This is Part 2 of the review for A Touch of Class. You can view Part 1 here.
Hello, everyone, and happy Friday! To continue the review of A Touch of Class, I’ll be tackling the remaining four classes: The Feywalker, The Morph, the Noble, and the Occultist, and addressing my overall thoughts on the book.
For players who are interested in Shakespearian Fey, the Feywalker is a non-caster class who is capable of casting cantrips. The class offers an interesting take on its Feystep ability, which I feel is a better way to handle the ability than 4e or 5e offered for Eladrin’s racial abilities. However, the class is bogged down by an overcomplicated companion mechanic, extremely situational class features, and bizarre mechanics which can impose devastating conditions without end.
The class has three archetypes offered by the choice of Primal Spheres:
- The Beasts Primal Sphere opens a large number of potential Fey Companions and the option to use your Feytrick and Fey Charm on beasts.
- The Plants Primal Sphere grants you Awakened Shrubs and Awakened Trees as potential Fey Companions(and unfortunately does not introduce other plant monsters like the Diabolist introduces new demons and devils).
- The Entropy Primal Sphere randomly determines what cantrips you know and your Fey Companion, and adds damage to targets of your melee attacks when you use your Feystep ability. At later levels, this Feystrike feature also inflicts random conditions upon a target.
Overall Impressions: The Feywalker feels like it missed a lot of its potential as a class, and almost feels like it should’ve been an archetype for the Ranger or the Fighter. I was disappointed that, unlike the discussion of the Alchemist’s power source, the class didn’t even have a sidebar discussing the Feywalker and, potentially, any downsides of being tied to the mysterious Feywild (like a potential aversion to cold iron).
The Morph takes a central focus on emulating the Druid’s wildshape, assuming the forms of beasts you’ve seen before. The transformations last quite a bit longer than they probably should, being sustainable for a matter of hours rather than minutes. Inconsistent writing and typos make it unclear what Challenge Rating of monsters you can transform into, and the class overall feels like a poor attempt to expand the Druid’s shapeshifting abilities. The Morph’s archetypes seem to work against the class’s core features with the Doppelganger gaining proficiencies with weapons, the Primordial Beast produces a wide variety of interchangeable natural weapons in normal form (and in beast form, if you take the appropriate Morph Talent), and the Trickster focusing on Bard cantrips and illusions.
Overall Impressions: The Morph is likely to be a huge headache for a Storyteller and players as it requires some adjudication where inconsistent editing contradicts itself, and you can probably produce the character concept you envision with enough levels in Druid and multiclassing to augment whatever other aspects of the character you have in mind.
The Noble is En5ider’s answer to the Warlord from Fourth Edition – a Charisma-based Martial character whose power is derived from their influence over allies in battle. Overall, similar niches can be filled from a Battle Master with maneuvers such as Commander’s Strike and Rally. Interestingly enough, these maneuvers are mentioned by name as ones unavailable to the Noble Path which allows you to take Fighter Maneuvers. The Noble offers three Paths, the Path of the Brave, the Path of the Heart, and the Path of the Tactician. Of these, the Path of the Heart provides an unusual detriment by imposing heavy penalties to any attempt to be directly useful in combat and allowing a Noble to grant allies the ability to attack as a Reaction or, at higher levels, to attempt to turn foes to their side.
Overall Impressions: The Noble aims to fill a niche which was already subtly filled by the Battle Master Fighter implicitly. It forfeits the Battle Master’s durability to provide more buffs and Hit Point restoration, but whether that can be seen as an equal trade-off could be a subject of lengthy debate. If you’re considering this class for a character, also consider the Battle Master Fighter, as you may be surprised to find out that it can do just about everything the Noble is capable of.
In Fourth Edition, I thoroughly enjoyed the execution of the Vampire class to gradually introduce iconic vampire abilities in a system of graduated levels and tactical grit, so the Occultist was one of the classes which first drew me to buy A Touch of Class. The Occultist has three archetypes – the Abomination(similar to Frankenstein’s Monster), the Vampire, and the Werecreature. The base class does a surprisingly good job highlighting the commonalities of the three Occult Paths and using them as common class features, while still making the Paths feel unique.
- The Abomination’s Path features are almost exclusively for the benefit of durability, becoming immune to various conditions and resistant to a slew of damage types. My only complaint is the Unnatural Threshold ability, which runs dangerously close to the variable resistances of Fourth Edition and consequently the nickel-and-dime approach to damage bonuses and penalties that the system had.
- The Vampire’s Path features are all iconic abilities, such as charming victims, drinking blood to steal vitality, summoning vermin, and potent means of evading death at the price of traditional vampire weaknesses, such as taking Psychic damage for viewing a holy symbol, or forfeiting powerful amounts of hit point regeneration if exposed to holy water or sunlight.
- The Werecreature’s Path features almost exclusively rely on your being in a lycanthropic form, which would appear to largely be a cosmetic implication. In a game with very little social interaction, it could be viewed as impractical to bother to revert to a humanoid form which doesn’t have access to the majority of a class’s features.
Overall Impressions: The Occultist is a strange blend of martial and supernatural, offering a low-maintenance class which will integrate with a party decently well. The Occult Paths other than Vampire don’t have particularly “flashy” abilities, but they all feel serviceable in gameplay. I would recommend this class for newer players, but for more experienced players I’d recommend attempting to build your vision of the monsters represented by the Occultist through multiclassing(such as Monk/Barbarian for the Abomination, Monk or Paladin/Warlock for the Vampire, and Monk/Druid for the Werecreature.
A Touch of Class has a lot of hit-or-miss content, and its classes vary widely in terms of accessibility. If I were to sort the classes by my own idea of quality(a fairly abstract measure, but one I’m offering nonetheless), I would rank them as follows:
The poor quality of certain classes and questionable utility of others would leave me hard-pressed to suggest the book first to a Storyteller looking for new character options for their 5E game, but I wouldn’t actively dissuade anyone from buying it, either. However, I cannot seem to find the book available for purchase on DriveThruRPG nor RPGNow, so the only way to obtain its contents would be as a backer of En5ider’s Patreon, or to buy the En5ider issues available on DriveThruRPG and piece them together, which I would strongly advise against.