EZG reviews CLASSifieds: The Saint (Revised Edition)
This pdf is 18 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page editorial, leaving us with 15 1/2 pages of content, so let’s take a look at the saint, shall we?
Saints need to have the same alignment as their deity and get d8,4+Int skills per level, proficiency with the deity’s favored weapon and simple weapons as well as shields and simple armor, but not tower shields. Saints get prepared divine spellcasting via wis of spells of up to 6th level from their own spell-list, 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref and will-saves and one domain from their patron’s available list. Regarding their spell-list – the list has been modified and has lost, among others, expeditious retreat, moment of greatness ,timely inspiration,, vanish, gallant inspiration, control summoned creature, litany of sloth, litany of defense, litany of eloquence, litany of righteousness, glibness, litany of escape, litany of sight, primal scream, commune, litany of vengeance, getaway, veil but gained sun metal, reprobation.– all in all, still a strong spell-list with some exclusives, but not as broken as it was before.
Aforementioned domain deserves special mentioning, for it does NOT add the respective spells to the spell-list, instead converting them into spell-like abilities that can be cast interchangeably (essentially like the domain is cast spontaneously via a pool). The save-DC for said abilities is 10+1/2 level + wis-mod and are cast from essentially a pool: 3+Wis-mod cats per day, with spells level 1 to 3 costing one use, level 4-6 spells costing 2 uses and higher level spells eating 3 uses per day. A rather interesting expansion of the spellcasting capabilities – though I’m not comfortable with the increased DC – domain spells tend to be rather powerful and further increasing their DC might propel them towards regions I’m not wholly comfortable with – especially since they can’t be counterspelled. While before, they ignored some of the costs, now saints need to provide costly components… which violates how spell-like abilities work: They have neither somatic, verbal, or material components and require no focus.
Saints add their class level to diplomacy and intimidate-checks versus unbelievers and get bonus feats at level 5 and every 4 levels after that – and that’s the only ability to help the fluff-concept of a negotiator/peaceful agent of the gods. That’s not the signature trick of the saint – said component would be favor, of which the saint gets wis-mod per day. They can be regained by vanquishing challenging foes with the deity’s favored weapon and non-combat ways of gaining favor, like converting others and proving your loyalty are also included – essentially, we thus get a version of grit based on faith. And I love the idea. Seriously, my one complaint with divine spellcasting always was that it didn’t FEEL like wonders bestowed by a god – but rather a class feature analogue to the one of arcane casters. Tying a class ability to a deity’s favor feels distinctly divine to may and makes this a rather neat decision – so kudos to designer Tyler Beck for that!
A Saint’s favor caps now at wis-mod. Furthermore, several graces may award temporary favor, of which a given Saint may have a maximum of one at any time and they only lass for class level rounds.
Where there’s something like grit, there’ll better be some mechanics akin to deeds – and we get them in the guise of graces: At 1st level, 3rd level and every 4 levels after that, the saint learns new favors, of which a total of 18 such favors are provided. Thematically, akin to deeds, there are some favors that require the expenditure of a favor point, whereas others are passive and work as long as you have at least one favor point in your pool. The favors per se are interesting – one for example nets the saint access to the bodyguard feat and expands it if the character also has combat reflexes, making it usable dex-mod times per day – really nice to see such interwoven rules. Since the graces now no longer allows for the infinite regaining of favor, no more complaints on my side. Another grace allows the saint to temporarily (for class level rounds) make his deity’s favored weapon merciful and when s/he manages to render a foe unconscious with the weapon s/he gains a point of temporary favor. One minor nitpick here would be that the Saint could hand said weapon to an ally – while not getting the temporary favor, I’m not 100% sure that was intended. No penalty-points for this very minor ambiguity, though, since either interpretation isn’t too strong. Favored Dodge has been purged and no longer exists..
There is also the so-called favored onslaught – an array of attacks that requires the expenditure of one point of favor, but nets the saint an additional attack at his/her highest BAB with the penalty of -2 applied to all attacks. As a caveat that makes this more viable regarding the saint’s less than stellar BAB, favored onslaught uses a full BAB to calculate the attacks at -2 and also requires the use of the favored weapon of the deity and while it can be used in conjunction with two-weapon fighting and similar attacks, it does not stack with haste-based effects. This is essentially the saint’s signature offensive ability and it can be combined with two weapon fighting. I applaud the courage of this decision, as most designers won’t touch the mess that is something like flurry of blows with a 10-foot pole, much less potentially combining it with TWF. The ambiguities that hounded the previous iteration of this ability have been thankfully cleaned up, though it still requires careful deliberation on the side of the player.
