By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Necromancers of the Northwest is 32 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page advertisement, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 27 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
This is the second supplement to feature the Spirit Warrior class, a martial artist who channels legendary beings and their battle prowess. To balance the immense powers of the class, the spirit warriors have to make will-saves to continue channelling their exemplars. In the original pdf, there were opposed exemplars and the new exemplars herein offer more options for the Spirit Warrior to channel, as the exemplars herein have no directly opposed exemplars, but other restrictions. For a discussion of the base-class, which is reprinted herein, I’ll point you towards my review of the first Spirit Warrior pdf.
So, what kind of exemplars do we get? The first of the new array is Ertanis Stargem, the first elf and progenitor of all the elven races. Being the progenitor of all the elves, only elven Spirit Warriors may channel Ertanis and receive a lot of dexterous abilities as well as collective abilities of drow, wood elves etc. The ultimate ability lets you summon a bunch of elfish einherjar (more on them later). What I don’t get, though, is that ability scores for them are given, but not full statblocks. Stating level 10 immortal warriors is no fun and I want it done for me when I buy a pdf like this.
Ertanis’ sworn enemy, the legendary Orcish chieftain Gortag, only available to those of orcish blood, is cantered on causing fear via his authority and on fighting with his double-axes and gaining attacks as well as regenerating frenzied assault capabilities, making it possible for the orc to continue fighting when others would have already perished.
Torgrin Stonefist, if the name wasn’t cue enough, is the mythic exemplar the dwarven people get, reeves a burrow speed as well as the dwarvish steadfastness as well as the powers to withstand a lot of damage and magic.
Fourth of the new exemplars, Primothas, father of titans, enables spirit warriors to grow and access his sundering powers as well as to smash all foes within 10 feet. Of course, the powers also include the option to ignore DRs via the most powerful infusion.
As a nod to the “Märchen der Daemonwulf”-supplements (still can’t write that without feeling a cringe in my German heart…), the first of the Lycaonites (i.e. werewolves) is next and, surprisingly, is called…Lycaon. Spirit Warriors channelling him gain access to wolfish speed, increased stalking capabilities and even faster attacks as well as improved tripping powers.
When werewolves are covered, vampires are a natural next – Moran Heartseeker, first child of the goddess Nocturne. This is the first exemplar who actually makes for an interesting mechanic, as his powers contain a blood pool as per NNW’s free Liber Vampyr. If you use material from that source as well, you can go for some rather interesting synergy effects. Apart from that, we get abilities to inflict negative energy powers, enter blood frenzies and use quasi-vampiric powers.
After that, we get a discussion on how spirit warriors will work in your game, lore tables etc. as well as the einherjar-template, which adds +3 to CR and makes you an eternal warrior as per the Scandinavian mythology – einherjars rejuvenate. An ok template, although the usage with elves doesn’t tickle my fancy – the two don’t mix in my book.
Editing and formatting are good – while I did notice some minor glitches, they did not impede my enjoyment of the book. Layout adheres to NNW’S 2-column used-parchment-style and artworks are stock CGI and nothing to write home about. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and with a printer-friendly version. On the mechanical side, the new exemplars are complex and feel balanced and I’m glad the concept of opposed exemplars was abolished. In fact, I’m rather glad that the spirit warrior, one of the classes with the most potential by NNW gets more content. However, I’m unfortunately not sold on the new content: There’s a thin line between iconicity and cliché and, at least for me, the exemplars herein fell on the latter side. Where are the flaming scimitars, the truly unique abilities? None of the powers herein evoked the same feeling of awe that accompanied the original exemplars. Additionally, I’m still sorely missing advice on how to create and balance my own exemplars. And the basic problem of the spirit warrior’s abilities being unreliable and working only in short boosts, which is by design, I get that, hasn’t been addressed.
The class may still propagate the 5-minute adventuring day scenario due to its abilities being dependant on single will-saves and having a bad will save. As written, the class sorely needed feats to e.g. burn attributes to continue working in battle or similar mechanics which simply have not been implemented. Instead, we get more of the same, only that the new content feels less unique than in its predecessor – in fact, making the exemplars mythic progenitors of WHOLE RACES makes implementing them as written harder in most games. Stepping a bit down and just calling them legendary heroes would probably have been a smart move and, while not hard to rectify, remains a minor bummer, as flavour is simply lost. On the one hand, I really like this file for adding options to the Spirit Warrior and increasing its usability. On the other, I feel like it has fallen flat of what it could have easily been. If you already own the first of the pdfs, this might be a 4-star file for you and definitely enhances book I to 4 stars. If you don’t, though, it might actually disappoint you, as, apart from the vampire-synergy, the rules and benefits are bland when compared to vol I: For you, this one might be as low as 2 stars. Personally, I still like the idea, but the problems of the class remain in spite of the added versatility. Thus, my final verdict will try to reflect that and clock in at 3 stars.
A Necromancer’s Grimoire: Spirit Warriors II is available from: