An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of the player-centric/class redesign books clocks in at 38 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 2 pages of editorial, 1 page ToC, 2 pages of introduction, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content – as always for Legendary Games, these pages are packed with materials, so rest assured that there’s a LOT of content within!
Now, I’ve been pretty vocal about the copious issues that the gunslinger class has, so let’s start with the big selling point of this pdf – the Legendary Gunslinger base class. Now, in an interesting aside, the pdf already shows a level of care absent from many comparable files: The class table does come with a short note that allows groups that do not operate under the assumption of firearms targeting touch AC to make full use of it. It’s a small thing, but it’s the kind of “going the extra mile”-mentality I really appreciate.
Now, let’s take a look at the chassis: Legendary Gunslingers are proficient with simple and martial weapons as well as with all firearms and light armor, get d8 HD, and thank the 7 heavens, they actually get SKILLS. 6 + Int mod per level. And yes, these include Swashbuckling staples like Acrobatics, Bluff, Swim, Stealth, etc. The chassis of the class is also interesting in that it implements a change I have always been pretty vocal about: The gunslinger does NOT need full BAB; targeting touch AC for the most part makes math wonky at high levels for full BAB characters. Thus, the legendary gunslinger gets ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Fort- and Ref-saves.
The legendary gunslinger gets a blunderbuss, musket or pistol at first level and this weapon may only be sold for scrap; other creatures treat it as broken. We also get Gunsmithing, however, ammo etc. may be crafted for 1% of the base price. This means that legendary gunslingers no longer break the bank of really gritty low level groups. Also at first level, the legendary gunslinger gets to add Dex-mod to firearm damage, though this bonus damage caps at class level until 5th level. (this ability is called “gun training”, fyi.) Additionally, misfire values are reduced by 1 to a minimum of 0, and broken firearms only increase misfire values by 2, not by 4. Grit is still governed by Wisdom modifier (minimum 1). A really big plus here would be that the legendary gunslinger’s grit-recharge mechanics allow for the regaining of grit via successful saving throws. And before you ask: YES, this is utterly and remarkable cheesing-proof. No chance to abuse it whatsoever. Big kudos!
At 2nd level, we get +1/2 class level to Perception, and choose two Int or Cha-based skills and use Wisdom instead as governing attribute. With the skill-array, this makes gunslinger faces very much possible. Nice! Also at second level, we get a significant alteration as far as design paradigms are concerned: We get the first so-called gun mastery, with every 3 levels thereafter granting another one. Yes, this means what you think it means: The class, finally, actually has meaningful player-agenda and build-diversification built straight into its chassis. Some deeds have been transformed into gun mastery and now require a conscious decision to get – like Charging Shot, or Counter Shot. As an aside: The latter now actually is balanced by the alterations of the gunslinging chassis in a more meaningful and exciting manner. The placement of these masteries as far as minimum levels are concerned btw. makes sense. A particular joy, at least for me, would have been to see that improved and expanded targeting add to the targeting deed. And yes, you can get renown! The gun masteries presented are extensive, interesting and yielded no issues in my tests.
3rd level yields uncanny dodge, and 13th level improved uncanny dodge…while also providing the deed mechanic! So yes, legendary gunslingers still retain basic deed functionality; it’s still very hard to make a truly sucky character with the engine proposed, and the choices that are still automatically granted thus make sense. 7th, 11th, 15th and 19th level unlock new deeds in this linear progression. 4th level nets nimble (improving it by +1 every 4 levels thereafter) and combat grit: This nets you a temporary grit point whenever you roll initiative. This does have a cooldown and can’t be cheesed, while making sure that you always have at least something to do. 5th level lets you spend 1 grit as a swift action for +1 to atk and damage for 1 minute, with the bonus increasing by +1 at 10th level and every 5 levels thereafter. 6th level nets the skill unlock of a Dex or Wisdom based skill (including ones where the gunslinger may have substituted Wisdom for Cha or Int), and 6th level allows for a grit-based reroll of Dex-or Wis-based skill checks. This improves at 17th level. 7th level nets evasion, 16th improved evasion. True grit is the capstone. We also get two alternate favored class options for all races: +1/6 gun mastery or +1/5 combat grit.
The pdf includes no less than 15 different archetypes for this class, so let’s take a look at what we get, shall we? The alchemical hotshot loses deeds, but does get alchemy at minus 1 extract per level and is Int-based; the massive key feature here would be that the archetype learns metallurgy, which has two benefits per entry: One is the special type of bullet, and one allows for a firearm made from the material. Lead, for example, can temporarily lower SR, while copper bullets can prevent targets from attacking the alchemical hotshot. And yes, you get to go Golden Gun at higher levels; heck, you even get a platinum gun!! The archetype pays for this flexibility by losing some of the spontaneous tricks – it is Int-based, so requiring a bit more deliberate planning is perfectly in line with the concept here. Damn cool. The anthem gunner is basically a bard lite/legendary gunslinger hybrid that is Charisma-based and as such, has a lot of its class features tweaked accordingly. The black flag bandit is locked into pistols and represents a pistol + blade/siege weapon specialist. They can make siege weapons require smaller crews, which, in some campaigns, can be super cool.
The bullet wizard once more would be an Intelligence-based archetype, using the starting weapon as a bonded object and gaining a magus’ spellbook. The archetype makes delivering spells via bullets work (this is pretty hard) and may, at higher levels, expend spellslots to fire energy blasts from the weapon. This made me smile, for it does resemble to a degree the concept I implemented in my own etherslinger class, though obviously with a different base spellcasting engine. Nice job!! Don’t like firearms in your game? Take a look at the crossbow killer archetype. Big kudos: This fellow does come with a bit of advice regarding multi-archetyping it. The Demolition soldier is locked into a pistol and gets scaling bombs. Nice. The faded stranger is the faceless guy that folks may forget about after meeting them, the subtle infiltrator – I liked this one, though I did wish it had a silencer-style ability baked into its rules. The firearm striker is an unarmed/gun-fu-ish specialist that blends unarmed strikes and firearms. This is traditionally either really bad or really broken – this is neither, though it probably would have made for a viable class hack. The option to follow firearm shots with unarmed strikes, including movement, is interesting.
