Prestige Archetypes: Loremaster
This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 5 1/2 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
First question – what are prestige archetypes? Well, they are essentially a breakdown of a regular PrC into a full-blown 20-level spanning class – so no, these classes don’t necessarily mean that you’ll have a universal archetype (wouldn’t have worked in this context, I think), instead providing a retooled playing experience so you don’t have to work your way up to the PrC via classes you don’t want to play. So that’s definitely a pro-side. On the con-side, *personally*, I treat PrCs as very much tied to organizations etc., emphasizing the “prestige”-component as opposed to archetypes, which are more traditions in my game. I’m not the target audience of these books, but I will take a stab at them anyways.
The Loremaster’s Prestige Archetype version receives d6, 1/2 BAB-progression, good will-saves, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with club, daggers, crossbows and the quarterstaff. They also receive full int-based prepared spellcasting from the sorc/wiz-list. At first level, loremasters have to choose between arcane school (divination) or an arcane bond and receive skill focus as a bonus feat, applicable only to a knowledge skill of their choice.Loremasters also add half their level to all knowledge skill checks and may make them untrained – I guess, this should be class level since they stack with benefits gained from bardic knowledge et al.?
At 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter, the loremaster receives a secret, with level + int-mod determining the secrets the loremaster may choose. Here, the prestige archetype fails to address an issue in the original mechanic, namely the interaction with permanently int-enhancing items – since the qualification for the secrets is based partially on int-losing access to said int-enhancement – will it block out the secret or not? I assume no due to the rules regarding permanent bonuses and feat qualification, but I’m honestly not sure. Now granted, this is a nitpick, but I still would have loved to see this addressed.
Bonus languages at 6th and 10th level, better item identification via spellcraft and at 18th level, a duplication of legend lore or analyze dweomer 1/day makes for a nice high-level ability.
The pdf comes with FCOs for all core races and sample characters of 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.
Editing and formatting are good, I noticed no truly significant glitches apart from minor glitches and lack of italicization of two spells. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf sports no bookmarks, which is a slight comfort-detriment.
This pdf has a hard task – let’s be honest, the loremaster always was a pretty lame PrC without much identity – a book/knowledge-focused caster? Yeah, the wizard already hits that note pretty well. With the new tricks at the disposal of the wizard like arcane discoveries, the loremaster looks even more obsolete – both in design philosophy and concept. Author Carl Cramér has provided a solid take on a class that has been swallowed by time – try as I might, even when going for a divination-focused full caster, I’d probably prefer the flexibility of arcane discoveries or the versatility of bards over the rather dry and linear loremaster. This is a perfect example of a prestige archetype in need of something new, something more – here, a codification/design-change akin to the magus-streamlining the arcane archer received, would have definitely been in order. There is nothing particularly wrong with this installment, but it lacks the accomplishment the PA-installments on Eldritch Knight/Hunter represented, of rewiring spell-progression etc. Instead, this comes off as a wizard bereft of the cool, unique tools PFRPG introduced since the inception of the original PrC. This is an okay take on the loremaster, but in no way required and it does not succeed in truly making the class more compelling, unlike many other PA-installments. My final verdict will clock in at 3 stars.
You can get this Prestige Archetype here on OB!