An Endzeitgeist.com review
The second book of archetypes for Asian settings clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 31 pages of content, chock-full with new material – remember, Legendary Games books have a LOT of words per page, so we have a lot of ground to cover!
It should be noted that this pdf features some spells from Legendary Games’ massive Asian Spell Compendium – but you do not need to purchase it to use this book – all spells referenced have been reproduced herein for your convenience. Big kudos for that!
The first archetype herein would be the Bodhisattva paladin, who must be of good alignment and loses proficiency with heavy armor. Instead of aura of good, we get a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and to Intimidate with good creatures, a minus 2 penalty to Diplomacy with evil creatures. Paladin spells with the [good] descriptor and conjuration (healing) spells at full CL. Additionally, detect disease, detect good, detect poison, guidance, purify food and drink, resistance, virtue may be used as a SP, with the total uses equal to paladin class level, at full CL. The lay on hands abilities of this archetype gets an upgrade as well, extending damaging capabilities to include evil outsiders, half fiends and fiendish creatures. The bodhisattva also learns at 2nd level to sense the taint of evil creatures and objects as with scent, which also acts as uncanny dodge for evil targets, attacks with evil objects and regarding spells with the [evil] descriptor – interesting! This ability also allows for the tracking of evil via Sense Motive, rather than via Survival – and yes, a brief table of sample DCs is provided. Heck, mind-shielding spells can make the DC higher, as a proper table also mentions and clarifies. This one replaces divine grace and is really cool. Like it.
The archetype also expands player agenda, as 4th level’s channel energy based on lay on hands is expanded, allowing for a choice of 1 celestial channeling option chosen from an array of 6, with an additional one gained every 4 levels thereafter. These include an auto-dazzling nimbus of light, banishing outsiders (with a max-cap to prevent abuse) and a 1-round daze on a failed save for evil creatures, for example. Nice ones – I wish we could have gotten slightly longer list, though. This replaces aura of resolve/justice. 5th level nets summon satva, which may be used 1/day +1/day for every 4 levels after 5th. Satvas may shed lights and manifest in an unoccupied square up to 30 ft. away. They don’t block line of sight/effect. Each satva may be only called once per day. Each of these basically provides a persistent magic effect that can provide a passive buff or even healing/DR/fast healing, with the activation action, if any, clearly codified. All in all, a rewarding, potent and fun archetype!
The Censor inquisitor gets Wis-mod to Diplomacy and ½ class level to Perception to note forgery or Sleight of Hand, replacing monster lore. Instead of solo tactics and 3rd level’s teamwork feat, we reduce the miss chance granted by illusions by 5% per 2 class levels. Instead of 6th level’s teamwork feat, we add erase/memory lapse as 1st level spells to the spells known. When successfully targeting a creature with them, the censor may expend a 1st-level spell slot to ask the creature a question that may be answered with a single word or short sentence, with the save DC equal to the original spell’s to resist. On a failure, the target answers truthfully AND forgets about this immediately. Cool! 9th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to expend a 2nd level spell slot as a swift action upon scoring a crit, causing the target to take 2 Cha-damage and affect the target with caster croak spellblight, with a proper, Wis-based scaling DC. 12th level’s teamwork feat is replaced with the option to swift action true seeing against a target of judgments – nice blend of the abilities. 15th level nets immediate awareness of shapechanging/altering effects as well as having the option to expend 4th-level spell slots to force such an effect to end. 18th level nets you the option to expend a 5th-level spellslot to make a circle of light, which not only gets rid of lies and forces Stealth to cease, it also eliminates magical Stealth-enhancers. And yes, the latter two abilities replace the teamwork feats. Another nice one.
The jade fist bloodrager are up next, and receive the bloodrage’s Will-save bonus to fear and necromancy effects as well as those generated by undead. The archetype adds blessed jade strike as a 3rd level spell to spells known (spell provided for you). Instead of 1st and 12th level’s bloodrager powers, these guys get +2 natural AC, but -2 to Dex when entering a bloodrage, as the skin turns to jade. This also provides a +2 bonus to saves vs. death effects, disease, energy drain, paralysis, poison, sleep, stunning and necromantic effects. 12th level increases the bonuses and penalties incurred by 2. These guys get aImproved Unarmed Strike, at 1d6 for Medium bloodragers, replacing fast movement. 2nd level nets DR 1/Adamantine, which increases by 1 for every 2 levels thereafter, replacing uncanny dodge and the regular DR. At 4th, the jade fist may expend spell slots as a swift action to add lifesurge to unarmed strikes, considering it as +1 regarding enhancement bonus, +1 for every 4 levels thereafter, though this only applies vs. undead. Duration is governed by the level of the spell slot expended. At 8th level, this may be extended to weapons wielded, though the weapon needs to be partially made of jade. This replaces 4th level’s bloodline power. At 5th level, he gets basically 25% fortification, which increases to 15th level, replacing improved uncanny dodge and bloodline feat gained at 15th level. Kudos: This covers interaction with proper fortification right. Instead of 14th level’s indomitable will, we can expend 4th level spell slots to cast a spell as a swift action, sans AoO, treating it as 4th level.
The jinshi wizard must not be chaotic and automatically gains the average living expenses benefits, but he is also required to spend some days of the month serving the people, a duration that may btw. be paid off each month. These guys add Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive to class skills and learns two languages for every 2 ranks of Linguistics invested. They also add comprehend/share languages as well as tongues as spells known at 1st level. These fellows may not gain a familiar, instead gaining a bonded object. They may draw 1 spell from this object into an unoccupied spell slot, needing to fulfill all other requirements. This spell is available only fleetingly, and only ½ CL such spells may be retrieved from the object per day. This does not allow for the cheesing of prohibited schools. There is also the requirement of thereafter adding to the repository of spells, illustrating nicely the idea of a magic repository that transcends the ages. Instead of Scribe Scroll and the 1st level school power, these folks get Allied Spellcaster, gaining the benefits even if the nearby ally doesn’t have the feat. When readying actions and casting the same spells, DCs are increased and the higher CL is used. The feat may also be loaned for a limited number of rounds to allies, using school power uses as a resource. Clever. 5th level nets lore master and 10th level lets 1/day jinshi Empower or Extend Spells retrieved from the repository, +1/day use at 15th level and every 5 levels thereafter., where Maximize and Widen Spell are added to theoptions. The Allied Spellcaster ability also allows for use with this one. 15th level relives the character of the duties and also allows for at-range sharing of Allied Spellcasters, with allies sans spellcasting instead gaining Shielded Caster. Nice.
The unchained summoner kaiju caller loses proficiency with medium and heavy armor. When they use summon monster SP. You may expend 2 uses instead to summon a version at +1 size category, gaining the benefits of enlarge person. These guys only get the eidolon at 5th level, and it is brutish – ¼ skill points, Intelligence 1. However, it is immune to Intelligence drain/damage. The eidolon does gain a ferocity variant and the ability to 1/day immediate action delay the onset of a condition by one round. The summoner can grant his eidolon also a reroll as an alternative…and gets the complex ruler-interactions done right. Instead of transposition, we get chant of doom, which nets a doom chant that employs summon monster uses as resource and no-save shakens targets, but does not exacerbate previous fear effects. Nice one. At 10th level, the chant can grant allies a lesser form of rage (+2 Str/Con, +1 to Will-saves; -1 AC + restrictions to Cha/Dex/Int-based skill checks, excluding Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate and Ride). These benefits scale at higher levels and targets are not fatigued when the benefit elapses. This replaces aspect and greater aspect. The capstone lets the character generate natural disasters…or call Kaiju. OUCH. Damn cool.
The Kannushi druid adds Diplomacy/Knowledge (local + planes)) as class skills and loses medium and shield proficiency. Wild empathy is replaced with a +2 bonus to Diplomacy and Knowledge (local, planes, religion). The archetype gets an expanded spell list, courtesy of kami tutelage and can call them with summon nature’s ally and entice fey, replacing spontaneous spells. Nature’s bond is delayed to 4th level, at 3 levels lower, gaining one spirit domain from an elder fey/jinushigami if worshiping such a target. Venom immunity is replaced by a shrine that can protect everything stored there. Interesting one.
The kenja cleric may not be evil and begins play with a potent vow of peace as a restriction that enforces fighting defensively or in total defense for the first two rounds, or cast defensive/healing spells. When given the chance, he must attempt to deal nonlethal damage to living targets. The archetype also loses proficiency with armor and shields, and only proficient in bolas, club, light mace, quarterstaff, sap, sling and sling staff. They get a monk-like unarmored AC bonus and may, as a move action, commune with ancestors to add a +2 insight bonus to the next d20-roll before the end of the next turn, usable Wis-mod + ½ cleric levels times per day. 1/day, the kenja may expend 3 uses to enter a trance that duplicates scaling divination effects. This replaces one 1st-level domain power. He also gets basically a lay on hands ability that substitutes for channel energy, including mercies gained throughout character progression. When used offensively, it may duplicate Touch of Serenity and the ability may also Merciful Spell spontaneously spells. This may not be used to damage undead. The archetype can spontaneously convert spells to peacebond or calm emotions (no cheesing possible) and 4th level nets sanctuary with buffs added – only one may be maintained, but the ability fails to specify the activation action – I assume the default standard action for SUs, but one could make a case for less. The ability improves at 8th and 16th level and may be used offensively to prevent creatures from attacking. This replaces the second domain power of a domain. I like this one’s “balanced Book of Exalted Deeds”-vibe, in spite of my nitpicks.
The mantis Madonna is a magus who loses armor proficiency, but uses Wisdom as governing spellcasting attribute, treating spells as psychic spells. Huge kudos: Component substitution mentioned and covered! Spells are limited, but may be spontaneously cast and chosen from magus and psychic spell lists. The arcane pool is governed by Wisdom as well and applies to unarmed strikes – and yes, these folks get Improved Unarmed Strike and a monk’s progression for it as well as Stunning Fist, applying arcane pool benefits to these attacks and gaining a defense AC-granting buff to arcane pool-uses. Spellstrike applies to unarmed attacks and the archetype receives a modified magus arcana list, which include arcane eye/ lesser astral projection. I liked how the archetype handles the concept of combat precognition as an arcana, plus, we get defensive tricks like evasion and its improved brethren, further emphasizing the magus/monk-crossover idea. Instead of spell recall and its improved version, the archetype can expend arcane pool points to replenish spell slots, and the bonus feat array encompasses Style feats…and, actually gets the wording for feats that build on style feats right. Picture me celebrating hard in front of the screen! This is something almost everyone gets wrong! Kudos!! The archetype can also expend arcane pool points when preparing spells for a wildcard-ish psychic spell selection. At high levels, we also get Style/Stance-blending, which is something I always loved. While we lose the spell combat upgrades, we do get cool cosmic awareness-themed SPs as well as acting in a surprise round. I love this archetype. It’s a great representation of a hybrid-y archetype that feels distinct.
The miko shaman adds Appraise to the skill list and all their spells employ ofudas as an inexpensive material component, replacing divine focus. Here’s the cool thing: They can’t be dispelled. Instead, the ofuda must be taken off the target and targets don’t see ofudas attached to themselves. Now, this spellcasting tweak is really, really cool and includes grappling and stealing ofudas, as well as hp-levels. The archetype also gets ½ class level to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate as well as Sense Motive when interacting with fey and kami, and the ability to talk to dormant and nascent kami translates to speak with animals, plants or object reading, with 10th level unlocking stone tell, though these are limited by a hex-caveat – appropriate, since the ability replaces 2nd level’s hex. 8th level nets a shikigami kami as a spirit animal and may morph into animal form at beast shape III. The archetype also expands the summon nature’s ally-list with kamis. This replaces 8th level’s hex. 12th level is per se amazing: A potent option to bless a group to either grant bonuses or net cool benefits in conjunction with the downtime system – but, alas, the ability does not specify how long it takes to perform.
The Numerologist wizard must be lawful and adds Disable Device as a class skill. Scribing a spell requires twice the time, but they only take up half the space and other wizards have a hard time deciphering spells from their cipher. They also forfeit one spell per day of the highest spell level, with later levels losing similarly spell slots. Scribe Scrolls are harder to decipher for other casters and to make up for some of the drawbacks, these guys gain factors, which may be used ½ class levels, minimum 1, + Int-mod times per day as a move action These factors can provide a variety of numerical bonuses or reduce concealment, for example Minor nitpick: The factor unlocking is a move action, and thereafter, the numerologist can store multiple ones, up to Int-mod factors. This could have been phrased slightly more elegantly, but oh well. This replaces arcane bond. The archetype may break down higher level spell slots into lower level spell slots and gets some non-magic divination-effects at 4th level. They can prepare hexagrams as Silent Spell substitutions of verbal components (but you need somatic ones to brandish the hexagram) – this replaced 5th level’s bonus feat. At 10th level, the hexagram becomes more potent, adding +1 CL and Enlarge/Sculpt Spells brandished thus. The archetype receives symbolic magic, which nets glyph spells added as wella s the option to really competently deal with such trap-magics. Higher levels yield a bonus to saves vs. compulsion and insanity/confusion-immunity. 12th level lets the character 1/day replace a roll of his (or another being) with the average. Random rolls by items like the rod of wonder may be rolled multiple times for factor uses and fortune/misfortune hexes can also be sued. Damn cool archetype.
