Luckbringer & Malefactor

Aren’t we all sometimes just lucky? And sometimes we seem like we’re cursed? Well, today I’m going to take a look at two of my very favorite classes for PFRPG – both dealing with luck – and the lack thereof!

 

I’ll start with Rite Publishing’s by now classic

 

The Secrets of the Luckbringer

 

This pdf is 14 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD and 2 pages advertisements, leaving 9 pages for the new base-class of the Luckbringer. Let’s check it out!

After a great IC-introduction to the new luckbringer-class (which ranks among the coolest and most amusing ones I’ve read by Rite Publishing), we are introduced to the new class. Mechanically, it’s a medium BAB, good ref and will-saves, d8, 6+Int modifier non-spellcasting class somewhere along the lines of Super Genius Games Time Thief in the manner that the class focuses on cool abilities that can be activated via free actions. The key difference, of course, being that the abilities center around luck (or lack thereof) rather than time. So, let me explain a bit further:

The base ability of the class is called moment of chance and can be used to get a save to avoid being dropped below 0 HP, add a bonus or penalty to checks or reroll one roll within 100 ft. The class gets 3+level points for this ability, ensuring that it gets additional uses every level. You think that is cool?

At second level and each even level after that, they get to choose a so-called Improbable ability from 11 different abilities. These abilities do use moment of chance points and range from becoming better at escaping, get benefits of critical feats, force miss chances upon enemies or negate them, take 20 if they normally couldn’t etc. It should be noted that almost all abilities can be used in favor of the luckbringer or to the detriment of opponents, necessitating fair scaling saving throws mostly dependent of level on Cha-mod of the luckbringer. If you’re like me, you do now get what archetype this class lends itself to. The coolest ability, by far, though, is Hazard (Su) : With this ability, the luckbringer can cause a damaging, improbable mishap to happen to an enemy, which is DAMN cool – both the player and the DM can each and every time determine specific, extremely improbable mishaps. This has to be one of the best abilities to encourage funny/cool ideas at the table ever.
Luckbringers get even more choices, though: Over the course of their 20 levels, they can choose up to 6 “Nothing is Written”-powers from a list of 10, which are not dependent on the pool and range from rolling twice a random roll and taking the better result, over evasion up to being extremely lucky when escaping/giving chase. Especially the latter is plain awesome for both PCs and NPCs. “You’ll NEVER catch me!” *cackles with glee*

Need more customization opportunities? The class has more to offer: Luckbringers also get to choose from up to 5 longshot powers from a list of 7, which range from a pool of freely usable bonuses per day over making botches crits and vice versa up to automatically getting an item via improbable means.

Beginning at 10th level, the list of Improbable abilities you get to choose from is expanded upon by 11 additional powers, some improving other abilities while others are brand-new, resulting in a highly customizable class.
The capstone ability is also great – the luckbringer summons a landslide, supercell-lightning-bolt or something alike on his enemy, causing 200 points damage. Nice and just as cool as Hazard.

Conclusion:

The pieces of b/w-artwork by Toby Gregory are nice, the public domain art also fits the theme. Layout adheres to the two-column classic RiP-standard. Formatting is top-notch. Editing was flawless up to the final two pages, where some minor errors have found their way into the book. The pdf is extensively book-marked, making electronic reference at the table easy. The IC-writing for which I love almost all RiP-products reaches a high point in this pdf, being among the most entertaining and yet cool, offering a nice gender-twisted touch to the traditional scoundrel myths and behaviors. Oh. That was it, wasn’t it? The bad “S”-word. Yep. I said it. Scoundrel. Like in “Complete Scoundrel.” Before you start to get reflexive headaches due to remembering how broken that book was, let me assure you: Luckbringer is NOTHING like Complete Scoundrel. Yes, it focuses on the players who want to play the perpetually lucky hero, but everything Complete Scoundrel did wrong, Secrets of the Luckbringer does right and the few things CS did ok, this pdf improves upon. BIG TIME. Mechanic-wise there nothing to complain about. The IC-writing is glorious and even in the rules-section I really can only list one point of criticism: I encountered three minor editing glitches on the last 2 pages. While they did not really deter all too much from me understanding anything, they just jumped at me due to the more or less flawless nature of the rest of the pdf. I would have loved to see more powers, though there are enough to make them versatile indeed. Thus, my final conclusion will be as follows: If you don’t care about some minor editing glitches in an otherwise completely awesome, cheap class-book, this pdf is 5 stars. If you’re as pedantic as I am, consider it 4.5 stars. In any case, Steven D. Russell has once again created a great new class and the only question I’d like to ask is: When do we get more support for the luckbringer? I’d definitely love to see a sequel.

