An Endzeitgeist.com review
This installment of the Caster Prestige Archetype-series clocks in at 8 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1.75 pages of SRD, leaving us with about 4.25 pages of content, so let's take a look!
So, what are these? In case you are not familiar with the concept, a prestige archetype represents a way to not have to take a prestige class; after 3.X's flood, many players and GMs were justifiably tired of the concept...something that is also represented within the design of some PrCs out there. Worse in my opinion, the 3.X flood killed the "prestige"-aspect - the PrCs felt more like kits that could only be taken later, to use a 2nd edition analogue. PFRPG has partially inherited this issue - while there now are significantly more PrCs that emphasize "prestige", we still have ample of concepts that do not have to be represented by a PrC. The massive amount of excellent assassin-fixes out there would be just one example that not all PrCs should be PrCs. Enter this series.
Prestige Archetypes translate Prestige Classes and all their unique tricks into basically an archetype and combine that with a base class, moving everything around. The result, hence, is closer to a hybrid class than you'd expect and it has to be - after all, minimum PrC-level-requirements mean that PrC-options not necessarily cover all levels or are appropriate for every level. Thus, in each such pdf, we get basically a class that makes it possible to pursue a PrC from level 1, all the way to 20th level.
Something new for this series as opposed to the earlier ones: We begin with a massive list of alternate favored class options that cover the core races, advanced races, featured races and also extend to several of the unique and evocative Porphyran races like the Zendiqi. These alternate favored class options are generic in that they are not tied to a specific class, but that is not to say that they are boring - they tie in very well with the respective races, featuring, among other options, increased limited daily use racial abilities and the like. So yes, these can be considered to be a fun, balanced array that manages to tie in well with the racial concepts.
The arcane savant prestige archetype uses the wizard as a base class for its build and thus gains d6 HD, 2 + Int skills per level, proficiency with club, dagger and quarterstaff and 1/2 BAB-progression plus good Will-saves. Spellcasting is, befitting of the base class used, prepared spellcasting of up to 9th level, governed by Int. At 1st level, the savant thus gets Scribe Scroll and the class may take 10 when using the UMD-skill.
Starting at 2nd level and every 2 levels thereafter, the mystic savant chooses one spell from any class' spell list and treats it as though it was on the mystic savant's spell-list, allowing the class to cherry-pick the most potent of spells. One issue here: Can a spell be learned for more than one spell-level? If a spell can be found on more than one class' spell list, could it e.g. be learned at 3rd and 2nd level? A further issue: RAW, the spell, as a prepared spell, is added to spellbook, familiar, etc. - which would codify it as a spell of the type the build class would usually cast. This theoretically would allow other characters to learn the spell via these means, even though it's not on their spell-list. An exclusivity caveat would be appropriate here.
2nd level also provides +1/2 class level to Knowledge (arcana), Spellcraft and UMD as well as the option to take 10 on the two skills that don't yet have this option. At 3rd level, the savant can find writing-based magical runes as though via trapfinding while using the Spellcraft skill. This has inherited an issue from the base PrC: Trapfinding in PFRPG allows for the disabling of magical traps via Disable Device and +1/2 class level to Perception - RAW, anyone can FIND them. So, does that mean the savant gets +1/2 class level to Spellcraft to look for them? Can he use Spellcraft to disable them as well? Or not?
Starting at 5th level, the mystic savant may use his own CL instead of a scroll's when using it. At 7th level, the savant may duplicate the effects of 3 rounds of concentration via detect magic to determine an item's properties as a swift action. Starting at 9th level, the character gains a +5 bonus to saves versus writing-based traps etc. and on a success, the trap is not triggered. Starting at 11th level, the savant may activate spell completion, spell trigger and command word items silently 3/day as if using a silent metamagic rod, 6/day at 15th level, 9/day at 19th level. Big kudos: The ability specifies a max level per the item class of metamagic rods, with 19th level unlocking the greater rod's array. 12th level provides free action analyze dweomer as an SP; with a total duration of 1 round per class level.
13th level provides the option to spontaneously convert spells to dispel magic, with 17th level unlocking greater dispel magic. When using either spell to make a targeted dispel or counterspell, the class heals hit points equal to the dispelled effect's CL.
The prestige archetype comes with notes for the use of the arcanist, psychic, sacerdote, sorceror and witch classes. Beyond specific favored class bonuses for the core races, erkunae, eventuals, ifrit, kitsune, oread, slylph, undine and zendiqi are covered regarding class-specific FCOs.
Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no glaring glitches apart from minor, non-rules-relevant inconsistencies in presentations. Layout adheres to a 2-column full-color standard with PDG's signature purple highlights and is pretty printer-friendly. Huge kudos: The pdf comes, in spite of its brevity, with full, nested bookmarks, making navigation extremely user-friendly!
Carl Cramér's Mystic Savant has a bit of a handicap, being not exactly based on the best or most interesting of PrC; that being said, the pdf tries to do some interesting things with the theme, which is certainly appreciated. However, the cherry-picking of spells, always somewhat problematic, could have been a bit clearer and personally, I think that the class ends up being a tad bit too strong due to it: The item-use etc. tricks can be situationally really, really strong. So far, my least favorite of the caster prestige archetypes. While not bad by any definition, it does fall a bit short of the generally impressive series. My final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.