If you're playing Jade Regent or a similar Asian-themed setting, you may have encountered one issue: Ki and WuXia-like powers are restricted to monks, ninjas etc. Well, Legendary Games has a supplement that allows any class to dabble in Ki,
This pdf is 23 pages long, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page intro to AP plug-ins, 1 page SRD, 1 page author bios, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 16 pages of content, so let’s take a look!
This pdf is all about harnessing the powers of Ki and thus, we begin this pdf with a discussion on the nature of Ki and how varying classes use Ki. Among the suggestions are ways to redesign the samurai to utilize Ki as well for other classes – the suggestion is both elegant and neat: By taking one of the vows that correspond with respective far eastern virtues, characters can get access to ki-points. Beyond that, there’s also the option to utilize the new Ki-meditation-feat, which grants the character taking it access to one point of ki that also grants +2 to one skill chosen each time at meditation while it is not expended. Furthermore, the feat allows a character to expend said point for a +4 bonus on the skill aligned with the respective use of Ki Meditation. As such, the approach is somewhat similar, though different from Heroes of the Jade Oath’s usage of ch’i, but not to an extent that would make both takes on the concept incompatible. In fact, with minimal work on the side of the DM, they can be combined, which is neat indeed.
After these basics, we are introduced to a variety of different ki-feats: Body Control allows you to partially mitigate negative environmental conditions based on heat and cold as long as you still have ki-points in your reserve. Also rather cool: The feat allows you to hold your breath longer by expending ki-points. “Composure” is crafted along similar design-lines – as long as you have at least one point of ki in your reserve, you are harder to read via e.g. sense motive. The feats also allows you to spend ki to drastically increase the DC of sense motive versus you and use ki to mitigate fear-based conditions by spending one point per step to be mitigated and even avoid fear-based death effects à la phantasmal killer by spending 5 points of ki. Endow Ki is one of the most interesting feats in this pdf, allowing you to temporarily transfer ki to allies and granting them access to one of your ki-feats. Ki fuel allows you to burn physical attributes in 2-point increments to gain ki points.
Two of the more complex feats are plain genius: A new item-class is introduced via ki crystals, which essentially allow you to store ki points in crystals. If you think that monks will now carry those by the pounds, rest assured that tapping into them becomes progressively difficult. The second feat that allows for a sharing of power would be the option to inscribe Ki Tattoos: These allow the bearer access to one of your ki-feat abilities with a constant effect as if the user always had at least 1 point of ki. Interesting and thanks to the limitations still an option I’d consider balanced.
Ki Agility and Balance are the way to go for agile combatants: Granting bonuses to acrobatics and allowing for the option to grant bonuses to acrobatics and ref-saves by expending a point of ki and granting +1 AC to dodge and keep dex when using acrobatics as well as the option to spend ki to make an acrobatics-check to negate being dropped prone, they can be combined for additional fun. Ki Cloak is a must-have for stealth-based characters, allowing you to not only enhance your stealth, but grant you concealment and total concealment via spending ki-points.
For characters truly into ki-feats, Ki Focus allows you to increase numerical values of your ki-feats a limited amount of times per day, while ki insight increases your sense motive and allows for the expenditure of ki for a massive bonus to the skill or a bonus to will-saves. Ki Resiliency is an interesting option as well, allowing you to spend ki to get 1d6 x number of ki-feats you possess temporary hitpoints. Ki sprint enhances your base speed and allows you to spend ki when charging or running to add even 30 ft. bursts to your movement. Mental Feedback allows you to counter mind-influencing effects with non-lethal damage depending on the amount of ki you expend, whereas Mind over body allows you to delay the onset of select negative conditions. Perfected Performance allows bards to enhance their performances with ki. Sap Ki allows the character to negate other nearby ki-feats and drains ki from foes that successfully hit you. Sense Ki allows you to better perceive living creatures and allows you to temporarily gain blindsense limited to living beings. Swift Recovery is all about faster healing from regular and ability point damage and allows you to use ki to heal more ability damage or directly use ki to heal ability damage.
Strength of will is a feat I’m not comfortable with: It allows you to spend ki to change fort or ref-saves to will-saves and even with the ki-cost, for my conservative tastes this goes a bit too far. Really iconic and the last one of the general ki feats, the Yogic levitation allows you to levitate for quite a while as well as feather fall. VERY cool! After this, we’re off to the second chapter, which details ki-feats that also count as combat-feats. Sticking to maximum usability-guidelines, base-classes like barbarians, rangers etc. also get short paragraphs that allow them to e.g. take a feat from this chapter in place of their rage powers, mercies, combat style feats etc. – commendable!
