Legendary Classes: Quartermaster
This installment of the Legendary Classes-series clocks in at 30 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1.5 pages of SRD, leaving us with 26.5 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
The quartermaster is the lord of equipment – as a framework, the class gets 3/4 BAB-progression, good Ref- and Will-saves, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple and martial weapons as well as light and medium armor proficiency. He may disarm magical traps as though he was a rogue and traps disarmed by him can be re-armed as a move action. The class may use Appraise instead of Perception to spot valuables and also use the skill to identify magic items. The class gets half class level to Appraise, Craft, Disable Device and UMD and all of these skills are governed by Int for the quartermaster.
At first level, the quartermaster receives resources equal to his Intelligence modifier, minimum 1. This behaves much like grit or panache, though the points do have an anti-kitten-abuse caveat (YAY!) and inflicting negative conditions via devices or directly can restore a point. The quartermaster unsurprisingly also gains deeds; unless otherwise noted, they can be used multiple times per round, though reduction of resources points is only applied to the total, not per activation. Some of the deeds require certain pieces of equipment to perform. The starting tricks of the class are already pretty interesting: There is, for example, a deed to throw nearby allies a given item, granting them temporary proficiency, provided the quartermaster has it himself. Crafting of makeshift tools and weapons is also one of his tricks.
Equipment bonuses and masterwork bonuses are doubled for the class and a quartermaster may use broken items as though they did not have that condition. 3rd level unlocks exceedingly fast (free action drawing of weapons, sheathing, reloading…wait, reloading? Yes, this would be an issue to be aware of: If you’re not using firearms balanced by massive reload action-economy penalty, this is no issue…but if you do, I’d instead go for a reduction instead here. Pretty cool: One minute of set-up work can be done in a single move action. That collapsible tub or altar? *Fwhump* and it’s there! That armor? Pretty quickly donned. Also at third level, the quartermaster may apply to bonus granted by dangerous devices to one of his attacks. What is dangerous devices? Well, at 2nd level, any piece of equipment that is not a weapon or trap increase their DC to spot and resist by +1 and attacks with them by +1. Furthermore, these bonuses increase at level 4 and every 2 levels thereafter. Oh, and yes, the damage for the item becomes +1d6 of its usual damage type (including nonlethal damage caveat for items that usually don’t inflict damage), +1d6 at 4th level and every 2 levels thereafter, making this somewhat sneak-y. And yes, you can beat ogres with rotten fish to a pulp. Fans of Asterix will definitely get a smile out of this ability. To avoid abuse, this damage may be inflicted once per turn, which provides a cap not dissimilar to the cryptic’s. Starting at 3rd level, dangerous device bonuses versus objects are always applied and from kicking doors in to using Disable Device to break them in, there is some serious sapper vibe going on here.
But back to the deeds:3rd level also unlocks further mastery regarding the perception of traps and at 7th level, repurposing e.g. stills and similar devices to make it “look like an accident” is possible…and exceedingly fun and creative. The 7th level ability is Thrift is also intriguing: Items with charges or daily uses can be used by the quartermaster sans expending a use/charge by instead substituting points of resources, with magic items costing 1 point of resources per charge and one-use magic items costing 2 points of resources; mundane items are free. This is at once an interesting ability and one that can be problematic – considering the fact that CL or cost of the item in question do not feature in, this can be abused like crazy, right? I have bashed stuff like this before…so how does the class offset this issue? It is simple and friggin’ genius: This ability only works if the quartermaster has 3 of the items in question or more. That unique staff or total destruction? Nope. You *still* can get a lot of mileage out of items, but you won’t get infinite healing and nor will you unintentionally break the game with the class when an adventure assumes a powerful, unique item. This is simple, elegant and genius. Finally, there would be weapon leverage, which allows adds constant bonuses to weapons with specific types or qualities: All flails are treated as though the quartermaster had Improved Reposition, for example. Additionally, the weapon groups/qualities have associated bonus actions that require points of resources and either a swift or immediate action to activate.
11th level allows for more costly, but longer lasting item-use instruction and 11th level provides universal equipment tricks at the cost of points of resources. Which brings me to the second focus of the class: Starting at 2nd level, the quartermaster gains the Equipment Trick feat and extends the benefits of the feat to those he instructs in the use of the item-type. The feat is gained an additional time every 2 levels thereafter. At 11th level, even those not covered via the feats can thus be temporarily gained. Starting at 11th level (and increasing in versatility at 15th and 19th level), the quartermaster can imbue certain qualities in objects, making them e.g. count as adamantine etc., thus alleviating the DR/resistance-bypassing issue that improvised weapon specialists get sooner or later. Starting at 15th level, easier take 10s may be nice…but imho cooler would be the option to destroy costly magic items to generate bursts of magical energy depending on item CL and school…or…and they can deal nonlethal damage versus constructs and then take them over. 19th level provides animate objects, AoE air walk and a costly wish. On a nitpicky side, while these modify the base spells and their effects, it’s slightly odd that the airwalk-granting deed is SU, while the other two are SP – I assume this is due to the free action activation, but imho, the potential AoO would still be justified here. This is just personal preference and will not feature in the final verdict, though.
