Ultimate Cartomancy (PFRPG) PDF

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The Flavor

We are born, and we die. Between these two events, fate is surprisingly malleable. Sadly, these endpoints are what draw the most attention. Thousands of spellcasters seek to "cheat death" or "play god", all the while ignoring just how much power every other point on the timeline of a life happens to have.

Rather than claim to manipulate the endpoints of fate, a particular brand of divine spellcaster known as cartomancers play around in the delightfully squishy center of the lifeline. Here, fate really doesn't care what happens, and all sorts of crazy things can be brought into being.

The Process

1: When making a new cartomancer, choose the classic deck or the deathdealer deck. These cards are your collection.

2: Using your collection, build an active deck made of least, lesser, and greater portents.

3: Your hand is drawn from your active deck, but if you don't like your hand, you can discard cards to power seals, a limited resource that reduces the random nature of cards by giving you a number of deterministic "outs" per day.

Modular Customization

A: Using the Three Card Monty feat, build one or more three-card minidecks that can be unleashed whenever you need their effects.

B: Take the Multitudes of Fate feat to add one least portent and one lesser portent from the Multitudes of Fate deck to your collection. These cards aren't found anywhere else!

Product Features

• 2 base classes, the in-your-face wildcard and the classic spellcaster cartomancer
• 3 wildcard archetypes: ace, dealer, and joker
• 2 cartomancer archetypes: taleweaver and shyster
• The 78-card "classic" deck, a roll-manipulating set of abilities with a focus on big combo turns, situational power plays, and portents that are more powerful when played alongside big portents
• The 78-card "deathdealer" deck, which focuses on raw damage, debilitation, and both the suddenness and patience of death with special mechanics that reward playing some portents as soon as they are drawn or putting other portents in front of you to build power as a trigger repeatedly occurs
• The 8-card "multitudes of fate" deck, which gives eight unique options that can be mixed into the classic or deathdealer decks
• 21 pages of print-and-play cards
• Dozens of feats that allow for extensive deckbuilding customization
• Tables that allow you to run your cartomancer with a poker deck if you forget your print-and-play deck

Product Availability

Fulfilled immediately.

Are there errors or omissions in this product information? Got corrections? Let us know at store@paizo.com.


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Disclaimer: I backed the Kickstarter campaign (Strange Magic 2) that created this product, and as such, I paid for it.

All right, let's dive into this, shall we? This release is actually a pair of products, and the second one is fairly important if you're going to be playing at a table. Let's start with the main book, though.

The main volume of Ultimate Cartomancy is a 49-page, black-and-white (with color cover) release. As the description above explains, this class is focused around a deckbuilding casting style. The book introduces two new classes, five archetypes, and the Cartomancy system.

The first class, the Cartomancer, is described as an entity that forces luck to obey them through the use of divinations and curses. They're proficient in simple weapons and light armor (and have an arcane spell failure chance only when wearing gear they're not proficient in - an important distinction), have low BAB, a good Will save, and mainly run by the use of the Cartomancy ability. The cards used for this ability are known as portents, which are effectively divine spell-like abilities with a couple of changes for balance. Portents come in three grades - Least, Lesser, and Greater - and can have different activation times. Some of them are Swift or Immediate actions, and these are important (especially if you're playing a Dealer - see below).

Before making a deck, though, players also have to decide what kind of deck they're going to use. The Cartomancer has three options here. The Classic deck focuses on manipulating rolls through situational effects, and some powers get stronger if they're used in particular kinds of sequences. The Deathbringer deck is essentially a debuff setup, with things like curses, poison, disease, damage, vampiric effects, and so on. General nastiness, really. The Multitudes of Fate is basically an archetype for the deck, adding a selection of eight portents but also requiring you to use the included print-and-play cards (the other file) rather than the poker/tarot equivalence tables.

After this bit, we get to the actual deckbuilding rules. Cartomancers don't use their whole card collection - they wouldn't be deckbuilders if they did, you know? Rather, they have an active deck that they build under the guidelines, including no duplicate portents (until 11th level, anyway), a certain minimum number of cards, a limited amount of stronger effects, and so on. Cartomancers start with a maximum of 2 cards in their hand, scaling upwards at 5th level and every five levels afterward.

Actually playing a portent has two 'triggers' - the casting, and the fact that it was played. Even if a portent is counterspelled, fails to penetrate SR, or generally fails, it still counts as being played, and this can matter for other effects. Drawing a card is a move action that can be done once per-round.

Padding out the Cartomancy are a few other class abilities, like Tell Fortune (offering positive or negative outcomes), Fatespinning (choose an effect and roll for another random effect), and Seals (powerful effects that can be activated by discarding portents).

There are also a good selection of Favored Class Benefits, but more importantly, two archetypes are included. The Taleweaver replaces their Seals with the Portentous Magic ability, which allows them to discard portents and pay fate points to cast specific spells. The Shyster gets a series of "Monty" feats, providing them a separate group of cards they can play.

The other new class is the Wildcard, a more martial cartomancy class. The Wildcard has medium BAB progression, good Fort and Will saves, proficiency with Simple weapons and a good chunk of Martial weapons, and can use light armor and shields (but not tower shields). They have a slightly reduced active deck composition compared to the Cartomancer, too.