The living turret gets a culverin and may enter a special stance as a move action, improving defenses and counting as supported. Interesting: This does offer some tanking capabilities. Cool engine tweak! The muzzle roarer is one of the big archetypes: Born under a really bad sign, these guys may neither be good, nor lawful, and they must serve an evil patron deity or entity akin to demon lords, horsemen of the apocalypse or Great Old Ones. They have slightly less skill points per level, but do get an oracle curse, with additional spells codified as limited use SPs instead. With a Rovagug-y theme, they can shatter inanimate objects. They also may choose ninja tricks and rogue talents instead of gun masteries – and yes, grit is employed instead of ki, where applicable. Their firearms become particularly loud, making noticing them easier, and they may use grit to duplicate magical sonic based effects. Finally, the archetype gets a couple of nice, or rather, unpleasant evil deeds.
The pale slinger replaces nimble with an aura of misfortune, from which she may exempt allies, and hexes and hex/shot synergy are neat. I also enjoyed the unique benefit that prevents rerolls in the auras of higher level pale slingers. Rather cool one! Rumslingers only recover grit by drinking alcohol, replaces nimble with a synergy trick for Fort-bonuses to resist poison by imbibing alchemical fire. 2 unique deeds and a really evocative capstone complement this interesting engine tweak. Sky riders replace the resolve ability sequence and slinger’s quirk with a bird animal companion. The archetype also gets wild empathy and upgrades for monstrous mounts later. Solemn travelers may not be true neutral and instead get an alignment-themed cavalier mount, with later detect-SPs added. Judgments and an aura that penalizes fear-saves and negates fear immunity complement this one. Finally, there would be the technological shootist as the final archetype – you guessed it: This fellow would be the Tech Guide engine tweak for the Legendary Gunslinger. Nice one!
The feats within the book number 6 – Deed Specialization nets +2 DC for a deed’s save DC. Extra Gun Mastery nets, bingo, a gun mastery. For Demon-Haunted Drifter, you need an eidolon and may instantly call forth the eidolon or lesser evolution surge it via grit, which is cool. Kudos: Notes for use are provided for gamers with less system mastery. Guns Out of the Grave takes up almost a whole page and is a feat that is only available for the undead. The feat nets you rejuvenation while you have at least 1 grit, and the feat nets special abilities depending on the HD of the user of the feat. Obviously intended for NPCs, this makes for a truly fearsome feat for the undead, allowing the undead to call their weapons back. I’d obviously strongly advise against making this one available for PCs in all but the most potent (or apocalyptic) of campaigns. Whiskey-Soaked Drifter is once more a HUGE feat, one that makes the character basically an alcoholic, but allows for temporary grit gains via drinking alcohol. Minor nitpick: There is a reference to “grit” that should refer to “drunken grit” instead, making the second paragraph here slightly confusing. This feat is one I really like in theme, though the execution will not be for all groups. Since this reliably delimits grit, it requires some mature handling by player and GM alike. The Winter-Hearted Drifter feat is one that makes you an arctic specialist/one associated with entities of cold/etc., providing synergy with the Winter Shade of the Umbral Wood feat. While high-concept, these long-form feats do need a bit more careful consideration than the rest of the pdf.
There also is a page of nice firearm modifications – 8 to be precise. And yes, thank all 7 heavens, a silencer’s included. Gunslingers can now, you know, not insta-break any infiltration scenario. Huge kudos. The pdf also includes two magic items, the farsight duster that enhances range-increments and the lore bullet, which, while kept on the person of someone with deeds for 24 hours, nets the gun mastery inscribed within. There is a hard limit on how many of these you may carry. The pdf ends with a cool NPC, Theresa Diaz. She and her lover were enslaved by Nigredo, a neurokineticist and brother of Theresa’s lover, who had a …weird way of showing affection. Theresa now is looking for Hannah, lost somewhere out there. Nice way of tying stories together. And yes, we get a proper boon for this CR 7 lady.
Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-language level; on a formal level, the pdf is similarly precise, though I did notice a couple of installments of bolding missing. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard of the series, with artworks being a blend of old and new full-color pieces. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
N. Jolly, Jason Nelson, Clinton J. Boomer, Robert Brookes and Alex Augunas know what they’re doing. Siobhan Bjorknas, Blake Morton, Hal Kennette and Jason Nelson in development did definitely polish this to a shine.
So…ähem…you know, the longform feats…I’d have preferred them in a Legendary Villains installment. Öhm. Yeah. Those firearm mods? More would have been cool. Öhm. Yeah.
Who am I kidding?? This is the masterclass gunslinger that I always wanted. Meaningful differentiation, sensible design decisions that are grounded on a deep understanding of rules and obvious playtesting, high-concept options and an all around better playing experience? HECK YES. This is what the gunslinger always was supposed to be. It’s a rewarding, evocative, fun class that does pretty much everything resoundingly right, with the minor manabar-y combat grit making for a bold and cool engine-change. Add to that the skills, the expert ways to prevent abuse, and we have a masterpiece of a class redesign. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars + seal of approval. Oh, and since I only got around to reviewing this right now, this is definitely a candidate for this year’s top ten. A must-own offering for any group including gunslinging – get it and never look back.
[5 of 5 Stars!]