This supplement clocks in at 32 pages of content, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 3 pages of SRD, 1 page artist contact info (nice!) and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 25 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
After one page of introduction, we are introduced to new feats. Wait. These feats are different from what you’d expect. Take Born Runner. This feat nets you a base-increase of +30 feet that stacks with fast movement and allows you to apply the benefits of haste for HD rounds per day as a swift action AND as an extraordinary ability. Yeah…powerful. It does require run and endurance as well as fighter or ranger levels and both str and dex 13, though. Pff. Yeah, right. As if anyone wouldn’t take this feat. Double movement for most characters, better than quickrunner’s shirt sans item-slot, scaling? I can name MYTHIC FEATS that do less!
Counter Attack would net you an AoO whenever a foe in your threatened area “Misses your armor class on a failed attack roll” – while not being able to execute this feat while flat-footed, the wording here is non-standard: You usually don’t “miss an armor class.” Additionally, this opens the chain-of-AoOs-clusterf*** of third edition (conga-line of death, anyone?) again – Usually, AoOs can’t provoke AoOs, but this feat specifies no such caveat – meaning two characters with the feat could trade counter-blows like crazy. Or could they?
Dancing on the Wind, on the other hand, is glorious – available at 7th level for fighters, rogues and monks, this one nets you a hopping fly speed for one round if you wish – while powerful and NOT appropriate for low fantasy, this is exactly the type of tool fighters need in less down to earth games- it opens new avenues for them and allows them to be more useful, going into breadth rather than depth, if you will. The only issue would be that it allows you to ignore 10 ft. of falling damage in scaling increments, outclassing the CLASS FEATURE slow fall utterly – making class abilities redundant, however limited they might be, is simply NOT what a feat should do. Additionally – what maneuverability is the character supposed to have while jumping thus? No idea! Also – you use acrobatics for fly – so far, so good – but what about penalties to acrobatics that wouldn’t apply to fly? Why not simply open up the fly-skill as a class-skill and allow people with this feat to take it? Since the feat allows specifically for flight, not straight-line jumps, the “semblance of a fraction of realism”- justification is out the window.
Another feat allows you to utilize alignment or energy-based weapon enhancements and fire them at targets in very close range – not as touch attacks, but as regular attacks. Where things become a bit odd would be with the follow up feat, which allows for a save, but nets “normal weapon damage” to all enemies within 30 feet. Sooo…as what action? The feat does not specify. Nor why suddenly weapon damage is dealt. Nor whether any modifiers are applied, though I *assume* regular melee damage is applied, I can’t be sure..
The feat that increases unarmed damage by 2 (!!!) steps is utterly broken. There already exist ways to go one damage-step, so why one-up it? The option to fool unthinking creatures with social skills may not have a perfect wording, but it does offer once again a unique option that is awesome – two thumbs up! Audio-based blindsight of 40 feet once again falls into the realm of too strong – at 5th level, at least. Moving this one up the levels would render it valid, though.
Now Herculean Strength is glorious – +10 effective str-score for carrying capacity purposes, +3/day telekinesis violent thrust, based on str – sans grapple-check. powerful, but damn cool and thematically fitting: Awesome for high fantasy campaigns!
Hydra’s Rush requires a high level and further increases range by +5 ft – okay! Substituting atk for bluff when feinting also makes sense to me. “I got just the right thing!” would be a crazy-prepared feat, which allows you to draw potions or small items from your backpack – including a selling caveat – nice…or at least, it would be. As written, it allows you to always have the keys for the door ready, as well as to procure items the fighter conceivably cannot have obtained (such as rare medicinal leaves from across the globe…)…needs further limitation.
Moving foes within the threatened area on successful melee attacks also is nice, though it should probably be tied to CMD à la “Whenever you successfully make a melee attack against a foe and the attack also would exceed the foe’s CMD..:”. Nice catch – the movement provokes no AoOs, preventing abuse. I also love the option to treat foes with large reaches as if they only had 5 ft reach.
And then we’re back on the broken end of things – level 7-feat, ignore all DR with your physical attacks. This destroys an array of different builds, ignores several items and spells, logic of campaign worlds (why EVER build golems? Why ever hunt for the sword of damaging invulnerable foe xyz?), story-lines…and needs to die a fiery death or at least receive a scaling of progressively improving capabilities to ignore DR. Magically Impervious is another candidate that requires fine-tuning – while I do not object to 5 + HD SR, I do object to SR that can be lowered as a free action – usually, this requires at least some minor expenditure of action-resources.
Spellfoil is utterly broken – all foes within your threatened area trying to cast spells or use spell-like (!!!) or even supernatural (!!!) abilities must roll a concentration check or lose the spell. WHAT? This includes Breath Weapons, potentially Ability Damage/Drain (try to imagine THAT), Shape Change, Diseases, Display of Strength, Energy Drain, entrap…this feat makes in-game NO SENSE beyond being OP. It gets worse – there is an expanded version that increases the range… URGH.
