This installment of Purple Duck Games’ “…of Porphyra”-series clocks in at 28 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 24 pages of content. It should be noted that these are formatted for an A5-paper-size (roughly 6” by 9”), so you can fit up to 4 pages on a sheet of paper, if you’re conscious of ink/toner costs and want this printed.
We begin this pdf with new archetypes, the first of which would be the ectofletcher, who adds Stealth to his list of class skills and gains proficiency with all bows and crossbow, as well as with light armor. Starting at 1st level, the archetype may, as a full-round action, manifest 20 arrows. Alternatively, 5 may be created as a standard or move action or 1 arrow as a swift action. Starting at 2nd level, these are treated as +1 arrows, while 4th level increases the range increment of any bow used by 20 ft. At 6th level, the arrows are upgraded to +2 and are treated as the alignment of the ectofletcher for the purpose of overcoming DR, which may be a bit soon when compared to other classes. 8th level yield ghost touch arrows (here, the text has a remnant (i) before the weapon property – i.e. the italicization-closing is missing – but hey, at least you can see that it’s supposed to be italicized) and at this level, arrows can be fired in melee sans provoking AoOs. 10th level increases the arrows to +3, 12th level nets Critical Focus for all bows used. As a minor nitpick here: RAW, it is pretty obvious that these should also work for crossbows, with the ammunition-creation being applicable for bolts as well – but as written, this only works for bows and arrows…but that just as an aside. 14th level provides an upgrade to +4 and 18th level to +5. At 16th level, we get a bonus combat feat. This eliminates etheric tether, phantom, shared consciousness, spiritual bond, fused consciousness and empowered consciousness.
At 3rd level can make all ranged attacks at a penalty of -2 to the attack roll, while simultaneously casting a spiritualist spell (nice catch to prevent multiclass abuse!) with a casting time of a standard action. During this combined assault, when casting defensively, the spiritualist may incur a penalty to attacks of up to Wisdom modifier to gain an equal bonus to the concentration check. So far, so nice, right? Well, the ectofletcher may also deliver touch spells through the arrows as ranged touch attacks. This is per se very powerful – particularly since it does not specify how critical multipliers interact with these – since bows start off at x3…well, you get the idea. That…is a problem. This part of the ability can use a whack with the nerf-bat, even though bonded manifestation, phantom recall and dual bond are lost for it. At 4th level, the archetype gains +4 to Stealth when manifesting ectofletching, which is upgraded to +8 at 12th level. All in all an intriguing archetype, though the touch tricks may be a bit too much – gaining more flexibility for the ammunition would have probably constitutes a more rewarding experience here.
The false spiritualist is interesting and loses proficiency with light armor. The archetype also gain arcane spellcasting governed by Intelligence and they completely change their phantoms, instead creating so-called contrived phantoms, constructs of ectoplasm. These are constructs, don’t grant skills or skill bonuses, have no emotional focus and lack both Con and Int scores – as such, it is under the command of the character. It replaces the Dex/Cha-bonus with a Str/Dex-bonus, has no good saves, is mindless and gets low-light vision and darkvision 60 ft., immunity to mind-affecting effects, diseases, death effects, paralysis, poison, sleep effects and stunning as well as an evolution pool equal to the phantom’s HD, with its customization options equal to an eidolon of the same level. The fly speed gained at 9th level is reduced to 30 ft. (clumsy), it cannot heal damage on its own (OUCH!) and gains the usual other defensive construct immunities. Upon destruction, the phantom reforms at 1/2 maximum hit points the next time the spiritualist prepares spells. Instead of detect undead, calm spirit, see invisibility, fused consciousness and call spirit, the archetype gains bonus illusion spells. I really like the idea here and the execution isn’t too bad either – however, one note to bear in mind would be that this, via bonded manifestation etc., can make for a very summoner-ish playing experience and we know how potent these eidolon tricks can be. That being said, the lack of healing imposes an interesting resource-drain here and the bad saves help offset the massive immunity array. In short – not for every group, but I can see it finding fans.
