Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Advanced Class Guide Classes: First Impressions

Yesterday, Paizo finally released the playtest document for the upcoming Advanced Class Guide. The 51 page PDF presents the 10 "hybrid" classes that will be in the final book. After giving the document a read, I thought I'd give my first impressions of the classes in alphabetical order. Remember, these are merely my initial impressions and they are subject to change as I delve further into the classes.

The Arcanist
This Sorcerer/Wizard hybrid was the class I was most weary about coming in. Unfortunately, the document didn't fix that uneasiness. The class is trying to fill a role that doesn't really exist in the game and I feel the Arcanist might end up overshadowing both of its parent classes, even with its slowed spell progression (it can cast one less spell per day than a Sorcerer if I'm reading right). I will say the class' Blood Focus ability is kind of interesting (it's basically a pool of points you spend to access your bloodline powers), but I still have some reservations about it. I probably will not be using this class anytime soon. 

The Bloodrager
This Barbarian/Sorcerer hybrid is an interesting beast. Like a Barbarian, it has the ability to enter a rage to gain a few different bonuses. However, unlike the Barbarian, the Bloodrager also has a bloodline with a number of powers he can only access while raging. Also, at 4th level, the class gains the ability to cast a number of arcane spells and can even cast them while raging. While I really wish they would give it a different name (Bloodrager sounds like a cheesy metal band from the 80's), the class seems interesting enough and I have a few idea for bloodrager characters floating around in my head. 

The Brawler
This is a Fighter/Monk hybrid that strips away the supernatural elements of the Monk and focuses on unarmed combat and combat maneuvers. The class gets a full base attack bonus progression, a d10 hit die, proficiency with light armor. The Brawler has the ability to sacrifice a move action to gain the benefits of a combat feat she doesn't already possess for 1 minute. While I probably won't be playing a Brawler anytime soon, the class seems to be solidly built and could be fun to play. 

The Hunter
This Druid/Ranger hybrid feels like a druidic version of the inquisitor. However, instead of getting access to domains and the Judgement ability, you get an animal companion at 1st level and a new ability called Animal Focus. This new ability allows the Hunter to take on the aspect of an animal as a swift action that lasts 1 minute. For example, the Hunter could take on the aspect of the bear and gain a bonus to their Constitution score.  There are some weird elements to the class though, like how they can wear armor made from steel but can't use shields made from steel. In the end, the Hunter is a little lackluster to me and I probably wouldn't play it unless I had the right concept. 

The Investigator
This Alchemist/Rogue hybrid is actually one of my favorite classes in the entire document. The class has the ability to creates alchemical items and extracts like an alchemist, but also can sneak attack and has the trap-based abilities of the rogue. The class also has an ability called Inspiration, which is a pool of points he can spend to augment skill checks with a d6, and can spend two points to augment attack rolls and saving throws. He also receives a number of investigator talents that mimic an alchemist's discoveries and a rogue's talents. Being a fan of both the alchemist and the rogue, I really dig the Investigator and I really want to give it a test run.

The Shaman
A Oracle/Witch hybrid, the Shaman was one of the classes I was looking forward to the most. Sadly, I feel somewhat disappointed with it. Now, don't get me wrong, the Shaman is a nice mixture of the two classes where you receive the witch's familiar and hexes and the oracle's mystery in the form of a "spirit". However, it feels a little bland to me and I feel like it could be so much more. Personally, I feel like Kobold Press' Shaman does a better job at capturing the concept than this class does. However, like I said, this Shaman is still a solid class and my feelings towards it have nothing to due with the mechanics. 

The Skald
The Skald is a hybrid of the Barbarian and the Bard that leaves me with mixed emotions. The class is interesting, especially with its ability to inspire his allies (and himself) into bouts of rage and can grant them rage powers at later levels. My main problem with this class is that the concept can already be done thanks to the Savage Skald archetype, which is one of my favorite archetypes in the game. While the concept does have enough meat for a full class and it seems like it would be fun to play, its kind of sad to think that archetype will be overshadowed by this class. 

The Slayer
The Slayer is a hybrid of the Ranger and the Rogue that I find actually kind of cool. Its easy to tell the class was built to allow people to play assassins from 1st level without having to being evil. However, the concept is broad enough where you could play it as a bounty hunter or a monster hunter if you wanted to. The Slayer has the ability to sacrificing a move action to study an opponent, designating them as a "favored target" and receive a bonus to attack rolls, damage rolls, and certain skill rolls against it. You also gain a number of Slayer talents (which are a lot like rogue talents) and sneak attack. The only weird thing about the class is that it has a full base attack bonus progression, but only a d8 hit die. I wonder if that was on purpose, or was just a typo.

The Swashbuckler
Easily my favorite class in the entire playtest packet, the Swashbuckler is a hybrid of the Fighter and the Gunslinger.  Like the Gunslinger, the Swashbuckler receives a pool of points called Panache that allow them to perform cool abilities. The class really does fit the concept and seems like it will be fun as hell to play. However, I do have some problems with it. I think the class should just receive Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat instead of just the benefits of it and I wish its weapon selection was more open than just light or one-handed piercing weapons. Other than those two gripes, I really love this class. 

The Warpriest
The Warpriest is a hybrid of the Cleric and the Fighter that is basically a divine version of the Magus. The Warpriest receives proficiency with martial weapons, heavy armor, only has access to 6th level spells, receives "Blessings" instead of domains, gains fighter bonus feats, the channel energy ability at 2nd level, and the ability to imbue their deity's favorite weapon with divine power at 4th level. The class seems simple enough and could be fun to play. One of my players, Alfgeir the Cleric of Gorum, has asked to change his character to a Warpriest and I'll get to see the class in action pretty soon. 

If you're interested in looking at the playtest document and participating, click here. You will have to have an account, but since that is free there shouldn't really be any problem. You will be able to add the document to your downloads page and get it from there.