This installment of Legendary Games’ series of class-centric pdfs clocks in at 40 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 2 pages of introduction, 4 pages of advertisement, 1 page inside of back cover, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 27 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was moved up in my queue as an informal request via my patreon.
All right, we’ll begin with new archetypes, the first of which would be the arsenal summoner, who gains proficiency with heavy armors and replaces vigilante specialization with anima union: The archetype begins play with a sentient weapon called “anima” (not the biggest fan of the nomenclature there), which must be a weapon properly sized for the character, acting as a magus’ black blade, though it is not required to be a one-handed slashing weapon, rapier or swordcane. As such, the anima basics diverge from those of the black blade, with every odd level after 1st providing improvements. Anima weapons begin play at Int 10, Wis/Cha 6 and an ego-score of 3 and increase that up to Int 19, 15 Wis/Cha and 24 ego at 19th level. Anima weapons begin play knowing common and learn additional bonus languages later. Sense-wise, they act as though they had sight and hearing and may thus be affected by blindness and deafness. The anima uses the character’s saving throws. In order to balance ranged weapons, two-handed weapons and the like, an anima’s damage is overwritten: The weapon begins with 1d6 base damage and increases that up to 2d8 for Medium characters. Tables for Small and Large arsenal summoners have been included as well. Wielders gain the benefits of Alertness while wielding the anima weapon and wielders can telepathically communicate with the weapon. The weapon is immune t the broken condition and, starting at 1st level, the anima can 1/day as a full-round action teleport the anima weapon to them, usable +1/day at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter, but only while in vigilante identity.
At 3rd level, an anima not currently in use can take on the look of a mundane object, though transformation into its normal form can still risk exposure for the vigilante. As a capstone, the anima may 1/week cast a maximized breath of life, potentially saving its wielder, but not when it’s not within 5 ft. of the wielder. 2nd level yields the bonded armor ability – an armor that the character can instant summon to himself, though it is marked by an arcane mark, potentially allowing identification. The armor may be called Cha-mod times per day. Additionally, the armor receives a +1 enhancement bonus, which increases by +1 at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter up to a maximum of +5 at 14th level. Such armor does not work for other creatures, btw., though destruction, mark-removal and similar stratagems exist to hamper the class feature. The arsenal summoner may also choose some exclusive vigilante talents, for an additional bonded armor, the weapon master handbook’s advanced armor or weapon training, regular armor training and you can go iron man and fuse anima and bonded armor with one vigilante talent. Control over the exact form of a blade called forth via the anima’s teleportation, bonded shields, calling a copy of the called weapon, exchange of enhancement bonus for special weapon qualities (with higher levels increasing the selection available) – nice. Using glamered versions in social identity and the like also are included here.
Instead of unshakeable and frightening appearance, the arsenal summoner gains an anima pool with Cha-mod, minimum 1, points These points can be expended as a swift action to provide a +1 bonus to weapon damage and atk, which increases by +1 for every 4 levels after 1st. The bonus lasts 1 minute and at 5th level, it can be used to grant the weapon temporarily a rather extensive selection of weapon special abilities. At 5th level, finally, the archetype replaces startling and stunning appearance with a pocket dimension to stash anima and bonded armor. The capstone allows the character to choose between armor or weapon mastery. Basically, this is a magus/fighter/vigilante-crossover-archetype with “god-weapon”-style gameplay. This hybrid-like theme is btw. something you’ll notice in the other archetypes as well.
The next one would be the Beast Born, who loses vigilante specialization as well as dual identity. However, in place of that, the archetype gains a full strength animal companion – identity changing cannot be hastened by the archetype as a balancing measure, though, since yes, this companion may, at a touch, be changed into a harmless Tiny version of its self as a standard action- tiger to housecat, you get the idea. Reversal of this change can be done as a swift action, which means that the companion may be used to net the vigilante the required time to change to prevent exposure. Slightly confusing: The beast born, in the middle of the second paragraph of the ability, suddenly talks about “When transformed into an animal…” in the context of the vigilante identity. This ties in with the second ability – at 1st level, the beast born can change into a harmless form as a standard action at will, with 4th level yielding wild shape, with additional daily uses at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Strong? Yes, however, the archetype also loses the 4th level vigilante talent…and those gained every 4 levels thereafter. As a capstone, the beast born gets free animal growth when going into animal form. I had two associations here: Manimal and He-Man. Make of that what you will. 😉
Next up would be the dynamic striker, who replaces martial weapon proficiency with Improved Unarmed Strike. Instead of the regular vigilante specialization, they choose to either be a brawler or a technician dynamic striker. Brawlers are treated as avenger vigilantes for BAB and talent purposes, while technicians gain studied combat, governed by Wis, but only in conjunction with gauntlets, unarmed strikes, etc. Dynamic strikers may choose from a selection of specialized martial arts talents and use their Wisdom modifier as key ability modifier for the purpose of determining saves, atks, etc. These include cross guard counter attacks, while others build upon the vicious impact ability – basically, the archetype contains two generally schools of fighting and the aforementioned two abilities, granted at 3rd level, respectively, represent the foundation of these fighting styles. Vicious impact nets a monk’s unarmed damage progression, while cross guard nets a limited use, AoO-resource-based opposing roll counter mechanic, which, akin grit or panache, is recharged upon scoring critical hits. In short: One of the specializations focuses on a somewhat monk-y style, whereas the other represents a martial artist/investigator – the brainy fighter trope we know from anime et al. 5th level progresses this, featuring flurry and knockout blows, respectively. This sequence of abilities eliminates the whole appearance ability tree as well as unshakeable and also is represented in the archetype’s capstone selection, which includes ignoring all DR and hardness or maximized damage for knockout blows, but of which are extremely potent.