The occult bowler is where things get WEIRD. And I mean “WTF, did not expect that!” levels of weird. The class gains a magic ball, which can be envisioned as somewhere between a familiar and a bonded object. This Tiny construct can be used as a divination magic 8-ball…or as a weapon. This weird feature replaces shared consciousness and phantom,,, and here things become interesting: When wielding the magic ball, the character treats his class level as BAB, with the attacks counting as magic from the get-go. At 2nd level, as a standard action, the character can gain blindsight of its ball for up to class level rounds, which is upgraded to always on at 10th level (though here, we erroneously refer to it as teleblindsight. This ability also yields the option to shunt a mind-affecting effect into the magic ball. 3rd level adds the throwing and returning properties to the weapon function – and no, these do NOT feature in the calculation for enhancements for the magic ball. At 8th level and every 5 levels thereafter, range increments of the ball increase by 5 ft., replacing bonded manifestation thus. At 4th level, the archetype alters spiritual interference to grant a +2 shield bonus to AC when wielding the ball and a +2 circumstance bonus to all saves. 6th level alters phantom recall to instead apply to the magic ball, with 1 daily use, +1/day per 4 levels beyond the 6th. At 12th level, these bonuses increase to +4 for the bowler, and allies in the ball’s reach gain the non-upgraded bonuses.
14th level yields spiritual bond, which prevents death by siphoning excess damage taken by the bowler beyond 1 hp to the ball. Instead of dual bond, we get 1/week legend lore as a SP and as a capstone, the bowler becomes immune to mind-affecting effects and possession/imprisonment-style spells. This archetype looks goofy at first…but once you take a close look, it actually is really creative and pretty darn amazing. Big kudos here!
The phantom whisperer alters proficiencies, gaining simple weapons, light armors and up to 3 firearms of the player’s choice. The archetype has no choice over the type of phantom gained – each level, they must roll a d12 and look at a random table – this determines the emotional focus of the phantom. Instead of bonded sense, they add Wisdom modifier to initiative…and thankfully, this does not stack with Improved Initiative, preventing abuse there. 10th level alters fused consciousness to just gain the skill ranks and bonuses even when the phantom’s manifested and allows for the shunting of mind-affecting effects even when the phantom is manifested, though that dismisses the phantom. So yeah, no bonded senses. At 10th level, when succumbing to a fear-effect, the character may make an attack at the highest BAB (no AoO!) as an immediate action BEFORE the effects of fear kick in. Interesting one.
Next up is the Ruined Preacher – at the GM’s discretion, ex-cleric levels can be exchanged for these, which is a flavorful and interesting character development idea here. The archetype gains no spiritualist caster level or spells and instead gains Improved Unarmed Strike, using his class level as BAB for the purpose of determining its efficiency, basing the damage on a brawler of an equal level. Maneuver training is included. 5th level yields command at-will with a 24-hour hex-caveat to avoid abuse. 7th level yields 1/day calm emotions, with +1 use per 4 levels beyond that. 9th level yields 1/day suggestion as an SP, replacing detect spirit, calm undead and see invisibility. Guess someone loves the Preacher comics and TV-series as much as I do. 😉 Honestly, really love this one!
There are also new phantom options included herein, the first of which would be dream phantoms, who gain d6 HD and only 1/2 BAB, but they do have dual emotional focus and have a healing while the spiritualist sleeps. Pretty nice. Genius phantoms change the base stats to Int 13 and Cha 7 and their attribute bonuses instead apply to Dex and Int. Instead of an emotional focus, they gain thought foci, of which 4 are provided: Application nets Acrobatics and Fly, good Ref and Fort-saves, Improved Initiative, and as a move action, they can apply Int-bonus to a standard action (not the biggest fan here), with 7th level and every 5 levels thereafter yielding combat feats. The Knowledge focus nets two Knowledge skills, good Fort- and Will-saves and acts as a living book or spellbook, containing 50 pages per HD; +1/2 class level to all Knowledge skill checks and may make these untrained. 7th level yields the option to take 10 and 1/day take 20 there as a standard action, +1/day at 12th and 17th level.
