New Paths 8: The Trickster (PFRPG) PDF

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Most tricksters are always two steps ahead of the competition. A few know how to win before the race even begins!

The trickster is a new Pathfinder Roleplaying Game compatible class which combines arcane magic with roguish skills. Use your special Forte ability to perform incredible acrobatics, summon a magical familiar to act as an accomplice, beguile enemies, or steal spells as they're being cast! Outwit your foes and outrun your enemies.

New Paths 8: The Trickster gives you everything you need to play a trickster whose understanding of the arcane is matched only by his charming and debonair style.

Designer Marc Radle has provided a daring and risk-taking new base class including:

  • 5 new Fortes such as Arcane Accomplice, Beguiling, Spell Pilfering, and Shadow
  • 8 new base class abilities such as Sneakspell and Ranged Legerdemain
  • a full 20-level class that knows when to walk away, and when to run!

Whether you use these powers for good, for seduction, or for power and wealth is entirely up to you—but who says you have to choose just one? Get The Trickster today, wield great arcane might, and have the satisfaction of always being ahead of the pack!

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***** (based on 9 ratings)

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Elegant, efficient, a bit too powerful, but so much needed bang for your buck


*** I updated my review to take into account the changes and many additions provided in the revised version of the pdf. These updates appear within asterisks, just like this one here ***

The Trickster is a very elegant mix of Bard, Arcanist and Rogue with a suit of specialized abilities based on a Forte that is chosen among four possibilities, and a nod or two to the Arcane Trickster Prestige Class.

*** Post Revision : there are now five Forte available, as well as an archetype that boosts them significantly ***

It is a bit too far on the powerful side for me to consider it quite balanced though and the execution feels a bit odd at times.

*** Post Revision : the overall package is still quite powerful, but the author included advice on nerfing it down. And the additional content (Shadow Forte, revision of the Acrobat Forte and dual-Forte archetype) means that this product now delivers incredible value for its meager price ***

Let’s take a walk through the class.

The presentation is fluid with only some hiccups (going from “he” to “they”, for example).

The Trickster shares its basic chassis with the Bard : Hit die, skill points, proficiencies, spell slots per level and spells known (typo : should have been spells prepared, like the Arcanist). This last one being a mistake IMO, as I will detail further down.

*** Post Revision : Skill points were downgraded somewhat because of the reviews, going to 4 skill points per level since the class is heavily INT based. I did not mind the previous 6 as the Trickster being a master of both Knowledges and Rogue skills fits the stereotype IMO. A minor change of low consequences that still reflects well on the author’s laudable ability to take criticism in stride and try and improve his creation ***

Since the Bard is often compared to what a Rogue should be, using its chassis is a good choice to build the Trickster on.

The Rogue (Core, not Unchained) brings it much of its class skills, sneak attack, trap sense, evasion, uncanny dodge (and improved), though these happen in a delayed fashion that brings a proper overall balance IMO.

From the Arcanist, it gains the INT-based spellcasting mode (including access to the Wizard/Sorcerer spell-list), making the Trickster AFAIK the first ¾ BAB, 6-level caster using this powerful mode.

Regrettably, the critical balancing factor of spells prepared / known is off, since it is based on the Bard’s values that are themselves balanced by the class-specific spell-list. Which is not the case for the Trickster.

As a result, the Trickster actually gets MORE spells prepared than the Arcanist. It is only from 8-th level that the Arcanist will get more powerful through earlier access to high-level spells.

That is the first step that pushes the Trickster on the too powerful side.

*** Post Revision : To answer criticism on how powerful the class was, the author proposes to balance this by the option of making Necromancy and Evocation forbidden schools for the Trickster. I appreciate the effort, but I find the option provided lacking for 2 reasons : 1. It restricts the possibilities given to players for building their PC which is something I’d rather avoid. 2. It robs the Trickster of many spells which help him get the most of his Surprise Spells class feature. Evocation after all is THE school for HP damage.

I would have preferred reducing the number of spells prepared at each level so that the Trickster ends up with less spells than the Arcanist.

