An Endzeitgeist.com review
This massive book clocks in at 184 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page KS-thanks-list, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a massive 177 pages of content, so let's take a look!
Disclaimer: I was a backer of the kickstarter for this project, but was in no other way involved with the creation of this book.
After a brief introduction and one pages summing up the starting gold, we dive into the massive array of classes herein - the reason why this review took forever to get done. So expect one epic-length monster of a review here!
The first class would be Michael Sayre's Battle Lord, who gets d10, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, shields and light and medium armor as well as full BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. The battle lord receives a 10-ft aura that scales up by +5 ft at 3rd level, +5 every other level thereafter. Drills can be envisioned as such auras, only not centered on the Battle Lord himself; instead, they can originate anywhere within line of sight and require audible or visual components to execute; however, since the drills themselves are pretty easy to understand, even language-barriers can be overcome with some time and training (properly codified), thus rendering this kind-of, but not really a language-dependant extraordinary ability. A battle lord begins play with 2 drills and adds +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, which conversely is also when the skill-bonuses conferred by drills, if any, scale up by +1. Initiating a drill is a move action, switching them is a swift action - neither of which provoke AoOs, so yes, front-line commander-style here.
Drills can be, in their benefits, be summed up as teamwork feats that do not suck - essentially, some of the most useful teamwork feats (like Stealth Synergy) are granted to the targets for as long as the drill persists, while also granting additional bonuses to skills, damage rolls or minor enhancements to movement speed. The array of drills is expanded at 12th level, when the Battle Lord may choose to learn greater combat drills for mass bonus-fire damage to attacks, for example. Healing allies via fast healing up to 50% of their health, but with a daily cap, also works rather well. It should be noted that Int governs, if applicable, the Battle Lord's drills. At 8th and 16th level, a battle lord may maintain up to two (or three) auras and drills at the same time, changing all in one fell swoop, should he elect to do so.
At 3rd level, the Battle Lord receives a Noble Aura - this can be considered a non-combat exclusive buff that helps with investigations, social interaction, etc., depending on which auras are chosen - interestingly, this achieves what no other class of this type had managed to this point - render the Battle Lord relevant in contexts that are NOT fighting. At 15th level, these auras are expanded by an array of Imperial Auras, which can also be used in combat and have some SPs mixed in - the wording is solid here. At 20th level, one of some exclusive auras also doubles as a capstone. A battle lord also has a specialty, which can be considered a bloodline-like progression of abilities that modifies the class skill list. At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the specialty unlocks a new part of a linear ability-progression. A total of 4 such specialties are provided - from artillerist to mundane healing via the medic and to the more stealthy scout, the options here are nice. The class also sports 3 archetypes - the aquatic marine, the sword and pistol mounted specialist cavalryman and the eldritch chevalier, who gets a very limited selection of spells. All are okay. It should be noted that the Battle Lord also receives Bravery, which would be unremarkable, were it not for Michael Sayre's glorious Bravery Feats, released by Rogue Genius Games, for which the Battle Lord coincidentally qualifies...
The second class herein would be the Conduit, written by Mike Myler. The class gets d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves. The conduit can be envisioned as a magical battery - they have a conduct pool that begins at 3 and scales up to 35 - each point of said pool representing a spell-level the conduit can absorb. Conduits may also absorb spell-like abilities, but they need to be the targets of said spells and execute an immediate action, with the pool's max size and 1/2 class level as restrictions, the latter denoting the maximum amount of points he can expend per ability. On the nitpicky side, the latter should specify a minimum of 1, otherwise the conduit can't absorb anything but cantrips and orisons at first level - said spells do btw. NOT grant conduct pool points; instead, the conduit has SR against them equal to 11+ class level. Nice catch here! A conduit can only absorb a spell if its level does not surpass the level-dependant cap and when she has enough conduct pool points available - no excess point.
The conduit may unleash said energy as a standard action as a ranged touch attack with a range of 25 ft. that deals 2d6 points of FORCE damage, +1 per additional point spent. The range increases by +5 feet per conduit level at 2nd level. Now, you may have guessed it -I am NOT a fan of force damage here; I have bashed classes in the past for warlocky blasting via force and Interjection Games' ethermagic wisely handled that differently. However, the conduit's blasts must be envisioned as a limited resource and thus, be compared to spells - and indeed, in practice, this provided no issues. Kudos. Now nothing sucks more than being stranded sans resources and thus, the conduit receives options over the levels to inflict damage (and attribute damage etc.) on herself to generate a limited amount of points - thankfully, both with a daily limit and sans means to cheese the regain abilities.
At 3rd level, the conduit may select one of several conduit powers, +1 every 3 levels thereafter. Conduit powers provoke AoOs and are SUs with DCs, if applicable, scaling via the 10 + 1/2 class level + cha-mod formula. The activation of these powers tends to also be powered by conduit points and as such, vary in the precise effects - from bonuses to skill-checks to passive abilities that allow the conduit to deliver mystic bolts as melee touch attacks to invisibility that scales up to its improved version, we have a significant array of choices, including duplicating low level spells, 1 1st level spell per power taken. The pool may also be used to generate weapons and shields with enhancement bonuses and movement can also be powered by the resource. Higher levels net SR and potential for AoE-spell absorption via will-save versus spellcaster level-check. At 11th level, the conduit receives a +2 enhancement bonus to an attribute whenever she expends points, lasting 1 hour per point expended and scaling up to +6 at 19th level. It should be noted that this is not bonus times points expended, as I first read the ability, but that the per-point-caveat only extends to duration. Here, the wording could have been slightly clearer. High level abilities also include leeching spell levels from foes, redirecting spells and forcing rerolls and the capstone is a magic-immune apotheosis.
