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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness

***( )( ) (based on 43 ratings)
Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Ultimate Wilderness

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Wild, untamed lands hold a wealth of mystery and danger, providing the perfect backdrop for heroic adventure. Whether adventurers are climbing mountains in search of a dragon's lair, carving their way through the jungle, or seeking a long-lost holy city covered by desert sands, Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Wilderness gives them the tools to survive the wilds. A new 20-level base class, the shifter, puts animalistic powers into the hands—or claws—of player characters and villains alike, with new class features derived from animalistic attributes. Overviews of druidic sects and rituals, as well as new archetypes, character options, spells, and more, round out the latest contribution to the Pathfinder RPG rules!

Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Wilderness is an invaluable hardcover companion to the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 10 years of system development and an open playtest featuring more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into a new era.

Pathfinder RPG Ultimate Wilderness includes:

  • The shifter, a new character class that harnesses untamed forces to change shape and bring a heightened level of savagery to the battlefield!
  • Archetypes for alchemists, barbarians, bards, druids, hunters, investigators, kineticists, paladins, rangers, rogues, slayers, witches, and more!
  • Feats and magic items for characters of all sorts granting mastery over the perils of nature and enabling them to harvest natural power by cultivating magical plants.
  • Dozens of spells to channel, protect, or thwart the powers of natural environs.
  • New and expanded rules to push your animal companions, familiars, and mounts to wild new heights.
  • A section on the First World with advice, spells, and other features to integrate the fey realm into your campaign.
  • Systems for exploring new lands and challenging characters with natural hazards and strange terrain both mundane and feytouched.
  • ... and much, much more!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-986-8

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscription.

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Product Reviews (43)
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Average product rating:

***( )( ) (based on 43 ratings)

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**( )( )( )

Even in a book like this, druid still got no love! Only a few options for druid are not rubbish. Why PF designers hate druid so much?


Not my norm....

*( )( )( )( )

I don't usually do reviews....but here goes.

The book has some interesting Archetypes and rules elements.

But I have been waiting for months for the Shifter....and that was rather a let down.

The class feels unimaginative and sparse at best. Most of the archetypes are confusing and at least appear to be ill thought out (Weretouched works fine, but that's the shining star)

That, in addition to all the reprints I have already payed for over time....is rather disappointing.


4 1/2 Stars

*****

I round up, because as an author I know how difficult it is to find errors in your work.

Chapter 1: I'm intrigued by the Gathlains, but I don't care for small races, and I found the omission of the racial type rather odd, but it is what it is. The Ghoran were neat, but not really my type of character... and I'm even less likely to be interested in the vine leshy, so I largely skipped it. There were some neat archetypes and other racial items and other features in the chapter.

The Shifter... ah, where to start? I think the problem with this was that so many people were expecting something different, including me. Looking back, they mentioned that they were planning on it being a sort of 'druidic paladin' to begin with. I feel that while the class is limited, it's still quite effective in its role, as I've rarely seen players use more than three forms in games to-date, and the two shifters I've built so far seem to be decent though not exceptional. As it stands, I feel the shifter is a decent chassis for creating other types of shifting archetypes, but it'd probably be better with a 3-5 bonus feats, (3 if any combat feat was allowed, 4-5 if you had a specific list to select from, like the monk or ranger).

Chapter 2: I'll be honest, this is where the bulk of my attention was focused. Almost half of the archetypes in this chapter interested me, with standouts being the Skirmisher and Viking for Fighter (lightly armored and rage-based respectively), the Water Dancer monk which gains Charisma to AC and some water kineticist benefits, the phoenix-themed Flamewarden for Ranger, and others. I was particularly hopeful for the Fiendflesh Shifter archetype, but this seriously disappointed me, as it allows the character to shift for only 3 + level minutes per day. While people are frustrated by the shifter being limited, they still get multiple uses of wild shape that are 1 hour/level per day.

