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None so Vile - Disciples of Darkness II: Soul Harvester $3.75 $1.50
Average Rating:4.0 / 5
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None so Vile - Disciples of Darkness II: Soul Harvester
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None so Vile - Disciples of Darkness II: Soul Harvester
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Andrew B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2006 00:00:00
Disciples of Darkness II presents a new prestige class called the Soul Harvester. These villainous characters are clerics that use the souls of their slain enemies to enhance their unholy power. The book details the prestige class, gives advice on using it in play, stats an example Soul Harvester, and offers a new deity.

The Soul Harvester collects souls by sacrificing or otherwise murdering good-aligned creatures. In game terms, he gets a number of ?essence points? for each creature killed. These essence points can in turn be spent to boost the Soul Harvester's combat abilities, add temporary enhancements to his weapon, and alter his spells. In addition, the Soul Harvester wields a custom weapon (generally a dagger) that grows in power with his advancement in the prestige class.

There is a kind of morbid style to the writing. The authors are clearly trying to evoke the grim and evil nature of the Soul Harvester. For the most part, the writing succeeds. The opening bit of fiction, which describes a Soul Harvester sacrificing a paladin, is pretty gory, and it certainly shows the dark nature of the class.

While the game mechanics in this book are sound, I don't really care for the Soul Harvester as written. This is a prestige class that will most likely be used by GMs rather than players, and I don't think its very well designed from that perspective.

The primary problem is the essence point mechanic. The points are gained by killing good-aligned creatures, which creates a fun roleplaying opportunity if the Soul Harvester is a PC. As an NPC, however, these scenes will seldom be played out (except when the PCs are battling the Soul Harvester, of course), which means that the GM will just be arbitrarily assigning numbers. Most of the abilities are fairly transparent, meaning that the players won't really appreciate the fact that their adversary is gaining strength by battling them.

Even the Soul Reaver's scariest ability, which allows him to consume the very soul of a slain opponent, works better on paper than in actual play. This ability requires the Soul Reaver to place an invisible mark on his enemy. If the enemy is then killed within a certain number of rounds, his soul goes to the Reaver. The problem is that the mark is difficult to detect. It is likely that the target player will have no idea that his character is now marked for soul-death, which removes any fear this may have otherwise created.

The new god is something of an extra feature. He's an evil hobgoblin deity, and he fits his role well. I wouldn't purchase this product specifically for the new god, but its a nice touch that makes sense within the scope of this book.


LIKED: The idea behind the Soul Reaver is a good one. An evil cleric that uses the souls of his enemies as fuel for his powers is a neat concept. The class is balanced, the writing is fairly good, and the art and presentation are well done.

DISLIKED: The Soul Reaver isn't poorly designed from a mechanics standpoint, I just don't think it works at the table as well as it could. The rules should better reflect the class's flavor, and his dark abilities should be more outwardly obvious to the players. As a villain, the Soul Reaver is very capable of killing the good guys...he just doesn't pack the horror he should.

This isn't a bad product by any means, just an average one. Three stars overall, three and a half if you're running a campaign with evil PCs.

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
None so Vile - Disciples of Darkness II: Soul Harvester
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Derek K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2006 00:00:00
Writer Aeryn Rudel has created a truly dark prestige class in ?None So Vile: Disciples of Darkness II ? Soul Harvester.? As a class for which PCs to aspire, it?s downright creepy; as a class for NPCs, the soul harvester is definitely a character concept to be feared.

Normally, I?m not particularly moved by role-playing material introduced by lengthy fiction. However, the prose that made up the first page-and-a-half of this supplement is quite well written and leaves no question as to what kind of character a soul harvester might be. Be warned: this is a piece of writing that pulls no punches. This brief story of hobgoblin-cleric-turned-soul-harvester Jukko Ironscourge is harsh, but fits perfectly the flavor of this prestige class.