The class also sports two archetypes. The Arrhythmic conduit bleeds points over time and, once empty, has a harder time regaining them and deals sonic damage instead of force damage. However, the archetype receives superior action economy, allowing for some nasty combos that allow for multiple abilities to be activated as once, or to have them interact in fluid ways - dismiss mystical protection for a free mystical bolt, for example. I really liked this archetype since it actually plays pretty much different! The cyclic channeler is brilliant - it adds a cooldown period for abilities, but increases their potency and as a bonus, we also get a nice alchemical item - however, the price of said item is high - it costs 50 Gp and can be created by a conduit with a spellcaster ad infinitum; selling it could break an economy, so DM-discretion is advised here.
The third class featured herein would be Will McCardell and Linda Zayas-Palmer's Demiurge had me, conceptually, grin from here to ear - it's essentially Plato's Theory of Forms, the class. And yes, I'm aware that being excited about this pretty much makes me a total nerd. The class receives d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and shields, 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves. This class is complex, so bear with me as I try to explain it to you - and no, once you get it, it's not that bad. First of all, the demiurge chooses an enlightenment. Enlightenments can be likened to bloodlines or mysteries in that they provide a conceptual focus as well as a linear progression of abilities - these change the basic means of facsimile creation and provide beyond their base abilities, new ones at 2nd, 8th and 15th level - think of them akin to how a cavalier's order modifies challenge and the options of the class. I will return to this concept later with examples.
Among the "small" abilities, social and perception-focused abilities can be found in the progression of the class. The true signature ability of the class, though, would be the facsimile. A facsimile is a creature born from the ideals of the world of perfect, ideal forms - despite their autonomy, much like tinker automata, facsimiles are dependent on a demiurge's commands - he may issue a number of commands equal to his Charisma modifier as a move action, though not all need to be issued to the same facsimile. The creation of one facsimile (which manifests within 30 ft.)is a full-round action that can be hastened by additional quintessence expenditure (+0.5 total cost) to a standard action. Cost is not equal to cost, though - establishing a basic facsimile entails a maintenance cost, which becomes relevant upon facsimile destruction or dismissal (which can be executed as a standard action) - an array of said points, usually half, can be regained. The aforementioned additional cost thus is not refunded. Facsimiles have no duration and a demiurge can have up to half his class level (min 1) in facsimiles at a given time.
In order to create facsimiles, a demiurge has to expend quintessence points, a minimum of 6 are required for each facsimile. A demiurge has quintessence equal to Int-mod times two plus a fixed array of bonus points determined by the class level - this begins at +15 at 1st level and scales up to +155 at 20th level. Quintessence regaining requires 1 hour of contemplation and at least 4 hours of sleep - it should be noted that increases of Int-mod do not increase the quintessence pool. If a demiurge wishes to keep facsimiles around, he must pay the maintenance cost and deduct it from the total of his quintessence pool.
Facsimiles are based on one of two base forms - jack or brute. They have fixed ability scores that are either good or poor and the same holds true for saves. Attributes and saves scale up each level, with handy tables listing them. The different base-forms have different base size categories and skills available that you can assign. Their sizes can be enhanced by the expenditure of additional quintessence. They receive default magic slam attacks and a deflection bonus equal to the demiurge's Int-mod, but do not gain feats or magic items and they count as having HD equal to the demiurge's class level. A facsimile is treated as a construct for the purposes of spells and effects, but not for the purposes of base qualities. Now as ideas, facsimiles are somewhat more ephemeral than your average summoned creature - every time the facsimile receives damage, it has to make a dissipation check, with d20 +1/3 demiurge class level + facsimile's Cha-mod versus DC 10 + 1 per 2 points of damage taken, with natural 20s and 1s constituting automatic successes and failures, respectively. Some ideals and class abilities allow a facsimile to ignore some chances of dissipation and at 9th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the demiurge's facsimiles receive +1 chance to ignore dissipation. Upon destruction that is not an intended dismissal, a demiurge only receives 1/4 of a facsimile's maintenance cost back, as opposed to 1/2 of it. And yes, facsimiles, as ideal, do not have hit points.
Now each facsimile has 5 ideals that are drawn from 4 categories: Locomotion, Manipulative, Sensorial and Special. Each facsimile has one slot per category, 2 in the special category. However, each ideal's quintessence cost (or augmentation) can be doubled so it instead can be applied to occupy another category's slot. Facsimiles can thus be enhanced to have a massive array of different abilities and shapes, from humanoid ones that disrupt the terrain to those that can grant senses - want to make a tripedal moving facsimile that can share senses and dissipate itself to heal adjacent creatures? Possible.
