Vexers of Porphyra (Porphyra RPG)
This installment of the „…of Porphyra“-series clocks in at 15 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, laid out in 6’’ by 9’’ (A5), so let#s take a look!
Vexers get d8 HD, 8 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, rapier, sap, short sword, shortbow, sword cane and an additional martial or exotic weapon proficiency as well as light armor. The class gets ¾ BAB-progression, and good Reflex-saves. The saving throw column for Will saves has a glitch, which erroneously notes the bonus for levels 18 – 20 as +0/+1 – it should be +6.
A vexer begins play with a luck bonus equal to his Charisma modifier, and use this bonus for a variety of class features, which are explicitly listed. Characters with the fate’s favored trait lose the trait and gain instead a +1 trait bonus to combat maneuver checks with pranks. Kudos for getting the bonus type right!
The class also gets to choose a lucky weapon from the list of weapons he’s proficient with– though it’s not clear when the ability is gained. The table lists it at 1st and 3rd level, and the text of the ability at 3rd, but 1st level would imho make most sense. This ability allows the vexer to add the luck bonus (i.e. Cha-mod) instead of Strength or Dexterity to attack and damage rolls; if an effect would prevent adding this bonus, Charisma modifier isn’t applied either. 11th and 19th level yield an additional lucky weapon.
The class begins play with pranks: The vexer may, as a standard action that does not provoke AoOs, set up a prank, which works analogue to setting of traps. The target may not be aware of the vexer, and trap sense and similar bonuses do apply to the roll to notice a prank (kudos for catching that!). The vexer makes a special combat maneuver check against the target (supported by Cha), and here is the cool thing: The prank does not kick off immediately, instead having combat maneuvers assigned to triggering actions – a move may cause a dirty trick, a spellcasting attempt disarm, manigfesting a power trip – and attacking will result in a check maneuver. This combat maneuver is perhaps a bit unfortunately named, but is per se interesting: The maneuver is a standard action that provokes an AoO, and a checked opponent is prevented from moving from the square occupied. You can’t check targets more than one size category larger than you. Checking while unarmed incurs a -4 penalty to the attempt. If Porphyra RPG ends up incorporating this maneuver, I’d strongly advise in favor of supplemental feats to build on that.
2nd level nets evasion, 3rd level danger sense (improves every 3 levels thereafter) and uncanny dodge. 4th level adds the vexer’s Charisma bonus to AC when flat-footed or helpless, and also at this level, the vexer gets a +1 morale bonus to attack and damage rolls for every adjacent square occupied by an enemy, capping at Charisma modifier. Minor nitpick: This ability is called confounding combat, and is erroneously noted as confounding strike in a no-concealment caveat. 8th level adds the luck bonus of the Charisma modifier to CMB and CMD.
The vexer begins play with irksome maneuvers: At 1st level and every odd level thereafter, the vexer learns a new one of these. These can add negative conditions to targets hit by combat maneuvers, provided the vexer flanks them or the target is unaware (or bereft of Dex-bonus) of the vexer; the conditions last for 1 round, +1 round for every 5 the combat maneuver check exceeds the target’s CMD. This does not work in conjunction with dirty trick, and steal may only apply fear-based conditions. The conditions available at first level and third level are fatigued, shaken and sickened; 5th and 7th level add dazed and staggered, etc. – there are two more steps in condition progression. This also takes sight into account. The capstone unleashes the most potent of these maneuvers.
At 5th level, vexers gain a luck pool equal to ½ class level + Charisma modifier, minimum 1. The pool replenishes after 8 hours of rest or a day has elapsed. As a free action, the vexer can expend one use of this pool to add or subtract 1d6 from the result of an ally or enemy’s d20 roll, including ones where the target has taken 10 or 20. The choice must be made after the check’s been made, but before results are made known, and may not alter a natural 1 or 20. The ability has a 1d4 round cooldown to prevent spamming.
2nd level and every even level thereafter yield a so-called vexation, the talent-suite of the class. These include defensive ones like adding the Charisma-based luck bonus to saves vs. transmutation spells, to a skill the vexer has no ranks in, to saves vs. poison, vs. death effects, two elemental descriptors, or to the saves vs. fear effects AND the DC to demoralize the vexer. A 1/day d20-reroll, better Stealth, Improved Combat Maneuver feats, autocatching thrown weapons that miss you, applying an irksome maneuver to your pranks, swift/immediate minor SR gain for class level rounds, traits, etc. – surprisingly diverse selection, and no, I haven’t listed all of them.
The pdf contains three archetypes: The cool cat replaces evasion with immunity to charm and fear effects and a 20 ft. aura that nets +4 morale bonus to saves against such effects. 5th level nets a variant of the pool that allows the cool cat to remove penalties of up to -4 from d20 rolls! Cool indeed, and yes, there is a stackable cold resistance vexation. The second archetype would be the pest, who replaces confounding combat with a variant that nets an increasing dodge bonus to AC when pitted against the odds. Instead of danger sense, the archetype uses class level as BAB for dirty trick maneuvers, and the 4th level ability that nets Charisma bonus as a luck bonus to AC while helpless or flat-footed is replaced with the ability to use improvised weapons as a lucky weapon. The archetype gets an alternate capstone that may include deadly pranks.
Finally, the shameless flirt replaces pranks with adding ½ class level to Deception and Diplomacy checks. Instead of a luck pool. The shameless flirt may, as a move action, make a Deception check opposed by Sense Motive. On a success, the flirt gets a dodge bonus equal to the luck bonus powered by Charisma versus that target’s attacks. At 8th level, the archetype applies the Charisma based luck bonus to AC vs. AoOs and to Reflex saves.
The pdf also sports the prankster’s kit and offers the new +2-valued luck-charmed special weapon property. These weapons add Charisma modifier instead of Strength or Dexterity to atk and damage.
Editing and formatting on a formal level are good; on a rules-language level, we have a few cosmetic deviations and minor glitches, but none that impede functionality. Layout adheres to a 1-column b/w-standard with purple highlights, and the artwork on the cover is neat. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.
I was pleasantly surprised by Aaron Hollingsworth’s vexer – the class is interesting, mechanically distinct, and rules-precision and originality of the concepts are much more pronounced than many I’ve seen from the author. While I would have loved to see a couple more unique vexations, the class, as a whole, can be considered to be a fun, alternate skill-monkey type of character. Considering the very low and fair asking price, my final verdict will clock in at 4 stars. Worth checking out!
You can check out this inexpensive class here on OBS!
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