By Thilo Graf
This pdf from Super Genius Games is 16 pages long, 1 page SRD and credits, 2/3 of a page front cover, leaving 14 1/3 pages of content for new arcane archetypes, so let’s take a look at what we get!
The pdf begins with an introduction to what archetypes are and how to use the information presented herein. Due to the nature of arcane magic and its significant prowess, some of the archetypes herein come with restrictions, which are also elaborated upon: Essentially, some can only be taken by castes and some only by non-casters. Simple, coherent and elegant in its presentation. What are the archetypes we get?
First we are introduced to quite a shock: The acolyte is an archetype that gets limited spellcasting, true, but not arcane one. Rather it represents a minor access to divine powers, enabling the character to cast up to 4th-level spells. An interesting archetype that does deal wit arcane magic and which I’ve been looking for ages, is the Hedge Wizard, a arcane caster who can cast up to 6th-level spells, but only learns a very limited amount of them and thus, self-taught and not a true specialist, seeks to work with what he’s got and improve upon these limited spells. Finally those borderland/bandit wizards get a fitting representation. The Initiate is for druidism what the acolyte is for clerical magic, so you get pretty much what you’d expect, including minor druidic abilities like animal empathy. Once again, aptly-designed, elegant and easy to implement. The minstrel uses a similar mechanic for bardic casting with the notable exception of being non-spontaneous and INT-dependant with regards to casting.
Pact Scions are one of the coolest archetype-concepts imaginable, at least to me: Being available only to non-casters, the Pact Scion has a patron/outsiders/artefacts that enable her to cast deadly magic at a price of both obedience and minor, exhausting non-lethal damage. The mechanical implementation is brilliant, enabling the DM or the player to conjure up most interesting plot-lines, character concepts etc. Fans of the Sword & Sorcery genre will rejoice when reading this anyway. The next archetype, the shadow master, focuses on spells with the [shadow]-descriptor – while mechanically sound, I considered this one to be rather boring. The next archetype is anything but bland, though: The Sigil Mage carves his spells as tattoos into his flesh and thus can use some pretty nifty tricks: Preparing casters can use sigil magic of one spell-level higher to act as a potential for two lower-level spells, essentially preparing e.g. 2 3rd level spells in a 4th level slot and choosing the spell at the time of casting. Spontaneous caster can e.g. level up 2 of their linked spells, casting them as higher level spells than they usually are. This power comes at a price, though, and critical hits and erase are your foe if you’re a sigil mage…
The spellblaze can conjure up a bolt of raw force damage that scales with levels a limited amount of times per day, making for an iconic arcane artillery while avoiding making regular ranged weapons obsolete. The final archetype presented is the warder, a noncaster archetype who centres around negating hostile magic via sorcerous counterspells. These guys will see a lot of use associated with the henchmen of my NPC-inquisitors.
The pdf closes with an overview of archetypes and 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 full-color artworks range from good to average. Unfortunately, the pdf has no bookmarks but at this length that’s no reason to detract a star. In direct comparison to the archer archetypes, we get a bit more of them, but 3 of them (minstrel, acolyte and initiate) are somewhat similar in what they do for their respective associated classes. However, their design is excellent and the Pact Scion alone, at least for me, alongside the warder is worth the low and fair price. Nevertheless I found the 3 very similar archetypes somewhat bland, especially due to taking up quite a bit of space that could have been used otherwise, perhaps in a more arcane-centric way. My final verdict for this instalment will thus be 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
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