The Artisan has been revised to include a more compressed layout, not weighs in at 54 pages in total and the font has been streamlined - ignore my rambling about those. Furthermore, we now also get a printer-friendly version, which is a huge plus. While not all of my gripes (non-standard statblocks for homunculi being one) have been addressed, most of them actually have been. Since the class tackles one of the more complex aspects, offers a great bang to buk-ratio and since I tend to cut freshman-offerings at least a tiny bit of slack, I hereby upgrade by review to 4.5 stars, now rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform - while the Artisan is still not perfect, its minor blemishes should in no way be considered truly problematic. Great to see Drop Dead Studios listening and improving!
This pdf is 67 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page SRD, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with 62 pages of content, so let's check out Drop Dead Studios' freshman offering, The Artisan-class!
After a short prose depicting a negotiation with an Artisan, we delve into the new class: Artisans get d8, 8+Int skills per level, 3/4 BAB-progression, good will-saves, proficiencies with light and medium armors, simple weapons and shields. Artisan's may chose any item creation feat and can even create items with spell-requirements he does not fulfill - if his artisan-level equals or exceeds the spell's minimum caster level. Each prerequisite he does not have access to, though, potentially increases the DC of the respective item creation. Unsurprisingly, Artisans are also experts of handling magic devices, adding half their class-level to any such checks.
At 1st level, the Artisan also gets a so-called enhancement pool of 1/2 his level INT-modifier, which lets him enchant items for one minute as a swift action - the bonuses this temporary enchantment provides scale with his levels and are actually rather smart, providing the option to add special properties like flaming, bashing etc. on the fly to weapons, armors and shields. That's not all, though: The Artisan also gets a so-called magical essence-pool that develops from a modest 100 GP at first level to 50K at 20th - he can use this pool, which is replaced with the new value when gaining a level, to cover up to 50% of the price of magic item creation, not only for himself, but also when assisting.
Beyond the two pools, the Artisan may also choose a Crafter's Art, which represents his focus in crafting and also improve over the levels. A total of 11 different areas of expertise are covered and range from cloth to mechanics, weapons etc. Starting on a basic level, these foci grant new abilities at 9th and 17th level, respectively. Beyond these abilities, objects that fall in the respective area decrease their required time to craft by 10%. The abilities are rather interesting in that their range is broad: If you for example choose cloth, you get half your level as a deflection bonus to AC when wearing the worst of armors (or none at all) and later can temporarily extend a force-aura to grant allies this deflection. At 17th level, you may even spend enhancement points from your aforementioned pool to enhance objects like bracers, force armor etc. The focus of mechanics is completely different, granting you trapspotter at first and later access to ranger traps. At 17th level all robots or constructs created by the Artisan are hardier. Unfortunately, here I also noticed a peculiarity with the font of the bold headers of the abilities: The "p"s look like their slightly higher than they're supposed to be, detracting slightly from the otherwise crisp presentation.
If you're into Metal (as I am), you'll be happy to know that the metal-focus is rather neat: You may spinatenously have your armor grow armor spikes, allow metals to mimic materials like cold iron, silver, adamantine etc. and even temporarily increase the range of your weapons. Speaking of weapons - if you choose weapons or armor, you get proficiency in two martial weapons or heavy armors/tower shields respectively and a defensive/ enhancement aura respectively. Leather, Stone, Wood, Jewelry, Arcana and Consumables make up for the remaining foci, enabling you to better use consumables and e.g. gain some alchemist's discoveries, wear e.g. 2 rings per hand, grow trees and underbush or encase allies or themselves in living stone.
Beyond these foci, there are more customization options for your Artisan: At 3rd level, they get the first Craftsman Technique, with another one every 3 levels after that. Much like rogue talents etc., some of these have prerequisite artisan levels or even feat prerequisites, while others don't. We get a total selection of 35 such techniques. From e.g. the option to take 10 on use magic device checks and a bonus on the check to the option to call an item back when it's been in the possession of the Artisan into his hands. There are also some rather interesting techniques: The Clockwork Engineering technique, for example, lets you create variant constructs with a winding key, that are vulnerable to electricity and are faster, but also take longer to create. Other techniques include making all weapons in the artisan's hands count as transformative weapons. Among the more imaginative Techniques is the one called Technological Savant: Another complex technique that allows you to add a cool option to the Craft Construct-feat: You may actually create intelligent robots that are vulnerable to critical hits and electricity, but gain class-skills and an Int of 10. Neat! If you're like me and have a lot of 3pp-material, you could also make this ability the origin of the Ironborn-race (by Rite Publishing) or Alluria Publishing's fabled Relluk-race. Telekinesis is also among the options, as is polymorphing any raw material into a worked version. Cooler yet: There also are rules to trap foes via the use of this ability.
Speaking of objects: Artisans may also animate objects and even upgrade these items and create their own homunculus familiar. Among the cooler options, Artisans can also disenchant magical items you don't use anymore to regain magical essence to use in your crafts, essentially recycling all those evil items and reapropriating them for your purposes. Artisans at higher levels also gain a hidden astral cache that mimics the secret chest spell and may even transfer enchantments from one item to another one of the same type (melee to melee, e.g.) - again, taking things like intelligent items into account. Good! Finally, at the highest levels, Artisans may actually create a Magnum Opus - artifacts! Combine this power with SGG's Argonax-supplement for a great way of weaving a disturbing artisan-storyline through your campaign. At 20th level, the Artisan may choose from a selection of 5 different supreme techniques that include crafting preferred items 25% faster, decreased point costs for some techniques, increased physical attributes, use two wands or staves at once or actually become a living container like a ring of spell storing.