The vast array of customizations here are impressive indeed, though not all augmentations feel like they are perfectly balanced, something that especially comes to mind when thinking about the ray ideal: This is an SP untyped ray that deals 1d4 + Cha-mod damage, with a base cost of 2. For +4 quintessence, the facsimile receives +1 ray attack and per 1 point of quintessence spent on this augmentation, the damage dice increases by +1d4, to a maximum of half the demiurge's class level. Now, if you're taking notes, you'll realize how this can be used to make one devastating laser battery at higher levels - if you ever wanted to make a final fantasy-summon style kill-all laser battery, well, there you go. Do the math. Even with only Int 18, one would get163 quintessence. Then take minimum cost for all ideals apart from rays, for 4 points beyond the base costs, one would be left with 151 points, which would translate to more than 30 ray attacks (37.75) à 10d4+Cha-mod damage. With Dex = 29 and full BAB, this laser battery can evaporate just about anything. This one component of the facsimile-building system is what doesn't work and honestly, I would have been somewhat confused, but I'm not the only one reading it this way. I believe the ability has undergone a layout glitch or oversight, since the rays also lack a range. My advice, at least for now, is to simply apply the cap on the augmentation that also applies to damage dice increase - 3 rays à 10d4+Cha-mod for a total of 10 quintessence seems like the more reasonable and probably, intended, cap - a minor rephrasing of the ideal would work here. Now do NOT let this one hiccup in this impressive class get in the way of appreciation of this glorious class, for that's not where things end!
The demiurge also sports a linear sequence of abilities, from 4th level on, which is called rhetoric. When using these abilities, one determines one facsimile designated as an argument facsimile and one as an arguer facsimile. The argument facsimile is considered the origin, the arguer the beneficiary. The argument facsimile's maintenance cost must be equal to or exceed that of the arguer. Performing the like is a full-round action and unless otherwise noted, the facsimiles need to be adjacent to one another. Rhetorics have a duration of 1 round per 2 demiurge levels and some may cause the argument facsimile to become disoriented, allowing them to only perform either a move action or a standard action and may still perform swift, immediate or free actions. A demiurge begins with 3 rhetorics and learns more as the levels progress. These rhetorics are what renders the facsimiles EVEN MORE interesting - they allow, for example, for the addition of the argument's locomotion ideals to the arguer while the rhetoric persists. Other options include making the facsimiles a wall and combining reaches of the facsimiles involved. It should be noted that the abilities themselves also sport some nice easter-eggs in the nomenclature.
The 7th level also nets the demiurge the option to create a thesis facsimile, a facsimile with a limited free will and a buffing aura and yes, they may heal allies via reclaimed quintessence.
Now to get back to the enlightenments I mentioned in the beginning? Take Agathon - this enlightenment has the final quintessence cost of facsimiles reduced by 1/4 class level and get a 6th slot, which costs half as much. At 2nd level, one can have one free facsimile with only 4 slots and a significantly-reduced effective level of class level -3, while also allowing for some on the fly modification. Artifice demiurges can create objects, while befuddlement allows for the creation of shadow facsimiles - in case you haven't noticed - each of the 6 enlightenments provided radically changes the way in which the class plays. The capstone is an interesting apotheosis, at least as far as that type of capstone goes. The bonus content covers 11 sample facsimiles. I adore the demiurge class - it is a thing of mechanical beauty, vast options and is utterly, completely unique. With all those pet-classes out there, it still is more unique and interesting and while it only belongs into the hands of experienced players, it is GLORIOUS. Any fan of classes with customization options and complex tricks needs to take a good luck at this class - a piece of advice: Just make a sample character. It makes getting the class rather easy and seriously, I don't get what the hassle is regarding the complexity of this class. It's not simple, sure, but it is damn rewarding and I can't bring myself to bash it for one ability with a wonky exploit due to a wording ambiguity. I adore this class and playtest showed it works in awesome ways - though, as a piece of advice, much like summoners et al., one should make sure the player can run it quickly and doesn't hog the spotlight. Still, probably my favorite class in ages and one that will be very hard to top!
After this complexity beast, the medium is rather simple: At d8, 2+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, good will-saves and 3/4 BAB-progression, the class looks a bit bare-bones. As a full-round action, the medium may channel spirits and let herself be possessed by her spirit companion as a full-round action, the duration clocking in at 4 hours, starting at 5th level instead for 1 hours per medium level. Interaction with being killed etc. is covered aptly by the wording, including memories etc. A medium can channel spirits equal to Cha-mod timer per day and the effect cannot be blocked by regular possession-preventing magic. The medium can use a standard action to provide minor bonuses and she may use séances to duplicate augury. At 3rd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the class receives a revelation chosen from a limited list, interacting with their ability to channel spirits and utilize séances - here, an alternate nomenclature to make them deviate from the oracle's revelations would probably have been in order. So, the spirit companion...this is the defining class feature of the medium and shares your ability modifiers and hit points; however, the spirit does have class levels - yes, this class can be essentially summed up as gestalt, the character - you can essentially shift between forms and from leadership to spellcasting and psionic powers and feats, the spirit companion is handled pretty neatly - and the capstone allows for a true fusion of the two. Btw.: Yes, the revelations interact with the class choices you make for the spirit companion.
Archetype-wise, there would be one with less powerful spirits, but who receives more spirit companions, one that can be considered an oracle-crossover as well as one that specializes in revelations that interact with the physical world. And yes, there would also be one psionic medium archetype. Eric Morton's Medium is a solid, fun class that especially will be a boon to tables with less players that need to cover more roles. Two thumbs up!
