By Thilo Graf
This pdf is 4 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving 2 pages of content, so let’s check this out!
Part of Abandoned Art’s freshman offering, this pdf offers us 32 new rogue talents, 7 of which are advanced rogue talents, so what do we get? Want your rogue to be a student of the arcane? If you study under an ally with as many HD as you for 1 hour per day, you get Knowledge (Arcana) and Spellcraft as class-skills. Ok feat, but the continuous studying feels like too much of a restriction for the benefits.
With another talent, you may appraise magic items as if under the effects of detect magic and using spellcraft – sounds bland at first, but think about it – tomb raiding rogues finally make sense! You may also delay your sneak attack damage for one round, for Iaijutsu-style takedowns, make your caltrop attacks more deadly or penalize opponent’s initiative via dramatic entrances.
Unfortunately, not all talents are this good: Ear to the Streets in particular jarred the hell out of me: It enables a rogue to find out who used diplomacy to gather information and what topic they were after – in 2d10 minutes. Worse, by making a DC 20 check in small settlements and DC 30 in larger ones, you can also get descriptions of the seeking party and the information they pursued.- On the one hand, this does not feel too strong now, does it? Think about it – every information broker ever would practically need this talent due to the time saved by its usage. Then go further: While disguises etc. can conceal a prospective to be tracked, a paltry two DCs feel overly general. Essentially, this should be a new skill use, as pioneered by RiP’s “101 New Skill Uses” with scaling DCs for all settlement sizes, sample Dcs, circumstance modifiers etc, not an overly generalizing talent. Oh, and it should require a certain time spent in a settlement to get acquainted to the street. “Feigning Death” is another talent that’s just lame – a talent that is scarcely used and can be beaten by a DC heal-check, life-sense, magic etc.? You could also burn that slot… Urban Network falls much into the same vein, in that it enables you to gather regular information faster – again, though, not a candidate for a talent for me, but rather a candidate for a subset of rules/rp-opportunities. To the latter talent’s credit, though, it does require a rogue to stay for at least a week before his/her/its network is established.
Light sleeper on the other hand, is rather cool in that it lets you keep your perception checks unpenalized while resting/sleeping. River rat is also neat in that it grants you the ability to ignore a light armour’s armour check penalty to swim checks. Simple, solid, elegant, nice – that’s what makes me enjoy short pdfs.
The 7 advanced rogue talents feature one that had potential galore, but is missing the point terribly hard: Caltrop master. Seriously. Caltrops are cool. And iconic. This is an advanced talent that requires a regular talents as a prerequisite. And it enables you to throw a bag, dealing 1 (!!!! – OMG, 1 full point of damage???) on a direct hit and again, the incredible amount of 1 whole point of piercing splash damage while cluttering a field you designate with caltrops. If the absurdly high damage output was not enough, there also seem to be no consequences for missing foes – does the bag fail to open when thrown that way? All kidding aside, this talent has a cool idea that is ruined by unclear mechanics and a ridiculously low damage output. We need options to make caltrops viable at higher levels, not pseudo-talents that at best tickle the DR-studded monstrosities hungering for advanced PCs…
Danger Sense, a kind of 1-use per day spider-sense mimics the foresight spell for one round as a “no-action” cast, enabling you to essentially negate one nasty surprise attack per day – again, neat idea. Daring Acrobatics lets you dodge those giant clubs and duplicate feats of dexterity (not the PFRPG-feats) often seen in movies – again, nice, though I think this should rather be a regular rogue talent. Sneak Attack Assault, on the other hand, is one of these rules-options that leaves me distinctly uncomfortable – when hidden, you may apply sneak attack damage to ALL of your attacks against applicable opponents in sneak range. This rather powerful one is balanced by the fact that you can’t use stealth and sniping and are revealed by the use of this talent.
Editing and formatting are very good, though here3 and there a “Normal”-section would have helped and e.g. Sneak Attack Assault should probably mention that the concealment limitations of sneak attack still apply, but that’s me being nit-picky about comfort. The pdf adheres to a used parchment-look, a two-column standard, has no bookmarks but needs none at this length and features no artworks. One of the array of freshman-offerings by abandoned arts, this pdf provides a selection of rogue talents for an astonishingly cheap price – and indeed, there are winners herein, examples of excellent design. However, there also are talents here that are ridiculously underpowered and specific and some that feel shoehorned into the mould of being a talent when they should follow another format. The pdf is rather cheap and provides some nice ones, but generally, this installment of Abandoned Art’s Class Acts feels less balanced than the other ones I’ve reviewed so far. Since I have some major gripes with the pdf, my final verdict will be 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2.
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