 

Want more tools for these guys? For a buck you can get…

 

10 Luckbringer Feats

 

This pdf is 5 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving 2 pages for the 10 feats, so let’s check them out!

Steven D. Russell’s Luckbringer is one of my favorite 3pp-classes out there – inspired by SGG’s Time Thief, the class provides both a modular model of powers and great abilities that capitalize on all the lucky scoundrel/fortune’s favored tropes out there and even after “101 Renegade Class Feats” I wanted more support for the class – seems my wish has come true: So, what feats do we get?

-Advantageous Strike: When using “Critically Lucky”, you can roll two dice to confirm a critical, taking the better of the 2 rolls. Usable once per day. Nice last resort ability to land that crit when you really, really need it.

-Auspicious Escape: Usable by Time Thieves/Wardens, Taskshapers and Luckbringers, this ability enables you to suppress detrimental conditions once per day. You spend e.g. a mote, a moment of chance etc. to do so. If you surpass 10th level in such a class, you may ignore all adverse effects instead. Can be taken multiple times, each time grants one additional use. Great to see that even other classes can benefit from this neat little feat. The limitation of uses per day prevents it from being op, so no balance-concerns on my side.

-Break the Pattern: When you use “Twist the Pattern” and take a 10, roll a d20 and take the higher result. When you take 20, you roll a d20 and get a bonus according to a table. Ok idea, though not too exciting.

-Fortunate Fate: When using “fatespin”, you use 2 d20 and take the higher result for your reroll, mitigating effects of bad luck. Great feat – powerful, but limited in its application and yet a feat that will save many a luckbringer’s day.
-Karmic Reaction: If you have used your “Good Karma” ability on an ally and are adjacent to him/her/it, you may have this ally take the attack you’re subjected to in your stead – neat ability for players who want to stay alive and might make for some neat debates in the round. HAs to be handled carefully, though: If it results in PC death, this feat might lead to strife in less mature groups.

-Last-Minute Gamble:If you use your “Hazard” and empty all your moments of chance, you may unleash a devastating hazard, adding +2 to DC and 1d6 damage per luckbringer class-level. Great last resort strike and the stuff, epic stories are made of.

-Martial Kismet: As long as you have at least one moment of change, you can ignore up to 20% miss chance as long as you know which square the foe is standing in. Nice and with minor modification just as usable for similar classes and even psions.

-Motion of the Morai: This makes the bonus from “Fatefull Footing” continuous as long as you have at least one moment of chance left and lets you reduce an affected target’s speed, even permanently at higher levels. Nice!

-Opportunity knocks twice: If your AoO misses and you still have a moment of chance, you may reroll the AoO. Cool idea, though personally, I’d restrict the usage somewhat so it can only be used x times per day or burns a moment of chance, as my players are INSANELY good at getting AoOs and exploiting the hell out of them, but that’s my personal experience and I know that this does not come up in most groups.

-Woe unto him: You can apply the luck penalty of “Weal and Woe” on your foe after the result is known and you no longer need to be aware of the action. Wow, this is just iconic, cool and enables the luckbringer to potentially prevent the worst of disasters by a margin.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I didn’t notice any glitches. The pdf comes with a neat 2-column, colored layout you might know from the free Pathways e-zine. The pdf has no bookmarks, but doesn’t need any at this length. I really like the Luckbringer and this pdf delivers some AMAZING abilities to expand the powers of the class. In fact, the feats add a lot of cool tactical options that make the luckbringer even better at what makes the class so fun: Doing just the thing that might save the group, hitting when it is required, rolling the critical against the death-priest conjuring up the vampire-lord etc. – the pivotal moments we all know, love and have seen over our gaming careers when this one lucky hit meant the difference between defeat and victory. With these feats, the luckbringer is even better geared to be the lucky one in the party: Not the arcane arsenal, not the assassin, not the brute, but the one who does just the right thing at the right time, without failing. While Opportunity knocks twice is a feat I’ll nerf in my home game, on the whole I did not notice any feats I’d consider unbalanced and instead found iconic gold within these humble pages. Due to the low price, I can unconditionally recommend this neat file to you. And if you haven’t, give the luckbringer a try – I guarantee you won’t regret it. My final verdict will be 5 stars – well done!

