By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Necromancers of the Northwest is 27 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 22 pages for the new Spirit Warrior base-class, so what’s this warrior all about?
Basically, Spirit Warriors can channel semi-ascended, legendary heroes and utilize their power, somewhat similar to a martial take on the binder-class. The class gets d10, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with martial weapons, light armor and associated armors of exemplars, full BAB and good fort saves. Spirit Warriors can choose 3 exemplars, but some exemplars are opposed to one another, making it impossible to channel both, thus limiting the possibilities to choose from. When manifesting his exemplar (a rather unsubtle halo of power, complete with ghostly armor and weapons), the Spirit Warrior gains an armor bonuses, weapon enhancements, weapon qualities, access to infusions (the abilities of the respective exemplars) as well as a significant boost to attributes. However, channeling these paragons is taxing, requiring a steep will-save each round (which is not too easy regarding the bad will-save of the class!) to prevent the premature end of the channelization. Furthermore, this exhausts/fatigues the Spirit Warrior and until he has recovered, no further attempts to manifest exemplars can be made. Infusions have 6 levels that become available over the levels of the class. The capstone ability depends on the exemplar and is, for every exemplar, iconic enough for me to like it.
The pdf offers 6 sample exemplars: Gilgamesh, master of whirling, flaming blades, he can manifest additional deadly arms. The dark legend of Arthurian myths, Mordred, is another exemplar available and can cleave devastating, infernal wounds and summon diabolic minions. Legendary hunter Orion is the ranged fighter of the lot, offering some nice devastating special tricks with his arrows. Solomon, wise and kind opposite of Mordred, can summon angels and has divine and light-related abilities. Sun Wukong, the legendary monkey king of Asian myth offers mobility and fast attacks to his Spirit Warriors, while Suanoo offers a plethora of storm-related and water-based abilities, offering a calculated and intelligent counterpart to Gilgamesh’s wild mood swings and fiery rages.
The pdf concludes with a section on Spirit Warriors in the world and advice for both players and DMs to use the new class.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The pdf comes as both a printer-friendly and a screen version. Layout adheres to NNW-standard with its two columns and used-parchment look. This review is hard for me. Really hard. One the one hand I love the ancient, mystic, creepy feel of the class – its crunch and fluff are formidable. On the other hand, though, I have some problems with this book as well, namely its limiting factor: In order to balance the significant benefits, the will-save mechanic is used and much of the enjoyment of playing a Spirit Warrior hinges upon succeeding at these saves, potentially meaning the difference between being a powerful and valuable addition to the party and being a rather subpar fighter substitute. The Spirit Warrior is powerful, but only in short bursts – while this is a conscious design decision, it also somewhat dictates how the class has to used by the player and limits the appeal of the class a bit. I would have loved for some exemplars to rather wait and see, offering easier saves, while the saves of others quickly escalate in blazes of power. While I get the reasoning behind this general approach to the mechanic, a more complex mechanic with scaling circumstance modifiers and at least some rounds of guaranteed power would have been nice. Furthermore, this pdf is simply too short to make the class wholly appealing: Offering a scant group of 6 exemplars is not much and while their write-ups are nice, their abilities great, the lack of options to choose from means that the novelty of the class can quickly wear off. If there were, I don’t know, 12 to 20 exemplars, this class would rock so incredibly hard I’d start drooling. Unfortunately, not even guidelines to develop new exemplars are given to the DM, something sorely needed with regards to such a limited selection. The tie-ins to earth-mythology could be problematic as well, as the DM as to somehow fit the exemplars into her campaign, but quite frankly, I think any DM should be up to this particular task. If only there was more material for the spirit warrior out there, I’d immediately rate this among my most favorite class-books. As written, though, it’s briefness makes it fall short of its excellent potential. If you as a DM are willing to invest time in figuring out how to implement them and want to expand upon the idea, this pdf will be somewhere between 4.5 and 5 stars. For the general public, though, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded down to 3 – a good book with some unfortunate limitations that could have easily been a stellar book.
A Necromancer’s Grimoire – Spirit Warriors is available from: