“This is my BOOMSTICK!” —The Man That Falls from the Sky
The tough is a rough-and-tumble free spirit, who possesses what might charitably be called a recalcitrant streak, or uncharitably be called “rage issues.” A tough does not like to be told what to do, where to go, or how to act, and he absolutely does not accept the idea that he is going to lose (even when he has clearly, logically already lost). When things are calm, a tough can be hard to identify from everyone else, acting the role of anything from anarchist bomb-thrower to peaceful member of the gardening club. But when things get grim, when blood starts to flow and the tough has been smashed and battered, the tough reacts differently than anyone else. The more a tough is bloodied and hurt, the angrier and more determined to survive, to win, the tough becomes.
Toughs often have trouble with authority, and may take the easy route and live lives as bikers, bouncers, rum runners, thugs, and crooks. But just as many fight against their riotous, dangerous nature and seek to channel their anger and strength. Toughs can be found as drill sergeants, beat cops, bounty hunters, and local heroes. But no matter how carefully trained their fighting skills are, or neatly ordered their plans are, a tough is simply different once the fit hits the shan. A tough soldier may be respected, but he’s also the guy quietly described as a crazy SOB. A tough firefighter is respected and honored, but people get nervous when they are assigned to his squad. A tough seems to be able to survive things that should leave him a smoldering corpse, and displays a refusal to quit that sometimes gets his more fragile allies killed.
A tough is a heck of an ally... if you can survive the friendship.
Included in this 24 page book are rules for the new "Battered" condition, as well as rules and guidelines for when characters from modern settings bring vehicles from those settings with them into fantasy campaigns with lower-progress levels. Based on the rules found in Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Combat, these character-scale rules are designed to handle heroes on foot running from a sedan of tommy-gun-toting mobsters, or a single character on a motorcycle driving in and out of a riot, to a gang of smugglers ambushing a steam punt boat with an archeological expedition on board. In all these cases, the main action is focusing on character vs. character conflict, and a small number of vehicles interacting with those characters as outliers to the general activity. Also included are rules for when the main focus of the encounter is straight up vehicle on vehicle action! Finally we touch on the idea of Progress Levels (PL), a simple way to determine the general technological advancement of a campaign (and outlined in more detail in Anachronistic Adventurers: The Enforcer).
This pdf is 24 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving 22 1/3 pages of content, so let's check this out!
The latest new class in SGG's critically acclaimed series, which has provided us with one of my favorite PFRPG-classes ever, introduces us to the Tough: d12, 3+Int skills per level, full BAB, good fort-saves, no spellcasting. The tough gets a tough talent at 3rd level and every 4 levels after that and, as all classes in the anachronistic adventurer-line, can choose an anachronistic archetype. But before I get into the talents, I feel the need to address a basic part of the tough's concept: Representing the hard as nails survivor that just doesn't know when to call it quits, the tough has several abilities that depend on the new battered condition: Essentially, if you've played 4th Ed, when he's bloodied, i.e. at less than 50% maximum HP. He e.g. always gets an improving bonus to atk, AC, damage and saves when thus damaged. The talents presented are a total of 15 and include getting the back to the wall-bonus to skill checks, being able to act longer when almost dropped to death, enhanced power when subjected to detrimental conditions and even becoming immune against mind-affecting spells and effects while battered at the cost of being unable to use certain skills. The snarling juggernaut that is almost impossible to put down culminates in the capstone ability that lets the tough save to prevent taking dying via a save once per round -neat!
On to the archetypes: Monster Smashers focus on destroying monsters and can impede their supernatural and spell-like abilities temporarily with their hits, but thankfully only a limited number of times per day. They also exhibit a kind of instinctual knowledge on how to put down supernatural beasties and learns to specifically work against monsters with specific abilities. Furthermore, the archetype gets access to a selection of 4 special talents that let them combat larger beasts effectively or even take on certain characteristics of their adversaries, like a bite attack, being amphibious etc.
The second archetype herein, the Outrider, is something I've been waiting for: Using the relative positioning and vehicle rules from Ultimate combat, the outrider can specialize is a type of vehicle in which they are even better than usual, learn VERY fast on how to operate them and a total of 8 different talents enable the outrider to e.g. repair a vehicle as a swift action (with the aptly-named Come on, Baby!), excel at dogfight maneuvers and make her machines temporarily faster. I LOVE this archetype. Seriously! Finally we have a functioning pilot archetype for Pathfinder - for all those flying ships, chariots, golem-bikes, power-armors and even for time-distorting snail-powered mechs (yeah, I once had those in my game). Two thumbs up!
