|The Emerald Bench & the Golden Bough.
||[Oct. 1st, 2010|04:09 pm]
Secrets of the Alchemist by Sigfried Trent.
The Witch's Brew by Sigfried Trent.
The "Advanced Feats" series by Kobold Quarterly is just the stuff you're looking for, especially if you recently picked up a copy of Pathfinder's Advanced Player's Guide. Each of these dozen(ish) page articles are chock-full of a mix of the sort of "duh" feats that you can't believe haven't been published before, coupled with the "neato" feats that get you to re-examine class features in a new light. Sigfried Trent is the chief editor of The Netbook of Feats, & has a decade of mechanics balancing under his belt, & it shows; these aren't over-powered, but they definitely rank in the "useful" category-- no "Dodge" here. Trent attaches a commentary to eac feat, explaining why it works, how it might be useful, or why it isn't broken-- a level of transparency that any DM can appreciate. Each article ends with a few "Builds," a list of feats for your character to take at each applicable level in order to get the most bang for your buck. Personally, I like my characters to acquire feats organically, as they progress, but seeing a progression-- a chain reaction, so to speak-- is useful.
Secrets of the Alchemist starts off right out of the gate giving me ideas-- the examination of the class just struck a cord, making me visualize an alchemist who drops a poison gas bomb at his own feet to take advantage of his own immunity, & then proceeds to lobs bombs out of that, daring anyone to come try to engage him in melee. Hey, that guy is great, & the "Mighty Mutant" build for maximizing on the alchemist's Mutagens is a great Mister Hyde feat tree. Many of the feats for the alchemist made me think of my former player Gerd, who constantly bemoaned how badly off item creators had it; well, "Craft Anywhere" & its ilk are meant for people like him. I was sort of offended to see "Craftsman"-- just a boring old +2 to a skill feat? I thought things like "Accurate Assessment" & "Lighten Weapon" were weird & could be great character hooks. Something like Suicide Bomber is a cute ability but broken-- as a Dungeon Master it occurs to me only as fodder for "you see a goblin running at you. He seemed to be covered in Yule ornaments..." but I see too much potential for PC abuse, let alone making it a feat. Rules to cover it, yes-- because as the commentary says, your PCs will try it-- but a feat isn't the right spot for those rules.
I think that Secrets of the Alchemist makes me want to play the Alchemist class, but Witch's Brew seems the most useful to the class-- & to any class that resembles it. I don't like classes that are limited by spell list-- in fact, I hate spell lists entirely. They are a bottleneck, & limit fun rather than enable it. That being said, I'm not sure Hexes arn't entirely better than spells-- the downside seems to be that you can't apply metamagic, but who uses metamagic? Apart from a special case Quickened spell, that is. It just reminds me of how superior "Sudden Metamagic" feats were-- much preferred, thank you! Putting that aside, I think the feat tree of most interest are the ones pertaining to familiars & to countermagic-- both of which add a unique feel to the class. Familiars have always been under-exploited & the feats provided go a long way towards making them useful-- both from a mechanical standpoint & from a story perspective. While Secrets of the Alchemist has a great "jerk" power-- "Sundering Bomb"-- Witch's Brew has "Familiar Reincarnation" which is basically "save versus mean DM." The counterspell list goes a long way towards making it a viable character option, rather than what the author calls a "once in a character's lifetime event." I think my favorite feat in the list is "Signature Focus," which provides what is essential "Eschew Materials" for the more expensive spell components-- but does it in a way that is both balanced & flavorful.
Far & away, the best part of these supplements is how useful they might be to a range of characters. Sure, some of the feats are really only applicable to the specific classes-- some modify class features, for instance-- but others are just ripe to be picked up by any class. Want a slew of feats to buff your familiar, Wizards? Check out Witch's Brew. Want to juggle your inventory, item-heavy Rogue? Ah, then Secrets of the Alchemist is right up your alley. They are a tight grouping of neat powers which buff specialty classes, provide options to a wide range of PCs & have a few "snake hands" where unexpected rules blossom-- tattoo magic, damage reduction, using a healer's kit to actually heal damage, making ranged opportunity attack, that kind of thing. Above all it is an interesting series-- maybe you are playing an Inquisitor or a Summoner or some other class...in which case I'd be rubbing my hands together with glee, anticipating one of these bundles.