Hello everybody, it's Endzeitgeist again and this time, I'm going to take a look at two very cheap almost classic files for PFRPG. The first one is Adventuring Classes: A Fistful of Denarii
This pdf consists of 52 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover. This leaves 47 pages of material.
The pdf kicks off with one page of Introduction and a how-to of using the rules.
The pdf introduces 11 new non-spellcasting base classes for PFRPG. The classes are presented with their respective tables on a separate page, bear that in mind with regards to the page numbers.
Without further ado, here are the classes:
-Beastmaster (d12, 4+INT-mod skills, good-BAB, good fort and ref saves): A light-armored barbarian-like class without rage but with animal companions and DR. Basically lets you play the savage warrior that e.g. was raised by animals. (4 pages)
-Bounty Hunter (d10, 6+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort and ref saves): Basically a ranger/rogueish tracker of convicts, can capture people alive, has sneak attack etc. However, one of the signature abilities, Dangerous Game, is the 10th level ability. I would have liked to see that ability earlier. (3 pages)
-Corbie (d10, 4+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort save): Professional, grim soldiers, survivor-mercenaries, they are get some dirty tricks (rogue fighting tricks) and some luck-based survivor-abilities. I love this class – it made me want to play it or design NPCs with the base class. (3 pages)
-Corsair (d10, 4+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort save): a rather unusual take on the pirate base-class, this one does not go the swashbuckling route, but rather for the brute force approach. I wouldn’t play one, but I’d use the class to design NPCs. (3 pages)
-Gladiator (d12, 2+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort save): This class is a rather mobile fighter with gladiatorial fighting styles à la ranger as well as some “Shrug-it-off” abilities. The class also features some information on Gladiator types and matches. Nice bonus information. I wouldn’t play it, though: 2 skills per level are not enough. (4 pages)
-Hunter (d10, 4+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort and ref saves): Basically the Sniperclass of the bunch – Ranger-abilities à la favored enemy, sneak attack, tracking, terrain, etc. Basically what all the elven snipers always do in literature. I like the class and I’d use it for NPCs.
-Knight (d10, 4+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort save): Actually a nice take on the mounted warrior, gaining some nice psychological powers and having a big selection of tricks, among others a DR against dishonorable attacks. Cool class if you want to drive the concept of the knight home. I can see myself using this class.
-Martial Artist (d10, 2+INT-mod skills, good BAB, good fort and ref saves): The Martial Artist is a mobile, but fragile heavy hitter with some monk-like ki-abilities and a ki-pool. While it’s an ok class, it didn’t excite me.
-Scholar (d8, 6+INT-mod skills, medium BAB, good ref and will saves): Easily the most versatile class in the bunch, I doubt that you’ll see two scholars that are exactly alike soon after you’ve implemented them into your campaign. You can basically pick bits and pieces of other classes like sneak attack, minor magic, proficiencies etc. and stitch them together. I really like this jack-of-all-trades class. Don’t expect a hyper-intelligent book-worm-skill-monkey, though. (5 pages)
-Scout (d8, 8+INT-mod skills, medium BAB, good ref save): The one scout behind enemy-lines character class, this one is different from the hunter in its more hit-and-run/scout approach and made me think of Rambo – probably because of the overpowered targeted strike-ability that gives you +1d6 bonus damage per 2 levels of the class whenever the scout uses the attack action. (4 pages)
-Spy (d8, 8+INT-mod skills, medium BAB, good ref and will saves): Another very versatile class, this is what you’d expect of a spy in a fantasy setting – rogue talents, nondetection, several tricks of the trade to choose from. Nice class to play. I’d also use it to design NPCs in an intrigue-heavy campaign. (4 pages)
After that, we get 34 new feats (4 pages), most of which are nothing to write home about. One kind, though, really got my attention: Minor/Major medical miracle lets you save a comrade that has just been dropped to below -10 HP with the heal-skill, which is awesome for people like me who disallow raise/resurrection spells in their home game without an epic quest to resurrect the fallen character.
Finally, we get 2 pages containing 3 new armors and 6 new weapons as well as a table of starting wealth by class. The warbow seems to be overpowered and too strong for my tastes, dealing a whopping 2d6 damage and using composite bow-rules.
