EZG reviews NeoExodus Chronicles: The Fleshwraith
This pdf is 13 pages long, 1 page editorial/SRD, leaving us with 12 pages of content for the class, so let’s take a look!
The Fleshwraith, (very) loosely based mechanically on the Machinesmith, gets 4+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and natural weapons and light armors, 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort and ref-saves and access to prototypes of up to 6th level. Unfortunately, the pdf fails to specify the type of HD the class gets, though I assume d8 analogue to the Machinesmith. Nevertheless, a major glitch that renders the class potentially unusable.
Like the Machinesmith, the Fleshwraith can create a greatwork, though there’s a major difference here – a fleshwraith’s greatwork is a bioengineered construct with d10, fast BAB-progression, no good saves and no skill points. Their whole features are provided in a comprehensive list (and yes, being bio-constructs, they can be healed) before we delve into the different types of bioengineered greatworks.
The Mechanus, Mobius Weapons and Mobius Puppets (Check RiP’s excellent “Secrets of Renegade Archetypes” for those) get some additional rules to set the fleshwraith-take on them aside from the machinesmith-take. The class also gets two new greatworks – the Genetic Lab. Unlike other greatworks, this one is not particularly mobile, though a new one can be set up via either some time or a shorter time-frame supplemented by monetary investment. This lab produces so-called gesigner-cells, but more on them later. This lab also provides an array of low-level at-will/charge abilities as well as the option to get 1/2 class level to Knowledge (Nature) and create toxins via this skill instead of Craft (Alchemy) as well as the poison use ability.
The second greatwork would be a more disturbing one – the hivemind, which allows the Fleshwraith to cultivate insects to bring forth 1/2 level + Int-mod hivemasters, which act as a kind of charges. Fleshwraiths with this greatwork gain a vermin companion and use the hivemasters for a limited array of basic spell-like abilities. In contrast to Machinesmiths, Fleshwraiths get a scaling healing touch, usable 3+int mod times per day, which is not based on positive energy and makes for an interesting ability – allowing for non-divine healing.
The Intelligent Design ability is also interesting: The Fleshwraith gets 1/2 level in evolution points, with which s/he can modify her own body just as if s/he were an eidolon. The rules are relatively solid here, but there’s a weird disjunction regarding fluff and crunch here: At first, from the description, I thought the Fleshwraith could only modify her constructs via this ability when in actuality it is his/her body that is being modified – the fluff here is just confusing and needs a rewrite.
As the Machinesmith, Fleshwraiths get tricks, to be precise at 2nd level and every 2 levels after that. Beyond Machinesmith tricks, we get 3 new ones for the genetic lab that allow for the addition of alchemical extracts to be added to the list of his/her prototypes, consume unused prototypes to duplicate healing effects or imbibe poisons and drugs to create clouds of spores with the respective effect – nice for an escape-bluff, for example. Adheres to the Hivemind-type of Fleshwraith may get vermin affinity, improved stealth when moving slowly or 1/day web shelter. Other tricks enable her to reappropriate 1/day one point of her evolution pool to another evolution as a standard action, more often at higher levels or gain the craft construct feat – all, of course, with a distinct focus on her/his biomechanical work.
As the machinesmith, greatworks get updates over the levels – this time around a rather cool one: They may essentially highjack racial abilities via RP and temporarily grant racial abilities to the recipient (whether willing or unwilling) of the injection. I’m not particularly sure whether detrimental racial abilities like light blindness and similar traits with negative RP-costs fracture into this ability, though – which is relevant, since the potential for offensive use is there and the lack of save against it means that a cocktail of racial weaknesses might make for a powerful tool. The amount of creature-types that can be used as well as the spell-like abilities are further expanded.
Hivemind-Fleshwraiths can add evolutions to their vermin, as granted per intelligent design class features and mount vermin and even vermin swarms (like a certain Spiderman villain) and heal themselves via their hivemaster insects. Chitinous plating and finally, frightfully powerful insects complement this greatwork’s upgrades.
