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Class Acts: Ranger Archetypes (PFRPG) PDF

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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The Class Acts PDFs introduce new class options for the base classes and core classes featured in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Every PDF contains two full pages of high quality content (no fluff or filler)!

Class Acts: Ranger Archetypes includes three new ranger archetypes: the Grim Huntsman, the Houndmaster, and the Wise Warden.

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Product Reviews (2)

Average product rating:

****½ (based on 2 ratings)

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Very Good - Very Cheap - Very Interesting

*****

As always, I just want make it known I was offered (and did accept, obviously) a review copy of this product, if anyone finds that relevant. Now on to the review.

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Formatting, layout, spelling and grammar are all spot-on, as all the Class Acts PDFs typically are.

So! We've got two spell-less ranger archetypes weighing in at less than a page each. Can Abandoned Arts pull off not one but two well-balanced spell-less rangers with that kind of space? The answer is: yes! (...mostly.)

We start with the grim huntsman (which made me think of the hunter from the Snow White fairy tale), a spell-less ranger focused on traps, survivability, and killing his favored enemies. If it were not for one class feature, I would say that the ranger falls flat in terms of making up for the lack of spells (such as gravity bow). Instead, however, I'm actually kind of concerned that this archetype is a bit too good at 12th level and beyond. Basically, the grim huntsman gains a class feature that says you can "sacrifice" one point of your favored enemy bonus when you make a single melee attack against that favored enemy in order to automatically slap some condition on them. I was on board until I saw the stun condition was available at 12th level. Auto-stun seems a bit too powerful. I suppose it is balanced by the fact that you have to make a single melee attack and you have to be in melee - but if the boss monster is your favored enemy and you can manage to close to melee? Well, he's probably screwed (with no saving throw).

However! This mechanic is actually really interesting in that - because you have to reduce your favored enemy bonus each time you attack - it forces you to decide whether to spread your favored enemies around (in order to use your incredibly powerful melee ability more often, against more types of foes) or to invest all your favored enemy bonuses in a single type, so that you can really auto-screw that enemy all day long.

The ranger also gains some mediocre survivalist-type bonus feats and a very awesome (and very early) ability that allows you to add your favored enemy bonus to the DC of traps that you create, relative only to those favored enemies. That really makes the use of ranger traps worthwhile if you plan to catch your favored enemies in them.

The next archetype is the houndmaster, who gives up his spells for a pack of (eventually) four dogs. You basically miss out on one "effective druid level" every time you get a new dog, but the dogs never get so weak that they become irrelevant (although it's a shame that you do give up spells, because spellcasting could really help improve the dogs and keep them significant - but I guess that's what allied spellcasters are for). You also gain some really nice (and adorable!) abilities that basically let you "talk" to your doggies and give them extremely complex commands. Worth the lack of spells? Maybe. Four animal companions that you can basically instruct to do exactly what you want can accomplish a lot. Still, the houndmaster might be a slightly underpowered archetype (in contrast to the possibly-slightly-overpowered grim huntsman).

Both archetypes are still awesome, I think. Also, the houndmaster avoids the problem of being a pet-heavy class with a lot of "character sheets" to manage by virtue of the fact that each dog has an identical "character sheet."

The wise warden didn't impress me quite as much, although it does fill an interesting niche and could potentially end up with some pretty wicked spellcasting abilities (for a ranger, that is) without giving up a whole lot of fighting power.

Interestingly, the wise warden stacks with the houndmaster, and at 15th level, gains a class feature that would make the houndmaster's ability to "give" his quarry bonus to his dogs a lot more powerful. Kind of late in the game to be sure, but "late in the game" is where the houndmaster needs the most help.

In conclusion: Class Acts: Ranger Archetypes is a great buy at a dollar. Each of the three archetypes are terrific, and there are minimal balance concerns. I give this one four and a half stars. *****

- Sara McLean


3.5 stars - Nice archetypes at a very low price

****( )

This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 2 pages of content for 3 new ranger archetypes, so let's check this one out!

The first archetype for the ranger presented herein would be the Grim Huntsman, who removes spellcraft from his class skills, can't influence magical beasts with wild empathy, but is rather trap-based: The ranger traps the huntsman learns are improved via favored enemy-bonuses to DCs and he may choose the "Learn Ranger Trap"-feat multiple times. Furthermore, he learns to add detrimental effects to his traps, temporarily staggering and at 20th level even paralyzing his prey. The archetype also gets the "Lame 3" bonus feats: Enduracne (though this is useful), Toughness (the most useless feat EVER) and Diehard (moderately useful). The intention behind the archetype is obviously to make a spell-less ranger (as the huntsman can't cast) that is focused on traps. Well enough, my only gripe is that Marc Radle's Spell-less Ranger from Open Design is simply the class that is more interesting, since it takes the concept and devotes MUCH more time to it. The improved traps just don't make up in versatility and usability for the loss of spellcasting and the uninspired bonus feats don't help either.

The second archetype in the fray is the Houndmaster, a highly specialized ranger who may only take dogs (or goblin dogs, if a goblin) as animal companions, but gets multiple dogs as companions over the levels, with up to 4 dogs at level 13. His effective druid level for the purpose of said companions, though, would be his ranger level -4 and later, his ranger level -6 to offset the boon that are additional actions per round. He still may push only one animal companion with handle animal per round, introducing another balancing factor, at least until he reaches 9th level, when he may issue one command to push all his dogs with the same action. He also develops a keen understanding of hs animals, allowing him to communicate with his dogs as if they shared a language and thus also issue more complex commands, which can be understood by all instead of one dog per round at higher levels. Starting at 11th level, the archetype may also provide his quarry-bonuses to his hounds and later even the improved quarry bonuses. I was rather skeptic regarding this archetype, seeing that additional actions are perhaps the most valuable asset in combat, but since the limitation to dogs, the reduced level and the fact that the houndmaster loses his spells as well as evasion and improved evasion etc. all are mitigating factors that may make this archetype work. Personally, I'm not a too big fan of multiple animal companions/summoned beings, since they tend to bog down game-play, but as far as I can tell, the class handles the benefits well. DMs allowing the archetype should insist upon the player swiftly handling the dog's actions, though.

The final new archetype introduced herein is the Wise Warden, who loses medium armor proficiency, but gain access to Knowledge (local), Knowledge (history) and Sense Motive as class skills. The class also offers the option to use a modified animal empathy which adds the option to add spell-like effects to creatures subjected to successful checks that change a creature's attitude. Among the possible effects are calm animal, animal messenger and even animal growth. At 5th and 15th level, the Wise Warden also gets a permanent +2 bonus to Wis and apply his Wisdom score to Knowledge and spellcraft skills and at higher levels, even to AC, attack and damage, with a capstone that enables him to add his wis-mod to any skill check he makes. Nice take on the wise hunter and made me think a bit of Yoda.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are very good, though some wordings could have been more precise. Layout adheres to a no-frills 2-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but needs none at this length. This pdf was a mixed bag for me - from the rather bland Grim Huntsman to the Houndmaster, which may prove to be problematic in certain contexts, but which works well and balanced as far as I could tell to the cool, wise warden, the pdf for me ran the gamut of emotions. All in all, I felt that this installment of Class Acts is a solid addition to a game, though not necessarily a must-buy and hence I will settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounding up due to the low price for 4 stars for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.


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