Chapter 3: Feats tend to blur together for me, but in my overview, I felt that about 1/3 of them were pretty good, and of the remainder, it would depend on the campaign you're playing in. There are several feats that definitely take the Shifter from mediocre to being more effective, but this simply reinforces my belief that they should've gotten some bonus feats. I particularly like the improved versions of Spring Attack, though the prerequisites are punishing.

Chapter 4: I loved this chapter, as it went over a lot of rules and advice for getting along in the wilds, some basic wilderness traps, harvesting poisons, and more. I especially liked the trophy rules, and while I'll never use the weather tables, I liked seeing them. I also very much liked the additional hazards... but I'm usually a GM, so that's not surprising.

Chapter 5: This is all animal companions and familiars. I generally avoid both, but I quite liked what I saw! My one complaint was that we got a second spider animal companion, but neither of them (this is a web-spinner) can grow bigger than Medium. This is a complaint because I rather wanted a drow priestess or druid to be able to ride her spider mount. I suppose I'll have to make one myself, and this gives me plenty of examples to work off of.

Chapter 6: This is spells, and they're very thematic. I liked seeing spells to turn into fey and magical beasts, I liked seeing snowball brought in line with the other spells... and generally they looked useful. The chapter also contains rituals, and they were interesting, and allowed new, interesting story ideas.

Chapter 7: This has the gear and magic items, and the largest section of the chapter is taken up by the new magical plants, which I very much enjoyed seeing. I'm definitely going to use them in my games in the future. The mundane gear is decent, sometimes even good, and the magic items are refreshingly few, and all of it looks useful.

Conclusion
Bottom line, Ultimate Wilderness is about adventuring in the wild, and is useful for both GMs and PCs, in about equal measure in my view. The Shifter is decent but not exceptional, but that may change in time as well. I recommend getting the book as long as you enjoy adventures in the wilds.


A Good Book for Running Wilderness-based Adventures

*****

This is a pretty good book, with lots of interesting and worthwhile contributions. Other reviews have offered a detailed breakdown of the contents of the book, so I’ll just give a quick sketch of my impressions.

A caveat: I have no idea of what is and isn’t a reprint, and I won’t be taking that into account.

--New Races: A+

I love the new races. I’m not someone who usually gets excited by races, but these ones were great. Each has a distinctive voice and interesting character-building hooks to play with, and each is distinctively different from other races on offer.

A wooden-winged curiousity-driven fey race? A plant-race that both can’t reproduce (and so is slowly dying out), but whose individual members are effectively immortal? A plant race that’s basically a bunch of animated vines? Great and inventive ideas.

--New Class (the Shifter): B-

The Shifter is... OK. As others have said, it’s a little boring, and covers territory half a dozen other archetypes seem to have already covered.

There have been a lot of complaints about how weak the Shifter is, so I might as well chip in my 2 cents here. I feel the class was boxed in by two things, both, in part, legacy features from D&D 3.5: (1) it’s abilities mirror those of a Druid in a lot of ways, making the Druid a natural point of comparison, and the Druid is (IMO) the most powerful class in the game (a legacy of 3.5), but (2) it’s a purely martial class, and so needs to be balanced against other (relatively weak) martial classes (another legacy of 3.5).

The result is a class that is roughly on a par with other martial classes, but is clearly weaker than a Druid. Of course, all the martial classess are weaker than the Druid. But most martial classes are different enough to make their relative weakness harder to see.

--Archetypes: A

There are a lot of great archetypes here, along with a bunch of OK ones, and a few duds. My favorites are probably the Green Knight (Cavalier) and the three kineticist archetypes (one a super wood-element-focused option, one modeled on the Dark Sun defilier, and one with variable affinities depending on their environment). But there are lots of other gems to be found here (e.g., the Geomancer (Occultist), the Sylvan Trickster (Rogue), a number of cool Ranger archetypes, and so on).

