Advanced Options: Slayer Talents & Lethalities (PFRPG) PDF

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There are many reasons to kill...

The slayer is a new hybrid class, combining elements of the ranger and rogue. Slayers can be assassins, executioners, soldiers, or just skilled murderers. Pathfinder® Roleplaying Game: Advanced Class Guide™ provides some options for specializing slayers through archetypes, but space restrictions preclude delving into all the possible ways a slayer might be customized to match character tropes and player ideas. To help with that reduced support, Advanced Options: Slayer Talents & Lethalities offers new talents and advanced talents, and an entirely new kind of option for the class, lethalities.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This installment of the advanced options line, now dealing with the slayer base-class from the ACG, clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page advertisement, 2 pages editorial/SRD, leaving us with 8 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Now first of all, even if you do *not* like the slayer hybrid-class, this actually has some merit in owning - why? Well, are you aware of the rather popular talented versions of base classes RGG puts out? Well, the slayer talents and lethalities herein can be potentially used in conjunction with just that system! SO yes, even if, due to (imho partially more than valid) balance concerns or just fluff-preference you have elected not to use the ACG, this may have something for you, especially since the guidelines provided for the use of either turn out to be pretty conservative.

That out of the way, let us take a look at the talents first. A total of 16 talents are provided herein. The talents include a non-kitten-able heal upon defeating adversaries or converting the sneak attack bonus damage into energy damage (for the love of all that's holy, be *very* careful when allowing that one for rogues, even as an advanced talent!) - the latter here would be something a tad bit too powerful for my admittedly conservative tastes. On the other hand - why would I ever waste a valuable talent slot on increasing my crit multiplier while coup-de-gracing? Don't get me wrong - I *get* the style behind this feat and I *like* the executioner idea - but as a talent, it probably isn't particularly valid. How many times do you get to coup-de-grace an opponent and have that foe actually survive? Most of the times, unless a target is extremely hardy, the save boils down to nat-20-or-dead anyways. So yeah, that one...pretty useless.

The total opposite would be the face-stealer tree, which allows you to disguise yourself as the enemy you've defeated - if you can't see the glorious potential of that one, I don't know. Suffice to say, the narrative potential and "Did you see what I just did there"-level of coolness is quite pronounced here - kudos! On the functional and useful, but not world-shattering-level, we would have options to better infiltrate certain groups by gaining class skills and ways to use UMD via int and become generally more adept at hunting down foes. The shank-mini-talent-tree that allows you to substitute a 1d6 (1d4 for small, 1d8 for large - + 1 dice step for the better versions) base damage plus 19-20 threat range for light melee weapons thankfully avoids the issues of shuriken/flurry of star-abuse and does allow for efficient whips and the like. While certainly a matter of taste, this talent-tree may actually allow for certain builds that otherwise would be unfeasible. On the downside, one could argue that specific exotic weapons are balanced via a decreased damage/threat range to account for their improved versatility in other areas...then again, exotic weapons do usually require the steep cost of feat investment... What I'm trying to say here is that these particular talents are not for every round, but for some, they may just be awesome.

Rewarding brains over brawn, a specific talent enables you to meditate on a specific poison and net yourself a massive +8 bonus after meditation against it. If you've been following my reviews, it will come to no surprise to you that I absolutely love this school of design, where clever roleplaying and planning can provide more than tangible benefits. Two thumbs up! Tossing aside unconscious foes is also a pretty cool idea- until you realize that this lets you toss aside slain dragons due to no restriction whatsoever regarding the weight of the creatures subjected to the ability. As cool as shoving a carcass str-score, rounded down to 5 ft. increments is, I can't see that one. Stylish, yes, but I wished it had a weight cap (e.g. the weight allotted to lifting or dragging...) and a slightly more tangible benefit. Directly opposite that would be Zealous Drive, which lets you 1+Int-mod times per day add +1/2 class level to any single opposed skill or ability-check or to any Str, Dex or Con-based ability check - this can be pretty nasty when used for a demoralize/feinting build, but on the other hand, it is also thematically consistent.

A total of 12 advanced talents are part of the deal, with follow-ups to the face-stealing tricks and shanks providing a nice linear progression of concepts. Being able to declare one strike per round an aching strike is interesting as a concept -if the slayer hits, the caster treats the damage as ongoing for concentration purposes, rendering slayers with this talent pretty dangerous to casters - one sneak attack = almost guaranteed casting failure. While this level of power is probably intended and the need to declare the ability in advance acts as a limitation, I still feel the talent should sport a (scaling) save against its effects. (And/or declare that this is a [pain]-based effect - can't see e.g. Kuthonites being hampered by pain-effects like this, but that may just be me...)

