Divergent Paths: The Medic
This installment of Dreamscarred Press’ Divergent Paths-series, which provides new options for the Path of War subsystem, clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
As always regarding Path of War supplements, please understand this review as written with the caveat that this represents a serious power-upgrade over regular Pathfinder gaming, championing a playstyle that is distinctly high-fantasy and geared towards a higher level of PC power. As such, I will not try to judge this for its balance with core Pathfinder, but for its interaction with the Path of War rules. In case you’re new to the series: This series is not made for gritty, old-school play-styles.
Okay, that out of the way, let’s look at the class! The medic uses Wisdom as the governing key-attribute for their maneuvers and receives d8 HD as well as 4 + Int skills per level. The class gains proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor and shields, excluding tower shields. The class has a 3/4 BAB-progression and good Fort- and Will-saves. Maneuver-wise, we begin with 5 known maneuvers, increasing that up to 16 are 20th level; 3 can be readied at 1st level, increasing up to 10 and finally, we begin with one stance known and increase that up to 7 at 20th level. Regarding disciplines available, the medic may choose Broken Blade, Iron Tortoise, Golden Lion, Steel Serpent and Tempest Gale – all in all, a fitting selection, when bearing the role of the class in mind.
Medics begin combat with all readied maneuvers unexpended. In order to recover maneuvers, the medic expends a full-round action to reassure allies of her presence – this lets her regain medic initiation modifier (minimum 2) expended maneuvers and also grants all allies within 30 feet, including the medic 3 times the medic’s initiator level as temporary hit points as well as a bonus equal to her initiator level to Fortitude saves – the latter for one round, the former last for 1 minute. It should be noted that these temporary hit points stack with those gained from other sources, but not with themselves. Alternatively, the medic may extend a standard action to regain one maneuver.
The medic may, as a free action, assess the health of all allies present once per round, including poisons and diseases etc. and may, with a Heal check based on 10 + CR, also assess the health of every single foe present to do the same there. A crucial aspect of the class and perhaps the signature ability would be triage. At 1st level, this can be used as a swift action. Triage lets the medic move up to her movement speed, as long as she ends her movement adjacent to an ally. Said ally is healed by 3 times the medic’s initiator level hit points. This increases to 4 times her initiator level at 7th level, 5 times initiator level at 14th level. This ability can be used 3/encounter (remember Path of War has defined that as a concise time-frame), plus an additional time per encounter at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Alternatively, triage can be used as a full-round action, expending two of its uses: When the medic does so, she may move up to twice her speed, the movement ignores difficult terrain (also damaging terrain?) and provokes no attacks of opportunity. Any ally that is adjacent to the medic at any point during that movement is healed for the medic’s triage’s amount. The swift use of triage allows the medic to add one medic’s expertise to the healed character, the full-round version allows for the addition of up to class level expertises to each ally healed. However, each ally can only benefit once per use from a given triage. Additionally, it should be mentioned that full-round maneuver regaining also nets you an additional use of triage if you have none left. (As a nitpick, a “see page X” can be found in the ability text.)
So, what are these medic’s expertises? Well, they are basically talents, many of which modify the triage class feature – these are denoted by asterisks for your convenience. The medic begins play with 2 of them at 1st level and gains another one at every even-numbered level thereafter. Unless I have miscounted, a total of 21 are included in the deal. These run the gamut you’d expect them to, considering the theme of the class and the wording of triage – one lets you negate automatically one AoO made against her during triage; one adds a free aid another as part of triage. (Another one increases the bonus granted.)
Healing herself as part of full-round triage can be found, as can be the option to neutralize poisons and gaining poison and nonmagical disease immunity – both of which are locked behind 8th level. Starting at 10th level, medics can use long term care to reapply severed limbs. One option also nets combat feats (and can be taken multiple times). Poison use (with the option to delay the onset of those affected by triage) can also be found. Increased movement when using triage is very potent, as is the option to end adverse conditions (first fatigued, sickened, staggered and shaken, then, with the follow-up expertise that is unlocked at 6th level, also blinded, dazed, deafened, exhausted, frightened, nauseated, paralyzed and stunned). I think “without moving” would have been a good addition here: “When the medic successfully hits with a strike, she may spend a triage as a swift action to heal an ally within 30 feet. This use of triage only heals 1/2 the normal amount of damage.” – it also makes the extraordinary triage ability feel more supernatural, as far as I’m concerned, but yeah. An interesting and potent 10th level expertise lets the medic move up to her speed when using triage on herself, all sans provoking AoOs. Alternatively, the right expertise lets the medic heal up to initiation modifier attribute damage instead of hit point damage. Removing curses and diseases can also be unlocked (as a nitpick – both spell references have not been italicized) and there is a damage boost to follow up on triages.
