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Thread: Märchen der Daemonwulf
Wednesday, 16th March, 2011, 07:29 PM #1
Novice (Lvl 1)
Märchen der Daemonwulf
This pdf is 28 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving 23 pages of content.
After a one-page introduction on the creation of this book, we are introduced to a new base-class, the Lycaonite, a lycanthrope (to be more precise, a Werewolf) who loses his curse and gets new abilities while trying to control the beast.
The Lycaonite gets d12, 2+Int skills per level, proficiency with their natural attacks, simple weapons and light armor, but not shields, a good fort-save and good BAB-progression. the class is more or less what you'd expect of a werewolf-base-class, complete with improving natural weapons, some minor bonus feats and several abilities that are tied to the 28-days lunar cycle and grant bonuses on the waxing/full moon while penalizing the class on waning and new moons: Lunar Rage grants penalties and bonuses to attack and damage rolls, Lunar Skills grants bonuses on Acrobatics, Climb, Intimidate, Perception, Stealth, Survival, and Swim, Lunar Agility grants bonuses to Initiative and Reflex saves, Lunar Bloodlust and Lunar Frenzy are the improved versions of Lunar Rage, Lunar resilience grants bonuses to AC and Fort saves and at high levels, the Lycaonite gets regeneration as well as the cool capstone ability to summon the bloodmoon.
The designers talk about the necessary book-keeping for the lunar phase, which is a minor downside to me, as well as the potential to abuse the class. True, involuntary night-time transformations and the need to stay lucid are drawbacks, but take a look at the following list:
At full moon, a lvl 19 Lycaonite gets +8 to Atk and damage (the bonuses of the predecessor abilities being +5 and +3 respectively), + 6 natural AC and +5 to Fort (gained at 15th level), +8 to Ini and +4 to reflex saves (gained at 7th level) and +8 to all the skills for Lunar skills (gained at 5th level).
That's an awful lot of bonuses to track.
Compare to the new moon penalties: Lunar skills is penalized with -6, we get -6 to Ini and -3 to Reflex saves, -4 to AC and fort saves and finally -6 to atk and damage (-3 and -2 in the predecessor abilities, respectively).
That's a huge amount of penalties and benefits to track and a major difference in efficiency of the character., making up 14 (!!!) points difference and damage in atk alone. You can do the rest of the math yourself, but, quite frankly, I'm both concerned about balancing this immense fluctuation with other characters as well as the enjoyment of potential Lycaonite players. ("Ah man, I want it to be full moon again..." "Let's wait till full moon, then we're gonna kick XYZ's behind!" etc.) While I think the idea to tie the abilities to the lunar cycle is nice, I also think that the fluctuation in power is too big and that the payoff for the additional book-keeping is somewhat lacking.
After that, we get the 50 new feats that define this take on the Lycanthrope:
-Bestial Agility: Dex bonus while transformed, improves at 10th level
-Bestial Endurance: Con bonus while transformed, improves at 10th level
-Bestial Speed: Movement bonus while transformed, improves at 10th level
-Bestial Strength: Str bonus while transformed, improves at 10th level
-Bestial Toughness: natural armor bonus while transformed, improves at 10th
-Call of the Wild: Summon wolves and wolf-like creatures
-Canine Hearing: Better hearing
-Canine Vision: Better sight
-Corpse Feeding: Cannibalize fallen foes to stave off detrimental effects of
-Consume Agility: +2 to Ac and Ini after eating a corpse
-Greater Consume Agility: see above, +4
-Consume Resistance: Gain +1 to all saving throws after eating a corpse
-Greater Consume Resistance: as above, +2
-Devour Strength: + 1 to atk and damage after consuming a creature
-Greater Devour Strength: as above, +2
-Enduring Feeding: Benefits of consuming a creature last 12 hours or until
sunrise instead of 1 hour
-Lesser Consume Defenses: Gain DR 1/- after eating a corpse
-Consume Defenses: Gain DR 2/- after eating a corpse
-Greater Consume Defenses as above, DR 3/- or DR 4/- (if creature was
-Quick Feeding: Eat a creature in 1 round instead of a minute
-Taboo Recovery: Consume a creature to recover from fatigue, exhaustion,
fear and confusion
-Greater Taboo Recovery: As above, plus cures poison, insanity and 1
-Vital Consumption: Gain temporary hit points for consuming creatures
-Curse of the Beast: This is the central feat of the book and the basis for
the Lycaonite class: You can transform into a wolf, willingly and unwillingly, getting a +2 to natural Ac, +2 racial bonus to Dex and Con, low-light vision, movement rate 50 ft., the scent ability, a bite attack, +4 to CMD against trip but also suffer from the involuntary transformations.
