Clash of Arms: Infantry is a short 13 page d20 pdf product from Vigilance Press. This is the fifth product in their line of historical fantasy sourcebooks, and details the infantryman or foot soldier from the Middle Ages. Each product in the series covers a different aspect of the Middle Ages, bringing it to life in a fantasy world and presenting a new core class. Other products in the series have looked at witches, nobility, and cavalry warfare. This product is compatible with the revised d20 core rules.
This product comes as a single pdf file that includes a suitable front cover with some medieval art, but no bookmarks. The format and layout of the product is good and professional, with a clean two-column layout without any interior art. The editing and writing is good as well, supported by some decent mechanics, although in some instances the mechanics can be a little unclear or might need a little clarification work. Overall, this pdf slots in nicely with the others in the series, and looks like a decent, solid product.
This product takes a look a the common medieval foot soldier, and creates a fantasy d20 class based on that concept - the infantryman. The product starts by offering a brief introduction to the foot soldier, and, later on in the product offers some more mouth-watering tales from history describing the role of the infantryman in battle. The infantryman is a rather long and complex class since it attempts to incorporate all types of infantryman into a single class - the spearman, the man-at-arms, the skirmisher, the commander, the archer and the scout.
As such the class description is quite length although held together by a single block of statistics describing the progression of the class. I've always liked the utility of this kind of format, allowing a single class to take multiple paths and roles, and this does not disappoint in allowing you to build the infantryman to your tastes. Where it really shines is to allow you to combine aspects of the different infantrymen. Want a scout good at archery and command? Easy to do. Want a man-at-arms commander that can skirmish? Even easier. The class is flexible, and when combined with the d20 feats system, even more flexible.
Each of the different aspects of the infantryman gain multiple different abilities as they advance in level. Archer's, for example, gain the ability to rain arched fire down on their enemies, commanders can rally their troops, the man-at-arms is exceptional in heavy armor, the skirmisher fleet of foot, and the spearman effective against charges and in creating a shield wall. There's a lot of new material here in the mechanics to digest, in some cases offering different implementations of familiar ideas. In one or two cases the mechanics is a bit long-winded and could be more succinct or clearer, but for the most part this class captures the medieval infantryman well and builds a versatile and flexible class.
Next the pdf takes a look at a new skill - Craft (fortification). Throughout the course of medieval times the 'modern' armies of the time were adept at both warfare and numerous other skills. The more proficient an army was at surviving on the march and going on long campaigns by being self-sufficient, the better for the army. This skill takes a look at crafting fortification and digging in defences. It's a good skill with some versatility to most games. Lastly, but not least, the pdf takes a look at three climatic battles in history that illustrate the role of the infantryman. These battles are - Battle of Hastings, Battle of Arsuf and the Battle of Agincourt, Henry V's victory. These are all enjoyable reads, bringing together the concepts in the pdf and history together nicely and illustrating how history was used to build the infantryman class. It gives a broad overview of the role of the infantryman in each battle, providing material for building on the class from a roleplaying perspective as well.
Overall I liked this pdf. It's got a good balance between historical perspective and the new class, builds a strong and versatile class with good foundations, and illustrates the effectiveness of the class using historical examples. Here and there the mechanics is a bit weak, but for the most part this is a good pdf that hangs together nicely with itself and others in the series. I'm looking forward to seeing more products in the series!
[4 of 5 Stars!]