The Genius Guide to Feats of Multiclassing (PFRPG) PDF (based on
Rogue Genius Games
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Fantasy fiction is rife with characters that can call on a hodgepodge of minor techniques, from rogues who apprenticed as wizards in their youth to priests who were once warriors, often fantasy characters break out of the narrow restrictions of a single class. If a player wishes to create similarly flexible characters they often have little choice but to multiclass, often only “level dipping” to pick up just enough of a class’s iconic abilities to justify a complex background.
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic introduced feats that created alternatives to level dipping: Amateur Gunslinger and the Eldritch Heritage line of feats. These feats give characters enough of the features of another base class to allow players to create characters with concepts that are “multiclassed” without level dipping, or wrestling with any of the complex questions that come up when taking levels in multiple classes. Inspired by these feats (which have been reproduced here for purposes of including all multiclass feat options in one place), The Genius Guide to Feats of Multiclassing applies this same idea to other base classes, allowing players to build characters that touch on the abilities of the alchemist, barbarian, bard, cavalier, cleric, druid, fighter, inquisitor, magus, monk, oracle, paladin, ranger, rogue, sorcerer, summoner, witch, and wizard without taking on levels from multiple classes.
This means, of course, that this product is not for anyone who dislikes blurring distinctions between classes. That said, the multiclass feats can actually be excellent ways to help sharpen the distinctions between characters, by giving players one more set of options to customize their character choices. Three fighters are going to make a lot of the same choices, but if one has focused on his fiendish heritage (with the eldritch heritage line of feats), one on his duty to a knightly order (with Squire and Champion of the Order) and one on his training as a warrior of the Clan of the Bear (with Berserker, Wodewose and Skin Walker), the characters are going to feel very different even as they take on the same basic tasks of dealing damage to foes. The lines between classes may be blurry, but the characters have grown in distinctiveness as a result.
This pdf is 21 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page SRD & editorial, leaving 19 1/3 pages of content, so let's check this out!
Multiclassing is a topic that is problematic at best - while on the one side it enables players to make characters that are more complex, on the other hand level-dipping can and has unbalanced more than one character out there. It is this problem recent Paizo-publications have addressed via Eldritch Heritage and Amateur Gunslinger ( the former from UM, the latter from UC) sought to address. It is here that SGG's feats of multiclassing start at (including a reprint of the feats, so all are compiled in one source): Essentially, this pdf provides you with feats that enable you to play e.g. fighters with a knack for some spells, arcanists with martial training etc. After an alphabetic list of the feats and extensive advice on how to use them and an optional rule on favored multiclassing, we're introduced to the feats.
Mechanically, these feats provide a slew of challenges for the designers: In order to keep the game-balance and keep them useful, many of the feats herein have the prerequisite of having no levels in a particular class. Once a character with such a feat takes a level in the prohibited class, the feat is changed towards a rogue talent, a certain feat or a similar benefit, making these feats valid long-time investments for PCs.
More than that, the guide also includes a slew of feat chains that expand e.g. upon the eldritch heritages of your character or your minor gunslinging talents. It should also be mentioned that not only "dipping"-feats are included in the deal - the Ajouga-feat (wizard/witch-summoner), for example lets you give up your familiar in favor of making your eidolon your familiar. There is a wide-variety of different options to scavenge signature abilities from other classes than your primary one and while I do enjoy the variety and balance of the feats, I can't help but feel that it will take some time of playtesting on the part of my group to find out whether/how especially the specialist path multiclass feats are balanced. While I don't have any concerns with regards to the dipping-feats or those that grant access to some of the unique abilities, those that grant access to higher level abilities still leave me with a slightly queasy feeling. Take the aberrant bloodline, for example...
That is not where the pdf stops, though: 5 feats for SGG-classes are part of the deal and provide great practical examples and advice for you to create your very own multiclassing feats.