The Metamorph-class with d8, 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and natural attacks, but no armor, good 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and ref-saves and begin play with a maximum number of 3 attacks and an evolution pool of 3 that scales up to 26 at 20th level. Metamorphs also have a built-in natural armor bonus that increases over the levels and ability-increases dispersed over the levels. 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter see bonus feats. 1st level metamorphs may choose their genesis, determining the key-ability modifier for the class and modifying the class skill list. Now unlike some other takes on the evolution-based class framework, a list of phenotypes, which determine ultimately the evolutions that become available for the class - a total of 8 phenotypes are provided and a massive table helps the player determine which evolutions are eligible for the phenotype chosen. Only fey and undying may for example choose the basic magic evolution, whereas only bestial, monstrous or reconstructed metamorphs may learn the trample evolution. A metamorph has 2+class level evolution points, +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Evolutions can be reassigned upon gaining a level. The class also sports 3 archetypes - one that wilders amid sorceror bloodlines/eldritch heritages, while metamorphic abominations may wilder in racial heritages. Finally, the Transmogrifist may wilder in the alchemist's toolbox. We also get a sample level 13 character here.
I honestly was NOT looking forward to yet another evolution-based class - after masquerade reveler, underterror and iron titan, I was simply burned out on them. However, Wojciech Gruchala's metamorph ultimately may be one of the most user-friendly and easy to balance takes on the concept - while I prefer the fluff of the masquerade reveler still, the metamorph may be the most user-friendly take on the concept - with the handy table and restrictions that prevent abuse as well as thanks to the cap of maximum attack and the lack of flexible changes of the basic evolutions chosen. All in all, a solid take on the concept I can't really complain about.
The Mnemonic gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons and one weapon of choice, full unarmed strike progression as a monk, 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. Menomincs may execute a standard action to identify one or more feats a target creature possesses by making an Int-check versus 10 + CR, with creatures of a CR greater than the mnemonic's HD further increasing the DC by +3, revealing a scaling amount of feats a target has - the better the check, the more feats are revealed. Why would he waste an action like this beyond the tactical information? Thought Strikes. A mnemonic may execute class level + Int-mod of those per day and they can be executed as part of an attack action - somewhat akin to stunning fist, the targets receive a save, which may see them impeded by escalating negative conditions. Instead, a mnemonic may forego said detrimental conditions and execute a memory theft, to steal a skill bonus or feat for class level rounds.
A mnemonic still has to fulfill the prerequisites of a stolen feat to make use of it and stolen feats only lock down feats that build on the original feat, not those that only have it as a prerequisite. The amount of skill bonuses, feats, etc. a mnemonic can steal at a given time is handled via a nifty table and starting at 5th level, the mnemonic may eliminate spells as well, though without being able to cast them himself. Finally, it should be noted that mnemonics may expend thought strike uses to retain a given stolen feat for 24 hours, though future maintenance of this stolen knowledge progressively erodes the mnemonic's thought theft capacity further, preventing the infinite storing of a stolen feat. now granted, this can be cheesed simply by passing the feat from mnemonic to mnemonic, but in that case, I'd consider it a somewhat interesting plot-point/narrative device and, more importantly, not something that would in itself break the game - so yeah.
Beyond this theft component, a mnemonic of 3rd level may also copy extraordinary abilities and combat feats he has seen in the last 24 hours, with an effective class level decreased by -4, though, thankfully, only for 4+Int-mod rounds per day. High levels allow for the recalling of abilities and even sharing of them, thanks to the nice addition of telepathy-style abilities to the fray. It should also be noted that they may imprint part of their mind into objects, making them essentially intelligent with all the consequences - which is a kind of awesome additional twist for the class. Essentially, this is the brainy monk we know from Anime and WuXia who copies your moves and uses your own tricks against you - and it is more efficient than the woefully underpowered base class thanks to its tricks. Speaking of which - the amnesiac archetype, with its battle trance, hearkens also back to these media and provides a pretty cool alternative to the base concept. Hungry Minds would be evil mnemonics that may heal themselves via thought strikes (limited resource, so kitten-proof), while thought rippers replace the detrimental conditions of regular thought strikes with scaling non-lethal damage. Solid and nice- overall, a fun class - designer Mike Myler did a neat job here!
Next up would be the momenta, pitched by Erik Ottosen and written by the Amor Game-staff, and I am not engaging in hyperbole when I'm saying that I haven't seen a class like this before. We all have seen the trope in literature - the faithful, loyal companion that makes the heroes excel, the squire that does the grunt-work - that is the momenta. The class gets 6+Int skills per level (with 2 to be freely chosen as class skills), d, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and light armor plus shields, 1/2 BAB-progression and good will-saves as well as prepared arcane casting via Int of up to 4th level, from their own spell-list, with the caveat that they can ignore "somatic components of up to 50 gold in value" while holding the book in their hands- I assume that should be material components. Additionally, as written, the momenta incurs spell failure chance for casting in light armor, which she probably shouldn't, seeing how she can only cast spells outside of combat in the first place (but only has a 6 hour required rest for spell memorization). It should be noted that limited spellcasting in combat can be achieved via the class's talents. Momenta of 4th level may cast cure light wounds as an arcane spell by either spending a motivation point or by spontaneously converting one of her spells. And these would be the momenta's central resource: A momenta receives Cha-mod motivation points in the beginning of a battle, +1 per ally that acts before an opponent.
Alas, this mechanic is utterly broken. First of all, it utilizes the nonsense per-encounter mechanic, which makes in-game no sense whatsoever. I've been VERY vocal about that not working, so I'll spare you my usual rant regarding this topic and just point you towards them. Tl; DR: Makes no sense since it is based on a fluid measurement of time rather than a concrete one. Secondly, the system can be gamed due to a lack of definition as to what constitutes an ally - master summoner conjures a lot of creatures with good initiative, momenta doesn't know what to do with this huge amount of points. A clearer definition is definitely in order here. A similar complaint can be fielded about how motivation is used - as a free action, the momenta can add 1d6 to the result of any one of her checks or that of an ally. One, there is some ongoing disparity which type of free action we're talking about - while some free actions can be used out of turn, this does not apply to all free actions - so yes, we have an issue with the base system here the class fails to address. Secondly, shouldn't the ability have some kind of range, audible or visual component? As written, it does not require the like, which feels odd to me. 2 Motivation points can also be used to reroll saving throws or attack rolls as an immediate action - no action-economy complaints here on my part.
