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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber. Pathfinder Society Member. 9,394 posts (14,758 including aliases). 2 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 1 Pathfinder Society character. 11 aliases.

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A Missed Opportunity

**( )( )( )

OK, I have only had a chance to briefly look through much of the volume, and I have mainly concerned myself with the unchained monk, seeing as how I've largely been involved with monk discussions.

Let me say that conceptually, the monk is my favourite class. Sadly, the crunch of the monk has never matched the fluff or the promise, something that was clearly conceded in the decision to make it part of the unchained classes.

So what did I think of the new monk?

Well let me start by outlining what (in my opinion) the monk's major problems were:

1) MADness. The monk is the most multi-attribute dependent class in the game with no exceptions. He needs way to many good scores to function, and spreading his scores makes him suffer.

2) Enhancement. The monk's primary weapon, the unarmed strike, struggles to get enhancement. The only viable option is the amulet of mighty fists, and it suffers not just from price, but from it's total +5 limit of enhancement bonus plus properties.

Essentially, the monk's primary problem as a combat class is actually hitting and damaging his target - a pretty big problem for a combat class. This problem exists as a combination of smaller factors add up: his 3/4 BAB, his lack of enhancement, his MADness, etc. Getting through DR is problematical as well - the monk's ki-strike is useful, but not actually better than the ability to bypass DR that a magic weapon provides via it's enhancement bonus.

The monk's other problems of abilities that do not mesh well together were originally addressed in the qinggong archetype. His concept as a mobile fighter who has to stand still to fight effectively is also a big problem.

So how did Paizo do?

Well, they made some useful changes.

Full BAB - OK, I would not have recommended this, but it does ease the MADness just a little, and improves the odds to hit slightly. Minor plus.

New Flurry Mechanic - I had no issue with the old one, but the new one, well it's better if you are fighting a high-AC target, worse if you are fighting a low AC target. I would rate this a minor plus as well.

Weapon Proficiencies - AT LAST THE MONK IS GOOD WITH ALL MONK WEAPONS! OK, most of them suck, but he can use them all without blowing feats. Minor plus.

MADness - no change. The monk, other than now needing maybe slightly less Con than he did, is just as MAD as ever.

Enhancement - no change, ki-strike is the same as ever, and still not good enough.

Saves - Will save nerfed. Major minus. WTF? Paizo, guys, you had a WEAK CLASS. You said it yourselves. It makes no sense conceptually or mechanically to nerf the monk in any way. You just gave with one hand and took with the other, and that makes no sense. If you want to improve a weak class, you make it stronger, not shuffle things around.

New Ki powers - nice, well organized, but we already had some of these with the archetype. It's good to get abundent step at a level where you can actually go down the Dimensional Dervish road, but otherwise there's not much that thrills me. Abilities the monk used to have as "constant" now require ki to activate, and ki didn't get a boost so it's an even more starved resource than before. No change.

New combat abilities - some of these are pretty cool, flying kick especially as it actually addresses the monk's move/flurry inconsistency. This is a well deserved addition. Minor plus.

My overall impression...the monk is still a weak class. I'm sorry, but if you want an unarmed fighter then the brawler still pounds the monk flat and spits him out with ease where it counts - only now, the monk can't really claim to have less weaknesses than the brawler, either. It almost makes it, but the monk's biggest problems are still unresolved, and while there are some nice improvements here, there is at least one bad nerf to go with them. This was a missed opportunity, Paizo, and I'm left feeling depressed over my favourite class.


These changes really should have been thrown open to play-testing and feedback.

Other Stuff
I did manage a quick look at the rogue, and my feelings on that are mixed as well. I liked the Weapon Finesse at 1st level, but I think that was a mistake. Rogues could get Weapon Finesse as a rogue talent, it makes much more sense to give them a talent at first level, and make the dex-to-damage ability a talent as well. I say this because the most notable rogue I have seen played was a burley half-orc with a falchion as his main weapon, who'd get nothing out of these changes.

I do like the emphasis on skills, but I think more could have been done to make the rogue effective when he's not sneak attacking - generally his biggest problem.

I haven't had a chance to review much else, I wanted to get my thoughts here. I've rated the product a 2, on the basis there may be a lot of good stuff I have missed. Very, very disappointed in the new monk, though. Loads of flash...not enough substance, and why or why the nerfing?

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An Excelent Addition to Pathfinder


Psionics, as it says, invokes a great deal of controversy between those that love it to the point of making it the default magic system, and those that think it should be consigned to Crack of Doom and struck from the record of history. If you didn't like the D&D 3.5 psionics, you will despise this book with equal measure.

If you loved 3.5 psionics, however, this is written for you! First of all, the basic system is as unchanged as Vancian casting in Pathfinder. The races have been updated to the Pathfinder standard, and where OGL content forced exclusion of some, others have been added. You won't find Thri-kreen, but you will find ophiduans.

The classes, too, get the overhaul treatment to the pathfinder standard. The Psion is still essentially a wizard, and gets a generalist option to match the universalist wizard. All the specialists get their own mojo - for some specialities it is no big change, but for others they actually get desirable and useful. The Psychic Warrior also gets some new toys. Rather than tread on the fighter's toes as some suggested variants have, he gets Warrior's Paths. Otherwise, he's still what he was - one of the best balanced classes and arguably the best 'gish' class around before the Magus.

The Soulknife got the biggest overhaul - he used to be the class that monks made jokes about as the only 3.5 class weaker than them. Not any more. The Pathfinder soulknife seriously kicks butt as hard as any fighter, barbarian or paladin and in his own unique way. The Wilder gets some free abilities to upgrade them, and keep their role as a kind of super-focussed sorcerer. The different surge types allow you to customise this class for different specialist roles within a party at which they will excel. If you want a caster that blows things up and is actually good at it, the Wilder is your class of choice.

The powers got a big overhaul, especially the shape-changing powers, along the Pathfinder standard. Even the energy powers have been reined in as regards their versatility a little. They are still good for specialists, but other classes have to take a round out to change energy types - not something anyone wants to do in the middle of a combat.

Like the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, there are few truly 'new' ideas in here. On the other hand, it's an expansion and continuation of the original 3.5 system into Pathfinder in the same spirit as the PRPG, with rules streamlined and simplified in places (such as Concentration checks for Manifesters), obvious traps avoided and over-powered options reined in for better balance. Psionics/magic transparency is pushed further as the default, with overlapping skills (Psicraft and Use Psionic Device have been merged with Spellcraft and Use Magic Device). I'd recommend it to any player or DM looking to complete their OGL upgrade to Pathfinder.

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