Editing and formatting are very good and apart from one formatting error, I did not notice anything distracting. Layout adheres to SGG's 3-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a pity, for it would make navigating the feats easier .The cover-artwork (probably depicting a character with the journeyman gunslinger feat) is awesome. Designing these feats must have been HARD. Seriously, balancing them, doing the math etc. is a daunting task and it did work out, as far as I'm concerned. While not all of the feats leave me with a comfortable feeling, that also stems from my own predisposition to keep classes and especially their signature abilities apart. Seeing that not all signature abilities can be taken via these feats and those that can be usually don't go into higher echelon territory somewhat alleviates my fear of them unhinging the game, though. As far as I can tell from my extensive lecture of this pdf, the feats herein provide an excellent and smart way of providing multiclass-options without going into the abhorred level-dipping territory, thus enabling the creation of more complex character backgrounds with rules-relevant consequences. One thing seeped into my mind while writing this - what happens when you combine the narrative-driven (and thankfully, relevant) traits from RiP's "101 Pirate & Privateer Traits" and combine them with feats like that? I really hope for more trait books with this new approach and potentially renegade feats of multiclassing to expand upon the concept, making finally an end of generic characters once and for all. That being said, it should come to no surprise that my final verdict will clock in high: At 4.5 stars due to the lack of bookmarks, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.
For those of us who play tabletop RPG's, and honestly, if you are reading this, I am assuming you are a fellow gamer, the concept of basing a desire to recreate our fantasies is why we're all here. Whether it was a character from a favorite novel as a child, that one movie, with those two guys (you know the one), or a show you ran home from school everyday to not miss a minute of. My point is, when you ask a roleplayer for their source of inspiration, you're going to hear about favorite characters and ideals from throughout the entire genre of fantasy, sci-fi, noir, even westerns if you ask the right folks, we all grew up pretending to be someone, and luckily, most of us never outgrew that. The problem comes in when you try to apply game rules to the concept in your mind, and you quickly discover that class concepts are a lot stricter than imagination. Luckily, Paizo thought to open the door to the idea that perhaps multiclassing wasn't the only way to explain why a fighter would know how to cast a few spells, or a priest might be handy with a gun. And by opening that door with the feats Amateur Gunslinger and Eldritch Heritage (both published in Ultimate Magic), they allowed Super Genius Games the opportunity to run with it, and expand upon the idea that perhaps individuals can actually be just that, individual.
Now, it goes without saying, when you sit down with your playgroup, if you expect your paladin to be a two-dimensional Lawful Gullible buzzkill who has never thought to learn anything more than what the church has told him he needs in order to able to bring the light of his teaching to the world, well this might not be the book for you. On the other hand, if your paladin didn't find the calling right at the moment of birth, and perhaps had a childhood of misadventure that picked him up an interesting skill or two that you would like to be able to represent via new options and tricks available to you as the player, well then, this book just might be for you.
Ok, so why not just multiclass, right? I mean, we've always had the option, so why a whole new concept to gain abilities of various classes, fair enough question. And, here's a fair enough answer. Multiclassing is a murky, convoluted messy affair that can very quickly break a character, that's why. What do I mean by break a character? Let me give you an example, let's go back to that paladin. Let's say as a lad, he was orphaned to the streets, and had to learn to survive the old fashioned way. Now, ignoring the hilarity of seeing rogue1/paladin5 on a character sheet (chuckle), I don't want to give up a level of my possible 20 to rogue, it's not like he was trained, I don't want nor need all that comes with that level of rogue, I just want a few things, just to acknowledge my character concept. But, by taking a multiclass feat such as Talent for Mischief from this PDF, I can acknowledge my paladin's time as a street urchin by choosing an appropriate rogue talent that he retains to this day. Maybe he was always good at stealing food for him and a few other kids, or he was the one they always sent climbing up the buildings to find ways in. Regardless, this optional system of multiclass feats allows me to design the character more fully to match my vision, and thereby allows for a fuller back story to be supported by the math on the character sheet when done.
Contained within the 21 pages of this PDF are 47 of these multiclass feats, 2 of which are reprints, added to allow for a sense of completeness under one cover. Of the remaining 45 feats, 5 are geared towards abilities from SGG classes like the Time Thief/Warden, Armiger and Death Mage. The remaining 40 are spread across a fair selection of the Core and APG classes. Whereas a great deal of these feats are designed to give you access to spell casting in one form or another, that's far from the only thing covered here.
Now, it would be insane to allow folks to pick and choose all the cool toys from each pile without giving some form of checks and balances, and whereas I admit I wasn't entirely clear the first time I read the restrictions through, I caught on pretty quick to how one keeps a character in line when it comes to these feats. Essentially, it comes down to favored class options, and losing them if you start picking from to many piles for your multiclass feats. It's more refined then that, and presented a lot more elegantly by Owen and Ryan, but there's the nutshell version. There are exceptions, and obviously more to it then my shortened rendition, but without giving to much away, there you go.
