This collection of archetypes, nominally associated with the Curse of the Crimson Throne plug-ins, clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages introduction/how to use, 2 pages ToC/explanation of references, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page advertisement, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 30 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
We first begin this supplement with a total of 10 different archetypes, the first of which would be the Cityscape hierophant, a druid who receives a modified class skill list (losing nature skills, but gaining social skills, Knowledge (nobility) etc.) and similarly, proficiencies are modified: The archetype gets access to clubs, crossbows (all), dagger, dart, quarterstaff, sap and one-handed firearms as well as light armors and bucklers. The cityscape hierophant does not gain Sylvan as a bonus language, instead communicating with a weird sort of bastardized Druidic via e.g. graffiti. This is translated to arcane mark at-will as well as the glyph of warding spells being added to the spell-list. Instead of nature sense and wild empathy, we get a variant of detect undead that applies to undead, fey, outsiders as well as astral, ethereal and incorporeal creatures – spirit sense. The druid gets a concisely codified summoning tweak, with elementals and urban creatures, which, at the GM’s discretion, can include low leveled mooks based on NPC Codex stats. The archetype does not gain an animal companion, instead gaining a domain chosen from a limited list, which represents the changed focus of the archetype, allowing for the choice of Community, Nobility, etc. This also ties in with spontaneous casting, which is instead tied to domain spells instead of the usual summon nature’s ally conversions. The archetype replaces woodland stride and trackless step with favored terrain for urban terrain, scaling up to a +8 bonus at 17th level. Resist nature’s lure is replaced with +4 to saves vs. diseases, poison and alcohol and drugs. A thousand faces is gained at 6th level and wild shape is delayed until 8th level, usable at class level -4 and a limited animal familiarity restricted to city-bound animals. However, at 9th level, the basic, nerfed wildshape gets another use: As a swift or immediate action, the archetype may expend one use of wildshape to gain one of 5 different benefits for one hour per druid level. These include adaptable sight (first low-light vision, the darkvision after 1d4 rounds), waterbreathing after submersion, etc. – this is really cool. Camouflage, better jumping (+feather fall), evading detection…it makes you a badass urban druid that is superb in disappearing. Really cool. The archetype pays for this with venom immunity and timeless body. All in all, a great archetype and one of the best reasons to get this.
The next archetype would be an engine-tweak: The inquisitive detective may not take the inspired vigilante talent, gaining an investigator’s inspiration, governed by Charisma, and may take investigator talents instead of social talents, paying for the added flexibility with 3rd and 11th level’s social talents. The archetype does not gain free uses of inspiration on trained Knowledge etc. checks unless taking the inspired intelligence talent. It gets interaction with potentially problematic components right. Not a huge fan here, but the tweak at least prevents alchemist discoveries to be gained thus. Still, not that blown away here.
The mastermind psychic is another engine tweak. The archetype replaces one of the 1st level discipline psychic powers with Conceal Spell, with the explicit note that you can use social skills or Sense Motive in conjunction with this feat, The mastermind may undercast all spells with the ruse-descriptor, which seems simple, but is actually pretty complex. 5th level nets Brilliant Planner, replacing 5th level’s discipline power.
The scheming priest cleric must be non-good and uses Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute, gaining a couple of spells as added cleric spells, including glibness and, later, mage’s private sanctum at 5th spell level and mind blank at 8th spell level. The archetype only gets one domain and loses spontaneous casting, but gains a mesmerist’s hypnotic stare. Instead of channel energy, we get bold stare at 3rd level, and 9th level nets mask alignment, which does what it says on the tin. A hybrid-y engine tweak I really enjoyed. The next one would be the shapeshifting hunter, who replaces Handle Animal with Disguise and Sense Motive, class skill-wise. The character is treated as having a dead animal companion and adds detect and seek thoughts to the spellcasting. Instances of bonus tricks and hunter tactics are replaced with favored terrain at 3rd level. 4th level nets wild shape at full progression, with 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th and 16th level providing progressions, unlocking Huge and diminutive monstrous humanoid forms and using both monstrous physique and giant form as basis for the improvements, This replaces the companion and the links etc. – nice, complex shift of focus for the class.
