This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X’s flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept…something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the “prestige”-aspect – the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue – while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize “prestige”, we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.
Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you’d expect and it has to be – after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.
Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring – they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.
That out of the way, let us take a look at the class herein, with is built on the chassis of wizard and the blackfire adept, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, with d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, full spellcasting progression, good Will-saves and 1/2 BAB-progression. Proficiency-wise, they only get simple weapons. Darkfire adepts begin play with an evil cleric’s aura and the ability to spontaneously convert spells into summon monster, with 2nd level providing the Sacred Summons feat. 4th level yields Augment Summoning and makes the adept qualify as having the Spell Focus (conjuration)-feat for prereq-purposes.
At 3rd level, the character chooses an evil outsider, including asura, qlippoths, rakshasa, etc., gaining +1 to Cl, saves, Charisma ability and skill-checks versus these and when using planar ally/binding, +2 HD of outsiders of the chosen subtype may be called, which also gain the darkfire adept’s class level as temporary hit points as well as a bonus of +1 to saves and to DCs to banish/dispel them. 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter yield another outsider type to choose from, additionally increasing the aforementioned bonus types by a further +1. Starting at 6th level, the character receives the darkfire taint, which may be executed as a standard action versus a target within 30 feet – the target receives a save penalty versus the adept and the adept a bonus to atk and CL-checks. The taint lasts class level rounds and increases in potency at 12th and 18th level to +/-2 and +/-3, respectively. At 8th level, prepared spell or spell slots of 4th level or higher may be sacrificed in order to generate a darkfire eruption, which doubles as a slightly improved unholy blight – one with slightly more damage, that ignores hardness and disintegrates those slain. Beware, do-gooders!
9th level allows for the sacrifice of a prepared spell or spell slot to bypass summon-warding, with lower levels than the wards only allowing for a check and 16th level allowing for the use of this ability to work even in magic-dead environments and similarly powerful effects. At 10th level, summoning evil subtype (not alignment!) creatures is only a standard action for the darkfire adept. Here, an unfortunate typo has crept into the pdf – it should be “Note”, not “Not”. Starting at 13th level, creatures of the chosen darkfire pact retain their summoning options, which can get pretty crowded…but interestingly, such creatures are not under the darkfire adept’s control, which makes the whole endeavor a dangerous proposal. Starting at 14th level, the darkfire adept may decrease damage inflicted by the attack of a creature versus a target affected by his darkfire taint by 1 hit point per class level as a swift action – if he does and the being is slain, he gains the target creature’s HD as temporary hit points. As a capstone, the darkfire adept may use his darkfire eruption as an immediate action whenever a conjuration effect happens nearby (Nasty and not necessarily intentional – that includes healing spells! The wording makes me think that this should only work for conjuration [teleportation] and summoning effects…), potentially dropping foes on evil planes…talk about expressway to hell…
As per the tradition of this new series, we receive information on using arcanist, cleric, oracle, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror, summoner and witch as alternate chassis-bases, so if you wanted to play a darkfire adept based on one of those classes, you’re in luck. The prestige archetype does include a significant array of class-specific favored class options for core races and some of the stars of the Porphyran races.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG’s signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!
Carl Cramér’s darkfire adept is an interesting, generally well-crafted prestige archetype – while the summoning aspect is slightly problematic as a system-inherent component, the prestige archetype’s darkfire taint makes for a fun base mechanic, though one that could have been tied even more into the summoning aspect: The mechanic is cool and having more options for combo-gameplay would have helped to set this fellow further apart. This is not bad, but it is also not a mindblowing installment -all in all a solid one that deserves a final verdict of 3.5 stars…and I’ll round up for it, courtesy of the fair price and the fact that it does not deserve being called mediocre.
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