This pdf clocks in at 9 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/explanation, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so what are these alternate class abilities?
Essentially, you could think of them as micro-archetypes – to learn one of them, you have to give up a class ability of a equal level when you level up or retrain. Bonus feats and divine auras do not qualify and spellcasting progression potentially counts as such an ability. In the end, the DM has the final say. Got that? Good!
A total of 18 1st level abilities are provided and range from access to a mount (which works as a full-blown animal companion!) to poison use, throw anything as a bonus feat or gaining animal empathy. All those nice little abilities like trapfinding, familiars etc. are part of the deal, as is the unarmed AC bonus of the monk.
At 2nd level, 5 are provided, with uncanny dodge, favored enemy and stand up some more powerful options coming into the fray.
For 3rd level, only maneuver training and trap awareness are available, whereas at 4th level, expert trainer, favored terrain adn slow fall become options. AT 5th level, you may go for solo tactics, at 6th for evasion and swift poisoning, at 10th for opportunist and at 12th for camouflage or stalwart.
Editing and formatting are very good, I did not notice any significant glitches. Layout adheres to a one-column b/w-standard and the pdf has no art, but needs none at this length. The pdf does have bookmarks, which is awesome to see.
Author and mastermind of Purple Duck Games Mark Gedak provides a surprisingly complex system here for next to no cost -essentially, these can be considered a way to make all classes talented in a limited manner. And that is awesome – thief with cantrips? Done. Cleric with trapfinding? Done. And so on. The options are diverse and solid indeed, covering important abilities, but not the signature ones and thus enrich the list of valid character concepts. Now that being said, I do have gripes with the pdf – for one, the balancing is off regarding some of the options: bonus to craft versus gaining a mount that will eclipse at low levels its rider? Hmm, which do I take? Or take evasion – arguably one of the most useful defensive abilities in the game, it is too easy to get as written. Seriously, though – that can be handled by a DM. Another oversight would be that, as written, nothing prevents the stacking of these class abilities other than the usual convention. Witches with two familiars, druids with two companions. Urghs.
The concept is glorious and would warrant further expansion/ a proper, full-blown book with streamlined balancing. As written, this is still a great resource as long as you as the DM keep a tight control on what which character can exchange – a notion the pdf admittedly calls attention to. For the expansion of options and due to the low price, I will hence settle on a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this inexpensive pdf here on OBS!