||This 7 page PDF (10 with front cover, credits & OGC declaration) presents the Scion of Masada Advanced Class for the D20 Modern rules. It is presented as part of the Department 7 line by Skorched Urf Studios, a Supers espionage type setting. It is a 10 level advanced class featuring an Israeli ?holy warrior? type, of the Jewish faith. The class is named after the heroic last stand by the Jewish soldiers at the fort of Masada, who stood off a superior force of Romans, much like the Spartans held off the Persians at Thermopylae (a story you?ve probably heard 300 times).
After opening with a bit of color text, the class features are described. The Scion of Masada class is focused on stealth and knife fighting techniques, with a few supporting mystical abilities, based on his faith. The easiest way to qualify is as a Dedicated Hero, though Strong Heroes can work also, if Iron Will is chosen as a feat. As you might guess, the character must also be of the Jewish faith, a practicing Orthodox Jew, in this case, and observe the strictures and laws described in the Torah. The class is combat focused and features a d8 hit die. Scions gain a number of action points equal to six, plus ? their level, rounded down. Scions of Masada have Superior BAB (equal to their level), poor Fort saves (1/3 their level), fair Ref saves (1/2 their level), and good Will saves (2/3 their level).
Notable class skills for the Scion include Balance (DEX), Climb (STR Concentration (CON), Demolitions (INT), Disable Device (DEX), Disguise (CHA), Drive (DEX), Gather Information (CHA), Hide (DEX), & Move Silently (DEX), Jump (STR) Knowledge (Arcane Lore, Current Events, History, Tactics, & Theology & Philosophy) (INT), Spot (WIS), Tumble (DEX). This skill selection shows the stealth and supernatural focus of the class. Members of the class gain 6+(1/2 lvl,(d)) skill points per level. Bonus feats are gained at 3rd, 6th and 9th level.
The class?s signature feats are a succession of SU abilities based around the use of their ?ghost knives?. At first level they gain Ancestral Blades, a set of custom built mystical imbued blades further reinforced by composites and high-tech plastics. These blades are made to easily concealable on the Scion?s person thanks to special crafted ?skin sheathes?, artificial sheathes designed to exactly mimic his skin tone and texture, which allowing for unprecedented concealability and stealth. The knives also improve in effectiveness as the Scion increases in level, doing more damage, gaining an increased critical chance, and additional special qualities. His supernatural abilities are tied his faith and the observation of its tenets. The Scion will lose access to his abilities if he ignores core tenets of Orthodox Jewish law, such as eating non-kosher foods, or using his abilities during the Shabbat (Sabbath, sundown Friday to Sundown Saturday) and during other holidays. Additional abilities gained include Ghostcutting (4th), allowing him to attack ethereal and incorporeal undead creatures. He can also see ethereal and incorporeal creatures while touching the blades. By spending an Action Point, he can make his blades ?ghost touch? weapons, allowing them ignore natural armor and equipment bonuses to AC. The Martyr?s Fire (5th) ability allows the Scion to use the blades to cast light; he can use the blades as a focus to turn Elementals and Evil Outsiders. Finally, he can expend an action point to increase the damage done by the blades, with the damage doubled against evil outsiders. The Warrior of Masada (10th) ability allows the Scion to invoke the Spirit of a Warrior of Masada, gaining him enhanced combat abilities, either increased damage, or increased defense and healing, he can also expend action points to increase these effects. During this ?combat trance? he has no need to breathe and becomes immune to a number of effects. He also gains the Kabbalist (7th) spell like ability, making him a Talmudic Magi, allowing him access to a small number of spells.
Also included are a number of new espionage, combat & stealth related feats. Including Action Bank (gaining an additional action point each time the feat is taken), Aligned Zealot (gaining bonuses when attacking enemies of your faith), Krav Maga (MASSAD?s martial arts gaining bonuses to damage when you surpass your opponents defense), Spec Ops Stealth (allowing you ignore encumbrance penalties to stealth when carrying field gear.)
The PDF is laid out in a two spacious columns with a simple serif font used for heading and body text. The PDF features 3 pieces of interior art, all clean well done line art pieces, showing the Scion of Masada character in a couple of poses, which the nearby text wraps around, as well as a illustration of the Ancestral Knife. The cover features a the Scion activating the ghost cutting ability of the knife, against an Israeli flag, this set against a grey ?grunge? texture background with the product title in a futuristic font. The character is well drawn, with a Peter ?Aeon Flux? Chung like style. Overall the layout is pleasing and does not detract from the product, nor does it have any overdone decorative elements to suck up all your ink. You will want to skip printing the cover however.
This is a solid product though the character?s knife based abilities don?t seem particularly related to the stand at Masada. The delineation of the strictures of the Orthodox Jewish religion as drawn from the Torah/Talmudic Law is a bit lacking, and would require a bit of study by a GM to adjudicate. The class seems fairly powerful, but is limited by his allegiances and religious restrictions. It is an interesting class and adds some interesting concepts to the milieu of the Dept. 7 Setting; enterprising GMs could certainly find interesting ways to involve the player?s characters. Brutal counter-terrorist fighting amidst supernatural machinations in the tumultuous Middle East makes for interesting adventures after-all. So if the GM or players find the character concept interesting, I definitely recommend it.
LIKED: Cover art.
DISLIKED: Contradictory ability write-ups (Talmudic Magi or Kabbalist?), dubious knife abilities.
QUALITY: Very Good
[3 of 5 Stars!]