You probably have expected it, so I’ll just come out and say it: Yes, the class has a crazy prepared ability, which would be deep pockets. This allows the quartermaster to carry 50 gp times class level unspecified equipment and the ability interacts properly with the other class abilities like makeshift item creation etc. The ability has a “reasonable carry”-caveat for unwieldy objects. Now here’s the thing: Of all the numerous iterations of such an ability, this is only the second that managed to get the “no specific items”-caveat right; combined with the unwieldy-objects-caveat and a “separated from equipment”-caveat…
…this is, ladies and gentlemen, the VERY FIRST CRAZY PREPARED ABILITY I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO ISSUE WITH!! It happened. I can’t believe it. So beautiful… *_*
Starting at 3rd level, the class may substitute Disable Device for Craft skills pertaining the use or repair of items (but not their creation!) and 4th level unlocks an interesting one: Weapon specific feats like Weapon Focus are applied to all weapons he is proficient with. 5th level allows the character to acquire gear beyond what would usually be available in a given setting and also nets evasion. At the same level, quartermasters may spend a full-round action to inspect the gear of a creature standing attention to convey his pack rat ability’s benefits…and yes, this can be applied to vehicles. Pack rat? Yep, gained at 2nd level, medium load or encumbrance is treated as light instead, but sans affecting carrying capacity. (Note to self: My girlfriend has this ability – she is at least a 5th level quartermaster!)
At 5th level and every odd level thereafter, the quartermaster also gains one “uncommon” proficiency – firearms, exotic ranged weapons (should exclude firearms), shields, siege weapons…you get the idea. At 9th level, buying more than10 or more identical items, the class gets all at half price…but when he resells them, he’ll get blacklisted…so no abuse here either. (And yes, this makes ammo dirt cheap…but at 9th level, we’re beyond the levels where that matters too much even in most low magic groups.) Improved evasion is gained at 13th level and at 17th levle, when attacked by a trap, the class may Reflex save even against Will- or Fort-using traps
The class comes with a ton of favored class options that include uncommon races like kitsune and ratfolk as well as some Porphyra-races like the Xesa….and they tend to be interesting: 1/7th of a move action exclusively to manipulate objects can make a real difference in play and comes sufficiently high-priced to not upset lower level gameplay. Kudos for not phoning those in!
Next up would be the feat-section, which not only reprints Equipment Trick for your convenience – it also provides means to increase the range of quartermaster abilities or equipment tricks with range. And yes, the pdf explains that this is NOT telekinesis. Earlier deed access (with a trade in towards Signature Deed at 19th level) can be found herein and is one of the instances where I have to be an A-hole: This feat has the (Resources) subtype, but does not specifically note resources as a prerequisite, which can become problematic with other deed-using classes. And yes, I am aware of the intent here, but RAW, that’s what’s here. Extra resources, multiclass support and Improved Brace, which reach fighter builds will LOVE complement this section.
Of course, the quartermaster is about equipment…so what about armored boots in different qualities and oversized caltrops in different power-levels? Yes, you can have colossal 64 lbs. caltrops. Friggin’ cool! Safety nets, mithral poles…pretty neat!
Oh, and then there would be a TON of equipment tricks – including ones for blankets, anvils, balloons, censers, furniture, scabbards, horns, maps, mirrors, prosthetics, soap water, sunrods…and I haven’t even scratched the surface yet! We’re not talking about one trick either, but about multiple per item type! The respective prerequisites make sense in their context and the pdf closes with a sample level 1 furnace elf quartermaster.
Editing and formatting adhere to the tighter examples; while there are some deviations from the default rules-language like “count” instead of “treat” in some cases, the language manages to actually cover the highly complex operations in a precise manner when it counts; all deviations I noticed were purely aesthetic in nature. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ printer-friendly two-column b/w-standard with purple highlights and the pdf has no artwork apart from the nifty cover. Yes, this means that this is a VERY long, very dense book for the low asking price. The pdf comes with basic bookmarks, though they only point towards the chapter headers.