5-foot steps whenever a target is downed, on the other hand...well, that makes for interesting tactical options. Death-effect and even Angel of Death-like resurrection-prevention on the other hand should be considered a pretty nifty tool to have in a slayer's arsenal - especially since it blocks a source after a failed attempt. Nice, especially since it explains why high priest xyz couldn't resurrect noble zyx to shed some light on the dastardly plot threatening the kingdom...

Mathematically interesting would be the option to only deal regular damage on a crit that would not be eligible for a sneak attack and instead add sneak attack damage. Why? Well, because there are quite a few feats out there that exchange sneak damage for negative conditions and this slightly increased crit-control that trades in superior damage output for more versatility can, once again, result in interesting tactical options. Rather odd - follow through: The talent allows you to execute a combat maneuver against an adjacent opponent as a swift action after dispatching an enemy - without provoking an AoO. Why odd? Because it theoretically lets you game the wording rather easily: Throw kitten in adjacent field, kill kitten, AoO-free attack. Now don't get me wrong, I do not suggest that this abuse is a *good* strategy, but it is one that could have been easily prevented by a tighter wording with a liberal HD-cap that at least prevents use with mook-level adversaries.

+ 1 crit multiplier is also something pretty nasty, while focusing on one studied target via a Vendetta makes for a pretty nice add-on of flexibility.

So what are lethalities? Essentially, they are edges by any other name (and btw. -the pdf *does* call them edge here and there - so don't be confused by these minor terminology inconsistencies) - studied target and sneak attack, respectively. This pdf rewires studied target and sneak attack as edges and allows you to choose different options, rendering this basically the "talented" slayer, "light" version. The lethalities herein include divine prepared spellcasting with a restriction on necromancy, [shadow]-spells and those of the shadow subschool, governed (somewhat oddly) by Int. This can be further improved by allowing for spellcasting while holding a weapon.

Utterly odd - the Blood Rage lethality. First of all - why impose the arbitrary restriction of only allowing for this rage while below 1/2 max hit points? Bloodied, anyone? Secondly - why call it "Blood Rage" when there's the Bloodrager class with the Bloodrage ability that does something completely different? Unfortunate nomenclature that could have easily been avoided... More interesting and quite frankly, the stars among the lethalities, would be the death blows and steal power lethalities. Death blows adds +1 death blow every two levels after the lethality is taken. Each of these strikes can be used 1/2 class level + int-mod per day, adding more choice to combat. Doing the Batman and letting targets take the brunt of falling damage (and remaining standing!), swift feints, rolling twice an attack as a standard action at the cost of being flat footed versus other targets - a total of 10 such strikes are provided and I quite like them. Kudos! Steal power has varying benefits depending on the creature type the slayer - the slayer kills a target creature and receives a part of the spiritual essence of what makes the type "tick" - the creature does not need to exhibit the ability gained. This one is a pretty awesome take on the "draw from vanquished foe's power" trope. Preventing vocalization while grappling foes further helps the implied anti-caster angle of the class.

The pdf also provides 3 archetypes. The first would be the headsman, a specialist of all 2-handed weapons (free weapon focus for all of them!) who may receive less studied targets, but does gain temporary, more flexible studied targets based on who or what authorities condemn. Additionally, sneak attack damage dice are increased to d8 and coup de grace damage is always maximized, but he pays for this with a lack of proficiency in medium armors. The Seditionist receives trapfinding and selective spell resistance against determining his true causes or enforce truth-telling. He also receives alchemist bombs at effective class level =slayer level-2 instead of sneak attack and the trapper's trap feature. This archetype is concise and thematically really cool - hard to pin down, explosives, traps - what could you want more? Really like this guy! The third would be. The Warhound, who gains an animal companion and instead of stalker and slayer's advance and delays studied target's acquisition to 2nd level, may be an okay archetype, but elicited more or less a yawn from me - sure it's solid in concept, but I think streamlining an animal companion into the edges (pardon, lethalities) would have been a more elegant option - perhaps at class level -4 or with similar restrictions. Oh, have I mentioned this archetype's big glitch? It doesn't have Handle Animal as a class skill. Without traits etc., the warhound can't train his animal companion.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect - I noticed a couple of minor glitches. Layout adheres to RGG's two-column full-color standard with color stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, with bookmarks to each talent AND hyperlinks.

There is a reason Owen K.C. Stephens was hired by Paizo and this pdf does offer some glimpses as to why. That being said, it is my unfortunate duty to report that he has done better work than this. On the one hand I really enjoy the futureproofing of this pdf and the synergy with the talented class options. On the other hand, I don't really get why the pdf had to introduce the term "lethality" in the first place - it sounds cool, yeah, but apart from that...well, it needlessly complicates the talented-terminology.

