Legendary Classes: The Rook
By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Purple Duck Games is 20 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3.5 pages of SRD, leaving 14.5 pages of content for the new Rook-class, so let’s check it out, shall we?
The Rook is a new 20-level base-class that focuses on combat control and honestly, I wasn’t too keen on reading through it. But more on that later. For now, let’s examine the class:
The Rook gets d8, 6+Int skills per level., spontaneous spellcasting of up to 6th level, 3/4 BAB, good ref and will saves and proficiency in simple weapons and light armour, but not shields. The rook gets eschew materials as a bonus feat at first levels, by the way. Like rogues or similar classes from e.g. SGG, the rook gets special talents at 2nd level and every 3rd level after that. The talents range from the ability to find magical traps and being able to disable them like a rogue to replacing bluff or intimidate with diplomacy, move camouflaged at full speed sans penalty, quicker disguises etc. We get 10 Rook talents. To complement them at higher levels, 7 additional advanced talents available starting 11th level are included in the package as well, the coolest being the skill to sow rumors and even one that lets you exchange your save with the one of one of your allies. So far, so unremarkable.
The true heart of the rook is choosing a schism at 1st level, which can be seen as a kind of specialization not unlike an oracle mystery or a bloodline: Class skills are added, bonus spells become available and each schism comes with a specific minor boon and several special schism powers that are unlocked as the character progresses in the class. It should also be noted that each schism features 3 talents exclusive to that schism in addition to the general rook talents. The first schism is the Demagogue, a perfect orator that can demoralize foes, negotiate in combat and at 20th level, make his decrees become reality by force of personality alone. The Glamerspex schism introduces two new and useful minor conditions that are related to confusion: Befuddled and beguiled, both of which relate to its parent condition somewhat similar as fatigued, exhausted and unconscious relate to another. Neat piece of crunch there. The most iconic ability of the Glamerspex is unlocked at 9th level, where the Glamerspex can create a mirror duplicate and execute actions from his/her position as well as from the one of the double. When compared to that, the Necrotist (who can make movement painful) is rather bland, as it’s a typical “Ascend to undeath”-class, but that may just be me. The Schade on the other hand, is a prime example of a very cool design: The Schade can summon one (later more) silhouettes that can be commanded as free actions. He can spy through them and use all his senses. When further than 100ft. away, they have only 1 HP, which prevents them from being overpowering in their reconnaissance potential. At higher levels, he can even swap places with silhouettes and finally, even his soul.
After introducing us to these schisms, we get the whole spell-selection of the rook as well as advice on integrating new spells into their spell-list. the pdf does not end there, though: Next up is a lvl 1 sample tengu rook character and races and their take on the rook-class, covering not only the basics, but also dark folk, half-medusas and similar far-out races. We also get 2 new feats, one to let you choose a schism power from another schism and one that nets you limited access to divine spells. The two new magic items we also get serve nicely to supplement the signature abilities of the schade and the necrotist. The pdf closes by providing 10 new spells which all work nice for the class.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not perfect: I stumbled across some I/o-typos and similar distracting glitches. Layout adheres to the purple/b/w-two-column standard and the one piece of full-colour artwork is nice. The pdf comes with extensive bookmarks. It should be noted that the pdf is mb-wise small enough to be carried on a e-reader.
I have to come clear on this one: I fully expected to hate the Rook. I’m not a big fan of controller-classes, mainly because they often rely on counting squares etc. and I’m not usually using battlemats. Thankfully, the rook does not feature this annoying square-counting and offers some nice innovations: The two new conditions and the Glamerspex and Schade especially caught my fancy with their smart signature abilities. I was really excited about these two and started scheming immediately. Unfortunately, the exciting diminished somewhat when I realized that each Schism is very specialized and in spite of the selection of talents, feels a bit one-trick-ponyish to me.
More versatility within the schisms would have made the experience of playing a rook more exciting in my opinion, as taking a feat to wilder in the other schism’s powers only goes so far. Some way of choosing powers within the schisms, perhaps similar to the oracle’s revelations, would have made the class far more enticing. That being said, I do like the deign and will use the class for my NPCs and while I think that players can make memorable characters with this class, 2-3 additional pages to grant them more versatility would have made the class possibly even a 5-star-file. As written, due to this lack of versatility within the schisms and the editing glitches, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3.
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