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A Necromancer's Grimoire: Masters of the Gun $2.49
Publisher: Necromancers of the Northwest
by Thilo G. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 05/31/2012 06:36:53

This pdf is 26 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 21 pages of content, so let's check this out!

The pdf kicks off with a nice piece of high-noon prose between an bandit and one of the new PrCs herein, the Gun Mage. Unsurprisingly, to qualify for any of the PrCs herein, one needs a reservoir of grit via gunslinger levels or a feat and the Gun Mage is no different.

The 10-level Gun Mage- PrC provides d8, 4+Int skills, 1/2 BAB, ref and will-saves, 7 levels of spell progression and comes with 6 new deeds exclusive gun mage deeds. While e.g. dispelling bullets and arcane ricochets are nice and dealing energy damage in addition to the ammo's regular damage are to be expected, the class does some interesting thing mechanics-wise: You may substitute expending spellslots or prepared spells instead of grit to use some of these deeds. That being said, the class also provides one particular deed I'm not comfortable with: As long as a Gun Mage has at least one prepared spell/spell slot and 1 grit, he can expend spells to reload as a free action and, worse has UNLIMITED bullets. Seeing that reloading is a major balancing factor of firearms, this deed is problematic. And any kind of unlimited ammunition is something I don't want to have in my game. The class can also deliver touch attack spells via its bullets a limited amount of times per day, another ability I'm not wholly comfortable with, as it essentially makes close quarters touch attacks spells a viable option to hit far away foes. Extensive advice on playing a Gun Mage and the class's role in the world is also covered.

The second PrC is the Hair-trigger Renegade: This class gets d10, 4+Int skills, full BAB, medium ref-saves and no spell-progression. This class, unsurprisingly, focuses on fast attacks - 4 new deeds reflect that and include the ability to herd foes via attacks and even make a full attack at -2 to BAB with a firearm. The coolest of these deeds, is the "Six-shot": Incur a minus 4 penalty to attacks, but make 6 attacks with your modified BAB for a massive cost of 5 grit. If the rapid attacks have been not enough of an indicator - the HtR is focused on revolvers and gets nimble-bonuses, improved criticals with firearms with larger capacities. At 8th level, though, the class becomes ridiculous and adds 2 to the critical modifier of a gun. And yes, that means revolvers now have a modifier of x6. Read that again. x6. x4 is already bad enough, but x6? Really? Again, unfortunately, not gonna happen in my game. The class again comes with advice on playing the class and its role in the world.

The final PrC in the book is the diametric opposite of the HtR, the Sharp Shooter. This one gets d8, 6+Int skills per level, medium BAB and medium ref-save. The 6+Int skills are somewhat weird, though - the class only has 5 class-skills. This class is interesting in that it gets no deeds ( major downer), but instead can hide away and remain hidden while shooting foes, deliver touch attack-shots at greater ranges. Sharp shooters can also hit much better by aiming and even penetrate just about every DR with their shots - their capstone eliminates all but DR/- and DR/epic from the equation. The aiming, while very cool, also has one truly sickening component: Sniper's Aim adds 1 to the crit-range per round of aiming, up to half his class-level, which means a crit-range of x9 for 5 rounds of aiming and a 10nth level sharp shooter. On the one hand, I like that this makes snipers sufficiently deadly. On the other hand, the reliance on scoring a crit for the massive damage bonus is problematic - I would have preferred another kind of ability that adds less damage, but does so to all sniping attacks. And, again, a crit x9 is BROKEN in my book. As with the other 2 classes, this one comes with lore-section, role in the world etc.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I didn't notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to NNW's used-parchment look and is fully bookmarked. The pdf also comes with a printer-friendly version. This pdf essentially provides 3 PrCs for gunslinger-tropes known from literature and yes, the classes accomplish what they are supposed to do. However, the concepts are realized in problematic ways - essentially, each of the 3 PrCs has one major rules-wise problems in my opinion: From the sickening escalation of critical multipliers to providing unlimited ammunition, I'm generally not inclined to allow any of these classes for my players. Which is a pity: The Gun Mage e.g. has potential galore and the synergy of grit/spells is a neat idea indeed and the same could be said for the sniper. In the execution, though, both feel not only a tad bit off - each of the classes features at least one ability I'd consider completely, utterly and totally broken. Thus, in spite of the great potential and the low price, I'll have to settle on a final verdict of 1.5 stars, rounded down to 1.

Endzeitgeist out.

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A Necromancer's Grimoire: Masters of the Gun
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