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  1. - Top - End - #181
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    I await your verdict on the Metaphysical Spellshaper!
    Quote Originally Posted by GPuzzle View Post
    And I do agree that the right answer to the magic/mundane problem is to make everyone badass.
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    If you're of a philosophical bent, the powergamer is a great example of Heidegger's modern technological man, who treats a game's mechanics as a standing reserve of undifferentiated resources that are to be used for his goals.
    My Complete Tome of Battle Maneuver/Stance/Class Overhaul

    Arseplomancy = Fanatic Tarrasque!

  2. - Top - End - #182
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    There's a thread about the BoEF open right now.

    Just to say something before the 45 days are over
    Last edited by Bavarian itP; 2021-09-20 at 09:48 PM.
    shipping Sabine/Vaarsuvius

  3. - Top - End - #183
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Again, sorry about the delays guys, I will get on this ASAP.

  4. - Top - End - #184
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Again, sorry about the delays guys, I will get on this ASAP.
    When you can.

    Alternatively, review BoEF in its own thread, so this one doesn't get locked.
    I'm taking part in the Character Creation Challenge (#charactercreationchallenge): 1 character per day for January 2021. Come see who I've made at:
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    Book of Erotic Fantasy, Valar Project Inc.

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    Haha, you really thought I’d post the cover to this book here? If you’re really that keen to know what the cover looked like then go and Google in a private browser window or on a burner phone.

    More seriously, the cover image isn’t that bad given the subject heading, and it’s positively demure by comparison to some of the interior art, but either way it’s omitted just for the heart health of our mods.


    Summary
    So, after much ado about nothing, we finally get around to one of the more controversial third party sourcebooks ever published for third edition. This book is all about adding carnal elements (for want of a better expression) to your campaign. Feats, prestige classes, races, gods, alignments, skills, spells, you name it, they’re all covered from the point of view of sex and love in the roleplaying game. It introduces a new primary stat, Appearance, for reasons that become apparent within. Definitely a book aimed at adults, and entirely consenting parties of adults, only.

    It bears setting out in a preface that we could get really sophomoric or insensitive with some ease because the subject matter of reproduction, rather like baby jokes, is inherently funny. So I’m going to do my best to try and be as objective as I can. That said, if any body part jokes or double entendres slip through, any offence caused is entirely unintended and you might consider you’re just seeing a remark as bigger than it actually is ...

    … yes, that one was intended.

    Date of Publication and Page Count
    November 2003, 193 pages. Thus, late in third edition, indeed technically a 3.5 book on publication date, but like a lot of third party from this era, it wasn’t updated to 3.5 rules. As you might expect, the book caused something of a kerfuffle on its original release. The full story is even more interesting and murky.

    Early in third edition’s history, WOTC allowed the d20 System Trademark – as distinct from the OGL -- to be licensed to companies other than WOTC, meaning that third party publishers could tout their products as officially compatible with the d20 system. The idea being that the more people who published d20, the more WOTC’s products profited. This worked pretty well for the first years of third edition.

    However, with a glut of rubbish d20 books published by independents, at some point in 2001-2002 WOTC decided to make the licence more restrictive. Leaving aside requirements for product quality, the d20 licence would be conditional on a third party publication meeting ‘community standards of decency’.

    This was of particular interest to Anthony Valterra, who was a brand manager for WOTC and, more importantly, intending on publishing BoEF through his own company, Valar Project. According to forum chat from the time which is still Google-searchable on EnWorld under ‘Valar Project’, it looks like Valterra was fighting against these proposed changes to the licence, and tried to accelerate BoEF’s publication so it’d get out before they changed the rules. As you might guess, it didn’t happen. Valterra (evidenced by his public posting on EnWorld) parted ways with WOTC in May 2003; Valar Project officially announced the BoEF the same month; previews of the book were sold at the Indianapolis GenCon in July 2003; Valar Project’s licence to use the d20 trademark was revoked in September 2003; and Valar published BoEF in November 2003. Valar removed any direct references to D&D and just published the book under the OGL (citing the OGL in 20-point font on the book’s cover, just to be sure).

    This turned third party publishers off publishing under the d20 licence, since it showed WOTC was willing to arbitrarily change the licence, and thus leave a Damoclean sword hanging over any publisher who stamped ‘d20’ on his books. Together with WOTC firing off 3.5 edition without letting third party publishers know it was coming, it meant the death of the d20 trademark, at least outside WOTC, in favour of OGL.

    Anthony Valterra is still active in the entertainment industry, but only in tabletop games by the look of it. Valar Project didn’t turn out any other books as far as I can see. Perhaps somewhat sadly, the company’s last listing seems to have been as a clothing and apparel company … and its web domain has long since disappeared.

    Which is to say the book wasn’t written by a bunch of creepy trenchcoat types. The book’s main credited author is Gwendolyn F.M. Kestrel. (The other author, Duncan Scott, appears to be something of a ghost. Indeed a news release from May 2003 announcing the book, indicate the 'other writer' of BoEF wanted to remain anonymous, so 'Duncan Scott' might well have been a pen name.) Those of you who’ve been paying attention would know that almost uniquely among the generally convex makeup of WOTC’s writing staff of the time, Kestrel is female with multiple book credits: Races of the Dragon, Monster Manuals III and IV, Underdark, Races of Eberron, Planar Handbook, Book of Challenges, Expedition to the Demonweb Pits. She appears to write fiction these days, but for better or worse BoEF is the book her name is likely most tagged with.

    It’s probably not a good sign that the book credits more models than it does playtesters.

    Valar Project as said is long gone, but it looks as though the book is still being published by White Wolf. In any event, it does appear to be readily available on mass market RPG websites.