Meager Living constitutes a version of the Book of Exalted Deeds Vow of Poverty…it still is very powerful, but can be handled. Halved duration and rerolls on subsequent rounds versus mind-affecting effects is a staple of quite a few classes and archetypes, so not too bummed by the feat.
Now where we once again hit the sweet spot would be with a feat that allows you to hold your breath for DAYS and exhale windstorm-effects in a line. While not appropriate for every game, the fighter blowing the ship forwards or just diving into the sea could make for awesome moments – personally, I really like the feat and will rework it to work exclusively for Godlings, mainly because I usually don’t go for full-blown high fantasy. Still: Kudos! The same goes for the option to AoE-trip foes and cause a mini-quake that renders the terrain difficult – damn cool, at 9th level and with the prerequisites quite high up there. Powerful, since its only limit is a 1d4+1 round-cooldown, but still – like it for certain campaign flavors! A similar feat allows you to execute sonic-damage-dealing thunderclaps, also with a cooldown.
Mobile onslaught on the other hand, once again is broken – it lets you move base movement, flurry, AND distribute the flurry attacks among targets within reach during the movement. This is improved whirlwind attack, only so much better. Not gonna happen anywhere near my game.
The option to increase the critical damage multiplier of ALL weapons you wield by +1 to a maximum of x5 is also an option that will never see the light of day in my game. Old-School Fighter once again is awesome – whenever you face foes with a CR of 3 or less below your fighter level, you may make an additional attack versus such a foe within your threatened range as a free action. While the feat should specify that the attack is executed at full BAB, which it doesn’t, a damn cool mook-sweeper with a bit of nostalgia thrown in. Alas, since it has no caveat for range, it would allow one high-level fighter to attack whole armies with arrows – broken! Speaking of which: One feat also eliminates the broken condition on firearm misfires – which I *like*, though admittedly, I preferred my own version of handling this issue. Still – no complaints about that one.
Oh, want to know another candidate for being broken as F&&&? What about first level fear immunity? AND +cha-mod to damage-rolls with light and one-handed melee weapons? AND counting as weapon finesse? Urgh. This feat ought to be its own tree, with progressive fear-immunities scaling on level…even without the additional benefits. Where wording comes completely apart would be “Quick Maneuver” – “You can perform a combat maneuver against a foe you just hit
as a swift action. This does not provoke an attack of opportunity, even if said combat maneuver would normally provoke one.” So…does the atk roll count as CMB? Is CMD of the target ignored? Is CMB = atk roll for this purpose? This invalidates essentially all the improved maneuver xyz-feats and its sloppy wording renders it unusable.
No more confirmation rolls for crits, even at 13th level, is broken as all hell as well – ever saw a true crit-fishing build? Even at 13th level, this is nightmarish. Decreasing as what category armor counts and the time to don it – now that’s once again a feat that is awesome. Once per day healing yourself via a kind of healing surge is something I do not personally enjoy or like, but there’s nothing wrong with the feat, so no complaints. Duplicating healing spells a limited amount of times per day via the heal-skill is also a cool idea, though it probably should mention that the effect eats the usual amount of resources from the healing kit, since the wording implies skill-use to duplicate the spell-effects.
For evil creatures, Soul Eater allows you to slay foes and trap their souls in gems embedded in your body – you may use these gems to produce a variety of healing/condition-curing spells or buffs. Alas, this feat runs afoul of the kitten-test – with it, you can slay 6 kittens every day to fill the gems. Receiving damage upon not burning the souls in 24 hours is the worst drawback I’ve seen in ages – you can easily burn them just before resting. No idea why that one’s here.
Steadfast on the other hand once again ROCKS – if you move no more than 5 ft, your CMD increases by +10. Hold the line, dwarven infantry! And back to suck: Being treated as + 3(!!!) sizes for CMB and weapon size would be firmly rooted in the field of utter ridiculousness. I love Berserk as much as the next guy, but Guts’ Sword and even the one of Cloud Strife is at best +1 size, not +3. This becomes grotesque beyond balancing when the fighter’s weapon no longer fits into the dungeon door…
Applying full str-modifier to off-hand attacks with only one prereq-feat feels also excessive to me. TWF has many issues, but damage output is NOT one of them. I’m also not a fan of using int with specific weapons in lieu of str, but neither will I bash on it – this one can be awesome for some builds. Free disarms or trips when exceeding the opponent’s AC by 5 or more feel like a good idea, but the lack of sufficient prerequisites makes the feat available too soon.
Undead Slayer allows you to inflict negative conditions on undead to which they’d otherwise be immune – once again, a valid feat, though I consider the ridiculously low prerequisites in dire need of an upgrade. I do like the overdue option to apply weapon focus and specialization and their derivative feats to weapon groups.
