|Liz Courts Community Manager|
the Arcane Dreadnaught, an intimidating, armored-and-shielded magus;
the Magelance, a spectrally-mounted magus who focuses his arcana through the funnel of his lance; and
the Magus Mysterion, a deceptive illusionist who draws power from an air of mystery
I love magi. So naturally had to buy this. Quick thoughts as I'm reading through:
Arcane Dreadnought: A shield magus! Totally awesome, and I would hands-down pick this archetype over Skirnir every day of the week. Only issue: Spell Combat needs to be included in this archetype if only to list that you can cast spells with your shield hand, and use Spell Combat without that hand free. Otherwise a magus only gets a Shield + a free hand. Unless this was totally the flavour intended.
Magelance: This immediately in my head becomes magelancepounce, which sadly isn't something this archetype can do :P Again, the issues arises of Spellcasting/Spell combat that the Magus has 2 hands full with a lance, until level 3 when he gets the Mount spell added to his spellbook. I would have the spell added for free at first level, and then just give him Mounted Combat at 3 as is.
The entirely best part of this archetype: construct-type horse at Druid level -4, gained at level 5. Boon companion never looked so sweet. While potentially a little powerful, in reality its... just a horse.
Magus Mysterion: I went in hoping it would be something like Guild Wars 2 Mesmer class. While not so combat-illusion happy, the archetype definitely loves illusions. Illusory Armor is a great idea, free AC with the drawback of it being... well, an illusion. Keep your light armor on, but get free bonuses!
I really enjoyed the whole product, regardless of a few rules (or flavour) clarifications that need to be made!
dunebugg: Actually, you can perform somatic components with a light shield in hand. That's how clerics do it! You can also use your shield as your weapon, which would be a fantastic choice for an arcane dreadnaught (and would facilitate the use of a heavy shield).
I'm glad you enjoyed the product. The magus mysterion is my personal favorite. : )
Hey Daron (and anyone else at Abandoned Arts), I was checking this out and had a question. Is Arcane Dreadnought supposed to be able to use a weapon and shield and still use Spell Combat? It looks like Spell Combat demands a free hand, so I'm not sure if the intent here was to allow the Arcane Dreadnought to be able to use Spell Combat with a weapon and light shield, or to just use a Heavy shield as your weapon and maintian a free hand.
Spell combat does indeed require a free hand, as do somatic components (unless you're using a light shield or a buckler).
The best bet for an arcane dreadnaught is to wield a shield bash or a spiked shield as his or her weapon of choice. The dreadnaught gains Improved Shield Bash for free for just that reason. Armor spikes, unarmed strikes, and other hands-free weapons make good choices, too.
Or... you could get creative (especially if you're comfortable entering "ask your GM first" territory). Here's a fun little work-around that one of my more experienced playtesters discovered. He took the "playtest" dreadnaught and swapped out feats until he was Quick Draw-ing tridents and hurling them at enemies as a part of his Spell Combat routine. Check this out:
1.) To use this ability, the magus must have one hand free (even if the spell being cast does not have somatic components), while wielding a light or one-handed melee weapon in the other hand.
One hand is free, the other is wielding spiked heavy shield. Check.
2.) A magus can choose to cast the spell first or make the weapon attacks first, but if he has more than one attack, he cannot cast the spell between weapon attacks.
Check. The magus casts a ranged spell with his free hand.
3.) As a full-round action, he can make all of his attacks with his melee weapon at a –2 penalty and can also cast any spell from the magus spell list with a casting time of 1 standard action (any attack roll made as part of this spell also takes this penalty).
Check! The trident is a melee weapon, even if you aren't making melee attacks with it. The dreadnaught begins hurling tridents and drawing new ones with Quick Draw. He stays nice and safe; armored up with a heavy shield and well out of melee range.
And that's without Throw Anything! Of course, "just use your fist or a shield bash with your free Improved Shield Bash" feat is the default strategy. Ultimate Combat contains so many great feats for "unarmed strikers," though, that I'm sure a shield-and-fist dreadnaught could be built to perform at least as well as a shield-basher.