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Ssalarn's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 6,415 posts. 19 reviews. 5 lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Pathfinder Society characters.



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Gotta Train them All!

*****

Mystical: Kingdom of Monsters is a 180 page supplement primarily built around a new class it introduces, the Monster Trainer. Along with the Monster Trainer class, this 180 page .pdf includes archetypes, new spells, and over 150 monsters both new and familiar that the Monster Trainer can capture and tame. Let's dive into the meat of this thing-

The Monster Trainer is a 3/4 BAB, 6 + INT skill, 9 level caster who captures monsters and utilizes them in a symbiotic blending of man and beast. Does 3/4 BAB, good skills, a pet, and 9th level casting seem a bit much? It did to me at first too, but it make a lot more sense as you dig in to the class and mechanics.
The Monster Trainer doesn't have a spell list of his own; instead, he gains knowledge of spells determined by his active monster and casts them as a sorcerer of his level. This generally means your spell list is much more limited than a true 9 level caster's, and is dependent upon the monster you're currently using. The bond between the trainer and his monster is also more limited than that of standard pet classes, since the Trainer must spend his actions to command his monster.

If some of this is starting to sound pretty familiar, that's not a coincidence. The supplement was inspired by Pokemon and that influence can be seen in both art and mechanics. The art in this supplement is beautiful, and tip-toes carefully down a line blending traditional fantasy art styles with more anime-esque art. Truthfully, I was pretty skeptical when I stumbled upon this, saying something to the effect of "Pokemon for Pathfinder? Pffft!" Turns out, I shouldn't have been so dismissive. When I went to see what kind of train-wreck had evolved from that concept, I was stunned to find a mechanically elegant, beautifully illustrated, and excellently fleshed out supplement with all the rules necessary to either graft the subsystem onto your home game's world or to enter the world of the Kingdom as laid out in the supplement.

The monsters are my favorite part, and honestly, I've spent as much time ogling the art and mechanics of the various monsters as actually playing with any of them. There's 150 critters laid out within, with everything from low level "companion" monsters (think starter pokemon) to high level beasts from the Bestiary like the glabrezu, updated with appropriate companion stats and abilities. The large array of low level monsters is excellent, giving the class a huge level or replayability. You could play a melee focused monster trainer, a trainer who focuses on blasting and/or utility with just about any element, a healing focused character, a buffer... If there's a role in the game you want to play, there's probably a class feature and monster combination that will allow you to fill it.

One of my favorite things about this supplement is how well it plays with other classes. The shared action economy and limit of calling one monster per encounter means that you aren't taking up any more table time than any other player, and the game presents several options for advancing your monster, keeping your initial companion relevant through all levels of play. The two main methods of advancing your monster are either through monster "growth" (think evolution), or through spending one of your class features (called Trainer Perks) to allow your companion to advance as a druid's animal companion. This is especially nice for groups where the GM may be inclined to let a player try the class out, but doesn't want to have make extra allowances in his campaign for the player to capture new monsters at every level.

All in all, I was beyond pleasantly surprised at the quality and execution of this supplement. The class is well balanced and very interesting, the concept is fun, the mini bestiary is surprisingly extensive, and everythign about the supplement serves to bring it to life in a way that is extremely fun and serves to enhance any game without getting in the way or intruding on the established parameters of a current campaign. I have to highly recommend this to anyone who's interested in running a pet-based class that is better balanced than the Summoner and has more variety than the traditional animal companion classes. It's also a great source of possible inspiration for GMs looking for something a little different for their next home game.


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Are you ready to rumble?

****( )

I almost threw my keyboard at the wall just a minute ago. I wrote up a nice long 4 star review going in to great detail about this supplement and all of the awesome materials in it over the course of about 30-40 minutes, clicked submit.... and was redirected to the Paizo homepage. Everything was lost.

So, hopefully when I have time I can revisit this and add all that lost material back in, but let me just sum up by saying that this is a solid 4 stars bordering on 5, and anyone who's a fan of wrestling or adventures that are just a bit zany and doesn't have this, should really get it.


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Sexy, Stabby, Sweet

****( )

For anyone familiar with Book of Nine Swords in 3.5, this is that, but better.

For everyone else - Path fo War introduces three new classes and a plethora of feats, prestige classes, and archetypes that introduce a unique martial combat system to Pathfinder. Characters who use this discipline are called "initiators" and the basic premise is:
1) Get a cool ability or suite of abilities that can be used 1/encounter, typically adding some kind of rider effect onto your attack.
2) In a pinch, use a class specific ability or full round action to recover part or all of your suite of techniques.
3) Rinse and repeat.

Path of War allows you to play a martial character who enjoys the action economy normally reserved for spellcasters, letting you move and strike with one of your techniques and creating a more dynamic combat experience.

The classes are each wonderful and fulfill roles traditionally under-supported in Pathfinder:

The Warlord is a battlefield leader, a charismatic warrior who can lead on and off the field. He has a great leadership mechanic for sharing teamwork feats that works much more smoothly and reliably than the sadly flawed Tactician ability of the cavalier (closer to the Vanguard archetype from the Advanced Class Guide if you're familiar with that), and recovers his maneuvers by performing daring acts of bravery called Gambits.

