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.
Bullet Points are 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: Five feats that allow spellcasters using the classic and venerable spells haste and slow (and blessing of fervor, if it is used in the campaign) to have as many options as characters who use material weapons. This is the latest in a series of products to celebrate the "Summer of Bullets" event!
The feats included are:
Distorted Speed: You can change the effects of speed-changing spells you cast.
Marathon of One [Metamagic]: You can focus your speed-influencing spells on a single target.
Master of Speed: Even when not casting a speed-altering spell, you can affect the movements of your willing allies.
Overlord of Speed: Even when not casting a speed-altering spell, you can affect the movements of your willing allies.
Unrestrained Spell [Metamagic]: The targets of your spells may be farther apart than normal.
5 Haste/Slow feats is yet another round in the never ending magazine of bullets Owen is firing off this summer. Following the basic look and feel of this excellent series, the PDF is presented in landscape, with a three column approach (although the third column is filled with artwork both times, lol) for the main body of the material, weighing in at 4 pages. Sporting three pieces of pretty decent art, and no true editing/grammatical speed bumps to speak of, this entry into the Bullet line lives up to usual standard of quality that I have come to expect from SGG. So, let's dive in and see what we have this time, shall we?
Distorted Speed is an interesting feat in that it goes both ways on the spectrum, being able to affect haste, or slow (or even blessing of fervor if you allow it within your campaign). Short and simple breaks down to this, those enjoying haste or fervor get to pick from a short list of variant perks instead of accepting the normal boost, while those suffering under slow are at your mercy with a new list of options for them as well. Nice, very very nice. Marathon of One gives you the ability to focus your speed spell of choice on a single target, as opposed to an area...got to say, am seeing some serious options for when this could be real handy. Master of Speed is one of those feats that proves once again Owen should have been around a long long time ago tucking his little nuggets of brilliance into the game...OK, follow me here...we've all been there, the play group roll their initiative rolls, the weakest non combat prepared players not only roll high, they roll really high...while your muscle rolls lower than the GM's critters/bad guys/insert evil thing here...crap...well folks, no more. With master of speed the spellcaster can “collect” the parties initiative rolls, and redistribute them as they see fit...yeah, you read that right, let it soak in. If a playgroup plays it right, the fighter will always be where he needs to be in rotation, the healer won't be wasted right off the bat, etc etc, you get the idea...Overlord of Speed really starts to give your speed spell chucking character some meat, any time a foe fails a save against a spell, SU ability or spell-like ability vs. you they suffer a slow effect. Now, as cool as that is, this feat is not quite done yet...because if you have an ally in range, they get a haste just for being in the right place at the right time.
Which takes us to the fifth feat, Unrestrained Spell. Now, this feat is seriously useful for a spell chucking character, as it increases the the range between targets for ANY spell that defines a parameter of distance between targets....wait, wha? What does that have to do with haste/slow? Specifically? Nothing. But, in the broader scope, everything. Haste and slow both are limited by the whole “must be within so many feet of each other blah blah blah”...as are many other spells. So, does this one belong here, yeah, technically....it's just uber cool that it also applies to a massive amount of other spells.
So, tallying it all up.....hmm, not much on the negative side there.....OK, not often do I look at the ratings and wish they went higher than 5...but here I am wanting a sixth star. I love the speed set, and being able better manipulate them makes me a happy GM. I'm going with an official 5 star, well worth the price of admission and all....but this one is a straight 6 as far as I am concerned.
Innovative rules in spell-feats, on the powerful side of what a feat can do
This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving a total of 2 pages of content for 5 feats dealing with the haste and slow spells, so let's check this out!
-Distorted Speed: Choose from 3 alternate blessings when under haste or blessing of fervor, ready or store a piece of equipment, charge as a standard action or gain deflect arrows; All effects remain for 1 round until they can be changed again to the regular benefits. Slow also provides 3 new detrimental effects: Increased casting time for those affected, ranged attacks cost standard actions or an inability to ready or delay. All targets of slow suffer from the same effect, while those affected by your modified haste-spells can choose freely.
-Marathon of One (Metamagic): Cast blessing of fervor, haste or slow as a single target spell at one level lower. Nice!
-Master of Speed: When you and allies within range (30 ft) roll initiative, you may assign allies to share their component initiatives. Rather cool, especially for strategist-type characters.
-Overlord of Speed: Whenever an opponent fails a save against a spell, spell-like ability or supernatural ability of yours, you can enforce a will-save to have them slowed for 1d4 rounds and, if they fail their save vs. this effect also grant an ally the benefits of either haste or blessing of fervor for the same round. This feat is too strong - even at DC 10+1/2 level, a free slow effect as part of another cast is very strong. Add then the beneficial effect for allies and we have a VERY strong feat. At least in my home game, this feat will not be allowed and imho needs some further limitation to make it less powerful - perhaps limiting the slow effect for one round and eliminating the accelerating benefit? Or making it either/or?
-Unrestrained Spell (Metamagic): At +1 level, double the range of "targets can be no more than X ft. apart"-clauses in spells.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn't notice any glitches. Layout adheres to SGG's 3-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks. And here we are - another excellent selection of iconic feats from SGG - with one exception: While most of the feats herein are dangerously close to my comfort zone regarding power, Overlord of Speed is sickeningly powerful and needs a nerfing. The abuse is rather plain to see and additionally, the feat entails additional dice-rolling with every cast that features a save. Thus, due to the one rather overpowered feat that tarnishes a collection of otherwise stellar and original feats. Thus, I'll settle for a final verdict of 4 stars.
I was hesitant to buy this. Not because I thought it would be a bad product but because I had to wait until payday. After slowly pouring over it, I have concluded that this is a great addition to my game.
First off, Distorted Speed will see use if only for the charging as a standard action ability. However, the other abilities are extremely useful and will add some interesting tactics to combat.
Marathon of One is an interesting metamagic feat that reduces the spell level and I can certainly see that coming into play for a certain magus in our group.
Master of Speed is definitely something I can see being used often. Being able to adjust the initiative results to suit the party can't be overlooked.
Overlord of Speed of speed is a unique way to slow the enemy and speed your allies. I think it may be hard to pull off in some campaigns, but I can't see someone not trying because of it.
Unrestrained Spell is another metamagic feat that is actually useful. I can see it being combined with several other feats and spells for more versatility.
I have been overwhelmed with the quality of Bullet Points. SSG and Owen have really gone far to change my perception of what to expect from a third party publisher. If you are wondering if you should try out their products, I highly recommend them. Grab a Bullet Point and see what you think. In fact, grab this one. You can skip your coffee today and buy three others too!