That said, once again, the author is willing to take into account criticism and change his creation accordingly and this is really something I applaud, even if the end result is a little subpar for my taste ***

The Trickster is clearly to the Arcane Trickster what the Magus is to the Eldritch Knight : a base class declining the concept behind the Prestige Class in 20 levels. As such it incorporates signature abilities of the Arcane Trickster such as Ranged Legerdemain (though at 9th level, where an Arcane Trickster could get it as a 6th-level character) and Surprise Spells (at 15th level, same character level at which an Arcane Trickster could get it). Nothing unbalancing here. In fact I am not sure why Ranged Legerdemain appears so late.

The Trickster also gains bonus feats selected from a small list mixing Rogue and Wizard’s flavors. I am not sure why the author put these in, maybe to compensate for the absence of rogue Talents, but they do feel both tacked onto the chassis and adding too many goodies to what is already a strong class. Or maybe they were just put there to avoid empty levels, which I would then see as uninspired design. In all honesty, I would get rid of them without blinking an eye.

These bonus feats are the second step in giving this class a bit too much.

The special abilities are IMO what gives a class its singular identity, especially for a 3pp one. And here the author delivers both adequate value and a satisfying take on the magical Rogue concept.

The first Trickster-specific class feature is the choice of one of four Fortes at 2nd level. This choice is exclusive, which mostly begs for feats that would allow a Trickster to pick abilities from a Forte he did not choose.

The Fortes feel odd to me because I think they should have been treated as a single class with 3 archetypes. As is, adding archetypes will be in addition to the Forte choice and these last features will not be changeable, which is needlessly limiting further design options IMO. I do not know why this design option was chosen, but I feel that it might have been a matter of wordcount.

Each Forte explores a theme of the Rogue and how magic can improve it. Which means we need more Forte exploring other themes of the magical Rogue. Paradoxically, the Forte do this better than an archetype would because they are focused on a small set of related abilities. So, in the end, while I believe that base class + archetypes would have been a better design choice, I do not count it against the product’s final rating. I definitely think a Forte about shadow and one focused on sniping are lacking though.

*** Post Revision : There is now a fifth Forte about Shadow : ask and you will be answered by Marc Radle !!! And that at no additional price.

See further down my assessment of this addition to the class’ possibilities ***

A Forte gives its basic ability at 2nd level, an improved one at 5th level and the last one at 9th level.

Note that this makes the 5th level (where the Trickster also gets Sneakspell) and 9th level (where he also gets Ranged Legerdemain) levels of plenty in the Trickster’s ability progression. I must say that I would have preferred a more continuous increase.

The four Fortes we get here are slightly mismatched in power level.

The Acrobat : the tumbling Rogue theme. I believe these abilities should be Rogue Talents or some Rogue archetype. There is not enough magic here to fit the Trickster concept IMO.

*** Post Revision : The Acrobat Forte got magic alright. I think it even became one of the strongest Forte what with increasing base speed, gaining the previous 9th level powers as soon as 5th level (with additional increase to AC later on) as well as a freedom of movement effect and a dimension door one (a bit strange wording on that one but it may be the official parlance for such effects) ***

The Arcane Accomplice : the flanking Rogue theme, served by getting a familiar with its own sneak attack. d4 instead of d6 for damage is not enough IMO to prevent this from being abused. Maybe restricting it to apply only when attacking the same target as its master, or when flanking would have struck a better balance. But I am not enough of a designer to assess this properly. The way its is done here, it is a bit powerful, but not devastatingly so.

The next Forte is the Beguile. Among the four Fortes, the Beguile feels the most like what could have been the main class : the casting Rogue theme. Spells more efficient against a target denied its DEX bonus is one of the archetypical ability people look for in such a casting Rogue class. Increasing the power of Feint to reasonable levels works quite well too. Great job here.

The Spellpilfer : The spell stealing Rogue theme. You temporarily steal a spell from your target’s list and add it to your own. Great building on the theme of spell stealing that is also the basis for the Filch Spell ability (see below). Excellent mechanics, and the short time limit keeps this to a reasonable power level.

Note however that this could be mildly abused by targeting allies with it, as they will voluntarily fail their save against this ability, that is if they do not mind becoming a battery for your spellcasting knowledge. Also this Forte hinges on INT and thus makes the Trickster more SAD than the other ones, which can also lead to characters that are a bit too powerful.

*** Post Revision : The Shadow Forte : the stealthy Rogue theme with some HiPS ability that sounds like that of the shadowdancer, as well as bonuses dealing with/against shadow and darkness spells as well as seeing in any darkness (eventually). That looks pretty strong ***

Other than the Forte, several abilities are also completely new to the Trickster :

At 5th level, Sneakspell adds a touch spell to a sneak attack, in a way similar to the Magus’ Spellstrike. Missing makes you lose the spell however. Improved Sneakspell lets you keep the charge but happens at a level high enough (17th) that it does not become unbalancing.

At 14th level, Filch Spell allows the Trickster to steal the control of a spell for one round. It is well crafted and thematically on spot. So much so in fact that I would not have minded the Trickster gaining it earlier, maybe with a standard action at first, then going to move then swift, similar to the improving action cost of starting a Bardic Performance.

The capstone of the class is solid but unimaginative, as it makes sneak attacks and sneakspells markedly deadlier but it is a mere power increase (and one that kind of comes out of the blue rather than being the culmination of previous abilities), so no bonus point for out of the box creativity there.

Finally, since this base class is clearly inspired by the Arcane Trickster Prestige Class, how do they fit together ?

Going into Arcane Trickster from Trickster is pretty straightforward since you meet all requirements with 5 levels in Trickster. I would advise waiting for the 6th level in Trickster, that gains you +1 to BAB and to all Saves, as well as a bonus feat before going into Arcane Trickster.

Now why would you do this ? Well, the Arcane Trickster gains sneak attack faster and has a few specific goodies (Impromptu Sneak Attack, Tricky Spells and Invisible Thief), whereas the Trickster will strengthen his Forte, gain the Uncanny Dodge chain as well as the best signature abilities of the class : Improved Sneakspell and Filch Spell. In the end, considering that I can find more ways to replicate the Arcane Trickster’s abilities (with feats, spells, items) and that I think them a little weaker, I would stick to Trickster.

*** Post Revision : Dual Forte Archetype.

If you thought Forte were strong, this archetype just takes them over the top. Not only do you gain a second Forte (though functioning at a reduced Trickster level), but your first Forte gains extra abilities at higher level that just bring it to the OMG (though not completely broken) power level. I do not expect those who wish for a more balanced Trickster to look kindly on these. To get this, you sacrifice the bonus feats (sign me in), Improved uncanny dodge (ok by me), as well as filch spell (Take me now. I am ready).

As a GM, I would split this archetype in two mutually exclusive ones (that replace the same features mentioned above) : one that gets the second Forte, and another one that improves the first Forte. YMMV of course ***

My initial rating was 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the reasons given here. *** The revision brought it up to 5 stars for reasons mentioned afterwards :-) ***

The Trickster is a very good class that will definitely appeal to those who appreciate the Rogue’s theme but feel that the Core (or even Unchained) Rogue is woefully underpowered in comparison to other classes.
Alas it goes a bit too far on the powerful side for my taste, but the Trickster is so elegantly designed that it should be pretty easy to dial its power down to what you feel more comfortable with.

Still I think that would be best done by its designer and should not be left to the product’s buyers. Because of this and the hiccups in design I mentioned above, I cannot in good faith give this product its 5th star, even though I dearly wish to, if only because it definitely answers a need that went unsatisfied for far too long.

You did a very good job here, Marc. Almost perfect actually and it proved agonizing to choose between 4 and 5 stars for the Trickster. Please, keep providing us with your simple and elegant classes

*** Post Revision : Yes, the Trickster is still too powerful IMO, and I do not like the proposed balancing mechanism. And the new archetype makes it even more powerful. Yet, all this additional material means I am not agonizing about this product's rating anymore. This pdf contains incredible value at a small price and the changes needed to tone it down are easily made. It entirely deserves its 5th star. And as a free bonus, Marc Radle shows what being a class act author is all about, willing to go the many extra miles to add value to his creation by listening to its audience's feedback.

