Jul 092013
 

Flotsam of the River Realms

113363

This pdf is 11 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

 

We kick this off with an alchemist archetype, the Clock-borne:  These alchemist replace mutagens with 1 minute per class level 20% blur-like miss chance by creating two duplicates. These duplicates also can be used in different ways at higher levels – whether by using an illusion of calm, immunity to flanking and splitting melee attacks between two targets as per mirror strike. At 6th level, the archetype gets a twisted, powerful ability – 1/day, for int-mod rounds, s/he can make a foe s/he touched AUTOMATICALLY FAIL ALL ATTACKS, instead hitting an adjacent square.  AT 14th level, the miss chance is even increased to 50% and becomes 1 hour per class level. Which is hilariously overpowered. Seriously. Miss chances are POWERFUL and poison use as well as mutagens might be useful, but don’t come out as equal when compared to a supernatural, undispellable miss-chance that can be maintained that long – even before the broken touch attack. No way I’d allow this archetype.

 

The second archetype would be the Libertine inquisitor, who gets a slightly modified skill list and a rather weird ability – spurious gaze allows as a move action an inquisitor whose cha is higher than the target’s wis to treat any creature as helping flanking. They also are cloaked by undetectable alignment, 1/week use envious urge, use foes as living shields: Class level rounds per day, incurred melee or ranged damage is split equally between the inquisitor and adjacent enemies – no save, no CMB vs. CMD, no attack, swift action to activate – utterly broken. Worse, later, as an immediate action, libertines may force opponents cha-mod times per day to make a will-save or have their attacks redirected – WHAT??? And again, as a supernatural ability? No way. At 17th level, they may even redirect spells not cast defensively. Again, an mho completely overpowered, bad archetype.

 

The third archetype is River Gypsy, once again with a modified skill-list. River Gypsies store their spells not in a familiar, but in an arcane fetish. River Gypsies must take either Tough as Nails, Rumors and Readings or Beguiling Entertainer as first level hex and at 10th level, she may curse casters to incur minor spellblights – which is rather cool! What’s not so cool is that it’s called a hex in the text, but shows up as its own ability – so which is it? Regarding the aforementioned arcane fetish, 5 items can be chosen – crystal ball, scrying bowl, rune stones, harrow deck, tambourine and scarves. Nice and surely a cool archetype for Varisians/gypsy-like cultures.

 

Next up is the new Craft (luck charms)-skill, which unfortunately remains  a one-dip-skill that lacks any incentive to invest more than a bare minimum of skill ranks. Worse, it fails to specify to what rolls the luck bonus/penalty the charms net applies, rendering this completely useless.

 

We also get two new magical items – first the brooch of false opportunity, which as a swift action can make a target make an AoO which automatically misses. Since it’s essentially an extended feint, it should follow those rules, NOT the opposed bluff-checks-3.5-remnant the item mentions. The cap of innocuity makes foes prefer other targets to the wearer – which is nice, I guess.

 

After that, DMs get some food with white water rapids as CR 2 hazards – Using acrobatics or profession (sailor) and ref-saves to regain footing, the hazard is actually rather nice – though players will hate the option to lose items to the hazard.

 

The final page contains an awesome full color map (with grid) of a river barge – Seriously, the map is awesome! Kudos to cartographer/author Jerry Keyes – I didn’t notice it had been created with dundjinni – it’s that well-made!

 

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good – while I didn’t notice any significant glitches, on the rules-editing side, this pdf has some issues imho. Layout adheres to a printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and sports useful hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com.

 

Oh boy. Two of 3 archetypes are imho utterly and completely broken, the third being okay. Add to that one of two magic items using 3.5-rules instead of how pathfinder handles it and we have quite of a mess – which sucks – for the map and hazard are great. The player-content with the possible exception of the river gypsy, though, I wouldn’t allow anywhere near my table. This essentially means I consider half of the pdf flawed, the other half ranging from ok to good. Unfortunately, though, at least for me, that’s not enough – hence my final verdict will clock in at 2.5 stars, rounded down to 2 stars.

 

You can get this affordable selection of miscellanea here on OBS.

 

Endzeitgeist out.

 

Comments

  4 Responses to “EZG reviews Flotsam of the River Realms”

  1. Endzeitgeist: Let me start off by saying I’m a BIG FAN of your reviews. You take a lot of effort to explain the things you like and don’t like with each product, and I appreciate that both as a publisher and as a customer. Having said that, we’re sad that you didn’t like it and so I’d like to respond to some of your concerns regarding the perceived (over)power of the clock-borne and the libertine archetypes.

    Concern #1: Warped Perspective is too powerful

    Your comments: At 6th level, the archetype gets a twisted, powerful ability – 1/day, for int-mod rounds, s/he can make a foe s/he touched AUTOMATICALLY FAIL ALL ATTACKS, instead hitting an adjacent square.