-Cursed Bite: Your bite can spread lycanthropy. Fixed DC.
-Greater Cursed Bite: As above, DC scales with your level and you can affect dragons, monstrous humanoids, fey, outsiders, and corporal undead. Dragon werewolves? Fey werewolves? That hurts me almost physically. Not my game.
-Extended Transformation: You transformation lasts for 1 minute per lvl instead of 1 minute per 2 levels.
-Improved Extended Transformation: As above, 10 minutes per character level
-Greater Extended Transformation: As above, 1 hour per character level
-Extra Transformation: +1 transformation
-Greatwulf Form: Transform into a Direwolf-like creature
-Howl of the Night Hunter: 1/day you gain a howl that frightens creatures or panics them.
-Hybrid Form: D'uh.
-Hybrid Pounce: Full attack after a charge when in Hybrid form, can only be used with natural weapons.
-Improved Low-Light Vision: Better sight.
-Improved Scent: Better scent
-Lycanthropic Toughness: Gain DR 2/silver when in wolf or hybrid form
-Night-Eye: Gain Darkvision 60 ft.
-Night Healing: Fast healing equal to 1/4 lvl at night in transformed form
-Paralyzing Gaze: Gain a scaling gaze attack that paralyzes enemies and can be used Cha-mod times per day. This could be abused.
-Poisonous Bite: Gain a bite with a scaling poison
-Poisonous Claws: Coat your claws with your bite poison
-Powerful Bite: Bite gets 1.5 times Str-mod
-Practiced Transformation: Only be exhausted for one round and fatigued for
a minute after transformation instead of 1 minute exhaustion and 10 minutes
-Pull Down: Gain the trip special quality in wolf or hybrid form.
-Resist Transformation: Will save to avoid transformation
-Greater Resist Transformation: as above, but +4 and 1 re-roll per day
-Silver Fang: Your attacks count as magic and silver when in werewolf form.
-Tame the Inner Beast: + 2 to become lucid while transformed.
-Wolf Empathy: Speak with wolves, +4 on Diplomacy with them.
We also get two new special equipment qualities and 4 new magic items:
-Shifting: Can transform special properties to natural weapons.
-Wolfsbane: Hit Lycanthropes to force them to revert on a failed save.
-Collar of the Unchanging Form: Restricts power to shapechange
-Wolfsbane Amulet: Werewolf detector
-Wolf Belt: + 4 to stealth and transform into a wolf via Beast Shape I
-Wolf Pelt: +4 to stealth and survival and transform into a wolf via Beast Shape II
This is hard to rate, so I'm starting with the obvious: The full-color artwork is beautiful and something I didn't expect to see for this price. Editing is ok, I only noticed 1 typo. Layout adheres to the NWN-standard, i.e. you unfortunately get the used-parchment look, which, while not ugly, is not printer-friendly. The pdf is extensively bookmarked.
Those of you who read my review of Liber Vampyr know that I have very specific ideas of what a vampire should be and the same unfortunately holds true for werewolves. Personally, I don't think that players in PFRPG should be able to play werewolves. That being said, the mechanics are actually very interesting - the huge selection of feats offers a wide array of tools to customize your werewolf and lacks almost nothing. On the other hand, the (intentional) discrepancy between the full-moon-strength of the Lycaonite and its new-moon weakness is more than pronounced and would frankly annoy me as a player. The amount of book-keeping necessary for the different phases of the moon and the associated book-keeping is also quite extensive, somewhat limiting the attractiveness of the class for me. On the other hand, that's an innovative, new mechanic.
I just think that the difference from the two extremes should, for reasons of balance, be smaller. a difference of 14 points to attack and all the other abilities means that the werewolf will be sometimes much stronger, sometimes much weaker than the other characters. I would have handled the night-time transformation differently, too. I would have set a specific trigger (e.g. full-moon) and have the character transform involuntarily then - if he/she succeeds at a very hard DC (that scales with the levels) he/she retains control and gets bonuses. Otherwise, once an in-game month, the DM gets control. Due to the transformation happening every night, there is a certain potential for conflict and general usability of the character - after all, a significant amount of adventures happen at night.
If the player botches the save (presuming he has one!), he/she can't participate, as he/she is off hunting. What's my final verdict, then? I'll settle for a solid 3 stars - the lunar mechanic is clunky and I'm concerned about balance with regards to it, but the rest of the book is solid.
P.S.: While I'm flattered as a German that the book has a German title (and gets the Umlaut right, at least on the cover!), the title literally translates to "Fairy-tales the demonwolf". To be nitpicky, it should probably read "Märchen des Dämonenwolfs" or "Märchen von dem Dämonenwolf".