Game: The Quintessential Fighter II
Publisher: Mongoose Publishing
Review Dated: 25th, February 2004
Reviewer’s Rating: 7/10 [ Good ]
Total Score: 7
Average Score: 7.00
This isn’t just a review of the second Quintessential Fighter, oh no, this is a review of The Quintessential Fighter II … Book One. There could be another. Or does “book one” refer to the Advanced Tactics sub-heading? Ah yes, that’s it. This isn’t a Collector Series book, it’s the first of the Advanced Tactics series.
The Quintessential Fighter II doesn’t quite pick up where The Quintessential Fighter left off. This supplement assumes your fighters have had some adventuring success and no small dosage of experience points under their belt. The Quintessential Fighter II isn’t quite more of the same either, which is just as well, I’d have been rather annoyed to see another strongholds section in the book.
We have a similar looking book here. Similar but different – and I still can’t decide whether I like the faux leather look of the Quintessential series. This cover is darker and has a different pattern effect. It could almost be wood. It’ll be possible to tell my Quintessentials apart on the shelf.
Fighters here have a bit more experience and so the Character Concepts section is out. I suppose this further shuffles the Character Concepts concept off into the “how your character became a ____” corner. That wasn’t my initial understanding of the section and there are certainly Character Concepts which don’t fit that mould but what ever the focus of the Quintessential Character Concepts is we can be sure that it doesn’t affect this book at all. We have Career Paths instead. Perhaps your character has specialised into the Unarmed Fighter or perhaps gone for the polar opposite and does well fulfilling the role of the Tank? Well, if you can meet the requirements of either of these two career paths then you can enjoy some specialised advantages if you’re willing to accept some associated disadvantages as well. The Tank adds double his strength bonus to damage rolls when he uses both hands to wield a two-handed weapon. On the other hand, he is so used to slamming heavy weapons around that he’s a bit numpty and prone to over-extending his attacks when he uses light weapons. It’s a dagger man: you don’t need to brace both feet and attack with an overhead swing! The mechanics are there. Mongoose and author Alejandro Melchor would like to remind you that Career Paths are a roleplaying feature and something to flesh your character out with. Sure enough there are paragraphs of roleplaying observations for each career path.
Multi-classing; I’m told it’s rather popular. Heh. The second chapter looks at the core class-with-fighter multi-class combinations. This is something that other supplements specialise exclusively in but as a consumer I’m happy to see the competition if it’ll encourage innovation. Unfortunately, the Quintessential Fighter II suffers from the same problem as other fighter multi-class focused supplements suffered from. The fighter is just a boring class to mutli-class with. It’s boring because it’s easy. It’ll take me just a second to come up with a fighter-barbarian idea, a fighter-wizard idea or fighter-druid idea whereas I’d be flicking through the pages to see what Alejandro had come up with for an interesting barbarian-wizard or cleric-druid. What the Quintessential Fighter II does differently here is to keep these multi-classes strictly as multi-classes and not beef them up and call them prestige classes. Essentially we’ve a set of new classes born from two core class parents. The class level tables show the BAB, saves and specials but also show which class the stats up came from. The Berserk, that’s the Fighter-Barbarian, levels up from Ftr 1, to Bbn 1, to Ftr 2, Ftr 3 and then Bbn 2. This continues up to Ftr 10 (for the effective 19th level of the class) and Bbn 10 (for the effective 20th level of the class). I like this effect. It’s clean and it’s honest. There isn’t any attempt to fob the reader of with “all new classes!” but we have that new class feel anyway.
Here’s the list, the Berserk is the Fighter-Barbarian, the War Singer is the Fighter-Bard, the Temple Knight is the Fighter-Cleric, the Totem Warrior is the Fighter-Druid, the Martial Artist is the Fighter-Monk, the Champion as the Fighter-Paladin, the Scout as the Fighter-Ranger, the Scoundrel as the Fighter-Rouge, the Arcane Warrior as the Fighter-Sorcerer and the Mageblade as the Fighter-Wizard.
We also have the Legendary Fighter; but we’re into a new chapter now. Waa! Game balance! I can hear people moaning now. Shush. Sssh. Game balance is entirely subjective. So, once again shush and let me offer my diatribe. If I’m running an epic level romp where my characters are tricking dragons, saving worlds and working with gods (hardly unheard of in D&D games!) then this chapter is just what I wanted. In fact this chapter specifically looks at that epic level and some of these classes are just the thing to router the PC from sub-20 to epic level. There are rule clarifications here to make the epic transition as easy as possible. Whereas the Career Paths assume the fighter as some experience, the Legendary Fighter assumes the character as lots of experience and presents a selection of high powered prestige classes.
On my first pass through the book I started to flick through the Superior Tools chapter but didn’t get very far before I found something interesting and stopped to read more closely. Then I found something else interesting which I stopped to read closely. Then I found another interesting bit of equipment. Okay, okay, I think The Quintessential Fighter II gets a lucky run here. There are some flashy items which might have come from fantasy artwork or Holywood movies like wrist crossbows or whip-swords that I can see in my game and which are statted here. It turns out that I rather enjoyed this chapter despite my initial concerns that it was going to be a case of more of the same with the previous Quintessential Fighter. I’ll judge the other Advanced Tactics books as required but I’m pretty sure this chapter is going to be hard to keep fresh. There’s a fair whack of magical equipment and weapons here which work with the fighter/mage sections elsewhere in the Quintessential Fighter II and which the first book couldn’t touch.
The Magical Fighter is a whole chapter dedicated to mixing the Fighter class with the various spellcasting options in d20. Hmm. This is going to be tricky to justify; if you’re buying The Quintessential Fighter II then I think you’re already good at this sort of thing. There are some new mechanics which start towards this difficult destination and they begin with some magical fighter type feats which require, at least, a limited knowledge of spell casting. But there’s not much else. I don’t think this quite qualifies as a chapter but I do like the feats. Tricky.
Tricks of the Trade is more or less a chapter of feats to although it begins with sub-feat moves which most fighters should be able to pull off. This is another chapter that needs to prove it’s not more of the same. It’s something “more” but not “the same”. In the advanced section we have trees of impressive and popular (blind fighting) feats as well as special emphasis on typical fantasy danger situations – against massive foes, for example.
Don’t dismiss the Special Techniques as a similar chapter. It isn’t. Here the player gets to design special moves, trading advantages with disadvantages. This is easy enough and the system works well – design a move that does more damage than usual but must be carried out with a pole arm. I can’t quite visualise the example given in the chapter but I’ve come up with plenty special moves of my own and think you could even use these rules to create fantasy pseudo-martial arts. Pretty neat.
Just before we hit the designer’s notes, which I always like, we have to go through the Survival Tactics chapter and my least favourite offering here. It’s too much like a thinly disguised new uses for old skills section and I fear spends too much time offering up old discoveries and known truths. This probably isn’t the fault of the book as such, we stick with valid observations it’s just that I think the average reader won’t need any of it.
I was quite prepared to be super harsh on the Quintessential Fighter II. I’m all for coming down hard on the d20 milkers market these days. The thing is; the Quintessential Fighter II has a niche all to itself just by being a sequel. The book clearly is for players who really do enjoy their fighter class, who are used to fairly advanced fighters and are looking for something a little different to do with them. In that regard the Quintessential Fighter II does well. It is a book which experienced Fighter players can use. If you’re at all tempted by a “Quintessential Fighter II” then it’s unlikely you’ll be disappointed by The Quintessential Fighter II. The only catch is, I wonder how good an “uber” Quintessential Fighter with the best of both books in and the weakest sections taken out would have been.