    Notable Features
    Imagist (Base Class): The Supermodel as Sorceress. The Imagist’s primary casting stat is their Appearance score. Spells per day and known are basically that of a Sorcerer, but she casts divine spells rather than arcane. The Imagist spell list is fairly short and mostly Core cleric stuff for the first few levels (and includes good old Divine Power) but also starts to get some of the arcane essentials from around 5th to 9th level (and includes the capacity to cast both Miracle and Wish.) It also picks up some of the better spells unique to this book, and these tend to be at lower levels than other base classes. Abilities otherwise are, well, unique: some Sanctuary, some ability to give others a Smite ability, pick up a Cohort at third level as if she had the Leadership feat. And as you’d expect, she uses her Appearance modifier rather than CHA for her Bluff, Diplomacy, and Leadership score. Probably one step up on the average Buffer/Bluffer/Diplomancer, especially if she's casting Beauty's Caress a lot.
    Kundala (Base Class): Leaving aside the fluff, it’s basically a body-focused monk with a paladin casting progression slapped on. The spells draw from a very short list which only goes up to fourth level, but there are a few bits and pieces in here that even a paladin might envy: Mage Armor, Bull’s Strength, Cat’s Grace, Owl’s Wisdom, Bear’s Endurance, Barkskin, Blur. And, as a fourth level spell, DIVINE POWER.
    Tantrist (Base Class): Leaving aside the fluff which is, sadly, nowhere near really represented in how the class works, the tantrist is basically a wizard whose casting stat is CON, with the Knowledge domain slapped on as well (we’ll pass over the Body, Perversion, and Pleasure domains.) Tantrists carve their known spells onto their bodies, and interestingly they can learn from both the Sorcerer and Wizard lists. Unfortunately, and the big drawback of the class: to regain his spells, the tantrist needs a full night’s rest and then to bump uglies with someone for an hour. And no, going dancing with Mrs Palm does not count, explicitly. Evocation school spells are cast at +1 CL, -1 CL to Illusion or Necromancy schools.
    Metaphysical Spellshaper (Prestige Class): Three levels. Full casting PrC. First level lets you trade off ability damage, in the stat of your choice, for metamagic costs, 1 for 1, on the fly. And no, you don’t actually have to have the higher level spell slots available to cast the metamagic version. Yes, Lesser Restoration allows you to offset this damage, but you have to make a DC 20 CL check, or the spell has no effect. (So you’ll be carrying lots of Wands with you, or you'll be binding Naberius for sweet ability damage healing 1/round.) Second level gives you a free metamagic feat. Third level reduces a spell's final metamagic costs by 1. This is comparable in power to the Incantatrix, which is basically the go-to for “Apply Metamagic To All The Things” in D&D 3.5, and this PrC only sweats you 3 levels for it. Indeed, this thing is even more terrifying when contemplated combined with Incantatrix.
    Knot Binder of Kaladis (Prestige Class): Not what you’re probably thinking. These are the guys who enforce unions, contracts and sacred vows, e.g. marriages. Their fluff is superb for clerics of Torm, Tyr, Helm, or any of the stern lawful bunch who are interested in upholding agreements just as much as (or more than) justice. But it’s basically yet another inquisitor, detective-type prestige class that gives you stuff like better abilities to discern lies, cast Zone of Truth, cast Geas as a capstone, and find your true love once per day. At least (a) it’s only 5 levels long and (b) it’s a full casting PrC.
    Body domain (new domain): The domain power is just adding Climb, Escape Artist, Jump, Swim, and Tumble as class skills to the weedy Cleric, but at least the domain spells are interesting: it adds Alter Self, Polymorph, Ethereal Jaunt, and Shapechange at the top end.
    Submissive Demeanour (feat): WIS 13 prereq, and when targeted by spells or effects, you may make a “contested Will save” with the caster. If you succeed, the caster picks another target (and thus the spell doesn’t affect you). Benefit ends as soon as you take any sort of hostile action, such as attacking or casting spells. This one is right on the edge of going into the Dreadful Features section for potential abuse, but that mainly because the feat is badly-worded and could be abused to be used against traps or similar. The concept is nice -- although most casters will have high Will saves, it’s still another roll that the enemy has to make to affect you, albeit the number they have to hit is not constant. Simplest combination making this feat more useful? Moment of Perfect Mind, your Concentration skill becomes your Will save which is now useable to defeat any spell, not just the ones that target your Will save.
    Beauty's Caress (Brd 3, Clr 4, Imagist 3) (new spell): 1 hour/level, so very little Persist shenanigans required ... add 1d4 per 2 caster levels to your CHA (and APP) scores, to a maximum of 5d4. This is outrageously good for CHA-based characters, the moreso that it's pretty low level for Bards, all things considered. I mean, remember this thing can be Maximised and Empowered, for very little costs if you're a Metaphysical Spellshaper.
    Magic Probe (Brd 2 Clr 2, Sor/Wiz 2) (new spell): Have to touch the creature, but you instantaneously reveal all spells currently active on the target. As we know, familiars can deliver touch spells.
    Miss (Imagist 1, Sor/Wiz 2) (New spell): If it fails the Will save, target’s next attack roll takes a -10.
    Peace Aura (Clr 8, Imagist 7, Denial 9) (New Spell): “Wards a 40 foot radius from the touched point so that anyone attempting to strike or otherwise attack a creature in the warded area, even with a targeted spell, takes 1d6 of [force] damage per caster level. And Evil subtype creatures take a -4 on the saving throw. Its range is touch, and might ward a “structure” against violence, so just cast it on a toy house and carry the house around with you for kerbooming shenanigans.
    Pheromones (Rgr 3) (new spell): You smell nice. Get a +5 untyped bonus to Bluff, Diplomacy and Handle Animal checks against creatures in a 10 foot radius of you, for 1 hour per level.
    Shadow Life (Brd 6) (new spell): 1 day/level, no material components, works like Raise Dead, but at the end of its duration, the target again dies. Interesting possibilities for roleplaying at least, or at least gives you a few days to rustle up a diamond or two.
    Spell Meld (Clr 9, Sor/Wiz 9 (new spell): takes two casters, but they can pool their spellcasting abilities. Each participant can cast spells from the other’s spell retinue if their ability stat is high enough. Lasts 10 minutes/level. Surely there must be some ab/uses for this.
    Succor (Brd 4, Clr 5, Pal 4) (new spell): And here we have one spell from the same book that arguably gets around Metaphysical Spellshaper’s restrictions on trading metamagic costs for ability damage. The spell, 1 minute/level, prevents the loss of 1 point of ability damage or drain per 5 caster levels, to a maximum of 4. It is not clear whether this is a running total or effectively DR 4 against ability damage or drain.
    Confidence (armor quality): +1 bonus to armor which gives you a +2 enhancement bonus to CHA, and allows you to add your CHA mod to all Will saves. Let’s remember a +2 Cloak of Charisma costs you 4,000 gold and still doesn’t match this.
    Alternate Spaces for Magic Items on the Body: Doesn’t add extra body slots, but does indicate alternative ways to take up those slots. E.g. why go with boring and nerdy goggles. Try a set of eyelash extensions instead. Or a hair comb, in place of a boring old helmet.
    Celestial Argentum (new substance): Spell failure chance drops by 10%, max DEX bonus increases by 2, ACP reduced by 3. A little more expensive than mithral, but not bad at all.
    Giantborn (template): LA +2, so it had better be worth it. Type changes from your original humanoid/monstrous humanoid to Giant, which is handy even if you now have to watch out for dwarven enemies. Toughness as a bonus feat, +2 to STR, +2 to CON, -2 CHA, -2 APP if you’re using it, gets lowlight vision, +1 to attack rolls with thrown weapons. If you have 5 or more HD, get enlarge person as a spell-like ability once per day, cast as a second level spell. At 10 or more HD, flat-out get an increase in size by one category with all associated benefits and penalties. This is obviously of most use if you’re already Large size, since it’s a flat increase to size, not an increase to Large in itself. It’s still a substantial whack at LA +2, and more attractive for martials than casters.


