The Evoker: The Core Specialist Wizard
Author: Steven Trustrum
Page count: (landscape) 11 +OGL; (portrait) 9.5 + OGL
Price: $1.40 at RPGNow or $2.00 at DriveThru RPG.
The Evoker: The Core Specialist Wizard is another in a line of products designed to flesh out the specialist wizards of Dungeons and Dragons into full 20-level core classes.
The Evoker: The Core Specialist Wizard (hereafter shorted to The Evoker CSW) begins with the standard PI and OGC declarations. Following is a selection of new feats. Most of these feats are useful, but uninteresting (modifying familiars, switching energy, and so forth). There are two that strike me as particularly useful – one allows the Evoker to pump his spell damage by burning hit points. This allows him to exceed normal damage caps for spells. This is particularly useful for the hit points spent compared to the damage gained. The second interesting feat allows the Evoker to turn counterspelling into offense by stealing some of the energy of the countered spell. These two feats alone can make a party Evoker much more combat useful (not that they aren't already).
The Evoker core class is next. As is expected, the class isn't terribly different from the core wizard. If you read the Evoker, you know you're still looking at a D&D wizard. However, the differences are interesting. The Evoker doesn't receive as many bonus feats over the course of his career (only three in fact). However, at levels 10, 14, and 18, the Evoker gains a special ability selected from a list. The list includes turning certain spells into spell-like abilities, gaining energy resistance, or selecting a bonus feat. So with this option, you can gain the normal number of bonus feats.
The most interesting ability of the Evoker is called "Deep Pockets". The idea is that the Evoker fiddles with reality so often that things just drift his way. Deep pockets allow the character to pull mundane items from his pockets. Yes, everyone can pull things from their pockets – no great feat. But the Evoker can pull things from his pockets that weren't there a moment before. Initially, an Evoker can attempt this once per day, but he gains additional uses with increases in level. The GP value of these items is initially limited to 1 gp or less, but as the character gains levels, the value increases until, at 20th level, the Evoker can withdraw an item worth up to 500 gp. One of the limits of this power is that the item must be a real item – not something the Evoker just imagined.
Deep pockets isn't an earth-shattering (or game-shattering) ability, but it could certainly be useful, especially in situations that limit the ability to simply carry certain pieces of equipment (like thieves' tools).
After the Evoker core class is the Arcanamest prestige class. This is a standard 10-level PrC that focuses on the ability to infuse mundane objects with magic, turning them into magical items. Essentially, the character burns a spell slot (the level of which is based on the magic item gp value) and his item become magical for a short time. This PrC could be used in an Evoker/Rogue multiclass combo that would be very useful in many situations (especially since these spontaneous items can be broken for explosive effect).
The next PrC is the Elemental Troubadour. This is a Bard/Evoker-based PrC that allows the character to use bardic music to whip up elemental spells. Initially, the Elemental Troubadour selects one element, but as he gains levels, he can select additional elements, or he can improve the potency of a previously selected element. This is a moderately interesting PrC, but most likely not someone's first choice. Still, it does make me want to play a character named Bob the Bard of Burning.
Finishing The Evoker CSW are four magic items. The force-charged weapon is pretty keen (not literally), adding force damage and making sunder attempts easier, and the elemental instrument would be useful for Bob the Bard of Burning.
Layout and Style
Green is the theme color for The Evoker CSW. However, it is a more pleasant use of green than in previous products. This one did not make my eyes hurt right off the bat, or cause me to think I was having a flashback.
The Evoker CSW landscape file is easy to read, with a standard two-column layout. As with most products based on the OGL and related to D&D, it has artistic borders – in this case, it looks like fall leaves, and what is supposed to be banners. Honestly, the borders are unobtrusive, and I barely noticed them until I actively looked.
The portrait file is laid out in a similar two-column manner, but lacks the artistic borders. The tables are empty of shading, but also empty of obvious, visible rows. They look more as if they were made using tabs instead of an actual table. These tables need visible row lines for ease of reading.
The Evoker CSW has six pieces of art. The art is average, although better than the art in the other Core Specialist Wizards line products. I really like the first piece though – a glyph-like symbol that represents the four basic elements. It looks like it might make for an interesting tattoo, if the artist could capture the greens correctly.
The Evoker CSW has the standard Misfit Studios declaration – game mechanics, statistics and class names, subject to the PI, are open. Essentially, everything you would need to use this in another product is open.
The Evoker CSW has two files (both bookmarked) – one landscape, graphics/color heavy for screen viewing and a less color-intensive portrait version for printing. The portrait file is less color intensive, but it includes the not-small artwork. These should be left out of the portrait version in order to make it even more printer-friendly.
Unfortunately, the documents are locked, meaning you can't copy and paste, alter them, extract or insert pages and so forth. Locked pdfs are always a strike against a product. I dislike retyping things, and one of the things I like to do for my games is keep a running document of new feats. Being able to copy and paste from a file is useful for this project.
The Evoker: The Core Specialist Wizard makes the evoker specialist distinctly different from the standard D&D wizard. In terms of the core class rules alone, this is the best of this series that I've seen in differentiating the class. However, the prestige classes and magic items are slightly useful at best, and this brings down the value of the product. Because of this, The Evoker CSW is useful, but it could be more.