There also are 5 new feats contained herein that allow you to get access to an additional craftsman technique, increase your enchantment pool, determine magical properties via appraise, become better at crafting massive objects or become even better at creating traps. After that, we get a page on the effect of adding Artisans to your campaign world and better yet, advice on how they work in play, including a massive table of craft and profession-skills with creatable magic items and related item creation feats, adding a piece of stratified comfort to the implementation of the class. Mundane crafting is also covered and addresses a central topic: The time crafting requires usually takes from an Artisan's adventuring time and quick rules for workshops and taskmasters are included, essentially allowing an Artisan to go adventuring while having his creations be finished by his paid workers.
The supplemental material continues to go beyond the supplements of the class and we also get 6 variant homunculi that come with multiple special abilities. The formatting of their statblocks omits the clear distinction between attack, defense, etc. - a minor problem perhaps, but one I feel the need to mention as a minor detrimental factor. Beyond homunculi, we also are introduced to a table of sample objects with HD and CP needed to animate them and a table of custom objects with assigned base prices. Animated Objects also get stats from tiny to colossal, though weirdly, these statblocks adhere to the stat-standards of PFRPG with clearly separated sections. We also get 2 pages of construct points with which you can enhance your animated objects by e.g. increasing their reach etc. 6 flaws with which you can buy additional CP for these purposes at the cost of a weakness are also provided, though I would have enjoyed to see more, especially since the rest of the page featuring the flaws lacks any information, leaving approximately half the page blank.
If you don't want to create an Artisan, two sample characters with a 20-point-buy are provided, a human and an elf, both coming with a projected level 20-build. Unfortunately, both characters lack e.g. saves, CMB/CMD, etc. making them a valid point to start your build from, but not particularly useful as written. There also are two different new item attributes that deal with weapon size: Gravity increases damage as if larger and the weightless quality makes the weapon lighter and easier to carry and wieldable by smaller creatures. For your comfort, a table with damage by size is included - nice!
We also get a selection of 8 new magical items and 4 artifacts created by Artisans, like an amulet that transforms the wearer into the duplicate of an Artisan's perished love (including her full stats) and a pouch of sand that may transport you to other planes or summon creatures. the items are all nice and intriguing.
The pdf also provides a page with racial favored class options for all core-races (and a lot of blank space) and an archetype for the Artisan called the Creationist, who gains access to a limited selection of spells from the [creation]-subschool and as a capstone may create his very own demiplane.
Editing and formatting are rather professional, though they hit some issues that are pet-peeves of mine that get my anal-retentive inner über-nerd agitated: The mislaigned looking "P"s in the bold ability-names would be one. The non-standard statblocks for the homunculi would be another. Oh, speaking of which, I know this one is really bad, but it actually annoyed me: The correct plural for homunculus is homunculi, not "homunculuses"[sic!] as the pdf constantly calls them. Layout is actually beautiful, but a two-edged sword that cuts both ways: The full-color cover artwork is a beauty to behold, sure. But each page features an upper border with a section taken from the artwork, putting a brutal strain on your printer that is wholly unnecessary. Another peculiarity of the pdf is that many chapters end with pages that contain about as much blank space as text, wasting more paper. This wouldn't be as bad, were it not for the rather massive blank spaces between the individual lines - with a more concise presentation, I wager this pdf could be at least 10 pages shorter, perhaps even up to 20. Another pet-peeve of mine is that the text is presented in a one-column standard, which works great for novels, but makes reading printed-out rpg-pdf slightly harder to read than necessary - especially since we have a lot of necessary line-breaks to separate the abilities, thus wasting more space. The interior-artwork is fitting stock and apart from aforementioned gripes, presentation is rather crisp. The pdf also comes with extensive nested bookmarks and a vast array of hyperlinks to d20pfsrd.com, making this pdf rather nice to use on your PC. However, if you think that this makes it a prime candidate for using it on your mobile device, I have to tell you that this pdf is massive: at 37 mbs it takes a lot of space. Speaking of the hyperlinks - it would be nice to have some indicator of which words are hyperlinked. The lack of a printer-friendly, artless b/w-version really hurts this particular product.
I'm not going to lie to you: I was not looking forward to reviewing this. Imho, the craft-rules in PFRPG are an unmitigated mess and I've only recently reviewed Amora Games take on a craft-related class and wasn't looking forward to yet another freshman offering tackling one of the more complex design-areas in the game. I was honestly positively surprised by the Artisan. There are things to consider, from golems to intelligent items to the time it takes to create items that make for a vast amount of factors and Drop Dead Studios' freshman offering actually manages to tackle most of them rather professionally. Indeed, the grasp of the rules is crisp and quite beyond what one would expect from a freshman offering, providing a very professional take on a crafting class that is actually fun to play and makes for a welcome addition to an adventuring party. Here and there, the class actually manages to provide intriguing options that haven't been done like this before. The amount of tables and supplemental information on homunculi, animated objects, items etc. is also rather massive for its price-point, even if we scale it down by taking the layout into account.
Content-wise, there is not much to complain about, which is indeed a refreshing exception to the rule for freshman offerings. So is this full 5 stars? No, though it is a good pdf: The combination of minor glitches and especially the minor layout-problems culminate to a point where they serve as a detracting factor of sufficient impact that a full 5 stars is simply not possible. Add to that the fact that the sample builds lack information and that some statblocks don't adhere to the standard and we have more minor problems that pile up.
This pdf is rough at the edges, but its general content is of a high quality that actually makes me say that Drop Dead Studios' future products might have some serious potential. For now, the layout-problems, lack of a printer-friendly version etc. all pile up to make me go for a final verdict of 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 for the purpose of this platform - mind you, if you're not that nitpicky, this might work as a 4.5 or even, depending on your minor-glitch/printer-drain tolerance, a 5 star-file for you. An thoroughly impressive freshman offering!