Venommancer Hybrid Class
This hybrid class clocks in at 12 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 2 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 7 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This review was requested by one of my patreons, to be undertaken at my leisure.
So, the venommancer is a hybrid of alchemist and kineticist and gets d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons plus bola, boomerang, flask thrower, needle glove, scorpion whip, shuriken, scythe, throwing syringe, wrist launcher and whip as well as light armor, but not with shields. They get ¾ BAB-progression, begin play with poison use and have good Fort- and Ref-saves.
In case you were wondering: Both throwing syringe and needle glove are new exotic weapons with the inject special property. These weapons may be filled with a liquid as a 1.minute process, as a standard action for characters with poison use. Other weapons can get this one for +50% costs. Both are pretty expensive (15 gp and 35 gp), so plan this when spending the 3d6 x 10 starting wealth.
The venommancer begins play with the special blend class feature, which translates to 3 + Intelligence (not properly capitalized) modifier doses of a fast acting poison that may not be hoarded. This poison is an injury poison with a 1 round onset, dealing 1d4 untyped damage for the venommancer’s Intelligence modifier rounds. A successful Fortitude saving throw versus DC 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier negates the poison/flushes it out. The venommancer adds his level to Craft (alchemy) or Knowledge (nature), Heal and Survival to checks pertaining diseases or poisons. They can also use a standard action to identify a poison affecting a creature in reach. Finally, 1st level nets the toxins ability: the venommancer has cultivated 3 + Constitution modifier (once more, Constitution is not properly formatted…) diseases: As a standard action, the venommancer may exude a 5 ft.-radius cloud within 30 ft. of his current location. Targets in the cloud get a Con-governed Fort-save ( 10 + ½ class level + Constitution modifier, once more, attribute not properly formatted…) to negate. The cloud can be dissipated as a full-round action, and fire damage similarly can dissipate it. Unless thus dissipated, the cloud lasts class level rounds. The toxin has an onset of 1 day and causes 2 Dexterity damage per day, lasting until the target affected succeeds a save. The cloud has AC 10 and automatically fails saves.
At 2nd level, the venommancer gets the first virulence, with every even level thereafter, excluding the capstone, another virulence chosen. Virulences can be applied to toxins and special blends, but only 1 per such toxin/blend. Saving throw DCs are 10 + ½ class level + Intelligence modifier. There is a bit of a didactic improvement to be made here regarding nomenclature: It would have been easier for toxins to be referred directly, for special blends to be referenced directly. While the fluff text designates toxins as diseases, and special blends as poisons, the virulences apply their benefits generally…and accelerate disease becomes problematic. As a full-round action that provokes AoOs and may target a single being within 30 ft. – this target takes one day worth of disease effects…okay, so what about diseases with a quick progression? Full effects? Is there a save? I assume no, since the poison virulence does not the save DC, but I’m not sure. This problem extends to and is exacerbated in the accelerate poison virulence, which applies a poison’s remaining damage to a creature, with but a single save. This purges the poison, but can be a dragonslayer save or suck nonetheless. The issue regarding nomenclature also extends to some of the virulences – Adaptability makes the toxins apply to aberrations and undead. This is odd, since RAW, aberrations can be affected by poisons. Does this mean that toxins usually can’t affect aberrations? Why?? Substituting a toxin’s effect with that of diseases is interesting, and class level -4 bombs is also available, though this one lacks the minimum level prerequisite. RAW, it doesn’t work at 2nd or 4th level. The flawed rules-language also extends to a few very basic operations: Clumsiness blend, for example, makes the special blend deal 1 point of Dexterity damage instead of hit point damage. “You may take this virulence 1 additional time for every 4 venommancer levels you have. The damage stacks.” You’d usually use something like “every time you do, you increase the…” here instead. Anyway, there is a virulence talent that lets you fire a ranged touch attack as a standard action against a target affected by special blend or toxin, dealing 1d6 + half your Constitution modifier untyped damage. This blast may be enhanced by features that enhance the kinetic blast class feature. This is basically all the kineticist that’s in the class, and I don’t have to explain why this does not work, right?
Save or suck unconsciousness can also be found, and formatting is bad: Beyond the attributes I mentioned, there are instances of lower case skills, non-standard save DC-sequences, and ability that attempts splash damage and, while nominally functional, doesn’t seem to get how verbiage or splash damage usually work…you get the idea.
3rd level yields alchemical bonds: 1 + Con-modifier points are in this pool, and another one is gained for every 3 class levels. Once more, the verbiage here is needlessly convoluted and confusing. Expending one of these points renders the venommancer sickened. (Conditions are not italicized in PFRPG.) This condition lasts for a number of rounds equal to the points missing from the pool. These include immediate onset, purging diseases from targets (which also replenish limited use class features), suspend symptoms, etc. Forced onset has no range, and the ability fails to specify when the points replenish, if they do, and the class erroneously refers to the alchemical bond points as psychic. Unless otherwise noted, these are a standard action. Increase with Power lasts 1 round and does not specify otherwise. *sigh* The 5th level lets the venommancer poison a weapon as a swift action, and starting at 7th level, the class can poison weapons of allies within 30 ft.. Odd: RAW, neither line of sight, nor line of effect are required. Spread the plague does not note the level it’s gained, requiring that you default to the table – it’s 7th level, fyi. The venommancer may touch an ally and give the ally a dose of Toxin – I assume this expends a use. The ally, when hit, releases the toxin, and all within 5 ft. must save, with the DC reduced by 2. Why only allies? 9th level cuts the onset of poisons and diseases in half, and targets suffer the effects twice per round instead of once. Okay…when precisely during the round? No idea.