10 Luckbringer Magic Items

 

This pdf is 7 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 1/2 pages of advertisement and 1 page SRD, leaving 3 1/2 pages of content, so let’s check this out!

I’m really glad we get more support for the luckbringer in this series, as it is one of my favorite classes and this pdf provides us with neat tools for fortune’s favored class.

First would be the auspicious assault weapon quality, which is interesting and lets the wielder of a thus enchanted weapon 1/day roll an attack roll twice: If he hits once, the attack is a regular hit. If the wielder hits with both attacks, the base-dice amount is doubled, making e.g. a longsword deal 2d8 base damage instead of the regular 1d8. Luckbringers can expend a moment of chance to use this ability an additional time – essentially, all of the items can be used more often in the hands of a luckbringer, but remain potent and valid choices in regular PC-hands.

The Baldric of the prepared Mind as a scabbard can provide you with access to quick draw, dirty trick or equipment trick. There are three variants of the baldric and in fact all but 2 and the quality come in 3 versions as lesser, standard and greater. Boots of Adventitious Timing let you act in a surprise round and add a movement action to the standard action you’d usually get. You still are flat-footed until it’s your turn. Again, Luckbringers may use moments of chance to use this class of item (stats for 3 types are provided) more often. The Cape of Risks is one of the items I’d consider pure, elegant genius: Opponents have to succeed at a will-save to attack you with an AoO – simple concept, cool results with more agile stunts and the like becoming possible. Gloves of fortunate deeds let you take 10 when performing acrobatics, swimming or climbing and a limited amount of time, take 20 on such a check – neat!

Luck’s Aegis is a powerful armor that grants you a miss chance that is not negated by blind fighting etc. – as a nice twist, you also incur a 20% chance of failing with spells, attacks etc. while thusly protected – not only awesome for luckbringers, also an extremely fitting choice for TPK Games’ Malefactor-class! Ring’s of fate’s unraveling are also an interesting concept: At first, the ring only seems to bestow curses. However, if the target uses a pool-dependant ability (like ki, moments of chance, grit, motes of time etc.), they suffer damage. Cool since the advent of pool-based classes has seen the mechanics being largely barren beyond the intended purposes. The Rings of Peril grants the luckbringer with the hazard ability an additional moment of chance to spend exclusively on the power. In the hands of non-luckbringers, the item provides access to this ability.

Symbols of good Luck grants you a +8 luck bonus when activated before a d20-roll, +4 when used after the roll was made. Again, nice idea. Third Eyes of Karma are an interesting kind of retributive item: When suffering 50+ damage, being threatened by unconsciousness or being subjected to an instant-death effect, you may make a full attack against the opponent or cast a single spell before the results of the attack are resolved as normal. Karma can

truly be a female dog.

Conclusion:

 

Editing and formatting in the revised version are very good, I didn’t notice any significant glitches that would have impeded my understanding of the pdf. Layout adheres to RiP’s 2-column standard and the pdf has no bookmarks, but need none at its BP-length. The items herein are nice indeed and it is cool to see some tools for the excellent luckbringer-class. Generally, I enjoy the new items and their innovative mechanics, though the third eye might be considered rather powerful in certain environments. All in all, though, designs like e.g. Luck’s Aegis counteract my minor personal nitpicking regarding general power. Add to that the very low price and I’ll settle for a final verdict of 4.5 stars, rounded down to 4 – a nice selection of luck-themed items, especially for the low price.

 

Now that’s enough luck for now, but thankfully TPK Games knows how to drain that!

 

The Malefactor 

 

The first original class by TPK Games comes as a 21-page pdf, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of advertisement and 1 page of SRD, leaving a total of 16 pages of content for this new base-class, so let’s check it out!

After a second version of the GORGEOUS cover by Anna Rigby (which would make for a nice Dark_Mistress-avatar…), we are introduced to a new piece of short fiction, an extract from Talitha Shadowtongue’s memoirs, herself a tiefling doom herald and malefactor – and, as I’ve come to expect from TPK Games, the fiction is well-written, sets a gritty mood and makes me once again curse not being in the US – otherwise I’d invite the guys from TPK to join my game or try to score at least a con-game: We seem to have similar styles. Oh well. But what is this new malefactor-class?

