By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 18 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial and SRD, leaving 16 1/3 pages of content for the divine archetypes, so let’s check them out!
The first 6 pages are devoted to the concept of archetypes and how the SGG-archetypes interact with the ones from the advanced player’s guide, namely the difference in focus: While SGG archetypes are broad in focus and usually can be taken by many classes, the advanced player’s guide archetypes are narrower and more specialized. The list of archetype packages is also expanded upon to include the new base-classes from the advanced player’s guide. The circumstances under which it might be possible to combine the two in one character are also explained, which is immensely useful in keeping the system uniform. Indeed, I’ve come to look at both takes as 2 branches of the same system that can complement each other quite well. As with the arcane archetypes, there are some which can only be used by casters and some which can only be used by non-casters.
That being said, we are introduced to the archetypes, beginning with the chantry, an rather complex and detailed archetype that represents a kind of divine bard who gets special chantric performances and the ability to counterpray divine magic and convert heathens by virtue of their angelic (or demonic) performances. I LOVE this archetype: Complex, balanced and a representation of a character trope that up until now had been neglected – excellent job! The next take on an archetype is one that has enjoyed better coverage over the years: The exorcist. Unfortunately, I do have some gripe with this one: While the basic mechanic of adding knowledge to increase the exorcism-DC is ok and general enough to allow for wide customizability, the effects are problematic: One ability that can force incorporeal creatures to their corporeal state, shapechangers into their natural form and heap penalties on other creatures makes for a versatile ability that may prove unbalancing in some campaigns that depend on the subterfuge of such creatures. While the DM could fudge the roll, I usually discourage such a behaviour and subsequently am not too enamoured by this archetype. Perhaps that’s just me, but to me an exorcist is a quintessential example for a PrC, not an archetype.
Heretics on the other hand make for quite interesting and cool characters, as the archetype offers the heretic a certain degree of obscurity as well as limited access to witch’s hexes. Simple, elegant, cool – I approve! The same holds true for the spontaneous-casting Gnostic, who can select a domain and add its domain spells to his list, even if they are not usually accessible to his deity. He may also gain an epiphany once per day, casting a spell he usually does not know. The best of archetypes make you immediately come up with both character concepts and or adventure hooks and this is one of them – excellent job, once again.
Next up on the list is the martyr, who can draw strength and supernatural effect for her allies from her own suffering by granting them one or more of her 9 benedictions. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to realize both the roleplaying potential and the possibility for abuse of such powers, but the wording is concise and tightly-written to prevent the latter and enhance the former. Even better, a side-box elaborates on the concept of evil martyrs and delivers some nice ideas for them.
The Wise is another cup of coffee that, while not that cool, fills a definite niche in a given community by providing the rules-background for the wise man/woman who has picked up a selection of quasi-magical cures sans being able to conjure up the wrath of deities like other divine caster can. This is a boon for GMs who no longer have to explain why the (quite capable) healer of the town can help patch together injured PCs, but fails to put an end to hostile threat xyz that necessitates the PCs intervention.
The final archetype is the evangelical witness who seeks to spread her faith while trying to find problematic areas/people and even gains limited access to the inquisitor spell-list.
The pdf closes with a summary of archetype packages of SGG-base-classes.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to the clear horizontal 3 column-standard and the mostly b/w-artworks range from good to slightly above average. Unfortunately, the pdf has no bookmarks but at this length that’s no reason to detract a star. I did not expect to like the archetype-book, to be honest, and only bought it out of a completionist’s neurosis and oh boy, am I glad that I did! Surprisingly, this pdf blew its arcane equivalent right out of the water, providing not only more content, but much more detailed archetypes. More importantly, though, is the fact that in arcane archetypes one (the pact scion) archetype made me rejoice – in this instalment, I loved 4! Even the subpar and rather bland exorcist can’t really tarnish the quality of the other material presented and the additional coverage of the APG is a boon to everyone who seeks to combine the two approaches to archetypes. My final verdict will thus be 5 stars – well done!
The Genius Guide to Divine Archetypes is available from: