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First of all, let me say that I was given a free book for reviewing, but I don't think it will affect my review.
So this book has an unusual niche- It's for improving the martial abilities of spellcasters, with several optional rules and multiple warrior classes with exotic abilities, called "exotic classes," and feats.
So the first chapter is optional rules.
Battle Mages discusses alternatives to arcane spell failure for armor, for those who want to get away from the squishy wizard stereotype, either permanently or as temporary methods to avoid it, depending on your comfort level.
Charging spells is a rule for empowering spells by taking longer, could go with a dragonball z dynamic to it, or making the magic more ritualistic. Definitely won't be appropriate for some campaigns I imagine.
Component bypass, what you'd think. Another way to avoid squishy wizards by avoiding somatic components among other things.
Cosmic magic, now this rule is a little bit of an odd man out, it doesn't really increase the battle prowess of spellcasters, although it reduces spell failure for armor if you were an arcane caster to begin with.
Cosmic magic, for those who haven't bought other books that have discussed it, is the primal universal source of magic that arcane, divine, and psychic magic all flows.
By the rules presented, just change the name of the spellcasting class to "cosmic sorcerer," or "cosmic paladin," whatever.
This could easily be expanded. Some classes wouldn't change too much by changing their source of magic, but conceptually some classes would change conceptually a lot. I could easily see archetypes for cosmic sorcerers, druids, paladins, and the like.
Critical spells, not that exciting on it's own, but neither are critical hits. I imagine someone will use this to let spellcasters
Frankenspells casting two spells at the same time combining them into one. Can be used to say throw a lightning bolt and a fireball at the same time at someone, or take advantage of spell interactions. Like say combining a harm and a heal spell to deal nonlethal damage, as a given example.
Magic Knights, this rule suggests gestalt play in pathfinder to allow someone to be a full bab warrior and a nine level caster at the same time.
Metamagic weapons is a fun idea I feel. Allows someone using a magic weapon to add a metamagic feat to their attacks. Since most metamagic feats don't have prereqs that non spellcasters can't meet, this rule could benefit noncasters too, if you want archers with seeking arrows or fighters beating up ghosts with ectoplasmic sword strikes.
Spell as attacks of opportunity, what it says on the tin there.
Spellblade is an interesting rule. It allows spellcasters to temporarily invest a spell into making a sword out of magic. I could definitely see some archetypes based on this one. A paladin or inquisitor with a divine blade, or a magus specializing in spellblades.
Swapping spell lists, not really about enhancing the martial power of spellcasters, but I'm sure someone somewhere would want to play a Paladin of Nature with the ranger spell list, as a example.
Physical casting modifers involves using Strength, Dexterity, or Constitution, with suggested downsides to balance things.
Universal spell combat, magus spell combat for everyone.
The next optional rule is a mana system to get rid of spell slots, with a "spell stress system" as an additional limiting factor, with two further optional rules to alter the cost of individual spells as desired.
Next is the classes.
The first is the Beast, a different take on the magical warrior. They don't cast spells, rather they have permament spell effects on them, up to 6th lvl. Full BAB, proficient with all armor and shields and simple and martial weapons. They use their class level for caster level when appropriate, and Con as their caster modifier. Spells that end when triggered normally recover in one minute.
Beasts have three paths to choose from for costumization- Government sponsored soldiers, the independent mercenaries, and the mutants. Mercenaries can change their permanent spells but have to pay for it like a scroll, or make spells cast on them last like their augmentations. Mutants can have more augmentations, but suffer a penalty, and can gain extra senses, natural attacks, or counting as a different type of creature as their mutation takes hold. Soldiers are the fighter like option with extra combat feats, but they don't choose their augmentations.
Further adding to customization they gain access to Beast talents, things like spell like abilities, gaining enhancement bonus to their natural or unarmed attacks, or recharging their augmentations when they save against a spell or spell like ability.
Lots of options for expansion that I can see. Alchemical supersoldiers, psionic Beasts who have implanted psionic powers, Androids who magically tinker with their own bodies, Beasts who gain their powers from a Sorcerer like heritage, racial archetypes for those who tap into their dhampir/skinwalker/kitsune/planar heritage, etc.
Cannoneers, dexterity based medium BAB class that specializes in firearms, and the magic cannon they wheel around. Instead of spells, their magic manifests as different types of shells they can fire from their magic cannon. I'm sure it'll appeal to others who want to be heavy artillery.