    Dreadful Features
    Divine Celibate (Prestige Class): Five levels long and meant for paladins, but really it’s at best an equivocal dip for clerics desperate to pick up another source of turning, and even then I’m dubious about it. I really wanted to like it, it’s a PrC based on the idea of the virgin who could befriend unicorns according to legend. In five levels it gets full BAB and 4/5 to Fort and Will. Also gets a Unicorn special mount, which is nice, and at the capstone, the supernatural ability to turn non-native evil outsiders as a good cleric of his character level, which is a distinct improvement on paladin turning and almost certainly forms another turning pool for divine metamagic. This is also good since he also gets to cast any spell off the cleric list or from the Good or Protection domains. The problem is that he only picks up second level spells at maximum, and damn few of them.
    Pierced Mystic (Prestige Class): No extra spell levels, but your CL goes up, and you can imbue 3 piercings (of the dozens the character has) with one spell you know, which then becomes a spell-like ability useable a maximum of 3 times per day. But they still take up a body slot like a regular magic item.
    Voyeuristic Seer (Prestige Class) 3 level full-casting PrC that focuses on scrying and its tagline is “I like to watch.” Yeah, it’s basically all that.
    Life Shell (Cleric 5) (New spell): “Ah, so this is the opposite of the Antilife Shell. Nothing nonliving - be they arrows, magic items, or clothes – can penetrated unimpeded, though energy attacks still can. 10 minutes per level. … oh. The caster of this spell must be completely naked. Right, moving on.”
    Every other feat bar the ones mentioned above. Basically pages and pages are spent on giving you between +2 and +6 temporary enhancement bonus in a stat if you bump uglies for up to one continuous hour ahead of time. There really isn’t much else in the feat section.
    Greater Succubus (monster): This was really just an excuse to post some squicky fluff and a picture of a topless model in a devil costume. The one creature where you would expect there to be some major use of the unique mechanics in the book, seeing as its very nature is all about seduction, and all you basically get is an advanced succubus.


    Who it’s best for (Player/GM/both)
    Honestly, as a player you’re likely going to get funny looks if you turn up to Session Zero sporting this thing in hand. And it really does warrant a long and careful look from a DM before using elements from it, even leaving aside a DM is specifically warned to get consent from his players before rolling its content out, so it’s really most recommended to DMs to look at rather than players, at least to start with.

    Comments, thoughts, and rating out of 10.
    On mechanics:
    A long-lost internet poster once said about BoEF “balanced, mature, and relevant to the game. Pick 2.” And to be honest that probably still stands as a pretty good overview of what this book’s like mechanically. The notable features above are some mixture of intriguing to just plain overpowered in the right hands. The other stuff, which occupies the balanced + mature but mostly irrelevant area, includes various rules around sustaining the act of love or literally causing the kind of healing Marvin Gaye used to sing about. Yes, you can mechanise some of this stuff, but why would you really want to? Does it assist to add another primary stat, (Appearance)? Well, not necessarily, because without bolting on a reasonable number of feats, it just makes you more MAD since Appearance can’t be used for many, if any, of the foundational rolls like attack or saving throws. Maybe a better idea would have been to replace Charisma outright with Appearance and just say ‘use one freely in place of the other’ on this.

    And that’s despite the fact I actually like the idea of adding a new Appearance statistic. “Charisma” has always tried to be this, but the idea that the good old Cloak of Charisma makes you look more like a supermodel has never really quite hit the marks.

    Similar goes with the spells: while some are very good in the right contexts, many of the new ones are very situationally useful to the point that your mage likely won’t bothering learning it. The book has a section on how common spells can be used in more intimate situations; I would have gone whole-hog and just used that rather than go with the unique spells the book introduces. Unless you’re running a campaign that will actually make meaningful use of this stuff – in which case your DM’s preparation sessions are going to have been eye-opening as he sets up appropriate challenges – then for the most part it just isn’t relevant.

    The biggest problem with the book, mechanically, to me, is that it’s not easy to pull out sections of it for use without having to take on the book’s whole approach to Appearance and sex generally. And that’s a big shame, because this book, perhaps better than other standard sourcebooks, is actually pretty intriguing when you adopt a general ‘leaf and peck’ approach to some of the stuff in it. Some of it could be really good with a little adjustment But generally it’s just … eh. 1.5/4 on this one.

    On concepts and fluff:
    It’s well known that leaving aside writer’s block, one of the hardest tasks any novelist can undertake is to write a sex scene that doesn’t make a reader want to apply bleach to his brain. And if it’s that difficult to just describe, imagine the challenges when you start getting into how this mechanically works in a roleplaying game.

    Because the book dates from the early 2000s, there’s no discussion of some orientations or predilections that are more commonly seen these days. So you have to take its views on sexuality for what they are. It does, however, read as open-minded and is neither a parochial nor permissive take. It’s about as middle of the road and even-handed as I think one can expect given the timeframe, subject matter, and the audience they were writing to. An example that I think does fairly exemplify more or less the book’s whole approach to its subject is the discussion of alignment as it applies to intimate relations. I had grave misgivings going into this section, given the general track record of WOTC and friends with alignment generally, worried that I’d get awful stereotypes on both ends of the conservative/permissive spectrum. And I was very pleasantly surprised. Lawful Good is not – as I feared – just portrayed as the Alignment Of Gilead. Quite the opposite: it is about treating one’s partner with respect within particular rules which are adhered to by consent between both parties, which doesn’t necessarily mean within the confines of a sanctioned state/religious marriage. There was nothing really sniggerworthy about the writing or treatment (apart from the tagline description of Ooze reproduction: One Ooze. Idiot damages Ooze. Two oozes.) I guess this is about as much as you can really hope for when dealing with this subject matter.

    The concepts themselves I did think of as fairly inventive. And if you’re interested in interspecies crossbreeding (dragon seems to be universally compatible and interested … albeit the rationales for dragons crossbreeding are chillingly horrifying in some cases), percentage chance of conception, and gestation periods for different races, this book has lots of that sort of stuff. It also has how the basic character races view relationships and intimacy, which I like because it invites you to think about the race’s personality, which is good for verisimilitude if not making your character a bit more than just a cardboard cutout dwarf. There are more inventive … and horrifying … STDs even. The plot hooks the book provides are really interesting too, as are the gods and goddesses which are bit more meaty than usual.

    It may not be filled with the most usable stuff that sees consistent use in actual games, but it certainly does try to be inventive and give resources to those DMs who actually want to run a campaign involving a lot of it. It might not be a full campaign setting, but it’s getting there. It contains all the warning labels of “Don’t use this book without having clear consent from your players, and think very carefully about very significant political and personal issues that these rules touch on.” There’s a whole sidebar about how you really need to consider how will-overbearing or enchantment magic is going to work in your campaign given the question of consent, especially in present times.

    When you get right down to it, what’s off-putting about the book is really that that sex is, like it or not, a subject of squick for most gaming tables. Most people seem to prefer their sex and violence abstracted in entertainment, or used for effect, not as a primary stat. It might well be that the book’s best value is had in its use for an isolated encounter, or for something a bit different, but it certainly is a wide-ranging take on the whole subject. 3/4.

    On presentation: Look, it’s basically set out like a standard D&D third edition sourcebook. The main difference between it and every other third party sourcebook you’ve read is the soft-core pr0n … uh … modelling that comes up every few pages. However, it’s also full colour throughout, though, which is a damned nice change. 1.5/2 on this.


    Total: 6/10. Wanted to hate it. Didn’t.


    Next Time: Creature Collection, White Wolf, on request from Endless Rain.

  6. - Top - End - #186
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    Thurbane's Avatar

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    Thanks for the write-up, very comprehensive.

    Fun fact: AD&D 1E introduced "Comeliness" as a seventh stat. I didn't like it then, and I don't like the concept any more now. D&Ds six stats are a pretty iconic part of the game, and I don't feel adding a 7th does much to enhance the game.

