This expansion for the Warpriest class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content – quite a bunch for the low price point, so let’s take a look!
So…obviously the author of this pdf was as underwhelmed as I was when it came to the precise effects of what fervor does – sure, it’s mechanically feasible to heal/harm and swift cast…but that isn’t really what one associates with “fervor”, right? Thus, this pdf introduces a significant, dare I say, huge, array of options to widen the scope of fervor’s application. The revised fervor presented herein can be used 1/2 class level + Wisdom modifier timer per day. At 2nd level, the warpriest may select a number of fervor options equal to 1 + his Wisdom modifier, minimum 1. At 4th level and every three levels thereafter, a new option may be selected and one fervor may also be reassigned. Unless otherwise noted, fervor’s activation is a swift action and Fervor Casting and Fervor Heal/Harm are now options that you need to take if you want them. Since you’d be a sucky warpriest with only Wisdom modifier +1, you’d probably get these if you wanted to…which means you get more. And the warpriest is not a weak class, so I’d usually be screaming OP right now…but the book frankly acknowledges that, while it wishes to go into breadth rather than depth, the flexibility does represent a increase in power – thus, the pdf proposes two alternate means of balancing the options herein: Basically, offering them either as an alternative for regular feats or for the bonus feats of the class – both of which are feasible options and balancing suggestions that should leave every group happy. Kudos for addressing table variation to this extent!
But what do the fervor options actually do? Well, we’d for example have an immediate action option to gain a +2 bonus to critical hit confirmation rolls, which is then maintained for Wisdom modifier rounds. There would be a 10 ft. aura that grants bonuses to saves versus fear and emotion effects, with the bonuses thankfully scaling. We can choose a pseudo smite that adds 1 + Wis-mod to damage and ignores 1/2 class level DR…and then there would be the option to receive no damage on a save that would otherwise net half damage – basically omni-evasion. And this is where the issue with this pdf comes in: Notice something there? The options are precise and flavorful, but frankly, some of them should have a minimum level. Yes, they employ a limited resource…but this still is better than comparable abilities…on its own. Add the offensive tricks and…well…you start really wanting some differentiation here. Similarly, +1 attack at full BAB against a foe adjacent to the one hit is pretty much a central class feature, not something you get passing by, even if you take -2 to AC for one round if you don’t expend an additional fervor – this is cleave sans the standard action limitation…and how would those interact? It goes on. You can expend two fervor to ignore one attack of opportunity. Only one per round, but still. Compare that to adding +1d6 to a skill check…where’s the relation? Don’t get me started on no longer being limited to fervor spells with a range of personal to cast as a swift action…
Btw.: Additional attack sans penalty versus the same foe can be found – but that one has a 10th level minimum requirement. +Wis-mod to a save can also be gained. The internal balance is pretty askew, when you compare that to Wis-mod damage when using channel versus a foe with a detrimental condition. Taking 10 on skill checks or gaining + Wis-mod to concentration may be neat, but again, is not as strong as the aforementioned options. Adding minor buffs to those healed, increasing channel energy’s potency and better fighting capability versus invisible targets make sense. I am also okay with a sacred weapon power-increase for a limited duration, retroactive sacred weapon damage die addition to atk makes for a swingy, if interesting mechanic to hit foes you missed. Higher blessing DCs or somewhat grit-like passive benefits that you gain while you have at least one fervor make sense. Lending sacred weapon damage dice to allies similarly makes sense, as does close-range free action picking up of sacred weapons (should probably explicitly state that it provokes no AoO) – though you can see once again that the power level oscillates wildly. Shooting into melee? Sure, increase speed? Again, makes sense. Ignore armor check penalty for a couple of rounds? Heck yes, and penalizing the critical conformation rolls of foes similarly feels thematically appropriate. Short-time suspension of negative condition also works.
For one fervor, you can prepare and cast a spell of alignment opposed to your own – which sounds nice, but RAW, the pdf makes it look like the casting and preparation is a free action. Slightly cleaner wording would be in order here. Switching channeled energy is a neat trick, as is reversal of healing/damage-causing for living and undead. Ranged weapon deflection makes sense, though minor bonuses to saves look odd, compared to similar other abilities herein that are more powerful. Denying flanking bonuses? Yep, can see that. Basically pounce with two sacred weapons (standard action instead of full-round) sans the usual level requirement and feat investment? Pretty much OP, even before the option to use one damage die for both. Then again, gaining DR versus an attack that’s incoming…yeah, why not? Better sundering, higher carrying capacity, remaining conscious? I can see those. Adding another physical damage type to a sacred weapon similarly makes sense, as does mitigating the penalty for attacking adjacent foes with reach weapons.
These discrepancies are all the more galling, since the pdf does feature some nice mechanical ideas: Like “locking” a damage die roll with sacred weapon for 1 + Wis-mod rounds, inflicting this damage all the time. Or gaining Wis-mod to flat-footed AC, but not regular AC (divine providence!).
