The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes II (PFRPG) PDF (based on
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A fair fight is a sign of poor tactics.
The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes II offers fourteen new options for conflict-oriented characters who want to do more than just fight with honor they want to lead thier companions to victory! These are new options that compliment the original but this book functions on its own as a stand alone product. Create a force commander (wizard) and manipulate you foes like they were on a chess board! Play an aethergist (oracle) and bind the spirits of the dead to your will! Design a circle warden (witch) and bond your group together in a ring of abjuration. Within these pages you will find:
Alchemist: Spellchymist a gifted resercher whose extracts take effect at range, emulating the spells of others.
Barbarian: Savage Tactician, pedagogue barbarians versed in the art of guerrilla warfare.
Bard: Umbral Weaver, a master at manipulating and listening to the forgotten secrets of shadows.
Cleric: Pious Sentinel, able to change the tide of battle by praying for their allies, and inspiring them with bursts of divine strategical insight.
Druid: Elementalurgist, focuses on the very building blocks that allow for nature's grandeur to aid his allies
Fighter: Peltast, specialized skirmishers and masters in the art of hurling weapons swiftly and quickly.
Inquisitor: Grand Inquisitor who focuses on his spellcasting and overwhelming presence to impart judgment and strike divine fear upon the unworthy.
Monk: War Scholar, Born-strategist, a war scholar's wisdom allows him to manage his troops with an efficiency that can reverse the most uneven odds.
Oracle: Aetherurgist, renowned for her ability to bind spirits to do her bidding.
Paladin: Purifier, militant healers who providing warmth, comfort, and health to the innocent.
Rogue: Vicious Opportunist who always seems to strike at his enemies at the best moment for maximum effect.
Sorcerer: Magilith, whose bloodline power is altered due to being born at a convergent point, or node of eldritch might.
Witch: Circle Warden, unities fellow creatures inside a ring of abjuration.
Wizard: Force Commander, who ees, and shapes, the world as a giant battlemap or chess board whose sole limits are the range onto which they can control a foe.
Each archetype offers a distinct and complete theme, shifting your character's emphasis towards the wise command of allies operating as a unit. Show the enemy that good leadership doesn't discriminate—master The Secrets of Tactical Archetypes II today!
Authors: Will McCardell and Benjamin Rombeaut Pages: 24
Addressing Tactical Archetypes again with volume 2, Rite publishing gives us a PDF weighing in at 28 pages. Cover, Credits, OGL and an Ad and we're at 24 pages left for the new archetypes. Opening with a small explanation of the underlying concept of teamwork that ties these archetypes together, we dive right into the material following a short alphabetical listing of the new archetypes by class. With fourteen new archetypes, there's a varied collection that should have no problem appealing to fans of many different classes.
First up is the Aetherurgist for the Oracle class. Introducing the idea of a Spirit Mastery Score that increases every odd level, several of the abilities for this archetype base their math on not only the character's Oracle level, but also their spirit mastery score. With a list of abilities putting them as the character in tune with the spirits of the dead, the aetherurgist learn to speak the tongue of the dead, may summon both defensive and offensive spirits, and may utilize them in both touch and ranged attacks. With the new revelation options we are given such as Grasping Spirit: fills an area of terrain with spectral hands that grasp onto anything living that attempts to pass, or Swarm of Souls: a spirit you summon appears under the effect of mirror image.
Next we have the Circle Warden for the Witch, an archetype with a penchant for uniting her comrades or those under her protection within a link of fellowship. White Hexes, talismans of protection, and the ability to channel positive energy.....I could not help but think of every witchcraft tv show I have seen come out within the last decade, as well as many movies, that depict the witch characters as these super helpful, largely beneficial beings who exist solely to aid all of those around them......No thank you. Mechanically, an interesting archetype, I''ll give it that, but there are classes I like just they way they are, and the Witch, socially correct or not, is one of those classes that I'm very comfortable with as it is. Totally a personal opinion and matter of taste on this one, but I just wasn't feeling it.