Even if you fear that this class is too powerful, BUY THIS NOW and adjust it to your heart's content ***

4.5/5 short term, 3.5/5 long term

****( )

Review for New Paths 8: The Trickster

DISCLAIMER: I received a complimentary copy of this product in exchange for my review. I received no other compensation, nor am I affiliated in any way with Marc Radle or Kobold Press.
OTHER DISCLAIMER: At the time of this writing, this product was released less than one year ago. Hence, everything in this review, especially the Long Term Rating, should be considered tentative.
This PDF comes in at 10 pages, including six pages of content. After the title page, we get a full-page illustration which is a duplicate of the cover art, and a short introduction before diving into the Trickster base class.
The Trickster class casts wizard/sorcerer spells. It only gets six levels of spellcasting, plus cantrips. It has 3/4 BAB, a low fortitude save, high reflex and will saves, and six skill-points per level. Its casting is intelligence-based, and uses a hybrid between prepared and spontaneous casting.
At first level, the Trickster gets Sneak Attack and Trap Finding, exactly as the rogue class features (though Sneak Attack advances slower than it does for the rogue).
At second level, the Trickster gets to choose a class feature called a “forte,” which gives them minor bonuses in one area. The available forte are Acrobat (mostly just number boosts), Arcane Accomplice (you get a familiar, and your familiar can make sneak attacks), Beguiler (more number boosts), and Spell Pilfer (which gives you an original spell-stealing mechanic).
Then comes the Sneakspell ability at 5th level, which allows you to cast an offensive spell as part of a sneak attack, analogous to the magus’ spell combat ability. After another handful of number-boosts, bonus feats, and class features copied from the rogue, the Trickster gets two more non-numerical class features. At ninth level, Ranged Lengerdmain allows the Trickster to use sleight of hand and disable device at a range (with an increased check DC). The ability is classified as (Su) for reasons that aren’t clear to me (I think it should be Extraordinary).
At 14th level the Trickster gets Filch Spell, which in my opinion is their most interesting class feature. If an enemy caster has an on-going spell that allows the caster to control or direct it after casting (e.g. Aqueous Orb or Flaming Sphere), the Trickster can steal control of the spell for one round by making a check.
After that, we just get more number boosts and bonus feats. And after the class features, the supplement ends abruptly. There are no archetypes, class-specific feats, or class-specific items, nor are their sample NPC Tricksters.
Aside from the cover art, there are a couple small, full-color illustrations throughout this product.

Short Term Use: I had to read the explanation of this class’ casting mechanic multiple times to get how it worked. That is unusual for me, even when I am learning a complete new subsystem. Much of the formatting and language of the class’ casting rules are styled similarly to the presentations of the sorcerer and wizard rules, even when the Trickster rules are actually different, which might confuse readers who are very familiar with the core d20 spellcasting system. Aside from the initial confusion, however, the clarity and presentation of this class are very good.
Aside from selection of bonus feats, there are very few build choices involved in creating a Trickster, making it a solid choice for an NPC that you need stats for quickly.
Balance-wise, this class falls close to the middle of most existing classes. It’s a bit higher on the totem pole than a bard, comparable to an inquisitor, and much less powerful than sorcerers and oracles. That balance point seems to be popular for a lot of campaigns, which once again makes this class easy to use in your campaign. Overall, this product earns a Short Term Rating of 4.5/5.

Long Term Use: Two different Trickster builds are likely to be very similar, and the class is not amendable to multi-classing, both of which may limit how much use you can get out of it years down the road. While it has a lot of class features listed, most of them are rather dull number boosts. Still, the few non-numerical class features it does have can keep it interesting for a while, and might be useful if you are designing archetypes for another class and want to give them Trickster class features. Of course, Trickster archetypes that traded out some of the number boosts would greatly improve this product’s shelf-life, but there are no archetypes in this product. Overall, I’ll settle on a Long Term Rating of 3.5/5, rounded up to 4/5 due to the low price.


So if you have seen my opinions about New Paths Compendium my views of The Trickster will induce a lot of deja vu. Like a lot of it's predecessors the Trickster class follows a lot of familiar ground and fills in a huge gap but adds a bit of new to make it a real novelty while still feeling like a real part of the game. As a whole that's the main strength of the New Path classes. They feel like they could have been printed by Paizo so its pretty easy to accept them in a game as opposed to completely new kinds of systems like Spheres of Power or sharp changes in balance like Path of War. They simply fit in and play nice with base Pathfinder and as much as I like my crazy stuff like psionic wolfmen from the future, or Aboleth parasite mutants that shoot bears out of their eyes I absolutely love my purchase of New Paths Compendium and products that simply fill in the blanks that the base game leaves behind.