The origamist arcanist replaces the 1st level exploit with a construct origami familiar and may substitute origamis for material components that cost less than 1 gp. 5th level locks the character in a variant of the consume magic items exploit that only applies to magic items made of paper. Scrolls on the sorc/wiz list may be folded into origamis and cast sans writing them into the spellbook. He may also fold scrolls into costly material components. 9th level’s exploit is replaced with an origami-based shadow conjuration variant and unfortunate origami and paper vessel are added to spells known (these are reproduced for your convenience) at 10th and 12th level, respectively. 13th level provides a really cool, alternate 2D-paper-form that includes benefits for turning sideways, including furling into an impossibly thin line. Really cool replacement for that level’s exploit.
Ehem. MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! Dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun-dun. insert amazing beat The next archetype is Raiden. A shaman archetype and the guy you see on the cover. Proficiency-wise, we get long- and shortbows, whips and simple weapons and light armor. Wind is the prescribed spirit choice and may infuse shocking touch in arrows. We get lightning/storm-themed spirit magic spontaneous casting options and the ability to use shocking touch to fire a low-range electricity ray. This replaces wandering spirit. Instead of wandering he, we get the ability to make a super fast lightning ladder, which is REALLY useful. More so than you’d think. Instead of greater wandering spirit,w e get thundering or shock added to weaponry, as well as free thundering added on crits made with shocking touch. Really cool: Combo resistance-grant/line of damage instead of wandering hex (greater). Mechanically not the most interesting archetype herein, but I love MK, and I love playing Raiden…so yeah. Ehem.
The skyflower savant alchemist gets snapdragon fireworks as a first level extract and proceeds to get limited access to [fire]-descriptor (erroneously called fire subtype) evocation spells from the sorc/wiz list, with a limited set of discoveries as an alternate choice. These choices are made at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. The bombs of the alchemist dazzle targets on failed saves and may even blind the unlucky (nat 1 on save or confirmed crit), replacing Brew Potion. Poison resistance and immunity are traded in for a scaling bonus to saves versus fire effects and the blinded, dazzled and deafened conditions, as well as scaling fire resistance. Swift alchemy is traded in for quicker firework and black powder creation. Finally, there would be the Wushen wizard, who gets +1 toC L when preparing at least 3 spells of the same element. The class needs to adhere to a taboo, +1 at 3rd level and every three levels thereafter, with violations penalizing CL and spell save DC. They begin play with a ki pool of 1 point and add Int-mod points at 5th level, +1 for every 5 levels after 5th. These can be used for minor bonuses as well as to increase CL by 1d4, for 2 points, starting at 10th level. This replaces bonus feats. Instead of arcane bond, they can craft a fetish at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. These act as a spellbook substitute, allowing for preparation sans the spellbook, as if with both Spell Mastery and Eschew Materials. The fetish spell can also add a +1 spell level adjustment metamagic feat, which is free for the spell as long as the fetish is worn. The wushen does not need to know the feat, fyi. Cool take on the concept!
Editing and formatting are excellent on both a formal and rules-language level – considering the density and high complexity of the rules-operations herein, the precision is marvelous indeed. Layout adheres to Legendary Games’ nice 2 –column full-color standard and the pdf sports nice full-color artworks, though fans of LG will know most. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Jason Nelson and David N. Ross deliver an all-killer pdf of archetypes. These options ooze flavor galore, cover unique and fun concepts…and they can stand up to even the high levels of coolness that e.g. Interjection Games’ Onmyoji reached, providing meaningful and unique changes to the game. I am particularly enamored with the superbly-elegant ofuda-casting herein: Easy to implement, making it the dominant (or only) casting tradition can have phenomenal and interesting repercussions for the world. I am definitely experimenting with this in the days to come! The book, in short, is a winner. Well worth checking out, full of cool ideas, I was left with minor nitpicks here and there, but not enough to steal the crown of 5 stars + seal of approval from this excellent book.
[5 of 5 Stars!]