The Elementalurgist for the Druid shows us that not all druids are animal loving tree huggers, there are in fact druids who take it a step even further, and attune to the elements themselves. For the elementalurgist, the four elements, and their subdomains (excluding metal) gain their loyalty and worship. Not content to simply be good with nature and the life existing within it, this archetype goes back to the building blocks of all reality itself, and works to master a relationship with the powers of the elements. Now, it is worth noting, that this archetype was where I found the first piece of rule that left me scratching my head, as there seemed to be some conflict, and contradiction. Within the abilities for the elementalurgist, we have Elemental Infusion, a rather cool concept that allows you, depending on level, to infuse your allies with aspects of elements you are attuned to. So far, so good. In the examples of what this visually might appear as (we won't bother with crunch and math here, as it is the fluff that goes a little wonky) we're told, for example, that an ally infused with fire might have a faint aura of fire around their weapon, or one infused with adamantine hardness might take on a metallic sheen.....what, Wha? Now, to be clear, allow me to quote...””...the elementalurgist may attune herself to one element: Air, Earth, Fire, or Water. Attuning herself to the element grants her that domain. She may choose any subdomain of these, except for the Metal subdomain..” Now, unless I have missed something, adamantine is still considered a metal, and therefore anything dealing with it should probably be under that header of subdomain, Metal. So, am a little confused here, if its off limits, why then does the very first example of what this archetype can do clearly show the usage of this subdomain? Now, there are several really cool concepts and abilities throughout this archetype, so don't think this hiccup derails it, just would of preferred some clarity there is all.
The Force Commander gives us the nod towards that wizard controlling the world through a game of chess. Literally controlling the forces marshaled upon a field of battle via game pieces, the Force Commander is, for me , a guaranteed NPC option only. I just don't see to many opportunities in a normal game's session for a player to make the most of this archetype, nor be able to use some of the cooler abilities often enough as an adventurer. That being said, as an NPC option, or a PC option in a campaign geared toward a larger scale army on army combat, this would be a very cool character concept, both for the visuals as well as the effects upon the battle. What intrigues me would be to set two opposing forces against each other, with a Force Commander on either side of the field, giving each to a separate PC, just to see how it would play out.
There are, by my count, ten more archetypes, and I am willing to bet you've got a fair idea of the design concepts at this point, so I shall shorten my notes on the other ten, for the sake of expediency.
Grand Inquisitor, for the Inquisitor class, is that line in the sand that separates a martial inquisitor from those pious individuals who are just downright scary in their judgement laying abilities. I have to admit, my first thought upon reading this archetype, as far as how would I explain one of these guys to a player was Archdeacon Claude Frollo of the Disney rendition for Hunchback of Notre Dame...with spells.
Magilith shows the sorcerer some love, born not of a bloodline granting them access to spells, but born upon “a convergent point, or node of eldritch might”. Essentially a magic sponge/battery, the magilith gives up a portion of their own spellcasting to gain disjunctive capacities as well as being the groups buff character as far as sacrificing their own spells pass out enhancements and bonuses.
Peltast, fighter class, as much as I see them being extremely limited in an actual melee fight, was one of the more practical archetypes as it gives a nod to the various cultures throughout history whose warriors have focused upon the thrown weapon as opposed to the held. Again, a very cool concept, but one I see more being useful to the GM as an NPC, or perhaps a challenging character concept for a veteran player looking for something different.
Pious Sentinel gives us that Cleric who affects the actions and outcomes of battle through the divine will of their God, praying for favorable results for their allies.
The Purifier paladin answers the question “What if I'm a lover, not a fighter?” A paladin option for those who are looking to play a kinder, gentler soul, one more focused on healing and altruism. The odd thing here is that the purifier gains hex levels, replacing the mercy abilities.
Savage Tactician give us those barbarians who have learned to strategise, rather than simply rush headlong in to battle.
Spellchymist are the alchemists seeking to further blur the line between alchemy and magic via further emulating the spells they seek to recreate to the point of ranged effects.
The Umbral Weaver just might be the most supported archetype presented within this collection. Whereas several new feats, spells and items have been presented throughout the book with a few here and there, the Umbral Weaver gains a slew of class abilities, new feats and spells. A bard who looks to the shadows for their power, the entirety of this archetype, for me, can be summed up with their very first class ability, Wisps of Dusk. A variation on dancing lights, Wisps of Dusk bring into being globs of shadow instead of lights. Yes, it's low in level and power in relation to what these bards end up with for options, but at the same time, it is that gloved hand in the dark, outstretched and inviting you to follow, to see where it's going. Out of the entire collection, this was my archetype, and it was the Wisps of Dusk that caught me. I actually had to stop reading through the book, and work up a rough character concept for my gallery of NPC's, I couldn't stop pondering this archetype. His name's Frialgo, he owes his existence to the genius behind the design of this subtle, and brilliant archetype. Well done.
Vicious Opportunist is an archetype presented for both the rogue and ninja classes, trading out Ninja Tricks for Rogue Talents where needed or appropriate. Essentially that combatant who always knows where and when to strike, and is always looking for the sweet spot, that one moment in battle when it's time to strike.
