By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Open Design is 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC and 1 page SRD, leaving 9 pages of content.
The book starts with 1+1/2 pages of a short introduction/discussion of the alchemist class.
The main meat of the book are the 30 new feats for the alchemist. They come with the AF’s signature commentaries on the feats, which I usually find useful. The feats are:
- Accurate Assessment: Learn one statistical value of a foe during combat
- Advanced Alchemy: Add Int bonus to alchemical item DC values
- Bottoms Up: Drink potions as a move action
- Craft Anywhere: Craft 8 hours/day while adventuring
- Craftsman: +2 bonus to all craft skill checks
- Create Wondrous Creature: Create new life forms
- Extra Extract: Prepare an additional extract
- Fast Item Creation: Create magic items in half the time
- Fire in the Hole: Splash weapons ignore cover
- Frugal Crafting: Item creation costs are reduced
- Hardy Brawler: Nonlethal DR equal to Con modifier
- Improved Sleight of Hand: No penalty to using Sleight of Hand as a move action
- Learn Command: Learn commands words when activating magic items blindly
- Lighten Weapon: Effort to wield weapon reduced by one category
- Lighten Weapon, Improved: Removes the attack penalty for using Lighten Weapon
- Mind over Body: Heal more ability damage/day
- Minor Damage Reduction: Gain DR 1/− or increase existing DR by 1
- Modify Mutagen: Change the penalty you take from a mutagen
- Opportunity Shot: Take attacks of opportunity with ranged weapon
- Organized Inventory: Draw non weapon items as a free action
- Pack Mule: +4 bonus to Str for purposes of carrying capacity
- Practice Makes Perfect: +3 bonus when taking 10 or 20 on a skill check
- Primeval Fury: Gain combat prowess for a short time
- Reliable Bombs: +2 to DCs of bomb effects and damage
- Sidestep Charge: +4 bonus to AC against charge and attack of opportunity if missed
- Skirmishing: +2 bonus to AC while moving and making ranged attacks
- Suicide Bomber: Set off all your bombs at close range
- Sundering Bomb: Use bombs to make sunder attacks
- Throw and Charge: Throw a weapon and charge as a full round action
- Weapon Juggle: Sheath, pick up, and trade weapons as a free action
I hate Accurate Assessment. I loathe it from the bottom of my heart. A feat that actually brings numerical information into the game and makes a character know a certain stat of an enemy in combat as a standard action is so damn broken in my opinion that I’d NEVER, EVER allow it.
I like how advanced alchemy makes alchemical items more useful at higher levels.
- Craft Wondrous Creature: Cool idea that should not have been reduced to one single feat but rather get its own pdf. As it stands, it’s too generic for my tastes. Sample alchemical creatures like homunculi would have made this plain awesome and once I have designed some sample critters, I think I’ll use it. I want more to expand upon the elegant mechanics.
- Frugal Crafting: I don’t like this one – it makes crafting cheaper. If there is enough gold, you won’t need it. If there is not enough gold, it might imbalance the premise of the campaign.
- Learn Command: Learn an item command by activating it with use magic device. Wait, what? No way. This does not conform to my concept of magic item activation being complex and people using the skill wildly trying to guess how to use it by rambling, fiddling, pushing the item etc. It’s my personal preference, but I wouldn’t allow this feat in my campaign.
- Lighten Weapon: After doing the math, I can safely say that this feat is perhaps the first to enable wielding larger weapons without breaking balance. Nice.
- Primeval Fury: Cool feat, but tying it to e.g. being under the effects of a mutagen would have helped to tie it more to the alchemist. As it stands, I don’t like it being so generic.
- Suicide Bomber: While a great idea, I don’t like the implementation – this feat is a dragon-slayer and in a world where resurrection is only a couple of GPs away, this feat could quickly devolve away from its “Blaze of Glory”-intention to a “Blow yourself up, Alchemist, afterwards we’ll resurrect you”-mentality. In a world without resurrection, this would make for a memorable final stand, though.
- Weapon juggle: Just a cool idea.
After that, we get three sample alchemist builds, the carpet bomber, the mighty mutant and the mad scientist.
Editing is top-notch, I didn’t notice any typos or glitches. Layout for this first instalment of the series, is still in used parchment and not too printer-friendly or aesthetically pleasing. There is, apart from the cover no artwork. I already commented on some of the feats I liked and some of them I didn’t like, however, my main gripe with this instalment is that is does not focus enough on the alchemist for my tastes – while there are necessarily some feats that can be used by more classes than the alchemist, I felt that some of the feats were too generic. Some of the just didn’t have the exclusive alchemist vibe and, quite frankly, I consider some of the feats (see above) broken. Thus, combined with the lack of a printer-friendly version and my impression of a lack of class-focus, my final verdict will be 2 stars. If you don’t share my problems, add a star.
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As with most game supplements there are some brilliant & inspirational ideas and some terrible ideas.
The problem is that, depending on the campaign, any given idea might fall into either category.
But the good ideas are also new ideas to me, and some of them are excellent.
So, while for the most part I agree with the review, and it definitely has added the product to my shopping list. Based on this review, I would personally give the product 4 stars – without ever having read it.
Isn’t it interesting how two people can read exactly the same review and reach two totally different conclusions?