After that, we get a second new base-class, the Host. The Host gets 4+Int skills per level 3/4 BAB-progression, proficiency with simple weapons, good ref and fort-saves and no spell-casting. The lack of class HD here really hurt the class, since whether d12, d10 or d8 are granted really would make a difference – after all, the class is rather melee-centric. Essentially, the basic idea is to allow you to play a creature akin to my most beloved Spidey-villain Venom. The Symbiont that melds with you allows you to create gory shields and also permanently enhance your physical attributes and gain faster healing. Per se a great concept – but the execution makes some mistakes: Level 18 is an empty level – no benefits, nothing – that does not confirm with PFRPG-design standards. Also, the class is terribly linear, offering only a minimum of choice and no e.g. talent/trick-selection etc., rendering its characters more exchangeable than I’ve come to expect from classes. The decision to make the class 3/4 BAB would require it to be supplemented with abilities on par with that of e.g. the monk and honestly, I don’t see that right now. It doesn’t happen often, but here I’m actually asking for a power-boost – tricks, full BAB, something in that vein. Oh, and we NEED those HD to play this in the first place.
9 new spells/prototypes for the Fleshwraith have been included in the deal as well, many of which are exclusive to the class: Making animate objects bioengineered constructs is cool, though spells in the description have not been properly italicized. Spitting or sneezing corrosive acid, grant 1-point evolutions, grow spiky exoskeletons, add poison to target creature’s attacks, implant brains into bioengineered constructs, throw sticky nets – it’s there. Two prototypes in particular are awesome: Larval clone grows a cocoon and makes your body grow a tumor-like larva that can carry your consciousness from your dead body and rejuvenate you or even carry it to other creatures, allowing you to dominate them bodysnatchers-style. The other lets you, as an immediate action, fall prone and be covered with a rather powerful defensive mucus and crawl only while under its effects, leaving a slimy trail – awesome imagery there!
We also get a new feat that allows you to demoralize flat-footed creatures in the surprise-round and a new 2-point evolution that nest your eidolon a small pool of 1-point evolutions that can be changed for a more versatile companion.
Editing and formatting are not particularly impressive: While I didn’t stumble across any too glaring glitches, non-italicized spells in text and the overall formatting and at times disjunction between fluff and crunch make this pdf a harder read than it ought to be – especially with complex classes like this , this is an issue. Layout adheres to NeoExodus 2-column full-color standard and is beautiful to behold, as is the alternate, slightly more printer-friendly standard in the second version of the pdf. The pdf comes extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks as well as several pieces of full color artwork which will be familiar to fans of NeoExodus-products, as they’ve been used before.
Damn. This is one of the cases where I just don’t like being a reviewer. Why? Because I LOVE THE IDEAS TO DEATH. Author Benjamin Rombeaut has created a compelling class/variant with cool abilities and a sufficiently icky feeling. However, this pdf features several issues beyond the subpar formatting – while now the class-tables are included, the pdf still lacks the HD of the respective classes, which renders them unusable as written.
Worse, I somehow feel as if the Host-class just doesn’t belong – linear design, dead level, overall rather weak, this one feels like it desperately needs another takeover/its own pdf to properly shine. Said space should have been devoted to providing more abilities/greatworks and especially, tricks, for the fleshwraith – as provided, the Host feels like half-done filler material that has been dropped into a pdf where it doesn’t really belong.
This pdf has/had potential galore, but as written, it falls terribly and painfully flat of its own potential, with the lack of necessary information and the none-too-easy to process presentation conspiring with these glitches to force me to rate this at a verdict the pdf doesn’t really deserve – 1.5 stars, upgraded to 2 for the purpose of this platform – I hope the issues will be addressed and that I’ll be able to upgrade this pdf’s rating in a manner similar to what happened with the Machinesmith back in the day.
You can check out this pdf here on OBS!