A momenta also can utilize motivation via so-called stimuli, essentially the talents of the class, which are either extraordinary or spell-like abilities. These include being able to pay for metamagic with motivation, spell recall and the like - most importantly, though, the stimuli allow for the switching of initiative orders and allows the momenta to let allies act out of turn - an ability that can also be used offensively, by the way. So yes, the momenta per se is very powerful - even before non-stimulus abilities that include tactician and the like. However, the infinite resource of motivations also radiates into the stimuli - with an infinite capacity for encounters (versus infernal kittens, for example), the momenta can use infinite healing by utilizing motivation. So yes, this frame needs a daily cap for healing and a proper, codified time-frame instead of per-encounter.
Now all of this sounds pretty negative and it ultimately, alas, is. However, the basic premise of the class is awesome and while the framework looks weak, a momenta can provide a significant power-boost to a group -even as a cohort, the class excels pretty much. So let me emphasize this: I absolutely adore the concept and the unique tricks the momenta has, but I wished the Amora staff had slightly polished it more; as written, it can easily be fixed, but without fixes, I wouldn't use it. Still - the concept is so unique, so awesome that it is actually one of my favorite classes herein! Yeah, who would have thought? The pdf also provides 2 archetypes, one with less spellcasting and an option to knock out foes a limited amount of times per day and a second one that has limited bardic performances. Solid.
Next up would be the Mystic, who receives d8, 4+Int skills per level and either improved unarmed strikes or weapon focus at 1st level; proficiencies are determined by the elemental path chosen and the class gets 3/4 BAB-progression as well as all good saves. They also receive a ki-powered elemental strike (class level + wis-mod) and while they have at least one point of ki, they add wis-mod to AC. Elemental Strikes use the class level as BAB and damage scales up over the levels from 1d6 to 2d8. Ki can also be used for skill-boosts, adding additional attacks to full attacks. The class also receives a mystic talent at 2nd level, +1 every even level thereafter. There would be a higher-level option to make elemental strikes not cost ki anymore, evasions, finesse and the like - a solid kind-of-monkish array, with 10th level expanding the list by advanced talents. The capstone also sports choices, which is nice to see.
Now I mentioned elemental paths - these do not only influence class skills and proficiencies, they also net a basic ability associated with the element. Furthermore, each path provides a significant array of unique talents and 3rd level and every odd level thereafter nets an elemental technique from a list determined by the path, granting either a feat or a ki-powered spell, with DCs, if applicable, being governed by Wis. A total of 4 elemental paths plus the force path are provided, with each of them feeling utterly distinct.
While the force path has a force-blast and ranged combat maneuver-option, the limited range makes that one steer clear of my rant regarding that. The book also sports 3 archetypes - the ancient gets a reflexive reincarnate and sooner access to elemental techniques, but pays more for elemental strikes. Crossroads Mystics receive decreased damage dice for elemental strikes, but gets more ki and can select elemental techniques from all paths, but at higher costs. The final archetype, the kenjin, has more expensive elemental strikes, but gains access to ninja tricks. Alexander Augunas' Mystic has a bit of a flavor-issue with me - I'm utterly burned out on anything elemental-themed and this class is essentially the elemental bender-style character...or the Jedi. I don't like Star Wars. That being said, mechanically, the class is honestly beautiful - I prefer it over qinggong monk and the like and it executes its concept admirably well, with Alex's zen-like ease. At the same time, it has a cool idea - a sidebox talks about retooling the flavor to correspond to the alchemical humors - and the fluff I pretty much adore, which leaves me without any valid gripes to field - making me like a class whose concepts left me with disdain is a huge feat - congratulations!
Sasha Hall pitched the Pauper class, which was then developed by the Amora staff. The pauper gets d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor, 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves. Paupers are defined by their two pools - hope and despair. Hope begins play with a maximum of 1 and scales up to 11, with despair beginning play with3 points, scaling up to 13. A pauper can execute a full-round action to turn despair points into hope points. Despair is gained whenever the pauper witnesses an act of strife or desperation, seeing an ally suffer a lethal wound and when witnessing cruel acts. Hope is conversely gained when seeing an enemy fall, acts of kindness etc. When one pool contains more points than the other, the pauper benefits from a unique effect. Paupers may execute nonlethal attacks versus allies to grant the ally a morale bonus. Pretty odd - the pauper can get all "morale, sacred and profane" penalties of allies and draw them upon herself. Only thing is - penalties are untyped, so the ability does not work as intended. Fr each penalty chosen to take upon himself, the pauper gains wis-mod temporary despair points.
