||Master at Arms: Cudgel Thug is a short 8 page d20 pdf and the eighth product in Blackdirge Publishing's Master at Arms series of products. This series aims to provide players and DMs with prestige classes for the core Fighter class, all focused on using a specific weapon and often relying on history to construct realistic classes. This particular instalment, the Cudgel Thug, focuses on the club as weapon of choice, and on the concept of the thug as a heavy nonlethal bruiser in your game. This product is compatible with the revised core rules.
The product comes as a single pdf file consisting of a front cover with some lovely art by Jesse Mohn, a page detailing the credits, five pages of content and finally the OGL declarations. As part of a series, this product contains a similar style and layout to other products in the series. Layout and overall look of the product is good, very good if you consider the fact that it is such a short pdf. Editing and writing is good as well, and the mechanics is solid across the whole product. Some useful bookmarks are missing, but that's not such a big deal considering the length of the product. Overall, another good presentation job from Blackdirge Publishing.
Master at Arms: Cudgel Thug focuses on the club as its weapon of choice. The club is frequently not a weapon wielded by many PCs, and this product aims to redress that imbalance by providing a more flavorful detailing of the historical use of the weapon, and a prestige class that gives the weapon a proper place in the game. The product starts by providing a brief historical overview of the club, and its development through the ages to more sophisticated and advanced weapons such as the mace, even touching on the boomerang as a version of a 'thrown club'. Next the author details the prestige class, the Cudgel Thug, and provides some useful design notes that give some insight into the nature and rationalisation behind the prestige class' abilities.
The cudgel thug itself is a club-wielding bruiser, a thug that specialises in striking hard and quick, combining aspects of the rogue and fighter classes to create a remorseless thug. A brief overview of the class is provided, followed by the details of this five level prestige class. The prestige class gains a number of known abilities, such as sneak attack, but also a number of new and unique abilities that play to the class' strengths. These include the ability to knock foes unconscious or render them helpless, the use of improvised weapons, and special abilities that make the class a master a dealing nonlethal damage. The class maintains good balance and has enough flavor to make it interesting. It plays well to the strengths of the club as a weapon, and succeeds at presenting a class for creating that uncompromising thug in your game. Both player characters and NPCs will find good use for this class.
The pdf next details a new NPC, Crawsmasher, complete with mechanical statistics and an interesting background. This is a CR 11 NPC based on the cudgel thug prestige class, and illustrates nicely the strengths and concepts behind the class. Lastly, the pdf presents two new club-like weapons, the rungu, a throwing club, and the more familiar shillelagh. Both are extensions of the club that will be useful additions to any game.
Master at Arms: Cudgel Thug is another good pdf in the Master at Arms series. It provides a flavorful approach to the club as a weapon, highlighting its usefulness and areas of use. The Cudgel Thug is a decent prestige class with some interesting abilities, and is well designed around the concept of a brutal and quick bruiser. I generally found all the information in this pdf very applicable to any d20 gaming world, and it has a high utility for both players and DMs. Overall, another good product from Blackdirge Publishing.
LIKED: High utility of the material, good balance, good design of the product and the prestige class, and some interesting material in the cudgel thug prestige class.
DISLIKED: Nothing much. Generally a solid product.
QUALITY: Very Good
[4 of 5 Stars!]