Spell hacker wizards replace arcane bond with an arcanist exploit chosen from a list, treating her class level as arcanist level -3, minimum 1. This choice may be changed once per day. Instead of 5th level’s bonus feat, we get the option to 1 + 1 per 5 wizard levels prepare spells as if modified by one of multiple metamagic feats. The subtle gunslinger is a rather complex engine-tweak: The class gets psychic spells as a medium -3, but uses Wisdom as governing spellcasting attribute and has a custom spell-list. This replaces pistol whip and utility shot as well as all higher level deeds. This is per se interesting, though it does not address the most frustrating aspects of the gunslinger class.
The talented tactician vigilante gets all knowledge skills and Spellcraft as class skills, but loses Acrobatics, Escape Artist, Disable Device and Survival. Similarly, their skills per level are reduced to 4 + Intelligence modifier. The archetype loses proficiency with two-handed martial weapons and medium armor, but may cast spells, governed by Intelligence, and otherwise using the bard’s engine, and doe so freely when wearing light armor etc. This replaces 5 of the potent vigilante talents. Spellcasting is also hard-coded to be associated with a bonded object spellbook. Instead of vigilante specialization, we get tactical analysis, which is a move action that targets a foe within 60 ft., using a Knowledge check as though identifying them. This nets all allies a circumstance bonus to atk and damage for Intelligence modifier +1/2 level rounds. The ability codified Knowledge skill used by creature type. Instead of vigilante talents, the archetype may choose arcanist exploits and qualifies for the Extra feat. Additionally, the archetype may choose from a list of a variety of unique talents. These include unlocking arcane reservoir and consume spells, damage increase, a magus’ spell combat, spellstrike, infinite pages in the spellbook, a familiar, adding Int-mod to atk with one-handed and light weapons. Better scroll casting and multi-target analysis as well as some limited spell-poaching can be found here. At 5th level, we get additional benefits for analysis, including knowing precise hit points of foes, ignoring Int mod DR, an AC-buff, etc. At 11th and 17th level, another such benefit is chosen. This replaces the appearance ability-tree. Instead of vengeance strike, we have basically imposed disadvantage for saves analyzed foes attempt versus the tactician’s spells. While this is an interesting, complex tactician tweak for the vigilante, I prefer other executions of the tactician trope, as blending of magus, arcanist and analysis and vigilante feel like a bit all over the place as far as I’m concerned.
The second vigilante archetype is the trickshot sniper, who loses martial melee weapon proficiency in favor of bows, chakrams, crossbows, firearms, slings, sling staves and shuriken. They must choose a specific weapon category among the ranged ones (or throws weapons) as a specialty, and these weapons may be reloaded as a free action, provided they do not take longer than a full-round action to reload. Good catch there! Bow/sling users etc. instead halve range penalties. Regardless of selected weapon, the character can designate a thrown weapon or ammo as part of using it as special, which translates to a scaling atk bonus. These may also be altered by ammo talents. 2 pieces of ammo may be designated per 5 minutes, +1 per such interval at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter and only one may be designated thus per round. This replaces vigilante specialization. The reference to ammo talents has probably cued you in: The archetype gets its own array of signature talents – not a few, mind you: We get more than 3 (!!) pages of signature talents, some of which are designated as ammo talents. We get reduced misfire rates adding energy damage, scatter shots, etc. – basically, if you wanted Green Arrow or Hawkeye as an archetype, then this fellow delivers. The archetype loses unshakeable in favor of sniping, and the appearance-ability-sequence is replaced with Shot on the Run and improving Shot on the Run for less penalties and more shots. The archetype also gets a modified capstone for full attack Stealth sniping.
