The Feybinder Class
This massive class book clocks in at 64 (!!!) pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 60 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We begin the pdf with a brief introduction of what the class is and then dive right into the meat of the class: The feybinder receives 4+Int skills per level, d6 HD, proficiency with club, dagger, javelin, short bow, sickle, sling and quarterstaff and no armor proficiency, though the chosen patron modifies this list. There are two Seelie Courts and only neutral or good characters can be aligned with Seelie, while only evil or neutral characters can be aligned with Unseelie. The class gets 1/2 BAB-progression as well as good Ref- and Will-saves. The feybinder adds Cha-mod, up to their class level, to AC in addition to Dex, but only when unarmored – and while the wording here deviates from established standards, it is functional and not ambiguous.
The feybinder receives a scaling bonus to social skills and Knowledge (Nature) to identify individual fey, but as a class, the feybinder is defined pretty much by the glamours the class receives. The feybinder begins play with a glamour and receives +1 at 2nd level and every even level thereafter and glamors either are standard or binding glamours. Unless otherwise stated, glamours are activated as a standard action and may be used at will. Some of these do sport the option to be enhanced by using the limited Fey Summons ability. There are glamours exclusive for either court, so planning which court to choose and the pdf provides a handy table of glamours by court. Glamours are either supernatural or extraordinary abilities with one, Call of the Kharga, unfortunately lacking the proper type in the table.
Now I already mentioned Fey Summons – starting at 1st level, the feybinder may, as a full-round action, cast summon nature’s ally as a Spell-like ability – which is where the text directly contradicts itself – the ability is noted as supernatural…so, which is it? Summoned creatures remain for 1 minute per feybinder class level. The ability can be used Cha-mod times per day, minimum 1 and the class gets +1 use per day at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. Every two levels after the first, the class upgrades the ability to include the use of the next iteration of summon nature’s ally: E.g. Summon Nature’s Ally III is gained at 5th level. A feybinder may only have one such summon in effect at a given time and if a Feybinder has the Circle feat, she receives unique fey (more on that later). However, the respective summon is restricted: You choose from a limited list (again, determined by court) and must choose one per step you have in the ability’s progression: If you have access to the fourth Summon Nature’s Ally spell, you can freely distribute the number of creatures you can call between the levels you have access to. Fey should not be considered meat-shields, though: If your fey dies, that type will no longer answer your calls until you reach a new feybinder level. Dismissing creatures is a free action.
Beyond the court’s respective choice, each court provides various patrons – the respective patrons grant their own weapon as proficiency and a patron glamour. Furthermore, the patron grants access to wildly diverging SPs – at 1st level, Cha-mod cantrips, while other spell-like abilities gained can be used 1/day, +1/day at 7th and 14th level, with the capstone providing free at-will use of these SPs. The DC of them is insanely high, btw. – 10 + class level + Cha-mod modifier, which deviates from the standard that usually assumes 1/2 class level as part of the formula – as presented, the DC escalates way too quickly. Finally, it should be noted that Fey Summons may be spontaneously converted into additional, daily uses of the respective SPs. Finally, at 3rd level, the patron determines the shared aspect benefit granted, which modifies the Fey Summons-ability, granting the bonus to feybinder and fey for as long as the creature remains within 10 feet per feybinder level, with effective caster level equal to class level. The ability fails to specify whether it is Su or Ex and does mention saves being Cha-based, but not what the respective save is.
2nd level nets the Ley Magicks feat as a bonus feat, which allows you to attune yourself to the ley lines you detect, further escalating your DCs as well as Dimension Door and Teleport (both not properly italicized) to the ley line. It should be noted that another feat allows for the creation of your own ley lines, with increasing investments of resources and time being required – or at least in theory. In practice, the feat lacks the crucial table required to determine the prerequisites etc. for ley line founding, rendering it unusable as provided. But back to the class for now: 2nd level also provides the option to speak with animals, while 3rd level adds either the Seelie Creature or Unseelie Beast templates to the animals summoned for +1 use of the Fey Summons ability. 4th level provides uncanny dodge, which is, oddly, noted above the 3rd level ability (DR 2/cold iron, +1 at 7th and every odd level thereafter and make each instance of concealment total concealment instead) in an odd formatting choice. Regarding aforementioned ability: Total concealment is very interesting…and can be utterly brutal in game and rules-wise a bit problematic: Usually, total concealment is defined by having line of effect, but not line of sight to a target, which separates it from concealment – so normal concealment (as e.g. granted by allies) not only entails a 50% miss chance, it also implies that the feybinder is not subject to line of sight based effects.
Finally, the capstone ability nets fast healing 2, increases DR to 15 and fey summoned are permanent until slain or dismissed in addition to aforementioned unlimited SPs. Now, obviously, the class, barring any spells per and instead working on SPs and the like would be pretty much defined by the glamours the class can choose. Their save-DC is stated as 10+1/2 class level + Cha-mod, which kind of contradicts the patron information with the bloated DCs, so not sure if that’s intentional. Unless otehrwise noted, the non-instantaneous glamours have a duration of class level rounds. See, and here’s a kind of issue: The very first glamour provided nets you +2 to Cha-based skill-checks and Cha-based save DCs for enchantments…but is it permanent? It does look like a passive, constant bonus, but its grouping under glamours makes me unsure. Similarly odd – the second glamour in the list mentions glamour points – which are obviously a left-over from a previous iteration of the class…and highly problematic: The glamour in question provides Aura of Purity, a usually limited use ability, and glamours are at-will. So, depending on what the text ought to say, you’ll have a pretty powerful ability. The same can be said about other, passive-style glamours like climbing speed…or darkvision. Where the former is more likely to be intended to be resource-based, the latter is so weak/easily available that it would make more sense as a constant ability.
3rd level evasion also is odd and something that should probably be a passive ability and not require the default standard action to activate…since evasion only for readied actions seems…not right.
Adding a reflexive bane to summoned creatures, penalizing those that dare hit your fey, is per se a nice idea and so is the fey summoned-powered temporary attitude enhancement. There is also a glamour that allows for the calling of fey as a standard action – which is a bit odd: How much actions does the fey still have upon being called? A move action? Full-round action? Usually, summons have a longer casting time that circumvents this issue. Which also brings me to another issue: Fey are fragile and usually work by virtue of tricks like teleportation – which is expressively prohibited by the summon nature’s ally spells the ability is based on. Talking to and charming plants as an expansion to another passive ability of the class is nice, but once it is a bit odd, sporting a class level dependant cap unlike the base class’s option of the ability.
The glamours also sport a couple of odd ducks, like getting claws…which won’t do much for a 1/2 BAB-progression class, even if you add paralytic venom to them via another glamour. The secondary ability to 1/day utilize the ability to increase fey natural attacks by 1 die-step for the duration of the summoning. It is also odd that e.g. another glamour does not interact with Seelie Creature – since it does, as written, still interact with Unseelie Creature. Wait, what? Yes, the template name is inconsistent as well – the template in the back is called Unseelie Creature, not Unseelie Beast as previously stated. All in all the standard glamour section is imprecise and all over the place in power/utility.
Binding glamours are activated as a standard action that provokes AoOs and only one fey spirit may be bound to the feybinder at a given time. Binding Glamours consume one daily use of fey summoning and creatures bound constitute summoned creatures and thus, while a creature is bound, the feybinder cannot call another fey. Odd: Even Protection from Good/Evil can eject the fey, which is a deviation from how the spell usually works for both possessing AND summoned creatures – the author ought to carefully reread the spell here… Duration is as usual and a bound feybinder takes a bit of the characteristics of the fey bound. Alas, the rules-language of the binding glamours, unique though they may be, are similarly flawed as the standard glamours: It’s nice to hear about an option to poison food – but the ability sports this puzzling line: “When the food is eaten, the effect is instantaneous (as per the spell) and the bound creature is released back to its home plane.” So, what if a creature eats the poisoned food and the feybinder is in the process of poisoning more food – abort? More importantly, what are the actual effects? The whole ability fails to specify the actual effects of the poisoned food. I assume that the ability is supposed to mirror the poison-spell, but the wording only pertains to the duration, not any actual effects. What we have here, alas, is a guessing game.