    Our response: This ability is based on the 2nd level wizard spell, “Twisted Space”.

    In reality, this is not an auto-miss ability, since the randomly determined adjacent space could still include the clock-borne, an ally, or really anything else. Note also that the clock-borne must make a touch attack and activating the ability still draws an attack of opportunity. The main difference between the ability and the spell it is based on is that things other than creatures can be targeted, which seemed like a nice role-playing opportunity. In addition, the original spell has close range whereas this ability is “touch” only. In exchange, it lasts for an extra round or two.

    Conclusion #1: Granting a slightly boosted 2nd level spell at 6th level isn’t really overpowered after all. Is it?

    Concern #2: Expanded Multifaceted is not an equivalent swap of power

    Your comments: AT 14th level, the miss chance is even increased to 50% and becomes 1 hour per class level. Which is hilariously overpowered. Seriously. Miss chances are POWERFUL and poison use as well as mutagens might be useful, but don’t come out as equal when compared to a supernatural, undispellable miss-chance that can be maintained that long – even before the broken touch attack.

    Our response: While 50% concealment is indeed powerful, it better be at 14th level. Keep in mind that this replaces Persistent Mutagen, which grants as much as +7 AC (via greater mutagen) for exactly the same amount of time. CR appropriate creatures can bypass concealment with area attacks/spells, simple feats, low-level abilities (e.g. sniper’s eye, trick shot, etc.) and low- to mid-level spells (e.g. circle of clarity, hunter’s eye, magic missile, named bullet, true seeing, etc.).

    Extending the concealment duration into hours has very little to no combat ramifications as battles rarely last more than a couple of minutes. In effect, this time extension is simply to add “cool factor” to the archetype.

    Comparable spells/powers include:
    * A 1st level Fetchling character gets 50% concealment in dim light, 24 hours a day.
    * Displacement (3rd level wizard spell) 50% concealment.
    * Obscuring mist (1st level wizard spell) 50% vs. ranged attacks.
    * A 14th level Wild Shadow Ranger, 40% concealment in favored terrain.
    * Darkness (2nd level wizard spell) 50% concealment.
    * A 7th level Oracle with Time Flicker, 50% concealment for 7 rds.

    Conclusion #2: While 50% concealment is powerful, it is commensurate with other 14th level powers and abilities; including the Supernatural, undispellable Persistent Mutagen it replaces.

    Concern #3: Shield of Enemies is broken

    Your comments: (U)se foes as living shields: Class level rounds per day, incurred melee or ranged damage is split equally between the inquisitor and adjacent enemies – no save, no CMB vs. CMD, no attack, swift action to activate – utterly broken.

    Our response: Shield of Enemies should require the Total Defense action, not a Swift action. This change was left out in an edit round. The desired result being that the Libertine exchanges his attack to soften the blow of another attack, while “spreading the love”.

    Conclusion #3: Shield of Enemies is indeed broken and will be repaired in an update. 🙁

    Concern #4: Dissension in the Ranks

    Your comments: (A)s an immediate action, libertines may force opponents cha-mod times per day to make a will-save or have their attacks redirected – WHAT??? And again, as a supernatural ability? No way.

    Our response: Dissension in the Ranks replaces a cornerstone ability (Greater Bane (Su)) so it had to be good. Is it too good? Honestly, this ability is just the modified 5th level Bard spell, “Foe to Friend”. It uses the same action (Immediate), but has a shorter range. Making it a Supernatural ability avoids attacks of opportunity and disruption, thereby keeping it in line with the swapped ability.

    Conclusion #4: Granting a 5th level spell at 12th level is not overpowered or unbalanced when comparing it to 4d6 points of bane damage for 12 rounds.

    Concern #5: Scapegoat is Overpowered

    Your comments: At 17th level, they may even redirect spells not cast defensively. Again, an mho completely overpowered…

    Our response: Scapegoat is an adaptation of the Xacarba’s (CR15) Redirect Spell (Su) ability. Is it powerful? Heck yeah! But at 17th level it better be. Keep in mind this replaces Slayer so you’re giving up the following abilities:

    Destruction: +8 to all damage rolls.
    Healing: Fast healing 8.
    Justice: +5 to attack rolls, +10 to confirm critical hits.
    Piercing: + 8 on concentration checks vs. spell resistance.
    Protection: +5 AC, +10 AC vs. critical confirmations.
    Purity: +5 to all saves, +10 vs. curses, poison and disease.
    Resiliency: DR5/alignment.
    Resistance: Resist energy 16
    Smiting: Overcome DR adamantine

    Conclusion #5: With the power and flexibility of Slayer, Scapegoat is probably underpowered. In fact, there was concern that players may not select this archetype because of the weakness of this ability. But characters rarely get to 17th level, so we risked it.