The Stalker is a stealthy slayer, with techniques for unarmed combat, poison use, and hard swift strikes. He's lightly armored but highly mobile, with a unique damage boosting mechanic whose preferred use varies somewhat depending on the critical properties of your weapon.

The Warder is my personal favorite. He's a solid tank who specializes in defending other party members. He gains a unique marking mechanic that allows him to encourage enemies to focus on him or suffer consequences, and has the added perk of a being an intelligent warrior who relies on his INT stat for several of his abilities.

This book did a lot of great things for my group, not the least of which was encouraging my players to actually use combat maneuvers (the traditional kind), a subsystem of the game that they had traditionally ignored because of its unreliability.

I'm giving Path of War a 4 out of 5 not because I don't love it 5 stars worth, but because there are a few options scattered here and there in the document that I worry are just a bit more powerful than they should be. In a group of experienced gamers, these shouldn't be an issue as there are numerous exploits in the core rules that can be much more powerful, but in a group of more casual or inexperienced players these abilities may cause some power disparity at the table. The Path of War classes are very accessible and easy to use; where a monk or fighter can have a very large gap in performance dependant on system mastery, the Path of War classes are harder to make poor choices for and are very forgiving in that regard. To put it another way, imagine that the monk's effectiveness could be measured on a scale of 1-5, with an unoptimized core rulebook only monk being a 1, and a highly optimized Qinggong/Zen Archer using the full array of Paizo materials locking in at 5. The Path of War classes start at 3, optimization takes them to 4, and a small number of very specific builds will press against the upper reaches 5 peaking at 6. Because the initiators start at a 3, groups with players who are still making characters in the 1-2 range are going to feel like these materials are very strong.


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Swift, Sure, Awesome

*****

The Marauder is a conversion of a class called the Mariner, originally presented in Alluria Publishing's Cerulean Seas Campaign Setting. It's worth noting that I absolutely love Cerulean Seas and may be more than a smidged biased. That being said-

When I first picked up Cerulean Seas, the very first thing my friends and I talked about was how the Mariner really needed to be converted for non-aquatic play, as the class had so much going for it. It was like some of our favorite features of the monk, rogue, and fighter all mixed together in this Aquaman package that absolutely would deserve its seat in the Pathfinder Justice League, right alongside Paladin Superman.

The Marauder delivers all of that hoped for promise, although he's a bit more Flash than Aquaman in this incarnation. In addition to being a fast moving damage-dealer with 7 bonus feats drawn from a class-specific list (basically a combination of movement, reflex, and combat related feats) the Marauder gains access to combat techniques called "Speed Stunts" which run the gamut from single use speed boosts to the ability to combine a move action with a full attack action (albeit at the cost of his highest attack).

While the class does have two poor saves (Fort and Will), he's still got a decent amount of durability, with d10 hit die (and appropriate BAB) and numerous ways to improve his armor class while moving. High Reflex save and Evasion/Improved Evasion mean that he's unlikely to be concerned about nearly any spell or effect that targets Reflex.

In addition to the core class, this supplement also includes 4 archetypes, the Beast Runner, Fleetfoot, Quickling, and Shadow Sprinter. The Beast Runner gains an animal companion in place of Evasion, with the interesting restriction that the companion must have a speed of 50 or more in a movement mode that the character also possesses. The Fleetfoot gains Favored Terrain and other abilities that emphasize the more stealthy aspects of the class, while the Quickling overemphasizes its association with speed by adding a ki pool, haste, and the monk's abundant step. The Shadow Sprinter may be my favorite archetype, as its class abilities allow you to run up walls, cartwheel through enemy spaces with increased ease and facility, and eventually walk on nearly any surface, including water, lava, or tree branches.

The Marauder wants to move. He wants to move every round and he hates standing still, so he ultimately provides a very dynamic gaming experience, and one that's a blast to play. From a balance perspective, he does an excellent job of breaking away from the "stand still and full attack" dynamic that many combat-oriented characters often find themselves tied to, without pushing his combat abilities outside of what you'd expect from other classes with similar abilities like the monk or ranger. The Marauder is familiar enough that just about any player can pick the class up and run with it (hah!), but has enough cool tricks to entertain even a veteran player.

What I'm saying is, buy this, play this, and I'm pretty sure you'll find that you love it.


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Devilishly Good Times

*****

I'm going to open up by saying that after reading this I immediately started putting together a campaign to utilize the goodies presented. It was that good.

This expansive issue of Wayfinder offers everything you could possibly want related to the nation of Cheliax, including prestige classes, archetypes, specialized wizard schools, cavalier orders, NPCs, stories, the list goes on.

The cavalier orders and wizard schools were my particular favorites. The cavalier orders are designed for cavaliers looking to join the ranks of one of the Hellknight organizations, and there's an order for each, complete with specialized codes, unique abilities, and even some cool SLA's (Order of the Pyre gains fireball as a 1/day SLA with a caster level equal to character level, which is just.... explosive). We literally sat down the moment we got home from PaizoCon and created an entire party out of this book, including an Ossifuer Wizard who transforms into a Bone Devil, two cavaliers, one who specializes in obtaining information and wiping his enemies minds clean of secrets and another who's a master of disguise, and a Summoner diabolist with a fiendish Eidolon who doubled as a somewhat terrifying healer.
If you have any interest in Cheliax or its many fiendish (or otherwise) residents, check this out. It's just good stuff.


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