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Dark Talents: Dhampir Feats for Shadows over Vathak

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Dark Talents: Dhampir Feats for Shadows over Vathak
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Dark Talents: Dhampir Feats for Shadows over Vathak
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by David R. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 04/20/2015 04:30:15

2/3rds Good, Handle With Care

Length: 7 pages total: 1 page front cover, credits and introduction; 5 pages of content; 1 page licensing.

Format: 2-column, easy to read. I found 17 typographical and grammatical errors total, 11 of which are contained within the introductory text on page 1. It makes for a fairly poor first impression, but the errors were not serious enough to diminish the overall quality of the book.

Art: 2 pictures, both of characters, with one in color and one in black and white. Both are of good quality.

Dhampir Feats: There are 37 feats within this book, specifically for use within the Shadows over Vathak campaign setting. One of the feats listed within has a prerequisite that references elements of that campaign setting, so you may need to adjust or outright ban it if your adventures take place in another setting. Most of these feats are thematically appropriate for the Dhampir; enhancing senses, social abilities, necromantic powers, vampiric abilities and so on. I like many of the feats in this book, but several stood out as being strangely written or balanced, with a few missing prerequisites or having conflicting purposes.

The first strange feat is Animation by Touch, which appears to grant the ability to cast animate dead as many times as you want for free, with the only limit being that you may only animate one undead creature per turn with a maximum number of undead controlled being 2HD per caster level. I do not believe this is the intent, but as-written, this is an enormously powerful feat. Strangely, it appears to be impossible to actually take the feat, as something called "Death Touch" is listed in the prerequisites, but I can find no Pathfinder source for that ability/feat/trait on any of the usual websites or in my copy of the Shadows of Vathak campaign setting. There are multiple abilities that are similar, with the closest being "Death's Touch" for Bones Oracles or Grave Touch for Necromancy Wizards, but it's also possible that the writer inadvertently used a 3.x edition ability name by mistake. Since I do not know for sure what the intent was (and the feat appears to be way too powerful as-written), I would simply ban it as an option.

One of the core feats (acting as a prerequisite for 7 of the others) in this book is Blood Drinker, which grants a series of abilities related to drinking an enemy's blood, dealing 2 points of Constitution damage to the enemy and granting temporary hitpoints and a bonus to saves based on your own Constitution. Further feats add to these bonuses or otherwise alter the ability to be less restricted. As a balancing feature, the initial feat may only be used against a single subtype of (living) humanoids, but this may be expanded to animals, the recently deceased, monstrous humanoids or other humanoid subtypes. My only concern with this ability is that the Con damage and all of the bonuses appear to be automatically successful, so long as the actual bite attack connects. If you have a bite attack from another source, the blood-drinking is automatic and doesn't appear to take any time at all or have any cost, so a GM may find themselves picking different enemies to counter the tactic if this feat gets overused.

Bone Armor is a fantastic idea for a necromancer, but falls short mechanically. The idea is that you may encase yourself in bones forcefully drawn out of any dead bodies in the surrounding area, providing an armor bonus with no arcane spell failure chance of armor check penalty. Awesome! Except… it is limited to once per day, only provides +2 armor and only lasts a number of rounds equal to your level. The feat requires that you be a wizard so you will be able to cast mage armor, which grants +4 armor and lasts for 1 hour per level. Mechanically, why would you want to spend a feat on an inferior version of a level 1 spell? There is another feat in this book that upgrades the armor bonus to +4 but the duration is left untouched, so you're now potentially spending 2 feats on something that's still inferior to a level 1 spell. If the feat at least granted an automatic demoralize effect to any enemy that saw you use it, that would be something.

Perhaps the most confusing feat in this book is "Greater, Negative Energy Blast". To my eye, this feat may be read one of two ways: Either as "upgrading" a 1d8+1 per caster level (capped at 10d8+10) attack to a 1d6+2 per two caster levels (naturally capping at 10d6+20) attack; Or as granting an all-new ranged attack using the second set of numbers, but with no limit to the number of times per day it may be used.

Replicate the Divine appears to be partially broken. In theory, it's supposed to let an arcane caster use a single divine spell chosen from the Death domain as if they were a cleric of the appropriate level, in addition to their usual method of preparing and using it. Unfortunately, one of the prerequisites is that you have the ability to cast it as a divine spell. If you could already cast a divine version of one of those spells, why would you want to take a feat to allow yourself to cast that specific spell as if you were a cleric? If the writer had wanted the feat to be useful to arcane casters, the prerequisite should have been "ability to cast a spell that appears on the Death Domain spell list" instead of being "ability to cast divine spells from the Death Domain spell list".

Spirit Dissertation is interesting, but potential trouble for an unwary GM. The only prerequisite is that the character be a Dhampir, meaning that the feat could be taken at first level. It grants the supernatural ability to speak with dead, as the spell of the same name, once per day. This is a nice ability, but if you're playing a murder-mystery adventure at low levels, you may not want your 1st level players to have access to a 3rd level spell like this. I actually like this feat quite a bit, and don't have a problem with gaining early access to such an ability, considering how it is only useful in very specific situations.

Thirst For Blood is the last feat I take issue with on a technical level. It improves your bite attack by transferring a portion of their life force to you through the blood, effectively healing you a small amount. The only problem is that it does not grant you a bite attack or require that you already have one before taking the feat. It's a simple oversight, and I would hope that nobody would take a feat that they can't actually use, but better safe than sorry.

Thankfully, the list of feats I unequivocally like is much longer than the list I took issue with. In the interest of time, I'll briefly skim over them below. • Augment Undead - Improves hp and Str of created undead • Charming Gaze - Requires Shadows of Vathak, grants charm monster once per day • Claws - Retractable claws that ignore some hardness. • Crypt Lord - Increases the maximum size of your undead army. • Energy Purge - Temporarily make yourself immune to positive and negative energies. • Evil, Sense - Oddly formatted name aside, allows you to vaguely sense evil nearby. • Forgettable - Allows you to bluff someone into forgetting what you were doing. • Haunted Touch - Int mod per day spectral hand. • Hypnotic Voice - Once per day hypnotism. • Natural Charmer - Allows you to take 20 when using Charisma-based skills, within limits. • Penitent of the Light - Increased morale while suffering the effects of light sensitivity. • Sense Alignment - Full-round action to observe someone's alignment. • Sense Invisibility - Full-round action to pinpoint an invisible creature. • Shadow Servant - Split yourself from your shadow and send them out like an unseen servant. • Shadow Stalker - Increased stealth effectiveness in dim light. • True Seeing - Once per day, use a full-round action to grant 1 round of true seeing. • Vampiric Senses - +2 Perception and gain the Scent ability.

Verdict: If you like Dhampirs already, you will almost definitely find a lot to like here, and if you don't like Dhampirs, there are some pretty great new feats that might change your mind. There are some issues I'd like to see cleaned up, but this book is mostly good.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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