The basics of the Wildcard are (unsurprisingly) similar to that of the Cartomancer - you pick from the three deck formats, build your deck, et cetera. However, they do have some distinct class abilities. While they have Fatespinning and Seals, much like the Cartomancer, they also have the ability to "fatecharge" a weapon, shield, or suit of armor with a portent. This is similar to the Magus' spellstrike - for example, if you fatecharge a weapon, then the portent you added is going to affect the target you hit. Similarly, if you fatecharge your armor or shield, you can cause your attacker to suffer.

The Wildcard comes with three archetypes. The Ace is essentially an information-based option. They gain the ability to detect certain alignments (and later magic), trick magic items into thinking they're of a certain alignment (pretty niche, but useful for things like Candles of Invocation), and at high levels, automatically succeeding in identifying certain spells and being treated as a more favorable alignment for that. ...I honestly don't expect this to be very relevant in too many games, but if your table does a lot of alignment-based stuff, it may be worth using.

The Dealer can give their least portents to allies through the Ante Up ability, and those allies can cast them as if they were Wildcards (but only in the next minute, or else it's discarded). Note that this is generally poor action economy in combat, and it may be better to provide cards right before the party charges into a battle or something. At second level, giving portents to allies also gives them a morale bonus to damage, and the ability to use Ante Up as a swift action when they play a Lesser portent. (This plays from their discard pile instead of their hand, by the way, and is definitely more useful in combat than doing it normally.)

The Joker is pretty random even for the Wildcard, and gets the use of (randomly selected) spells whenever they replenish their fate pool. This could end up being pretty handy or totally useless. They also have the Uncertain Fate ability, which allows them to reveal cards until they get a Least Portent - and then immediately cast that effect on the target, even if they normally couldn't be targeted by the portent in question. Naturally, this is less dangerous if you only target allies or enemies with the effect in question. If you have both helpful and harmful effects in your deck, uh... well, good luck.

Now, after ALL of that, we're almost halfway through this product. Next up is the Feats section, which helps to expand on the system. I won't be describing every one of them, but some samples include Ace in the Hole (spend fate points to get a card from your deck that's also in your discard pile), Always Another Option (+1 to your hand size, albeit also an increase in costs to your seals if you have more cards in your hand than you should), and Three Card Monty (someone else picks a card from your Monty deck, and then interesting things happen).

Starting on Page 27 (or 25 by the in-product numbering), we get to the cards themselves. First up are the summary tables, which are good for quickly referencing things and planning out the deck you'd like to make for the day. The Classic and Deathdealer decks are quite different, but on the bright side, you do have access to all of the cards you can put into your deck - it's a deckbuilding class, not a collectible deckbuilding class.

Following this, we have the Card Equivalence Tables, which are helpful if you can't print out and use the cards provided. Included are the poker card equivalents - I saw mention of a tarot card equivalence earlier, but that doesn't seem to have made it into the final release. It's possible that simply couldn't be made to work, but if its removal was intentional, the associated text should probably have been removed as well. I do have to ding a few points for that, since a cited piece of content being absent is a bigger error than a simple typo.

The rest of the book includes the portents themselves, organized alphabetically into Least, Lesser, and Greater categories.

Least effects include things like The Aegis (energy resistance equaling your cartomancer level) and The Necromancer (give temporary hit points to an ally who was hurt).

Lesser effects are a little stronger, and include things like The Alchemist (entangle a foe, Reflex halves duration) and The Equilibrium (subject's next d20 roll equals 21 minus its last roll - so, a big boon if a friend rolled low, or a penalty if a foe rolled high).

Greater effects include options like Deception (provide someone with a 50% miss chance, as total concealment and resistant even to True Seeing effects) and The Paragon (insight bonus to a skill equaling your Cartomancer for one minute/level - this starts useful and gets even more so over time).

That's the end of the first product... but Interjection Games also provided a print-and-play set of cards you can put together as a second PDF. Pre-printed cards are available separately, I believe, if you'd like something a bit more professional to use with the class. Anyway! I highly recommend using some form of printed cards if you can - the equivalency tables are nice if you really must use them, but it's easier to simply look at your cards and see what you've got, and you'll want to make sure they're sturdy enough for regular use. (Back sides are included, and you can layer those if you really need to, or perhaps put your cards into hard plastic sleeves.)

Overall, this is another solid release from Interjection Games. It may not have been too obvious above, but I'd like to note that Cartomancers can be rather flexible characters. Much like Wizards, your power depends largely on the magic you choose for the day... and while this class isn't pushing the envelopes of power, it offers a very distinct style of play, and that can help to freshen things up. It's also a good way to introduce, say, friends who play Magic: The Gathering to Pathfinder, since they'll probably find it pretty easy to make the change.

Overall, I'd rate this release a 4.5/5. There are a couple of minor things I noticed, but overall the release is pretty solid. Given the lack of serious issues, I'm rounding the final score up for this platform.

Scarab Sages Webstore Coordinator

Now Available!

As popular as Interjection games and their magic supplements are, I'm sure some of you folks have already disposed of some of your income to contribute to Interjection Games' beer and pizza fund.

So any of you fine folks willing to dish on the wildcard and its archetypes?

I have to say they've piqued my interest.

I backed the Strange Magic 2 Kickstarter (which funded this), and I'm currently waiting on a code for my copy. Once I've got that, though, I do intend to get a review up as soon as I can. ^^

I'm sure I won't be the only one who'll appreciate that, GM Rednal.

I definitely wish there were more reviews over here.

Download codes were finally sent out, and as promised, I've reviewed it. ^^ I tried to be comprehensive, but if you have any questions you don't think my review covered, feel free to ask and I'll answer them as soon as I notice the query.

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