Comments: 21 pages long, 2 pages of cover art and forewording, 17 pages of content, 2 of the required OGL. Occasional minor art that is suitable and not distracting to the content.
A copy was provided to me for review.
Summary: Three Stars. A lot of effort and heart, but some definite problems in editing and more in balancing some of the content.
This is a review of a Fighter remake, as is affirmed in the PDF itself, and clearly indicated by the name and blurb.
The Fighting Man!
Base Stats: D10 and saving throws unchanged from fighter. Skill list slightly expanded (Acrobatics and Perception notably) and increased skill points to 4/Level.
Does away with Bravery. Nobody misses it.
No commentary on stamina system, Advanced Weapon Training, Advanced Armor Training, or Skill unlocks, in case you wanted to know.
Replaces Bonus Combat Feats with Talents, which are non-combat feat effects for utility (very needed), bonus feats that scale with level, bonus feats with additional effects (feats +), or bonus feats that synergize with other feats for extra effects. This is a required thing for any fighter rewrite. Some of them are quite strong relative to other effects - Combat Medic, for instance, heals more damage then a Heal Skill Unlock would.
(Note: I'm not a big fan of the use of the word 'Talents', as they make it seem a more innate ability then something learned. Plus, the Rogue class uses it! But that's a personal bias.)
Fighting men count their levels as Fighter levels for everything.
Talents (quite a few, not all listed!)
Battlefield Defender: 'Req: Parry Talent' should be on the first line.
Battle-wizened - this name is akin to meaning 'made shriveled and old by battle'. I think you mean 'battlewise'. Worded poorly. You have to read it carefully to realize it doesn't improve the RESULT from +2 to +4, it improves the roll TH AC 10…an incredibly minor benefit. The Talent's only improvement to the Result is for Craft Checks…that someone else is making. A great helper, but not a great crafter? What?
Canny Defender: Additional language on the Int mod 'aware of' not needed if you just call it a Dodge bonus instead of leaving it untyped.
Cunning Strike: Wow, this can end up ignoring a LOT of DR, since it's tied to Str.
Flourishing Fighter: Getting rid of the TWF primary hand penalty is something you don't often see. I was surprised the Improved version didn't grant the extra TWF feats…but it does get rid of the TWF penalty entirely.
Free Handing Guard: Should state that he does not provoke AoO's if he uses this? (no level 5 req on it, after all).
Impressive Prowess: Should probably be renamed Athletic Prowess. Looks like a combat feat otherwise.
Kip Up: This is hugely underpowered relative to the other Talents. I suggest naming it Prone Fighting, and having the Fighter also take no AC or TH penalties if Prone, and if he doesn't choose to instantly regain his feet, he may do so automatically at the end of his turn.
Military Living: Requirement of 3 survival Ranks should be at the beginning instead of the end.
Night Sentry: Everyone uses Stealth to hide (redundant language). +4 vs opposed Stealth rolls is fine, but is less useful then Skill Focus? Perception requirement should be at the beginning instead of the end (as with feats).
Parry: This is a very unconventional Parry ability, with no contested rolls or annulling a hit, as is noted in other official Parry mechanics. Should be called Shield of BLades or Wall of Steel or something similar to other core effects with similar abilities. Note that as written, it basically reduces need for a shield for AC to nil, since it auto scales.
Quartermaster: A quartermaster is a man in charge of supplies. I think you should rename this Master of Weapons, or Armsmaster.
Razor Reflexes: Typo: '-gains Combat Reflexes a bonus feat'. Needs 'as'. Poorly written. Suggest "For every 4 full levels, he gains another AoO." Furthermore, the restriction on extra AoO's only being available while Fighting Defensively or in Combat Expertise is kind of odd.
Savage Attacker: This is one of the ways to REALLY up a fighter's damage, especially on a charge, as shades of 3.5 Ubercharger builds. I'm VERY leery of this. Just making it Power Attack + Furious Focus, working with any weapon, would be great and balanced.
Setup Strike: So, if he confirms a crit, he gets another attack? Ouch. In addition, it says 'a creature', not 'any creature', so only one creature gets an attack? Does he have to designate the creature? Is the extra attack an AoO? what bonus is the attack at?
Spin Attack: It has no reqs, the one die roll is sink or swim, BUT, it works at reach.
Sprinter: A fighting man with this Talent will end up with a movement speed of 90 in full armor (+60). Might be just a bit much. Most builds with move bonuses max them at +20 or so, and leave the monk to be the speed demon.
