Classic Review by Crothian
I will have to admit that I have never seen this weapon in play. In fact I have not heard from a player that they would even be interested in this weapon. It is made for a gnome, it looks odd, it is a double weapon and exotic making it require lots of feats to make use of. The Arsenal books though have done a pretty good job of bringing interest in these less popular items.
Arsenal Hooked Hammer is the fourth in the Arsenal series. And it is the first to offer two version one for view on screen and the other to print. I have been critical of the layout in the past but this simple option of having two versions of the book solves their layout problem for me. Some companies have seemed to move away from having two version of the book, so I really like to see that EN Publishing has included that option here. So, a great job on the layout, the art, and the book marking can nbow be said about this book.
The book follows the usually Arsenal format. It starts out with the racial preferences and variants of the weapon. This is a good section for this weapon as it suggests races other then the gnome who can make use of this weapon and possible racial links they may have. There are some interesting variants like the bursting version that allows one end to house a vial of acid, holy water, or other item and then having it break on the person you are hitting. They have a really good side bar on some of these weapons that a Bard can wield and use while performing Bardic Music having the weapon assist his dancing.
In the fighting and feats section there are quite a few new uses for these weapons. Not all the variants can use each option but it does have a chart showing what weapons can do what. The weapons can assist in climbing, mining, digging, crafting, and reaching. These are simple yet good uses for the weapon increasing its versatility. The feats are interesting but some just are a little weak. Take Hammer and Nail for instance, a weaker version of power attack. One needs sneak attack or a BAB of 3+ to get it and it performs just like power attack except no extra damage for two handed weapons although it does work with light weapons. None of the feats are really powerful and unlike other books in the series there are no epic feats in here.
The three prestige classes are all really cool. The first is called the Rock Stone Disciple and is designed for a monk that makes use of the Hooked Hammer. They get quite a few ki powers that allow them to really use the hooked hammer well like ki strike abilities that help for tripping, bull rushing, and sundering. One great option is in the side apra which ashows how a few easy changes can make this class psionic.
The Ioun Walker is another cool class but it seems that the hooked hammer is just slapped into the class so it would fit the book. They do require the weapon to take the class but none of the class abilities take advantage or even require the weapon for their use. The theme of the class is gems and gem like powers.
The Weapon Dancer is the final prestige class and builds on the dancing with the weapon I mentioned earlier. This is a bard aimed class and does not actually require the hooked hammer to take this class. They get some good abilities dealing with dancing and improving some skills. It does not grant any more bard spells, less skills and skill points, and grants worse saving throws, but does offer more hit points and better attack bonus.
Overall it is a nice improvement visually over past books. They succeed in taking a weapon and giving people reasons while showing interesting things one can do with it. The Prestige classes are cool but not really fitting that well with the theme of the of the book. Still, it is a good book and should allow people to use an under used weapon.