This installment of the Feats of Legend-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 6 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
A little side tangent: The first thing that I ever did that would constitute design-work of sorts were limit breaks. Back when I was a kid, neck deep in puberty, when I had an innocent crush on Rinoa from FF XIII, my AD&D campaign back then was winding down; we had reached the highest power echelons, left level 20 far behind, and I had, at best, a cursory knowledge of 3.X, but had been jamming rules-components without rhyme or reason into my game. The result was, in hindsight, equal parts embarrassing and amazing, with limit breaks stolen in equal measure from my favorite games and from my most beloved, oh-so-deep goth/metal lyrics. Ah, the celebration of a sort of innocence…anyways, once you think about it, it’s actually weird that we did not get a limit break system for PFRPG sooner!
But how does it work? Well, feats with the [Limit Break] descriptor may NOT be taken during character creation or during character advancement. They may only be temporarily selected via the martial flexibility class feature or the new Desperate Combat Overdrive feat.
This feat requires Int and Cha or 3+ and requires that you do not have martial flexibility. It lets you choose one [Limit Break] feat, which, 1/day, as a full-round action, you may unlock for your character for a number of rounds equal to ½ character level, rounded up. You must meet the prerequisites and the current hit-point total of the character must be at or below 1/4th of maximum hit points AND you must have dealt damage with a successful melee attack last round. The feat may be taken multiple times, each time granting you another [Limit Break] feat access.
This limitation of 1/4th of maximum hit points or below, and the requirement to have hit the opponent btw. also applies for the purpose of temporarily gaining access to [Limit Break]-feats via martial flexibility. Additionally, a character cannot gain a [Limit Break] feat while under the effects of a supernatural fear-effect. Mundane fear-effects are okay, though.
The exception from the rule here would be the Swallow Your Terror [Combat] feat – if you otherwise meet all the requirements for a [Limit Break], but are suffering from a supernatural fear effect, you get a new save each round while the [Limit Break]-conditions are met – on the first save, you are treated as though you succeeded the initial save, and if an effect has even an effect on a successful save, a second save in the round after that allows you to shake off the fear-effect.
The astute reader may have noticed that the [Limit Breaks], per default, can only be unlocked by melee attacks. The Limit-Charging Bolts, available exclusively for characters with martial flexibility, changes that and allows one proficient ranged weapon to be treated as a melee weapon for the purpose of qualifying for [Limit Break] feats unlocking.
Occult Limit-Charging is yet another tweak to the base system engine: This feat kicks in whenever a creature with HD equal to or greater than your own fails a save versus a spell or SP and suffers hit point damage as a consequence, this qualifies as causing melee damage for the purpose of unlocking [Limit Break]-feats, allowing spellcasters to be part of the fun.
[Limit Break] feats are considered to be combat feats and while a character possesses a [Limit Break] feat, she sheds light, imposing a minus 40 penalty on all Stealth checks, shedding light as a sunrod. Once a character has used a [limit Break] feat even once, she thereafter emits a glow whenever below 1/4th maximum hit points, imposing a -20 penalty to Stealth checks and emitting light as a candle – a warning of sorts, somewhat akin to the glow of e.g. FF XIII’s aura-spell. The saving throw DC of [Limit Break] feats, if any is 10 + ½ character level + Constitution modifier, and Con-mod is also used for concentration purposes of SPs duplicated thus.
In a great quote of the anime and videogame trope, the Soul-Sharpening Battlecry feat allows you to tweak [Limit Break]-triggering: You choose an item of great personal significance for you – a rod, a card, a weapon – and loudly pronounce a doom, declare your name etc. – basically, Tales of X-style. This is a move action that provokes AoOs and is treated as an attack for the purpose of charm, invisibility, etc. – however, until the end of your next round, you halve your current hit points for the purpose of determining when [Limit Break] feats can be triggered. Come on, that is really, really cool! Furious Limit-Charging is available to characters with rage or bloodrage, and, during such a rage or bloodrage, allows for the treating of current hit point total as halved for the purpose of [Limit Break] unlocking – we all know that being pissed amps up the chance of getting a [Limit Break]! Brutal limit-Charging is yet another way for characters with martial flexibility to get more [Limit Break]-use: On a crit (not just on a threat!), you treat your current hit point total as half as much for one round for the purpose of qualifying for a [limit Break] unlock.
If a character fails to meet the prerequisites for using [Limit Break] feats, for example due to healing, the access to the feat, but not the feat per se, is temporarily lost. However, if the feat is lost, it may not be used again for 24 hours.
Sounds confusing? How do you lose a [Limit Break]-feat? Well, here’s the catch: In contrast to how most feats behave, [Limit break]-feats’ prerequisite line often specifies a condition that you must have met in the preceding round. While this blending of situational and general prerequisites may feel confusing at first, it makes sense within the design-paradigm and the ephemeral nature of the [Limit Break]-feats themselves.
Okay, so this would be the base system presented here, including the non-[Limit Break]-feats that modify it. Now, let us take a look at the[Limit Break]-feats, shall we? All of the following are [limit break]-feats:
-Aegis of the Avalanche: You gain self-only stoneskin, but may spend it for a round to duplicate forceful strikes. Maintenance requires dealing bludgeoning damage.
-Unflinching Iron Juggernaut: Requires Aegis of the Avalanche and that you have been flat-footed versus at least one attack against you; you may choose to become flat-footed to all attacks in one round to gain this feat’s activation criteria. It nets you iron body. OOOHHH!