The final archetype would be the Wild Card swashbuckler, who loses proficiency with martial weapons and gets Throw Anything as a bonus feat as well as Quarterstaff Master, with an obvious focus on applying the benefits of the swashbuckler’s usual features to the staff itself. The archetype loses out on one use of charmed life at 10th level, and 3rd level provides a means to quickly stand up via quarterstaff and improve jumping, sans AoO or with bonus to Acrobatics via panache expenditure. The 3rd level also nets the option to generate prestidigitation cards that act as shuriken, sans AoO while you have at least 1 panache. Yeah, you’ll probably have realized it by now – this archetype is basically the means to play Gambit from X-men. Infusing cards to be magical, and having them detonate at higher levels is damn cool. Similarly, using panache for charm person. Swashbuckler weapon training is delayed to 9th level, and instead of bleeding wound, we get the means to use panache to influence luck-based challenges and mitigate natural 1s with surges. 12th level nets Tripping Twirl instead of the bonus feat. All in all, this guy and the trick sniper are my favorites herein. It should be noted that the trickshot sniper also comes with a quiver that can duplicate magic ammo/thrown weapons with short-lived duplicates produced.
The pdf also contains a couple of class options: Arcanist exploits include two options: Layered Spell lets you hide a spell in another, with the cost in points contingent on spell level. The exploit is pretty potent, somewhat kept in check by limiting the applicable spells for the dual cast at 2 spell levels lower than the maximum you can cast. The second exploit is Spontaneous Ruse, which allows you to spontaneously change a ruse spell to its non-ruse version, even if you don’t have it. The exploit also lets you expend points to cast the ruse, even if not prepared. There are 4 different magus arcana; three for 1/day free metamagic for certain fats, and one that lets you expend an arcane pool point for + class level bonus to Str or Dex-based skill checks next round. There are three new vigilante talents. One that lets you scavenge amid the ammo talents of the trickshot sniper; one for more damage with crossbows etc. and one for quicker reloading with wrist launchers, crossbows, etc.
The feat chapter provides several tweaks for the vigilante, like one that nets you vigilante talents if you have a casting vigilante archetype that costs you this precious resource; there is a feat for better talented tactician analysis, one for Wisdom or Intelligence-using vigilantes…you get the idea. The chapter also contains a ton of feats that show the very distinct penmanship of Clinton Boomer: I.e., there are feats herein that are very much things to build characters towards, with seriously high complexity in several cases. For example, only urban druids of cityscape hierophants may take Aegis of Brick and Glass. This not only expands your spell-list, it makes the spells use local masonry etc. to duplicate the architectural style, providing a means of hiding and blending with your surroundings; furthermore, for example, stone shape in urban environment can affect glass, bricks and tiles, etc. This is incredibly cool and flavorful and a design aesthetic that suffuses the vast majority of these feats. Black Magick Gumshoe is a cityscape hierophant/detective multiclass feat, while Deductive Intellect provides synergy between Cityscape Hierophant, detective (bard and investigator (rogue) are blended, with Deduction Points representing the potent deductions. Blending touch of corruption and Deduction points. Pitiless Economies allows you to decrease the cost-of-living benefits of targets, cursing them…and yes, this may maintain your life. This is twisted and really dangerous. Not a fan of the auto-confirmed crits versus destitute targets, but yeah. Cool one! It should be noted that the majority of these complex feats are for the cityscape hierophant druid, so if that archetype already resounded with you, then this chapter will make you love it.