    Summation: We love that you took the time to really describe your concerns about this supplement and hopefully our responses alleviated some of your fears about being overpowered. Also, thanks for bringing to our attention the error with Shield of Enemies; we can only imagine how many GM’s are currently cursing us! And, thanks also for letting us know what you liked. Hopefully our next product will knock your socks off.

    Best Regards,
    Jerry.
    Above Average Creations

    PS: If we still haven’t alleviated your concerns, please let us know. We want to create things that people really like and nothing less.

  2. Hej Jerry!
    First of all: Thank you for your kind words and being professional about my criticism. It’s not a given and I greatly appreciate it.

    Let me comment further:

    Re Concern #1: Yes, the attack still may hit an ally or the clockborne. Your analogue with twisted space is imho though flawed: The text’s fluff states: “Until the start of your next turn, melee attacks made by the target creature affect a random target instead of their intended target.” That means there NEEDS to be another target to hit – i.e. the spell, with its only 1 round duration still makes the attack hit other beings and doesn’t work if there are no appropriate targets, whereas Warped Space allows the Clockborne to make attacks miss. In my book, that’s a significant difference and a massive netto gain in power alongside the longer duration. The duration is offset by the touch attack-limit, but not the ability’s expanded focus.

    Expanded Multifaceted: I’ve DM’d 4 campaigns hitting the 20s, multiple of which went into Epic levels and experience has shown that miss chances ARE powerful. Yes, some creatures may bypass them, but by making it a supernatural ability, you took away the chance to dispel it. And yes, other ways exist to get miss chance – like the ones you listed. Take a look at that list – each requires something – dim light (and yes, I think fetchlings are op – just one of the problematic races to come out of the ARG), favored terrain – and the others are dispelable or have a significantly lesser duration. I don’t object to the ability – I object to it being supernatural AND that long in its duration. I could live with 10 minutes per level, but one hour? Imho too long – it also cancels precision-based attacks, helps in suprise rounds etc. – hence I consider it OP.

    Shield of Enemies: Glad you’ll fix it – I’ll update my review accordingly as soon as you do!

    Dissension in the Ranks: It does not replace Greater Bane. That’s perhaps what you intended. But the pdf reads: “This ability replaces the bonus teamwork feat gained at 12th level.” That means the archetype still gets greater bane. Also: The spell you compared it with allows for both a save and SR and can be counterspelled.

    Scapegoat: I give you that this ability indeed is the least OP of the bunch – when combined with the other abilities of the archetype, it feels a tad bit too strong, but I’ll do the math with some sample NPCs versus various foes and see what comes out of it.

    Hope that makes clear some of the points I tried to make! Cheers and thanks again for being civil!

  3. Hi Again Thilo:

    Thanks for taking the time to respond, and so quickly too! I can see that I haven’t changed your overall impression of the archetypes — ah well, I had to try. I would ask one favor though, let your players playtest test these rules and see if you still have the same concerns afterwards. And, if you’re inclined, let us know how it goes.

    Forgive my greedy request, but while I have your ear, can you elaborate on your comments for Craft (luck charm)? Like many craft skills, the benefit in increasing the skill is to make the item more quickly (e.g. from 1 per week to 1 per day) and of better quality (i.e. lasting all day rather than just one hour). Also, the bonus/penalty specifically applies to the next save or skill check. Perhaps we could we have made that clearer in the text?

    Lastly, would you ever consider PREviewing new offerings from Above Average Creations? I would really enjoy your frank observations during the development process. This would benefit the players even more than a review would, and we’d be honored to include your name in the credits.

    Respectfully,

    Jerry.

  4. Hej Jerry,

    Yeah, my overall take on the archetypes didn’t change – the multifaceted is BROKEN in my opinion and I will show it to my players when we do a playtest oneshot for a high level module next time. Though in the case of the Libertine, it’s issues are mostly due to two abilities that don’t work as they should. If “Dissension in the Ranks” is fixed alongside “Shield of Enemies”, that one would imho be salvaged. “DitR” does not replace greater bane as written, though from your statement I assume it should, so an easy fix there.

    Regarding Craft (Lucky Charm): It allows for a very minor bonus that cannot be raised in any way and can’t be controlled – it automatically applies to the next appropriate roll of the bones. That’s not enough to warrant a skill. Why would ANYONE drop more than one rank in it when the DC is 5? Even with mediocre Int, you almost can’t fail. Yes, speed – but that’s about it. No +2 charms, no charms that apply their bonus to 2 or more skill checks – nothing. And that’s not enough – that’s the very definition of a 1-rank-dip skill that is otherwise useless and furthermore loses almost all appeal down the level road.

    And yes, I have PREviewed multiple files and hence would also consider doing so for AAC – as far as real life and my actually paid work allow for.

    All the best,
    Thilo

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