-Flame of the Dragon: You gain fire trail and fire shield (warm) and choose to suspend them for a round in favor of fire breath. Requires that you take or inflict fire damage.
-Blazing Astral Steps: Requires that you have Flame of the Dragon and must have spent last round with a double move, charge or run action. Nets you damnation stride as a move action, but you may not take others with you. Qualifies as abundant step for the purpose of Dimensional Agility and all feats in that chain, which are treated as combat feats for the purpose of martial flexibility. Yes, they’re listed. Yes, catching that one is impressive.
-Harmonious Spirit Charge: Regain 1 ki, requires that you spent 1 ki in the previous round. Cool!
-Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting-Spirit: As a move action, all creatures within 30 ft. who don’t have concealment are dazzled for 1d4 rounds, with a Fort-save to negate. This is sight-dependent, obviously. When you inflict melee damage on an opponent thus dazzled, the target must save or be blinded for 1 round per level. Creatures adjacent to a target thus blinded must save as well to avoid being blinded. During any round you use a full-attack action and make at least one melee attack, you get one additional melee attack at your highest BAB, but it must be made against a target blinded by the feat. The feat requires that you have another [Limit Break]-feat as a prerequisite. This one is a bit tricky, because it has, RAW, not its own maintenance condition. Careful reading shows, though, that it behaves essentially as an overlay that adds its effects to another [Limit Break] feat’s effects.
-Pale Cloak of the True Dragon: Requires Flame of the Dragon and Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting Spirit; upgrades Flame of the Dragon’s fire shield to mythic fire shield.
-Nova of Burning Hate: Requires both Flame of the Dragon and Blinding Flare of Truest Fighting Spirit; 1/round after succeeding a melee attack, you may cast quickened fireball with a range of 0 ft. You are immune to the damage AND get a trip attempt sans AoO or retribution against any target that failed the save against your nova of burning hate. Ouch!
-Wrath from the Edge of Death: Nets you your choice of cure serious wounds or greater infernal healing. No maintenance, though – this is a singular effect. However, it is the prerequisite for…
-Rage Beyond Death: Beyond the previous feat, you must have witnessed a creature fall below 0 hp, and immediately gain heal (self only). You may gain it an additional time as a standard action. If prevented from this, you instead gain breath of life.
-Severing Strike: Lets you execute a single melee attack with a slashing weapon as a full-round action. If the attack hits, you roll a d20 and the target may suffer massive bleed, lose a hand and drop items, lose an eye and be confused, lose proper leg-use, etc. Immunity to sneak attack fortifies against this, fortification etc. is taken into account, and you may take the feat multiple times, allowing you to roll more often on the table.
-Trickster’s Laughing Jaunt: Requires that you have used Acrobatics and nets you an AoO-less gust of wind, followed by an error-less teleport within the gust’s area of effect, which is treated as movement for Lightning and Wind Stance. When ending the teleport in mid-air, you feather fall.
-Trickster’s Leaping Jest: Builds on the previous feat and requires it: Choose a construct of your size category with a CR no greater than your own. As a full-round action, you use both dimension door and invisibility at once and a construct of the chosen type is summoned to the square you departed from. This creature is veiled as you and observers don’t witness you vanishing, as though affected by mislead. Your [Limit Break]-glow is transferred to the construct and you may use a move action to see through the creature’s eyes and direct it.
-Fracture the Blistering Flow: This one should have the [limit Break] descriptor, but doesn’t have it. It requires that you have suffered damage in the last round. Once per round, when using Gather Power as a move or standard action, you may gain its benefits as a swift action instead. When you use a feat. Trait, wild talent, kinetic blast or kineticist class ability dealing acid, cold, electricity or fire damage, you may change the damage to one of the other three energy types as a free action, changing descriptors, if any. Other effects remain unchanged, unless the new energy type invalidates them, which is a quite important caveat considering the flexibility of the kineticist engine.
Editing and formatting on a formal level, are very good. On a rules-language level, the missing descriptor for one feat can make it seem pretty OP, so that’s a minor strike against the pdf. Layout adheres to a nice and pretty printer-friendly two-column standard with blue headers. The artwork is solid. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience, in spite of its brevity.
Wow. This is the single most impressive feat-based engine I’ve seen in ages. The material herein requires a certain degree of system mastery to properly process, but against all odds, the pdf manages, in a paltry 6 pages, to present a concise and well-crafted limit break system with amazing effects. The engine duplicates tropes from beloved game-classics and the way they feel in impressive ways and can carry much, much more – in fact, I could easily see this engine carry a full-length book! While the missing descriptor in the kineticist-feat is a bit galling (the feat would be OP otherwise), the engine as it stands is a remarkable achievement that is pure, distilled awesomeness.
Who wrote this? Clinton Boomer? Well, that explains it! Seriously, folks – if you’re running a high-fantasy campaign and don’t shirk away from high-complexity material, then get these, smile…and start building on the pdf. Have I mentioned that this really could carry a whole book? You know, this pdf’s engine could carry a whole book…Okay, okay, I think I made my point. This is, by far, the best installment in the whole series and perhaps the most inspired feat book I’ve read in quite a while. 5 stars + seal of approval, in spite of the one descriptor snafu.
You can get this amazing, inspired engine here on OBS!