War Scholars are those monks who excel at strategy on levels that defy the most seasoned veterans. Understanding the complexities of terrain preparation, the management of ones troops, misdirection and the gathering of intelligence upon your enemy, the War Scholar formulates and utilizes their knowledge hand in hand with their class abilities to formulate and undertake vast combat maneuvers.
Final thoughts...formatting follows the dual column layout with embedded artwork. Rite publishing continues with their old world styled artwork which is beginning to be a signature for them with several of their releases. I think, grand total, I found two grammatical missteps in the entire volume, and they were so mild I didn't bother to note them specifically, as neither caused any true disruption. For those looking to flesh out a collection of NPC's there is a great deal of material to work with here, but as noted previously, there are those I have a hard time seeing as usable by PC's. There is also the concept of a few of these archetypes being designed for large scale play within a vast combat scenario for most of the characters activities, which must be taken into consideration when deciding if such concepts apply to an adventuring character.
As stated, I have fallen in love with the Umbral Weaver, and actually had to stop writing this review to roll up another one, although I am hoping to be able to actually play this one, as opposed to simply relegating him to the ranks of my NPC's.
As a collection of new and interesting Archetypes, this collection more than succeeds. Offering something to both players and Gms, as well as supporting the archetypes with various new spells, feats, rogue talents, ninja tricks, rage powers and items. With the Spellchymist I can't help but feel so much more could have been done, in comparison to other archetypes presented it felt flat and lifeless.
In total, taking into thought how many of these I would play myself, and how many I would relegate to the NPC bracket, and the few that would never see the light of day at my table, I am going with a 4 star rating.
A selection of very smart archetypes focused on teamwork
This pdf is based on V2 of the file, is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 24 pages of content for a new selection of complex archetypes, so let's check them out!
After a short list of archetypes by class we immediately jump into the first new archetype, the Aetherurgist, an interesting new archetype for the oracle: The Aetherurgist gets a dual curse (one sans benefits) and the ability to speak to the voices of the (un-)dead and even summon spirits. If you're expecting a boring "summon undead xyz", prepare to be wowed - the archetype gains access to immobile spirits he can summon via his pool of spirit points. These spirits can ward allies, make ranged touch attacks and via 5 new revelations expand them further - e.g. make them arcanavores that can dispel magic at the cost of their evanescent existence. One of the coolest archetypes I've read in quite a while.
The second archetype, the Circle Witch is a neat take on the white witch - her hexes are purely supportive and may not be used offensively and she does not gain a familiar. To offset this major drawback, she can channel positive energy and select from 3 new hexes, one of which e.g. lets her transfer her ward hex to allies via god luck talismans. She is also wreathed in an aura of abjuration that enables anyone inside to use shield other on other allies in the aura as a free action spell-like ability. The archetype focuses on these communal abilities and tricks and at higher levels, she may even astral project and project herself as a kind of guarding spirit onto allies - a return, though, is only possible once she returns to the aura exhibited by her body. First I was rather baffled at the power the aura grants a party, but at the cost of a familiar and offensive hexes, I consider the overall result to be quite worth the effort - an iconic way of granting the witch class a very own identity that feels surprisingly coherent and well-conceived.
After that, we get the Elementalurgist fur the Druid-class. The druid focuses on the elemental building blocks of the universe and can choose an element every day and attune themselves and their allies via a total of 21 different attunements to an element, making e.g. their weapons count as one category larger. While the infusions are interesting and we get an additional feat and 2 spells, the archetype suffers for me personally: While the crunch is neat, I have seen too many elementalists/elemental specialists etc. to consider this particular one interesting. It could be considered a triumph that I don't hate it.
The Wizard gets an iconic archetype indeed - the force commander: Summoning a chess-board of almost indestructible force representing the environment, foes and similar complications on the board. The battle-map features some pawns representing willing and unwilling characters and creatures and enables the commander to force movements and reposition his enemies and allies - nice take on terrain-controlled wizard.
The Grand Inquisitor is another interesting archetype - while not as complex as some other archetypes, its premise is smart: The grand inquisitors get access to their domain's spells and may add orisons to offensive and defensive spells and while the selection is limited, it wholly changes the flavor of the class. Instead of solo-tactics and teamwork feats, the grand inquisitor gains determinations - 1/day as a free action, he may reroll an attack roll, add +4 to AC against an attack that otherwise would hit or force a foe to reroll an attack against an ally. Additionally, the grand inquisitor may add special effects to spells, one of which essentially quotes the iconic Hellfire-scene from Disney's hunchback - ever wanted to summon the disturbing, grey faceless angels to harass your foes? Now you can add that to your spells! Smart, aptly-written variation on the inquisitor, although I consider the lack of solo-tactics to be more of an incision than the archetype needs power-wise. Better safe than sorry, though - no power-creep is always preferable to power-creep.