The synthesis focus nets Craft and Disable Device, good Fort- and Ref-saves and they reduce the cost of crafted items by 10%. As a standard action, a touch can offset the broken condition for HD rounds. 5th and 10th level reduce that to a move and swift action, respectively. These can also create a limited amount of regular items – alas, the option does not include a no-specific item caveat…though its limits prevent abuse to an extent. 7th level and every 5 levels thereafter yield a no-cost magic item, but it is limited by the spiritualist CL and spells. The understanding focus yields Appraise and Sense Motive, Reflex and Will as good saves and the genius can make Int-checks as though the score was 2 points higher. They also gain sneak attack at class level, but use d4 as damage dice. 7th level and every 5 levels beyond yield a rogue talent.
Realm phantoms come in 8 iterations that reflect a planar focus – basically, you add a template determined by the associated plane. These generally grant a couple of defensive abilities and a bit of elemental damage – however, one has e.g. holy damage, anarchic damage, etc. – and these damage types do not exist in PFRPG. I *get* what they’re supposed to do, but see alignment-based spells and effects for the proper way to codify damage types thus.
Beyond this, we also are introduced to new feats, 5 to be more precise: Ancestral Revelation yields an Ancestor mystery revelation. Grateful Dead (kudos for the nod) nets your phantom +2 to its weakest save, courtesy of you honoring its past life. Reaper Style is used with scythes – when you trip a target, the phantom gets an AoO as an immediate action against it if in reach. Cool! Reaper’s Evisceration adds +Wisdom bonus to damage rolls when attacking helpless, flat-footed or prone creatures with the scythe and finally, Reaper’s Evisceration requires saves from targets reduced to negative hp to avoid death. Cool, flavorful combat style here!
We close with the Staff of Iricthan, a minor artifact, of which there ostensibly are 4 in existence – a wielder can, every day, choose the spells known afresh and metamagic employed is one spell level increase less costly. Very interesting artifact!
The pdf btw. comes with a bonus-file, penned by Mark Gedak and Perry Fehr, which contains Zithemerr, a catfolk arcane trickster 15 – nice!
Editing and formatting are pretty good on both a formal and rules-level – while there are a couple of glitches, these generally fall into the “kinda aesthetic” category. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ one-column-standard in b/w with purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf sports a really nice full-color artwork of the occult bowler and the pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
Aaron Hollingsworth’s take on uncommon spiritualist options began rather weak and then proceeded to build up steam: While the first two archetypes left me somewhat underwhelmed and concerned, this changed pretty fast with some serious gems: The occult bowler is awesome, the chaotic phantom focus is a cool idea (though I wished it had been more deeply ingrained, theme-wise, in the archetype) and the preacher-option should put a smile on many a fan’s face – I know it did that for me. The foci of the phantoms are universally interesting, with the magic item creation’s limit being almost genius in its simplicity. The planar phantoms left me a bit underwhelmed, though. Surprisingly, I liked all feats and the artifact is an interesting, very potent tool to level the playing field versus prepared casters, help PCs that have made bad choices, etc.
In short: No, this is NOT perfect. However, the amount of material herein that I consider really creative and cool exceeds the potential snags you’re likely to encounter. The ratio of glitches to pretty complex concepts that work is also right, showing a generally very good understanding of complex rules-language. In short – unless you’re a nitpicky bastard like me, you’ll probably be exceedingly happy with this, for the pdf also offers some seriously creative and cool options…and all that for a more than fair price point. As a whole, I hence feel justified in rating this 4.5 stars…and I’ll round up for the purpose of this platform, since the highlights exceed the minor blemishes.
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