--Feats: B

As usual, these feats are a mixed bag. There are some nice options that open up interesting options (Improved and Greater Spring Attack, the Totemic feats, Eidolon Mount, a number of cool channel-based feats, several cool wild-shape boosting feats, and a few nice Shifter-boosting feats). And there are a number of feats that it’s hard to imagine taking. About par for the course for Pathfinder hardbacks.

There are also a few feats which (arguably) allow you to do things you used to be able to do using a skill, but which now seem to require a feat. But nowhere near as bad in this respect as (say) Ultimate Intrigue.

--New Environment Rules: A+

These are great. Tons of crunchy rules for making environmental exploration more interesting in all sorts of ways, a few nice sections of fluff spelling out the First World and the Green Faith, and a nice section on the interaction between spells and environmental hazarads. Great stuff.

--Companions and Familar Options: A+

More great stuff here, to make companions and familiars more distinctive and interesting. A ton of extra companion and familiar options. Companion and familiar archetypes. Great stuff for pet-having classes. (Especially familiar-having classes, since default familiars are often boring enough to get completely forgotten about during the course of adventures.)

--Spells: A-

As usual, these spells are a mixed bag. Some great additions (Fey and Ooze form polymorph spells!), including a few potential plot-driving spells for NPCs to use (e.g., Sea of Dust). Actually, since there aren’t a lot of spells, and there are a fair number of nice additions, spell quality is a bit better than average.

--Gear and Magic Items: A-

Some nice mundane equipment additions for low-level and gritty games. (An A there.) The magic items are fine. (More a B/B+.) More “cool magical tree for NPC to use in their magical grove” options than “items your PC needs” options. But since the latter tend to lead to power creep, I’m fine with this. And the magical/plant tree options are pretty neat from a GM perspective, naturally suggesting encounters or bits of magical-background-setting to introduce in an outdoor “dungeon”.

--Overall:

All in all, one of the better hardbacks Paizo has put out. I like it much more than, say, Ultimate Magic, the Advanced Race Guide, or Mythic Adventures. But not as much as my favorite hardbacks, like the Advanced Players Guide, Pathfinder Unchained, or Occult Adventures. On a par with Ultimate Intrigue and Ultimate Combat.

--Final Grade: A- (4.5/5 stars)


The worst Paizo hardcover to date

*( )( )( )( )

So I dished out 10 dollars to purchase the PDF and was wholeheartedly dissapointed. Expressing this disspointment is no longer tolerated on the prduct discussion so go figure...

This is coming from a player perspective, as I'm mainly interested in character options. There are many in this book but most fail to bring concept and mechanics thoroughly in line.

The shifter. Well we are no longer allowed to talk about it. Need I say more?

Archetypes. A few nice ones (standouts for me are the green knight and the Rogue that gets hexes) a few horrible ones (Nature magus, Menhir guardian), and a great number of boring and mechanically weak options.

Animal companions/Familiars. Many reprints, some unneeded nerfs and some new options a few of which are actually useful.

Feats: I count two good feats. One of which apparently was not printed as intended and will get nerfed. Most other feats are either barred away behind a list of prerequisites that even human fighters find dismaying or are borderline useless. Example: a feat that allows you to immitate animals with bluff but only those living in one terrain. Why?

Let me expand upon why I believe this is the worst hardcover we have seen. To date all hardcovers were able to bring something new to the game and to explore interesting concepts. The ACG despite all it's faults brought well balanced and fun classes. Ultimate Intrigue, despite not being my cup of tea, greatly expanded on class design by bringing the completly modular vigilante to the table.

Ultimate wilderness is merely a boring rehash with so few highlights that most 30 page player companions outshine it. Many of the options printed in this book make it apparent that they were not playtested or critically reviewed by someone with a good grasp of the game mechanics.

I hope that Paizo comes round to realize that listening to it's customers was always one of the foundations of pathfinder's success.


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