The latest installment of RiP's "101"-series takes a look at the Magus and provides us with a smattering of new feats. The pdf is 31 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 1 page advertisement, leaving 27 pages of content for the Magus, so let's check this one out!
After the excellent installment dealing with barbarian feats, I have quite the expectations for this installment and from the feat-lists I could infer that I would be in for something interesting: Several of the feats herein are specifically tailored to Magus-archetypes like the bladebound and the hexcrafter, providing much needed support for them. Fans of SGG's magus-book might also be interested in knowing that 8 of the feats herein are specifically designed for the archetypes presented in SGG's "Ultimate Options: New Magus Arcana"-book, providing another laudable synergy between two of the most prominent 3pps out there. Even the non-core defender of the spire gets a feat! However, before you skip ahead - the majority of the feats herein are useful for all magus-characters.
When reading the feats herein, you'll slowly start to realize something: The way in which these feats use the signature arcana pool has expanded from its traditional usages. Several of the feats let you expend points as a reaction to missed attacks, being hit etc. and thus lend more tactical depths and fluidity to combat. The overall mechanics are somewhat reminiscent of the grit-rules for the gunslinger in that a variety of options are provided to regain arcana points e.g. via draining yourself.
It should be noted that some of the feats in this book are definitely geared to high-level magus-characters - there are some feats that enable you to expend 6 points from your pool to petrify or permanently paralyze foes. Thankfully, a high-damage output feat to subdue foes is also part of the deal. And of course the dreaded blade offers a chance for high-level magus-characters to make critical hits HURT. If you're playing a kensai, greater arcane battoujutsu is a similar must have and can be considered the epitome of style and power.
If you think only mechanically interesting feats are in here and that fluff-wise, there's not much happening, you'll be in for a surprise: Tapping into ley-lines is covered by a feat (e.g. great when playing in HHG's ley-line-heavy Mor Aldenn setting) as is sleeping like Odin to regenerate from debilitating effects. Another focused theme in this pdf would be curses and the ability to deliver them as a response to a fully successful attack via "Hexcrafter's Reciprocity". Unfortunately, "Completely successful attacks" is a murky term: If e.g. a foe hits the Magus with a poisoned blade and the magus makes the save, can the attack be considered successful? If so, poisoning would actually be detrimental to the attacker... The text says: "If an opponent attacks you with complete success (you suffer full normal or critical damage from the attack, and if a save is allowed, you fail that save), you hex or curse them in retribution." I can't infer whether additional effects on a weapon thwart this ability or not. If the successful save means he can't be cursed, I have to admit I find that odd to justify in-game and in need of revision. Anyway, the feat needs clarification.
Better examples would be two truly devastating curses that grant the opponent the opposite of a miss chance: If an attack hits, they have to roll a d% to check whether they are not hit in spite of the miss! Interesting mechanic and, while potentially powerful, their restriction to the hexcrafter-class elevates greatly the iconicity of the archetype. It should also be mentioned that true names are used in two feats and enable a magus to put a kind of Geas on his foes if he knows them - Neat!
The Spellblade with the force athame is another winner of this pdf, providing one of the coolest little feat-trees I've seen in quite a while an even coming with precise, crippling needle-pinch force-assaults. But my very favorite feat among all of them is the "Sinister Harbinger", also for the Hexcrafter: This archetype gets you an illusionary harbinger of doom you can maneuver around the battlefield to impose penalties on enemies adjacent to it. Essentially, we get a cool-looking, mobile hex! It's feat-design like this that makes me grin, applaud the idea and note it down - the roleplaying opportunities this feat alone offers are staggering!
Unfortunately, the glitch I mentioned before is not alone in this pdf: Elemental Adaption for example makes you immune against detrimental environmental effects, but fails to specify the duration it lasts. There are also several words omitted in the text: In the prerequisites for "Greater Arcane Battoujutsu" the "arcane"-part of "Improved Arcane Battoujutsu" is missing. Hellfire Strike (another one of 2 feats devoted to Asmodeus) lacks the word "arcana" in the description, ending a sentence with an abrupt "magus". There are also missing single letters, e.g. in "Nauseating Assault".
Editing and formatting need another pass. From unclear wordings, a missing duration required to use the feat and several glitches, I unfortunately have to report that this pdf is nowhere up to the high standard RiP usually displays with releases like this. Layout adheres to a 2-column standard and features stock art. The pdf is fully bookmarked. This is one of the ratings that depress me. I really LOVE how imaginative and cool the feats herein are - even from what I've talked about, I've barely touched base with all the options herein, many of which are iconic enough to spawn their very own character-concepts. The support on feats for archetypes is an innovation I'd LOVE to see continued in other publications and I hope that we'll see more of the like.
But, oh but. The editing is just not up to the standard the innovative mechanics and iconic ideas deliver, going so far as impeding my ability to understand the sometimes complex mechanics and making a tiny minority of feats guess-work on how they are supposed to work, which is a huge no-go. As soon as the glitches have been taken care of, I'll gladly settle for a final verdict of 5 stars on this one, but until then, I fear I have to remain with a final verdict of 3 stars.