Stalwart Soldier: He will end up with +5 hp/level. Just…wow? And Fort Mettle on top.
Stay The Line: As it is not a responsive effect or swift action, and requires a standard action with a very short duration, I suggest changing this to unlimited use. Note the language says 'see AND hear' him, not 'see OR hear' him. Is this deliberate?
Storm of Blades: Typo in this talent.
Take Aim: This is a HUGE accuracy bonus, esp stacking with Martial Mastery. I'm guessing it's based on Ranger Guide ability, but, wow.
Warrior's Bastion: typo. Should be 'gains Improved Shield Bash and Shield Master as bonus feats.'
Other Class Benefits:
Martial Mastery: this is Weapon Mastery, except on all proficient weapons, and moved to 3rd level. No more weapon groups. Note that he can still take Weapon Spec tree. Should note if it qualifies as Weapon Mastery for AWT feats and Gloves of Dueling.
Armor Training is moved to 5th level, but immediately allows normal movement in all armor at that time. No DR, and no DR Talents.
Warrior's Versatility: This is the Martial Mastery of the Brawler, but piled on top, and grabs Talents as well as combat feats.
Battlefield Maneuvers; Effectively grants the Improved Feat for all Combat Maneuvers.
Typo on the Overrun explanation here.
You change person from plural to singular while explaining these benefits.
Spontaneous Maneuvers: Allows using all combat maneuvers as attacks, including Feint, etc.
Capstone: This is actually a step down from the current capstone in terms of Power, but since it applies to all weapons, comes out fairly enough.
Favored Class benefits: Taken from other sources, and…quite powerful? More flat damage and AC bonuses. Given that TH, DMg and AC are the least required portions of fighter rewrite, I'm not impressed by this area.
I DO like the idea that Goblins can eventually get to size M and L this way. I enjoyed the idea of modified FC bonuses, but neutral on the results.
Savage Attacker: This archetype is for reaping lots of minion class enemies.
Wild Swing: No mention is made of the fact he must be able to reach the squares affected?
Titan Crush: ANother TH/Dmg bonus?!
Magic Knight: This archetype is combining magic and melee, obviously.
I find it…interesting that taking up a magic class REMOVES knowledge skills? I'd think it would remove something like Survival and Climb - don't need athletic ability if you've got magic.
The Arcane Reservoir is extremely limited in what spells can be chosen and how many can be cast, by design, but it recharges pretty easily.
They get access to unique Talents that empower their weapons and armor without needing to enchant them.
Hedge Wizard does not actually state what to use for the knight's caster level.
The lack of these talents being in alphabetical order makes it annoying to find specific talents.
Arcane Talents (not all of them)
Arcane Arms: Does not say if it stacks with already magical weapons, or overlaps. Furthermore, the not exceeding +10 limit should be emphasized.
Arcane Armor: Not sure why arcane arms scales, and this and arcane shield do not?
Witchguard: Typo: '(minimum 0) OF the effects caster level'. The ability to boost saves should be mentioned FIRST, and the effect of making the save second.
Hexenhammer: I believe you meant to indicate that at 12th level he does not suffer arcane spell failure in 'Heavy' Armor. I'm not sure why having arcane arms would gain him spell resistance, did you mean arcane armor? Indeed, spell resistance is strong enough to stand on its own, as one of the "if he has at least 1 pt of arcane reserve' Talents.
Blitz Tactics: Awkward language: The magic knight's Haste may only target himself, but is cast as a swift action.
Combat Enchantment: Should probably be renamed to Readied or Additional Enhancement? Note this allows only +1 enhancements for the armor and shield, as written. Cannot exceed +10 should be emphasized. Does this replace the +1 bonuses, or in addition to them? IF the latter, the knight can make a +10 weapon out of anything, eventually. Most such abilities swap +'s for +-equivalents (see Magus, Paladin Sword bond).
Extra Spell: Compare the Talents that grant specific spells grant specific spells + something. This should probably grant 1 spell of up to his highest level, and I suggest a second spell of up to 1 less then his highest level, to keep Talents to par.
-Some of the reservoir costs are extremely uneven. You can Dispel Magic (items only) for one reservoir point, gain a +2 bonus to the spell check for another point, and then +1 to the check more for each additional point you spend?
Likewise, just keeping 1 reservoir point enables you to sustain a magic weapon, armor and shield at up to +5 for the weapon, equal to 3 separate spells.
Feats (3 total, comments on 2)
Kill Crazy: should specifically note if the morale bonus stacks with Rage, due to Str checks being involved, and the existence of Unchained.