The exposed vigilante does not receive dual identity, instead gaining +1 skill point per level and an additional social talent at 1st level, which also locks the vigilante out of a selection of social talents. Cool: The archetype does come with an engine-tweak that allows the vigilante to take it after being exposed, akin to what had befallen e.g. the Green Arrow in the comics. This may be a small engine tweaking archetype, but it’s actually one of my favorites in the book. The Focused Hunter replaces 5th level’s startling appearance with familiar terrain, basically a variant of favored terrain, of which an additional one is gained every 5 levels thereafter. 11th level yields HiPS (Hide in Plain Sight) in requiring no dim light in these terrains (which is very cheesable and borderline OP) and 17th level yields terrain master; these replace frightening, startling and stunning appearance.
The masked grappler would be the grappling specialist vigilante, losing proficiency with medium armor and martial weapons and beginning play with Improved Unarmed Strike and Improved Grapple, using class level as BAB -substitute when grappling, but losing the vigilante specialization. The archetype provides a pretty extensive selection of exclusive talents and using such a technique inflicts damage as per a grapple. What are submissions? Well, they are special such talents that impose a cumulative penalty on the foe in question, making them…well. Submit. They are locked into one such talent at first level and use Con as a governing key attribute instead of Charisma. It is a bit evident that editing here is a bit less precise than in the rest of the pdf: We have the archetype referred to as “masked wrestler” in a missed substitution, a lower caps “reflex” save etc. That being said, the options provided cover what you probably wanted from such an archetype: Anklelock? Check. Chokehold? Check. Death from Above via the VERY potent Frog Splash (double damage, grapple as swift action that pins AND bonus damage per 10 ft. fallen). That being said, I was a huge Undertaker fanboy as a child (and here in Germany, wrestling is VERY niche – none of my friends had even heard of those folks!) and I’m happy to see a sufficiently deadly piledriver, thankfully locked behind a high minimum level prerequisite. Also: Running dropkick is viable. 5th level yields a signature move specialization for a submission or technique, 11th level an iterative grapple for increased damage mechanic and 17th level the option to generate a finishing move, making one such technique/submission more potent. The capstone upgrades all moves to signature moves and also yields a second submission.
I like this archetype…but I think it doesn’t have much to do with the vigilante. This is complaining at a high level, for sure, but the archetype feels like pretty much its own entity, which has been smashed on the vigilante chassis. With a bit of tweaking, it could have worked for pretty much every class out there…and the “masked” aspect falls a bit flat. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the implementation of most aspects here (though I’ll nerf some slightly), but the dual identity, which is particularly important in the luchador tradition, is pretty lost here. And Drop Dead Studios has a pretty impressive luchador base class that does offer a slightly more dynamic playstyle. So yeah, not bad, but I feel it could have used more significant ties to the base class.
