Cavers of Porphyra (Porphyra RPG)
This class clocks in at 13 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 10 pages, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), which means you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper.
If you buy this class, you’ll notice a little comment bubble in the cover page – this is very helpful for folks new to Porphyra RPG, as the game does have a couple of differences from PFRPG. This bubble explains a couple of them, which is really helpful and something I hope the final book of Porphyra RPG will do. Porphyra RPG, as per the writing of this review, has not yet been completed and is still being tested; as such, I can’t provide the same in-depth analysis regarding formatting.
Relevant for this review: Porphyra has no alignments (YES!!!), spells are grouped by scarcity (common, rare, exotic), and touch attacks are replaced with caster checks – in this pdf, 1d20 + caster level + Wisdom modifier; I assume that other classes use their own spellcasting-governing ability score modifier. These also replace and unify spell penetration and concentration checks. This also explains changes in the skill-system. It’s a small touch, but it really helps using this fellow in context with PFRPG, for example, and makes transition to Porphyra RPG easier.
After a brief introduction and flavor, we are introduced to the framework of the class: Cavers get d8 HD and 6 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, long sword, rapier, sap, scorpion whip, shortsword and sword cane as well as light armor. The class gets a ¾ BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves, and starting at 4th level, we have spellcasting progression. This is spontaneous spellcasting, and gets up to 4th level, with Wisdom as governing spellcasting ability score. The class may not choose spells affecting class features.
At 1st level, cavers choose a career from a list of 5 that encompasses bard, bloodrager, medium, ranger and zealot. The first gets the bardic performance, with 2 + Wisdom modifier rounds , +2 per level gained. We start with countersong, inspire courage, gain inspire competence at 3rd level, dirge of doom at 8th level and soothing performance at 12th level. The choice of bloodrager nets a bloodrager bloodline and bloodline powers at 1s and 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, with a limited descriptor choice re spells and no normal bloodline spells gained. As a minor nitpick: The notation of levels is inconsistent herein: 1st level vs. level 1. That should be unified in the final iteration.
The Medium choice nets fey and mind descriptor spells, haunt channeler at 3rd level, location channel at 5th, connection channel (level 7), ask the spirits at 13th level and astral journey at 14th level. Ranger gets endurance and wild empathy at 1st level, combat style at 2nd (6th, 10th, 14th, 18th), with favored terrain and camouflage modified to interact with the class abilities. Descriptor-wise, we have animal and plant as the ones available here.
Finally, zealot nets darkness and rune spells, descriptor-wise, sneak attack at 1st, uncanny dodge at 4th, improved uncanny dodge at 8th level. Sneak attack progression is tied to every 2 levels after 1st.
A crucial key ability briefly mentioned in the ability text, but not this review, would be the so-called “Caver Tub.” As a standard action, the caver declares herself and up to 3 + Wisdom modifier allies as part of the caver tub. The caver is always part of her tub, even when it’s not declared. The members must be within 30 ft. of the caver at any point during the caver’s turns to be members of the tub, and if they don’t fulfill that criteria, the caver has to designate them as part of it again. Members share the favored cave feature and gain the use of teamwork feats the caver has, without having to meet the prerequisites. Unless the teamwork feat-engine is overhauled to make them stronger, this is a valid design-choice to make them not suck. 9th and 17th level increase the range of the ability by +30 ft. each, while 13th and 19th level allow for the optional designation of a caver tub as a swift or immediate action, respectively.
Favored cave is btw. gained at 3rd level and nets ties with a particular community, denoted as “cave” – the caver gains +2 to initiative, Knowledge (local), Perception, Stealth and Survival there, and the caver adds Survival skill bonus to the attempts to track her there. Unless in immediate danger, the caver can find shelter there, and at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the caver gets an additional cave and the bonuses increase. Cavers start play with +10 ft. land movement speed, and further increase that to +20 ft. at 12th level.
The class begins play with an anthodite, a rare crystal, that looks like a sea urchin and that inspires the caver to defend the tub. Cavers receive an untyped (intentionally?) bonus to atk and damage versus creatures that have attacked a member of the tub during the last minute, and the bonus is also applied to aid another when helping the members of the tub. The bonus increases from +1 to +5 over the class’s progression. I love the flavor – but why make this an ability? RAW, the crystal as a physical entity has no impact whatsoever. It doesn’t occupy a slot; it’s not clear whether it must be worn, held, etc. What if it’s lost? Can it be stolen? This, to me, looks like it should be a magic item, not a class feature. (And if it should be a class feature, it needs better verbiage.)
The class features a talent-array, so-called capers, the first of which is gained at 2nd level, with another unlocked every 2 levels thereafter. These include canceling size benefits of foes trying to Intimidate the tub, bonus feats, and some interesting tricks: Like making Diplomacy or Sense Motive as part of total defense, a code language, conceal thoughts, the ability to hide 1/day magical properties, immediate action aid another, a swift action one-round debuff to Will-saves, rogue talents, poison use, stealthy sunder attempts (nice!), social talents, Dexterity modifier to damage for a crossbow or firearm, trap rigging and breaking – you get the idea.
As a capstone, the caver may 1/week, as a full-round action, call for rebellion and include all targets within 1000 feet that choose to join the caver a part of her tub, and in the round of joining, they get break enchantment and freedom of movement, with caster level checks automatically succeeding. This is an epic and awesome capstone.
The pdf includes a sample level 1 caver NPC.
Editing and formatting are okay, but not impressive. While the rules-language is solid, the verbiage per se is pretty inconsistent, which makes the class seem rougher than it actually is. Layout adheres to a one-column full-color standard, and the pdf comes with bookmarks in spite of its brevity. Nice! The artwork on the cover is neat as well – you can see for yourself.
Carl Cramér’s caver is an odd one – it’s a skill-monkey class with a guardian angle – not exactly what I expected when I read “caver.” The class does a few things very well – namely showing advantages that Porphyra RPG will have regarding aesthetics and design space when compared to classic Pathfinder. At the same time, the class doesn’t do that much beyond that. The teamwork angle of the caver tub is something I generally enjoy seeing, but ultimately, the class suffers from not having that much unique stuff going on. The urchin-ability is a bit weird, and frankly, I didn’t get where this was supposed to be going, until I got to the capstone. Then it clicked. The capstone is awesome, and it opened my eyes regarding what this class needs: It needs persistent abilities that kick in when the tub is in effect, and abilities that only kick in when it’s established. Granted, that’d make it a wholly different class, but it’d also make it more distinct. (Supplemental material would be nice as well, but considering that the game’s still being tested, I understand the omission.) As a whole, I consider this a solid offering, though not one that will blow you away. My final verdict, taking the very low and fair price into account, will clock in at 3 stars.
You can get this inexpensive class for just $2 here on OBS!
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