long way though. How about also serving to make the fact that the possessor is casting a spell more subtle and difficult to detect (perhaps upping the difficulty of spellcraft to identify the spell being cast?) Is the character just attacking with flourish, or are they preparing to assault you with powerful magics? Just a thought.
Overall: 3 pages, one dedicated to the intro and cover and one advertisement / licensing page, keeping these six 'bullet point' feats on a single crisp page. There's two pieces of black and white art in the mix, both of which are nice flavor. I noticed a quirk or two in wording, but otherwise the format follows SGG standards and is clean.
Regarding the package as a whole, as one can glean I have a lot of opinions on the execution as presented--but overall, even without the above suggestions the feats here are functional as they stand. I suspect that a character balancing both martial and magic is going to be a touch 'feat starved' as it were, which is one of the reasons behind my feelings on the usefulness of each as a feat--but if you or a player in your campaign is playing this flavor of character, the Spell-Weapon feat set could be fun to play with.
At the price point, it's a good value for the inventiveness regardless--if you're on the hunt for this flavor of feat, this issue of Bullet Points fits the bill comfortably. I would rate this one 3.5 stars in that I would have liked to see expansion and tweaking on the circumstances and functionality of the above feats--but to be fair, they're still perfectly usable without my poking under the hood and thus I'll round this to 4.