10th level nets poison immunity, 11th level at-will neutralize poison and remove disease and 13th level provides the option to poison a weapon when picking it up, or to inflict a poison via grappling. At ¾ BAB and sans enhancers, you will not be doing the latter. Class features are still not capitalized n PFRPG – I don’t get how you can still get that wrong. Anyhow, 15th level allows for the swift action expenditure of an alchemical bond point to force a reroll. 17th level nets a 10 ft. aura that inflicts 1d6 level? Why?) – this damage is recovered when a target leaves the aura and a target succeeding is immune against it. The aura may be suspended as a standard action for 1-minute increments. Wut? Okay, you’ll never want to sleep next to those guys.
19th level is interesting, making the venommancer no longer detect as a living creature, but makes her still perceivably via detect disease/poison. The capstone lets her use a use of special blend + toxins to create a 40-feet cylinder centered on the venommancer. This storm of venom causes 1d8 points of ability score damage (minimum 1) on a chosen ability score on a failed Ref-save, and increases its radius by 10 ft. each round. “Creatures that flee the cloud…” only take 1d4 until there are cleansed via spells, immersion in water, etc. See, this capstone, while not perfect, is actually kinda badass!
The pdf includes 8 new feats: +2 special blend uses, increase Toxin save DC by 1, increasing range or radius of the cloud…the like. There also is a feat that lets you poison weapons while drawing them, which is kinda odd regarding the action economy boosts of the class. It also requires a Sleight of Hand check – failing the check makes drawing and poisoning the weapon standard action, which renders this feat an all out bad idea. Spray the Wound has a good idea: When an ally damages a living enemy with a slashing or piercing weapon, you may use an AoO to throw poison in the wound. Thing is: The feat is geared towards directly throwing poison, and the class doesn’t get Throw Anything. Why can’t you use drawn throwing syringes with it? *sigh* Stinging Swarms is a teamwork feat that requires that you and your ally wield poisoned rapiers. Guess what’s not on the proficiency list of the class? Bingo. Frickin’ rapiers. The feat is also, beyond being super-circumstantial, wide open to abuse: As a full-round action, you make one attack. If you hit, allies may make an attack as an immediate action. “These attacks deal 1d6 points of damage to the enemy…” Damage type? That’s not how PFRPG works…and the enemy then gets a separate save versus each poison. That’s standard in PFRPG. However, failing even one save affects the target with the effects of ALL poisons. This is broken, doesn’t work, is super-circumstantial and a total mess. Don’t get me started on the attempt of a coordinated salvo of projectiles.
The pdf also includes an archetype for the venommancer, the psilocybinist, who replaces the toxin class feature with an inability to become addicted to drugs. The skill boosts granted by toxicologist are modified by more efficient drug creation and associated skill boosts. The alchemical bond is replaced with the option to bond with a d rug for 24 hours. Then, we get the psyching the dose ability: “When a psilocybinist takes a drug she is psychically bound to; she may choose which effects to be subject to. When a psilocybinist chooses not to take part in a specific effect of a drug, the psilocybinist may not choose to activate that effect later in the drug’s duration. In addition, she may ignore any penalties while using the bonded drug.”[sic!] This is the most wordy and confusing way ever to say “The psilocybinist may choose to ignore any penalties, negative conditions or ability score damage or drain caused by effects of the bonded drug.” At 7th level, penalties incurred by bonded drugs become alchemical bonuses instead.
Editing and formatting are bad – neither on a formal level, nor on a rules-language level are they up to the standards of the 3pps of PFRPG. The class is barely functional as written, and then only with copious amounts of handwaving and GM interpretation. Layout adheres to 2 –column full-color standard and the pdf sports some nice full-color artworks. The pdf sports rudimentary bookmarks, which is nice. However, you can’t copy text from the pdf. This makes using the class supremely inconvenient and requires that you copy the abilities by hand to your character sheet. Big comfort detriment there.
Jarret Sigler’s venommancer is a cool idea – Scarecrow the class? Heck yes, neato!
I don’t see anything kineticist-y within, apart from one ability that sucks and is only relevant for multiclass characters, so if you’re looking for kineticist-style tricks, look elsewhere. I like the idea of the class, and frustratingly, it gets the ideas almost right in many cases, but then falls flat on its face. Worse, even if you do manage to somehow use the class, it ends up being really weak, courtesy of a lack of means to bypass immunities. The class also shows copious amounts of instances that depict obvious ignorance of how PFRPG’s more complex rules-interactions work. In short, this feels like a class that was well-meant, but that fails pretty hard; like an Alpha, if you will. Personally, I wouldn’t touch it as written with a ten-foot-pole, but as a reviewer, I can at least applaud the notions that grant this one a distinct identity. As such, my final verdict will be 2 stars.
You can get this hybrid class here on OBS.