The pdf also provides a new PrC that spans 10 levels. The Coinmage gets d6 HD, 6 + Intelligence modifier skills, no new proficiencies, ½ BAB- and Ref- and Will-save progression and no new armor/weapon proficiency. In order to qualify for the PrC, you need 5 ranks of Sleight of Hand, you must be capable of casting 1st level arcane spells and prestidigitation as well as either sneak attack or hidden strike. The class gets progression at 1st level, 3rd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 9th and 10th level – either gain sneak attack/hidden strike or spellcasting progression. Problematic: The 4th level notes progression twice in the class table – one of these *may* be simply misplaced and intended for 5th level, but I’m not sure. The class manipulates coins, measuring the ability to influence them by numismatic capacity, using highest spell known or sneak attack/hidden strike dice to determine it. The value also increases at certain levels, but may not exceed 7, unless expanded with numismatic specialty – more on that later. Coin effects can encompass multiple flights of coins and may be influenced as a standard action at 1st level. Later, attentions are gained, and upon gaining an attention, the previous effects will be optionally reduced. Range may be upgraded, and so may speed. The class provides fixed access to the copper, silver and gold ability suites. Class levels 6th and every level thereafter yield access to an advanced metal regarding the abilities. Now, these flights of coins per se offer interesting options, with line of sight blocking, missile coins, etc. The abilities even have a fatigue engine that decreases CL on failed concentration checks after the flights had been animated. And the capstone allows you to tweak the flights of clouds. This PrC is weird. I read it multiple times until I finally understood how it works – it is somewhat obtuse and hard to grasp, with e.g. “Choice Upgrade” and the sequence of its presentation being confusing and unfortunately named. This sense of not being as refined as the rest of the pdf extends to the effecs themselves, save-reference not capitalized…and the engine and notes ultimately make this feel like it spiraled somewhat out of control, like it could have been a good class tweak/alternate class, but as provided, this is really hard to understand. It’s not necessarily bad, mind you, it just feels less refined, with no maximum damage cap for iron coins apart from the flight-coin limit. This is also enforced by e.g. one and the same type of save formula, “15 + your coinmage level” coming once with “plus” and once with “+” on the same page. This feels like a late addition that could have used a dev-pass to make its per se interesting framework more refined. The concept would have deserved as much.
The pdf closes with a really cool, kickass half-elf vigilante trickshot sniper, Nitha Rathi, who gets a cool background and a neat boon for PCs befriending her, ending the pdf on a high note.
Editing and formatting, for the most part, are top notch on both a formal and rules-language level. There are some aspects, where the book suddenly becomes slightly less refined, though. Layout adheres to a really beautiful 2-column full-color standard, with nice full-color artworks, though fans of legendary games will be familiar with quite a few of them. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
More so than most such archetype books, this book by N. Jolly, Jason Nelson, Clinton J. Boomer, Jonathan H. Keith, Julian Neale and David N. Ross is one that turned out to be a bit of a rollercoaster ride for me. I really liked the scheming priest, but the main winners here are antipaladins/evil guys (feat chapter!), and druid and vigilante players. The cityscape hierophant archetype is a joy to read and made me recall China Miéville’s vast sprawls and Perdido Street Station in particular. The vigilante’s two class tweaks were hit and miss for me: Tactician-wise, there imho are better base classes out there, and the blend of magus and arcanist tricks grafted to its chassis didn’t gel with me well on a personal level – probably, because I consider the arcanist class to be perhaps one of the most problematic ones in vanilla PFRPG, or because it felt too thinly-spread. It also has a metagame-component, which I don’t really like that much. On the other hand, the trickshot sniper is amazing and oozes flavor.
The other classes get somewhat less material herein, but frankly, the trickshot sniper and cityscape hierophant warrant getting this on their own, the latter particularly courtesy to the massive feat-expansions later. If either one interests you, get this! The PrC could have been a shining star of the pdf, but instead ends up being a rather hard to grasp component that feels less refined than usual for Legendary Games. Compared to the asian archetypes-pdfs by Legendary Games, this one feels more focused in its usefulness, less universally appealing. That being said, I still consider this to be very much worth getting, but I feel I cannot round up from my final verdict of 4.5 stars.
You can get these neat archetypes here on OBS!