|Rick Kunz Webstore Coordinator|
Part II of my review:
The pdf comes with a detailed and extensive list of favored class options that include exotic races such as samsaran and sylph etc. The pdf does provide a bit of advice on playing voyagers, and the pdf comes with two archetypes, the first of which would be the crossfire, who gains proficiency with simple weapons and firearms and light armor. The archetype gets gunsmith, and replaces accelerate at 1st level with slowed step, steady aim: This is Amateur Gunslinger and provides access to psionic deeds. Accelerate is instead gained at 3rd level, improving at 5th instead. The crossfire learns custom parallel actions at first level, which allows for mundane ammo rewinding and magical ammo reloading or broken condition negation. Nice: We get a crossfire parallel action that is a ranged maneuver based on Dexterity, which may be applied to multiple targets via psionic focus expenditure. The archetype comes with further customization options, summed up as “Focused Crossfire” – there would be a 3rd level custom parallel action that generates a beacon that can be used for line of sight and effect with the gun. Manifestation of speed may be modified to become bullet time at 2nd level, with the effects allowing for increased range via augmented attacks. Minor problem: RAW, this grants momentum by distance a bullet travels (shoot into the endless portal loop/abyss/air, etc.), which can theoretically be cheesed. It’s not something that’s bound to cause issues in game, but still something that requires an unnecessary interpretation. This should specify a fixed maximum, perhaps based on modified first and or second range increment. There also is a bullet-based area of effect attack. The replacement feat tricks may be replaced with a custom list.
The second archetype would be the metronome, who does not roll a separate initiative, instead rolling her own at -4, which improved by +2 at 4th and 7th level. Parallel actions occur on the metronome’s initiative count, either entirely before or after her regular actions. The pdf concludes with 9 feats: Amplified Momentum adds a bit of bonus damage to momentum-empowered attacks (note: When/if the crit-issue’s resolved, this should also specify here) and slightly increases the defensive options. Backtrack nets you a parallel action you don’t already have. (of your level or lower). Blink Ambush doesn’t work, as I couldn’t find the Slipstream Feint feat it’s built on anywhere in my psionic library. Bookmark requires the rewind parallel action, and allows you to rewind to a set location, with maximum distance governed by class level. Divert Perception and Fade from Memory allow for movement and hiding, and, with the latter feat, make nearby targets forget you. Faster and Faster increases accelerate’s speed-increase. Focused Swiftness nets you basically an extra psionic focus (!!!) that may be used for abilities taken during movement or ones that change position. What keeps this from being broken is simple: It does, thankfully, NOT provide synergy with Deep Focus et al. Independent Action lets you use your parallel action to reroll a save vs. mind-affecting abilities and allows you to retain control over the afterimage while under hostile control.
Editing and formatting are very good on a formal level, though not perfect. On a rules-language level, the same can’t unfortunately be said: While, for the most part, the voyager is precise when dealing with highest echelon-level complexity rules constructs, there are quite a few snafus – missing “rounded down”-s are the least of them, with crit-multiplication, 3D-movement, missing feat and a couple of other hiccups adding to that. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with awesome full-color pieces, and the pdf comes fully bookmarked and with a second, more printer-friendly version.
Michael Shih’s voyager (additional design by Forrest Heck) is not a stroke of genius, but a series of strokes of genius. It tackles not one (which would have been enough for most designers) high-complexity concept, no, it seamlessly blends multiple ones into a unified whole that actually manages to be greater than the sum of its parts. It also is easily the most frustrating class I’ve ever reviewed.
Why? Because this would be, no hyperbole, one of my, perhaps even THE favorite class of mine for the entirety of PFRPG, were it not for the hiccups and the fact that a developer should have hit this fellow a couple of times with the nerfbat. In the hands of even a halfway capable player, the voyager can be an extremely deadly class that most definitely, as written, wouldn’t make its way into my games, unless I was already playing a super high-powered Path of War-style game.
And this is such a pity. A few “either/ors” instead of “ands”, particularly at higher levels, a bit of streamlining in the rougher parts, and this could be the crowning jewel of psionic class design. I mean it. The angle is complicated, inspired and unique; the voyager can skirmish like no one’s business, but in its cool engines also invalidates classes beyond the obvious (no one is going to complain about surpassing the vanilla rogue), but this fellow is also kind of a psionic magus on speed (Get it? …Sorry, will put a buck in the bad pun jar…) that makes both the dread and cryptic weep. In a way, much like the highlord surpassing the previous commander classes, the voyager invalidates the skirmishing/skill classes – only that the power-discrepancy is even more pronounced. And usually, I’d just provide some advice on how to nerf the fellow, but here, there is so much to account for, that it honestly would require a pretty long dev-pass by someone well-versed in the intricacies of class-design to tinker with the class.
Which leaves me torn. The class has a couple more glitches on the rules-side than usual for Dreamscarred Press, but I can see groups favoring high-powered games, particularly ones wherein players enjoy complex classes, considering this guy to be a pure work of art. Heck, I do consider the voyager to be brilliant - Top Ten material, in fact. However, as presented, I can’t recommend the class as unanimously as I desperately want to. The voyager is frustrating to me, because it has all the makings of being my favorite class ever. Sooner or later, when I have some time on my hands, I will sit down, flex the ole’ dev-muscles, and tinker with it until I’m happy with it, but as a reviewer, I can’t rate a hypothetical. One of the reasons this review took so long was that I was desperately hoping for an update to ease my concerns and sand off some of the rough spots.
I still hope this update comes, and I’ll be the first to heap the praises on this class that its unique and amazing concepts deserve. As written and presented, though, it is a flawed masterwork, a class that needs nerfing, and that needs some polish in the intricacies of its mechanics. As such, my final verdict can’t exceed 3.5 stars…and while I should round down, I honestly can’t bring myself to doing so. This class is anything, but it is neither common, nor mediocre. It is exceptional, and I hope, with all my heart, that it gets the polish it deserves – as provided, it is a piece of artful design, drunk on its own power.