The ?The Core Specialist Wizard? series is an interesting concept. It is meant to present specialist wizards as a core, 20 level class. They basically try to ?kick it up a notch? by making the specialists more distinctive than is possible with the core system. In this product, the author focuses on the specialist in the illusion school of magic. This school, as you know, has one of the wider spectrums of influence (only conjuration is as overtly broad), but includes figment (creation of a false sensation), glamer (alters the target?s sensory qualities), pattern (creates an image with mind affecting qualities), phantasm (an image created in a target?s mind rather than in an actual physical location), and shadow(illusions created with extradimensional energy which can have real effects).
I have broken the review up to coincide with each content carrying section of this product.
The ?Specialist and Multi-classing? section simply states the rules for multi-classing any character that uses the proposed variant specialist wizard rules. Mostly, this section seems quite well thought out to ensure consistency with a particular campaign, though, as with most things of this nature, the final word will rest to the individual dungeon masters of the world that have a certain ?flavor? they are striving for.
The ?New Feats? section describes the 9 new feats in the typical feats format. Also included is a table listing the feat name and the prerequisites. Unfortunately, it does not include a short description of the feat?s purpose as can be found in the analogous ?core? table. With only nine new feats, this missing element is not as critical as if there were a few more feats. Seven of the feats are ?specialist? feats which have class restrictions of various levels. For example, a prerequisite of two levels in illusionist. The chart, which identifies the specialist feats with an asterisk, leaves one specialist feat unmarked despite correctly listing its prerequisites. Generally, the nine feats can be related to figment and glamer spells, including on that improves the DC when cast upon others and one that improves the DC when cast upon the caster. There is one feat that adds an ability to the illusionists familiar and one that improves upon a special ability granted to illusionists in this product. Unfortunately, the phantasm and shadow subschools of illusion are ignored in the proposed feats. The feat that most impacts on shadow spells would be one that improves the AC of the caster?s illusions. Given the breadth of the illusion school, I think that there could have been more feats and, certainly, there should have been at least one feat for each subschool of illusion magic.
?The Illusionist Core Class? section sets out the variant illusionist class in the traditional class format. As is true for each of the products in this line that I have reviewed, I would have liked to have seen a brief discussion of the ways in which the variant class compares to a core ?specialist?. Obviously, anyone can compare them so I am not asking for a simple list of changes. Rather, a brief explanation of the process by which certain abilities were dropped, why certain abilities were changed, why the new content was adopted in the structure that appears would be quite useful. This would be very useful to everyone that uses this product and, as we know gamers are apt to do, decides that this class can be slightly tweaked to make it perfect. Or need to make an adjustment or two to infuse the class with the flavor they are trying to cultivate in their campaign.
The illusionist class itself appears interesting. It has a progression spread across all 20 levels and incorporates a special ability that improves three times after it first appears in the progression. This ability is an interesting application of the Spot check mechanic which makes noticing an illusionist more difficult. In addition, the variant illusionist includes a special ability which improves two times after it first appears in the progression. This ability allows the illusionist to see through illusions more easily. Both of these special abilities are also the basis for a proposed feat. Given the nature of this school of magic, it appears that the variant illusionist presented here is a strong addition to this line. This variant illusionist is still flexible enough to have the correct feel despite the breadth of this school of magic.
?The Nightwalker PrC? section sets out this prestige class in the traditional class format. The nightwalker is an illusionist touched with stealthiness of a rogue. There are basically two special abilities that define this prestige class, both of which improve at least one time in the ten level progression. The first is an improved ?mirror image? which functions as it created via a ?major image? spell. The second is a special ability very similar to the ?shadow jump? special ability of the shadowdancer prestige class. To create consistency in campaigns where both prestige classes are available, individual dungeon masters may elect to replace this ability with the ?shadow jump? ability or to select one version for both classes. This prestige class appears fairly limited given that the only benefit, besides those two special abilities, is obtaining five levels in a previous spell casting class for spell casting purposes. In addition, it appears relatively weak in comparison to core prestige classes. Depending on your campaign, this class may require modification to be utilized.
?The Pretender PrC? section sets out this prestige class in the traditional class format. The pretender is an illusionist that focuses on disguise. This prestige class actually has four special abilities, one of which improves two times over the 10 level progression. The special ability that ?improves? is actually a penalty imposed on the character due to the extensive reliance on deceit. It does fit nicely with the feel of the prestige class. Two of the other special abilities are closely tied to disguises. The last allows the pretender to imitate the effects of spells by sacrificing illusion spells, thereby causing the target to believe that the imitated spell has worked on them. This prestige class also appears fairly limited given that one of the special abilities of the class is a penalty. In comparison to core prestige classes the pretender will not compare well. While the current presentation is a good start, it requires further thought and development.
?The Magic Items? section contains six new magic items. The first magic item is an interesting application of illusion to armor which results in a benefit to the wearer?s AC if the attacker fails the disbelief save. The second magic item is improves the DC of the wearer?s disbelief saving throws. The third item replicates the ?disguise self? spell, though only in a limited form as the user cannot select the disguise. The fourth item creates a random glamer which can be controlled by the user. The fifth item allows the user to seek concealment through an effect equivalent to a ?major image? spell. The final magic item is a light source that effects creatures as ?daylight? if they fail their disbelief saving throw.
Overall this product presents some good ideas but falls short of some of the earlier efforts in this series. The feat list should be longer as the illusion school of magic provides more substance to work with. The core class appears well conceived and presents a specialist that is flexible enough to stand up for this broad school of magic. However, the prestige classes in this product are not quite polished and will likely require additional work on the part of a dungeon master.
To rousing gaming and ample rewards,
- An interesting exploration of the illusion school of magic.<br><br><b>DISLIKED</b>:
- Needed to explore the illusion school of magic more fully, for example within the feats section.
- Needed to further develop and polish the prestige classes presented.<br><br><b>QUALITY</b>: Acceptable<br><br><b>VALUE</b>: Satisfied<br>
[3 of 5 Stars!]