EZG reviews The Edgewalker: Wielder of Light and Darkness (Revised Edition)
The Edgewalker: Wielder of Light and Darkness (Revised Edition)
This revised and expanded version of the base-class by Interjection Games clocks in at 19 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page ToC (and a story of the genesis of this class – it has been commissioned by Preston Mitchell!), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
The edgewalker gets 4+Int skills per level, d8, proficiency with simple weapons, short sword, rapier, sap, kukri, shortbow and whip as well as light armors and shields. Over the 20 levels of the class it receives a sneak attack progression from +1d6 to a maximum of +7d6 at 19th level and the class gets a 3/4 BAB-progression and good ref- and will-saves. As you can imagine, Uncanny Dodge also can be found among the class features, at 3rd level.
So, what is the edgewalker’s deal? The class can be described as a martial artist with a thematic connection to light and darkness – a kind of monk/rogue blend, if you will, and more importantly, one that does not fall by the wayside. Edgewalkers at first level receive thus two pools – the radiance and the shadow pool, both at least containing one point and both using an attribute modifier (wis for radiance, int for shadow) to determine additional points for the respective pools. At 5th level and every six levels thereafter, the edgewalker receives a +2 to maximum pool size that can be freely distributed among the pools (for a net gain of +1/+1 or +0/+2)
Now as a Batman/stealth type of class, receiving evasion relatively soon should not be considered uncommon (2nd level, improved evasion at 11th level, nerfing these two and taking away any lingering sense of these components being problematic) and 6th level edgewalkers receive hide in plain sight as long as they are within 10 feet of a sufficiently large shadow. Moving hide in plain sight further down the class progression was a smart choice, rendering the balance of the class better for it. Now this still makes targeting the edgewalker with spells et al rather difficult – the class is geared rather well towards taking softer targets out.
Now beyond FCOs for core races, drow, aasimar, tieflings, hobgoblins, kobolds, orcs and puddlings (all solid), we also receive 4 feats for the class, but these require explanation of the core talent system of the class: Essentially, edgewalkers start the game with two so-called waypoints known, one light, one darkness and at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the class receives an additional waypoint. Now there is a cool restriction in place here – the edgewalker needs to keep a balance between light and darkness, which translates to waypoint selection: If your light-based waypoints exceed those that are darkness-based, you need to learn a darkness-based one next and vice versa, creating a kind of equilibrium. It should also be noted that a couple of these waypoints count as either light, or darkness, depending on your needs.
The new feats can be used to gain a waypoint and do some interesting things – “Harmony of Essence” increases your effective edgewalker level for the purpose of the other type of waypoint whenever you use one, rewarding mechanically the switching between light and darkness. Luminous truth nets you the benefits of true seeing for 1 round as a supernatural effect (an effective caster level or SP as a base type would have been better, probably) and another feat allows you to alleviate one restriction of certain waypoints – some of these have asterisks, which denote that they manipulate the shadow of the edgewalker for the effect. That means only one of these can be in effect at a given time, though aforementioned feat allows you to have two of these in effect at a given time.
Now before I get towards waypoints, you should also be aware that at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, the edgewalker also receives a greater waypoint, which can be considered a kind of more powerful talent – one that requires some planning, for the greater waypoints also have to adhere to the light/darkness-dichotomy, offering opportunities for proper planning of character progression.
Now you’re of course interested in the aforementioned waypoints and the waypoints themselves have diverse prerequisites – from none, to level-caps and other waypoints have certain skills and feats as prerequisites.. Now what can you for example make with these waypoints? Well, since there are more than 50 in here, I’m just going to note that the following is not a comprehensive list, but rather an array of options that should be considered kind of presentational for the class.
Very interesting for blocking charges and the like, “A Thousand Grasping Tendrils” allows you to, as a swift action, reshape your shadow into an array of tendrils that create a micro-aura of 10 feet of difficult terrain around you – which, of course, does not hinder you in any way. Ignoring difficult terrain and effortlessly scaling any incline less than 90° can also be done by these fellows. Another waypoint offers a dazzle against a creature you threaten – sans save, as an immediate action, useable whenever you switch between light and darkness consecutively. Armors of light (that do not necessarily enhance your stealth…), a shaken-causing breath weapon of black wind, 1 round slow at a higher save DC, better stealth, cushioning falls (the longer the fall, the higher the cost), very minor reflexive damage (plus dazzle), creating areas of demoralizing gloom and putting creatures subjected to fatigue-related negative conditions or con-damage/drain to sleep is rather interesting. Why? because for the edgewalker, rolling bad on sneak attack is not necessarily a bad thing: For each natural 1,2 or 3 rolled on such a roll, you also deal one point of con damage if you take the 8th level dark waypoint.
Now where things get interesting would e.g. be with the exceedingly cool ability that lets you set up your shadow as a flanking supplement and, quite possibly for the first time since I’ve been doing this reviewing thing, gets such an ability actually right. Now, with Ichor of the Firefly, the edgewalker may coat his/her weapons with virulent light that invades the bodies of target, negating invisibility etc., while also providing significant bonus damage, especially against creatures sensitive to light. Making conversely, a poison from darkness itself that scales damage-wise over the levels also becomes a distinct possibility. Speaking of said poison – if you use the dark-aligned poison, you may add a neat combo (though the following is not restricted to the darkness-based poison) that allows you to ignite the poison coursing through your foe’s veins, dealing significant fire damage. Damn cool!
