This installment of the Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, ~1/2 a page of editorial, leaving us with 7 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.
So what is the mystic archer? Well, it is essentially the druid/ranger-based cousin of the arcane archer and receives d8 HD, 4+Int skills per level, druidic weapon proficiencies (and armor restrictions – no metal armors!), 3/4 BAB-progression, good fort- and will-saves and full-blown wis-based prepared spellcasting, drawing from the druid’s spell-list. Jep. As many spells as a druid -and spontaneous conversion into nature’s allies. Additionally, they may choose one weather-themed domain at 1st level or an animal companion – both at full class level progression.
At 2nd level and every 4 levels thereafter, the class receives archery style feats and beyond woodland stride and trackless step, the mystic archer learns at 5th level to deliver touch-spells via her bow – ranged spellstrike, essentially. The ranged version of spell combat is learned at 8th level, with the same minor nitpick on my end I complained about in the arcane archer-review present. Now unlike the arcane archer, the class receives no archery pool with which to power the special arrows, thus necessitating daily uses that scale up for seeker arrows et al. Now combining summon spells with arrows is one damn awesome idea – however…it has no limit apart from the spell consumed and might I draw attention to spontaneous conversion? Yeah, this needs a whack with the nerf-bat.
Imbue arrow, hail of arrows etc. are all there as well, with the capstone being the arrow of death. The pdf comes with solid FCOs for the core-races as well as sample NPC-builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no truly significant glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Carl Cramér’s Mystic Archer is the direct opposite of the shadow monk – where the shadow monk could have used a significant upgrade, this one needs a downgrade – full, uninhibited druidic spellcasting (might I draw attention to the fact that the arcane archer, on which this is based, required at least 1 level arcane casting progression), animal companion…that’s already two of the most powerful druid options.
Granted, the class receives no wildshape, but just about all the other tricks AND the arcane archer array. That’s insanely strong and not appropriate for most groups. There’s a reason druids have to pay in feats for bow-access and yes, wild shape is strong, but not nearly strong enough to warrant the full array of arcane archer tricks PLUS the exceedingly strong summoning arrows IN ADDITION to full spellcasting-progression AND archery style bonus feats. This class beats up the druid (one of the strongest classes in the core-rules) and sends it home packing its things after taking its lunch money.
I get the concept of the class, but to call the execution flawed would be an understatement. Combine DPR-champion ranged fighting with full spellcasting progression and a bunch of exclusive tools and we have one utterly broken mess of a base class. How this ever went beyond any serious balancing, I can’t fathom. This is OP and needs to be beaten to pieces with the nerf-bat. The rules-language is good, if not always perfect, but what the rules-language makes here is one of the most broken classes I’ve seen in a while and the worst installment of the series I’ve reviewed so far. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars (for the solid wording and sample characters), rounded down to 1. This needs fixing.