The pauper's abilities, alas, at least to me, feel somewhat unfocused - they establish an empathic bond with a limited array of people (somewhat akin to how Dreamscarred Press' psionic networks work). The class also allows for minor healing as well as an aura that can either act as a buffer or a debuffer, depending on which pool is dominant. High-level paupers may transfer abilities from one ally to another, but thankfully with numerical and limited resources being subject to relatively stringent limitations. Strangely, supernatural abilities are not covered by the ability transference. All in all, the pauper has many makings of an interesting class, but it ultimately feels odd in many of its choices - aid another as a move/swift action for points may sound okay...but at 11th level, that's pretty late. The class also is completely linear - there is NO choice to be made here - not even the cavalier has such a small array of player agenda - the abilities, all unique ones, no groups, fall in line as a linear progression, making all paupers essentially the same. Beyond that, the class is dependent on two resources, which, in spite of a side-box, ultimately are highly circumstantial ad thus can only hardly be quantified - and thus, as feared by yours truly, the result will be a lot of arguments about hope and despair. Some tighter definitions would have imho helped here. The pauper gets an archetype with only one pool. Overall, the first class I really didn't like - conceptually, it feels not focused enough and mechanically, I've seen the interaction of fluid pool done better in some Interjection Games-releases. The class is not necessarily bad, mind you, but it's not up to the others.
The commander in chief of Little Red Goblin Games, Scott Gladstein, provides us with the Survivor, who gets d12, 6+Int skills per level, simple and martial weapon as well as light and medium armor proficiency, full BAB-progression and good fort-saves. Survivors not only can live off the land and can provide some of his class features with allies via the safe passage class feature, which provides a bonus to allies, usable Con-mod + 1/2 class level times per day. Bonus feats at 2nd level and 6th and every 4 levels thereafter are also there Beyond uncanny dodge, evasion et al., 3rd level, 7th and every 4 thereafter allow for DR, natural armor or elemental resistance, with each quality being selectable more than once. 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter provides a survival tactic, a unique, mostly defensive trick that can be considered the talent-array of the class - many of which can also be granted to allies. Level 13 nets essentially mettle (evasion for will- and fort-saves), called stalwart here, and at that level, this is okay.
The survivor has been my absolute surprise here - while not particularly complex on paper, this class works superbly in play -straightforward, fun and ultimately, it does just what you want: A ranger-y class sans all the mystic mumbo-jumbo, but who can make his allies so much better and harder to kill. This class is a great example why playtests of the complex classes herein was required - it fared much better in actual gameplay than I expected - the survivor is exceedingly fun to play, so kudos! 4 Archetypes are provided for the class - the feralist with simple weapon-exclusive vital strikes and modified feat/tactics-list, the seething survivor (with full barbarian synergy), the parkour specialist thrill seeker and the kind-of-rogueish urban survivor. A Synergist/survivor level 20 multiclass makes for a cool NPC.
Morgan Boehringer, the mastermind of Forest Guardian Press, presents the Synergist, who gets d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, light and medium armor and shields and gets 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good fort- and will-saves. Synergists establish a kind of network akin to psionic networks equal to Cha-mod allies, with her being required to be part of the so-called "cast." The more creatures in the cast, the higher the shield bonus granted to the synergist. Via swift actions, members of the cast can coordinate, making firing into melee easier and teamwork feat granting is obviously part of the deal as well. Better aid another among the cast is also part of the scaling progression. At 1st level, synergists may create a synergy 1+Cha-mod times per day, +1 per 3 class levels. A synergist gets "+1 bonus synergy counters" for each successful attack, save or skill check, +2 for confirmed crits or nat 20s on non-attack-rolls. A synergist may store class level + Cha-mod counters. Synergy counters may be bestowed upon members of the cast, with a duration of Cha-mod+ 1/4 class level rounds. The counters can be used to enhance skill checks, temporary hit points, concentration, CMD, AC, etc. - this ability is glorious and fun.
At 1st level, the synergist may select a technique from a selection of 3, with 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter providing an additional array of new techniques, continuously expending the pool of options to choose from - NICE! Now where things become even more interesting is with the gaining of passive abilities and the collective bestowing of Lunge - a synergist can also negate critical hits and even enhance at higher levels the action tax required by a given action - the synergist pretty much, when played right, can radically change the way in which a unit of adventurers works - and it is awesome. Ultimately, the synergist can literally be the glue that holds a group together in combat and plays surprisingly efficient and different from classes with a similar concept - when to see something ridiculously flexible? Synergist plus Battle Lord. Add in a Tactician and cackle with glee. The archetype for the class falls somewhat behind the main class in coolness, with minor debuffs being just not that interesting - especially seeing the direlock by Morgan, I would have expected something a tad bit more special, but don't let that detract from the coolness of the class.
The Umbra (unfortunately named in my book - it has nothing to do with shadows...) would be a class by Interjection Games' mastermind Bradley Crouch and as such, it is complex: As a basic frame, it gets d8, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency in light armor and shields and weapon proficiency according to the primary embrace chosen. In heavier armor, planar powers suffers from arcane spell failure chance. The umbra gets 3/4 BAB-progression and good will-saves.
So what are those embraces? Well, they signify the heritage of the Umbra, with the primary being the dominant one and chosen at 1st level, the secondary embrace being unlocked at 5th level. Each embrace is assigned a pool of points - the primary embrace has primary points (PP), the secondary embrace secondary points (SP) - collectively, both are called embrace points (EP). Ep scale up from 2 PP to 12 and 1 SP (at 5th level) to 8. Umbra gain resistance to the energy of the primary plane equal to their class level, 1/2 class level for the secondary embrace and each plane has an assigned skill, which receives minor bonuses. At 6th level, the umbra may, as a swift action, generate a temporary EP to assign to a planar power or trait, which lasts for Cha-mod rounds, +1 point granted at 10th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This can be used Cha-mod times per day. There is an unfortunate error in one of the abilities, which specified that an ubiquitous power is gained at 3rd level, +1 at 5th and then +1 at every 4 levels thereafter, when the tables puts that at second level instead. Either that, or quickswap needs to be moved to second level. What does quickswap do? it allows for the reassignment of planar powers 1/day, scaling up by +1/day every 4 levels thereafter, making me belief that the first ubiquitous power ought to be gained at 2nd level.
