Psychic Warriors of Porphyra
This pdf clocks in at 32 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 28.5 pages of content, though these pages are formatted for a booklet-like A5 (6” by 9”)-format. So what do we get here?
Well, we begin with 7 new warrior paths for the Psychic Warrior, the first of which would be the altruist, who receives Diplomacy as a class skill. The path coming with an alignment restriction should make clear here that yes, we get alignment-based warrior paths here. Associated powers-wise, we receive control light (increase only) and vigor here. The 3rd level trance option nets a scaling bonus to atk and damage versus “law” creatures – whatever that’s supposed to mean. Outsiders with the subtype? Lawful characters? No idea. The maneuver provided allows for the granting of +2 to AC and saves for allies…and yep, the bonus scales. The chaos-themed anarchic path provides Bluff as bonus class skill and nets one of 6 random competence bonuses via the trance…which is kinda nice, even though the wording is slightly non-standard, it’s not to the extent where it becomes problematic. The maneuver is similarly interesting in that it increases in duration and adds more potent effects at higher levels, expanding the selection from 1d6 to 1d12 possible conditions. The idea is pretty cool, but the execution is flawed – the maneuver can be activated, as per default, via a standard action + psionic focus expenditure. Okay…but unlike the maneuvers provided in Ultimate Psionics that are bound to affect a target, this one fails to address whether it requires melee combat or not. Additionally, the lack of a save versus this ability renders it pretty strong – imho too strong, particularly if it can be used in conjunction with ranged attacks.
The magistrate path provides Knowledge (local) as well as a bonus versus chaotic creatures (which is terminology-wise okay) – the bonus scales. As a maneuver, the character can inflict doubt and remorse upon his foes, causing them be either staggered, dazed or stunned on a failed Will-save. Considering the scaling DC, this is pretty powerful and a save-or-suck, so design-wise I’m not the biggest fan here…but the brief duration renders it still palatable. Next up would be the Mariner nets Profession (sailor) and provides a bonus to initiative and CMD while in trance. The maneuver lets you use an opposing AoO to parry an attack as an immediate action. You receive penalties if the foes are larger than you and the expenditure of both an AoO and psionic focus put a hard cap of the swingy opposed attack roll concept. Every 5 levels thereafter, you may attempt to parry an additional attack in a round where you expended your psionic focus. I am not a big fan of the mechanics, but the expenditure and AoOs at least put a cap that prevents spamming on the ability, so yeah.
The nefarious path nets Intimidate and nets a bonus to attack. The touch may also heal the undead, which becomes highly problematic when playing with undead PCs like the darakhul- infinite healing. The debuff the maneuver offers properly notes range and has a save – no problems here. The soul keeper receives Intimidate and, in trance, nets you the ability to see the aura of the undead and incorporeal creatures. The instant recognition of undead sans any required concentration duration can wreck plenty a plot, so not too excited here. As a maneuver, you may AoE-Intimidate foes within 20 ft.
After these paths, we receive new archetypes, the first of which would be the altruist, who gets a good aura, detect evil at will. Instead of level 1’s path or bonus feat, the altruist treats personal powers as though they had a range of 5 ft. at +1 power point, which is pretty strong. Moreover, for +2 power points, you can affect an additional creature with such a power. As a complaint here, the augment section also notes that you gain the altruist warrior path…so is that one gained at 3rd level when the augment becomes available? Or earlier? No idea. Empathic transfer totally falls apart; it nets the power of the same name (sans italicization)- either it’s very weak (if it’s supposed to require power point expenditure) or it can be cheesed to provide infinite healing. 9th level nets a power point-based shield for allies and a daily cap as well as tight consideration and rules prevent abuse here…which is a jarring difference to the previous ability and shows that the author can do it.