Starting at 2nd level, the medic’s treat deadly wounds recovers hit points and attribute damage as though the subject had rested for a full day and the medic doesn’t need a healer’s kit to do so. Starting at 6th level, the medic can treat deadly wounds or provide long-term care for up to initiation modifier creatures at once Additionally, creatures treated for deadly wounds regain hit points as though the had rested a full day with long-term care. At 11th level, creatures thus treated regain hit points and ability damage as if they had rested 3 days.
At 3rd level, the class gains Cura Te Ipsum – when they initiate a strike, they gain +1 to Ref- and Will-saves until the next turn, which increases by a further +1 at 7th level and every 4 levels thereafter.
5th level allows the medic to add to medic’s expertises to any Triage, with 10th and 15th level increasing that by a further +1. At 6th level, the medic may 1/day initiate a counter as a free action, but it must be used to protect an ally within 30 feet, who is then treated as though they had initiated the counter in question, using the medic’s stats for variables. The ability may be used an additional time per day at 12th and 18th level, but not more often than once per round. Starting at 9th level, the medic gains a breath of life-like use of triage, allowing them to stabilize/return fallen comrades from death, provided they have perished within one round. Starting at 14th level, we get 1/week raise dead and 17th level yields a 1/month true resurrection. The capstone allows for the addition of any number of expertises to the triage ability.
The pdf also provides favored class options for the core races, dhampir, hobgoblin, orc, tiefling, half-giant, maenad, ophiduan, alicorn, dreige and wulfkin races. Archetype-wise, we start with the ambu-lancer, who gains ride as a class skill and replaces Tempest gale with Piercing Thunder. Instead of the medic’s first level expertise, the archetype gains a mount as an animal companion and the second expertise is exchanged for Mounted Combat. Instead of the mount’s share spells feature, the mount may, from 1st level on, supply the movement component required by some maneuvers. Similarly, the mount may supply the movement for triage. At 4th level, the ambu-lancer generates an light-shedding siren that emits an ear-piercing screech while mounted. The effect may be suppressed, but while it’s active, she gains Improved Overrun when using triage and creatures avoiding her may not execute AoOs against her. Hilarious visuals there. This replaces 4th level’s additional triage use. At 6th level, the ambu-lancer may pull allies affected by triage atop the mount, also potentially shielding them via Mounted Combat. This replaces that level’s additional triage use.
The angel of mercy loses Broken Blade in favor of Silver Crane and replaces one first level medic’s expertises with resistance to acid and cold 5. At 8th level, fire and electricity resistance 5 is gained. Instead of 6th level’s expertise, the angel emits a continuous 20-ft.-radius protection from evil (not italicized properly). At 10th level, whenever the angel initiates a strike that heals damage, all allies within 30 ft. gain the medic’s initiator level as temporary hit points. This replaces improved triage. St 12th level, the angel can grown wings for 1 minute per class level with good maneuverability, replacing that level’s expertise.
Next up would be the Sanguinist, who replaces one expertise at 1st level with Improved Unarmed Strike and its Greater brother at 3rd level, using medic level instead of BAB to calculate base damage. 1st level provides blood transfusion – whenever the sanguinist deals lethal damage with unarmed or natural attacks, they inflict an additional initiation modifier damage, gaining an equal amount of points for the blood reservoir. It should be noted that the archetype has a REALLY nice kitten-caveat. Now, this blood reserve is used as the resource from which healing for allies is drawn – instead of a fixed amount, any number of hit points from the pool may be healed. Instead of Cura Te Ipsum, +1 to atk and damage with natural or unarmed attacks are gained, with a similar increase in potency. Instead of the 4th level’s expertise, the archetype becomes immune to all poisons and diseases and may absorb them via triage and then store these in the blood reserve. These stored afflictions may then be inflicted upon foes via triage or blood infusion. A total of initiation modifier such poisons and diseases may be stored. 20th level increases the drained hit points from target of unarmed strikes by +50%.
