The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard
Author: Steven Trustrum
Page count: 11 + OGL (portrait); 12 + OGL (landscape)
Price $1.40 at RPGNow or $2.00 at DriveThru RPG
The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard is the first in a series that enhances and expands on the idea of the specialist wizard. In addition to expanding the core class, The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard provides new feats, prestige classes, and magic items. It does a solid job of detailing the Conjurer as a distinct class.
The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard begins with standard product identity and open gaming content declarations. Following this is a section of new feats. The Conjurer details seven new feats, all of which focus on conjuration. The new feats allow for effects ranging from creating additional materials with spells such as minor creation to strengthening summoned creatures.
Next are the details of the Conjurer core class. This follows the standard format, providing information on adventuring conjurers, typical characteristics, alignments, religion, and such. Bear in mind that the Conjurer core class is essentially a Wizard variant, so there are going to be strong similarities. However, the Conjurer is different enough to be a distinct class.
As a specialist wizard, the Conjurer gains a bonus to Spellcraft checks that deal with his specialty. He gains periodic bonus daily conjuration spells as he progresses in his class level. Like a standard wizard, the Conjurer can summon a familiar beginning with first level; however, when determining the abilities of the familiar, you treat the Conjurer as higher level. The Conjurer does not receive bonus feats as quickly the core wizard, receiving only three bonus feats by 20th level instead of four. The class has a Summoning Mastery ability chain that offsets the loss of the one bonus feat. This ability chain allows the Conjurer to summon more creatures than normal. The Conjurer Core Class is just different enough from the core wizard to make it a viable alternative for players who want to focus on summoning creatures. I would like to see notes on what, if any, changes are necessary if the Conjurer Variant rules from Unearthed Arcana are also in play.
After the Conjurer is the Arsenal Mage prestige class. This is a 10-level prestige class that focuses on sacrificing spell slots to create weapons, armor, and shields. The size of the weapon, or the category of armor, determines the level of the spell slot sacrificed. The Arsenal Mage can create magical versions of these items by increasing the required spell slot. The idea of the Arsenal Mage is a good one, but the class is lacking. To become an Arsenal Mage, a character must have a base attack bonus of +5, and be able to cast minor creation, in addition to other requirements. This requires the character to be a 7th level Conjurer and (most likely) a 2nd level Fighter, since the class requires the Weapon Focus feat as well. As a player, I would probably take the concept for a similar character, and split my levels between Fighter and Soulknife, assuming that psionics were allowed. I think the Arsenal Mage might be better as a variant core class, in the same vein as the Soulknife.
Following the Arsenal Mage is the Demonican prestige class. I don't like the name of this class. It doesn't flow easily from the tongue. Every time I try to say it, I end up with "Dominican" or "Dominion." Name issues aside, this is an interesting prestige class. The basic idea is that the character reduces outsiders to their raw essence, entraps them, and then utilizes their natural abilities, a dangerous prospect at best. Entering the Demonican prestige class requires an evil alignment; therefore, this will be an NPC class more often than not. If used with a villain character, the Demonican can provide an interesting challenge, while making the players say "What the heck?"
Magic items finish off The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard. This section contains 3 new items (or 11, if you count the nine variations of one item as separate items). This includes a weapon property that doubles a weapon's damage against summoned creatures. This needs a note on how it interacts with the normal bane property. These are workhorse items; all useful, but nothing that will make anyone rush out to acquire or make them.
Layout and Style
The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard includes two files – one is a less graphic-intense portrait layout for printing; the other is a graphics-heavy landscape version for monitor viewing.
The first thing that catches the eye on the landscape version is that there is an amazing amount of green on the screen. The headings are green, the majority of the page borders are green, the tables are green, and even the art is green. Once your eyes adjust to the green, it is relatively easy to read, although I still had to fiddle with the magnification to avoid scrolling. It uses a standard two-column layout, with a smooth flow from column to column. I don't like the green and white tables; the text is difficult to see on the green, but this may be due in part to my preferences – I am a minimalist when it comes to layout and color use.
The portrait version still has the green, but far less of it. The tables and headings are still green, but it lacks the margin art. Although I had to scroll more to read the portrait version, I found it to be the easier read.
In both cases, I am concerned about how the green will print if someone chooses to print this in black and white. I know there are debates about whether it is worth the effort to include both portrait and landscape versions in a pdf, with good points made both for and against the idea. I prefer to have both versions available, but I believe the printing version should be black and white.
The art in The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard is average. There are five illustrations, all fairly small and unobtrusive. As noted above, the art is all green. While a bit distracting, it does give the illustrations an otherworldly aura, which seems appropriate in a document about people who summon otherworldly creatures.
Game mechanics and statistics are open. Proper names, including artifacts, are closed. The only question I have is whether by "artifacts", they mean high-powered, semi-unique magic items (such as a deck of many things), or all magic items in general.
The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard is a closed document; you cannot copy and paste, extract pages, or alter the document. This is a strike against it, as pdfs should be open in order to increase their utility. On the plus side, it does have bookmarks, while far too many pdfs, especially small ones, lack them.
If you believe that specialist wizards should be more distinct than a couple of extra spells and a skill check bonus, then The Conjurer: The Core Specialist Wizard is for you. The Conjurer does what it sets out to do; it makes the Conjurer specialist distinct from the core wizard. However, it could be more. As presented, the Conjurer still feels like the wizard that it is – I'd like to see this series make the specialists even more different and unique.