Ubiquitous powers can be considered the "general" talents of the class, whereas the embraces cover the specialist tricks - the basic elemental planes and both positive and negative energy planes are available for the umbra to choose from, with each having assigned proficiencies. But the choice is more relevant than that - each plane has powers and traits associated. traits require an investiture of 1 point to use and then are static and passive. Powers, on the other hand, allow for more customization - the more points you invest in a given power, the longer you can activate it/the bigger its potency. Now, as you might expect, the benefits are pretty unique - what about a weak reflexive shield that can be dismissed to execute a smite? Yes, the benefits tend towards the unique side of things and some abilities utilize a cooldown mechanic I pretty much enjoy.
Now I'm an old-school Planescape fanboy, and thus, the further tricks of the class brought a smile to my face - yup, at 10th level, the umbra becomes a kind of embodied demiplane-intersection of his primary and secondary embrace. When assigning EP, an umbra can elect to convert either PP or SP into demiplance emergence points (abbreviated DE), but her SP pool must remain larger than the DE pool. Now the interesting part here would be that each demiplane's powers tend to work differently - some reward stockpiling DE-points. Some require their expenditure. Some ignore them mostly in favor of other counters, which are gained in means pertaining to the elemental condition in question and instead make for the resource of the demiplane: Cinders nets, for example, 1 "sputtering charge" whenever the umbra utilizes a power, but does not bypass the cooldown - this charge can be used as an additional invested point in an ability for a short while or expelled as a blast of negative energy and flame, with DE governing the damage output of the sputtering charge-powered blast. Have I mentioned the capstone that lets you make your own plane? Yeah.
Damn, LIC, what are you doing here? Here I am rambling about how bored I am by elemental classes and themes and now I have a second class with such a theme I actually like. Damn. Kidding aside, the umbra is an interesting class with essentially a highly customizable array of tricks that makes it surpass the one-trick pony component inherent in most elemental-themed classes. I generally like it, though I still don't get where the name comes from.
The penultimate class herein would be Wayne Canepa's Warloghe, who gets d8, 4+Int skills, custom weapon proficiency and no armor or shield proficiencies. The class is built on a 3/4 BAB-progression good fort- and will-save chassis and their bond with a twisted spirit provides prepared arcane spellcasting from a custom list of up to 6th level, based on Wis -uncommon. However, alternatively, instead of spellcasting, a warloghe may select a binding pact with a spirit, gaining a linear, bloodline-like array of abilities, but more on those later. 2nd level warloghes get an essence pool equal to 4 + 1/2 class level + wis-mod, with a passive benefit and the option to expend points to inflict negative-energy based touch attacks, with higher levels allowing for AoE emanations and debuff conditions. At second level and every two levels thereafter, the warloghe selects a taboo - essentially the talents of the class, governed by Wis, with some being exclusive to certain twisted spirits chosen. These include SPs, upgrades to the vortex, dabbling in necromancy, familiars at -5 class levels - quite an array. The 5th level class feature, though, would be one of my favorites - warloghes may leave their soul behind as haunts, moving forward as a soulless shell! Damn cool! However I really wished the pdf sported a kind of instant-haunt-generator for warloghes that does not require handing GM-books to players. Taboos are expanded at 10th level to include more powerful choices. The taboos, when active, more often than not require the expenditure of essence points, which also powers a linear array of spell-like abilities granted over the class's level-progression.
A total of 5 twisted spirits, each with a custom spell-list and custom binding abilities, are provided - it should be noted, though, that each of them also results in a tainted soul, which translates to a continuous, negative effect on the warloghe that denotes his sinister dealings - however, they also provide a unique base benefit. The individual benefits are pretty unique and include stacking bleed damage, placing marks of vengeance, etc. The warloghe class gets an okay capstone, but 3 archetypes: One gets binding pact and spellcasting, but no taboos, while another can craft totem-constructs instead of getting the haunted ability. the final one may channel spirit strikes through his weapon and not waste points on misses, but loses the vortex AoE-control. Unremarkable, as far as archetypes go. The warloghe is pretty much a sinister glass cannon that feels a bit like a more damage-focused take on the witch-fluffed gish - now the class isn't bad and its damage output is balanced by being VERY squishy (more so than the magus) and I like the fluff, but I really think it would have benefited from significantly more spirits - those that are here are solid, though ultimately, the class suffers from me having years upon years of Pact Magic as a frame of reference and the latter just feels more versatile to me.
The final class is a new iteration of an old acquaintance of mine, the Warsmith, written by the Amora crew - at d8, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple weapons, hammer, picks and pilums, light armors and shields as well as 3/4 BAB-progression and good fort-saves, the warsmith is a retool of Amora Game's tinker - can it hold up? Well, first of all, beyond the craftsman bonuses and the significant bonuses to sundering via edifice recognition, the warsmith now may grant bonuses to armors and weapons, even duplicating special abilities at higher levels. At 2nd level and every even level thereafter, the warsmith receives a talent, here called design, which allows him to modify class features, expand crafting capabilities and even poach in alchemist/rogue territory with bombs or rogue talents. While not particularly complex, that ultimately is the strength of the class- it is a straightforward craft/sunder-specialist who is really good at what he does. Now personally, I'm not a big fan of e.g. a prone-knocking fissure having a fixed save-DC instead of a scaling one, but still, this remains the best iteration of the concept so far.