    As an aside, I feel 3E has a bit more of an identity crisis of what Charisma represents than what earlier editions did. In 1E and 2E it was, to the best of my recollection, pretty unambiguous that it was a combo of physical beauty and persuasiveness. 3E seems to have conflated force or personality, sense of self and willpower a bit, which means Cha seems to step on the toes of Wis in some regards.

  7. - Top - End - #187
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    I should also add that there were a few prestige classes and other stuff I omitted from the review, mainly because their concept and execution likely go way too close to what the mods can likely tolerate discussed on here. But more or less without exception those things would have gone into the Dreadful Features section. BOEF, when it's good, it is very, very good, but when it is bad it is horrid.

  8. - Top - End - #188
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    As an aside, I feel 3E has a bit more of an identity crisis of what Charisma represents than what earlier editions did. In 1E and 2E it was, to the best of my recollection, pretty unambiguous that it was a combo of physical beauty and persuasiveness. 3E seems to have conflated force or personality, sense of self and willpower a bit, which means Cha seems to step on the toes of Wis in some regards.
    Much like good/evil just needs a reminder that evil can and does have people they care about (just not many), charisma just needs a reminder of all those physically pretty people you've seen who you then instantly dislike and tune out the moment they open their mouths, while a hideous figure can be all the more powerful when backed up by strong speaking. The secondary assertiveness function does seem kinda weird at first, but works really well once you connect how without assertiveness someone simply wouldn't choose to persuade people or believe that the universe will bow to their innate powers, while assertive displays really do have a tendency to sweep people along for the ride.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Violet Octopus View Post
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    sheer awesomeness

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    Metaphysical spellshaper I have seen in play, thankfully it was on essentially an evoker which was fine. Kundala I always wanted someone to play, because conceptually it was neat and mechanically it's actually okay.

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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    As an aside, I feel 3E has a bit more of an identity crisis of what Charisma represents than what earlier editions did. In 1E and 2E it was, to the best of my recollection, pretty unambiguous that it was a combo of physical beauty and persuasiveness. 3E seems to have conflated force or personality, sense of self and willpower a bit, which means Cha seems to step on the toes of Wis in some regards.
    Charisma doesn't seem to correlate to wisdom to me. Think of a pop star or actor or model with trite social opinions, or a more mundane example, a friend that always tells entertaining stories of their misadventures. People that have Charisma but are entirely lacking Wisdom.

  11. - Top - End - #191
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by pabelfly View Post
    Charisma doesn't seem to correlate to wisdom to me. Think of a pop star or actor or model with trite social opinions, or a more mundane example, a friend that always tells entertaining stories of their misadventures. People that have Charisma but are entirely lacking Wisdom.
    Talk show hosts like [redacted]? Getting it straight from the horse’s mouth.
    Martials’ concepts don’t evolve past the mundane
    High levels aren’t just lower levels with bigger numbers
    Martials have the tools they need for relevance

    Pick 2

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    Quote Originally Posted by pabelfly View Post
    Charisma doesn't seem to correlate to wisdom to me. Think of a pop star or actor or model with trite social opinions, or a more mundane example, a friend that always tells entertaining stories of their misadventures. People that have Charisma but are entirely lacking Wisdom.
    It's not so much wisdom as it is strength of will or sense of self, in my opinion. That's why it would work for a Will save.
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post

    Fun fact: AD&D 1E introduced "Comeliness" as a seventh stat.
    It did? I don't remember that at all. Where did it appear? Was it added in a later supplement, or as an optional rule or something?

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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    It's not so much wisdom as it is strength of will or sense of self, in my opinion. That's why it would work for a Will save.
    Just because you have strong sense of self and strength of will doesn't mean you can't be easily misdirected. I think a Will Save is having the wisdom to discern that thoughts in your head aren't natural and aren't yours, or is directing you in a disadvantageous way.

    I'd use a bull as an example - undoubtedly strong-willed, but can be easily misdirected by a man with a red cape.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RexDart View Post
    It did? I don't remember that at all. Where did it appear? Was it added in a later supplement, or as an optional rule or something?
    1E's Unearthed Arcana.
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    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    1E's Unearthed Arcana.
    Ah, that explains it, then. That would have come out after my personal 1e days.

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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Quote Originally Posted by pabelfly View Post
    Just because you have strong sense of self and strength of will doesn't mean you can't be easily misdirected. I think a Will Save is having the wisdom to discern that thoughts in your head aren't natural and aren't yours, or is directing you in a disadvantageous way.

    I'd use a bull as an example - undoubtedly strong-willed, but can be easily misdirected by a man with a red cape.
    The same could be said for a wise individual. Wisdom doesn't equate with focus.
    Someone with a strong sense of self should also be able to tell which thoughts are their own and which aren't.

    Agree to disagree?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    The same could be said for a wise individual. Wisdom doesn't equate with focus.
    Someone with a strong sense of self should also be able to tell which thoughts are their own and which aren't.

    Agree to disagree?
    Sure, it's a pointless argument.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    The same could be said for a wise individual. Wisdom doesn't equate with focus.
    Someone with a strong sense of self should also be able to tell which thoughts are their own and which aren't.

    Agree to disagree?
    One fun thing is that in the description of having no wisdom they described it as being an object likewise for charisma.
    Last edited by noob; 2021-09-22 at 04:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RexDart View Post
    Ah, that explains it, then. That would have come out after my personal 1e days.
    I would have sworn it started as a Dragon magazine article before the UA.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RexDart View Post
    It did? I don't remember that at all. Where did it appear? Was it added in a later supplement, or as an optional rule or something?
    Quote Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
    1E's Unearthed Arcana.
    Yes, I meant to have that in my post, yet somehow missed it entirely.

    Quote Originally Posted by Melayl View Post
    It's not so much wisdom as it is strength of will or sense of self, in my opinion. That's why it would work for a Will save.
    That probably sums up what I was trying to say better than I could.

    And every time I've raised this previously, most people vehemently disagree with me, I know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Feldar View Post
    I would have sworn it started as a Dragon magazine article before the UA.
    Fair chunks of the 1E UA were reprints or revisions of dragon articles, so entirely possible.

    Sorry if I've started a de-rail.

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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    I don't remember and I'm not gonna check, but I think that BoEF had a spell that boosted CHA to a max of 5d4 at CL 20. I could be a bit wrong about the numbers, but every CHA-based caster would want such a thing. Also, I think that Metaphysical Spellshaper's 3rd-level ability reduces the final metamagic adjustment by 1, rather than from each individual feat. Pretty sure there was also some +0 LA template that boosted DEX. Again, I could be wrong about all of this. I just read some excerpts of the purely non-squick crunch stuff that I found somewhere years ago, so that could have been wrong and I could be misremembering.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    I don't remember and I'm not gonna check,
    I will. For my sins.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    but I think that BoEF had a spell that boosted CHA to a max of 5d4 at CL 20. I could be a bit wrong about the numbers, but every CHA-based caster would want such a thing.
    On another look, yep, that's Beauty's Caress, a level 4 Cleric, level 3 Bard, level 3 Imagist spell that does precisely that: +1d4 per 2 caster levels to your CHA and APP scores, to a maximum of 5d4. Lasts 1 hour per level and Maximiseable, therefore, ridiculously good. I don't know how I missed it other than maybe distraction by the interior art and I'll go back and edit it in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    Also, I think that Metaphysical Spellshaper's 3rd-level ability reduces the final metamagic adjustment by 1, rather than from each individual feat.
    Also true: "At 3rd level, the metaphysical spellshaper reduces the final spell-level slot required by metamagic feats by one (to a minimum of one). This applies to all metamagic feats applied to a spell."