At the same time, there are options that are downright inspired and interesting – binding spirits for a teleport nexus as well as flexible buff-binding, to mention two uses of one such glamour, are interesting indeed and indeed, idea-wise, this section is pretty great and there are some mechanically interesting options that can be considered innovative, like a fey grasp-themed ability that has chaotic options and is built upon the foundation of the tanglefoot bag item. As inspired as these are, both they and the respective rules for the patrons fall apart: Take the hound’s shared aspect ability: “Both the feybinder and her summoned fey are under constant effect of Aspect of the
Falcon while summoned. NOTE: The critical modifier applies to spears only.” Not only is the italicization missing, the spell confers a bonus to ranged attacks that should, consistency-wise, also apply to spears…which it doesn’t. And this type of oversight, ultimately, as much as it pains me, is not the only such issue herein.
On the plus-side, the supplemental magical items provided sport some cool effects and some of the feats lack problems…though, again, the rules-language is sloppy: Take Blessing of the Father: “You gain a +1 Attack bonus with Touch and Ranged Touch Attacks.” Wow, where can I line up for the awesome ability to have my attack bonus locked at a sucky +1 for touch and ranged touch attacks? Kidding aside, I’m well aware of this being intended to add a bonus to attack rolls, but the book actually manages to botch even such a simple wording and make it ambiguous. This extends to everything.
There are two archetypes: The graybinder gets d8 and martial weapon proficiency (oh joy, now you can really use that sucky 1/2 BAB…), but loses the patron and may call both seelie and unseelie fey. Okay, I guess. the elemental binder reskins the class’s patrons to instead apply to elemental lords, with 4 new patrons and their associated benefits.
The pdf concludes with favored class options for the core races as well as drow, dhampir, duergar, gillmen, hobgoblins, kobolds, nagaji, orcs, oreads, ratfolk and tengu.
Editing and formatting are a BIG issue in this book: While the writing isn’t bad, inspired even, the rules-language is horrendously flawed – to the point where it made it impossible to playtest the class properly: When you can’t even determine the proper action economy of the class (does that require standard actions to activate or not?), you’ll notice that you’re in for a world of pain. On the formatting side, we have headers at the bottom of pages and the like, which is not cool. Layout adheres to a green-bordered 2-column full-color standard that still is pretty printer-friendly, with some b/w and full color artworks thrown in. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience and is hyperlinked for your convenience with the good, unobtrusive hyperlinks.
I’m so sorry for the author Matt Everhart – this class could have been awesome. But something, somewhere down the line went horribly wrong. While you can easily determine the fact that some of the pieces of content herein are downright inspired, the execution of the very foundation of the class is TERRIBLY flawed, to the point where neither I nor my players could properly playtest it. Why? Because its abilities and action economy is so opaque that we’d have to guess how quite a few abilities are supposed to work and you can’t base a meaningful playtesting experience on that. Indeed, this book feels like two iterations of one concept were smashed together – and the odd result is what we have here. While I was exceedingly annoyed by the total lack of any spell italicizations herein, or sloppy cases of not upper-casing skills or attributes (or deviating from writing the full attribute, instead opting for the Allcaps-3-letter-abbreviation), that alone would have, at best, cost this book one, perhaps 2 stars – sure, it makes reading it much harder, but still.
The issue is, and there’s no way around it, that this does not work as written. The class and its summons are opaque; its abilities are pretty out of the way; there are a LOT of unforgivable glitches in the finer details of rules-interactions…and the rushed rules-language that even fails with a basic “bonus to attack rolls”-wording, is jarring.
The blatant disregard of not only formatting standards (which exist for a reason) but, more importantly, proper rules-language, is extremely frustrating. I’ve seen classes at this level of completion in my development tasks – they require a stern developer/editor with the rules-fu to polish them…or a thorough, additional rewrite by the author. This can be salvaged. But it’ll be a task of at least 10 hours of thorough research, provided you have already a very good grasp of the rules. Over all, the concept and ideas herein are inspired and this is what makes this hurt so much for me – for what we have, alas, is a deeply flawed book that requires a lot of GM-fiat to work. This is basically a BETA, not a release you can easily play…and it requires some fine-tuning regarding the glamour-strengths in direct comparison, one even I can’t do since the pdf’s action economy is utterly opaque.
The fluff and high-concept nature of this class as well as the scavenging potential are all that elevate this from being a complete train-wreck – there is some good to be found here. Alas, that does not change the objective truth that this class doesn’t work as written. My final verdict will hence clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded up by a tiny margin for the inspired ideas to 2 for the purpose of this platform.