The final installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page blank, leaving us with 5 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.
The standard base class this prestige archetype is built upon would be the wizard; thus, the class gets d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, Int-based prepared spellcasting of up to 9th level and the wizard’s armor and weapon proficiencies as well as 1/2 BAB-progression and good Will-saves. The class gets Eschew Materials as a bonus feat at first level.
At first level, the prestige archetype gains a veil pool of 1/2 class level + the highest mental attribute modifier. As a standard action, the veiled illusionist may expend 1 point to duplicate disguise self, with an interesting disbelieve mechanic – DC 15 + points remaining in the pool. I really like this and am glad it was retained from the PrC, since it emulates fatigue and rewards resource management. Changing disguises while already under the effect of the ability, btw., does not necessitate further point expenditure. Starting at 3rd level, the veiled illusionist can also modify the audible (sound) properties of his chosen disguise, with 10th level extending this to olfactory and tactile senses. At 18th level, this extends to extraordinary senses. Action economy-wise, 6th level allows alternatively to use this ability as a swift action, with 14th level unlocking the option to use it as an immediate action. REALLLY, really cool! A definite step up, as far as I’m concerned – the finer distinction (scent is not blindsight) and the expanded action economy help render this feature more rewarding than in the base PrC.
At the same time, I really wished that the goddess’s veils class feature had been expanded upon – the same races as in the base PrC (human, halfling, elf, gnome, cyclops, naga) are covered. ON the plus-side, the respective veils, while linear, have been assigned to sensible levels and, big plus, the naga veil’s stacking illusion trick has received a bit of a clarification regarding shadow-spells, which is rather appreciated by yours truly. True veil remains the capstone of the prestige archetype.
The pdf also comes with alternate build rules for the arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch classes. The pdf also provides a rather extensive amount of class-specific favored class options for the core races as well as aasimar, avodim (wasn’t that “Avoodim”?), catfolk, dhampir, drow, kitsune, kobold, samsaran, sylph, tengu, undine and xesa. As a nitpick: The undine’s option has an issue: It increases the range of illusion spells by 5 ft., which is very potent. It tries to eliminate “personal” spells by “with a range”, but RAW, range “personal” can still be defined as a range; as is “touch.” Nitpicking here, since it’s pretty easy to figure out what’s meant, but still.
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 final caster prestige archetype ends the series on a suitable note: The veiled illusionist has all the makings of a superb prestige archetype, retaining the strengths of the PrC, while making neat modifications to the engine. Now personally, I wished it had more veils or some choice there – the linear progression makes sense, sure, but to me, this aspect could have easily carried more. Similarly, the veil pool mechanic could have carried more class features. It should be noted that I’m complaining on a high level here – the pdf delivers what it promises and going one step beyond certainly is not required. Still, more so than with many of these, I wished it went the extra mile.
Oh well, this should not dissuade you from getting this one, though – it certainly is one of the best examples in the series and thus receives a final verdict of 4.5 stars, though it misses rounding up by a margin.
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