So what is the Trickster? Well in a nutshell it's a 20 level Arcane Trickster in the same way that the Magus is a 20 level Eldritch knight. Its basic chassis is a 3/4 BAB class with six levels of casting. It casts from the Sorcerer/Wizard list so avoids spell list conflicts that I normally have with new classes but does put it's casting a bit ahead of the Magus in terms of raw versatility. It has a spellbook but prepares spells known rather than spell slots, so it casts like an Arcanist (also INT based casting). It has a slower progression sneak attack and at fifth level can use sneak attacks to deliver touch spells which is where the comparison to the Magus comes in. At level 15 it can do the reverse and have spells that deal damage against flat footed enemies deal sneak attack damage which applies to all targets of the spell if the spell does damage to multiple targets in one blast (Yes fireball/No magic missile) making a surprise Burning Hands really sick all of a sudden at late levels.

There's also an option called Forte that serves as kind of a Order/Bloodline package choice that represents a focus. One makes you significantly better at acrobatics checks, one gives you a familiar that does quite a bit of extra things, like sneak attack and functionally giving you the Inquisitor's Solo Tactics with it. One makes feint pretty desirable. One allows you to steal spells but is about the only ability in the entire book that I have serious questions about. Its unclear whether or not the stolen spell is itself negated or if the stealing has to occur within a certain range or exactly when the opposing caster is casting. Either way it looks like it can swipe spells from other spell lists and cast them for a short amount of time. Plus later on they can hijack ongoing spells and control them.

The rest of the class features are mostly filler-ish or expected things. It gets six +1s to a number of skills over the course of the class, three bonus feats from a limited pool or a metamagic feat. They get uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge, trapfinding and evasion. One interesting thing is that they can make ranged disable device and sleight of hand checks as if they were using mage hand to do it. Something everyone ever had tried to do before realizing that's not how the spell works. Eventually they can hijack ongoing spells and control them.

In the end I have to criticize an INT based caster with 6+INT skills per level. This can easily be seen as a "better Rogue" from that standpoint alone. Although that's true for a lot of things the class feels like the Rogue dropped all of it's worst abilities and replaced them with good ones. But overall, I like the class. I've seen a few 20 level arcane trickster type classes and this one fills in the checkboxes that I think are the most desirable things about the concept. Using mage hand to steal/disable, steal spells, cast with versatility. I also have to praise the points where it keeps in room for expansion with it's Forte class feature. Its a rather simple class that fits in about 5 pages but it's packed with so many small smart choices that brings it together. The Fortes make the focus of the class drastically different from each other, the Arcanist casting keeps it from being boring but still keeps it spontaneous, stealing control of spells, not shoehorning a talent selection (which would have made for a huge chunk of choice paralysis since spells are also involved.). I think this class fits in great next to the Magus in filling up concepts that fit in the six level arcane caster space and is probably my current favorite chassis for the concept. I think I can confidently give this five stars out of five. I'm sure that others will love it.

An review of the second revision


This second revised installment of the New Paths-series clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 9 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This pdf was moved up in my review-queue at the request of my players.

The trickster class presented herein receives d8 HD, a now reduced 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus rapier, longsword, sap, short sword, shortbow, whip light armor and shields (excluding tower shields) and may freely cast spells while only wearing light armor and/or using a shield. The class receives 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves and gains spellcasting.

Spellcasting of the trickster is slightly more tricky (I'll punch myself later for that one) than you'd expect: The trickster's spellcasting is governed by Intelligence and thus is prepared according to convention. However, spells prepared are not expended upon being cast - instead, the spell slot of the appropriate level is expended. Metamagic is handled as for sorcerors and similar spontaneous casting classes. High Intelligence influences the number of spells a trickster can cast, but not the amount of spell-slots he has - this is pretty important for balance, so bear that in mind. So, in summary, we have an actually working blend of prepared and spontaneous casting here for a surprisingly unique take on the old vancian system. And yes, concise rules for cantrips gained (often overlooked) and spellbooks (ditto!) are part of the deal here. This section is rather elegant - kudos here! Tricksters begin play with 4 cantrips known and 2 1st level spells and increase that up to 6 for each spell level, barring 5th and 6th, which cap at 5. 5 is also the maximum spells per day limit. Akin to the alchemist and similar classes, spellcasting caps at spell level 6.

