This pdf is 4 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover (with a sketch by Wayne Reynolds!!!), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 2 1/3 of a page content, so let’s take a look!
The dragon has raided the village, the orc-horde has rampaged through the town, the necromancer-king is ravaging the country-side or the insane druid has conjured forth tornados and tidal waves – business as usual for adventurers: They set off, kill the bad guy and there – all well! Well, not in my game. I always considered it weird that there was no repercussion for the people – beyond a motive for closure/revenge – what help is it to a town if the PCs kill threat xyz, but they’ll still starve?
Enter this cavalier order, which is not about killing baddies, but about HELPING people. You know, doing something that’s actually GOOD. The merciful cousins get heal and knowledge (engineering) as bonus class skills and may use the latter untrained – and if the cavalier actually has ranks in the skill, s/he can substitute Craft (Masonry/Carpentry) and Profession (Engineer) for Knowledge (engineering). When issuing challenges, allies within 60 ft. get a +1 bonus to AC and allies with significantly less HD than you get a more substantial AC-bonus. Additionally, such cavaliers may expend one use of a healer’s kit as a standard action to restore one hit point to a dying creature, thus saving it. Treating deadly wounds is still possible after benefiting from this usage of the heal-skill. As beacons of hope, they may also reroll saves versus despair, fear and similar negative emotion-inducing effects with a neat +4 bonus.
So far, so good – but where the class starts rocking VERY hard is with the Architect of Improvement-ability: It allows the cavalier to devise an improvement plan for a given settlement by succeeding at a knowledge (engineering)-check that is determined by a settlements size. Properly implementing the improvement plan can be done with or without the cavalier and takes DC minus 10 months, but every day the cavalier helps counts as two for the purpose of when the plan is ready – its aftermath netting a new settlement quality. The settlements maximum number of qualities can thus even exceed its usual limit by 1. Additionally, settlements can thus modify one of their modifiers (like crime, lore, etc.) by 1 – upwards or downwards. Settlements may only implement one such plan per year, though.
But that’s not all you can do with the ability! Creating shelters etc. at half the time and improving strongholds at cost are also possible! And to provide something even cooler, we also get 5 new beneficial settlement qualities: Defensible, Good Roads, Planned Community, Therapeutic and Well-educated – awesome!
Editing and formatting are very good – while I noticed a missing blank space, no glitch impeded my understanding of the pdf. Layout adheres to SGG’s 3-column horizontal standard and the cover artwork is awesome. The pdf even comes with bookmarks, in spite of its short length – commendable indeed!
Well, usually, I would complain about the product’s length – but this is a charity product, as all benefits are donated to the Red Cross relief funds to help the victims of disasters. And it actually doesn’t feel like just some cheap charity product – it actually provides the coolest cavalier order I’ve seen so far – unique abilities, balanced crunch and an option to make a difference in the lives of the people of the campaign world as well as an option to actually do some good in real life? Hell yeah! Now don’t get me wrong, I’d recommend this pdf even if it wasn’t a charity product – but SGG’s quality combined with the good cause? A must-buy and an easy verdict of 5 stars plus seal of approval.
Charity Product: The Merciful Cousins Cavalier Order is available from: