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Anthropomorphized Rabbit

QuidEst's page

Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game Subscriber. 3,157 posts (3,341 including aliases). 8 reviews. No lists. No wishlists. 9 aliases.



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*shrugs*

***( )( )

At ten bucks, the PDF is still a good deal, as with all of the RPG line.

Golarion organizations aren't one of the setting's stronger points, at least going by the selection here. They're more geographically restricted than deities (one even being associated with a single person). I play games set in Golarion, and the organizations still aren't useful as-is. The book suffers from its focus on them, with archetypes trading out features just to fit narrow themes.

The best example is the red mantis assassins. They were given as an example of how the book would be useful for people who aren't using Golarion- if you need a generic assassin, just grab stuff from the red mantis section. Only normal assassins don't want to use an over-designed exotic weapon sword that they can't conceal, and never have any reason to want to look like, summon, or turn into a giant bug. The group comes across as very two-dimensional, with most stuff related to one of those two things. While other groups,

Prestige class content was mostly cleaning up and expanding the existing prestige classes- useful, but not very exciting. No major adjustments made for psychic classes, and some of the usual limited

There were some good new archetypes (especially the Rivethun section), but a personal count turned up fewer that I'd consider when using the class than Horror Adventures had.

All in all, I was initially excited to get a bunch of new archetypes and prestige classes. I'd still want that sort of book, but with a more useful theme (e.g. different types of outsiders, generic organizations, the classes themselves, or the Pathfinder deities). As an experiment, it didn't do as well as the recent themed books like Horror Adventures, Ultimate Intrigue, and Occult Adventures.


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Enough good stuff to be worth it.

*****

It's always better to focus on the best parts of a book rather than what doesn't work well. The best parts are what will get used, after all! This book has enough fun stuff for a five-star rating in my book, although four stars would also be fair.

Fungal Pilgrim what pushed this from four to five stars for me, and I'll admit to some personal bias. First time I've seen a Wild Shape trade that I'd solidly consider. You could get a template on your summons, but modifying your animal companion is the really cool option. Lassie gets to host a brain fungus. At first, it trades movement and dexterity for strength, constitution, a ton of immunities, darkvision, and more natural armor. At tenth level, it now provides you with an unlimited supply of free scaling-DC poison (weak effect, but easy to hide in food and the like), and at fourteenth, it gets a fun poison AoE. As a capstone, it can make make temporary fungal zombie slaves out of weak enemies. Getting the immunities of plant type for yourself is gravy. I know that one review has limited influence, but I'd love to see more creepy fungal stuff!

Blightseeker Alchemist is a great archetype that gets debuffing bombs that stack with bomb modifying discoveries. This is nice design-wise, because it allows for much more flexible and enjoyable battlefield control and debuff builds. It's also a very stackable archetype, so you can mix and match!

Demon-Sworn Witch archetype is an evil-powers-for-(optionally)-good-or-neutral-ends deal, which we really haven't seen much of. Your soul may be toast after you die, but it's not going to screw with your alignment in the meantime to be using shady powers you don't understand. Throwing on some nontlethal damage to ALL hexes is a cool design touch to push towards the darker hexes, but it's low enough that you can still buff or heal allies if you need. Evil-but-subservient familiar that can be (expensively) raised with its internal spellbook intact is also a really nice perk. While it's not one I have a personal interest in, archetypes where you can immediately think of at least two players who'd love them are well worth mentioning.

Beastkin Berserker is a nice complement to Mooncursed Barbarian. It gives you a range of forms rather than focusing on just one, and focuses on the animal form rather than providing a hybrid form. While they each have pros and cons, between the two, players now have better choices.

Psychic Marauder is the last of my stand-out archetypes, and probably ranked second for me. Catches charisma-based up with wisdom-based when it comes to saves, and generates an aura of confusion that isn't always on (if anybody like Psychedelia, but didn't want to be responsible for a bunch of peasant deaths everywhere they go). While there's a non-lawful requirement, the penalties for becoming lawful aren't overly steep, and you can continue using taking levels in the archetype.

Speaking of psychics, Animus Mine is an amazingly fun spell. Booby-trap your own mind. Somebody tries to mess with it, and the mine goes off in their face. (Well, slightly behind their face.) The upgraded version can even protect you from whatever they were trying to do.

There are some good mundane items (like blasting jelly), a fun magical item to bend oozes to your will, and some traits that DO something rather than give numeric skill or caster level bonuses. Additionally, I've skipped over some archetypes for classes I'm not big on, so there may be more options that are worth five stars in your view!

(Grumpy rant time. The book has enough good stuff for five stars, and stuff that didn't live up to my personal expectations formed from half a sentence in the product description shouldn't take away from that.)