Carl Cramér’s quartermaster was a class I had absolutely no desire to playtest. I’m not a fan of deeds being fixed and prefer player agenda/choice. I have not seen a single class or ability that managed to get the crazy prepared aspect 100% right and this class is built around just that. Urgh.
You know, sometimes I’m really glad I do this reviewing thing. I would have totally missed out on an awesome class. The bonus damage it can dish out makes the quartermaster relevant in combat, though the primary focus will be support; but unlike many a class, this one is not just about skills or a set array of parameters and stratagems. I remember some blurb talking about this being teh wizard of skill-classes and I’d actually disagree vehemently. While the quartermaster does share in common that his whole trick set-up and trap-making boils down to an option array not unlike spells, the class plays best in the hands of spontaneous and creative players – whether they be kids or adults, the class can deliver brutal slapstick that is mechanically relevant or be an awesome representation of the non-explosion-based sapper/trapper/handyman-trope.
Yes, the pdf has some minor rough edges like the feat, the weapon proficiency group hiccup and a couple of minor rules-language guffaws. Know what? Ignore them. The only reason I mentioned them in the first place is because I have to as a reviewer.
This class may not be perfect, but IT IS GLORIOUS.
No, really. It will take a bit to understand it. Playing it actually helps get a feeling for the action economy and the vast potential this has. Think of these guys as non-psionic cryptics with a mundane flavor that are efficient support-characters. I love this class. It may stumble in some minor cases, but instead, it gets the big things right; the highly complex rules-operations like the crazy prepared bit, the bonus damage bit, etc. All of this, however, does not really account for the best thing about this class: How it plays.
The quartermaster is, in short, ridiculously fun to play. Let me reiterate: Back in 3.X, when I ran “Night of the Living Dead” in my Ravenloft campaign, it was for 7th level PCs (as opposed to 1st level, for which the module was designed) and I rewrote…everything. I basically went full blown zombie apocalypse. My players had no ammo left; no charges. Melee weapons were breaking left and right (I’m a bastard)…so, at one point, they started looking through their backpacks and found soap, shovels and the like…and proceeded to get creative to…well. Not die. To this day, one of the stories that always comes up is the one, where the kensai threw a shovel and decapitated neatly a zombie with a crit, creating an avalanche on soapy terrain. This class is this scene, made into a class.
Unlike a wizard, who has a set paradigm of effects codified as spells, the quartermaster has items. Items we partially know in real life. As such, we have a stronger connection to them…and an easier time getting creative with them. In short: Much of the joy this class offers stems from the hard-coded rules for effective innovation this framework offers. Creativity has a higher role here than with most prepared casters…and it’s what makes this class so fun. Don’t get me wrong – the quartermaster is NOT a weak class; it does have mechanical oomph enough. But the most fun with it will be had by the die-hard roleplayers that really like coming up with uncommon solutions…and in such, this class, as strange as it may sound, actually feels like it brought a bit of that old-school feeling back, when PCs improvised with items much more because not everything was buried beneath a wall of feats/abilities.
This then, to me, would be the crowning achievement of the class beyond its precise take on complex concepts: It does account for and codify PFRPG’s requirements regarding the precision of feats and ability-availability…but at the same time allows this jury-rigging improvisational element back into the game in an imho unprecedented capacity. I’ve been doing some serious OSR gaming these days…and this class brings some of the flair beyond the rules, some of its free-form spirit to PFRPG without being sloppy. I know that quite a few of you out there will love it for that.
In spite of its minor flaws, I’ve rarely had this much fun picking a class apart…and this is where my reviewer-job becomes a bit annoying. You see, formally, I probably should rate this 4.5 or 4 stars…but that would neither account for its achievements on a mechanical level, nor for those regarding sheer FUN. Those of you who want flawless mechanics in even the most miniscule part of the pdf or a flawless editing may consider this to be a 4 or 4.5 star file, depending on how you weigh it.
However, personally, I have always been true to rating according to my passions when they flare up this highly, something that happens all too rarely these days and much less so in a concept if seen so often…wait, correction: A concept I have seen botched so often. The quartermaster gets it right. It’s a class that emphasizes ROLEplaying and clever players without dropping the ball regarding crunch and explaining it away.
It is a crazy prepared class that manages to get a huge array of things right. It is, more importantly, a fun, unique and rewarding class…and one I wouldn’t want to miss in my games anymore. Were it not for the hiccups, this would be a candidate for my Top Ten-list. I can’t do that, but as written, I’ll still rate this 5 stars and add my seal of approval to it. Get this one – it’s rewarding, unique and fun.
You can get this evocative, cool class here on OBS!