At 3rd level Saints benefit from the “In Harm’s Way”-feat as long as he has at least one favor point and gains a temporary favor point whenever he takes an attack for an ally. They may also use a bard’s fascinate ability. They may also spend favor to increase the DC by + 2 when casting spells that influence the target’s attitude – note that per the wording of the ability, this means that the domain spell-like abilities cannot be enhanced this way! (Otherwise you’d have me complaining about a high DC being increased even further…)
At 7th level, Saints may spend favor to cast cure-spells on allies at range, with one point making the range 15 feet, 2 points increasing it to 30 feet. To heal e.g. dhampirs, he can use this ability in conjunction with inflict-spells, but either application may not be used offensively. Wording-wise, this ability is slightly ambiguous since e.g. heal and similar conjuration [healing]-spells probably should be covered as well. That’s nitpicky, though. Saints also may, as a swift action, spend a favor point to bypass up to 5 points of DR (unless it’s DR/epic) with his/her favored weapon or add for one favor silent spell to his/her spells sans increasing the spell level. Unfortunately, no action-type is given for this application of favor and the ability can be added to spell-like abilities, which makes no sense since last time I checked, spell-like abilities had no verbal, somatic or material components.
At 11th level, Saints learn to spend favor to channel energy as a cleric of his level, but NOT power this ability via temporary favor. Furthermore, the Saint always may choose whether to channel positive or negative energy and always uses the variant channeling rules from Ultimate Magic, halving dice, but adding an effect depending on the Saint’s chosen domain. Also at this level, the Saint gets bonuses when s/he interposes him/herself between allies and foes and further increases the amount of bypassed DR when using the righteous strike grace, dealing bonus damage, which even multiplies on crits. Not a fan of that one since it runs contrary to how bonus damage is handled in almost all other cases – this may lead to some confusion in the long run.
At 15th level, saints may sacrifice all remaining favor and take 1d6 points of damage on ALL physical attributes – but also save an ally that would otherwise perish. VERY cool last second save ability that comes with enough of a drawback to be considered well-crafted! The saint also gets a now fixed protective aura that slowly increases over the levels. Saints may also spend favor to pay for expensive components of their domain spell-like abilities…which makes sense in the context of these domain-spell-like-abilities, but it should be noted that the domain-casts per default are spell-like abilities and thus would not require material components in the first place – hence also my complaint in the original review (and here again) that these are slightly too powerful. Essentially this whole grace is moot.
At 19th level, the Saints may use divine vessel with favor for class level rounds, further improves righteous strike and shorten the casting of a spell from standard action to swift action via 2 points of favor – thankfully not working on the domain-casts.
As a capstone, we get an outsider-transformation, that nets the celestial or fiendish template, with neutral saints being able to choose as well as smite like a(n) (anti-) paladin 1/day and essentially sees the saint turn into a herald-like figure of the deity, including some exclusive casts that may only be used if they pertain their divine mission.
We also get three new feats: Expanded Favored Weapon, which allows you to use abilities that would usually require wielding your deity’s weapon to the weapon’s whole group (As if the basic ability wasn’t powerful enough already…) and one for +2 favor points per day. The final feat adds +2 uses for the domain spell-like ability pool.
The pdf also features massive lists of favored class options for ALL core races, featured races and uncommon races -kudos, since some of them actually are very unique: Kobolds e.g. getting 1/4 ranger trap fits nice with their racial theme.
The updated version also has two archetypes for the Saint, first of which would be the Temple Guardian, who gains no spells, but retains the domain spell-like abilities (with all the issues they entail). They do get access to ranger traps, though these may only be placed close to places of worship. Instead of favored onslaught, the Temple Guardian gains access to a monk’s flurry of blows as long as he has at least 1 favor, useable freely with unarmed strikes and the favored weapon. Problem here – sans improved unarmed strike, flurry of blows using unarmed attacks is a bad idea at best. Why is flurry of blows powerful here? Choose ANY deity with a two-handed weapon and you’ll know why – Greatsword-flurry. Yeah. Ouch. Not every DM will be comfortable with this. Temple Guardians also learn to spend a point of favor to create an aura that makes foes shaken (later frightened) on a failed save, consecrate areas via favor (allowing them to use ranger traps). They also get a sense on a limited area of 10 ft./level and can determine the presence of non-believers. So….do heretics count? What if an area is high? As written, the ability is 2-dimensional. Also: What type of action is designating the area in question? No idea. At 19th level, the temple guardian can meditate 1 hour to create portals to the nearest temple of his/her deity, a portal only he can use. So…can this portal be blocked by teleportation-hampering/redirecting spells/effects? How wide is it? Does it have a CL, if so, which one? Why is it SU when it does what spells do? Can e.g. a siege engines drawn by designated horses go through? Is there a limit on the amount of beings/material that may pass through? Could he create a portal to empty e.g. a small sea into a temple by designating that the water may pass? Can such a portal transcend planar boundaries of demiplanes or full planes? Many questions and alas, no answers.
