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Alchemaic's page

Goblin Squad Member. 127 posts. 7 reviews. No lists. No wishlists.

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Surprisingly Heroic

****( )

This is not a well-titled book. When you think of a book with this title, you think of a middling to mediocre heavily flavor-focused book with at best some fluff archetypes that are kind of forgettable after a week or two. What you don’t expect is a whole host of really cool archetypes, flavorful items and abilities that hold up mechanically, and even new options for verbal duels of all things. Not everything’s a slam dunk of course, there’s a few less interesting or questionable archetypes scattered throughout the book (like the Paladin that trades out a bunch of stuff to basically become a Swashbuckler) but there’s also a bunch of really good archetypes included, like the Fighter archetype that gets Strength-based Combat Reflexes, and the Silksworn Occultist, a great archetype for the class that only gets better as it wears increasing amounts of bling.

Definitely worth a look, especially for someone who wants a character that's regal and wants to show it in style.

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A Legacy Worth Remembering


After the combination train wreck/dumpster fire that was Legacy of Dragons, I was completely prepared to write this book off as a part 2 to the Legacy of Trash. Consider my complete surprise, then, when I found that this book was not only good, it was great. Just about everything in here oozes with Fey style, and mechanically just about everything holds their own. The only notable exceptions are the Seducer Witch, which unfortunately falls into the realm of "surprise villain archetype" due to how its class features work based on seduction, and the First World Innovator Alchemist, which is one archetype that I'm still debating over. The rest of the book is rock solid though.

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Some sections are worth it

**( )( )( )

Ignoring the fairly sizeable chunk of reprints, the book is fairly average. Some sections stand out more than others (The section on the Al-Zabriti is particularly good, and the Gray Maiden section is very well done), and it seems like the writers actually had a real interest in making something both flavorful and fun. Those sections really shine as something to read for, but other sections are completely lackluster, boring, or just bad. The sections for Hellknights and Magaambya, for example, might seem familiar to people reading through them, because most of those sections are completely reprinted material (apart from two archetypes in each which tend to meet a modicum of association with the section). The Aldori Swordlord section also sticks out as particularly bad, as the options contained within (which are about half new) just feel completely phoned in both flavor-wise and mechanically, as they’re all fairly poor options besides the Fighter archetype which is actually a reprint.

And that brings up the connection to the Golarion lore, which was a major point of contention prior to the book’s release. This book honestly feels like a strike against tying the rules to Golarion proper for a few reasons. First, it affects the writer’s interest in the material. The gap between the good sections and the bad sections are night and day, and while future core books would benefit greatly from an attachment to the lore from an inspired writer, the sad fact is that it won’t always happen. That’s something that’s better left to the campaign setting line, since those books can become shorter and more focused on what the writer wants without having to split that focus on something that they find uninteresting, causing it to become lackluster as a result. Second, the focus on the lore seemed to cause this book to become filled with reprinted material or basic material in what looks like an attempt to fill empty space. Stripped of the Golarion lore, the section on Hellknights and Gray Maidens could have been combined into one mega section called “Faceless Enforcers” or something, which would have been able to share classes and options between the two (since there are thematic similarities). Instead of having to fill a specific quota of 10 pages of Hellknights (of which only 2 are filled) and 10 pages of Gray Maidens (which seems to have had to cut out a dozen good ideas), there would instead be 20 pages to share between the two of them which could be filled with feats and abilities that could benefit both groups, or similar groups in a non-Golarion game.

tl;dr Minus the reprints the book is a solid middle ground, but the reprinted material (and even reprinted art? That just makes the book feel like a cashgrab) makes it less worth it. Tying it to Golarion lore, while possibly a benefit with the right material/writer matchup, does no favors to this book and instead seems to drag it down. At least it's only $10. Also, the book has some AP spoilers, which is something that should have been prefaced somewhere.

