Saturday, October 8, 2011

Epic Review - Ultimate Combat part 2.5

What started as a simple review of Ultimate Combat turned into a monster of a review...because I wanted to review it a bit more in depth, but the sheer amount of crunch in that one book is quite insane. So here's...

The  fifth and final coverage of the new archetypes!

New Rogue Talents:  Plenty of new talents with 16 new rogue talents and 8 new advanced talents.
Black Market Connections, Convincing Lie, Deft Palm, Esoteric Scholar, Firearm Training, Getaway Artist, Grit, Hold Breath, Iron Guts, Ki Pool, Ninja Trick, Rope Master, Strong Stroke, Terrain Mastery, Underhanded, Wall Scramble. Advanced: Confounding Blades, Familiar, Getaway Master, Hard to Fool, Hide In Plain Sight, Rumormonger, Unwitting Ally, and Weapon Snatcher. I really like that they added Ki Pool/Ninja trick to the rogue tricks. It allows for plain old Asian-themed rogues without pigeon-holing the characters into being a ninja. Strong Stroke and Wall Scramble fill niche tricks for swimming and of course climb, while Black Market Connections is a good role-play oriented talent for getting a little extra on items, and for finding extra items for sale in larger cities. Firearm training and Grit talents give the rogue some of the gunslinger's blackpowder fun, but I was saddened that there was no dedicated blackpowder rogue, so I will be working on a Highwayman archetype. (already posted!)

I'm actually surprised the Bandit didn't make an appearance in the Advanced Player's Guide. So, rogue archetypes usually either replace Uncanny Dodge/Imp. Uncanny Dodge or Trapfinding/Trapsense. This one replaces Uncanny Dodges. They gain Ambush (4th) and Fearsome Strike (8th), allowing the bandit to act in the surprise round and causing fear on confirmed criticals. Typo in the Fearsome Strike ability, it should read replaces Improved Uncanny Dodge instead of Uncanny Dodge.

Replacing the trapsense and trapfinding abilities, this archetype is a master of misdirection and stealth. Misdirection grants a pool of stealth points based upon their bluff ranks each day, Effortless Sneak at 3rd gives the rogue the ability to take 10 on a stealth check in a favored terrain, gaining one terrain at 3rd and every 3 levels. This is a pretty cool archetype if you don't mind losing the trap abilities.

The silver tongued scoundrel, with Natural Born Liar is a bluff modifier, granting a -2 against bluff checks for those affected by the Charlatan's bluff for 24 hours. Grand hoax grants the rumormonger advanced talent at 3rd level. (traps)

This is more of an archetype for a pulp game, getaway drivers aren't a big thing in fantasy games typically. It does work with the vehicle rules presented in Ultimate Combat however. This is a pretty limited archetype, taking away the trap abilities for bonuses to driving, I actually think this archetype would have been better as a ranger or fighter Teamster...perhaps even an expert archetype. (traps)

Knife Master
This archetype is a knife specialist. Replacing traps, the 1st level Hidden Blade gives 1/2 level to sleight of hand rolls to conceal a blade weapon. Sneak Stab replaces Sneak Attack, focuses on a list of small bladed weapons, increasing the sneak attack damage for them to d8s, while decreasing the sneak damage of all other weapons to d4s. Blade Sense at 3rd gives dodge bonuses against light blades. This is a nice archetype to give extra flavor for the lesser damage weapons. Kukri is included, so criticals can be fun with nice d8 sneak attacks. I like it, and Ian is actually going to run one for our next PFS group, we're going to run a Sczarni family...Varisian knife master.

The pirate is what everyone wants, unfortunately this isn't the one we really want. Sea Legs at 1st grants the Sea Legs feat, at 2nd they get a pirate only rogue talent, granting a special rogue talent. Now, the talent itself sets a new precedent, it allows an acrobatics roll to make a swinging charge or bull rush, and a 5 foot move afterwards. Unflinching at 3rd, grants a save bonus to mind-affecting/fear effects. So while it has some interesting bits, this isn't the pirate I wanted to see. I was disappointed when I read it the first time, and I haven't changed my mind. (traps)

Roof Runner
Playing an Urban campaign? This is a great rogue archetype for certain concepts. Roof Running at 1st gives them the ability to move at full speed even on unsteady rooftops, say, a tile roof with tiles coming loose for example. Tumbling Descent is cool since it allows a rogue to drop from great heights of a rooftop to street level without injury, as long as they make their acrobatics roll. (traps)

Sanctified Rogue
A Holy Rogue....This is the most interesting of all the rogue archetypes, but it falls short in that you lose uncanny dodge and improved uncanny dodge for a +1 sacred bonus to Will/Fort that doesn't improve as you level, then you get a once a day use of augury, which is still an open ended divination spell. Great concept, poor execution. (dodges)

If you're playing in an adventure where the elements are against you, perhaps in the desert or arctic type conditions, this is a good archetype, providing double the number of days without water and triple without food, then at 3rd gaining endure elements as a spell-like ability. (traps)

No warmage type archetypes in this book, as the magus is the new combat mage in town, and they don't want to ruffle his feathers for fear of a dervish dancing magus visiting them.

Arcane Bomber
This archetype mixes alchemy with magery, with great power (real or imagined) comes with great sacrifice in this case. School of the Bomb...FOUR, count them....FOUR (4), opposition schools (That's pretty painful).
In place of the normal arcane bond, the Arcane Bomber gets bombs, no discoveries, but basic bombs (Though no mention of how many...). Instead of Cantrips, the bomber can empower his bombs with a spell...+SL to hit and +2xSL damage as a Swift action. All in all this archetype seems to give up way more than it gains.

Siege Mage
This is an interesting variant, but only if you're allowing siege engines in normal play, this archetype is not allowed in PFS play. The Siege Mage forms a bond with a siege engine that's nearby, has 3 prohibited schools, can channel energy into the engine similar to the Arcane Bomber, but gets 3x damage instead of 2x (in place of cantrips again). They also get Siege Engineer in place of Scribe Scroll. At 10th the archetype really comes into power as he no longer needs a crew to reload, aim or fire the engine. Would be fun to have an NPC Siege Mage manning his Wizard's tower...

The final arcehtype of the book. The Spellslinger is a blackpowder wizard. The Spellslinger forms his arcane bond with his weapon. He gains exotic prof (firearms). Gunsmith and a battered firearm replace the scribe scroll bonus feat. The Spellslinger like the other two wizard archetype give up additional prohibited schools, four, though the spellslinger gets far more than the arcane bomber. Mage Bullets replaces cantrips, but it far and away better than empower bombs. Of the three Wizard archetypes, this is the only one I'd play as a PC.

Part 3 will be coverage of the feats I hope to have that review up by Wednesday, then I'll cover the rest of the Book in Part 4. After that, back to regular reviews! Especially as it's OCTOBER!! Realms of Cthulhu and Munchkin Zombies will be getting a review.