Fluff-wise, the malefactor represents a kind of people who are, from their earliest childhood, afflicted with a so-called Yla, amoral, intangible chaos-spirits that wreck havoc, misfortune and destruction without being interested in the consequences. Some rare children learn that while these spirits cannot be driven out, the misfortune not averted, they can be channeled and commanded – these persons become malefactors. Malefactors get 3/4 BAB, good ref-and will-saves, no spells, d8, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with shields, medium and light armor, simple weapons, light crossbows, rapier, longsword, short sword and shortbow and much like other “trick”-classes like the Time Thief, the Luckbringer etc., they are rather dependant on their abilities to make them count, but what exactly are these? Well, first of all, they start off with an aura that gradually increases and imposes a profane penalty on saving throws – to everything around her, without a save. Yes, that includes allies and the malefactor herself – interesting and somewhat reminiscent of 4WFG’s Jinxs-PrC, but not where the class stops. The penalty is also slightly offset by later gaining the wis-bonus to fort-and ref-saves.

The Malefactor also gains a so-called pool of strife, that can hold a maximum of 1/2x her level + WIs-mod strife points. They also gain access to so-called maledictions, one at 1st level and every two levels afterwards an additional one, but more on them later. In melee, she can use a standard action and a point of strife to execute a so-called harrowing strike at a target that is under the effect of a curse or one of her curse-like powers (including hexes, you witch-aficionados out there!). The ability improves to add wis-mod to atk and later damage, inflict bleeding damage, add a second attack and at the highest levels is even considered a touch attack and gets a wicked DC to stop the bleeding. And then there is strife surge – perhaps the coolest ability I’ve seen in quite a time for a class: Every time a being within the malefactor’s aura rolls a natural “1” on a save or attack, the malefactor is energized, reducing the amount of strife her powers consume for one round by 1 to a minimum of 0. Yes. This class actually makes having bad rolls at the table something that can be honestly cheered! And if you’re like me, you have this one player with the most miserable of luck, who is glad to only roll one fumble per session… Among the other abilities the class gets is the one to draw curses unto herself, trying to break them, but suffering potentially from the effects of the curse, whether successful or not. The malefactors can also force opponents to use the lower of two d20-results for a point of strife, wear cursed items without any adverse effects (YEAH!), displace attacks to hit other creatures, reroll natural “1”s for points of strife and finally, a cool capstone ability that renders her immune to curses and makes all “2”s in her aura count as “1”s – unlucky for her foes indeed!

But back to those maledictions – a total of 18 are provided and they have a save of 10 + 1/2 class level + Wis-mod and an increasing range (starting at 20 ft, going up to 60) and last wis-mod rounds. What makes them even more interesting is the fact that each of the maledictions has an option to use a dread escalation as soon as the malefactor has reached 10th level – essentially, an additional cost in strife points increases the effect. Take for example the first one, Apt Curse – on a failed will-save, the victim has a 50% chance to take no action on his/her/its turn. Dread escalate the malediction and we add not only +2 to the DC, but also make the curse permanent. OUCH! Or let your misfortune cling to a weapon that hits you, making it count as a size smaller than it actually is via Benign Weapon. Have I mentioned that Malefactors are essentially the black cats among characters? If they cross your path, you’ll count as flanked until next turn. On the defensive side, the malefactors may also reduce the amount of damage area-spells deal with “Eye of the Storm” and even dread escalate the type of dice down (e.g. d8 -> d6).
Among my personal favorites, though, ranks “Feats of Fate” – while it can be used only once in 24 hours on a given enemy, it prevents said foe gaining any kind of natural or magical healing, while curing the malefactor. Neat, neat, neat. I know one sadistic bastard of a DM who will have his players on the business-end of that one soon… Of course, there are also maledictions to impose skill penalties, make concentration harder, foes slower to react etc., but it is abilities like lightning rod that truly rock: Essentially the Malefactor draws all types of lightning, forcing foes to attack her with the respective spells/effects, while gaining evasion against these attacks – dodging lightning has never been that much fun. (take heed, FF 10-designers, if you happen to read this!). Of coursing stumbling, losing items, losing AoOs are all nice, but e.g. declaring a creature taboo and have foes stunned, or even blinded and deafened for ignoring your sanction is also neat. It should be noted that the dread escalations could have easily been called advanced maledictions and thus space artificially created, but instead this more elegant solution was take. I really like the mechanics and hope to see support for it in future supplements.

