Four Horsemen Present: Celestial Character Options
This pdf clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
All, right, after a brief introduction we meet the Ishvara race. This race takes the concept of a heart and mind divided between selfless altruism and selfish ambition, making equilibrium difficult – you know the metaphysical concept. The ishvara embody this race – they perceive themselves as incarnations of imperfect souls and the moral turbulence makes them a prime candidate for self-realization, for the life of adventurous struggle, while also providing a deeply ingrained roleplaying angle for personal development, which is a big plus to me. The ishvara are native outsiders who get +2 to an attribute of their choice, darkvision, +2 to saves versus fear and despair effects and a 1/day option to reroll such a save on a natural 1. Additionally, they gain +2 to saves versus poison and mind-affecting effects and +1 to Perception and Sense Motive, both of which are always class skills for the race.
The race is pretty cool, though it does not come with an age, height and weight-table. Aasimar can choose 5 new FCOs – fighters can buff their energy resistance; mesmerists enhance their saves versus possession and compulsion effects with the evil descriptor, while samurai enhance challenge damage, skalds get +1/6 rage power and warpriests get +1/2 daily fervor uses. The ishvara also feature several favored class options, including several occult classes and the vigilante. Finally, sylphs also get a couple of favored class options – including ones for the Shifu class. Nice!
Next up would be the CR +1 angelbound template, which represents a pact with the forces of celestial realms, granting the creature SPs, attribute bonuses, etc. in exchange for scrutiny by the angel in question, with 9 different angel types covered – the template basically represents those willing to conform to rigid moral values in order to serve the heavens and vanquish evil. Fun and certain to see some use!
The pdf also features several archetypes, the first of which would be the angelic voice bard – at 3rd level, inspire competence is replaced by accompaniment – as an immediate action, the character can use aid another to help an ally while maintaining a bardic performance – I assume that the range is the range of bardic performance, though RAW, the ability does not specify the like and only implies the necessity to hear the bard. The ability is balanced either way, however, by requiring bardic performance expenditure. The bonus increases at 7th and 15th level by +1, respectively. At 8th level, dirge of doom is replaced with an interesting ability: When the angelic voice casts a spell with verbal component or as part of a bardic performance, he may forego the effects of the spell to increase the DC and CL of another caster by +2. This may sound easy here, but rules-language-wise, that is actually a pretty complex operation and I generally like it.
The Renegade hybrid class penned by the horsemen also receives an archetype, the celestial outlaw, who just needs to be non-evil. Instead of intimidate equipment, these guys get +2 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Intimidate, potentially moving the attitude of those affected up or down, as per the outlaw’s precise skill use. The 3rd level shoot first is replaced with false surrender, which lets you spend panache as part of a parley – if you Bluff or Diplomacy, you may quickly draw the weapon at any time, kicking off a surprise round and providing serious initiative bonuses to allies. At 5th level, the outlaw can, as an immediate action, duplicate a nonmagic innocence 1/day, with 11th level increasing daily uses to 3/day. This replaces the sneak attack dice progression of these levels.
Next up would be the celestial soul monk, who must be good and replaces slow fall with celestial soar – supernatural flight, starting at 10 ft. with clumsy maneuverability and increasing in speed and maneuverability over the levels – kudos for properly assigning speed and maneuverability to the levels they work best with here. 10th level makes unarmed strikes count as good, with 16th level makes them also work as mithril. 13th level provides the perfect soul ability, which represents a native outsider apotheosis that features DR 5/evil, SR 5 + class level, with 20th level replacing this with the celestial creature template and 10 + class level SR; this replaces diamond self and perfect self.
The field medic wizard replaces Appraise and Knowledge (engineering) with Heal and Profession (physician) and does not get to choose a magic school (not even universalist), but still gains two opposition schools, but gets an additional spell slot per spell level, which must be used to prepare on of the healing spells added to the spell-list, learning them as arcane spells. Excellence: No, they cannot be learned by other casters as arcane spells. It’s catching exploits like this that clearly showcases the experience and attention to detail of the author…and that makes my job so much more satisfying! Kudos! At 1st level, Heal-use can yield hit point healing and 10-minute treatment can even allow for better disease recuperation or ability damage recovery. The archetype also gets 3 + class level deathwatch. Unique and cool: 8th level yields the option to heal nearby allies as well when rolling maximum hit points with healing, while 13th level allows for the leftover healing of mass curing spells to be redistributed. Nice!
The guardian angel cleric is locked out f a series of evil/dark-themed domains and may not cast spells with the evil descriptor; when channeling energy, one of the base elements, negative energy or sonic damage are chosen – allies in channel range gain +2 to saves versus the chosen energy and decrease the damage incurred by the type, lasting until the cleric’s next round. Cool and strategic! 5th level yields the option to spontaneously cast life pact or shield other using a 2nd level or higher memorized spell slot, with 9th level adding the option to spontaneously cast contagious zeal and sacred bond using a 4th level or higher spell slot. Engine tweaks are a hard sell on me, since most of the time, they’re cookie cutter and not that interesting – this is none of these things, representing a fun and strategic modification of the cleric engine.