    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    Pretty sure there was also some +0 LA template that boosted DEX.
    That would likely be the Felid template, the quite literal catgirl of which we will not speak of beyond its stats. Yes, it's a LA +0, and yes, it boosts DEX by +2, but penalises WIS and STR by -2. Also gets a bonus feat past 10 HD, but nothing hugely significant - choice of stuff like Lightning Reflexes, Athletic, Improved Initiative, that sort of thing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    That probably sums up what I was trying to say better than I could.

    And every time I've raised this previously, most people vehemently disagree with me, I know.
    For me it's not so much that I disagree vehemently with the added drift having some problems- it's the specific wording. "Force of personality" to me is a nigh meaningless expression, followed closely by "sense of self," but you are correct that "force of personality" is literally the first thing mentioned in the 3.5 PHB's description of charisma. Poor word choice doesn't mean the pivot away from cha as physical attractiveness and towards something else doesn't work, it just means that they picked the wrong words. My choice of 'assertiveness' to describe the support of the cha-based skills and powers and potentially substituting on will saves and implied social tendencies, doesn't run into the same problems as phrases like "force of personality" or "sense of self." I'm pretty sure it's what they're actually going for, the little-used word that the euphemisms are trying to fish up.

    Sorry if I've started a de-rail.
    Eh, I'm the one who jumped on.


    Speaking of old 3rd party books- anyone interested in hearing about the stuff Saintheart skipped that I was looking forward to hearing about in Mercenaries? Nothing huge, but I've put it off long enough that if I don't know someone wants to read it I'll never get around to it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Speaking of old 3rd party books- anyone interested in hearing about the stuff Saintheart skipped that I was looking forward to hearing about in Mercenaries? Nothing huge, but I've put it off long enough that if I don't know someone wants to read it I'll never get around to it.
    If you build it, they will come. Or at least, I will.

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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    I know it was put in the dreadful features list, but I'm curious about the details of anti anti life shell. Can an intelligent magical weapon enter? Could it be cast by, say, a warforged? I'm sure a resourceful caster could easily find a way to have living clothing (magical plant based of some sort?) so as to cast it in polite society, so is the totally naked part explicit or is it just that nonliving clothing isn't allowed?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Emberlily View Post
    so is the totally naked part explicit or is it just that nonliving clothing isn't allowed?
    No, it's explicit that you're naked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kalkra View Post
    I don't remember and I'm not gonna check, but I think that BoEF had a spell that boosted CHA to a max of 5d4 at CL 20. I could be a bit wrong about the numbers, but every CHA-based caster would want such a thing. Also, I think that Metaphysical Spellshaper's 3rd-level ability reduces the final metamagic adjustment by 1, rather than from each individual feat. Pretty sure there was also some +0 LA template that boosted DEX. Again, I could be wrong about all of this. I just read some excerpts of the purely non-squick crunch stuff that I found somewhere years ago, so that could have been wrong and I could be misremembering.
    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    On another look, yep, that's Beauty's Caress, a level 4 Cleric, level 3 Bard, level 3 Imagist spell that does precisely that: +1d4 per 2 caster levels to your CHA and APP scores, to a maximum of 5d4. Lasts 1 hour per level and Maximiseable, therefore, ridiculously good. I don't know how I missed it other than maybe distraction by the interior art and I'll go back and edit it in.
    The fact that it's such a low level and lasts for hours per level means you can get some silly numbers going with Maximize and/or Empower. Even a minimum roll without metamagic is like having an extra +5 Inherent bonus. It's more than a little silly.

    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    Also true: "At 3rd level, the metaphysical spellshaper reduces the final spell-level slot required by metamagic feats by one (to a minimum of one). This applies to all metamagic feats applied to a spell."
    I think -1 overall adjustment is fair. The class is only three levels long, and as others have mentioned, it's easy enough to qualify for on top of Incantatrix (or, really, any other prestige class).

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Speaking of old 3rd party books- anyone interested in hearing about the stuff Saintheart skipped that I was looking forward to hearing about in Mercenaries? Nothing huge, but I've put it off long enough that if I don't know someone wants to read it I'll never get around to it.
    It makes sense to me to discuss the material already covered by Saintheart - here or in another thread. If no one does, then we're basically just waiting around for the next review, no?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wings of Peace View Post
    "See these cookies? Note how while good they taste sort of bland. Now try these, they're the same cookies but with chocolate chips added. Notice how with the second batch we expended slightly more ingredients but dramatically enhanced the flavor? That's metamagic."
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Okay, so the review of Mercenaries goes straight from races to feats, completely skipping skills and classes, and then later barely touching on spells. A lot of my reaction is in the sort of "hey look at this thing a 3rd party book did first." Classes was the part I was excited about, but like a lot of 3rd party books there are some potential gems in alternate skill uses too so I'll start there:

    Some new skill uses include: "read" an animal to get information from it's behavior (domesticated, injured, master missing, etc), kip up for free action stand under Balance at DC 25 rather than the DC 35 Tumble check we get 1st party (and makes sense for those who like more multi-functional skills, Balance now both keeping you up and getting you back up), Bluff vs Gather Information if you're hiding your background, booby traps under Trapmaking, an explicit blend into the crowd use for Disguise, and Forgery DCs for signets and seals (which if anything should be what the actual base use of Forgery is). There are new skills for the explosives and a bunch relating to the contract negotiations and some I'd flat disagree with, but these are all pretty basic things that either pre-empted, one-upped, or just should have been in 1st party to begin with.


    On Classes: a lot of these come off as minor variants on the same theme, because of course they are- the book is all about martial or partially martial characters of mercenary bent. But the weird thing is just how many variations it has, with 2-3 versions of each thing that most books would only include one version of. It makes reading a bit of a chore, but is also a solid 24 pages, 10% of the book and as long as most other sections.

    The Alchemist is a gold standard for Dreadful. It's a spellcaster with 8th level "casting," and by casting we mean it can brew that many non-magical potions at once, and by that we mean 1-3 of a single type of a single level at once, which still cost as much to make as normal potions. And that's it. That's their entire main feature: be a wizard minus a few levels, and you have to pay spell level*caster level*25 gp and roll a skill check for every spell you cast.

    The Guardian on the other hand, is a 3/4 BAB+ 6th level spells magic warrior type. I suppose they could be patterned on Psychic Warriors if the original Psionics Handbook came out first, since they get a combat/magic bonus feat progression (from a very limited list), but about half of those feats are replaced by Summon Familiar and an "Empower" feature which gives a chosen weapon a very late flat enhancement bonus. They prepare and cast Sor/Wiz spells from a spellbook, but don't gain free spells for leveling up, and have special restrictions on not being allowed to use Metamagic and counting as 2 levels lower for crafting- which itself comes as a silent acknowledgement that Metamagic when used is a direct step up in power and that this change creates a gap between Wizards and Guardians which they intend to be worth something. But most unique, it's a pre-3.5 and pre-Mini's Handbook class which says "screw it, they can just cast in Light armor with no penalty."

