By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 12 pages long, 2/3 of a page front cover, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 10 1/3 pages of content, so let’s take a look at what the new Hellion-class is all about!
Mechanically, the hellion-class gets 3/4 BAB-progression, d8 4+Int skills per level, good fort and will-saves, can cast spells drawn from the witch’s spell-list of up to 6th level via cha (thus, as a spontaneous caster) and gain proficiency with simple weapons and whips, saps, handaxes, flails, scimitar, short-swords and tridents. They also get proficiency with light armors and don’t incur arcane spell failure while casting in light armor.
Hellions also get access to hexes (but cast them in contrast to their spells, via int) which they can choose from the witch’s list, but in contrast to many other classes, the Hellion can’t only wilder in the territory, but adds something new to the fray, i.e. a selection of 5 hexes that work differently: In contrast to witches hexes, hellions are more limited in the acquisition of hexes (since they have no familiars and can’t form covens) and thus the new ones have a distinct feel: Where cursing others feels fairly straight-forward, as does a breath that is laced with disease and both scale with levels, it is the other three, more martially-inclined hexes that stand out: Where Pyre-blade allows Hellions to enhance weapons temporarily with fire is nice, the other two are what I’d consider interesting: Venomcall allows hellions to use poison in their possession as ranged touch attacks versus foes (regardless of usual manner of poison-type – even ingested poisons can be used that way) and Mark of Pain is perhaps the most interesting of the hexes: For a limited amount of rounds, teh target of this curse-effect treats any damage as ongoing damage with regards to concentration checks etc., making this a great way of dealing with spellcasters.
Beyond hexes, hellions, like their witch-brethren, gain their powers from patrons, but in addition to the regular witch-patrons, they may also choose from one of 5 different new patrons: Bloodshed, Curses, Lycanthropy, Rage and Toxins. Combining these with SGG’s latest Advanced Options-pdfs of Patron-exclusive hexes, the book also provides 5 new hexes exclusive to these new patrons, though if you don’t like the idea of patron-exclusive hexes, you could still make them freely available. Let it be said that these 5 hexes are interesting: The Blood Shield e.g. grants temporary hit points when the hellion damages targets, while Fangs of the Wolf grant the Hellion the option to gain a bite attack and they may now also inflict the downsides of a barbarian’s rage on targets, Hellions of the curse-patron may spitefully curse creatures as a reaction to dropping below 0 Hp, being turned to stone etc. – thankfully with the caveat of helplessness being at the GM’s discretion, otherwise I could see groups constantly healing the hellion back up and spamming curse upon curse. The coolest hex, imho, though would be the one granted from the Toxin-patron: By swilling poison in your cheeks and spitting/blowing it back into the bottle, you may change the attribute the poison targets. Thankfully, the hex only works on a limited amount of poisons at a given time, thus limiting the flexibility of the hex in just the right way.
Hellions also get bonded objects tied to the patrons and require them to cast their patron-spells and even their other spells are greatly hampered sans this object, though it also allows the hellion 1/day to cast any one spell he knows, while sans metamagic/modifications, still a great last resort once the hellion runs out of spells. Now these items may be broken (though they do repair themselves when not completely destroyed) and enhanced with the appropriate crafting-feats as well as changed every couple of levels. Now bonded object modify what to expect from a hellion depending on the item-class: Amulets e.g. allow hellions to blast foes with ranged touch attacks of magic damage. Rings grant shield bonuses, staves allow for a bonus spell from either wizard or witch-list, wands allow the stored extra spell t be cast twice and weapons grant straight-forward bonuses to attack and damage.
Beyond even bonded objects and hexes, hellions may also choose from a list of 11 different hellion talents: If you want to enhance your hexes, you can improve your afflictions, choose a second patron (for patron hexes, second patron’s spells are added to the list you choose spells from – you don’t get a second array of patron spells) or do something really cool: If a foe saves versus your hex, you can use a swift action to chnage the target of the hex to a second creature. Now this sounds unblanaced, but the issue is: If the second foe also saves versus the hex, it then targets you instead! You can also enlarge and prolong hexes, cast them faster a limited amount of times etc. If you rather concentrate on the more martial aspects of the class, poison use, enhanced damage, atk and DCs for your hexes against foes currently suffering from an affliction and turn medium armors into fetishes, making your allegiance obvious, but also allowing you to ignore arcane spell failure chance while wearing it.
While Hellions don’t get access to grand hexes, they do get access to a selection of major hexes as well, with 4 new ones thrown into the fray as well: One allows for access to a second bonded object, two increase the DC of saves versus his afflictions, and one allows the hellion to make afflictions spread to others. The hellion’s capstone is deadly, adding a hex-effect of the hellion’s choice to each of his spells.
The pdf closes with 5 new, neat curses hellions may use instead of the old ones and which should prove to be useful for other classes/purposes as well. It should be noted that if you use the variant spellpoint-rules by SGG, all information to use the hellion with these rules are also included.
Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. Layout adheres to SGG’s 3-column landscape presentation and the pdf comes with extended nested bookmarks. The b/w-artworks do their job and as with any SGG-products, the file is sufficiently printer-friendly.
The Hellion is yet another gish-class and I didn’t look forward to reading it – I figured we didn’t need one. However, the focus and expansion on hex-mechanics makes the class feel rather fresh and creates a nice ability for the “sinister champion” type of hero with a burdened past. Hellions feel distinct, have interesting options and make viable and different supplemental fighters/casters who build nicely on afflictions and interesting options – all in all, a very well-crafted class that should enrich your game. If I has to complain about one thing, then that the major hexes are very tightly focused on afflictions and that I would have liked more of the martially-inclined hexes at this power-level. Also, be aware that this is NOT the magus and instead is perhaps a more subtle class by virtue of its hexes and spell-selection, so while you won’t be as good a blaster, when handled right I think the hellion will allow for a nice variety of play-styles. All in all, an excellent class and easily worth my final verdict of 5 stars.
The Genius Guide to the Hellion is available from: