Monday (ugh, Tuesday), everyone! This week, I’ll be finishing up my review of A Touch of Class. Part 1 was last week, so make sure you check that out first.
The Feywalker is, ostensibly, a fairy-powered fighter. It’s the class for those that want to be Tom Bombadil, though perhaps with less singing (or maybe not, an Entertainer’s Pack is an optional gear for them). With an animal companion and some sweet weapon skills, it does have a certain WoW Hunter feel to it, though with far more mobility and melee prowess.
Heck, you even get some magic stuff. Neat!
The Good I will admit, despite the theming (Fey were never my thing), this is a pretty neat class. I really like the mobility aspect of Feystep, and I’ve always liked a class with an animal companion. Heck, everyone needs a friend, and the Feywalker always has one by her side. Added to that, we have a few thematic charm abilities and some nice late-level transportation options. All in all, the Feywalker is a well-rounded class, and likely the single best out of this collection.
The Bad Why the cantrips? Why does everyone need cantrips? They would be much better off giving the Primal Spheres little unique fighting styles or something else for better flavor. The idea that they threw in the cantrips feels…slapdash.
The Ugly As I said with the Diabolist, a class needs to stand out on its own. For the Feywalker, we’re dangerously close to being a particularly flamboyant Ranger. There is hope, though, in that the Feywalker doesn’t have a spell list (cantrips aside), but many of her abilities are pretty spell-like. Really, to make this class perfect, they should have enforced or at least encouraged the hit-flit-hit style of fighting they were clearly going for. Maybe grant the Feywalker some kind of bonus if they hit a creature after using Feystep (the best bonus would be to regain the expended Feystep charge), and maybe a bonus for hitting a different creature every round. The ideal situation has the Feywalker popping up all over the battlefield, sewing confusion.
The Morph is exactly as its name suggests: a class where shapeshifting is the core mechanic. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “yeah, it’s called a Druid.” I thought the same thing, and then I read through this class. Of course, I still think it, but I’ll get to that in a moment.
Throughout the Morph’s levels, a slew of various shapeshifting bonuses become available. It’s pretty neat.
The Good The hands-down best thing about this class are the Talents. Here we have a pretty large list of startlingly unique abilities that the Morph gets to pick and choose as she levels. These provide a great option to tailor the class to the player or the campaign in a way that’s not usually available. And there are some fun ones in there, like morphing into an ooze.
The Bad Oh dammit, the Shapeshifter Essences. This is such contrived crap. Basically, at 1st and 17th level, you get some sort of crazy bonus. Is it crazy for the Morph? Not really, as the 17th level option is pretty tame. No, this is a feature which is clearly designed for other classes to multiclass into Morph. That’s why this shit is available at level 1. Oh, an essence grants amazing unarmed strike bonuses at level 1? Yeah, Monks needed a multiclass option for sure.
The Ugly Yeah, it’s a Druid of the Moon with a quirk or two. The talents aside, this is just a feral Druid. To be honest, you could make this whole class a Druid circle without even working that hard. You say, “Okay, Circle of the Essence Shifter means you lose your spell casting ability, but instead, at 3rd level and every subsequent level where you would have gotten a new spell level, you get a morph talent.” Couple with the other core Druid features, that would accomplish 99% of the Morph. To be honest, this would be an amazing type of druid with a really unique feel to it. Instead, we get a subpar class.
Oh boy, here we go. I’m not sure why, but the idea of the Noble as an adventuring class always seems to crop up in supplements like this. There is, apparently, some appeal in roleplaying a petulant dandy tagging along with a group of rough-and-tough adventurers. Someone to make smarmy quips while turning her nose up at trail rations and demanding a private room and steward in the run down tavern.
“What is this swill!?” she demands, sniffing cautiously at the tankard of ale, “I requested your finest spirit, sir, not the water used to wash your dishes. Correct it at once, and have my steward bring it to my room. This trespass has given me an ire that I cannot shake here in this dingy commoner’s room.”
The Good There are some good mechanics in here, especially those that are holdovers from 4e’s Warlord class. Things like instead of attacking, you may grant an ally an attack. There are also several features which allow the Noble to grant allies extra movement, helping them get into position. Yeah, I get it, commanding the battle rather than participating in it.
The Bad The abilities the Noble has are weirdly unoriginal considering that we’re supposed to have a class that is basically a noncombatant (heck, one of the archetypes has a feature entitled “Noncombatant”). About half of the features are the warlord-ey ones, but the other half are just copies of existing features. Heck, the “Tactician” archetype even gets superiority dice like a Battle Master Fighter. Why? What’s the point?
The Ugly Why the fuck is this a class? Noble is not an adventuring class, it’s a background. How can I assert this with such confidence? Because it’s even an actual background in the PHB. Look, here’s the deal: an adventuring class represents the skills that a person gains while adventuring. Noble is not a set of adventuring skills, it’s a job title (at best) or a circumstance of birth (in the usual case). If a noble goes adventuring, he doesn’t become better at nobling, he becomes better at adventuring. You know, by leveling in an adventuring class. Likewise, a level 15 fighter can be just as good at nobling as any pompous douche that grew fat on an estate. Hell, the fighter is probably better at it because of all the sweet income that successful adventuring brings. The only way a “noble” class makes sense is if you run a completely social campaign with absolutely no fighting, but in that case, most of this classes features are worthless.
Here we go, the final stroke in this book. The Occultist is a class which tries to incorporate elements of B horror movies into a class. Oh, we’ve got everything: werewolves, vampires, and Frankenstein’s wretch. Yes, you, too, can be these things.
The Good I’m honestly having trouble with this part, but if I had to give something, the Dark Strike is passably neat. However, it’s basically the Monk Martial Arts, but evil.
The Bad Well, the core features of the class are…sparse to say the least, and the reason is pretty clear (see below). Pretty much we have the evil strike of doom, plus some other assorted shadow-related powers. It’s a bare-bones class skeleton with the meat of its archetypes stealing all the glory.
The Ugly Oh FFS, here we go again. This isn’t a class, but three conditions that are being glommed into a class. Why are there three? Why not a separate class for Vampire, Werewolf, and Abomination? Because there isn’t enough about those things to create a whole class with archetypes. Instead, here we have a central archetype with three half-classes tacked on. Furthermore, just as with the noble, these aren’t fucking classes. What the hell about werewolfing makes you better at it? Or Abominating? Or Vampiring? (Vamping? Whatever). This class’s true purpose is painfully obvious: a player wants to be a werewolf, and that’s all they want to be. So, Team Jacob decides to be an Occultist so that she doesn’t have to do any actual work to make it happen. You know what? There’s nothing wrong with roleplaying a werewolf that goes adventuring. In fact, it’d be a fascinating party dynamic as the party tries to cover for their wayward member who seems to be unavailable whenever the moon’s full. However, that lycanthropy is a disease or a curse, not a class. Aside from having a bad hair day every month, the character is still just a fighter or a paladin or whatever. Can we please stop trying to make a new class for every half-baked idea someone comes up with? That’s exactly what is wrong with 3.5/Pathfinder.
So, what’s the upshot on A touch of Class? Well, it ain’t worth it. Although it is encouraging to see how hungry the 5e community is for quality supplements. I really hope they find some…