Since reviews are looked at for future work, I want to mention the Blightburner archetype for kineticist. I love the class, love the idea of element-specific archetypes, and I want to see more of both! I'm only including this bit because I'd love more kineticist material. But the archetypes should pay more attention to what's fun in the class and what it needs to keep to make it good.

Earth's kinetic defense is really cool for shrugging off damage, and pretty much the only reason I consider it over the more utility-focused elements like aether, water, and air. The archetype trades that away for a completely burn-dependent trivial retaliation damage setup. At minimum to seem about fair, that damage would need to be as high as the DR I just lost.

Kineticist also needs accuracy boosters for physical attacks and damage boosters for elemental attacks. The size bonuses to stats help with this, and also (equally importantly) offset some of the burn taken by boosting constitution. The class is pretty tightly balanced, and has few ways to use items to improve itself. The archetype trades those size bonuses out to provide scaling that its kinetic defense probably should have included by default.

Finally, make useful, fun trades. If I'm a radiation kineticist, I want to be able to shoot people with radiation! Apart from the aura mentioned above, the archetype allows me to… touch somebody for one nonlethal damage per minute as long as I keep touching them? Everything else requires radioactive materials to be present, which is at MOST 5% of the time in the <1% of campaigns that have it at all. And the net effect is that I can save burn by hanging out in radioactive areas, and spend burn so that I can hang out in radioactive areas. Super-specific abilities should also include general applications.


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Supports lots of new character options!

*****

First up, getting the worst part out of the way: Psychic gets spells and items, and that's it. There, it's over, and everything after is better news. (That said, they're basic quality-of-life items for all psychic casters, and the spells include two new undercastable spells. It may be more practical for most Psychics, even if it isn't as shiny as a new archetype or some disciplines.)

Spiritualist gets an awesome phantom with a distinct play style, and it includes support for the numerous archetypes that require special treatment. (High-five to the writer!) On top of that, it gets two very nice archetypes, one for ghostly animal companions and one for Magus-like combat with psychic in-combat casting addressed. (High-five to the writer!) Really cool to see past issues addressed!

Mesmerist gets some love for tricks. Not getting use out of more than one or two? Want a Mesmerist that isn't forced to pass out tricks to be useful? Playing a spontaneous caster to avoid morning preparation? Solved in one feat. (High-five to the writer!) Gets a nice variety of archetypes, covering transformation (offensive and defensive), possession (mostly of the object variety), and heavier trick focus. The new stare feats are significantly stronger than equivalent level stare feats. Blind is a MUCH harsher condition than fatigued, so GMs, you might want to take a close look at that.

Occultist panoplies and an archetype focused on them. By far the most stand-out option is being able to trade in some flexibility for increased BAB. Full BAB and 6/9 casting? Don't mind if I do! That said, the others are useful, especially in particular campaign types. Solidifies Occultist's ability to fill major roles without needing to be a 9/9 caster.

Kineticist gets a ton of talent options. A sizable chunk has an extra feat tax for most races, but that's okay- if you need a bunch of extra options, they're there. There are a lot of weird little editorial issues here- incompatible requirements, mislabeled elements, and extra mechanics that have no actual effect. For those who wanted Kineticist crafters, you're good to go. For those who wanted a melee Kineticist without giving up all your utility talents (or any of them, for that matter), Kinetic Knight is great.

Medium gets one archetype, which is huge and has a bunch of options.
Pros: Heck yeah, I want a familiar with free Improved Familiar and bonus shapeshifting! Awesome flavor, too, with (mostly) different abilities for all sorts of outsiders.
Cons: "You must pay for the atonement spell if you make even a tiny violation" is a terrible way to run a Paladin. Baking that approach into an archetype is not pleasant, even with your code being "pick one restriction out of these three". Replacing all intermediate abilities with the same ability puts a LOT of importance on that ability. Also, delayed summoning for all three evil outsider types lacks the flavor good alignments get.
Verdict: Tough call. Not for me, but there are cases where it's a good fit. Anybody who wants a character that HAS to do something can fit that pretty well here- being deep in debt with outside forces, for instance. It's a very nice pick for caster Mediums, since you get abilities that can be used without relying on granting influence.

Bonus: awesome corruption for psychically inclined characters!

Overall: If you like Spiritualist, Mesmerist, or Occultist, this is a great book for you. If you find yourself struggling to find Kineticist talents you want to take for your element, or want a utility-preserving martial Kineticist, this will help. If you like getting in deep with outsiders, want more items for psychic casters, or need some additional Psychic spells, it's worth a look.


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New basic options for classes? Sold!

*****

Book gets five stars for some really neat stuff design-wise. It expands the basic options for some classes- no archetype compatibility issues, no extra features you don't care about or trading out stuff you wanted. If you play a Druid or a Paladin, you now have additional options on your list. I'd love to see more of this in future books!

If you're a Druid, you can get an alchemist-esque potion-making ability for Nature's Bond. There are some balance issues on the money part of it, so I recommend GMs go with "you can stockpile, but not sell". Could be a good idea to rule that expensive material components still cost money, too.

If you're a Paladin, you can choose from three new bond choices instead of a weapon bond or mount. More healing, a communal ward against evil, or being one terrifying avatar of divine justice. In addition, there are a bunch of new choices for mercies ranging from things that are great for a character arc to cementing your position as the last thing an evil wizard wants to run into.

Another really neat design choice that I'd love to see more is explicitly compatible archetypes- the Alchemist's healing archetype is designed to work with Chirurgeon, addressing overlapping features. Having two compatible archetypes with similar goals is great for character customization- you now have three levels of healing archetype to apply (one, the other, or both). Also solves the big issue with Chirurgeon while it's at it! Both Alchemist archetypes are pretty awesome, and do a great job of expanding character options with good balance.

Clerics get an archetype that doesn't mess with their domains. Whoo! Warpriests and Shamans get subblessings and subspirits.

That said, this book will contain disappointments for people looking for certain things (as some of the other reviews show):
-There's really only one good thing for the heal skill, an inexpensive magic item to expand its effectiveness. Nonmagical healing in the book is not very impressive otherwise.
- If you wanted more healing on non-healing classes, this isn't the book for you. It's a book about making the existing healers better at their job or giving them more options while they do it.
- Sorry, evil Clerics. You're still preparing healing spells in slots like before. You can now use them for torture or manipulation, though, so those spells will be more versatile.

All in all, a great win for character versatility!


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Fantastic Beasts and How to Play Them

*****

This book has a ton of incredible content, and is probably my new favorite Player's Companion. There are a few strong contenders, but it definitely wins when it comes to the "Blood of" books. I'll restrict myself to my favorite thing for each race, with much difficulty.

Inside cover is a super-handy map, showing where the various races are concentrated within the Inner Sea region.

Catfolk: Stalker at World's End archetype for Bloodrager. Get a non-caster spirit from Medium and eventually shapeshift into one of the big cats while raging (with Natural Spell, no less!). Don't worry, there are a few balancing factors to the shapeshifting.

Grippli: Fiend Keeper archetype for Medium is one of the snazziest archetypes available. Something of a spooky Paladin in flavor, they work to purify an evil spirit. Rather than simply walk the straight and narrow, though, they can let it try to gain influence over them in exchange for some very flexible powers. A strong option for anybody who wants to play a Paladin, but with a little more nuance and flexibility. Alignment is any non-evil, but they still keep to the bulk of the Paladin code.

Kitsune: My favorite is all the alternate racial options they get, but since that's only relevant to people who want to play a Kitsune, I'll mention Advanced Versatile Performance. The first Versatile Performance is super-useful, but they tend to die off a bit after that. This allows trading out those later-level additions for one of three options: expand an existing Versatile Performance by one skill (also nice because you don't have to pick a musical style just to get a skill you want), a weapon proficiency (or Weapon Focus) plus some minor perks for the more martially-inclined Bards, or a Masterpiece as if you'd taken a feat for it.

Nagaji: I like casters, and while the bloodlines this gets are nice, probably my favorite thing is the Naga Shape spells. It's rare to get polymorph spells that still allow casting, and these do just that.

Ratfolk: The archetype I've wanted for years, Swarm Monger for Druids. This one's pretty clever, giving you a familiar (cat, rat, spider, centipede, or crow) that you can temporarily turn into a swarm. It gets some temporary hitpoints, and will eventually wreck your enemies with save-or-nauseated. Eventually, you can turn into a swarm yourself as a Wild Shape option. Especially nice because unlike a lot of Druid archetypes, this one doesn't make you wait longer to get Wild Shape or delay its spells-copied progression at all. Favorite thing in the book, and the art for it is pretty cute, too.

Tengu: A tough call, but the Jinx Witch archetype can "eat" incoming spells, boosting their own powers and eventually tossing the spells back. You still have to make the save against whatever hit you, though, so it's a good idea to invest in that fortitude save.

Vanara: What could make me pass up shiny new Advanced Weapon Training options and a Ranger that doesn't need to hate humans to be good? The Ancestor Eidolon! Summoners can now summon up one of their ancestors, which gets the default racial features of the Summoner's race, along with eventually getting a weak pseudo-class. I strongly recommend the Eidolon's first feat be Extra Traits for Heirloom Weapon, both for flavor and mechanics reasons. Combined with Kitsune, it's now possible to pretend to be your own class feature's familiar, or to get an unkillable body-double (provided you don't mind the fact that it's you looking like them).


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