The final archetype would be the witch doctor, who gains Spellcraft and UMD as class skills and uses Wisdom as key ability modifier for both. The archetype loses triage and instead begins play with a level 1 wand of cure light wounds that has similar restriction s a gunslinger’s starting gun. Similar to triage, the archetype may move up to her movement 3/encounter as a swift action, ending movement adjacent to an ally ad use a spell completion or spell trigger item with the healing descriptor (or from her spell list) on the ally. Use on self prohibits movement. Additional uses per encounter are gained at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter. Instead of the two medic’s expertises, the archetype gains Scribe Scroll at 1st level, and Craft Wand at 5th level, using initiator level as a substitute caster level. The witch doctor is considered to have her own spell-list, which encompasses all spells with the healing descriptor as well as a small list for the purpose of item manufacture. This replaces 8 expertises as well as the returning-from-death-ability-suite. Starting at 6th level, the archetype treats the CL of spells from said list via wands etc. as being equal to the initiator level as well as the benefits of a free Empower Spell. As a capstone, the benefits of a free Maximize Spell are added as well.
The pdf also contains 9 new feats: These include an extra guardian of life ability use per day, an extra expertise and more: One feat nets you a free action shield don and, while in Mithral Current, a free 5-foot step when shield bashing or using a shield-reliant counter. First Aid Training net a creature benefiting from your Heal check your Wisdom modifier + Heal ranks as temporary hit points. Gugnir Technique is pretty cool, relying on Piercing Thunder and Silver Crane: When in a Silver Crane stance, you may use a polearm as though it was a ghost touch weapon and may target possessing entities sans affecting the possessed creature. There are more such discipline-crossover feats for penalized foes or temporary DR. Healer’s Mercy lets you substitute Heal checks for coup-de-graces and also suppress regeneration for the duration. Plague Doctor provides bonuses to those treated against subsequent infections.
The pdf closes with 4 magic items: incense of convalescence lets the user inhale it in doses of 2, ignoring 2, 4 or 6 points of attribute damage, drain or penalties for up to 24 hours – cost: 750 gp. The plaster of recuperation is basically the same for physical attribute damage. Refinement charms can be added to e.g. a necklace of many charms (see Steelforge Book I) for +2 on Heal checks to treat poison or diseases or for +1 hit point healed via long term care use of the Heal skill. For 2K, power charms can also be added to such an item, but take up three of its slots. These include +1 hit point healed per medic initiator level, +1 guardian of life ability use per day, increasing Cura Te Ipsum’s save bonus by +1 or + 1 effective CL or ML for effects that return dead creatures to life.
Editing and formatting are excellent on a rules-level; on a formal level, there are a few minor hiccups like missed italicizations and the like. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf comes with a second, more printer-friendly iteration. Both are fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Anthony S. Altovilla provides the logical continuation of the Path of War system and design aesthetic. After delimiting AoE damage, magical effects and the like, the medic now does the same for similar means of attrition, allowing for infinite healing (though it is slower than that based on limited resources) of several negative conditions and afflictions, so if you used these methods to keep your Path of War characters “in check”, then you may want to think twice about this. This is pretty much intended for the groups that employ the system in the playstyle heavily implied by the design, not for those groups that use the system with “buts” or “howevers.” In short – this won’t end any of the criticisms towards the system and retains its divisive nature; perhaps, for some it may be the escalation, while for others, it will be hailed as the fulfillment.
That being said, if you’ve read this review until this point, chances are you may be a fan of Path of War and if you are, then rejoice, for this book, in a way, completes the aesthetics of the system, catapulting the healing aspects, mostly limited up to this point, to a level more in line with the system. The ignoring of difficult terrain of the medic and the swift action triage mean that you’ll be healing “on the fly” while still executing kick-ass martial moves, which makes the medic play like a powerful support martial artist and not like a heal bot. The class works as intended and rather smoothly. You’ll be dishing out damage and healing all at once and the class, as such, works well in conjunction with the other Path of War classes. The magic items also emphasize this non-stop action aspect, blowing the effects of lesser restoration out of the water with an increased utility and potency geared more towards the constant action of Path of War’s playstyle.
The decision’s easy at this point: Do you like Path of War and how its power-level plays at your table? Then chances are very high that you’ll also love the medic – the class and its supplemental material is professionally designed for this play-style. Now personally, at this point, there is one thing I’d like to see from DSP: A full, dedicated AP that is specifically designed to provide a challenge for Path of War characters. The roster is complete, so only the modules are missing, as far as I’m concerned, but that just as an aside.
How to rate this, then? Well, as mentioned before in my reviews for the system and its expansions, if you’re into gritty or low-powered playstyles and resource-management, then don’t touch this with a 10-foot pole. If you enjoy the play-style and love the powerful PCs it generates, then consider this to be a must-own continuation of the direction of the design. Since it makes absolutely zero sense to try to rate this according to non-Path of War aesthetics, my final verdict will reflect this file’s usefulness for the system and those of you who enjoy it – and you’ll love this. For you, this is a 5 stars file.
You can get this martial healer here on OBS!
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