Continuing the theme of hybrid-themed archetypes, the noble soul must be good and have both identities within one alignment step of one another. Much like the dynamic striker, this is an archetype that encapsulates two different iterations/traditions, though this time around, both are drawn from the paladin’s bag of tricks: Those choosing the crusader specialization gain smite evil (1/day, +1/day at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter), while those that walk the path of the healer instead receive the lay on hands class feature (usable 1/2 class level + Cha-mod times per day). Here, we do have better tie ins to the vigilante, btw. – aura of good is only active while in vigilante identity. The archetype does get an extensive selection of exclusive talents, though the interaction of the talents here can be a bit wonky: Unbound Smite makes all neutral foes count as evil for the purposes of smite. So far, so good. Focused smite, however, treats all evil foes as evil outsiders for the purpose of smite – does that mean that, with both talents, all neutral creatures can be targets of smite as though they were evil outsiders? I *assume* that’s the basic combo here, but something in the back of my head, when comparing this combo to the other talents afforded to the archetype, tells me that it’s slightly OP in comparison, even when locked behind level 10. Not to the point of being broken, but yeah. The talents also provide a divine bond mount and mercies and, starting at 4th level, paladin’s spellcasting at the expense of that level (and all multiples of 4’s) vigilante talents. The capstone provides an upgrade for lay on hands to act as a combo breath of life + heal or auto-confirming criticals when smiting. Ouch.
The outrageous lyricist loses medium armor proficiency and gains a bard’s spellcasting in exchange for the vigilante talents gained at 4th level and every 4 levels after that. Instead of vigilante specialization, they gain bardic performance (countersong, fascinate, distraction and inspire courage), while 3rd level yields quick change with a 1-minute fascination effect for those watching that fail their Will-save. So that’s how Sailor Moon etc. did it. 😉 The talents include masterpieces and e.g. dirge of doom is codified as such a talent “black metal medley.” (I’d have expected that to be doom metal medley, but yeah… ;P) An emo scream that ignores fear immunity (but immune creatures get a bonus to saves) is nice, but my engine-favorite would be the battle rap “lyrical duel”-style ability for demoralized foes to try to rebuttal the lyricist. Increased damage when flanking with allies is called mosh pit and the archetype can convert weapon damage into sonic damage. The capstone nets immunity for fear, fatigue, exhaustion and negative levels for all allies benefiting from the performance. Once again, a cool archetype, but one that could have used a tighter connection with the base class, as far as I’m concerned.
The sentai soldier archetype replaces vigilante specialization with burn, elemental focus and kinetic blast, but they can only accept up to Con-mod burn and don’t take non-lethal damage from accepting burn. The archetype gets a transformation device that mirrors a magical child transformation in 5 rounds, potentially reduced to a standard action with quick change, immediate action via immediate change. Beyond this modification, we get the option to take an utility or infusion wild talent instead of a vigilante talent and the archetype also contains a variety of different talents: Battle Charge allows the character to spend a swift action to reduce the burn cost of the kinetic blade or fist infusion by 1, but not below 0. This can be further improved and the archetype can use these talents to gain composite blasts, elemental defense or metakinesis. 3rd level nets a fascination-inducing quick transformation and 4th level sentai soldiers that have accepted 1 burn or more gains an equal bonus to atk and damage with kinetic blasts, with the very necessary cap based on the class level. The archetype does lose 3 vigilante talents for that and at 5th level, the vigilante gains gather power – and yes, the archetype loses the appearance tree. 20th level yields access to metakinesis (twice).
All right so far, so good, but we get more than archetypes herein. A total of 8 social talents can be found, which includes the overdue Master Craftsman granting and modifying option to make the vigilante capable of creating gadgets, fixing a crucial hole in the rules. Improving attributes towards groups of creatures, discrediting those that seek to unmask the vigilantes via Bluff (not properly capitalized -like many skills in this section) and even some synergy with the superb Legendary Rogue’s skill specializations can be found here. Unless I have miscounted, we get a total of 27 vigilante talents here as well – though not all of them are without issues. Adamantine Fist, for example, nets you the ability to ignore up to class level hardness with unarmed strikes, but at 11th level, they count as adamantine for the purposes of bypassing DR, which is frankly too soon when compared to other classes. Defy Pain lacks an important anti-abuse caveat: It converts damage to nonlethal damage for Cha-rounds (+1 daily use at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter). In the hands of a build that’s immune to nonlethal damage, that RAW translates to invulnerability. Broken and needs to die/be nerfed big time. On the plus-side, talent-based TWFing is a cool idea…but it’s ONE talent for 3 feats – three potent feats, mind you. Regular, Improved and Greater TWF, unlocked at viable levels, with the higher ups automatically gained at higher levels. That is comparatively too much in my book.
Other talents net one Equipment Trick, +1 at 6th level and every 4 levels thereafter, which, while also granting more than one benefit, make sense; as does gaining Toughness and Great Fortitude in one package. Gaining a grit-pool, oddly governed by Charisma in a design-aesthetic deviation from the standard and deeds can also be done. Martially inclined vigilantes are the biggest winners here, though, as a whole tree of abilities focuses on both Whirlwind Attack and Vital Strike and making them both relevant for the purpose of the class. I like those, even though, depending on the type of game you’re playing/your GM style, they may end up being rather strong. Iterative attacks with Spring Attack would be something I’d personally ban, mainly because the talent fails to specify whether the attack has to hit the same target or can be freely spread around – in combo with some other options, that can be nasty, particularly due to the explicitly stated synergy with the TWF-tree. All in all, a surprisingly mixed bag I am not as fond of as I expected.
