With as many magic weapons, armors and other items that float through a Dungeons & Dragons game, one can't help but wonder who creates all these enchanted items. Most of the time, these items are either stumbled across in the marketplace or while looting fallen foes; maybe an NPC can be contracted to create a magical item for the party. Fifth Element Games presents "The Arcane Smith," putting the power of magic-item creation directly into the hands of a player.
Writer Iain Fyffe has created a fully-playable 20-level class that, as described in the text, is a "master of iron and flame." Including fire resistance as a class feature for the arcane smith was an inspired choice, and makes a lot of sense for a character that spends most of his career over a forge. (Fyffe's suggestion that the arcane smith be used as a favored class for dwarves and gnomes also makes a great deal of sense.)
Other features of the class include the ability to cast spells (from the limited arcane smith spell list) in light or medium armor sans the chance of spell failure; 'luck of the smith,' which grants the character a luck bonus to saving throws; the Weapon Focus feat for both light hammers and warhammers; competency bonuses when creating masterwork items; and the ability to cast 'identify' at will.
The arcane smith's two most powerful and desirable features, however, are the 'disenchant' and 'craft magic items' features.
Once an arcane smith reaches 7th level, he or she can attempt to disenchant magic items. The rule mechanics for this class ability are easy to understand and use (a class level check - a d20 plus class level - plus the Intelligence modifier is required, and the DC is based on the kind of magic item). (This is not an ability that can be used in combat; it takes as long to disenchant an item as it does to create it in the first place.)
But beginning at 5th level, the arcane smith can start creating magic items at reduced experience point costs and amount of time. At first, he or she can only create weapons and armor in this way, but eventually, the ability to craft rods and forge rings is earned at higher levels.
(At 17th level, masterwork weapons created by the arcane smith are considered magical, the enchantment bonus is based on the Craft check. Fifth Element Games was careful to not make this class feature too overpowering; a Craft check of 20 can create a +1 weapon, but it takes a Craft check of 28 to create a +2 weapon; 36 to create a +3; 45 to create a +5; and 55 to create a +5.)
This is a small product - only six pages, one of which is devoted to the Open Game License - so it's a quick read, but there are a few odd grammatical choices that might cause readers to stumble occasionally throughout the text. Overall, however, this is an easy-to-read supplement, and the rules governing the arcane smith's abilities are easy-to-understand.
LIKED: The concept of this class is fun, and the rules governing its play are solid and easy-to-understand. I'm actually going to incorporate the arcane smith into my own campaign this weekend!
DISLIKED: Grammatically, there are a few choices made throughout the text (but not enough to detract from the effectiveness of the supplement itself). Unfortunately, there are no arcane smith-specific spells, the inclusion of which would have pushed this product up to five stars for me.
QUALITY: Very Good
[THIS REVIEW WAS EDITED]