Friday, September 30, 2011

Epic Review - Ultimate Combat part 2.4 (archetypes)

Finalizing the archetypes.

To start with, the monk has the worst typoed archetype with the Tetori monk. Somewhere along the line certain feats were removed, the specific feats which the Tetori monk has are required feats. Can't wait to see the remedy for this faux pas.

Flowing Monk
 This is a really interesting archetype.First off they have their own bonus feat list to choose from. The redirection ability replaces stunning fist and is quite powerful, getting better as you level. It allows redirection and trip maneuvers in response to an attack as an immediate action, this in itself makes it better than stunning fist, but it can also make the opponent sickened, and the bonuses increase with level. At 8th they can do both trip and reposition simultaneously; 12th they can even do the maneuvers against someone that attacks them with a reach weapon! Unbalancing counter is great,  the target of a successful attack of opportunity is rendered flat footed until the end of the monk's next turn. Flowing dodge grants a +1 dodge bonus (up to Wis bonus) for each adjacent opponent in lieu of fast movement. Elusive target is an insane ability letting the monk make reflex saves to reduce damage taken when they're hit. Volley Spell uses the diamond body spell resistance to attempt to redirect a spell back to the caster using ki. This is a very MAD monk, moreso than the normal monk, as they rely on CMB, Dex and Wis bonusesto make them effective. Combat Reflexes is almost a given, as is lightning reflexes, improved trip and improved reposition, it's a very focused archetype.

Maneuver Master
The maneuver master gets additional bonus feats to choose from. The Maneuver master starts off by trading flurry of blows for flurry of maneuvers, allowing 1 additional maneuver at 1st level. This increases to 4 total maneuvers at 15th level, but each additional maneuver attempted has increasing penalties. (2@-2, 3@ -3, 4@-7). At 3rd they gain maneuver defense is pretty nice, since others attempting a maneuver on them that they have improved level of training in provokes an AoO. Reliable maneuver allows 1 ki to be spent to roll twice and keep the highest when performing a maneuver. Maneuver Master grants a WIS bonus to a single maneuver type for the turn as a swift action. They get sweeping maneuver at 11th; allowing them to make two combat maneuvers without penalty either 2 maneuvers against 2 opponents or 2 different maneuvers against a single opponent. Finally at level 15 they get Whirlwind Maneuver, once per day they can make a single combat maneuver against every opponent they threaten. A rune giant performing a trip against everyone in 20 feet is hilarious to me!!!

Martial Artist
The martial artist is the dip archetype, allowing any alignment, but at the loss of several ki related abilities. Errata will be coming on this class as they still have access to a ki related ability but no ki pool. So if you ever wanted to play a Barbarian/Monk, this is how you can do it.

Master of Many Styles
The Master of Many Styles is one of the most interesting monk archetypes, gaining bonus feats at 1st, 2nd and every four thereafter which can be used for style feats. These feats replace the normal monk feats, but ignore the normal requirements (except for elemental fist). Fuse allows them to maintain 2 or more feat stances, but at the cost of Flurry of Blows. at 20, the Master of Many Styles can maintain 5 stances.

The Sensei is a mix of bard and monk, gaining bardic performance instead of flurry, fast movement and improved evasion. At 2nd, they can use WIS instead of STR or DEX on attacks or CMB (replaces evasion and a bonus feat. Mystic Wisdom seems to have an issue as it allows the Sensei to grant abilities they lose as part of the archetype. This replaces bonus feats at 6th, 12th and 18th. I personally feel a Sensei should be a PrC instead of an archetype, as a Sensei is a master, you shouldn't be a 1st level master.

This isn't one of my favorites, but if you like mounted combatants, this might be the monk for you. They differ from standard monks in the weapon and armor choices, gaining simple and martial weapon and light armor proficiency; however they still appear to gain WIS and AC Bonus of normal monks (this seems like something they should have used as a replacement). They can choose mounted feats in addition to normal feats for their bonus feats. They gain Monastic Mount in lieu of both fast movement and increased unarmed damage. They gain Ki Weapon and weapon training.

