The Quintessential Fighter is a 146 page pdf product providing a plethora of new options for fighters and warriors in the 4e GSL game. This product is the second in Mongoose Publishing and Asterion's Quintessential series, the first release being The Quintessential Wizard. The 4e Quintessential series is both an update and a complete re-write of the 3e and 3.5e OGL Quintessential series, although a brief look at the material indicates that almost the entirety of it is new or has been substantially rewritten. Since the release of the 4e GSL edition, numerous publishers have produced products compatible with the 4e GSL, but the Quintessential series is the one of the few products that provides extensive rules support for the new edition beyond just a new race or a book of new powers and feats.
The product comes as a single pdf file, and is beautifully presented with some stunning art and good descriptive and concise writing. The authors, artists and layout designers have done a splendid job of creating an appealing pdf that looks very professional. On the somewhat down side, the lack of bookmarks is slightly bothersome, but otherwise the prose, art, writing and presentation are all top notch. To make up for the lack of bookmarks, there is an extensive table of contents that's detailed enough to find even individual powers by name. Overall, I'm very pleased with the presentation of this product and the effort that's gone into creating something excellent.
The Quintessential Fighter is all about fighters and warriors, and includes a huge amount of new material for use in your 4e GSL game. This product is naturally suited to both players and DMs, who can make full use of the contents therein. The product is divided into seven chapters, each focusing on a different aspect of the fighter class and its role in gameplay adventuring. The chapters cover the following: the fighter's role, new fighter powers, fighter paragon and epic paths, fighter feats, new equipments and magical items, fighter organisations, and lastly fighter arenas. Each chapter is fairly self-contained, and beyond the core content of each chapter, the chapters frequently contain other features such as plot hooks, short prose, and sidebars.
The first chapter in this pdf deals with the fighter's role. This is probably one of the more useful chapters in the book, since it's the one that provides support for creating a viable and interesting roleplaying character. One of the largest pitfalls in gaming is to create a character that cannot sustain the progression up to epic levels. Let's face it - players get bored, and as such it's very important to create a concept and personality that can go the distance. This chapter offers lots of useful information to aid in that, including the fighter's role in and out of combat, new build options, new multiclass build options, interaction with other classes and races, and new material related to selecting a fighter's origin, for example noble, slave, armorer or outlaw. I probably enjoyed this chapter the most, as it gives different perspectives to the fighter class, and allows you to come up with new ideas to build something interesting.
Chapters two, three and four provide the meat of this product as far as rules material is concerned, and take up approximately half of the product. These chapters deal with the standard additions to the mechanics such as feats, powers and paragon/epic paths. I'm not sure if this is a critique of this product or the system in general, but powers just aren't as interesting as I thought they would be. Once you've covered all the Attack vs. Defence options, run through the different damage types and conditions that can be inflicted and added in perhaps a few combat tactical options to push and pull people around, you've covered pretty much everything I've seen in many powers for the 4e GSL. Everything just appears to be variations on this - basically running through the various permutations and options to create something new, slapping on a name and some interesting text. That's not to say that the powers in Chapter 2 aren't useful - I'm sure there are useful synergies and powers to be had, but everything just seems so 'scripted', almost like a computer program could churn them out.
Thankfully this product at least takes powers a little further in creating Martial Rituals and Combat Styles. The former work just like standard rituals, but allows the fighter to prepare something devastating for the next combat. Combat Styles, on the other hand, combine feats, skills and powers to grant a certain combat advantage. I like the way these two additions have been added to the game, as they provide interesting options to fighter builds. The paths provided are much more interesting - each path comes with a full description and includes a very useful NPC write-up and stat block. Paths covered include Battle Commande, Champion of Honor, Lord of Chains, and Warrior Avatar. A lot of creativity went in to creating the paths, and I think they're mechanically the strongest portion of the product. Good flavor, good descriptions, and interesting concepts that one can build on.
The feats chapters is good, presenting a useful selection of feats for every tier. The variety is good, covering different weapons, races, and other character features, and allow you to both diversify and specialise. Some feats appear fairly new, while others are taking older concepts and reworking them for the new edition, but for the most part this is a valuable chapter for those fighters looking for something different in their feats.
Chapter five looks at new weapons, armors and magical equipment. Again there are a lot of old weapons and armors appearing here, all updated and ready to use for the 4e GSL game. New equipment, weapon and armor options include alchemical treatments, bucklers, tower shields, field plate armor, spiked gauntlets, flamberge, repeating crossbow, and lance. In addition, the product covers a small selection of black powder weapons such as muskets. This chapter concludes with a useful selection of new magical items, mainly weapons and armor, but also a sprinkling of other items for the arms, neck and feet. Overall, a useful chapter to expand on the options available to the standard fighter.
The last two chapters of the product cover organisations and the arena. The former presents a series of useful organisations that fighters can be involved in, creating both a good background and good roleplaying opportunities when creating your fighter. DMs can use this material well to create intrigue and mystery between various organisations, and power struggles are always an interesting option to explore. Each organisation covers duties, beliefs, hierarchy and rank, allies, antagonists and secrets; all in all lots of useful information. Lastly, the pdf covers battle arenas. A few arenas are presented here, including scale layouts, that will allow your fighters to take contests to test their mettle and steel. Each arena description includes the arena design and features, challenges to face, and very useful plot hooks.
Overall, I though this was a great pdf that gives you excellent value and more options for fighter classes than you're likely to need. Good design, good art, very useful new material and concepts, and excellent variety. There's a lot to take away from the product for both players and DMs, and thankfully the balance between mechanics and roleplaying information is good. For those interested in playing a different or more varied fighter or warrior, this pdf is a very good resource.