The trickster also receives access to sneak attack and begins play with +1d6, increasing this by +1d6 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Similarly, at first level, the trickster gains trapfinding. So far, so rogue-y, right?

Well, second level becomes a bit more unique, as the trickster gains a forte on which to focus, of which 4 are provided. Structure-wise, the fortes provide immediate benefits and unlock new abilities at 5th and 9th level. The first would be Acrobat, which not only provides skill-bonuses to movement-related skills and eliminates the need for running starts to get the associated bonus. Additional movement while not carrying heavy load or the like and no armor check penalty for Dex-based skills can also be found here. At 5th level, the trickster gains a scaling bonus to AC and CMD and may also act as though under freedom of movement for trickster level round per day, but only for movement purposes. The 9th level ability has been similarly redesigned - provided the trickster has at least 10 ft., he can dimension door as part of the move action expended, but, in a unique twist, the total distance he can thus travel is limited and capped with a daily max.
The second forte is arcane accomplice, which nets a familiar, though the familiar receives Disable Device and Sleight of Hand as class skills and can deal sneak attack as long as it's within 30 ft. of the trickster - and yes, this means you can basically double-team on your own, greatly increasing the validity of sneak attack, though, for balance's sake, a familiar's sneak attack uses d4s, which proved mathematically feasible in my tests. 5th level goes one step further and nets the familiar all teamwork feats of the trickster as well as AC +2, while 9th level provides basically spring attack for the familiar, but only with regards to delivering harmless touch attacks - and yes, this is more versatile than you'd think.

The third forte is Beguile and provides +1 to DCs and +1 to rolls to overcome SR, scaling by +1 at 5th and 9th level - but only when targeting creatures that would be denied their Dexterity-modifier or that are helpless. At 5th level, when successfully feinting, the target would be denied his Dex-mod to AC for the next melee attack or spell targeting by the trickster, but only when performed on or before his next turn. 9th level decreases the required action to feint to a move action, a swift action if the trickster has Improved Feint.

The fourth forte is Spell Pilfer, which is easily the most unique of the fortes: As an immediate action, the trickster can make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + spell level) to identify the spell and, if successful, the trickster may attempt to pilfer the spell. The caster receives a Will-save versus 10 + 1/2 trickster class level + Int-mod to negate the attempt. If the caster fails, he loses access to the spell known or prepared spell, while the trickster temporarily (1/2 class levels, minimum 1) adds the spell to his list of spells known. While the spell is pilfered, the original caster may not cast it, but the trickster may, provided he has an available spell slot. Only one spell (again, VERY important for balance) can be pilfered at a given time - pilfering a second spell, the previous spell immediately reverts to the owner. This ability can be used 3 + Intelligence mod times per day. It should be noted that tricksters can only pilfer spells they can cast, another VERY important limitation. Now you may have noted that Will-saves are pretty easy for most casters - thus, at 5th level, the trickster's Wisdom modifier is also added to the DC to resist the pilfer attempt. I am usually fiercely opposed to dual attribute-mods to anything, but considering that Wis is NOT a trickster's crucial stat in any way, in practice, this is not problematic. 9th level allows the trickster to pilfer spells above his casting capacity, but thankfully with the caveat that the trickster can't cast such spells - so no abuse possible. This is a very impressive ability in my book, since it makes spell theft work sans holes in the wording, sans abuse. Love it!

The new, fifth forte would be shadow, which nets a +2 insight bonus on Stealth checks in dim light or less and it also nets low-light vision and darkvision 30 ft. (Or +30 ft., if the trickster already has darkvision.) 5th level nets something unique - the option to 3* Int-mod times per day animate shadows of targets to attack them (cool). Shadow and darkness spells are cast at CL +1. At 9th level, the trickster can basically hide in plain sight while within 10 feet of a shadow other than his own and at that level, the shadow may use the trickster's sneak attack, which is a pretty cool revision. The revision of the shadow forte is more intriguing and unique. Kudos for making it more interesting.

