Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Forgotten Heroes: Scythe and Shroud (Goodman Games)

Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by FH:S&S. So far, most 3pp classes have failed to wow me.

The assassin (striker), while indeed a sneaky fellow that fights you in melee and from the shadows is, despite similar powers, nothing like the rogue. The assassin acquires study points the longer he fights an opponent (yep, works exactly like the WoW-rogue), and the more study points he has, the more damage you can deal to that enemy, by expending some or all of the study points. Innovative and looks great on paper. Aside from the book missing the level 29 powers and one of the PP-powers being horribly broken (target unconscious even on a miss), the assassin seems very well balanced.

Deathwardens (leader) are death-sensitive people who protect the barrier between life and death. They use the shield as implement, focusing on melee and short range attacks. The fluff and concept for the class is just awesome, and I love the feel and fluff of the powers (which was a big surprise to me, I expected a filler class). The crunch is solid (Petitioners Vision is just too good though: + main stats to all saves of allies in aura 3), albeit there seems to be a bit of a powercreep as you to the paragon/epic powers. Some errors can be found (Is heavenly window a burst or a blast?; Onto the Block should be an attack power), but they are fairly rare. At least half of the 4 PP's seem very interesting, and one of the others will definitely make some people laugh (Captain America inc!)

The necromancer (controller) is (unfortunately) a mixed bag, quality-wise. There are a lot of very flavorful and fitting powers (fear, undeadcharm etc) and then the weird stuff, like sprouting 10' bone horns from your body. C'mon! Crunchwise, it's definitely a weird one too. I love how the necromancer can choose between a power (some of them anyway) being an area or a close burst. A great idea that gives an awesome flexibility to the class. But on the other hand, who the hell got the idea of giving him encounter class features that costs surges. Sure, it might be fitting, but for a controller that won't have that many, it will surely either 1) cause the party to move towards the 15 minute adventuring day or 2) cause the necromancer to rarely use his class features. Both options sucks IMO. Also, they use the conjuration keyword with something that looks a bit like the summoning rules, which makes it all very confusing. The biggest problem is however the conjurations (which should be summonings), which do not obey the economy of actions - so at epic level, your summoned/conjured monster does 4d10+modifiers+conditions as a minor every round. And since it is a conjuration, it can't be killed. Heh.

With the Spiritsworn (defender) you have a warrior sworn to the service of souls, a ghost-whisperer if you will, seeking to fulfill the wishes of the departed. Again, awesome fluff and flavor to the class, and the crunch is solid. His marking is a minor, that allows him to pull in a marked creature that hits his allies - by the help of ghostly hands from the beyond.

Obviously, there is a lot more in this PDF, from some great fluff concerning the soul journey, to feats, paragon paths, epic destinies, magic items and the other usual suspects, but this review is already running way too long for being "Ultrashort". Overall, 3 of the 4 classes look great on paper, with minor issues, so it's definitely worth buying, just too bad with the missing powers and the necromancer's many issues.
Rating:* * * *


  1. Thanks for the review, Chris! I posted the missing assassin level 29 powers in a thread at the Goodman forums - clicking the link for my name below this post should go there.

  2. Actually, the conjurations you speak of CAN be killed by damage - read the effect paragraph of Summon Dead God, for example. Not that I won't be changing them to summonings for consistency's sake. I agree with you on the EoA, so upping them to sustain standard is going straight to my houserules.

    The assassin's extra damage seemed needlessly complex; it read like it would be a hassle to track. Is there only ever one pool of study points? That would be more simple than I'd first thought...

  3. @Tavis

    I will c/p them in below, for easier access for anyone reading here.


    Yeah, I have read the power text, my mistake was remembered the rules about Conjuration wrong. I seemed to recall that conjurations could never be killed - I simply forgot about the "unless mentioned in the power"-clause, which was why I figured the conjuration powers should have been summonings. I still think they are too powerful, but as you say, it's easily remedied with a houserule.

    Regarding the assassin, the text says "against any one target you can..". That sounds to me like you can have multiple pools, but as a lightweight melee, I doubt you will have more than one or two at the time. A stack of poker chips or something should make it easy to track. In other words, it is indeed more complex than the PHB-classes, but not too complex, IMO, of course.


  4. Here you go, c/p'ed from the Goodman Games boards, the missing level 29 assassin powers.


    Gone Assassin Attack 29
    You slice your enemy’s throat, reach in and take your foe's soul.
    Daily • Death, Weapon
    Standard Action Melee weapon
    Target: One creature
    Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
    Hit: 7[W] + Dexterity modifier damage, You gain one study point against the target.
    Miss: Half damage. You gain one study point against the target.
    Special: If this attack drops the target below 0 hp, you regain 3d10 hit points.

    Studied Slice Assassin Attack 29
    A careful eye always trumps brute strength.
    Daily • Death, Weapon
    Standard Action Melee weapon
    Target: One creature
    Attack: Dexterity vs. AC
    Hit: 5[W] + Dexterity modifier damage, and you gain half your Intelligence modifier study points against the target. If your study point balance against the target is below half your Intelligence modifier at the end of your turn, you gain the number of study points needed to make the balance equal to half your Intelligence modifier. This effect lasts until the end of the encounter or until the target drops to 0 hit points.
    Miss: Half damage, and you gain half your Intelligence modifier study points against the target.

  5. I was reading the PHBII last night and finally realized what y'all were talking about when you said that the necromancer powers should be summons! Agreed, that would have been a better fit - however, neither the PHBII nor Arcane Power had come out yet when we wrote Scythe and Shroud!