Player Paraphernalia: The Charger Base Class (Revised Edition)
This installment of the Player Paraphernalia-class clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The Charger is a front-line fighter and gets d10, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with all simple and martial weapons, light, medium and heavy armors and shields, though encumbrance and heavy armor may impede some abilities of the class. The class gets full BAB-progression and full Fort-save progression. The class begins play with +10 ft. movement rate, which increases to +15 ft. if the character has the Run-feat. This enhanced movement increases by the same amount at 10th level and the bonuses are lost when encumbered. The class receives a bonus feat at 1st level, +1 at 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter from a limited list.
Starting at 2nd level, the charger deals +1d6 damage on a successful charge, +1d6 every 3 levels thereafter. Said damage is not precision damage, but does not multiply on critical hits. At 3rd level, the class receives +1 to CMB when performing bull rush or overrun combat maneuvers and the same bonus to CMD to defend against these maneuvers. The bonus increases by +1 every 3 levels thereafter. So far, so boring, you say? Well, yeah, kind of, but at fourth level the class receives access to its talent-array, a selection of options is available – +1 is gained every three levels thereafter. It should be noted that these charging tactic, if applicable to a maneuver, cannot be used in conjunction with feats modifying the same maneuver. Unless otherwise noted, only one such tactic can be applied to a given charge attack. Charging at the unmodified movement rate while in heavy armor and reducing the armor check penalty would be pretty solid. EDIT: The revised charger-class introduces quite a few new options for chargers, including new tactics, which now also make use of Acrobatics, a vital skill that thankfully now is a class skill for the charger. There also are means to negate AoOs from non-charge targets via Acrobatics while charging at full speed and a means to negate AoOs from targets of the charge at a pretty low rate of success, via Reflex saves, which seems like a trap-option for most campaigns…but then again, against foes with large reach…it makes sense.
On the plus-side, short burst rage-like bonuses are pretty decent and charge/feint combinations make sense as well. Charging while fatigued (at the risk of then being temporarily exhausted) also makes sense in a context of a class thus geared towards one mechanic. Combining overrun with drag are interesting – particularly since the ability manages to get the wording right. A Cleave-y option for secondary attacks (balanced by potentially AoOs) can also be found here and yes, there is a reposition-variant that has nice synergy with the hard-hitter ability’s bonus damage upon charges. Similarly, a solid two-weapon charge and some sundering-fun can be found within these pages. I’m also a big fan of an AoO-gambit: When a foe moves out of the charger’s threatened square, he may delay the AoO for 10 feet to then charge the adversary, which makes it rather hard to get away from the charger – and yes, while a high-level option, this does receive some balancing temporary debuffs.
As a capstone, the class may initiate a super-charge with all the tactics applied at 3x range and if criting, the hard-hitter bonus damage is multiplied. A total of 6 feats intended for the class, which, surprise, focus on charging (or gaining +1 talent) – including the much needed overrun/charge-synergy. We close this pdf with some feasible designer comments.
Editing and formatting are good, the new material does sport a bit more punctuation errors than the old material. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked in spite of its brevity. Additionally, we get the good kind of hyperlinks here – kudos for those!
John Buckley’s revised Charger seems, at first glance, like a class you don’t need – this is basically a moderately complex modification of the fighter, one that focuses on singular, devastating attacks. This narrow focus, ultimately, is both blessing and curse for the base class – the revised edition does not change much here. Generally, the charger’s attacks can deal brutal amounts of damage and the class does have tools to mitigate the easy means of sabotaging charge-attacks. At the same time, though, this per se mechanically well-crafted class is very one-dimensional. While it succeeds in its endeavor to make the respective combat maneuvers more viable and while the scaling bonus damage is feasible, considering the loss of iterative attacks and action-tax on the respective tricks, ultimately, in spite of the tactics and options provided, these guys are one trick ponies.
The playing experience, with a class this focused on, surprise, charging, is not one you can expect to offer much diversity or complexity, as quite a bit of the fighter’s flexibility and feat-array is sacrificed for this prowess. At the same time, the massive damage potentially caused makes the charger an interesting foil for high-DR foes. EDIT: The most significant innovation of the revised version of this pdf is a support for actual mobility to get away from foes. While the rules-language is good, it does, here and there, sport some cosmetic hiccups, which, while not impeding the usefulness of the class, can be considered to be slightly problematic on a design-aesthetic perspective if you’re like me and a bit, well, picky. The most problematic choices of the class have been cleaned, though, and the pdf now does indeed offer more variety, a more satisfying playing experience, which will be represented in the final verdict – the revised edition receives a final verdict of 4 stars.