Friday, June 14, 2019

What Do I Know About Reviews? The Godling (5e OGL)


Years ago, a friend of mine decided to try an experiment. He ran a Pathfinder campaign where every character was utilizing one of a few special classes from a third-party supplement. The classes were all thematically linked, as they were all iterations of the Godling class from Rogue Genius games. The old gods had fallen, and our characters were their children, adventuring to become more powerful, set the world right, and ascend in their place.

My particular character was the son of the god of strength, and I was playing a Mighty Godling. I also decided that whenever I spoke in character, I would sound like Randy “Macho Man” Savage, and I routinely wrecked my voice during these sessions. It was almost as bad as the headaches I used to get when I wore an eyepatch after my Space Wolf got half his face blown off with a Tau railgun.

Poor real-life player choices aside, it was the memory of that campaign that prompted me to pick up The Godling, a 5e revision to the Pathfinder Godling classes.

The Good Book

The product is a 25-page PDF, with a page of advertising, and a page for the OGL statement. Everything in the book is clearly formatted, with wide margins and multiple tables, which help to illustrate a single class that has very divergent subclasses and options as it progresses.

The Base Class

The Godling is a d8 class that has multiple choice points as it develops. At level one, players will pick a Divine Lineage, but at 3rd level, they pick a Path to Legend. While it is an imperfect analogy, having multiple “path” choices makes this more like the Warlock, with the choice of patron and then pact boon, than other classes that have a clear subclass choice at 1st or 3rd level.

As far as abilities that are granted that aren’t dependent on Lineage or Path, characters gain Mythic Inspiration, which lets them roll with advantage when a roll deals with their divine lineage. Later, they can use this for other types of rolls, and eventually the character gains a second point of divine inspiration that they can only use for allies—the recharge mechanism is a little confusing, as it is mentioned that it recharges after a short or long rest, but then the 20th level ability also mentions it recharging after a short or long rest.

Characters also gain ascendancies as they gain levels. To continue the Warlock comparison, these are similar to invocations, in that some have prerequisites and only function if you have made specific choices with your character, and that you can switch them out when you gain new ones.

Once characters hit 20th level, their capstone ability is demigod. Once per day, you can cast wish without any ill effects. Take that every other capstone ability out there.
Beyond mythic inspiration, ascendancies, and demigod, all of your advancements will be based on your Divine Lineage or your Path to Legend.

Given the number of options in the class, I’m not surprised it has a similar structure to Warlock, at least initially. The mythic inspiration feature is a bit confusing, or else I’m just getting lost in the description. Either the table is just indicating where there is a change in the ability, and you only ever have two points of mythic inspiration, one you can spend on yourself or an ally, and one you have to spend on an ally, or you have four, plus one you can spend on an ally. Given the reference to points, I would think four makes more sense. If that is the case, it seems like recharging after a long rest until 20th level would make sense, except that you go all the way to 8th level before getting your second point.  I can make a judgment call, but it’s a little tangled to me.

Divine Lineage

Divine Lineage is the first choice that you are going to make, and this is intended to be influenced by the parent or divine power in the character’s background. Adept godlings are supernaturally wise, clever godlings are supernaturally canny and skilled, eldritch godlings are supernaturally gifted with magical ability, and mighty godlings are physically powerful.
 
Adept and Eldritch godlings get spellcasting ability, with adept godlings choosing from either the druid or cleric spell list and using wisdom as their casting stat, and eldritch godlings choosing from either sorcerer or warlock spell lists and using charisma for casting.

While neither lineage gets higher than 5th level spells, they have a slightly different spell progression than paladins and rangers, and get a number of cantrips known. Adept godlings get the ability to cast without material components once per long rest (6th), concentrate on spells twice as long, concentrate on two spells at once (10th), and share a spell with a range of self (14th). Eldritch godlings get to cast spells as bonus actions when they dash (6th), cast two spells at once by using higher level spell slots (10th), and add any spell from any list to your known spells (14th).

