This pdf of the Warrior Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 10 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/introduction (explaining the base concept of the series), 1 page SRD, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
What are Prestige Archetypes? Well, I reviewed the whole first series, so here’s the tl;dr-version: They are prestige classes blended with one (or more) base-class(es) to result in a new, 20-level-class – much like you had modified the base class with an archetype. Get it? Yeah, not a hard concept to grasp, is it? Now personally, I use Prestige Classes with an emphasis on the PRESTIGE-component, archetypes more like a career path, but this differs wildly from how PrCs are handled in most cases. Hence, e.g. the PA: Assassin from the first subscription was pretty much a godsend for my party. But can this one stand up to or surpass its first series?
Lantern Bearers receive d10, 6+Int skills, full BAB-progression, good fort- and ref-saves, proficiency with simple and martial weapons, shields and light and medium armor. At 1st level, the Lantern bearer receives favored enemy and adds another at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. They also begin the game with the track special quality and wild empathy. Now regarding the combat style and its progression, the Prestige Archetype does something rather well – it not only covers the base ranger styles, and instead also provide one for natural weapons, mounted combat, finesse, sword and board, etc. – nice! (Also: Concise in the feat-availability/feat-list expansion over the levels.)
At 4th level, hunter’s bond provides either the option to grant favored enemy bonuses to allies or an animal companion at char-level-3 and wis-based prepared spellcasting that is expanded by a bunch of spells that help ferret out the wicked (including e.g. invisibility purge) – and yes, third level nets endurance, for the few of you that are like me and actually care about this feat due to a lot of environmental threats. 7th level provides woodland stride and at 8th level, weapons wielded counts as cold iron and the level also nets fast tracking.
Mid levels net sense-enhancing bonus feats, quarry and well-defined immunity against the movement hampering effects of spells. Higher levels see swift action hide in plain sight for a limited amount of rounds per day, word of recall plus teleportation, better quarries, good-aligned weapons (very interesting for the non-good-aligned lantern bearers!). On the downside, 18th level sees holy aura, which should probably have corresponding effects for other alignments. The capstone allows for full speed tracking and insta-kill shots…and insta-non-lethal knockdown shots – cool!
We also receive solid FCOs and sample NPC builds for 1st, 5th, 10th and 15th level.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glitches. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks and comes sans art apart from the cover.
Carl Cramér’s Lantern Bearer is a return to form for the series – the Lantern Bearer boils down to a magical bounty hunter, a variant ranger that is pretty fun and bereft of the majority of druidy flavor, rendering this a great choice for city watches and similar hunters of the most dangerous prey. This WPA is very much a humble, concise and well-working take on the concept. It does not reinvent the wheel – but it doesn’t have to. While I am not 100% happy with the holy aura-ability, that constitutes the only true complaint I can field against this pdf. I will use these guys. My only gripe, apart from that, remains the missed opportunity of actually providing a signature lantern as magic item or directly lantern-related abilities. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 for the purpose of this platform.