We also receive 5 new archetypes for the fighter:
The bombardier can learn to create bombs – while the wording is somewhat wonky, this does not go to the point of invalidating the archetype. The everyman hero may not be rich, or wealthy, but gains more skills (YES!!!), is lucky and harder to put down – and at 9th level, he may replicate spells of 4th level or lower 1/day. What spell? From what spell-list? Spells have different levels on different lists, so?? Even exclusive spells available only to one class? Also: it’s always a standard action – even for spells with day-long casting times? Which attribute governs this spellcasting? Broken and unusable as written.
The Grappling Cord Acrobat can essentially do the spiderman-tricks regarding tripping and pulling foes. The ideas here are cool, though rendered more opaque than necessary by wording-issues: “In the case of inanimate objects, the Grappling Cord Acrobat himself 60 feet per round as a move action if the object’s significantly larger, or the target 30 feet per round as a move action plus 10 feet for every size category smaller the object is than the Acrobat.” – first of all: There’s a verb missing here. Secondly: what is “significantly larger” – this is wibbly-wobbly amorphous and not proper rules-language – why not codify the size/weight properly? There are ample ways to do so…
The Scrapper is an unarmored fighter who receives a scaling AC-bonus and faster movement – solid! Finally, the Warrior-Poet wilders in the bard’s terrain and receives the horribly broken panache feat.
The final page of the pdf contains 4 traits – proficiency in 4 martial weapons, no age-penalties, +2 to atk and damage vs mindless and dumb creatures and 3 cantrips – solid, flavorful options here, though the latter should specify which attribute the governing one for the cantrips is – I assume it should be int since the class casts via a spellbook, but still.
Editing and formatting are ok, though quite a few glitches have crept in. A proper developer could have vastly improved this pdf by clearing up the ample examples of rules-syntax deviations from the standard, which render several options herein more opaque than they ought to be. Layout adheres to a beautiful 1-column full color standard and a total of 4 full color artworks on white backgrounds feel like they could have used integration into the proper layout. The one-column standard renders the file slightly more jumbled to read and means that you receive less content than you’d imagine per page – I’d suggest printing this out as a digest-style book to conserve ink, since the full-color background and border will drain your printer. The pdf has no bookmarks, which is a significant comfort-detriment.
Oh boy. If I didn’t know better, I’d assume multiple designers to be at work here. On the one hand, this book contains some of the most awesome fighter feats I’ve seen in ages – mainly, those that allow the fighter to be more useful in a variety of contexts, in being more than the dumb brute, that allow a broader field for them to operate in beyond combat. I love the old-school-revival feat that makes these masters of weaponry the blade that slices through mooks, though the lack of a non-ranged caveat makes it possible for one fighter to slay a whole army in one round – provided he sees them. Add some limit and you’re good to go! I also love the herculean feats, which, while powerful and intended for high-fantasy gaming (and obviously something DMs should take care with, lest they result in ridiculous logic bugs in the world) are just awesome.
On the other hand, this pdf also provides massive power-creep in its worst form, with a vast variety of feats offering options that are downright broken – mythic feats tend to be weaker AND sport a finite resource with mythic power. These feats don’t have this limitation. Ray Chapel is a talented designer and this pdf shows it, but one can also clearly see a lack of experience with the system – rules have both a syntax and semantics and this pdf, more often than not, violates both and thus results in wording that is more opaque than it ought to be. Which is especially bitter in the light of the truly astounding gems herein.
I’ll be honest with you – on a formal level, regarding glitches, wording, overall “balance” (I cringe to even use the word with regard to several of the feats herein…), this probably should be clobbered as a 1 star-file, overshooting its target of making fighter better by quite a bit.
However, this pdf also DOES make the martial characters more useful and provides quite a few gems I’ll use gladly in my own home-game – after rewiring their wording, nerfing their benefits to a level that is not insane and imposing limitations on others. My advice for the author would be to contact a capable developer and learn from said person the intricacies of rules-language and balance- Will McCardell, Alexander Augunas, Owen K.C. Stephens, Bradley Crouch or Morgan Boehringer come to mind- one of the people who really excel at formal criteria and the math of their classes. The making of a good designer is there and shines through the murk in this pdf, but as written, I cannot recommend this pdf as anything other than for the purpose of inspiration for your own design work. Add to that the layout-hick-ups and lack of bookmarks and we have further strikes against this pdf.
This pdf contains glorious gems, though, and if you’re willing to sift through the broken stuff herein, you’ll be rewarded – there are quite a few rubies at the bottom of this crackerjack box – they unanimously require nerfing and a capable DM’s hand, though. As a reviewer, though, I cannot rate potential, what can be salvaged and how easily I can make these awesome – I have to rate what’s on the page – and that is almost unanimously flawed in some crucial capacity. I encourage DMs willing to work and design with solid rules-knowledge to check it out, but I can’t rate this pdf any higher than 1.5 stars, rounded up to 2 because it has glorious ideas and does not deserve the 1-star-shame.