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Occult Archetypes is from publisher Legendary Games, a brand that frequently produces great products. Often they are divided into different categories based on Paizo adventure paths they allude to plug into but also in-house settings and entire modes of play under Pathfinder. In this case this is an 'occult plug-in' meaning that its all about Occult Adventures and the options that it presents with new archetypes and other options. There are a little over 20 archetypes in its 40 pages (along with some reprinted rules such as spells from the Technology Guide and Wizard elemental schools).
Being rather young classes, the Occult classes definitely need some room for growth and flavor and this product brings it.
The Kineticist archetypes brings us a radiation-based kineticist that's alignment-locked into non-good. One gives us a kineticist with some psychic spells. But other than that I feel like the archetypes are mostly cosmetic in the sense that they don't change any of the basic dynamics of the class although there are some cool concepts with importing some class features like channel energy and the oracle's curse. That's not to say that they are boring. There's some concepts that are mostly a matter of flavor but are really cool, like the archetype that sources the Kineticist abilities from an item rather than the character itself producing a kind of Green Lantern feel.
Some of the Medium's archetypes are obvious. Get a druidic caster mode and a psychic caster mode with archetypes to support it and also a short archetypes that tweaks a little with a lot of impact.
Mesmerist gets just two but I wasn't terribly interested in them. They give some new flavor to Mesmerist when the class is pretty narrow but I feel represent a flavor already handled by other classes. One even sprinkles a bit of Bard in there which is just blasphemy to me.
I'm a bit biased against the Psychic so this one is pretty subjective but I really am not feeling the archetypes inside. They are most pretty much a psychic only kind of like another class, particularly gaining some items from Wizard and Monk like Wizard Schools, Wizard Elemental Schools, all good saves and evasion. One even gets prepared casting. If you already a fan of the Psychic class these are pretty aggressively interesting changes that expand expectations of how the class operates but I kind of saw the Psychic as a different casting Sorcerer so adopting class features from other classes just transfers the class's boringness to a class other than Sorcerer.
The Spiritualist is another class that feels like a New Coke version of another, in this case the Summoner, and this book doesn't help by presenting an archetypes that makes the spirit even more like an eidolon. But there's also two other archetypes that give something new are imported from the occultist which are more exciting.
There's a revision on how to deal with psychic abilities with monsters to make it more in line with how spell like abilities work in monsters along with revised entries for those abilities from the more recent psychic creatures. I do have a beef with this. Not the fact that they did it or anything but there's a table for that right in the middle of the Psychic's archetypes that takes up a full page instead of it being right after the page that explains it, which is slightly confusing. Also I'm not fond of mixing some GM information in archetype books (player information) unless its a bigger book that covers a broad amount of categories of a topic. Especially since it's about six and a half pages of stuff I may or may not use really.
On a rules and rules language front I didn't notice any problems with Occult Archetypes. There are a few archetypes that are inspirational and open up new concepts and others I feel reeks of gridfilling mechanics onto the new classes. Overall its a worthwhile buy. At it's worst about half of it contains interesting archetypes that bring you closer to new concepts that you may have had trouble with before and at it's best almost all the archetypes give you a new dynamic to it's respective class and you can easily make psy-like abilities work the same way other spells work instead of being something new and weird. Honestly most of the things that I was less than thrilled with is a victim of how expanded Pathfinder is to me. Like the very concept of a fiend hunter mesmerist gives something new to the mesmerist but between almost all the divine classes, Slayer and Ranger I think I've had my fill of the concept and I don't see what the Mesmerist brings to it. But on the other hand the Mesmerist has something new to do that's interesting. Meanwhile there's straight gems like the Poison Earth Kineticist that uses radiation. I want to give this a 4 out of 5 because there's a significant chunk that I don't really care about but I think that if I look at it objectively its a solid product that expands what the occult classes can do without being huge nerfs or being overpowered so I'm bumping it to a 5 out of 5 for what it is.
First of all, a big thanks to Fat Goblin Games for gifting this product.