There are two main attractive features of the soul harvester class. First, the soul harvester?s weapon becomes his or her sacrificial blade, and becomes the tool of the actual soul harvesting. As the soul harvester slays more enemies with the sacrificial blade, certain benefits become available to the character in the form of ?virtual feats,? like Power Attack, Improved Critical and Greater Weapon Focus. Additionally, the sacrificial blade can, for a short time, function as a magical weapon with various weapon enhancements (an example of how the sacrificial blade can be used as a flaming weapon is given). Certain metamagic feats can also be earned through use of the sacrificial blade.

The other feature that truly sets this prestige class terrifyingly apart from the others is its dread mark class ability. The soul harvester can ?taint the essence? of a foe, ?marking the victim?s soul as the property of the soul harvester?s dark god.? This invisible mark lasts for a short time (one minute per soul harvester level), but if the target is slain during the time the dread mark is upon him or her, the victim must make a Will save or have his or her soul consumed by the soul harvester?s deity.

(The soul harvester also has the sacrificial strike class ability which allows him or her to perform a coup de grace attack as a standard action instead of a full round action.)

This is an information-packed supplement. After breaking down the specifics of this prestige class, writer Rudel presents material describing how a soul harvester might be played, how the character would interact with other characters and their place in the world. The supplement concludes with a sample soul harvester (Jukko Ironscourge?s statblock and historical information is here) as well as information about the dark god Nurrog Bahl, the Crimson Harvester and Elfreaper.

The writing is tight, and the artwork and graphic design supports the material nicely. This is a slick product; graphic designer Erik Nowak should be commended.

As a DM, I would be a bit hesitant to allow a player to bring this character to the table, and as a player, I would be both thrilled and terrified to face an NPC soul harvester.


LIKED: Enough material is packed into this supplement's few pages to make this a fully-realized NPC. The idea of a soul harvester should be scary, and writer Rudel has done a fine job of crafting such an effective NPC. As a DM, I'm looking forward to incorporating this class into an upcoming game!

DISLIKED: There is nothing I didn't like about this product!

QUALITY: Excellent

VALUE: Very Satisfied


Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
None so Vile - Disciples of Darkness II: Soul Harvester
Publisher: Blackdirge Publishing
by Sean H. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/20/2006 00:00:00
None So Vile - Disciplines of Darkness II: Soul Harvester by Black Dirge Publishing / Skeleton Key Games presents a new D20 Prestige Class, the Soul Harvester.

The Soul Harvester is introduced with a page and a half of fiction, showing one in action. The Soul Harvester is a clerical-based prestige class, a servant of a dark god (or power) who draws power from the sacrifice of victims. The ability to draw power from sacrifices is called Soul Harvesting (naturally) and is gathered in essence points, the maximum amount of which is limited by the Soul Harvester?s level. These essence points may be spent to gain bonuses, additional weapon abilities and spell casting boosts. The only problem is that they can be spent to add metamagic effects to a spell at a flat essence cost, so adding maximize costs as much as silent, this is easily abusable (and easily fixed by making the cost per level added by the metamagic effect, which simply makes it powerful but not overwhelming).

The Soul Harvester?s sacrificial weapon gains abilities and gives the Harvester virtual feats when it is used, this is limited by restricting it to a light slashing or piercing weapon. Overall the HD, Base Attack, Saves and Spell Casting seem well balanced with a limited number of special ability (including Dread Mark which can consign a marked soul to the Soul Harvester?s dark master).

Advice of the role of Soul Harvesters in a world and how they can best be played is provided for a DM. Along with an example Soul Harvester, Jukko Ironscourge, a hobgoblin Cleric/Soul Harvester is present along with full background and personality. As is the dark god worshiped by Jukko, Nurrog Bahl, the Crimson Harvester, Elfreaper.

A well put together product, if you wish for a villain that consumes the souls of his enemies. But it does have a dark tone that may be blacker then some DM?s wish for their campaign.

QUALITY: Very Good

VALUE: Satisfied


Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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