Since I have already covered the class options and archetypes above, I will only glance over the feats provided, all right? All in all, many of the feats here have a teamwork aspect and +x uses/+ longer uses of abilities for classes are provided alongside some interesting teamwork feats (since they don't suck for many classes herein) - unarmed fighting for non-monks, a style that makes combat maneuvers work sans improved-feats (and that while remaining balanced!) and some unique tricks, like playing switcheroo with magic item abilities, overall, this section can be considered well-crafted. In the cases where one may be familiar with some feats from previous publications of Amora Game, they tend to have undergone a streamlining of their wording - so yeah, while not 100% perfect, the vast majority of this chapter proved to be a fun read! Kudos!
Okay, so only one chapter to go - Adapt, Overcome, Survive - and it is GLORIOUS. Evocative haunts with nice flavor text ranging from CR 1 to 9 are complemented by environmental hazards... like exploding rats. Yes. You read it. Awesome! Two quick templates for magically-contaminated/infused creatures can also be found herein before we get rules for magical pollution of varying severity - think of them as the magical equivalent of radioactivity (and yes, just as deadly) - but with the nice added benefit of also coming with a ton of spellblights, of which we also get a quite significant array.
The pdf closes with a handy facsimile-sheet.
Editing and formatting are not perfect, but still pretty good - in a book of this size, with so much crunch, it is testament to the quality of the authors and editors/developers that almost no significant errors have crept into the complex matrixes of the class-crunch. Layout adheres to a crisp two-column full-color standard with a blending of stock and original artworks. the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. The print-copy, which I urge you to get, is well worth the price - I got mine from being a supporter of the KS and it sports a solid frame and high quality., glossy paper. This book has seen quite some use and it does not show. As a note for 3pps: Amora Game sent me the best-packaged book I have to date received from any 3pp - with significant amounts of bubble-wrap and a big package, the book has made it past the transition across the ocean and the careless hands of the postal service without even a dent. Kudos for gong the extra mile - a creaseless book is a definitely nice change of pace to receive!
The Liber Influxus Communis grew from the PFRPG-community, the community of which I consider myself a part of and for which I ultimately write my reviews. While Amora Game took a beating from me in the past, they never gave up and when their KS ran, I think I may have been the first backer - I wanted to believe in them. This was the reason I decided to make this my 2000th review - and I was hoping that my hopes would not be unjustified.
Now what Greg LaRose did was smart - he got essentially all 3pp top crunch-designers not too involved with their own projects: Alexander Augunas, Bradley Crouch, Daron Woodson, Eric Morton, Mike Myler, Scott Gladstein, Wayne Canepa, Will McCardell, Wojciech Gruchala, Kevin Bond, Linda Zayas-Palmer, Michael Sayre, Morgan Boehringer. Realize something? This is pretty much an all-stars-list and the content of this book shows it - each designer herein has brought his/her strengths to the table - from relatively simple to exceedingly complex, the classes provided herein all breathe a spirit of cooperation, of being unique and run the gamut of providing simple plug and play as well as highly complex tinkering classes that require significant planning to get right. The classes herein have one thing in common that transcends the differences in design: They are not boring. I consider no single class herein bland, no single concept to be redundant. In fact, I loved most of the classes, and I mean loved - when a book makes me enjoy two classes that sport a theme I loathe, you'll know you have something awesome at your fingertips.
Now this book is not perfect - I wasn't blown away by all archetypes; the momenta, which I love to death as one of my favorite classes herein, imho requires a second editing pass/a capable DM to streamline and take the rough edges off. The Demiurge's laser battery needs a nerf-whack. And the pauper left me singularly unimpressed, having seen the interacting pools done more in a precise and organic way. Heck, I even made a class with two fluid pools interacting with one another. That aside, the pauper also feels oddly linear and as if it were part of another book. Similarly, not all feats blew me away, but if I broke that down for you, the review would go on for even longer. And I honestly am not sure whether anyone will read this monstrosity as it stands.
Ultimately, though, none of the gripes I could muster, whether they be typos or the above, can stand before a superb appendix and no less than 13 classes I will definitely use in my games - this is pretty much the highest density of classes I have ever allowed a single book to contribute to any game of mine and that is a significant achievement. Now as you all know, I'm a stickler for the more complex classes, but even the simple ones herein have something unique going for them, a playing experience that deviates from what other classes can offer - and what more can you expect from a new base class? In the end, the Liber Influxus Communis may not be a perfect book, but it is still an excellent and inexpensive way to add a vast array of pure innovation to your game - a smörgåsbord of unique mechanics and things no other class can do. And I love it for exactly that. This book exemplifies the work of some of the finest designers in the field and I have, ultimately, always valued innovation and slight rough edges higher than bland mechanical perfection - and, as such, the few mechanical bumps that are herein could in no way stand in relation to the awesomeness that this book brings to the table, they simply pale and fade when seen in relation with the vast array of cool tricks the content herein makes possible. My final verdict thus will be 5 stars + seal of approval and I nominate this book as a candidate for my Top Ten of 2015.
And if you're still reading that, let me extend my heartfelt thank-you to you for sticking with my ramblings and reading my 2000th review. I write them for you and remain yours,
[5 of 5 Stars!]