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Super Specific Monster Hunter's Handbook

*( )( )( )( )

I think the best way to describe this book is "too focused". Not focused in the good way, where there's a strong thematic link between options and everything has a strong idea of what it’s supposed to accomplish, but focused in the same way Weapon Focus or Skill Focus is focused. Far too much of this book only applies against very specific creature types or situations (some of which you can even choose). Almost all the spells are either extremely situational or require you to specify a specific type of creature for the spell to work against, about half of the magic items and mundane equipment only functions against specific creatures chosen at the time of creation, and half of the archetypes become ineffective when not in a campaign that lets them fight very specific enemies. Even some of the options that aren’t super focused aren’t particularly great, like the Disciple of the Pike Cavalier which trades out their mount but for some reason still focuses super hard on charging with a lance/spear, and the vast majority of the feats which are either straight-up bad or just boring and not worth spending a feat on. Even the feats that SHOULD have been cool, like Dimensional Step-Up, completely falls flat outside of very specific circumstances. Tons of them function only if the monster attacking has a specific ability or uses a very specific tactic. Ironically, probably the best feats are the Focused Expertise feats which grant bonuses in every circumstance and grants an IMPROVED bonus against the chosen favored enemy type. Which is really how most of the options in the book should have functioned: grant a bonus that improves under a specific circumstance, not grant a bonus that only exists under a specific circumstance.

And speaking of bonuses that only exist under a specific circumstance, let’s talk about the trophy rules. The basic gist is that, after killing a creature, you can take its parts and create items (that fit into magic item slots) that grant you bonuses to a number of stats, and the bonuses increase based on the CR of the killed creature. Sounds pretty great, right? I agree. Oh, also it’s two feats deep into a chain, the first feat of which is really useless unless you’re an Alchemist or can otherwise craft things at super speed before the parts you collect rot into worthlessness. And the trophies themselves only last for a number of days, with a scaling DC which means having something last for a week is high-end skill focus. And the trophies themselves only grant a bonus against creatures of the same type. And if you didn’t craft them yourself (such as killing the creature, giving the bits to the party Wizard to craft, and then putting them on) you gain a reduced bonus and the trophies rot after 24 hours. And, again, they take magic item slots, which means you’re going to have to fight to fit them plus your other gear. Thankfully Monstrous Crafter exists, which can combine trophies with existing magic items and even makes the trophies last forever, right? Wrong. Unlike before the trophy benefits now become 1/day for one minute instead of constant, and it’s 4-5 feats deep since you require Monstrous Crafter, Grisly Ornament, Harvest Parts, Craft Wondrous Item, and (if you’re a non-caster type which is the kind of character that would MOST BENEFIT from the trophies) you also need to take Master Craftsman. At that point it’s half of your feats (or 1/4 of your feats for a Fighter), which is a huge investment for a character to make.

There are a few alright options, but it’s the minority in the book. Probably the most worthwhile thing is the Psychodermist, an Occultist archetype that can actually effectively use the incredibly underwhelming new trophy rules, but an entire book isn’t worth one archetype. Avoid this book.

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(Magic) Healer's/Supporter's Handbook

***( )( )

This book's kind of hard to get a perfect read on because it's so densely packed, but what I've been picking through seems average. There's a few interesting options such as the Angelfire Apostle that effectively adds a breath weapon to healing spells and the spell Balance of Suffering which allows you to heal one target at the expense of another's life force, or the Phoenix Feather which is just a Phoenix Down, or the Paladin stuff which is all pretty great. But a lot of the stuff just seems very bland at best. The Arcane Physician for example is probably the most "meh" thing in the book, since it's just a Wizard that gets healing spells. That's really about it. There's also a weirdly high amount of options dedicated to status suppression and miscellaneous support abilities instead of actual healing, such as the Sacred Attendant who gains the ability to boost Charisma checks.

Also, most of the options in the book are caster-oriented. There are two non-caster archetypes (a lesser but unchained-friendly version of Monk of the Healing Hand and a Ranger that's okay at finding plants), and the Combat Vigor feats are more work than they're worth unless you're a Fighter with plenty of feats to spare to make them worthwhile, not to mention they're self-only unlike a wand of a cure spell.

tl;dr, if you're expecting new uses for the Heal skill or new alchemical healing items, or feats and abilities that make even the least magically-inclined Barbarian into a somewhat viable out-of-combat healer, this isn't the book for you. If you're looking for new ways for your existing healer to heal more differently, then pick this up.

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