But back to less meta concerns - It took me some time to get to this one mainly due to the ACG-classes not being among my favorites regarding their balance and execution- but that's for another rant. I applaud their concepts and this pdf does something the slayer was in dire need off: Provide unique benefits. The issue with this pdf is that the internal balance of these options is all over the place - from what amounts to "cool, but tactically useless or highly circumstantial"-fluff abilities to ones that are *very* strong (energy sneak attack, verbal-casting-negating grab-attacks with flails etc....ouch!), the balancing is pretty much all over the place. Now the options are not necessarily broken, but they do very much feel like they've been written for two completely different gamer-groups. The death strikes (again, perhaps slightly unfortunately named) and abilities to draw powers from defeated foes once again are pretty awesome. The archetypes once again show well this discrepancy again - the hangman being pretty strong, the warhound somewhat like an extended, flawed edge and the seditionist being downright awesome.

This pdf was a roller coaster ride for me - it felt uncharacteristically rushed for something Owen K.C. Stephens made, at least to me. There are more flaws and balance-concerns in here than I'm accustomed to from his usually rather airtight designs and the inconsistency of the internal balancing is so pronounced, it is almost jarring at times. That being said, on the other hand, the superb face-stealing tricks and cool, complex and unique options do have something to add to one's game. This pdf is a mixed bag of awesomeness and problematic and hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.

Ednezeitgeist out.


New Tricks for Slayers

4/5

This PDF is the first in a hoped-for series of releases to bring more options to the new classes from the ACG. This one covers the Slayer, and it comes in at twelve pages long, with one for the cover, one-half for the credits, one and a half for the OGL and copyright notices, and a full-page ad for the Veranthea Codex kickstarter. That leaves eight for the new material, and some rather fine work is found herein..

The first section is new Talents, which can be taken at the same time as any other Slayer Talent or in place of the track, stalker, swift tracker, quarry and improved quarry class features, if you want to customize your character even more.

There are some cool and flavorful ideas here, like the Death Drinker talent which allows your Slayer to heal themselves after making a kill (nice and creepy!), to the Elemental Grave talent that turns sneak attack damage into energy damage, to Studied Defense that grants an AC bonus against studied targets.

My personal favorites, though are the Face Stealer chain that allows you to take the appearance of an enemy reduced to negative hit points, a talent that can get stronger as you take more advanced versions of it, and the Shank chain, which allows the Slayer to take a light melee weapon they have proficiency in and use a better die of damage and have a better chance at inflicting critical hit.

Then we get the Advanced Talents. These include such nasty treats as the Sanction chain, which makes it harder and harder to return to life anyone the Slayer killed. Relentless lets the Slayer heal themselves if their studied target is still moving and they get killed or knocked out. Aching Strike makes it harder for a wounded by the Slayer enemy spellcaster to concentrate on their spells. The Shank and Face Stealer chains get advanced and more powerful versions as well. It's a good collection here.

Next come Lethalities, abilities that can be taken in place of studied target and sneak attack. You can replace every advance in those abilities or only some of them. Your Slayer can rage like a barbarian or cast necromancy spells from the cleric and witch classes, though most of these will have to be selected several times to be more than a minor ability. There are Death Blows that make your attacks able to inflict temporary conditions or reduce an enemy's speed. My favorite is 'Death From Above': your Slayer drops on an enemy and inflicts half their dice of falling damage on them! I wish the PDF mentioned whether this means that the Slayer only takes half damage from the fall, or just hurts the target half as much as themselves.

The Strangler chain of Lethalities allows you to use a flail group weapon as a means of grappling, and Steal Power, allowing you to temporarily use a feat or ability depending on the victim's type. This one has a nice creepy feel to it. Perfect for those murderous death cultists!

The PDF is rounded out with a few archetypes. One is the Headsman, who gets fewer studied targets per day, unless they're dealing with someone who was sentenced to death by a legal authority. They also get Weapon Focus for free in all two-handed slashing weapons and their sneak attack deals more damage against studied targets and inflicts max damage when used as a Coup de Grace.

The trouble-making Seditionist replaces sneak attack with alchemist's bombs and spell resistance against spells that read thoughts or detect alignment, as well as a bonus on Bluff checks to tell lies. They can also make traps as the Trapper archetype from Ultimate Magic.

Lastly is the Warhound, who gets an animal companion they can share their Studied Target bonuses with. It seems like every class is getting animal companions these days.

So you get a multitude of good new talents, new toys in place of sneak attack and studied target for those interested, and three archetypes of which two are pretty good to me. It's only of use to Slayer characters but wow is it ever of use to them. I am so very glad I got a copy. I'll give this one a solid four stars.