    So all in all pretty dang mediocre by modern standards, but also doing a number of things right that 1st party classes never did- they seem to have gotten to Armored Mage first, or at least earlier, and give some combat bonus feats for their mage-warrior which "Bards" never get, while keeping to a very normal spellcasting progression with no disruptive burst damage "channeling" features unlike the Duskblade. It's just a 3.0 power level version of what no one else could apparently be bothered to write.

    The Myrmidon is the other class I was thinking about, another version of a mage-warrior- but it takes a different and yet still inexplicably novel approach: they simply cast all their spells without somatic components. The Myrmidon has 3/4 BAB and 6th level spellcasting, up to Medium armor rather than Light, casts from a spellbook, gains spells on level up unlike the Guardian, and has a simple series of unspecified bonus feats calling from the Fighter list and starting at 1st level. So what makes this anything but a strict upgrade in every aspect that would make the Guardian a waste of space? The Myrmidon only casts spells from the Myrmidon list of course. Which is focused on self-enhancement and utility (though including some offense at nearly all levels except 3rd for some reason), leaning heavily on spells from its own book, but also just does a bunch of things that are later celebrated 1st party spells. Oh, the Artificer has spells to use weapon properties with a minor gp cost? Myrmidon had Enchant Weapon, only at high levels, but it was there first. Ridiculous OP splitting arrows? Say hello to Storm of Arrows. Give yourself all the benefits of uncanny dodge because class features are for suckers? Combat Prescience, check. And of course Battle Knowledge for that free feat. This is not limited to the Myrmidon spells in the book btw, and a number of spells could be drawing on web articles- the Battle Knowledge spell which gives you a feat, like Heroics, could be based on the same web article that Heroics was based on.

    So the Myrmidon has flexibility in armor and feat use for more combat focus, but with a restricted spell list, while the Guardian has to pay for their spells and has fewer features and flexibility in them, but can use the whole Sor/Wiz list. And they're both actual mage-warriors that don't push "channel spell" gimmicks and have their 6th level spells along with bonus feats without being PsyWars. Nice.


    The Geurilla goes back to. . . not Dreadful, but certainly different. The Ambush Attack (d4's of Sudden Strike, 2d4 at 4th and 6d4 at 20th) might make one think Rogue, but it's got full BAB and 6+Int skills, so it's actually a no-spell no-companion Ranger with weaker no-flank sneak attack instead of Favored Enemy (a 100% improvement in my opinion, FE on a base class is terrible design). With a series of combat bonus feats (from its own list again), and Evasion/Improved and Woodland Stride/Trackless Step, very late but definitely eventually, it's pretty obviously a non-magical ranger minus the straitjacket combat styles. . . except none of those features was on the 3.0 Ranger, or in the 3.0 DMG PrC's. To the point that I suddenly have to question if they actually ripped a bunch of obliquely referenced features from 3.5 preview material, or if 3.5 swiped some 3rd party ideas, though I'm pretty sure Combat Style is well-known to be rooted in the Lords of the Rings movies.

    The Hunter starts my eyes glazing over, but let's stop and read.
    • Full BAB, all martial, light armor and shields. No silly armor restrictions so you can feat or dip to whatever armor you want.
    • It has a favored enemy feature that increases crit multiplier, at 1st level, a huge and rare effect that completely changes crit-fishing. Stunning Blow is like Stunning Fist, but you get to use a weapon and your Str, have to strike for nonlethal damage, and they have to be at an effective 1/2 HP- not insignificant if you ask me, on a full BAB class with no restrictions on getting actual armor.
    • At 2nd, they get the Hog-Tie that the Justicar PrC has to wait until ECL 11 for, and they can do it if an ally has made the pin.
    • Surprise Attack: Sudden Strike at 1d8/3 levels, no restriction on non-lethal.
    • Bonus feats every 4 levels, where the only restriction is not being restricted to particular class. They get almost perfectly general bonus feats, take anything you want that doesn't explicitly say X class.
    • Weapon Spec: because screw Fighters.
    • Hunter's Sense: -20%, later -30, later all, vs all forms of concealment. Like Blind-Fight but better and it stacks.
    • Ambush: At 10th, if you study a foe for 3 or more rounds, your sudden strike dice can be multiplied by crits for an equal number of rounds. Weird, obviously no death attack, but this is a class with innate crit multiplier boosting.
    • Knockout Shot: At 14th you can trade the damage from a confirmed crit for a damage based save vs unconcious. Not spectacular.
    • Eye of The Unter: at 19th, ignore all illusions and concealment.

    So the Hunter is. . . a Fighter, with halved bonus feats and reduced starting armor proficiency, who can dip Fighter anyway, and also has essentially full strength Sudden Strike, and limited Stunning not-Fist, and higher crit multipliers vs chosen foes, and has a stacking miss-chance reduction. That sounds pretty dang solid, yeah.


    The Legionnaire: main feature is +2 attack and +2 AC whenever you're fighting adjacent to another Legionnaire, and you still get +1's when adjacent to non-Legionnaire allies. Bonus feats at 4th and every 3rd after, from their own list which includes Weapon Spec, because screw Fighters- they don't qualify until 8th, but this was 3.0 when there was no further scaling so it's just BM. At 9th they get +4/-0 charging, Leadership at 12th, and at 15th a no-save attack+damage+save penalty equal to Cha for any foes they charge lasting 4 rounds. And that's it. None of their stuff scales, no actual wacky team formation abilities, just a dippable bonus, delayed bonus feats, one charge benefit that comes up fairly commonly, and one late-game charge ability that's pretty strong in my book. There may be a bunch of feats in the book that may support such things (or not, I haven't re-checked), but those don't require a whole new class.

    On to the Mercenary Ranger. Wow, we've got obvious ranger variants, and then we've got literal ranger variants. It removes spellcasting, adds organization as a favored enemy option, adds favored terrain which boosts skills, reduces overland movement penalties, and keys Trackless Step. Then it adds Ranger Options (2nd and every 3 levels after), which bonus feats from a specified list which only function in Light armor, +10 move speed (no more than once), various flat bonuses, "animal companion" of 2 HD that's a Familiar (familiar benefits delayed based on the level you take it), sneak attack, and finally re-add yourself some spells generated based on the level you take it which I must assume works out to roughly normal, and finally finally a spontaneous casting upgrade which "follows all the same rules as a cleric."

    Overall, it's actually a pretty decent stab at turning the Ranger into a Menu Class, which I personally rather dislike but is quite popular as evidenced by just all of Pathfinder. And its no-spell choices of feats and/or sneak attack ought to satisfy. Oh, and then at 20th they suddenly get Leadership as if they were 10th level +Cha only, but they get animals, and pay 1,000xp per HD to replace them when killed. Sure, okay then, whatever.


