Annals of the Drunken Wizard: Critical Hit-Exchanging Weapon Special Abilities (PFRPG) PDF

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Critical hits really are what a good number of martial characters live and die by, but, all too often, the critical hit is made the realm of the min-maxing Strength-based melee, whilst more Dexterity-based characters simply don't get so much bang for their buck.

This supplement, the first in the Annals of the Drunken Wizard series, introduces forty-five new weapon special abilities that tear down critical hits, traditionally an enterprise of the two-handed fighter, and rebuilds the system with options that make critical hits an event for characters of all sorts, allowing players to sacrifice their spike damage for improved survivability, the ability to throw around status effects, the ability to regain low level spell slots, or perhaps the ability to simply do something ridiculously silly instead because the character is a flavor build!

Product Features

  • 45 new weapon special abilities
  • All spells and feats linked to the online Pathfinder System Reference Document
  • 13 random tables that integrate into (and link to) tables found in the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Core Rulebook for easy use of this ruleset
  • Intralinking so you're always one click away from the page you want

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4.50/5 (based on 2 ratings)

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5/5 short term, 4/5 long term


This supplement clocks in at seventeen pages, including fifteen pages of content. After the cover and introduction, we jump straight into the crunch (no table of contents). What we get are a bunch of magic weapon properties, ranging from +1 to +5 cost equivalent. Each of these weapon properties has a stronger effect than others of the same cost, but causes the weapon to deal no extra damage on a critical hit. There is a roughly even mixture of ranged weapon properties and melee weapon properties. Most effects only trigger on a critical hit (replacing the extra damage). The effects range from restoring previously cast divine spells when using a god’s favored weapon on a critical, to duplicating offensive spells on the target, to healing the wielder on a critical. There are effects which cause the target to make a will save or strike themselves, and an effect which grants the effects of bonus rogue talents on a critical hit.
When I first saw the description, I was concerned that the weapon properties would give the short end of the stick to weapons with high critical multipliers, who trade out a lot more damage for these effects. But Crouch has answered my doubts in a clever way: when these weapon properties require a save DC, the DC is based partly on the weapon’s critical multiplier. There is even a property which increases the critical multiplier of a weapon, but only for weapons which have already traded away their extra damage on a critical.
There is almost no visual artwork in this product.
At the end, we get some random charts for the newly introduced weapon properties, for when you want to roll up a random magic weapon.
Short Term Use: Each weapon property is clearly explained, and the random charts make it easy to drop any of these weapons into a treasure hoard without much difficulty. For such well-done weapon effects at such a low price, this is an easy 5/5.
Long Term Use: Okay, the main thing that bugs me about this supplement is that the weapon properties herein cannot be combined with each other. Well, they could, but they are all balanced around losing the extra damage on a critical, so stacking them would mean getting the ‘penalty’ once but getting the bonus from two weapon properties, making for a more powerful weapon than the cost would indicate. Still, there’s a lot of variety you can get combining these properties with normal magic weapon properties.
Making these items available over the long term also has the effect of making “critical fishing” builds more attractive. If that is something you want to encourage, this supplement is a 5/5. If that is something you want to discourage, this supplement is a 3 or less. If you don’t care either way, it is either a 4 or a 4.5. Hence, I’ll settle on a long term rating of 4/5.

Dealing Extra Damage Is So Mundane


Length: 17 pages total: 1 page front cover; 1 page introduction; 1 page licensing; 14 pages of content.

Format: Mostly 2-column, with 6 pages of centered tables at the end. There is a great deal of wasted space on the later pages with tables so if you like printing, you may be disappointed with their layout. Overall, this book is easy to read. Of particular note is that this book is extensively hyperlinked to, making it very easy to find the rules on item creation and the particulars of the spells used during that creation. These links were no doubt time-consuming to create and they are a very nice addition. I did not click on every link to test them but I did do a cursory scan of each, finding 3 that did not receive links and 1 that pointed to the pdf's file location instead of a website. One of the few links I did click did not lead to a proper page. Whether this is due to a website redesign or a mistake at the time of writing is unknown to me. Apart from that, there were 18 typographical and grammatical errors that had no serious impact on readability or gameplay mechanics.

There were 4 errors that I noticed which do impact gameplay mechanics, as follows: Concussion has a different number for Price and Cost; Greater Evocative Impact has an unrelated special ability's text copied into its description instead of the proper text, rendering it unusable without guesswork based on Evocation Impact; Tideturner and Greater Tideturner have rules calling for DC's to mitigate their effects, presumably as saving throws, but they do not specify whether it's a Will, Reflex, Fortitude or ability score to be rolled.

Art: 1 cover + 11 pictures, all black and white, with several pieces appearing to be basic clip art. There's nothing wrong with them, but they're not exciting.

Critical Hit Exchange: The idea presented by this book is to introduce a set of special abilities for melee and ranged weapons that replace the weapon's ability to deal extra damage from critical hits. There are 45 such properties, ranging in strength from being equivalent to a +1 bonus all the way to being equivalent to a +5 bonus, and they are priced accordingly. Some of these properties only apply to melee weapons while others apply to ranged, and some may be applied to either. Some are specific to bludgeoning, piercing or slashing weapons as well. There are several tables at the end of the book allowing for random loot generation and making it a simple task to see which properties may be applied to which types of weaponry.

All of the special qualities listed within either remove the ability to deal extra damage upon confirming a critical hit or require another such ability to already be active. You need to confirm your critical hit to gain the new benefits, so don't think of these as being "always on". Here are some of the weapon abilities you'll find within:

• Alchemical - Treat the enemy as though they had been hit with a Tanglefoot Bag.
• Arcanist's/Divine Recall - Recover a first level spell slot.
• Bladethirst - Absorb enemy's life, healing wielder.
• Bolstering - Wielder and allies within 10ft. gain temporary hit points.
• Crashing Thunder - Knock an enemy backwards. The base (+1) version of this ability is nice, but the Greater (+3) version is not worth the asking price. Greater Crashing Thunder adds the possibility to apply the stunned condition to an enemy for 1 round, which would be nice if it weren't for the tiny chance of success. The enemy gets a Fort save equal to your to-hit roll minus their AC. Adding their Fort bonus to their AC means most enemies appropriate for your level will automatically succeed (or close to it), so unless you want a special weapon with a +3 bonus designed specifically for bullying weaklings, this isn't worth your time. It's not even great with True Strike, because that only lasts for 1 attack, which is hard to guarantee will be a crit. Even if you do have an ability to guarantee it will be a crit, is all that trouble and timing worth it to get a 1 round stun? Situational, at best.
• Crushing - Damage an enemy's arm, resulting in a stiff penalty to skill checks and preventing combat with that arm.
• Erupting - Deal elemental damage (chosen at item creation) in place of physical.
• Evocative Impact - Cast a first level evocation spell (chosen at item creation) at CL 3.
• Explosive - Fling both wielder and target apart, potentially damaging them and anything they are flung into.
• Hamstringing - Potentially halve enemy's speed.
• Misleading - Receive the benefits of invisibility and major image where you were standing for 1 round.
• Overpowering - Make a free trip attempt against your enemy.
• Planar - Summon a small elemental adjacent to your enemy. If there is no room for such a summoning, both of you receive elemental damage.
• Quartering - Similar to Vorpal, but not restricted to creatures with heads.
• Reactive - Increases the threat range of a weapon, but only one that has already had its extra critical hit damage exchanged by one of the abilities in this book.
• Recycling - Returns ammunition (even magical ammunition) to your quiver or hand.
• Serenity - Receive a temporary point of Ki.
• Spelldrinking - Absorb low-level spells from an enemy, granting the wielder the ability to cast one of each stolen spell as if by a wand.
• Tideturner - Enlarge the wielder and reduce the enemy, as well as granting morale bonuses. Personally, I think this power as-written is too powerful for the +1 bonus it costs, and would not allow its use.
• Trumpeting - All allies within 30ft. receive a +1 competence bonus to attack and damage until the wielder's next turn. If the wielder has Inspire Courage, the weapon may use a round of their daily allotment to sing as a Bard of equivalent class level.
• Volleying - The enemy is struck as if by multiple pieces of ammunition instead of one.
• Wondrous - Roll on the Rod of Wonder table to see what happens. Every time I confirm a crit? Yes, please.

Verdict: I really like this book and almost all of the special abilities within. There are a few hiccups that keep it from being perfect but since these special abilities are almost entirely stand-alone, I believe there is still enough fun to be had here to warrant my full endorsement.

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