By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Spes Magna Games is 29 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, leaving 15 pages of new content, so let’s dig in!
The pdf kicks off with an aptly-written introduction to why this pdf was created in the first place and subsequently goes on to provide the meat of this pdf, the new Masque base class:
The Masque gets d8, 6+Int skill-modifiers, good ref and will-saves, proficiency with simple weapons and light armor as well as "rogueish" equipment, medium BAB-progression and access to its own spell-list (spontaneous caster, limited spell-list up to lvl 4, Cha is key attribute). The main focus of the class, though, is the mastery of disguise and secret agent-like abilities that start with rather mundane bonuses to disguise-checks and goes on to the ability to emulate skills, feats and even abilities and spells of the classes they disguise as at the higher levels. This mechanic, known as "Play the Part" improves in 7 steps, making sure that the pool of abilities to emulate doesn’t become over- or under-powered for the respective levels. The Masque gets a selection of 18 talents and 8 advanced talents to choose from, somewhat similar to the rogue.
We also get one favored class option for each of the standard races – nice to see some APG-love.
After that, we are introduced to a new cleric subdomain and 7 new rogue talents. We also get new uses for Diplomacy (e.g. rumormongering – nice), Disguise and Linguistics (encoding) and Use Magic Device. This is where my first point of major criticism comes into play: A usage of Use Magic Device is introduced that lets you fake a race, an alignment, etc. for the purpose of spells and the like. The new usage has the potential to severely unhinge speciic encounters and I’m not going to use it any time in the future. Beware to read it carefully and then stat out an encounter with an evil cleric or Antipaladin/similar bad-ass prior to implementing it.
We also get 4 new feats related to cloak & dagger-style fighting:
- Duelist: +1 Dodge to AC, + 1 to attack when using chosen weapon
- Cloak Style: +1 dodge bonus to AC
- Improved Cloak Style: +1 shield bonus to AC
- Snap the Cloak: Deal non-lethal damage via cloak
- In defense of cloaks and clothes in general, a variant rule penalizing naked characters is introduced -nice idea.
After that, we get 12 new spells – the spells feature, where applicable, also their places on the APG-spell-lists. The spells are:
- Conjurer’s Toolbelt (bard 0, cleric/oracle 0, druid 0, inquisitor 0, sorcerer/wizard 0, summoner 0, witch 0 ): Conjure little objects.
- Dramatic Visage(bard 2, masque 2, sorcerer/wizard 2, summoner 2): makes you more stylish and thus more intimidating
- Felonious Friend(bard 2, masque 2, sorcerer/wizard 2, summoner 2 ) : Unseen Servant that can steal stuff. Very nice spell.
- Felonious Friend, Greater (bard 4, masque 4, sorcerer/wizard 4, summoner 4): As the lesser version, but can disable devices – GREAT idea.
- Lurk (alchemist 2, bard 2, inquisitor 2, masque 2, sorcerer/wizard 2): Makes it easier to hide.
- Message in a Bottle (bard 1, druid 1, sorcerer/wizard 1): Puts a verbal message in a bottle, to be opened later.
- Moonlit Way (sorcerer/wizard 2, witch 2): Produces a light-weight-carrying escape-route of light
- Path through Darkness (alchemist 2, masque 1, sorcerer/wizard 2 ): Replaces sight with blindsight.
- Phantom Blade (masque 1, sorcerer/wizard 1, witch 1): Quasi-real weapons
- Slip the Ranks (bard 2, inquisitor 2, masque 2, sorcerer/wizard 2): Teleport 10 ft instead of 5-ft. steps – seems to be quite strong for my tastes.
- Summarize(bard 0, cleric/oracle 0, druid 0, inquisitor 0, sorcerer/wizard 0, summoner 0, witch 0): Summarizes the contents of e.g. a book
- Trigger Trap (bard 2, cleric/oracle 2, masque 2, sorcerer/wizard 2): Self-explanatory, triggers traps
Finally, we get 12 new magic items and 1 new magic item quality:
- Adventurer’s Catalog: A book to store small items
- Boots of Water walking: Self-explanatory
- Clanwarden’s Stick: Halfling stick helps with acrobatics
- Lookout Strips: One-use alarm strips
- Mask of Faces: Alter Self via blood poored on the mask – great item.
- Mask of Faces, Greater: Also become physical match
- Mask of masks: Always another mask behind the first one
- Mask of the Reveler: Makes you euphoric/drunk. Nice idea.
- Motley Armor: Blur armor. Rather bland, could have been much cooler.
- Twinned Masks: Exchange faces. Great idea for intrigue-laden games.
- Unseen Shot weapon quality – makes launched projectile invisible after launch, making it harder to spot.
- Vaporous Buckler: Buckler that also lets you take gaseous form.
- Wrathful Blade: Lets you cast wrath as an inquisitor.
Layout is clear and concise, the pdf is extensively book-marked. Art is public domain, as far as I could tell. I found only one minor typo. The writing is concise and well-written, the footnotes provide additional insight into the design-process. None of the feats or additional material felt over- or under-powered apart from the usage of Use Magic Device. The heart of this book, the new class, will find a definite place in my campaigns and can make for an awesome addition for just about any campaign that features some major roleplaying and/or intrigue. That being said, the new spells are great and the APG-support rocks, too. However, I always had the feeling that something is missing from the pdf, perhaps magic items geared towards the class, some feats expanding upon its abilities or some magic items that enhance the Masque’s abilities. Due to this, I’ll refrain from giving this file the full 5-stars, instead settling for a final verdict of 4 stars.
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