Abandoned Arts is a publisher that puts out some decent product. Not great but not terrible. But they are consistent in putting out their material that has a lot of crunch per page and not really wasting time on fluff or art, so you get quite the bang for your buck. However I'm not one to start picking up tons of little books, mainly because I don't want players (or myself) to go file hunting for just the right options by digging through a bunch of small titles. When it comes to player options I like my fat books or at least fat pdf that I can print out into a fat book, so the only Abandoned Arts book that I actually use is The Class Acts Compendium. Otherwise the company has drifted into obscurity for being fairly low profile crunch that I can honestly live without. Lately Abandoned Arts has started publishing under Fat Goblin Games, who I didn't really pay attention to until after their Fantastic Technology book, and most of the products I've seen after that book has been miles better than what I had purchased before so I see this as a huge step up for both companies. Here we have More Feats!: Vol 1, which is a compilation of Abandoned Arts More Feats! line.
This pdf is only 38 pages long but true to Abandoned Arts tradition it doesn't waste much space or time. These are a truckton of feats with seven pages being just the feat tables. The document promises another compilation as they put out more More Feats! books with two more compilations showing up sometime this year culminating in over 500 feats.
The feats here cover themes of Agility, Alchemy, Athleticism, Charisma, Courage, Dexterity, Endurance, Fellowship, Fury, Horsemanship, Intellect, Leadership, Marksmanship, Secuction, Speed, Strength, Style, Subterfuge, Wisdom, and Witchcraft.
The downside of wanting a fat book of feats is that I can't talk about every individual feat and how I feel about it so I'll just bring up my general feelings. Another downside is that this product is a bit difficult to judge. The feats inside are totally not equal. Some are pure gold that I want to take and are evocative and useful, granting you something new to do. Some are basically situational trap options that I'll never take. As far as I can tell not even one of them will break your game and they are written clearly enough for me to understand on the first try (Although I noticed a few typos and wonky language like gaining 'a bonus equal to the highest level spell..' not specifying spell level.), so do I judge it for the bad stuff or the great stuff? I guess judge by how much value I get for $9.95 it takes to purchase this product.
From that point you actually get quite a bit of value. I'm noticing some really cool feats for fighters and monks like one that lets you use Str for Initiative and a series of style feats that let you be really dangerous while mobile. There's also some really interesting social feats like distracting a room full of creatures enough to allow observed creatures to make stealth checks. The useless ones are situational but if you known what kind of campaign you're getting into they can be pulled off regularly. I would say that overall the feats are about as good as you'd expect from Paizo's Ultimate books with a large swath being ignored due to the abundance of feats you need for particular builds but the ones with good flavor and great usefulness peeking through, even producing new kinds of builds.
It does tend to mess up a bit less, where a number of the feats aren't bad but make me wish characters got more feats because really they do new things but will get crowded out by hyper-optimized combat focused builds needing feats to be way more aggressive. This is kind of a result of the product not exactly rocking the boat by revolutionizing the game or generating new subsystems or changing power dynamics but at the same time the tendency kind of keeps it playing safe and not messing up by completely bungling what its trying to do and wind up being completely useless or overpowered. Its the kind of thing that you wouldn't seek out with any real enthusiasm except for about a dozen feats and more of something that you're really happy to have when you have it. Its a dose of diversity that doesn't rock the boat that can be a really nice treat for casual games that have a particular kind of game in mind and giving a few new reasons to build in a weird way. From a powergaming grognard point of view there's only a couple of gems to break you from the core rulebook and is about as useful as your average Pathfinder Player Companion. That doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it to a powergaming grognard because in context the same price is less than your average Player Companion and the density of the product does lend to it more actual content to sink your teeth into so it actually comes out as being as useful as a really good Player companion so I can deem it as well worth the price.
For the rate of traps per gems I'd have to lower my final score to somewhere between three stars and four, as that just adds more choice paralysis to anyone that has trouble finding feats, but I get more value out of it than others because I run and play a huge range of types of campaigns so my personal feelings lean it more towards a 4 stars out of 5 and call it a day.
First of all, a big thanks to Flying Pincushion for the review copy.
The Tides of War series from Flying Pincushion has had a huge upswing and a huge downswing making this one a bit of a gamble but with high rewards. Lets see where the pendulum swings in this installment where we get some multiclass enabling Magus feats.
Now I'm not stranger to multiclassing feats. Rogue Genius Games did a book a while back with a bunch of them, some poaching class features while others actually required you multiclass. Here out of the six pages of the pdf, as with the previous Tides of War, we get only a few pages of content. For this one it's two, or more two and a half.