Align Ki is the first feat I’d consider boring, since it allows you to align your unarmed strikes – been there, done that and all too often. Anticipatory Advance allows you to substitute wis for dex to AC with regards to AoOs, even combine them versus a creature and add wis on counterattacks versus said foe. Flowing Stance would be the defensive AoO-feat to the offensive anticipatory advance. Disruptive Ki allows you to deal 1 point of damage to all physical attributes via your ki. Evade Charge increases your AC versus charges and allows you to punish foes charging you with attacks, whereas felling strike allows you to increase your tripping efficiency and shattering strike does some analogue for sundering. You can also use Focused Strikes to get wis-mod to atk and damage for a round, but at the cost of 1 round of ki-feat-power suspension – interesting when combined with offensive and defensive attacks and great to make combat more fluid.
It should also be noted that there’s a rather extensive Kiai-feat tree that goes beyond the 3 standard-improved-greater versions of the feat: Starting as a powerful scream, the feat-tree allows for additional sonic damage etc. at higher feats and even stagger, stun etc. foes. Very cool! Rapid Recovery allows you to regain limited hp when reduced to 0 or below HP and Ki Rush can make you sprint with a 90 degree-turn and move through allied squares and difficult terrain. With heightened precision, you may reroll 1s of sneak attacks and also have better chances of getting past precision-damage negating powers like fortifications. On the bad side, we have Ki Touch, which is imho BROKEN: It lets you spend ki to resolve your attack as a touc attack and can be combined with e.g. Vital Strike. On the awesome-side, there now is a rather complex and cool Hadouken-feat that not only increases the power of your crits, it also has a nice synergy with the djinn-styles and allows you to use the iconic blasts
The final chapter of the pdf makes ki useful for casting classes and allows for options of all the casting paizo-classes to substitute some of their powers for ki-feats. The feats herein allow you to increase DCs of your spells, spell-like abilities and spell-triggering abilities, help maintaining concentration when defensively casting or casting within swarms, substitute ki for metamagic-level-increase, hit foes as AoOs with low-level spells and even bloddline abilities, hexes etc., hasten item creation by using ki and also modify touchspells via metamagic to work as potential reflexive AoO-casts. Prepared casters may spend ki to spontaneously convert a spell into another one and spontaneous casters may now use ki to cast metamagic spells without increasing their casting time. You may also transcend language barriers with language-dependent effects and implants spells in your subconscious that target yourself, even working when dazed, feebleminded etc. – rather cool.
What’s not so cool is that two feats go imho beyond what I’d consider a feasible power-level: Recapture energy allows you to spent ½ spell-level ki points to regain a spell you just cast as a standard action, retaining spellslots and spells you would have otherwise expended. While this one just rubs my conservative tastes the wrong way, the second feels a bit more problematic: Destructive Force allows you to reroll 1 die of damage per damaging die you roll as part of your spell – per se ok. What’s not so cool is the fact that for 1 poit of ki, you may reroll ALL damaging dice of a spell. Even with the caveat of only influencing damage and not ability damage etc., this feels a bit strong. Again, though, the feat is not strong enough to be considered truly broken.
The pdf concludes with a massive 2-page table of the new ki-feats introduced in this pdf.
Editing and formatting are very good, though not as perfect as other Legendary Games-products: I e.g. noticed a prerequisite called “Wist”, which should read wis, but the glitch remains solitary and does not impede one’s enjoyment of the pdf. Layout adheres to legendary games’ 2-column landscape standard and is presented in the drop-dead gorgeous, stellar standard used for the jade Regent AP-plug-ins. I can’t comment on the portrait-version of the pdf since I don’t own it and don’t buy pdfs twice. The original full color artworks by Frank Hessefort are beautiful as well and up to the highest standards. The pdf comes in two versions, one being more printer-friendly than the other and both are extensively bookmarked with nested bookmarks.
This is the crunchiest pdf released by Legendary Games so far and it is up to the quality I’ve come to expect from the all-star team of Legendary Games – the crunch is solid, innovative and interesting, making ki feasible for all classes as well as greatly enhancing your options, often with rules that, beyond immediate benefits, result via their implications in more dynamic combats. While a few of the feats herein are a tad bit off regarding balance for my conservative tastes, overall, this collection of feats is definitely one I’d recommend you check out. While personally, I prefer the way ki is aligned and possibly assigned to chakras in Heroes of the Jade Oath as well as its notion of a focus over the “as long as you have 1 point remaining…”, both collections of feats can be used to complement each other and I’ll probably just take the feats herein and modify them along these guidelines to make them fit better with the ch’i-feats, but that in the end is personal design preference more than any valid point of criticism.
That out of the way, while some of the feats herein feel slightly less inspired than others, the overall quality of the content herein should still be considered at top-brass level and thus, I’ll settle for a final verdict of 5 stars, only omitting my seal of approval due to the fact that I would have liked more unique abilities à la Hadouken, the yogi-levitating etc. Still, a great collection of complex feats.