Monday, 15 November 2010

high in his stirrups - review - advanced feats: the summoner's circle

Review: The Summoner's Circle by Siegfried Trent  
Metric: Pentacles.  Pokéballs came a close second but let's not go there.
DISCLAIMER: This review is based on a PDF copy provided by Open Design
Overall: 4 pentacles.  The walkthrough brings people up to speed on an ambiguous class and expands it's options, the feats are versatile and provide pointers on how to get the best out a class with hidden depths though a couple are a bit shaky and one is missing.  The builds illustrate the virtues of the class though GMs may want to review the master of arms build before allowing it at the table.

Content: 4 pentacles.  The walkthrough shows how a summoner sits ambiguously to more traditional roles.  Spells like a sorceror specialised in conjuring and buffing, a cleric's hit points, thief armour and weaponry.  This chimera is a tactical nightmare with the right player and Siegfried Trent gives some insights in how to do that which is seriously needed for some players who want to try something a bit different without breaking the flow of an established game while they find their feet.

The feats are a balanced selection and fill in some gaps though a few will cause discussion at the table (I'm looking at Improved Multiweapon Fighting and Multihanded Weapon primarily) and Usurp Spell is missing but if you have Advanced Feats: The Witch's Brew you'll find it there.  The feats are a mix of class specific and versatile, particular favourites include Hardened Spell, Improved Shield Ally and Touch of Grace.

The builds are interesting stuff.  The Chess Master is an excellent tactical build and my favourite of the three as it showcases the archetype.  The Mythic Rider will appeal to the players who want something a bit different from their summoner.  The Master At Arms is ambitious in building a combat tag team and at high levels is a holy terror but most GMs will try to apply some sanity - something that Siegfried himself admits needs to happen.

Art & Layout: 4 pentacles.  The cover art by Michael Bielaczyc is good and shows the distinctive nature of the eidolon.  Interior art and design suggests otherworldly flavour with some silhouettes reminiscent of Chaosium's Call of Cthulhu.  Layout is clean and concise and the winged eyebeasts add a touch of whimsy.

Overall this is a good product and for the price a worthy addition to your Pathfinder toolkit.  There are a couple of glitches on content which surprised me given Open Design's recent exceptional quality - it went a bit Wizards of the Coast there!  It would be an interesting exercise to see how some of these feats combine together but that may be a subject for another article.

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