The pdf also provides an array of feats that partially net upgrades to archetype specific abilities like bonded armor, the option to cross-specialize at lower potency (-4 levels) and thus gain internal talents you’re usually locked out of – which is pretty cool. Identity specialization and, really amazing, Shared Identity as a teamwork effort, make sense and are big winners in my book. Similarly, gaining dual identity via a feat can be rather helpful for certain characters and the feat manages to prevent abuse. All in all, a nice feat-section.
The magic item section contains gloves that pair weapon enhancement bonuses, wraps to add special properties to unarmed attacks, Superman glasses that make you look mundane and a powerful combat scabbard.
The pdf also contains a 10-level PrC, the scion of the city (cue countless Arrow/Spirit-references) that needs 4 ranks in 2 skills, the renown social talent and a BAB of 3+. The PrC gets d8 HD, 6 + Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression and 1/2 Ref- and Will-save progression. The PrC chooses a Scion City at first level, wherein all Knowledge checks are enhanced and they gain great renown in the city. Levels stack with those of the vigilante, though spellcasters must choose to retain either spellcasting progression or gaining vigilante talents at 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter. 2nd level yields favored terrain as well as increased damage output with improvised weapons. 4th level yields incredible renown and 5th level HiPS in the city, which *can* be a bit early. 6th level yields loyal aid and followers as though via Leadership. 7th level yields gossip collector, while at 8th level the scion may gain renown in a community up to 50K folks instead of gaining a social talent. Additionally, celebrity discount is increased. 9th level nets Shared Identity for the scion’s crew and, at 10th level, which is REALLY cool, they may modify a settlements properties – you know, corruption, crime, etc. and he may even generate advantages and disadvantages. I kinda wished the archetype got that one sooner, perhaps a scaling variant – fights between two scions for the properties of the city could have been pretty amazing. Still, overall a flavorful, really cool PrC.
The pdf concludes with Rashid Zill/Dark Star, a sentai soldier vigilante 10 of the tiefling race – once a selfish man, he had his love taken from him by a notorious serial killer he is now hunting down. All in all, a pretty cool character, complete with a detailed background story and even a boon for allied PCs.
Editing and formatting are good, though not as tight as usual for Legendary Games – I noticed a couple of formatting hiccups and the like. Layout adheres to the series’ two-column full-color standard and the artworks are a mix of previously used ones and a couple of new pieces, all in full color. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
N. Jolly delivers basically the “unlock” vigilante book here that provides all the hybrid-y unlocks you wanted. Druid-vigilante? Check. Pala-vigilante? Check. Monk-vigilante? Check. The execution of these archetypes is generally as precise as we’ve come to expect from the author and quite a few of them have some seriously evocative tricks. Now, at the same time, compared to Legendary Kineticists, they feel a bit less awe-inspiring. The arsenal summoner being the one archetype that really clicked with me. That being said, the exposed vigilante is gold. Still, in some of these hybrids, I felt like they could have used more unique features. Then again, both feat and social talents are pretty damn cool. The vigilante talent section, though, has been one I am not comfortable with and in my game, I’ll probably disallow a lot here. Why? Well, from what I’ve heard, a lot of games tend to feature relatively static front-lines, where monsters and PCs trade full attacks. My home game is nothing like that and we have a lot of shifting front lines, movement, dynamic terrain and the like, which makes Spring Attack and Vital Strike significantly more powerful than in a game where trade full attacks is the default. I am cognizant that that is a peculiarity not shared among all tables, though I felt the need to mention that in such a context, the options here should get some careful GM oversight. Beyond these situationally slightly problematic ones, we also have a couple of options I consider too strong/power creep when compared to the options other classes receive.
I don’t want to come off as overly negative and misrepresent this pdf, mind you. The matter of the fact remains that this has a great PrC and fills *A LOT* of rules-holes and allows for some seriously cool options. Vigilante players will certainly have a cool field day with this book and if you’re looking for a way to play an all-vigilante group, this may very much deliver just that. (!!!) That alone will make this probably a must-own for many groups. Still, it feels a bit less mind-blowing and refined in some sections than what I’ve come to expect from N. Jolly’s amazing offerings, which, ultimately, makes me settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4.
You can get this cool supplement here on OBS!
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