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Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ultimate Combat Review

Ultimate Combat has been out for about a week now and after thumbing through the sections, I'm ready to give my opinion on the new class options it provides. As with any good sourcebook, new classes are often the first thing looked at and as such undergo high levels of scrutiny before they are published. UC introduces 2 variant classes (ninja and samurai) as well as 1 brand new class: the gunslinger.

The ninja has been and will probably always be a very
popular icon of stealth and combat for the gaming generation. A common problem RPGs encounter is how to balance out the mechanics of a concept that, at its core, is a one shot, one kill kind of
fighter. Ideally, a ninja should never be seen, smelled or heard while on a mission. The only evidence she should leave behind is the body of her target. In D&D or Pathfinder terms, however, this is often impossible to accomplish. Pathfinder tackled the ninja by basing them off a rogue, giving them a straight progre
ssion sneak attack as well as a ki pool (like monks). This ki pool allows them to do a number of amazing, superhuman feats. They can run along the tops of tree
s (crouching tiger hidden dragon), create shadow clones of themselves (naruto), and even go invisible. The trade off between them and rogues is that they sacrifice trapfinding and verbal subterfuge for an enhanced combat capability. A trade that most PCs would do in a heart beat, making the Ninja class a deadly alternative to the rogue.

The Samurai is the second variant class in Ultimate Combat, and is a spinoff of the cavalier. The cavalier was already, in my mind, similar to an iconic samurai in many ways - namely their honorbound codes and mounted prowess. However, the UC samurai diverges from the traditional cavalier path in a couple very cool ways. The first is their challenge ability, which enables them to call out an opponent on the battlefield, narrow their focus, and gain substantial bonuses when in melee with them. At higher levels, the challenge also imposes penalties on the target if they choose not to attack the samurai. This quasi-tau
nt ability for the samurai is noteworthy because it is one of the few available in pathfinder (2handed tank anyone?). Later on, the samurai gains the ability to shrug off nauseated and sickened effects, and his capstone ability is essentially a last stand, where he can take massive damage without dying. Compared to the fighter or cavalier, he sacrifices a bit of damage output for a hefty amount of survivability and honestly, who doesn't want to play a samurai?

Lastly, UC introduces a new base cla
ss: the Gunslinger, the fighter-type of pistols, the ranger of rifles. Note that in Pathfinder guns are in
credibly basic. They have a relatively high chance of being damaged or even backfired when being used and take a long amount of time to reload. The upside is that all guns have a x4 critical modifier and attacks resolve against touch AC provided that the target is within the weapons range (usually 30 ft). That said, the gunslinger is not to be trifled with. With access to Pathfinder
's newest mechanic: Grit (a rechargable pool of points), they can make their attacks hit touch AC's, reload quicker, and take called shots at a creatures vital anatomy. Certain feat selection can enable them to fire in combat without provoking an attack of opportunity, to fire two pistols at the same time (two weapon fighting) or to even fight with a sword and a pistol at the same time. Because of this diversity, and because guns pack a punch and hit easily (targeting touch), a well played gunslinger can out DPS some of the most heavy hitting classes in the game (archery ranger, twf rogue, fighters and barbarians).

And those 3 classes are only the first chapter! My mind is already salivating at the options of what you can do with your Pathfinder character now -- and I'm regretting not being a monk in my current game (see the feat section when you get the book). Without giving anymore away I hope that I've convinced you to at least read through the book at your local gaming store, or to check it out online (http://

Until next time - AvidPathfinder signing out!