Along with the concept of adding these feats, and an optional ruling on them that would allow for less restriction upon them to explain certain abnormalities within a population or locale (think Freeport, if ever there was a city where EVERYONE should get some free rogue talents, lol), the concept of designing additional multiclass feats is covered, with advice on what to look for in a class that would be the signature abilities perfect for the multiclass concept.
The formatting follows the familiar three column with embedded artwork that has dominated the look and feel of SGG products, right along with their partial cover front page. The artwork is all color throughout, with pieces of stock art interspersed with original (or at least pieces I haven't seen used to death everywhere else yet), and tends to range from the not bad to the really good in quality. I noticed no grammatical errors, no formatting ones for that matter.
My only real complaint regarding this PDF is that I am going to have to wait for volume two, as I want to see more multiclass feats handling the martial classes, as well as a great deal more SGG classes getting the multi treatment. Another fantastic product guys, and a steal at the current price. Sticking to the 1-5 standard for ratings, I'm going with a 5 for this collection of awesomeness, as I can't stop thinking of new character ideas, and I love a product that inspires me.
I'm still learning how to write a good review so bear with me. I'll let others cover technical stuff. I'm more concerned with how this fits into my game.
This is a really interesting product. The way the feats increase your character’s abilities without having you sacrifice more than you need is exactly what many of us have been wanting. Instead of having to take several levels in a class, you can get just a taste, enough to give you want you want. These feats don’t allow you to overshadow those characters that are more committed to their classes. So if you want to feel like a bounty hunter with a small bonus to a favored enemy, no problem. If you want to be able to cast a very small selection of spells but not have to be a full fledged caster, no problem. If you want to be able to wild shape into an elemental, you should probably take some levels in druid.
Something that I really like about this is how it handles the issue of actually multiclasing after you’ve taken the feats. Each feat explains how it should be replaced. This is nice for the player that wanted a taste but then realized he must have more than just a morsel. He wants a meal and he can do that without feeling like he wasted a feat.
The only thing I would have wanted to see more of was some more barbarian love. I don’t know how it would have been done. There is only one feat that is specifically for someone wanting a taste of being a barbarian. Maybe if there is a sequel.
I have been wanting to do something like this for a while but I just haven’t had the time to figure out how. SSG gives some great advice on how to create other feats that GMs and players may need. With every possible combination of classes and archetypes, it would be impossible to cover everything.
I have been leery about adding a lot of 3PP material to my games for many reasons, and quality is one of them. I don’t like to spend money on a product and then find out it didn’t meet my expectations. SSG has great price points and have managed to make me rethink that position. I will be buying more stuff in the future for sure.
So this product is 21 pages, with 2/3rds of a page of a front cover and 1 page legalese / advertisements. It adheres to the 3 column lay out that SGG does. It presents 47 feats, most are new but a few have appeared before such as eldritch heritage and amateur gunslinger, as well as a bit of new rules about multiclassing through feats, including what to do if the character gains levels in the class that they were multiclassing into through feats (though these rules sometimes make for odd situations where they gain feats they don't actually qualify for, but its hardly game breaking, just a bit off). There is also information on how to create and balance your own multiclass feats.
So all that out of the way, let's get to the meat and potatoes, how does this product allow multi-classing through feats. Well these feats are all extremely close to eldritch heritage, they require a less powerful feat to get access to the multiclass feats (though optional rules included in the product remove that requirement for one class), they all have an attribute requirement, and have a skill requirement as well and they all grant class abilities.
Over all I think they do the job pretty well. A few give me balance concerns (granting a revelation for 2 feats, or 2 domains for 5) but not so much that I think they would break the game while another can actually serve to penalize the character who takes it in a certain situation (reducing the wizard 2 / cleric 1 to caster level 1 / 1). However, those are the exception rather than the rule and I wouldn't have a problem allowing this into any game that I run.
On layout and organization, there's one feat name that isn't in the proper font, but other than that everything looked good. Still, I wish (really really wish) that they had laid out the feat table in feat chains rather than just alphabetizing it, that would've made the product much easier to get at a quick glance.
So over all, the balance concerns reduce this from what could be a 5 star product to 4 stars, and the difficulty following feat chains reduce it by another half a star though I think it is worth rounding up. Its a good solid product and if the idea of allowing easier multiclassing appeals to you, or you like the eldritch heritage feat chain, by all means pick it up, you will be glad you did.