    Keep chugging on to the Nomad: 3/4 BAB, 8+Int skills, some sort of Rogue. They have a "code of honor" which seems to be based on pretty basic cultural norms for pre-"civilized" societies, as in, groups that don't have centralized dedicated law enforcement: don't mess with people outside of a given conflict, pay your debts, give appropriate hospitality, and oh yeah there's an oral history (that has nothing do do with "codes of honor," come on!). As for actual class features: bonus on hiding objects, bonus feats at 2nd and every 4th after (with the same almost complete lack of restriction as the Hunter), pick up cross-class or class-only skills from other classes, encumbrance abilities like I didn't even mention on the Legionnaire but also include reduced sleep and bonus Con, right to call a meeting of the tribes 1/year, hit die suddenly upgrades from d6 to d12 at 16th, permanent Freedom of Movement at 17th, and Leadership (or double if you already have it) at 20th and you get to name your tribe.

    So a bit of tribal fetishism in creating a special Nomad class, nevermind that DnD's own demographics clearly state that this PC class will represent only the tiniest fraction of them. It's a Feat Rogue with less feats and more options and some Will save and some barely there slapdash class features. It's pretty much utterly forgettable.

    Scout. Seems to be a pretty straightforward Fighter/Rogue mashup that loses a hit point, light armor only with no shields, and has a shorter bonus feat list, to get Ref instead of Fort, +2 skill points, a full round active take 10 on Spot+Listen, full sneak attack with ranged weapons only, low-light vision, Uncanny Dodge/Improved a couple levels after rogue, remove the -5 Hide/Move Silently when moving more than 1/2 speed, sneak attack up to 60' at 14th, +10 move speed at 16th, and finally turn the full round active spot/listen into a "take 20."

    It's a better mash up than Sneak Attack Fighter or Feat Rogue. Usual extra Fighter-equivalent class problem of being able to dip for even more feats , no armor restriction so you can just dip for armor, though actual non-magical hiding suggests you want to keep your ACP down. But it's also just one of those pretty much all upside combos, since you don't take it unless you want a ranged-only sneak attacker, and if you do you're just flat better than any combination of Fighter/Rogue/even dedicated PrCs would make you, unless those PrCs have special abilities: full BAB no strings, full sneak attack, full bonus feat progression that almost any DM will expand to any Fighter feat that's not melee. It does definitely cement a trend that's been going on through the book: I'm pretty sure that, Legionnaire and Nomad left aside, the people who write the mechanically intensive base classes were all in the "Fighters aren't good enough" camp. The Hunter and Mercenary Ranger and Scout all beat Fighter easily (if only because they do steal Weapon Specialization, which is the Fighter's only unique feature, while also gaining similar numbers of bonus feats), while the mage-warriors are mage-warriors but at least kept to standard 3/4 BAB. The Legionnaire and Nomad are just short and uninspired with no real ideas, because of course they are, they're one-note fluff concepts based on words that specifically refer to groups of people, not singular characters.


    Tattoo Mage. 3/4 BAB, 8th level "casting" on paper but 7th is more accurate as it's 7th at 18th. Wizard weapons, no armor, Wis to AC and determining highest level tattoo, with Con giving bonus tattoos. Bonus feats from a very short list at 3rd and every 3rd, and a multiclassing restriction of monk and arcane spellcasters only, with a non-chaotic alignment restriction that also slaps -10 concentration on you (admittedly more teeth than the Monk's lawful restriction).

    Their big thing is that their tattoos can only target themselves, and are all either active for up to 24 hours and then down for 24 hours, or if instantaneous are usable once every 12 hours. They of course have a very specific list of available tattoos, and a whole sidebar of advice saying that the DM is encouraged to create more and here's what you need to think about (and then goes and gives a cop-out where rather than admitting an uber combo should be removed, instead they say it could have/you should make up "dangerous side effects"). The tattoos themselves must also be made, taking 1 day per spell level (so high level adventurers require significant downtime each level up), and a fairly easy but still failable craft check that locks you out of that spell until you level up and forcrd you to wait a month before you can try your next one. The worst part being that apparently literally any interruption or disturbance spoils the multiple-days-long work without fail, which is just an egregious level of failure to put on your basic ability to level up. Note however, that unlike most "magic tattoos" which are various forms of magic items, these class features make no mention of massive gp costs (a hilarious juxtaposition with the earlier Alchemist).

    Class features other than that include using your healing tattoos on others at 10th, +2 natural armor and various monk immunities and maximize all future TM/Monk hit dice at 16th, and at 20th you can put up to one 3rd level or lower tattoo on each person who jumps through enough hoops and pays 100xp per tattoo level.

    The Tattoo Mage here is basically the ultimate expression of "self-buffer, magic only," could be viewed as a self-buffing Warlock with many more effects. Naturally much of the question lies in their available (24 hour) tattoos, which include: Cures and Restorations with increasing delays, Expeditious Retreat, Mage Armor, Shield, Spider Climb, Alter Self, Blur and Displacement, Bull's Str/etc (note the 3.0 1d4+1, which had hour/level duration), Resist Energy, See invis, Clairaudience/Clairvoyance (an interesting effect for 24 hours, but it's supposed to target not-self so. . . ), Fly (or Air Walk if you want, at 4th and 5th level!), Haste, Blindsight, Death Ward, Divine Power, Fire Shield, Freedom of Movement, Improved Invisibility, a self-only Antimagic Field from one of their other books, Neutralize poison, Polymorph (self, 1 level delay, note that 3.0 allowed multiple form shifts a la Shapechange), Righteous Might, Spell Resistance, True Seeing, Analyze Dweomer (better than you might think), Antilife Shell, Phase Door (that's a spell that can literally only target other objects, come on!), proper Antimagic Field (not that you'd ever want to use it?), a self-into-dragon spell from one of their other books, Iron Body, Mind Blank, Protection from Spells, and then just heck with it full Shapechange. Note that while I've bolded some for particular significance, I'd personally bold way more as Very Significant with 24 hour durations- but that is the whole point of the class, these are just the biggest standouts.

    They also have an interesting version of the "1 hour adventuring day," where if they take only one of each of the tattoo effects they desire, they are on for a day and then reduced to only instant effects (heals pretty much) for a day. But if they take 2 of everything so they can function continuously, they get effectively half as many, losing major function in the name of every day adventuring that they spend 99% of their time not actually doing. Combine with the fact that they can be dispelled, and the successful Tattoo Mage is probably much less versatile than the table would suggest, though still loaded with effects a Warlock would kill for if they didn't have to lose Eldritch Blast.

    The Tattoo Mage is like a walking version of what a lot of people think should happen the moment you add Persistant Spell (to some sort of free metamagic), but with at least some concept of limits- actually quite a few very big limits. But the standard available spells do absolutely include the obvious "negate all concept of BAB" and "just Shapechange forehead." But they also really do have almost nothing but that sort of stuff, so the character really can't just fall back on "lol I'm a full spellcaster with hundreds of spells I can change every day!" and has to actually make it work with what they've got.

    It's a thing. A heck of a thing. A thing I would have expected some comment on- I was originally more interested in the Guardian and Myrmidon, but I'd forgot the Tattoo Mage entirely, and it represents waaay more potential paradigm shift/got there before 1st party. The spells and tattoos sections fail to specify whether they're arcane, divine, or deliberately neither, but they are definitely explicitly spells, so there's quite possibly some gish PrC that would just love to combo with this, or other wacky rules interactions for people that like such exploits.