The phrenic defender psychic may not cast spells with the evil descriptor and, as an immediate action, may expend a point from the phrenic pool to grant herself +2 to Will-saves versus evil compulsion effects. They may not choose abomination or pain as disciplines and, regardless of discipline, receive spear of purity at 4th level as a 2nd level spell. 10th level yields dispel evil as a 5th level spell, replacing the respective discipline spells. 3rd level grants the shielding spells phrenic amplification, which allows for the expenditure of 1 or 2 points from the phrenic pool to give the target of a linked spell a buff on saves versus evil spells or effects. 11th level nets a similar amplification to end possessions, domination-effects or simply exorcise via the use of linked spells – damn cool archetype!
The seventh sash arcanist lose access to all necromantic spells, but gain access to a wide array of prismatic-themed spells, from the humble color spray to the mighty prismatic sphere. Whenever the character casts a spell from the abjuration, evocation or illusion school, they can choose an ally within 30 feet and a color of the rainbow (or black), conveying a benefit to ally and seventh sash until the next turn – +4 to spell damage, saves versus a subset of effects, skill bonuses…you get the idea. Starting at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter, an additional ally may benefit from the ability. This does delay gaining the first arcane exploit to 3rd level. 11th level yields colorful exploits, adding Cha-mod to CL when determining the effects of certain exploits and also increases the maximum level of the exploit effects by Charisma modifier – though this potent option does replace 11th level’s greater exploit.
A total of 14 new feats can be found within – Celestial familiar yields the celestial simple template (with a minor, cosmetic typo); Merciful critical lets you convert precision damage or critical hit damage on the fly to nonlethal damage (NICE!) and merciful smite is similarly self-explanatory. Smiting Spell lets you reroll 1s of damage rolls of spells at the cost of +1 spell level, while Singular Brilliance increases the DC of dazing, blindness etc. effects by one and extends their duration by 1 round. Uncommon Resistance lets you decrease one of your energy resistances by 5 and gain resistance 5 to the one you chose. Nice customization option, though (I wished it spelled out the energy types it can be applied to. Resolute Character nets you a save reroll when you’d be forced to act against your alignment or nature. The pdf also introduces the concepts of virtue feats, each of which represents one of the 7 cardinal virtues – Boon of Abstinence makes it possible for you to go longer sans food or water and helps versus poison, starvation, etc.; Boon of Chastity helps versus enchantments and attraction-based effects; Boon of Humility enhances your aid another, if you choose to incur a penalty to AC, while e.g. Boon of Patience lets you specify multiple triggering conditions when readying an action – pretty cool! These concepts most certainly have – all in all some really cool ones here!
A total of 7 celestial relics, powerful magical items, can also be found herein: The Decantur[sic! should be “decanter”] of endless holy water is just what it sounds like…but no, you can’t use it to flood a dungeon – its mechanics are actually directed, which is a big plus here. The efreeti prison bottle is pretty much self-explanatory and no, the imprisoned creature has no chance to become insane. The warhammer elven thrower would be a warhammer that elves can fire at foes. Midnight blue rhomboid ioun stones nets Alertness, but also make subterfuge harder. Fans of Solomon Kane will certainly appreciate the puritan’s pistol, a lucky revolver that cannot be used by evil, acting almost as a cursed weapon for those so foolish to use this. The robes of benign heritage would be a variant of the arcane heritage version and the sacred book is a blessed book variant for arcane casters.
We close this pdf with a total of 7 new spells, the first of which would be borrow grace, which allows you to tap into the willing or unwilling +Cha-to-saves granting options of some creatures. Nice one! Celestial Form nets temporarily the celestial creature template. Chromatic Orb and Chromatic Sphere would be two spells that deal with the rainbow-theme: The Orb causes 4 types of energy damage, helping potentially determine resistances and immunities and featuring partial saves, while the sphere represents a defensive option. Kudos regarding spell levels here – they make sense to me and are in line with the power of existing options. Flies, then honey allows you to salvage blundered social interactions. Heavenspeak represents a combo buff + minor heal/debuff + minor damage within 30 ft. The spell has, alas, a sentence fragment missing – it reads “Leaving the spell’s area Any outsiders…” Prismatic beam ends the pdf on a high note, concept-wise with a low-level prismatic spell option for 2nd level.
Editing and formatting are very good on a rules-language level (also due to Steven T. Helt’s obvious expertise!), but on a formal level, I found more typo level glitches and the like than I’m used to Rogue Genius Games. Layout adheres to the 2-column full-color standard for the series. Interior artwork contains a blend on new and stock art in full color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Steven T. Helt’s designs tend to rather subtle; he has a knack for identifying gaps in the rules and one of the few designers who constantly and reliably delivers engine-tweaks for components of the game that have been overlooked. Where other designers would blunder, his takes on these is consistently precise and meaningful. Contrary to me usual predilection for high-concept, long and complex archetypes, I found myself actually enjoying the shorter, highly compatible engine tweaks he provides herein – so big kudos for that! At the same time, I did wish there was slightly less “this is a variant of x” among the items and I don’t get the absence of alternate racial traits of age, height and weight table for the conceptually cool, if mechanically a bit conservative race. As a whole, this collection of options definitely has some worthwhile, fun material, though it misses the highest marks of e.g. his comedic character options. Still, very much worth getting, in spite of the minor blemishes. My final verdict will clock in at 4 stars.
You can get these nice character options here on OBS!