The Sorceror gets the Magilith-archetype - born with a powerful conflux of magic energies, the Magilith has a disruptive magical energy aura (granting bonuses to saves) and may empower or dispel spells (on a 1 or 20, respectively). Even more, they can craft their spells into weapons, granting bonuses to equipment or an ally's checks - sacrificing spell-slots powering a lot of abilities. The balance more than makes up for the loss of a bloodline. The most iconic ability, though, is the option to craft spectral chains to cast spells on their chained allies as if touching them, absorbing them harmful spells targeted on them etc. - I LOVE THIS ARCHETYPE. It's iconic, cool and smart.
The Fighter gets the Peltast-archetype, a light armored fighter centered on skirmishing tactics and piercing weapons as well as fining chinks in one opponents defense. Seeing the distinct lack of good light-armored fighter options, I immensely enjoyed this archetype (which also gets more skills etc.) and campaigns in the Sword & Sorcery genre will love this particular class, as there are options to get past DR when they know about an enemy's type/weaknesses. Great class to reward smart fighters. Roy Greenhilt would be proud!
The Pious Sentinels (Cleric) are essentially divinely inspired strategists who can pray for two teamwork feats per day and even extend access to said feats to their allies temporarily via their strategic hegemony. Once again, smart class!
Paladins may now opt to become Purifiers instead: The Purifier, when using Lay on Hands, may call divine retribution on foes attacking them afterwards, sheathing them in searing, holy flames. Even better, they gain limited access to witches hexes! Now I did not see that one coming and to be honest - this is the first incarnation of the healing knight trope I actually WANT to play! Excellent job!
You may think of many things when hearing "tactics", but not barbarian. This may change with the new Savage Tactician: The savage tactician may grant his allies a lesser form of rage and limited access to rage powers and provides a new rage power to learn as well.
Alchemists may now become Spellchymists, who may create spell vials that essentially work as infusions that may spring up on other targets/at range. While not too complex, the archetype is a cool way to make alchemists more about the team.
Umbral Weavers, a variant of the bard allows for control of visibility via mystic shadowy powers to impede foes, create illusions and dwimmerlaik-tricks, which provide ranged touch attacks or the option to entangle foes with shadows. One of the coolest abilities provides for an option to superimpose illusions of allies over them to trick foes into attacking openings that don't truly exist. 4 new spells are part of the deal along a new feat.
Ninjas and Rogues may opt to become Vicious Opportunists now, a truly ingenious alternative: The Opportunist loses sneak attack, but gets a less damaging ability, Opportunities Aplenty, which instead works at range as well. He can also direct his allies to make use of said ability at range, which is rather neat and makes for, once again, a great strategic character. The archetype also features 8 new ninja/rogue tricks/talents and provides a lengthy and comprehensive explanation of the new signature ability and the interactions with similar abilities.
The final new archetype we are introduced to is the War Scholar for the monk gets a clever signature ability called "Rapid Planning", in which the monk may study a given terrain to take in its features and grants a variety of bonuses to his allies - 10 options are detailed for this ability alone. Neat!
Editing and formatting are very good, while I did notice some minor glitches like double full-stops and lines that should be bold and are not, but I noticed less than 5 glitches and none impeded my understanding of the content. The pdf comes with bookmarks and layout adheres to RiP's full-color, 2-column standard. The pieces of stock-art are nice and fit the topics. All right. I'll come out and say it, these archetypes are probably not the most simple ones imaginable. Indeed, almost all of the classes come with at least one VERY interesting, smart ability that offers new ways to help your team-mates. And that's what gaming in a group is about, isn't it? Scoring the deadly hits is cool, but saving all of the group from a TPK, having this tactical idea to turn the tide of battle - that's what this pdf is about: Cooperation. And it covers all Core-classes, APG-classes - while I missed the Magus, one can't have everything, I guess. Well. That's about the criticism I can muster - all of these archetypes have some ability that makes them a cool, viable choice. They a smart, they often provide iconic ways of helping your fellows. This pdf is quite frankly the best archetype-book for PFRPG I've read so far. While I'd detract half a star for the minor glitches, the pdf is just TOO GOOD. Authors Will McCardell and Benjamin Rombeaut have created a stellar book of smart options guaranteed to enrich your games, especially when looking for options to smart fighting. My final verdict will thus be 5 stars and the Endzeitgeist seal of approval.