So, my group ran a one off last night to test out some of the new classes presented in the revised version of the book. It was presented as the final assault on the mountain fortress of a young red dragon, concluding a long and bloody campaign to drive it's forces from the Barony of Manorholt. This was a custom world and the night's adventure was a mix of straight combat, stealth take downs and one particularly vicious trapped room. We went up against a variety of enemies - troglodytes, lizardmen and the aforementioned young red dragon.
For the purposes of this thread, we all survived and none of the fights were so arduous that we feared for our character's survival. We tend to prefer stealth and careful planning of charging in, so that was a factor as well.
We were all level 10 with starting money for that level. Gear was drawn from the Core book and Ultimate Equipment and there were no outrageous house rules in place. Were an all human group, except for the Slayer, who was an elf.
The group make up was:
human Fighter (we wanted to see how a standard class fit in and the player was available last minute, so we didn't have time to make a test character).
First, a couple of notes on character creation - I love the perks and abilities my swashbuckler got, but there was a lot of flipping back and forth to double check what I got, when and with what weapons and in what situations. The other classes had similar issues. Also, 'panache' would be better off as 'savy' or 'style' or almost anything else. One note each test player had was that it was noticeably more complicated making one of these characters than any of the previously existing classes. That may simply be lack of familiarity, but each player has a lot of experience across several systems, so a bit of streamlining may be warranted (or at least looked in to).
Now to the classes:
The Arcanist - pretty damn solid. The Arcane exploits were 'OK' but there was no stand out 'WOW!' exploit that really leap out. However, the consensus was that, properly built, the Arcanist completely replaced the Wizard. Barring some very specific concept related reason or a major change to the Arcanist, I don't think we'll be seeing anymore Wizards in our group.
The Bloodrager - a scary concept that is still scary, but not for all the reasons we were hoping. Intended to be a Viking sorceress, in melee this was a solid character - built with Combat Reflexes and swinging a great axe. The lack of rage powers didn't significantly influence her effectiveness in combat. However, the spell casting aspect seemed tacked on. With the limited number of spells she could cast and the limited selection, there was little reason to do so. To my recollection, she only cast See Invisibility on the Slayer - her axe took care of the rest of the encounters. The bloodline powers were nice, but overall, not enough to make up for lackluster spell casting.
The Slayer - built as a ranged (bow) character, the Slayer got a very good review from the player who built/played him. The limited sneak attack was more than made up for by the Favored Target ability and all the other abilities were solid with no real throw-aways. Like the Arcanist, the Slayer pretty much replaces the Rogue/Ninja as a stealth combatant and with trap finding and other related tricks taken, can substitute for the Rogue fairly well. One note was that the class could benefit from some more "stand out" advanced tricks, but we didn't have any glaring holes that needed to be filled off the tops of our heads.
The Swashbuckler - I played this one and built him with Jack Sparrow/Porthos (Oliver Platt) in mind. He had Snapshot and Firearms proficiency and the aim was to give him a solid ranged option, since so many class abilities are melee specific. This was a mistake. The Swashbuckler is a melee combatant - first, last and only. Throwing daggers and Precise Strike would have been a better option than investing so many feats. The gunslinger/swashbuckler combo is extremely tempting, but the cost in feats is too high and the Swashbuckler does not benefit from diversifying. Some way of dealing with ranged encounters or reach enemies seems to be called for, but I honestly don't have any specific ideas on this.
The human fighter did alright, but between the Slayer's ranged damage and the Bloodrager's running to close and Cleave, the poor guy didn't get a whole lot of kills. He was in Adamantine Full Plate with a Bastard Sword and Shield, so he usually went in first and held the attention of the bad guys while the rest of us swept in.
So, that's it. There were some obvious formatting issues (the Hunter's Animal Focus says the uses must be consecutive, then says they can be in 1 minute increments) and some clarification is needed where "free feat effects" like in the Swashbuckler's Finesse and Weapon Training write ups. All in all, we're really looking forward to the finished product. Thank you Pazio!
I played the blood rager. With abbé rant bloodline I focused on combat reflexes for the extra reach attack of opportunity goodness. The melee was good. I was dealing solid damage and got several attacks each round on top of my normal attacks.
As mentioned above, the spell casting was limited. Most of the time a straight attack was a better option than casting and there were so few spells (even with a high charisma) that I did not want to "waste" them. And most of the spells would not have been that affective anyway. I almost think it would be better to just expand the bloodlines to give supernatural abilities than actually spells.
Like sorcerer's rage where each round while raging fire leaps off of you and attacks 1 enemy of your choice for scale able damage. Or while raging you can see invisible, or are immune to fear, or can walk on walls like spider limb, etc. the powers are limited only to your rage per day rounds. So as long as you have rage you can do magical marvels but when rage runs out...
I enjoyed the character but the spell casting was definitely a disappointment.