A Touch of Class (Part 1 of 2)

Hello, everyone! I have to start this article with a bit of an apology – something happened with the automated posts scheduled to run while I was out of town, and regrettably, I failed to keep backups for those posts. To make up for it, I aim to rewrite the missing articles and catch back up in the coming week! To begin with, here is the first part of a review for A Touch of Class, by EN Publishing. Because the book in question introduces seven fully-designed classes, I’ll have to break this review in two, with the second part to be released this Friday.

A Touch of Class, by EN Publishing, is a compilation of additional character classes from EN World En5ider. Being a regularly updated, Patron-supported source of game content like TBM Games, A Touch of Class served slightly as inspiration to the format that Primordial Power will take and hopefully future 5E game supplements beyond that. Because the supplement introduces so many additional character classes, I feel it necessary to assess each one on an individual basis in addition to my regular process for reviews. At the end of each character class’s mini-review, I’ll add my recommendations on whether I feel it would be a useful additional player option in your campaigns.

First Impressions

A Touch of Class aims to broaden the available options in a 5E game, and supplements such as the upcoming Xanathar’s Guide to Everything or the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide are likely to fill similar niches if recent Unearthed Arcana articles are any indication. As A Touch of Class and the additional class option PDFs proceed to stray further from “vanilla” Fifth Edition, Storytellers may want to opt to only allow a character sheet to reference the core rulebooks plus one supplement, be it an official Wizards product or a third-party book like this.

Formatting-wise, the book is not particularly consistent between different classes, most notably if you look between the Feywalker and Diabolist pages. This inconsistency seems to stem from the fact that these classes are from different points in En5ider’s progression. The art comes from a wide range of artists, and some which appear to be historical drawings. Fortunately, the table of contents is accurate, and each section doesn’t suffer from this minor polish issue, though the most notable formatting inconsistency is the Noble, which doesn’t follow the naming scheme of the other classes.

The Alchemist

Several sources have attempted to produce spellcasters with a more scientific approach to magic, so the Alchemist is entering a crowded niche. The bomb-toting, potion-brewing class functions as a half-caster, making up for its lack of higher-level spells with a mixture of the wizard and cleric spells. You prepare these spells from the entire list available to an Alchemist, much as a Cleric would, and augment your spells with a ranged attack which increases in power as you level up: the Alchemical Bomb. The class offers some choices at every level, which can be incredibly satisfying for extended campaigns and adventures but may prove frustrating if you’re trying to build a character quickly for a pick-up game. Additionally, when making an Alchemist, a player must be careful not to mix the options for Discoveries, Greater Discoveries, and Ultimate Discoveries, as the three groups are not interchangeable, a fault of the nomenclature used for the class features.

Overall Assessment: If one of your players wants to play a scientifically-inspired spellcaster, the Alchemist is a solid choice which will allow him or her to make several significant decisions over the course of a campaign. In a high-lethality game or a short-term adventure, I would instead recommend one of Unearthed Arcana’s various attempts to create playable 5e Artificers.

The Cardcaster

If you’re That Guy who brings unusual dice or props to your games hoping that someday they’ll come up, the Cardcaster may be an ideal class for you. The Cardcaster uses a deck of Tarot cards to determine what spells your character can cast, gaining access to more of the Major Arcana and control of their hand of cards as they level up. In late levels as a Cardcaster, you gain Card Mastery(18th level) and Signature Card(20th), class features which each function to consider one of the Major Arcana(0-V for Card Master, VI-IX for Signature Card) in your hand at all times. Admittedly, these class features feel too similar to be distinct from one another and make the Cardcaster feel like it’s missing its capstone class feature at level 20.

The five subclasses (Focus Cards) of the Cardcaster each have significantly different abilities.

  • The Knight of Swords focus creates a melee-oriented Cardcaster who, at high levels, punishes enemies for engaging in melee combat. The Knight gains proficiency with heavy armor and martial weapons very late in level and almost encourages you to take a dip into another melee class just to be useful in the early game.
  • The Page of Wands is designed almost exclusively for players who regularly play card games. The Page manipulates either the player’s hand or the deck to have desirable cards readily available, through bringing cards back from the discard pile, searching the deck, restocking the deck, and forcing cards’ activation, even if your Cardcaster level isn’t high enough to normally activate it.
  • The Queen of Cups is a social-oriented Cardcaster who offers temporary hit points along with buffing spells. The Queen also gains telepathy at higher levels.
  • The King of Pentacles is a money-oriented Cardcaster, who gains additional gold over the course of adventuring. The Spendthrift and Profit Margin class features are useful on paper, but a Storyteller will often adjust prices to compensate for the King’s uncanny ability to gain money. In a low-wealth campaign, the King could be crucial or useless, especially when using features such as Bribe the Fates, which rely on carrying gold at all times to remain useful. Interestingly, the Insightful Shopper class feature mimics a house rule I often have at my table – if a player had access to a market in the recent past which would reasonably have a mundane item which proves useful, they can (generally) retroactively spend the necessary money to have the item on their person.
  • The Jack of Beasts gains additional spell effects for the major arcana primarily themed around summoning and animal companions. It has a Pokemon-esque mechanic in the Capture Card feature which allows you to capture monsters for later use, and the Eye of the Cardshark allows the Jack to learn a creature’s hit points and weaknesses.

Overall Assessment: The Cardcaster is more of a novelty, relying on additional game components beyond the standard set of dice for a 5e game. At the earlier levels, the randomized list of spells available to a Cardcaster may have a disruptive effect on the Storyteller’s game, so I’d recommend using it primarily for shorter campaigns or adventures. The class’s five subclasses feel substantially different from one another to the point that the class feels directionless from a build standpoint. Your mileage may vary using this class, and I would only recommend it for an option in experienced Storytellers’ campaigns.

The Diabolist

Firstly, I need to emphasize that the Diabolist is NOT a class which will see much use at my table as I don’t typically run Evil campaigns. The Diabolist attempts to set itself apart from the Warlock by claiming that members of the class are more ambitious, trying to manipulate great dark powers to their own goals rather than acting as servants. The class offers new features at just about every level, but they are mostly situational, such as resistance to poison and necrotic damage and the ability to summon undead familiars. If you’re in a situation where you can prepare for a fight with someone you’ve already fought, you can burn an hour to effectively create a voodoo doll of an enemy which counts as them to target with your spells and your “evil opposite” Lay on Hands. Disappointingly, there is no option for the Diabolist to control Aberrant creatures, only Demons or Devils.

Overall Assessment: If you’re looking for a villainous class option, the Diabolist may be perfect for your campaigns, but it has a lot of class features to track. However, considering that I do not add class levels to monsters for my games and don’t run evil games, I don’t think I’ll see much use for the Diabolist in my own games. If you want new demons and devils for your campaigns as a Storyteller, check the Conjured Horrors section. Unless the mechanics of the Diabolist appeal to you as a Storyteller or to a player, opt instead for a Warlock with a relevant pact.

With those three out of the way, I think you can see why I decided to split this review into two articles! Be sure to come back Friday for my reviews of the Feywalker, Morph, Noble, and Occultist.

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