5 archetypes are provided as well, though at least for me they don’t necessarily qualify as such and should rather be considered alternate class features – the Moirae can declare an action fated to succeed and treat the ally as having rolled 20 at the task a number of times equal to wis-mod per day. They don’t get the misfortune aura and the save-boost. The Doom Herald gains additional languages, a bonus against mind-affecting abilities and exchange the aura of misfortune for the ability to utter words of doom that force all in hearing distance to save or take the worst of 2 results from saving against hexes and curses. Reavers gain heavy armor proficiency and deal additional damage against foes they have cursed. Kismets don’t get the aura and harrowing strike, but rather can grant their cha-mod as a luck bonus to rolls of allies. Finally, the curse-breaker draws health and spell resistance from breaking curses and can transfer them to other beings.

Before we get to the new feats for the malefactor, we first get a nice little lore-section on information on malefactors. A total of 12 feats are provided, ranging from the ability to use strife to increase your aura, the ability to manifest maledictions as part of melee attacks to further capitalizing on the unluck of other characters in your aura by also gaining str-bonuses to the inevitable extra points of strife, extra malediction to the ability to exclude allies from your aura of misfortune (but also from your potential benefits) and improved surges, we essentially get the basic feat-catalogue to improve the abilities of the class. No feats for the archetypes are provided, though.

The odf also provides favored class options for all basic races, aasimar, tieflings, dhampirs, fetchlings, goblins, changelings and drow – neat!

The pdf closes with advice on how they work in your campaign as well as the fully stated and hyperlinked statblock of the succubus-descendant Tiefling Malefactor Talitha Shadowtongue.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting is very good – while I noticed some minor glitches, none jarred my reading experience or enjoyment of the class. The pdf adheres to TPK Games 2-column grey layout, utilizes cool fonts and features a gorgeous full-color artwork of the highest caliber. The pdf is also extensively bookmarked and the sample NPC’s statblock linked to d20pfsrd. The printer-friendly, artless b/w-version has no bookmarks, but since it’s intended to be printed – who cares? The deal also comes with herolab files of the class and the sample character, so great if you use the software. I honestly didn’t expect much from this class, seeing how much I enjoy RiP’s Luckbringer and well – I should have.

This is a completely different take on (un)luck and the design decisions that went into the creation of the Malefactor are concise, well-thought out and the overall class makes not only for a great team-player, but a fun addition to any table and a godsend for unlucky players. The ability to customize the class and its unique feel and tactics make the base-class a definite winner. However: The archetypes. They have good concepts behind them, but couldn’t they have changed more than, oh let’s say 1 -3 abilities? Personally, I enjoy them when they are more complex, but rules-wise, I see nothing wrong with them.
The feats do a basic job of what is expected and I seriously hope for e.g. a witch/malefactor PrC/archetype/whatever and more complex feats in a future supplement. The favored class options and the inclusion of uncommon races was a nice addition. The pdf is rather pricey for the amount of content provided, but seeing we get herolab support, an original, beautiful full color artwork and due to the fact I can’t discern any truly major flaws, I won’t hold the price-point against this class, especially since the way the class is designed is actually rather innovative. All right, let’s sum it up: Class: GLORIOUS. Gorgeous. Fun. No balance concerns or options that felt bland. The class per se is a total winne. The supplemental material, though, can be considered to fall a bit behind that stellar quality – were I to rate them separately, I’d give the base class 5 stars + seal of approval and the additional material 4 stars. Since I tend to meet in the middle if in doubt, I debated whether to go 4.5 (and round down) or 5 and in the end will settle for a final verdict of 5 stars – innovative design, cool concept and professional execution need and should be rewarded. Well-played, TPK Games! Can we now have a luckbringer/malefactor comboclass? Please?

 

All right, may the fortunes bless you, malefactors skip you and the luckbringer’s luck be on your side for reading this,
Endzeitgeist out.

 

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About Endzeitgeist

Reviewer without a cause