Next is the Curse-Wielder. Elric. Bilbo Baggins. Witchblade. Powers work off building stress, when stress gets too high the cursed item takes over, but resting 8 hours a day or rampaging (letting the cursed item take over) reduces it. Their main attack power is adding negative energy damage to their attacks with which they can also add curse effects. A major choice for this class is to whether fight or give in to the curse, another one is what kind of item they are stuck with, and the third is the personality of their cursed item.
Espers, champions of the collective unconscious. Full BAB limited casters like paladins, they gain an aura of calmness, bonuses from having allies around, can add nonlethal damage to attacks, Commune with the collective unconscious, a psychic shield, among other class benefits.
Inquisitorial Scholar. I think I would have reversed that name myself, but moving on. Hybrid class of Alchemist and Inquisitor. They use their knowledge of their nonhumanoid opponents to combat them, often through the application of alchemy. Think the Men of Letters from Supernatural or the Watchers from Buffy.
Maghamar, hybrid class of magus and cavalier. Magic carpet riding air force. They can channel spells through charge attacks. And join "fleets' instead of orders. One fleet turns this into a unicorn rider instead, though.
Sagebeasts. Spellcasters who can Hulk out thanks to a powerful monster within them. Proficient with light and medium armor and shields (except tower shields), but only ignore spell failure from light armor, and all simple and martial weapons. Intelligence based 6th level spontaneous casters. In monster form they are full BAB, an alignment shift, and abilities depending on what specific monster they turn into. While as written they are focused on goblins, monstrous humanoids, and giants, I imagine someone is going to want to expand that. Lycanthropes? Demons? Undead?
Shujaa, magical warrior tank class who are denied all magic but abjuration. Personal forcefield that provides a shield bonus, gain armor proficiency as they level up, they learn to shape their force field to share it with allies or attack with it, gain attack bonuses with it or add magical enhancements, etc.
Last is feats. There's the new metamagic feats and class feature dependent feats, including one that allows sagebeasts to maintain their alignment. but wow.
They have a style that allow one to use their caster level for weapon attacks., and at its pinnacle qualify for fighter feats and use their caster modifier for attack rolls.
Now all these options aren't for everyone, I imagine a campaign that pushes the envelope with some of the more powerful classes out there will be more receptive than vanilla pathfinder games, but there is lots of fun stuff in here, that I imagine will inspire some of the readers. So 4 out of 5 from me.
Review up in product discussion.
First of all, I was given a copy to review.
First class, the Gourmend. Poor attack bonus, proficiency with simple weapons and no armor, so these guys aren't meant to be front line combatants without help. If they wear armor they suffer the arcane spell failure chance as a chance of their preservation vessels spoiling overnight.
Stuff they can do includes building a familiar out of foodstuffs. So a lot of options here, from gummy monkey to a cat made out of bacon.
Gourmends choose two cooking methods to specialize in ala sorcerer bloodlines. Bakers can throw dough balls and make gingerbread golems for example. Candy makers can make weapons.
1 minor issue there seems to be a mistake in the chart, in that +4 impact or keen weapon don't have a level requirement listed. I
This class has plenty of flavor (pun intended), but they might be too over the top for some games, and the meat specialization seems to encourage combat a bit more than is healthy for someone who has the combat skills of a wizard. But since I haven't playtested it, my fears might be unfounded.
A mistake at the end, it says that the Gourmend lose class features if they gain a prohibited alignment, since Gourmends have no prohibited alignments that's superflous.
Next up is the Herbalist. Like the gourmend they have options for capstone, which I like. One of them makes their plants sapient enough that they'll stuff themselves in someone's mouth to give them their benefit, or druid spells.
Lots of archetypes here. Like the Compounder who heals through poison or Entomologists, who have a capstone that turns them into the amazing bugman.
Naturalists- Weird weapon proficiencies, they are proficient with weapons with no metal in them. If that means that weapons normally made out of metal that aren't in this instance are kosher is unclear. So the base of this class is having your very own plant companion, naming it Audrey 2 is optional.
Breaks the standard of having multiple possible capstones, at 20th level when killed the plant companion turns the character into a plant zombie. Creationist archetype gains druidic spells in return for a less awesome plant companion and the ability to store their herbs. The mycologist archetype is for those who would rather sic a man eating mushroom on their opponents. Another fungus based option is the Sporekeeper whose companion shoots spores instead of biting.
It provides rules for multiple climates to pick your herbs from and optional rules for microcosms such as evil, aberrant, or arcane, and rules to make your own, which is quite useful.
The material is fun and interesting, and I can see people wanting even more, despite how much material is included here.