    A finally, I'll make a quick run through of the spells myself:
    • Arms of Force: grapple at Medium range with +11 and carry over any feats, only limited when you get to the end of the spell and see it has 1hp/cl, though with a solid AC 20, 2nd level.
    • Arthanae's Age Estimation: a proud member of the "force the DM to come up with all sorts of irrelevant information for every object/creature/etc in the game" tradition, at 0th just to make it as absolutely no-effort spamable as possible.
    • Arthane's Know Status: get living/dead/undead status for literally any creature you can name, no gp cost. This has massive implications in all sorts of information gathering and signaling. Brd 3, Sor/Wiz 2.
    • Boiling Oil: a nice little 2nd level AoE, 1d6 and save vs on-fire in a 10' square, though the added Grease effect might be going a bit far for my taste (but that's mostly on Grease).
    • Death Mist: a 3rd level 10 min/level spell that basically does the DMG's smoke effects, escalating Fort save 15+1 per check, failure leaves you coughing and taking nonlethal damage, though it lacks the line where that escalates to lethal damage.
    • Elemental Flurry: notable mostly because there are so few published spells that actually do the "damage of multiple/every element" thing, and because some of these 3rd party books have spells that really sound like AoEs but are actually single-target no-projectiles that just feel weird.
    • Exhaust: like Ray of Exhaustion, but at 5th level so it's less broken
    • Eyes of the Beholder: a 9th level spell that gives you 10 eye rays of the Beholder, no use limit, full 3 per arc. Notable since Shapechange can do it but is completely broken and also robs you of your form and normal humanoid equipment, while this is at least limited to 1 round/level- Complete Mage's Dreaded Form of the Eye Tyrant is a [polymorph] spell that gives you only 1 use of each ray, at 1/round, at 8th.
    • Force Bridge: is at least honest about being a force bridge and has a less spammable level than "Dark Way" and whatever the "bridge of sound" spell were (both of which I'm pretty sure are the same spell, originally from a web article).
    • Force Chackram: is a 3rd level turret spell dealing 2d6+caster level (max +10) at a range of 50', beating most turret spells if you have BAB and Dex.
    • Forceful Burst: Saintheart mentioned this one, but neglected the part where it does that 2d4+ caster level, times 1 per 2 levels (max 5). And you're explicitly allowed to throw them all at once, and the hour/level duration means you can just pre-cast it. This spell is literal exponential damage, the likes of which are rarely seen and usually at least have some fig leaf of saving throws on at least part of the damage (the only other two I know off the top of my head are Elemental Dart and Dalamar's Lightning Lance, both from Dragonlance, and alongside blatantly powered up electric versions of fire spells).
    • Forget: a 3rd level Sor/Wiz spell that makes multiple creatures permanently (as in dispellable, but permanent) forget up to the last 1 minute per level. That's huge. It fills in some actual memory modification that's not Bard exclusive (so it doesn't just suddenly show up at 9th level), and enables memory wiping plots that are otherwise flat-out impossible due to the massive restrictions on Modify Memory, but is also so easy to detect and remove that it has to create its own new paradigm.
    • Handcramp: one of many examples I've seen of cantrip to drop item, which I'd say is worth more than a cantrip, but is the sort of thing a lot of people would like, though the mere DC 10 concentration if readied vs a spellcaster is both not how non-damaging distraction spells work, and very underwhelming.
    • Minor Restoration: thought Lesser Restoration was already cheap enough to justify completely ignoring ability damage costs? How about a 0th level per point instead? That'll be a cool 7.5gp per charge retail.
    • Mirror Legion: a Mirror Image spell that actually acknowledges how Mirror Image works, in that your images (which are supposed to be spread out) can make one adjacent foe count as flanked. Myrmidon 3, so an exclusive but nifty little benefit for them.
    • Psychometry: yet another "tell me about whoever this item was last touched by," though at least unlike the psionic power, this is limited to the literal visible image of only the last creature and thus not completely ridiculous for the DM to run on the fly.
    • Quickread: hey, it's Scholar's Touch! But only at a mere 1 page per round for 10 min/level instead of a book per round. These speed-read magics have massive implications for all sorts of things and yet are priced all the way down to "literally every noble can afford this," which drives me nuts.
    • Rearguard: notable for being a spell that lets you retain your Dex to AC when flanked. Which is not how flanking works. And then brings in to question whether all those Sudden Strike features on the base classes are actually supposed to be full-on flanking Sneak Attack.
    • Sandstorm: the 8d4+10 (~30) damage from this 5th level cone spell is apparently no-save, as in the knock down and knock back, with a 1d4 round blindness that does have a save to negate. Even at reflex half+negates that would be a strong pile of stuff.
    • Silent Feet: 1st level spell for +10 Move Silently is probably something someone would love.
    • Smite Foe: buff to let Paladins Smite anyone, kinda weird (I would generally say that if DMs want that to happen they should just change the base feature). And placed on the Destruction domain, even though the Destruction smite has no restrictions.
    • Storm of Arrows: Arrowsplit, but less random and not a swift action, Myrmidon 3 only.
    • Summon Sentinel: this spell animates an object, but fails to specify the allowed sizes of object, and can be cast in combat. So rather than providing a Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound-like defender, you could use it to animate a colossal whatever for 2 rounds at 3rd/4th level Clr/Drd. Even a merely Huge object isn't bad for that level.




    And I'll also take a moment to comment on:
    Continue the Fight (feat): Iron Will prerequisite, but. But. Expend one hitpoint, get an additional “partial action” (3.0 language – this is now a standard action) which lasts one round. This is really, really strong, especially if you’re regenerating, and even more especially if you’re a caster.
    Yeah, that description is missing a bunch of exaggerated formatting. You don't need to be regenerating for spending one hp for a standard action to be completely ridiculous. This is quite possibly the most overpowered feat in the history of feats. The fact that you can only use it once per round, every round, at a total hp cost of maybe 3-5 hit points per combat if your combat averages 3-5 rounds, is still nicely paired with the fact that you get to double surprise rounds. This thing is offset by an occasional Potion of Cure Light Wounds. It doubles damage output for any character with BAB less than 6 and is still worth nearly +50% after that, doubles spellcasting, stacks with Haste, multiplies the power of anything that gives you multiple attacks in a standard action like say Manyshot or later Martial Maneuvers, enables move+charge/pounce, enables use of any number of wacky gadget items in combination with full attacks or each other or other spells.

    It's so broken I've re-checked the feat text at least 5 times now as I go to post, to be absolutely sure I'm not missing something, anything that would make it make sense and me look like an idiot. It's so broken it makes me doubt my ability to read. If this was in any way tested, it cannot possibly have been above 1st level, with anything other than a no-healing party.

    Just, what even.
    Last edited by Fizban; 2021-09-27 at 03:52 AM. Reason: minor edits
    Attention Imgur Users! Imgur apparently doesn't like hosting images anymore and only works in certain places or for people who already have the image cached: No one can see your avatars or images!
    Also Photobucket users? Don't know if it's a bandwidth or region lock or something, but I'm seeing some avatars blurred out with a watermark that looks like the photobucket icon.
    And Tinypic went down a while back, seeing plenty of old avatars showing their downed image.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    sheer awesomeness

  30. - Top - End - #210
    Troll in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Trashes & Treasures: Older 3rd Party Sourcebooks, a Walking Tour

    Added a link to the above supplemental to the original review of Mercenaries, just so this lot isn't missed.

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