The Master of Arms is more conventional, I suppose: Selecting a weapon group, they improve the damage capabilities by the chosen group of weapons rather drastically, setting e.g. a minimum dice-type that the weapons deal damage-wise and adding additional benefits: Flails e.g. can ignore shield-bonuses to AC, while firearms enable the master of arms to demoralize foes. The archetype also comes with 5 different talents, of course also focused on martial prowess with their chosen field of expertise.
The final archetype we are introduced to would be the Wise Guy, a tough guy who would make for an excellent godfather or leader of an unpleasant organization, being able to intimidate allies and minions by calmness, instilling competence via fear and the ability to strike extremely hard and devastating when striking.
The pdf then goes on to explain the relative positioning and distance interval-rules, lead vehicle loci and environmental loci as well as how to cover encounters with multiple loci before going into vehicle maneuvers, the vehicle template (wanted to create that Tarrasque-tank? There you go!) and 3 sample vehicles based on monsters - great ways of reskinning these beings! Before we get on to the short run-down of progression-levels as is by now obligatory in the series, we are introduced to the vehicle golem feat, which becomes a permanent fixture and magical vehicle for you. It also contains the exceedingly rare SGG-typo, speaking of "GN"s.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not as perfect as I'm accustomed to by SGG - the bonus feat-section has a blank line, which looks weird and there is the typo - not enough to rate the pdf down, but worth mentioning. Layout adheres to SGG's 3-column standard and the pdf features some cool, classic and flavorful pieces of artwork. The pdf has no bookmarks, and honestly, by now I think that every pdf apart from Bullet Point-length ones should have them, so that's a detracting factor.
The Tough is a cool class, fitting seamlessly into the grand concepts of this series and providing a modular line. Personally, I'm not a huge fan of the battered condition, as it has a rather significant potential for metagaming, but that's a personal thing - I have to admit that creating a character à la Rocky Balboa works very well with this class. Design-wise, I'm a huge fan of the Outrider, though that one will probably be not for all campaigns, it would also work well for a regular NPC-cohort to represent the trusted pilot. I love it. What does that leave us with, rating-wise? Apart from the lack of bookmarks, I have nothing to complain about and thus, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform due to otherwise great, balanced content.
Well, now you can be in your Pathfinder game with this character class. The latest entry in Super Genius Game's very well-done Anachronistic Adventurers series, the Tough is a warrior like the Enforcer in some ways, differing mainly in their emphasis on, well, toughness and the ability to endure (and dish out) mayhem.
The PDF proper is 24 pages long, with one page at the very end covering credits. The rest is pure gaming goodness, listing first the base class and its talents and then several archetypes for further customization. Most of these include extra talents that may be taken by the character as well as specialized class features.
First comes the Monster Smasher (think anything from Buffy to El Santo), the Outrider (a vehicle expert, like a biker), the Master of Arms, a VERY fun archetype with an ability that I wish was available as a feat for people who wanted to make non-Monk martial artists (you basically get to roll extra dice to see what your minimum melee damage is, and the extra dice increase per level), and the Wise Guy, an archetype for anyone who wants to bring modern street hoods and Third World warlords into their game. It lacks the extra talents of the other archetypes, but it has the Sucker Punch ability which inflicts extra damage on the first attack made in a surprise round against a foe who hasn't acted yet.
Next is a section describing the new condition of Battered (which the Tough uses; basically, he gets tougher, meaner, and more hard-hitting the more he gets hurt). That aside it seems to have little in-game effect on a character.
Then follows a lengthy section on using modern vehicles in a Pathfinder game with extensive rules, followed by a new feat meant for such vehicle experts. It wraps up with a brief description of Progress Levels (more fully detailed in the Enforcer PDF).
One flaw in the PDF that is being addressed is that the Tough is granted extra feats every four levels, but they're not listed in it yet. If you got a copy before this was edited in, the bonus feats are listed in the forum thread for this product.
Really, if you ever wanted to bring bikers, villain-pounding roughnecks, and monster-fighting pro wrestlers into a Pathfinder game then this s indeed the PDF for you. I'll go with 4.5 stars, but since I'm a fan of the monster-fighting wrestlers, I'll up it to five. Great work and I'm eager to see what else comes in this series.