Clever and mighty godlings don’t get to cast spells. Clever godlings can challenge an opponent to add their intelligence bonus to damage (1st), learn skills at an accelerated rate utilizing downtime and gold (1st), ignore resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage (6th), redirect an attack to another target (10th), and once per short or long rest choose to succeed an ability check (14th). Mighty godlings get bonus hit points equal to their proficiency bonus, and the ability to use a versatile weapon at it’s two handed stats one handed (1st), reduce two levels of exhaustion at a time (6th), double weapon die damage in exchange for granting advantage to opponents (10th), and do levels of exhaustion to opponents instead of extra damage when using wrathful attack (14th).

The adept and eldritch godlings feel like they are getting the better end of things at this point. Getting a d8, but similar, but not identical, spellcasting to paladins and rangers is a little off, but we’ve got other class features and enhancements to magic.

Before we get to ascendancies and paths, clever and mighty godlings really feel like they are getting the short end of the divinity here. There is nothing that clever godlings can do that outshines a rogue, and the mighty godling gets a damaging version of reckless attack later than the barbarian, and while they get extra hit points per level, they are also stuck with medium armor proficiency and no native progression for multiple attacks.


Ascendancies

There are a lot of these, so in the interest of the previous section, I’m going to focus on anything that helps out the mighty and clever godlings. They can eventually get ascendancies that allow for additional attacks, as well as various abilities that introduce a save when the character attacks to add additional conditions to their damage.

The adept and eldritch get lots of ascendancies that modify their spellcasting, but probably the most notable are the ones that add a spell slot of a level they cannot cast, which can eventually get them to 9th level spells.

What this means is that by spending several ascendancies, you can get the spellcasting godlings up to “full” casters, and you can get the non-spellcasting godlings up to three attacks per round.

There are also a few fun “god flavored” abilities, like spontaneous resurrection, which lets you come back to life, but only twice. The third time, you stay dead. So, it’s a fun ability, but it’s a class ability that can become obsolete once you utilize it.

Paths to Legend

There are four steps to each of these paths, but characters can mix and match paths, so long as they take the steps in order. For example, you could have all four steps in a single path by 20th level, or the 1st step of four paths, or three steps of one path and the 1st step of another path.

The paths include the following:

  • Path of the Battle Lord
  • Path of Ebon Whispers
  • Path of the Passionate Heart
  • Path of the Ocean Master
  • Path of Sagely Lore
  • Path of the Radiant Day
  • Path of the Weapon Master


The paths have different levels of similarly themed abilities. For example, the Path of Sagely Lore lets you cast spells from a spellbook as rituals, and then makes those rituals faster. The Path of the Radiant Day lets you blind opponents or bend light to turn invisible. The Path of the Weapon master lets you name your weapon and “build” it’s magical ability from a list of powers delineated by points.

Multiclassing

The section on multiclassing is noteworthy because it treats each godling type as a different class for purposes of multiclassing. Oddly, despite natively only gaining up to 5th level spells, the multiclassing section instructs you to add godling as a full spellcasting class for determining multiclassing spell slots. I would assume this is only for adept and eldritch godlings, but that’s not spelled out.

Glad Tidings

It is a lot of fun to play around with the options in this class, and the theme of a class that embodies growing into godhood is a strong one. While it is super powerful, the wish capstone feels right, and I really like the idea of the different godling paths and ascendancies.

Pillars of Salt

It feels like you could build characters close to established fighters or spellcasters with these rules, but it also feels like in order to do that, you lose a lot of the flexibility and fun of choosing different paths and ascendancies. There is also a lot going on with this class, so it feels like it would be easy to get lost in your options and not really have an emergent “story” told with your class abilities.

Tenuous Recommendation--The product has positive aspects, but buyers may want to make sure the positive aspects align with their tastes before moving this up their list of what to purchase next.

With the level of complexity of the classes, and the sheer number of options, I think I would have preferred two separate godling classes instead of one class with four subclasses. I think some of the mechanics have to stretch too far to do something that should be simpler to achieve. Having a casting godling with more of a bard’s progression, and a non-spellcasting d10 class that could natively count on multiple attacks, with subclasses that reinforced clever or straightforward tactics, might have been a stronger option.

The product is still a lot of fun, but I think the best use of it may be to do what we did with the original Pathfinder versions of the classes, and set aside a special campaign with all godlings. Even then, the player and the GM should probably be very aware of exactly what they want out of the class, as it would be very easy for some godlings to really shine, while others take a lot of random shiny abilities that never come together well.

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