Some of the feats let you use your arcane pool in new ways that interact with class features from another class. You can use your arcane pool to reduce the penalty of mutagens, issue extra challenges, get more rounds of Bardic Performance/Raging Song, or get more Rage.
You can also spellstrike from outside your spell list. get benefits from killing targets of your smite or favored enemy, re-target Hex targets,
One of the more interesting ones is one that lets you spend arcane points when using a Kinetic Blade to use your hit die as your caster level for the spell.
For the most part these feats definitely do some enabling. They are simple and to the point but actually do quite a bit to make multiclassing with a Magus viable. Best of all they are written very clearly and there's a variety of ways that they help. For feats you get some hefty bonuses but really you'd have to because in all honesty some of the class combinations aren't that great and multiclassing in Pathfinder can be kind of a bust in the first place. I'd give this a full 5 out of 5 stars. It does its job and does it well and in a short amount of time. Besides that you also get some actual incentive to mix the classes more without a single trap option in the mix. Bravo.
When Pathfinder Unchained came out I was ecstatic. The talk of the town was the new unchained classes but i was all about the series of house rules to adjust the game. Unfortunately some of the patches for difficult parts of the game were a little too conservative which resulted in them being fantastic ideas in their own right but not really enough or very functional for the space allotted. Even the best ideas required a bit of adjustment before going into a game. But that's the nature of house rules so I was really eager to see how third party publishers polished off some of these great ideas, and so we get to Everyman Games, now a part of Rogue Genius Games, with Everyman Unchained: Skills and Options.
For the first bit we get a new skill system, a hybrid of grouped skills from Unchained and normal skills. To make things short, you get your normal ranks and skills as normal but additionally you choose skill groups as defined by the table inside at first level(You have to start with the Background skill group.), second level and every 4 levels after that. You get bonus skill ranks that you have to spend on skills within a skill group you selected but only if you have more than half your level in ranks from a skill in that group. On paper and in use this system works very well and gives you a wider range of skills without just handing off a bunch of extra skills willy nilly. But your milage may vary because I personally don't think I'll ever use this purely because Its an added layer of complication which I don't like even though it still works without having to adjust anything else. When presenting it to players I've had to explain whats being said and there was a lot of back tracking for players. To be fair half of my usual group isn't very adaptive to any level of complication so you may take that criticism with a huge grain of salt. Also for the other half it seems fairly simple enough. In the end I just feel like it's the background skills system that threw an added complication by adding your background ranks into something that you have to keep backchecking a chart for instead of simply adding them to a set list.
The next section is on favored class bonuses. There are things that I do like and things that I don't like. I like the favored class bonus options that are class specific (but not specific to race/class combinations). Its a cool way to really give a little more variety within a class. There are even a few third party classes in the mix. Same goes for the racially specific bonuses, particularly that they aren't class specific racial bonuses as well, something that I've always criticized because it means each new race is burdened to account for classes that don't yet through updates. At the same time the class specific ones have the same problem that makes me like the racial ones in that there's no way for it to account for third party classes. to a lesser extent the same can go for the racial ones because races not represented here get basically nothing. But this doesn't exactly mean that non-represented classes and races get no action. One set of bonuses are specific to classes with an animal companion, which works with classes or even archetypes that could come out next year and still functions. Then there are the universal options, favored class bonuses that don't require a specific race or class, which is basically the holy grail for me in this section. Particularly I like that you can pay favored class bonuses towards a feat that uses your race as a prerequisite. This little rule make racial feats a kind of mini paragon path which ups their value and flavor. Besides that it completely bypasses all the problems I have with favored class bonuses not being able to account for classes and races that don't exist yet or are third party while still keeping it racially relevant. Its one of those things where I wished the game was like that from the beginning. There are new feats that interact with the new favored class bonuses. They are nice but the real noteworthy thing is that humans make out like bandits with a new racial feat that gives them oodles of HP, skill ranks or both.
Lastly we have Alternate Multi-Classing options for the Dragon Paragon, Mystic, Occultist(third party), and Technician.