This is the largest error in the book. It has required bonus feats that aren't in the book, it happens, just wish it had been caught before print, it's a pretty decent archetype. It gives up flurry for graceful grapple, making him a grapple monster, able to threaten while grappling, even retaining their Dex bonus. Then it improves with grab at 8th and constrict at 15th. The ability is a bit broken as it gets more powerful the same as some other archetypes, but only has to give up flurry of blows. Other archetypes don't get as much for what they receive. Inescapable Grasp replaces several abilities, at 9th, he can now suppress freedom of movement effects, at 13th dimensional anchor and at 17th his unarmed strikes gain ghost touch and incoporeal creatures gain the grappled condition (Reflex save). At 13th He gains form lock which can negate a polymorph effect. At 19th he gains Iron Body, a ki ability duplicating the spell. Once the archetype is errataed, it can be quite the spoiler class for game masters.

Divine Hunter
The antithesis of the classic OG Paladin, killing from range...not only do they use ranged weaponry more often than melee weaponry, they grant their powers to allies.They gain precise shot in lieu of Heavy Armor Proficiency at first level. At 3rd level they replace Aura of Courage, with shared precision, in which they share precise shot with their allies. At 5th level they gain Divine Bond but it must be with a ranged or thrown weapon, they swap defending and disruption with distance, returning and seeking abilities. aDistance Mercy at 6th lets them use mercy powers at 5ft/paladin level. Aura of Care at 8th level makes allies not block targets with ranged attacks. At 11th, Hunter's Blessing let's the paladin expend a use of smite evil to grant allies within 10ft Deadly Aim, Precise Shot and Improved Precise Shot, instead of Aura of Justice. Finally at 14th Righteous Hunter makes his and his allies weapon good aligned for overcoming DR. Pretty interesting, though I would tend to think of Elven Paladins being divine hunters rather than other races.

Empyreal Knight
I really like the concept around this one, but I was surprised there wasn't an anti-paladin Infernal Knight archetype, especially with the Knight of the Sepulcher being in this book. It starts off slow, replacing divine grace with the ability to read and write celestial. Celestial Heart makes up for it, replacing mercy you get celestial resistances 5 at 3rd, +4 racial save vs poison at 6th, 9th resistances improve to 10, and at 12th immunity to petrification. 15th grants truespeech as tongues, and 18th gives a magic aura that acts as a magic circle against evil. Celestial Ally replaces channel, allowing the Empyreal knight to summon celestial allies as the summon monster I, improving every 2 levels by the next spell level. Divine bond is really nice, granting the celestial template at 8th, and fly at 12, as the mount sprouts wings. Empyreal Champion at 20, transforms the knight into an outsider. All in all, if you want to play a truly goody goody paladin, that has more selfish abilities, this one is pretty nice. I think I want to make a tiefling one!

Holy gun
The archetype that puts firearms into the hands of the holiest of holies, delivering smites by the bullet! The Holy Gun gains firearm proficiency and simple/martial weapons, but only light armor proficiency. "Have Gun" the holy gun gains gunsmithing and amateur gunslinger at first in addition to a battered gun exactly like a gunslingers. At 2nd they gain access to an exclusive deed, Smiting shot, more powerful because it grants smite at range, but more limited in that it's grit powered. At 5th level they form their Divine Bond with their firearm, similar to the Divine Hunter. 13th level brings Holy Grit, this brings the holy smite up in power level as they now gain grit equal to charisma, and they gain a gunfighter deed at 13, 14, 17 and 20. the Capstone is Holy Slinger, allowing the firearm to deliver banishment, just as the holy champion does with their weapon.

Holy Tactician
The Holy Tactician is a group buff paladin, Weal's Champion let's her give competence bonuses to her allies after they successfully hit with a smite evil attempt. At 3rd and every 4 levels, Tactical Acumen grants a bonus teamwork feat; Also they get Battlefield presence, which allows the Holy Tactician to share their teamwork feat with allies (nice ability, since teamwork feats can be difficult [read annoying] to coordinate). The Holy Tactician can Guide the Battle, granting allies a bonus 5 ft move. At 11th, Weal's Wrath allows those affected by Weal's Champion to maintain the bonuses until each creature hit by the smite is slain. The capstone, Masterful Presence, grants, a second tactician feat to the his allies, and grants automatic confirmation on critical threats.   [Note: In my campaigns, the Unholy Tactician will be making an appearance] 

