Tuesday, February 2, 2016
Interesting 3rd Party Finds: the Portalist Base Class
I figure that quite a few readers here are familiar with the work of Frog God Games. Albeit their writers are famed for publishing old classes such as the Rappan Athuk megadungeon and Tome of Horrors, they're still making large projects such as the Sword of Air sandbox adventure and the Northlands Saga Complete adventure path. Most of their books, be they Pathfinder, old-school, or 5th Edition-compatible, can be found on most major online stores. However, there are some more or less exclusive to froggodgames.com, and one of them's interesting enough that I wanted to show it off to folks.
The Portalist is a new base class themed around a warrior who utilizes extradimensional holes in reality for increased mobility and offensive capabilities. It's implied that this supernatural talent is a learned ability accessed via research into the foundations of the planar fabric of various worlds. The ability to create portals is a limited per-day ability and initially comes with restrictions regarding the amount that can be created, their total distance between each other, etc. However, a Portalist can learn new Portal Tricks as they gain levels, either extending the base abilities of portals (such as maximum range) or granting new uses entirely. The variety on display is quite versatile; they include such things as opening portals in the nick of time to avoid a deadly attack, creating a connection to an Elemental Plane to shower enemies with deadly energy, or even passing through other planes to gain temporary benefits like etherealness.
The class seems like it would be really fun to play especially in combat, and its mobility can lend itself to some out-combat uses. However, at low levels the Portalist doesn't have a lot of opportunities to use their signature ability willy-nilly (ranging from 1 to 12 over 20 levels), and doesn't increase much over the levels unless you spend feats to gain bonus uses. Its skill selection is adequate if not exactly robust; they gain two Knowledges, Perception, Stealth, Use Magic Device, but the rest of them tend to be physical-related.
Beyond the class itself are some new related feats, two magic items, and sample portalist-themed organizations to add to your campaign which have material benefits for joining them in extra uses of the group's favored Portal Tricks. There's a new skill use for Acrobatics for Portalists to teleport on top of larger opponents in an area they'll have trouble reaching. If done right this can make the opponent unable to attack them at all with certain melee attacks (a giant spider being unable to bite something riding atop its back).
Overall, I'd judge the Portalist as a good Tier 4 if using JaronK's Tier System for Classes. The portal tricks really help the class move about the battlefield and pull off neat combat tricks, but its low amount of skills, restricted uses per day, and proficiency only with melee weapons make it less versatile than most spellcasters and martial adept classes (Tome of Battle, Path of War).