The anarchist would be the chaotic equivalent to the good altruist – the same complaint regarding instant detection applies here. (And applies to the other alignment-based archetypes herein). I have literally no idea how the chaotic empowerment ability works: “At the beginning of each day when he meditates to regain his power points for the day, he rolls a die equal to the highest level he knows from his psychic warrior class. He then rolls a die equal to the number of powers he knows of that level (path powers excluded). This will determine what power he gives up for the day. He gains a morale bonus equal to the level of the power forfeited to atk, AC, PP and path skills.” A) What type of die? How is the forfeited power determined? How is the significant bonus granted in any way in line? I think I know how this supposedly works, but it’s de facto non-functional…and remains wonky in balance as well. 3rd level nets chaos blade (not italicized), but when manifested as a path power, it inflicts 3 points of ability damage. 9th level allows for the random redirection of damage to potentially allies…or enemies.
Dread pirates are pretty cool: They can make small rafts from astral energy or infuse their ships in a ritual with power points, increasing their hit points greatly. Said infused power points may be retrieved as a full-round action, though I’m not sure if they count as expended or not. Neither am I sure whether he can only partially un-infuse the power points used to fortify the ship. Love the concept here, but the execution remains flawed. The higher level abilities include a short-range fear-immunity canceling aura as well as the option to generate a phantom crew via power points…which is amazing. This is by far the coolest archetype I’ve seen by Scott Dillon so far: One-man ghost ship? Heck yes! Then again, it also could use some minor streamlining here and there…but oh well. The Privateer would be a variant of the dread pirate – instead of emphasizing the creepy aspects, he instead receives control air, the ability to peer through water and not treat ship-based obstacles as difficult terrain, etc. The archetype similarly receives the option to buff his ship (though to a lesser extent) and may, at high-levels, generate a collective – which, again, renders this a sufficiently interesting option, though not one that also features some minor rough edges.
The magistrate would be the lawful iteration of the alignment spectrum here and receives a kind of quasi-smite, usable 1/day, +1/day at 4th and every 3 levels thereafter. At 7th level, the path provides dispatch, which can be used against the smite target by expending the psionic focus – sans augment, but yeah. Odd: RAW, it still has a power point cost, which the ability’s wording leads me to believe it shouldn’t have when used thus. The level 9 ability would be a buff/debuff aura. The Nefarious would be the evil archetype and is pretty much…sorry to say it, none too smart: You get bonuses when you either inflict 50 hit points of damage or 50% of an opponent’s HP in damage for buffs -can someone hand me a bag of kittens, preferably one with the celestial subtype since the bonuses increase versus good critters? Hostile Empathic Transfer once again suffers from basically similar wording issues as the options before, though idea-wise, it is pretty interesting. 9th level provides, bingo, an alignment-based aura. Soul Keepers are significantly more interesting: They may entrap a dying foe’s soul within his skull, crystallizing the skull, which ties in with the crystal skull rules.
These would basically be intelligent items with a 1/2 natural AC-progression, 1/4 mental attribute progression and Will-saves that scale up to +11. Every other level, the skull receives 2 + Int skills chosen from a brief list and a weirdo sight that penetrates darkness and silence…why not use one of the gazillion sights already established in PFRPG? The skull can speak and starting at 5th level as well as at 11th and 17th, it receives limited access to a power or spell. Horrible botch: The item receives spectral shielding, allowing it to turn the owner incorporeal 3/day…but lacks a range…and since the table mashes 2 levels into one, I have no idea whether this is unlocked at 5th or 6th level, since the ability’s silent about that -a similar complaint I can field against the ability pertaining class features unlocked at either 9th or 10th level, mind you. Being intelligent, crystal skulls begin with ego +0 and increase that to +24.
At 9th level, soul keepers may generate death shades from the fallen 1/day for ability burn, though frankly the unreliable control of the shade makes it not the most amazing ability to have. The ability of the template allows for the leeching of hit points via damage, siphoning them to the soul keeper…can someone please hand a bag o’ kittens to the shade? We need some infinite healing…
The spirit warrior would be the shamanistic-flavored non-evil equivalent of the crystal skull user, gaining a similar skull and elders that may materialize as astral constructs…the construct’s level is equal to the spirit warrior’s level -2. It should be noted that this and the soul keeper archetype sport alternate FCOs for some races, which is a nice touch.