Starting at 3rd level the trickster adds +1 competence bonus to Bluff, Disguise, Escape Artist, Sleight of Hand or Stealth, increasing the bonus by +1 every third level, though the new bonuses gained may be freely distributed among aforementioned spells. 3rd level also nets evasion and 6th, 12th and 18th level provides bonus feats from a limited list. 8th level provides uncanny dodge, 11th improved uncanny dodge.

At the level, as a standard action, the trickster can cast a spell with a range of touch and deliver it as part of a melee attack, with the restriction of only working in conjunction with spells that have a casting time of 1 standard action or less. If the trickster hits, he also deals sneak attack damage in conjunction with the touch spell. Important: Misses mean the spell is lost, not held! This, combined with 3/4 BAB, is an important balancing mechanism...At least until high levels, for at 17th level, it is no longer lost - as a minor nitpick, while it is clear from the wording, it would have been nice to see the class explicitly specify that the trickster can hold only one sneakspell charge to avoid stacking them up.
Spells thus delivered may also not be enhanced by metamagic and, have a crit mod of x2. 9th level provides ranged legerdemain, though the ability is thankfully MORE precise than that of the arcane trickster PrC, specifying how far you can propel stolen objects and increasing the required skill ranks to 5. At 14th level, the trickster receives Filch Spell, which allows the trickster to hijack spells requiring direction (flaming spheres etc.) as a move action 3+Inttelligence modifier times per day. 15th level provides Surprise spells - but unlike the imprecise original take on the ability, this one clarifies from the get-go how it works with magic missiles or AoE-spells. As a capstone, the trickster treats all sneak attack damage 1s and 2s as 3s and automatically confirms all crits when using sneak attack. Additionally, the trickster may add metamagic to sneakspells sans increasing the casting time.

It should be noted that the trickster, still exceedingly powerful, now has a suggestion to decrease the power of the class: The suggestion is to eliminate necromancy and evocation from the spells they can cast. While this may be a sound idea and a quick and dirty elimination of the blasting capabilities of the trickster, it only marginally addresses the issue of power - an alternate, more conservative spell-progression would have been a more prudent solution in my book and maintained the universality of character concepts one can realize - instead of restricting the options, reducing the resources available, especially considering the strong framework of the class, would have made sense to me.

The previously horribly broken archetype has been completely redesigned and basically been split into two mutually exclusive archetypes both of which feature diminished spellcasting to 4th level. The first of these would be the Dual-Forte master, who gains a second forte at 6th level. He is treated as -4 levels for this forte, .2 levels at 11th and use full level for the second forte at 20th level. Feat-exchanges further balance the archetype. The second archetype would be the forte master, who gains a further upgrade for the forte chosen - one ability is gained at 11th and at 14th level, with the respective abilities depending on the forte chosen. Acrobats can inflict sneak attack when moving more than 10 feet and maintain actions after using dimension door. Arcane Accomplices increase familiar potency and may teleport them to an adjacent square 1/day as a swift action. Beguilers get enchantment tricks, shadow masters darkness-related tricks that blend the dark with nice tricks and spell pilferers may now steal divine spells as well. And yes, these significantly powerful upgrades are further balanced by 2 lost feats in addition to the spellcasting

Editing and formatting are top-notch and precise, I noticed but one minor fringe case; other than that - all around precise and well done in both formal and rules-language departments. Layout adheres to Kobold Press' gorgeous two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports multiple gorgeous pieces of original art. The pdf comes with bookmarks in spite of its brevity - nice.

Marc Radle's trickster is interesting - it is a testament to how much we love the concept of a rogue-y character that the by now pretty broken (as in: too weak) base class continues to see truly excellent takes on the trope. Regarding customization options, both the talented rogue and in particularly, Legendary Games' absolutely brilliant Legendary Rogues-book provided options for the "mundane" rogue that retain their viability in the system. Why "retain"? Well, simple: You see, the rogue has been pretty much a casualty to changing design-paradigms in PFRPG - when the core-rules were releases, the value of a rogue talent was obviously set to about a feat or less, while later classes have increased the value of class-specific options - compare alchemist discoveries and rogue talents if you need proof of that...or look at the ninja's framework and unique tricks and you'll notice the paradigm-shift.