Wise Old Warlord: the primary way to grant benefits to others instead of yourself for this class is this feat.
My biases for fighter builds center around a few points.
1) Don't need much in combat bonuses.
2) Feat consolidation needed.
3) Better saves.
4) Skills and skill points should be expanded because…not a caster!
5) More movement, utility, and defense options.
6) Something unique or special?
7) Stuff less tied to character stats, and more by level.
8) Some form of combat bonus at level 1.
9) Some type of intra-day or inter-day versatility.
10) Need for archetypes and PrC's should mostly be taken care of by a feat/talent or two.
Furthermore, how does this version do in the classic six jobs: Champion, Master, Guard, Hunter, Soldier, and Marshal/Warlord?
1) Ugh. The Talents provide an extremely powerful set of extra combat modifiers that will send DPR through the roof, Savage Attack of which is the most powerful, and Take Aim a close second. Counterattack is in much the same vein as Come and Get Me (but not quite as strong). Combine with Martial Mastery, and ability to take weapon spec, and damage will skyrocket.
Fighters never need TH/Dmg.
2) The Talents are a good guide in feat consolidation, and feat synergy. Some work better with other feats, some of them scale evenly, and some of them grant two or more bonus feats (and follow the default rules that no qualifications are needed.)
Worth noting that Martial Versatility lets them access any combat feats needed, and still follows the default rules of not needing ability scores, a subtle workaround.
3) Talents allow them to get a Good Reflex or Will save via competence bonus, along with Evasion/Mettle effects. Oddly, there's nothing to boost the Fortitude save, except a Mettle effect under Stalwart Soldier.
4) the standard boost to 4 skill points with a slightly expanded list. Several talents grant class skills, or consolidate skills. No straight class bonuses to skills.
5) The Talents include all three options. Some of them are rather overpowered. The only move-and-strike option is the rewrite of Vital Strike, but that is good enough pretty much on its own.
6) Just the display of Talents is unique and special, with a good mix of options. Some of them are, ahem, a little overpowered, however. Rewriting feats into something better takes a lot of time and effort…I know! Borrows from Brawler, but that's fine - Brawlers exist to show stuff fighters should have had.
7) Some of the Talents are level-scaling, and some are tied to Stats. I prefer the former because of the lack of caps on Stats, AND the need for larger Stat numbers to make something work.
9) Martial Versatility from the Brawler allows some customization against a particular foe. This is particularly useful because you can use it to grab combat feats and Talents, and they are in addition to, not replacing, any current Talents. Sort of like grabbing a couple appropriate one minute buffs on demand.
Champion: Has better save possibilities, better bonus damage, and can 'nova'/custom buff with Martial Versatility. Can do the Champion role pretty well. Just dropping Weapon Groups for all weapons is a plus.
Master: There are very few pre-reqs for Talents, and they are low. Can grab combat feats while ignoring reqs. No special ability to train self or others.
Guardian: One talent to up Perception checks and grant darkvision, another grants uncanny dodge. Nothing excessive, but at least as good as a Barbarian.
Hunter: Improvement to Vital strike, feat consolidation on the archery tree. No particular skills at tracking, stealth, survival, endurance, etc. Still, better then a barb…and that Sprinter talent! aie!
Soldier: Oh, yeah, can do this fine. The Battle-Wizened Talent needs an overhaul, and it's a feat, not a Talent, that provides help to others…but the loads of Talents geared for a battlefield make this still excellent. You could always take Teamwork feats as Talents. (Talent: Pick two Teamwork feats? Heh!)
Marshal/Warlord: No Talents towards this role, only the one feat, Wise Warlord, which is limited in uses/day. No Aura benefits, and no real Nova benefits.
Recommendations to the publisher:
1) Another pass or two for editing for correcting numerous typos. The lack of alphabetizing the Arcane Talents was…noticeable.
2) Reviewing content for balance with other martial classes. Some Talents were good, some were poor, and some were just blatantly wth?! I recommend staying away from stuff that buffs th/dmg numbers out of line with existing material. Consolidating feats is great. Scaling feats is great. Lumping Maneuvers together is great. Making them all usable as attacks is great.
Super Power Attack and even more deadly archery, not so much.
Thank you for the review copy, I enjoyed the read, and think you are on the right track. I am fully aware of the amount of effort it takes to make things like Talents. I am downright happy you stole from the Brawler and dropped feat reqs like Rangers do. The wild variance in Talents and poor editing was REALLY noticeable after a while, however.