Now if some of the aforementioned powers like chaos blade seemed unfamiliar to you, well, there’s a reason for this: The pdf sports 7 new powers, 3 of which are chaos-themed: Chaos Aura deserves special mention here: It sports some nasty conditions, including the “deluded” condition, which makes them see allies as foes and actually also mentions the antagonized effect, explaining it…and whether intentional or not, this maintains compatibility with Ultimate Charisma, which is nice to see. And yup, I enjoy this one. Chaos Blade generates an aura that attacks all within with 1 – 4 blades that each deal one die of damage, with augments to increase damage die size. The lack of an attack roll, damage type , power resistance of save to negate this makes it pretty OP in my book. I also don’t get why one augment specifically notes die-step increases, whereas the other omits the information. Chaotic Displacement is an utter mess. The idea is to forcefully switch beings. The rules-language flat-out collapses here: “Those that fail their Will-save will be randomly switched with another creature who failed its Will save, at the beginning of each of those creatures’ turn, when they begin their action. This will cause them to complete their action, full-attack action, spell cast or even healing at the new target next them, regardless of if they are friend of foe.” – To give you an inkling of the mess here. Literally everything’s opaque. Range, target, sequence of action – there is literally NOTHING here that would not make this a horrible, horrible mess. Cone-shaped cold-damage is okay, I guess…if uninspired apart from the addition of fear-based effects to via augments. Basically, a slightly more powerful reskin of stomp. There would also be a negative energy dealing aura that heals undead as well and a means to attack at range via melee attacks. So far, so solid – oh, and with mythic augments, mind you. Expect no 7th path support here, though. Anyways, rather embarrassing: A dev’s questions are still in the text of the exceedingly wonky spirit armor: You take 10% less damage (unnecessary calculation, messed up interaction with saves, DR, etc. – the dev didn’t go as far and asked “Per strike? Per round?” -two questions that remain here and show on a basic level how non-functional this is, even before going into DR, saves, resistance and similar nit and grit.
The pdf concludes with some favored class options for Porphyran races.
Editing and formatting vary in quality on a formal level – there are some sections that are decent, while others lack some punctuation, italicization, etc. On a rules-level, this is worse. The rules-language oscillates between getting cool ideas almost right and falling apart like a vampire under an UV-light. Layout adheres to the one-column standard and the pdf employs some color artwork I’ve seen before. The pdf comes fully bookmarked, which, alas, is one of the few positive things I can say about this book.
The ship-enhancer archetypes are a cool idea; so are the crystal skulls. In practice, the rules governing them could have used some serious fine-tuning. The rules-language, unfortunately, is nowhere near up to the level of precision or care I’d have expected; as a consequence, balance becomes hard to judge and may or may not be OP in several cases – it all depends on your reading of the opaque components…at least in most cases. Not in all, but there you go. Scott Dillon’s psychic warriors suffer from more than that, though: The majority of the file is devoted to alignment-based options in both warrior paths and archetypes and frankly, they are not interesting and basically cookie-cutter variations of one another. Granted, they get something slightly unique to do, but since these options often feature serious rules-precision issues, I’m left with precious few positive things to say. There is, frankly, apart from some minor idea-mining, not much nice stuff I can say about this book. It’s not all bad, but it comes pretty close to it, sporting several options that just are a mess. Usually when I see such a book, I think about whether I can salvage the material within and do so when I see something I like as a design-exercise. This book, alas, left me with a distinct “why bother?” – and that’s not a good sign. I intensely dislike dishing out ratings like this, but ultimately, I can’t recommend this one to anybody; I don’t even see potential for idea-scavenging here due to the flawed nature of the precious few concepts that would warrant it – while you can kinda salvage some concepts and while I like one power, the issues, glitches etc. are just too flawed. My final verdict will clock in at 1.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.
You can get this pdf here on OBS. (Hey, perhaps you want to tinker!)