Player Paraphernalia – The Charger (Base Class)
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. There also is an option to make bull rush/overrun maneuver with a charge, but targeting the foe’s touch AC as CMD instead – which means these guys can ridiculously easily bull rush dragons and similar high AC, low touch foes. Not a fan here since the correlation between touch AC and CMD is not there – even cursory glimpses at the math support this.
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. High Ref-saves to counter charge-AoOs and 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.
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 very good, I noticed no significant issues. 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 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. 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. A problem of the class, though, does lie within its inability to act in any flexible manner on the battle-field. The lack of Dex-based options (Acrobatics isn’t even a class skill) to get away from foes and lack of withdraw-enhancers means that you charge a foe, hope you push him away or insta-gib-kill him…and if you don’t, you’re stuck in melee as a subpar fighter who doesn’t have access to what makes the class shine – basically, this feels like one half of a class to me, one half of a cool skirmisher. If that sounds negative, it kind of should and shouldn’t at the same time – the powerful charges can be extremely gratifying, if not for all groups, then most certainly for some and craftsmanship-wise, there is not much to complain apart from some minor odd design-decisions like aforementioned Touch-AC thing, which is pretty OP and could have been solved more elegantly.
Still, for the fair price-point, this is not a bad offering and well worth a final verdict of 3 stars – not a must-have, but certainly a solid, though very specialized little class.