Part II of my review:
While we’re on the subject of core classes: The runesinger fighter is proficient with simple weapons, light armor and bucklers, and gains a martial tradition if it’s the first level of the character. The archetype is an Expert practitioner and gains spheres and talents accordingly, using their choice of mental ability score modifier as practitioner modifier. This replaces armor training and armor mastery. At 1st level, the runesinger gets 2 runes, and each rune may be chosen only once. Each rune has two benefits, and if applicable, they do scale. A run has an attack and movement ability, and using one expends the rune for that level. The engine comes with 11 supplemental feats for more runes, and apart from some formatting hiccups (like lower-case skills) I was positively surprised by this take on the tattooed/rune-scarred fighter. Nice one!
The book also includes new occult archetypes, with the ascendant mind psychic first: This fellow is a High-Caster using Intelligence as the casting modifier, and a magic talent every level. The archetype also gets a bonus magical talent every even-numbered level, chosen from Divination, Mind, telekinesis, replacing detect thoughts and the discipline spells. Psychic discipline loses discipline spells, and phrenic amplifications are replaced with an array of phrenic techniques; the first array is gained at 1st level, with 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter unlocking new abilities. Personally, I’m not a big fan of the level 19 stagger/daze-lock option, but at that level, it’s something I can stomach. Telepathic bond is replaced with a variant of a kind of collective, and the archetype gets a capstone that makes the archetype really good at using this – evocative and cool. Conniving bastard mesmerists are Charisma-based Mid-Casters that gain talents on CL-increases, and painful stare is modified, touch treatment replaced: The ability gained for that would be painful strike, allowing for the application of painful stare in conjunction with attacks versus targets denied their Dexterity modifier. Mental potency is replaced with the ability to deny enemies their Dexterity modifier to AC versus the attacks executed by the archetype in the aftermath of failing a Will-save versus a sphere ability, allowing for some surprisingly deep, nice combo-tricks.
The final archetype to discuss would be the psychomancer spiritualist, a Wisdom-based Mid-Caster with talent gains on CL-increases. Instead of calm spirit, we have Death, Life or Mind designated as spirit sphere and gaining that one plus a bonus magical talent, using class level as caster level for that sphere. Detect undead is replaced with spirit sight, scaling blindsight that detects the living and undead. 9th level replaces see invisibility with Project Spirit, using class level as caster level, though this requires phantom proximity. Call spirits is replaced with the ability to assume ectoplasmic or incorporeal form akin to the phantom when spirit walking as per Project Spirit. The pdf also features 6 alchemist discoveries that allow for e.g. the Alteration sphere to tie in with mutagens, and a very potent spell bomb, with damage dice equal to class level. While I’d usually not be a fan here, this one does account for the release of kineticist, and provides a valid alternative to burst-y fast bombing, so I’m fine with it.
The pdf closes with an array of 12 feats, including the option to expend 5 stamina instead of martial focus, stamina/Life-sphere synergy, rally allies to make them regain martial focus, and the like, as well as the maintenance of multiple performances at once, but at increased costs.
Editing and formatting are good on a formal and rules-language level. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard, and the pdf offers a blend of full-color artworks, some of which I’ve seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Andrew J. Gibson has my utmost respect for this book – this is what I’d consider pretty brutal grunt-work, design-wise. Making classes work with systems, offering archetypes and options for use in conjunction with them – that’s surprisingly hard in many cases. Much to my positive surprise, plenty of options herein managed to, in spite of the limited room available and narrow focus, offer some interesting combos and even manages to evoke flavorful and distinct tricks! This is a book I’d buy in a heartbeat to not have to do all the design-adjustment myself. The one thing that holds this back from the 5-stars this definitely would deserve, would be a) formatting, which offers quite a bunch of hiccups, and b), a very few instances where some (minor) snafus have crept into the complex material herein. As such, my final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down.
Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS, etc.