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Ssalarn's page

Pathfinder Society Member. 6,002 posts. 17 reviews. 5 lists. 1 wishlist. 3 Pathfinder Society characters.



1 to 5 of 17 << first < prev | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next > last >>

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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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1/2 Druid, 1/2 Paladin, Entirely Excellent

****( )

I wrote a huge breakdown of this supplement only to have it devoured by the internet gremlins that lurk in the Paizo servers, so I may make this a little more succinct than I would otherwise.

The Forsworn is a Paladin archetype that is really more of an advanced class trying to save on page count. While it uses the base Paladin chassis, several of the changes are very noticeable and make a huge difference in playstyle-

*The class uses a 3/4 BAB progression instead of the traditional Paladin full BAB.

*The class gains 6 level spellcasting off the druid spell list starting at level 1 instead of the normal delayed 4 level spellcasting.

*The class does not gain Lay on Hands or Mercies.

*You gain the services of a loyal unicorn or pegasus mount starting from 1st level.

*You have an extremely strict and expanded Code of Conduct

A lot of these features are cool, some of them are a little more questionable, not in whether they're thematic, but more as to whether they were completely necessary. One of the biggest items is the fact that you lose both Lay on Hands and your Paladin code prohibits you from receiving touch spells from allies. In the case of the unicorn riding Forsworn this also creates a small amount of confusion, as technically, according to their code, they cannot even receive the benefits of the unicorn's Cure spell SLA's, which I'm fairly certain were intended to help compensate for the loss of Lay on Hands.

Still, the class makes a great addition to a group of true heroes, drawing on Arthurian inspirations and providing unique and flavorful options both in and out of combat. In some ways the class is uniquely "complete", in that from levels 1-20 you really feel like you're playing the exact character concept you signed up for.

For a free supplement, this is an incredible deal.


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Not quite enough of the right... Elements

**( )( )( )

I'm going to start with the good things I have to say about this product, because that'll go quickly.

The art and background do a good job of hearkening to the arabian themes you might expect of a document which draws so strongly on the ideas of genie-kin, and every race contains some descriptive filler and a regional trait to help tie them more firmly in to the world of Golarion.
... I also liked that the Undine got a Sorcerer Bloodline that helped them heal with water.

That being said, I was generally disappointed by this book. Each of the races (what I really was hoping to see some good cruch and options for) received 2 dedicated pages, typically enough for some fluff and 1 new class mechanic, like the ifrit's cavalier order (Order of the Flame, which fails the bag of rats test in a fairly spectacular fashion), the undine's sorcerer bloodlines, and some new elemental totems for suli barbarians. You'll notice I didn't mention the oread or the sylph. The oread received the "Oread Gem Magic" alternate racial trait, which allows you to stack some additional capabilities onto a very small and specific list of spells by expending precious gems. While the spells are fairly thematic, they're drawn from multiple spell lists so the overall result is fairly... Underwhelming. It basically is going to give you a handful of thematically appropriate "signature" spells that work a little bit better for you than other casters if you burn the cash for the gems. The sylph was even less impressive as their contribution was 2 spells and 2 race traits.

This book probably should have been released as an "Elemental Gazeteer" or something more along those lines, as fully half the book was devoted to talking about the elemental planes and key elemental locations like the City of Brass. Even that would probably have been a bit of a disappointment though, as the planes and locations are also given only 2 pages each.

Maybe, as others have noted, I'm "spoiled" by the high standards set by books like Blood of Angels and Blood of Fiends, or Blood of the Moon, which introduced an entire new race with half a dozen racial variants and robust and meaningful supporting options for each. This book just felt lacking, and screamed "filler"; it almost didn't seem like they were trying terribly hard and this was just a collection of snippets and descriptions that were laying around but didn't make it into other products.

The art and beautiful design of this product keep it from being a complete bust in my opinion, but I think that people who were looking for cool new options for elemental characters are going to find themselves disappointed by what this book has to offer.


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