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Now available!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

this is a must buy for mortal kombat fans.


Liz Courts wrote:
Now available!

Thanks, Liz!


christos gurd wrote:
this is a must buy for mortal kombat fans.

It's absolutely true, that's one of the places I found inspiration. :)


I got a copy of this and I really do like it. I especially enjoy the Face Stealer chain of talents, which gives me ideas for a kitsune Slayer.


And just posted my own review of it! I hope it brings some more attention to the PDF, I really think this one is good.


Thanks for the review, Eric!


Was hoping for a talent conversion, but this is good. But now I'm curious, do you have a plan for converting the hybrid classes from the Advanced Class Guide? Will they get their own books or be broken down into talents for talented core and base classes?


I'm glad you like it! A Talented Book would have taken weeks longer, in playtesting alone nevermind the design time.

Since you ask, there IS a plan for Hybrid classes, though it may well morph once I get into it, or if playtesting reveals significant issues.

Step 1: Do all the base and core classes first. That may or may not include psychic classes, depending on how those pan out, but certainly every 20-level class from the core rules, APG, UC, and UM.

Step 2: Write up hybrid class frameworks, designed to allow some choice from 2 or more base and core classes. These will likely look a lot like the "Heroic Warrior" option from Talented Barbarian (which allows a single class to draw from barbarian, cavalier, and fighter - the three nonmagic fighting classes) and the 4 "hybrid options" from Talented Rogue (allowing combo monk/ninja/rogues).

Step 3: define all unique hybrid class features so they are assigned to one of the parent classes as edges/talents.

The ultimate goal is to have a system where a player or GM can say "I want to build a cleric," and have a class framework that can draw on everything available to clerics and warpriests with all combination be balanced. Alternatively, a player or Gm could say "I want to play a strong spellcaster/combatant hybrid, selecting from fighter and cleric" (to make something like a warpriestr). But the same martial spellcaster framework could instead be used to draw from ranger and druid (to create a hunter), or alchemist and barbarian (to create a chem-rager), or cavalier and druid (to create a Green Knight).

So with just a few hybrid class frameworks, any two classes can be combine to make a balanced end result.

That is going to take a LOT of work, and it's way in the future (I need to do the alchemist, bard, cleric, druid, gunslinger, inquisitor, oracle, paladin, sorcerer, summoner, witch, and wizard first). Then I'd decide if magus is going to be treated as a base class or hybrid class, and proceed from there.


Owen KC Stephens wrote:

I'm glad you like it! A Talented Book would have taken weeks longer, in playtesting alone nevermind the design time.

Since you ask, there IS a plan for Hybrid classes, though it may well morph once I get into it, or if playtesting reveals significant issues.

Step 1: Do all the base and core classes first. That may or may not include psychic classes, depending on how those pan out, but certainly every 20-level class from the core rules, APG, UC, and UM.

Step 2: Write up hybrid class frameworks, designed to allow some choice from 2 or more base and core classes. These will likely look a lot like the "Heroic Warrior" option from Talented Barbarian (which allows a single class to draw from barbarian, cavalier, and fighter - the three nonmagic fighting classes) and the 4 "hybrid options" from Talented Rogue (allowing combo monk/ninja/rogues).

Step 3: define all unique hybrid class features so they are assigned to one of the parent classes as edges/talents.

The ultimate goal is to have a system where a player or GM can say "I want to build a cleric," and have a class framework that can draw on everything available to clerics and warpriests with all combination be balanced. Alternatively, a player or Gm could say "I want to play a strong spellcaster/combatant hybrid, selecting from fighter and cleric" (to make something like a warpriestr). But the same martial spellcaster framework could instead be used to draw from ranger and druid (to create a hunter), or alchemist and barbarian (to create a chem-rager), or cavalier and druid (to create a Green Knight).

So with just a few hybrid class frameworks, any two classes can be combine to make a balanced end result.

That is going to take a LOT of work, and it's way in the future (I need to do the alchemist, bard, cleric, druid, gunslinger, inquisitor, oracle, paladin,...

Having a talented caster-combatant definitely makes sense versatility-wise. Plus merging the barbarian and bloodrager together definitely has issues.

I know, I tried.


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As always, thanks for the review, End!


This is better than the reviews suggest. It contains new talents for the slayer, both normal and advanced, and gives some options which you can trade in with studied target and sneak attack known as lethalities, which helps him to kill opponents. This product deserves five stars!!


I saw an advertisement for a talented slayer PDF coming out in 2016; From the looks of things this has been canceled. Any hope for a revival of this?


It choked in playtesting and, ah... I got busy with some Starfinder-compatible things.
So... mebbe?

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