The trickster, however, is not a simple rogue redesign - it could be summed up as a magus/rogue-hybrid, but that does not do the class justice: Instead of cobbling together two classes, the trickster is a completely unique class. Let me sum up the unique benefits here: The trickster streamlines problematic arcane trickster class features, has a unique spellcasting-blend that plays different from standard classes while being easy to understand and it provides a balanced, strong means to represent the sneak attack double team as well as, most importantly, creating the AWESOME spell pilfer mechanic.

Where am I going with this history lesson/comparison? Well, the trickster is stronger than the vanilla rogue - no doubt. It frankly SHOULD be - there are three classes that need versatility/power-upgrades: Rogue, monk and (versatility-wise/unique class feature-wise) fighter. The trickster is stronger than the rogue can deliver solid damage - much like a magus, this class is a glass cannon, though one that also is a rather good face/skill-monkey. Personally, I very much welcome the decrease in skills per level, though this in no way decreases the potency of the class.

Here's what I really like here: Marc Radle has actually listened to the feedback of the first revision and improved the file significantly. The new archetypes are balanced and do fun things and the totality of the trickster can now truly be called a great little class. The second revisions improvements catapult this to the rating-echelon of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.

Magic + Skills = Winning


When the Advanced Class Guide came out, one of the major hybrids a large number of people were surprised to find missing was a Rogue/Caster combination. Fortunately, Marc Radle and Kobold Press have filled that hole, and they've done so with flair and skill.

The Trickster, clearly inspired by and borrowing elements from the Arcane Trickster PrC, is a 20 level base class that elevates and enhances the ideas embodied by the Arcane Trickster and makes the concept playable right from first level. The Trickster features a 3/4 BAB, 6+Int skills, good Reflex and Will saves, 6 level Int-based arcane spellcasting that works similarly to the casting system seen in the Arcanist class, and sneak attack scaling up to 7d6. In addition to these solid mechanics that form the functional skeleton of the class, the Trickster also gains Trapfinding, bonuses to thematic skills, evasion, a pseudo Spellstrike ability called Sneakspell that can be used with melee sneak attacks, three bonus feats, Uncanny Dodge and Improved Uncanny Dodge, Ranged Legerdemain as the Arcane Trickster, Filch Spell which allows him to attempt to redirect an enemy's spell, and the Master Trickster capstone, which allows him to treat all 1's and 2's on his sneak attack dice as 3's and apply a metamagic feat he knows for free when using his Sneakspell ability.

In addition to the class features mentioned above, the Trickster also selects a Forte at 2nd level. The Forte the Trickster chooses gives him a packet of abilities that help customize him and enhance his abilities within a certain area. The Fortes available are:

  • Acrobat- The Acrobat Forte enhances the Trickster's mobility, reducing ACP in light armor and even increasing his AC in light or no armor.

  • Arcane Accomplice- Grants the Trickster a familiar who gains a variety of unique abilities that assist it in aiding the Trickster.

  • Beguile- A set of mechanics presumably inspired by and presented in homage to the 3.5 Beguiler, Tricksters who choose this Forte find that their spells are more effective against enemies who would be denied their Dex to AC, as well as bonuses to Bluff and feint. This Forte really makes the Trickster's Sneakspell class feature particularly effective and potent when used intelligently.

  • Spell Pilfer- Another mechanic that the reminds me of a 3.5 class, this time the Spellthief, Spell Pilfer allows the Trickster to steal an enemy's spell, removing it from their list of spells known/prepared and adding it to the Trickster's.

Overall, the depth and potential of this class is really impressive to me, and I'm looking forward to spending more time playing with the numerous characters this class enables. I strongly recommend this to anyone who's a fan of the Arcane Trickster class, anyone who found themselves missing a skilled/caster combo from the ACG, and really anyone who likes the idea of an effective and versatile class that offers a broad array of potential character builds.

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