The equivalent of solo tactics sans requiring an ally (but only while your shadow isn’t otherwise occupied) also makes for a cool array of tactical options. Want to know what’s lurking round the corner, in the adjacent room etc.? What about stretching your shadow up to 60 feet and looking through its eyes? This ability, which can be taken at first level, is narrative gold and iconic in imagery!
Of course, various spell-like abilities, poison use, pillars of light that heal minor damage, motes of searing light or making your shadow the equivalent of a kind of bear trap are possible, but for me, the anti-ray/attack-roll spell Tenebrous Tango, which allows you to have spells utterly miss you – think mirror image variant with an edge. At a permanent cost of 1 point from a pool of your choosing, you may also master poisons to the extent they become more potent, making your poisons at +1 DC more lethal – and with quite a few requiring consecutive saves in PFRPG, this makes sense.
Now I did mention those greater waypoints and as you may have imagined, they are the big ones – Summoning forth several shadows from you one – cool. But more interesting would, at least for me, be the game-changer that is Cumulative Exposure – it deals automatic damage to all adjacent creatures whenever you subsequently use two waypoints. Using multiple dark waypoints may also yield bonuses and igniting mundane light sources to emit blinding flashes makes for a cool idea and better light/darkness poison/ichors are lethal and cool – what about e.g. an ichor that makes the target suffer from miss chances galore, but also receive an applicable miss chance as it becomes insubstantial -nice reflection of the duality-theme in the crunch here. Now also rather awesome would be the option to steal other creature’s shadows via ranged CMB to power darkness-waypoints. Cool here – the ability manages to properly prevent kitten-bag abuse. Lifelinks also are possible – ouch! Now it should be noted that, although the page-count of the pdf remains unchanged, quite a few stock artworks have been taken out of the file to make room for more waypoints, which is rather cool and adds to the arsenal of an already fun and inspired class. It should be specifically noted that the greater waypoints receiving some awesome tricks – what about establishing a link that damages a target when you are healed? Yeah, evil and oh so cool!
The capstone of the class allows you to use radiance and darkness pool interchangeably, with the on-intended pool only increasing the cost of waypoints by 1 when paid from the other pool – which seems a bit boring at first, but the capstone greater waypoints more than make up for this – raise dead sans material components, ignoring just about all immunities, DRs etc. for a time or having your shadow utterly erase a creature from existence – quite awesome imagery and tricks await at the peak of power as well!
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to interjection Games’ 2-column b/w-standard and is printer-friendly. The artwork is thematically fitting stock and the pdf has no bookmarks, which is a minor comfort detriment.
This class by Bradley Crouch is rather simple when compared to other Interjection Games-classes and should not overexert anyone’s capability to understand it getting the class at first read-through is all but guaranteed. That being said, the edgewalker is more complex than one would assume at first glance – one can set up quite a bunch of rather interesting combos and the synergy with some abilities present in the edgewalker makes for a surprisingly unique playing experience. When I went into this class, I honestly expected either a rip-off of a certain PrC from the 3.X Book of 9 Swords or a slightly more mystical ninja.
What I got turned out to be more rewarding than either. Whereas the ninja-class is essentially a type of rogue on steroids, playing an edgewalker in game, while similar on paper, feels actually much more tactical, more rewarding. The edgewalker is a great skirmisher/trick fighter and surprisingly fun to play. My final verdict is hence based on how the class performed in actual game, on its rather cool playstyle and neat variety – add the option for easy expansion of the system and the easy to grasp mechanics and we have a final verdict of 5 stars + seal of approval – now that we actually get more content and the rough edges have been polished off, there is literally no reason not to get this cool class and give it a try!
(Especially since I happen to have read the Antipodist, Interjection Games upcoming take on shadow magic, and the classes WILL have some interesting synergy…)
You can get this cool class (now even better) here on OBS and here on d20pfsrd.com’s shop!
Thanks for the updated review.
Something I’ve wondered is how you go about playtesting/analyzing content for your reviews. Do you have a set of standard modules you use to calibrate things against, do you have a table of target values, is there any sort of standard tests you put a class/new content up against, is it more of a ‘feeling’, or do you just play a lot of games with your group to give you a chance to try lots of things out?
Ah, the process! It’s rather complex, so I’ll try to be brief:
Step 1: I read the pdf/book. If the content is no utter wreck, I take the content with me to my group. At this stage, I usually have a dry analysis (avg damage, utility, etc.) done. Here, I do have target values – if you can out-nova psionics or sorcerors, there’s an issue, for example.
Step 2: If we’re NOT playing my main campaign, each player chooses one of the classes to playtest. S/he generates a character. I then proceed to run these characters through a module I wanted to playtest. I do this mainly because I think that scenarios à la “class xyz fights dragon in vacuum” do not represent how a class actually plays. Such tests provide an inkling, yes, but that’s about it. (See nova-issues et al.) Also: What fun is playing e.g. a super-duper-damage class that can’t do anything but squishing foes?
Step 3: I compare how the class fared with my analysis and ask my players how they experienced the class, both the player of the class and the rest.
Step 4 (optional): If all players agree that a certain content might benefit the main campaign, it is added for further in-depth playtesting. So yeah, that’s about it.
Why do I prefer this type of tests? Take IG’s Ethermancer – looked complex on paper, math was very hard to do, all day casting -> wasn’t sold. In actual game-play, the class fared much better and proved to be actually a fun addition that did not steal the thunder of the other classes while still contributing. Now my main campaign actually has one of these guys as a PC. The actual “how does it play”-experience is most important for me.
Hope that provided some insight! If you want to know further details, don’t hesitate to drop me a line!
Thanks, this is exactly what I was looking for as a basic framework for evaluating new material.