The editing is ok, I didn’t notice glaring typos or the like, formatting could be more efficient, though – while one page for the character’s table makes it easy to read, it also means a lot of blank space, which is not perfectly economical and leads to a lot of blank space. We also have a lot of white space on the first and final page. The b/w artwork ranges from ok to fair and quite, frankly, I didn’t expect one picture per class for the price.
You get A LOT of new material for the price of not even a bus fare. Unfortunately, not all of the classes are equally appealing – some of them just scream “cool concept, I’d go for that” like the Corbie, while others like e.g. Gladiator and Corsair left me rather unimpressed. If you are a DM and are just plain sick of building standard fighters, this file is perfect for you. If you want more versatility for your non-casting NPCs, this is a great resource for a bang-to-buck-ratio that is almost impossible to beat. If you are a player and contemplate a “different” fighter, go check it out. However, there were some rules that seemed a bit powerful and most of the feats didn’t grip me at all. The weapons seemed to be a bit more powerful than what I like to see in my campaigns.
My final verdict is 4 Rudii. I’m looking forward to seeing the next book by Tripod Machine.
The second book I want to recommend to you fine folks is Sean K. Reynold Games' Darkness without Form: Secrets of the Mimic.
This pdf is 24 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC and editorial, half a page SRD, 1 page biographies and 1 page back cover. That leaves 19.5 pages of content – not a bad ratio for the price, so let’s dive in!
The pdf kicks off with an Introduction and History (4 pages) on the origin of the mimic. While I have to admit I didn’t expect more than “magic gone haywire”, this chapter already made a good impression by crafting a cool and elaborate backstory and even providing a goody for aboleths, the mimic-suit. The prose in this chapter is gripping and cool and made me want to read on immediately.
The next chapter deals with two kinds of mimic symbiotes (6 pages!), living battle garments with a will and an agenda not wholly of their own – I’d use both immediately and one of them was enough to prompt me to spawn several adventure ideas on the fly.
After that, we get a evolved form of the mimic, the CR 8 lair tyrant. (4 pages) The lait tyrant is a scheming creature that might be the perfect grey eminence and is so utterly cool in both concept and execution, that I considered the two sidebars delivering both awesome adventure (or even campaign) hooks as well as a minor upgrade to the tyrant to be just…well extraordinary.
The next mimic variation is not a schemer, but the CR5-mimicling swarm (2 pages) succeeds in one very rare endeavor – it creeped me out. I’m a jaded guy, but I really read such a vivid description.
Finally, we get a chapter on conventional mimics (3.5 pages), presenting 17 new abilities for mimics as well as 4 ideas to use mimics as traps.
The artwork ranges from fair to a cartoonish “meh”, but the full-color pdf per se, with its slime-splotched layout is a beauty to behold – Hugo Solis did an awesome job. Unfortunately, that means that there is no printer-friendly alternative. Editing and formatting is top-notch, the pdf is easy to read and I didn’t notice any typos or glitches.
I have to confess something: I have this file for about a year now, resting in my pile, waiting to be read. I wish I had done so earlier. I’m usually hard to sell on monster books, but the ecology of these critters, the sheer astounding wealth of cool ideas blew my mind. I always considered the mimic to be a lame one-trick-pony, but this file actually manages to make an iconic, interesting and potentially complex creature out of them. “Darkness without Form” manages to breathe the spark of creativity and even the notion of fear into one of the blandest creatures with its captivating prose. I’d usually detract a Rudi for the artwork and the lack of a printer-friendly version, but this file features something a reviewer doesn’t see too often – the spark of genius in a brilliant, captivating prose that is matched by cool mechanics and a well-spring of ideas. For $2.00! Not only do you get quality, but a LOT of it. Frankly, if all ecologies and critters were like this, I’d be reading monster books all day long.
What else can I say but: If you haven’t checked it out yet, buy this! I’m quite sure you won’t regret it, especially if you’re inclined towards the creepier aspects of fantasy or enjoy a scary critter.
My final verdict is 5 Rudii.
That's it for now from me, next time, I'm going to take a look at some books by Necromancers of the Northwest. As always, thank you for reading my ramblings, good gaming to you and yours,