Knight of the Sepulcher
ANTI-PALADIN ARCHETYPE!!! We need more of these! This is a pretty cool archetype, especially if you want to create a "death knight" type of character.  Touch of the Crypt transform the Knight into a partially undead creature, light fortification, bonuses against mind-affecting, poisons and death effects. In addition to being affected by positive/negative energy as undead. At 8th, instead of Aura of Despair, they gain Fortitude of the Crypt, granting darkvision 60ft and immunity to poison. 10th level brings Cloak of the Crypt, and immunity to energy drain and harmful negative energy effects, and 50% fortification. Will of the Crypt increases the saves to +4 at 11th level. 14th brings Weapons of Sin, making the Knight of the Sepulcher's weapon's evil aligned for purposes of overcoming DR. 15th level brings the Knight closer to undeath, Heavy Fortification, immunity to sleep, death effects, stunning and paralysis, he no longer sleeps, and exhaustion causes fatigue, while fatigue effects he's immune to. 17th brings him closer to undeath, DR good and bludgeon. The capstone brings undeath.

Sacred Shield
Think...Prince Charming in Sleeping Beauty, when he's fighting Malificent as the dragon, his shield protecting him from dragon fire. The Sacred Shield's bond is to his shield rather than to a weapon or mount. Bastion of Good at 1st replaces smite evil and causes the evil-doer to cause half damage to the paladins allies, however they do full damage to the paladin, but they gain a scaled deflection bonus. Holy Shield at 4th allows the Paladin to shield adjacent allies as well. Their divine Bond at 5th, is with a shield. Improved Bastion increases the range to 20ft. Perfect Bastion adds a regeneration effect to Bastion.

The Ranger archetypes as a whole are pretty weak, the only one with real potential is the deep walker and that's primarily as an NPC.

Battle Scout
A party buff ranger, at the cost of their favored enemies., starting at 4th, their hunter's bond must be with their companions. At 5th this allows Advantageous Terrain, by studying the terrain they can gain bonuses within their favored terrain. At 10th they can gain a temporary favored terrain. Superior tactics lets them arrange their allies initiative rolls. The capstone is lackluster; increasing the range of Advantageous Terrain and saving two whole rounds. The problem with this class is "once per day"; two of their abilities are only usable once per day....

Deep Walker
Great archetype if you're playing an underdark campaign, and it you have underdark denizens that are rangers, there's no point in NOT taking this archetype. Deep Knowledge at 3rd level, the deep walker swaps the normal favored terrain, gaining +2 on intiative, Dungeoneering, perception, stealth and survival underground, Improving +3 every 5 levels. At 5th Woodland Stride is replaced by Rock Hopper, ignoring underground difficult terrain, and +5 on acrobatics and climbing in those tones. Deep Walker Camouflage replaces the normal camouflage, and One with the Stone is the equivalent to hide in plain sight.

The falconer is intersting, in so far as it grants some cool extras available to only the Falconer. You just have to get past 1st level, as you get a druid pet (bird only) but it only has half hit points until 4th level, when the ranger normally gets hunter's bond. They also get two exclusive tricks at 1st level, roam and distract. At 4th, Hunter's Bond, his companion gains full hit points. Swoop for the Kill at 6th brings another trick, swooping charge which for some reason doubles the damage of its bite instead of claws, and increases the critical to x4, and staggers the target, replacing the combat style.

Trophy Hunter
This is supposed to be the Ranger blackpowder class, but due to the way it's constructed, I can't see it being used unless it's as a multi-class dip. The archetype doesn't grant a weapon at the start, nor does it grant gunsmithing, rangers are supposed to be more self-sufficient, this archetype is horrible.

I can't see EVER taking this archetype, it is far too focused, giving up their favored enemies for additional terrains. It's very specialized around terrain, though it's an extremely under powered choice.

Wild Stalker
A hybrid of ranger and barbarian, at 1st, gaining low light vision and bonuses to perception instead of the 1st favored enemy. At 2nd they gain uncanny dodge instead of a combat style. Rage of the Wild swaps with hunter's bond. They gain rage powers which replace the other favored enemies. The 6th level power seems to have a typo, as it should have replaced the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th combat styles, rather than the favored enemies which were replaced by the Rage powers at 5th.

Up next! Rogue & Wizard 
Sorry but due to real life and the sheer amount of information, this has to be split again, especially since the rogue info includes the new talents.