The second archetype would be the Dark Apostle: Instead of favored bodyguard, these individuals get a rogue’s sneak attack of up to +6d6 as long as s/he still has at least 1 favor remaining. Dark Apostles also get the poisoner (ex) quality and may gain temporary favor by poisoning creatures of a CR of at least their HD-2. Due to the cap of temporary favor still okay in my book. They may also spend favor to have their weapon weep a special profane poison (which is rather potent at DC 10+1/2 level, wis-mod rounds frequency, 1d3 Con and 2 required consecutive saves) and spend favor when sneak attacking foes to set them up for easier disarm attempts. At 7th level, one particular ability is hardcore broken here – Forget Secrets. As a SUPERNATURAL ability, the Apostle may cause nearby foes to forget the last minute, dazing them. While only usable once in 24 hours on a target, the ability ISN’T mind-influencing: No protections, no counterspells. That’s insane and would change how many organizations work. This needs to AT LEAST be (sp) and mind-influencing. At higher levels, Dark Apostles may spend favor to make extra attacks against foes they sent into the dying state, shadow jump. At 15th level, the Apostle exudes an aura that causes non-allies to forget to forget all that happened inside the aura after 1d4 minutes – since this counter does not start upon leaving the aura, this is a permanent amnesia-machine. This is so insane. The aura requires no conscious effort and is maintained as long as the Apostle has at least one favor – an apostle could steal YEARS with this ability, by mere continued presence. Again, no protection since it’s supernatural and not mind-influencing. Oh, and the Dark Apostle gets 1/2 class level to disguise, bluff and sleight of hand as well as a modified spell-list.
Editing and formatting, while not perfect, can still be considered very good – I didn’t notice significant typos. Layout…is DROP-DEAD-GORGEOUS. I mean…beautiful. Evocative. Awesome. The full color artworks also help here and make this pdf a true beauty to behold. The pdf has no bookmarks, which I’d usually complain about – but this pdf is extensively hyperlinked: With the good kind of hyperlinks – you know, the ones that take a lot of effort. Where a hyperlink actually pertains to the right content -even the dispel alignment-spells are properly hyperlinked and you won’t see e.g. “will” hyperlinked to will-saves when it does not refer to them! My hat’s off to Fat Goblin Games for getting this right and for the significant increase in production values they have achieved since the last pdf I’ve read from them!
So this is author Tyler Beck’s second shot at the Saint and he has learned from his last beat-down – with cleared-up rules-language, vastly improved abilities and better balancing, the saint now actually works as intended thanks to the introduction of the concept of temporary favor. The DC for the domain-casting is still too high, though, and he unfortunately did not get the mechanics of spell-like abilities right, which extends to some of the graces.
So no, the new saint is not perfect, but it’s a VAST improvement, with the newish/modified graces kicking ass. What about the new content? Oh boy…well…I’m sorry to say it, but I wouldn’t allow either of the archetypes in my home-game. The Temple Guardian is rather weak (unless you go greatsword/similar 2HW-flurry) and his limited ranger traps do not pay well for the loss of spell-casting. Add to that the fact that some of the archetype’s ability require further clarification and that one falls through for me. The Dark Apostle is just downright broken: Poison, spellcasting and the insanely powerful amnesia as well as the ability that is an all-but-de-facto guaranteed kill on downed foes conspire to make this archetype too powerful. Add to that the fact that the aura requires clarification and we get an archetype that gets so much more than it loses.
So…how to rate this? Well, the base-class is *MOSTLY* fixed, but unfortunately, the archetypes require some work. There still are no bookmarks in here, but the hyperlinks are great. Were it only for the class, I’d settle for a final verdict of straight 4 stars, but with the massive issues of the archetypes, I’d have to go down to 3.5 stars, rounded down. My final verdict will be in-between, at 3.5 stars, with a recommendation to ignore the archetypes. Whether you round up or down much depends on your personal preference, personally, I’ll round up because I REALLY like the concept of graces and how they feel divine.