The pdf also has an optional feat suggestion to use blessings and fervor interchangeably. If you’re using this book as written – I’d strongly urge you to refrain from doing so.
The pdf also contains a warpriest archetype, the bastion, who gains +1 hit point per die when determining hit points – effectively, he has 1d8 +1 HD. At first level, these guys may designate one character as the ward as a swift action – this character needs to be a cleric, paladin, inquisitor, druid or warpriest of the same deity. Oracles don’t seem to qualify. A bastion may have one such ward and while adjacent to the ward, said character gains a sacred (or profane) bonus on ALL Wis- and Cha-based skill-checks equal to 1/2 the bastion’s class level (!!!) as well as +1 to AC and CMD, +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. This bonus can be maintained while the ward remains in reach of the bastion’s weapon.
Here, things get odd: “If the ward is a divine spellcaster (defined as antipala, cleric, druid, inquisitor, oracle, paladin or warpriest), the ward also gains the bastion’s Wis-mod to concentration and1/2 the bastion’s class level to Knowledge (religion) and Spellcraft. Is that IN ADDITION to the already huge skill bonuses? Also: Why are the oracle and antipaladin in there suddenly? As an immediate action, the bastion may roll Fortitude or Reflex saves on behalf of the ward. On a success, the ward saves, on a failure, the bastion receives the full effect. For one fervor, he can grant himself +2 to this save. Additionally, 1/day, the bastion may sacrifice up to class level + Wisdom modifier to grant the ward said amount of temporary hit points that last until depleted. This ability replaces blessing. Also at first level, the bastion receives Combat Reflexes, using Wis instead of Dex to calculate AoOs gained. Attacks performed thus receive a bonus when targeting a creature adjacent to the ward, with the bonuses scaling. If the archetype so far looks incredibly OP…there’s a reason for that. The bastion may, at 4th level and every 3 levels after that choose an extra fervor option and may choose these in place of bonus feats as well…and loses spellcasting and orisons. There you go.
2nd level allows the bastion to increase spells cast by his ward within 30 ft of him via fervor. 4th level means a bastion will not fall unconscious while his ward is conscious and 4th level also locks him into selecting fervor heal, if he has not done so already. Fervor heal heals the ward for 1d6 per every even class level and the bastion may, if his ward is also a warpriest, grant him fervor on a 2 for 1 basis with a unique fervor option. The pdf includes a feat for an additional ward. Blood Fervor is surprisingly awesome : It cannot be kitten-abused, thank the 7 heavens, and lets you regain fervor for defeating foes of at least 1/2 your HD – and maintains balance by also having a hard cap, thus not completely delimiting a limited resource. Bond of Blood, finally does the same…but for the ward!
Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed no truly glaring glitches and the rules-language is precise and to the point with only precious few minor deviations. Layout adheres to an elegant, nice two look at 2-column standard with a blending of b/w and color artworks in the same, quasi-Minoan paper-cut-ish style, which has evolved nicely over several books – this one’s artworks feel fitting and generate a sense of identity for the book. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience AND with a printer-friendly version – kudos and great to see this level of consideration.
I wrote this review pretty much how I experienced this book, since I wanted to let you share in the experience as best as I could. There is no doubt in my mind that Morgan Boehringer is one hell of a talented designer…but frankly, I have no idea what happened with these fervor options. When I started reading the intro, the revised fervor mechanics, the reasoning, the alternate balancing options…I was ecstatic. Seriously, I was stoked, pumped. And then my grin slowly turned to disbelief.
I mean, some weird layout glitch must have eaten all minimum level prereqs for the high-level options, right? Alas, there are precious few that sport them. So no dice. The balancing of these options, not only in the context of the class, but also among themselves, oscillates wildly between “mostly flavor” and “OMG, this is insanely good!” – and I frankly can’t endorse that. The archetype does explain this, at least a bit – for a non-caster, the power-boost several of them provide is justified. While I really hate the overkill skill-bonuses granted to the ward, it remains a valid divine bodyguard class…and it makes me have this theory that, at one point, a bunch of these options should have been exclusives. Or something like that. I’m grasping for straws here. Anyways, with careful GM oversight to add prerequisites to the fervor options and make the more powerful ones bastion exclusives (with minimum levels), this can be an amazing book.
It has Morgan’s creativity. It has panache, generally solid rules and provides a significant breadth of cool options. But I can’t rate a book for its potential. And, as you may have noticed, this one’s balance is problematic at best. It feels like it had almost become something amazing and instead of fine-tuning the balance of fervor options, it just threw them together. The tools for amazingness are there and if it was properly balanced, this would be my reference for warpriests…but as written, I can’t go any higher than 3 stars for it, with both a warning and recommendation for GMs…if you know your rules and think you can balance these, you’ll get a fine deal here…otherwise…well, you have been warned.
You can get this inexpensive pdf here on OBS!