I may have lobbed some criticism but all in all this is a decent product. If you liked the background skills system from Pathfinder Unchained then the skill system is a better alternative. (I did not so I wasn't too keen on this system.) If you aren't finicky about getting new races and classes in on the favored class bonuses then you at least have an option to give them something. The thing I'm mostly taking from this book is the universal favored class bonuses and the associated feats but i can seriously see anyone else taking away more. So right now I'm on the fence of what to rate this because of a fight between what I feel like I'd use and what I feel others would use. I think 4 out of 5 stars is fair. Its a rating that doesn't scare people who would like it from the product but expresses that I really only consider two pages of the product useful to me.
So if you have seen my opinions about New Paths Compendium my views of The Trickster will induce a lot of deja vu. Like a lot of it's predecessors the Trickster class follows a lot of familiar ground and fills in a huge gap but adds a bit of new to make it a real novelty while still feeling like a real part of the game. As a whole that's the main strength of the New Path classes. They feel like they could have been printed by Paizo so its pretty easy to accept them in a game as opposed to completely new kinds of systems like Spheres of Power or sharp changes in balance like Path of War. They simply fit in and play nice with base Pathfinder and as much as I like my crazy stuff like psionic wolfmen from the future, or Aboleth parasite mutants that shoot bears out of their eyes I absolutely love my purchase of New Paths Compendium and products that simply fill in the blanks that the base game leaves behind.
So what is the Trickster? Well in a nutshell it's a 20 level Arcane Trickster in the same way that the Magus is a 20 level Eldritch knight. Its basic chassis is a 3/4 BAB class with six levels of casting. It casts from the Sorcerer/Wizard list so avoids spell list conflicts that I normally have with new classes but does put it's casting a bit ahead of the Magus in terms of raw versatility. It has a spellbook but prepares spells known rather than spell slots, so it casts like an Arcanist (also INT based casting). It has a slower progression sneak attack and at fifth level can use sneak attacks to deliver touch spells which is where the comparison to the Magus comes in. At level 15 it can do the reverse and have spells that deal damage against flat footed enemies deal sneak attack damage which applies to all targets of the spell if the spell does damage to multiple targets in one blast (Yes fireball/No magic missile) making a surprise Burning Hands really sick all of a sudden at late levels.
There's also an option called Forte that serves as kind of a Order/Bloodline package choice that represents a focus. One makes you significantly better at acrobatics checks, one gives you a familiar that does quite a bit of extra things, like sneak attack and functionally giving you the Inquisitor's Solo Tactics with it. One makes feint pretty desirable. One allows you to steal spells but is about the only ability in the entire book that I have serious questions about. Its unclear whether or not the stolen spell is itself negated or if the stealing has to occur within a certain range or exactly when the opposing caster is casting. Either way it looks like it can swipe spells from other spell lists and cast them for a short amount of time. Plus later on they can hijack ongoing spells and control them.
The rest of the class features are mostly filler-ish or expected things. It gets six +1s to a number of skills over the course of the class, three bonus feats from a limited pool or a metamagic feat. They get uncanny dodge/improved uncanny dodge, trapfinding and evasion. One interesting thing is that they can make ranged disable device and sleight of hand checks as if they were using mage hand to do it. Something everyone ever had tried to do before realizing that's not how the spell works. Eventually they can hijack ongoing spells and control them.
In the end I have to criticize an INT based caster with 6+INT skills per level. This can easily be seen as a "better Rogue" from that standpoint alone. Although that's true for a lot of things the class feels like the Rogue dropped all of it's worst abilities and replaced them with good ones. But overall, I like the class. I've seen a few 20 level arcane trickster type classes and this one fills in the checkboxes that I think are the most desirable things about the concept. Using mage hand to steal/disable, steal spells, cast with versatility. I also have to praise the points where it keeps in room for expansion with it's Forte class feature. Its a rather simple class that fits in about 5 pages but it's packed with so many small smart choices that brings it together. The Fortes make the focus of the class drastically different from each other, the Arcanist casting keeps it from being boring but still keeps it spontaneous, stealing control of spells, not shoehorning a talent selection (which would have made for a huge chunk of choice paralysis since spells are also involved.). I think this class fits in great next to the Magus in filling up concepts that fit in the six level arcane caster space and is probably my current favorite chassis for the concept. I think I can confidently give this five stars out of five. I'm sure that others will love it.