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Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Coven (PFRPG)

****½ (based on 11 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Coven (PFRPG)

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Are You a Good Witch? Or a Bad Witch?

Wizards may wield studied spells and clerics pray to the gods themselves, but witchcraft—wild, untamed, perilous—is the magic of the common folk, with all the desperation and danger that implies. Embodied by hags and their half-blood daughters, changelings, witchcraft has always been one of the broadest, most potent, and most misunderstood forces of magic... until now. Learn the dark rituals and curses witchcraft empowers, and the good it stands to do in the world as well.

Inside this book you'll find:

  • An examination of the changeling race, including changeling covens, enhanced hag heritage, and specific rules for the 10 subraces of changelings, depending on their hag mothers.
  • New hag- and witchcraft-focused archetypes for a variety of classes, including bloodragers, clerics, investigators, and witches.
  • New curse spells and magic rituals employed by witches, as well as curse-related feats to help adventurers get the most out of a bad day.

This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but it can easily be incorporated into any fantasy world.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-982-0

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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Product Reviews (11)
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Average product rating:

****½ (based on 11 ratings)

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One of the best

*****

Strong archetypes, great changeling material, cool new spells and rituals. Even the magic items section is creative, useful, and even pretty funny.


Mama always said not to wander too deep into the woods

****( )

Blood of the Coven is a well-worth addition to the Pathfinder Library of both players and game masters.

This Player Companion begins by expanding on the Changelings, both in terms of rules mechanics and lore. It starts off by expanding on the lore presented in the Advanced Race Guide and Inner Sea Races, and moves on to a guideline for Changelings based on non humans, and a note that the Hags with the Outsider type can also create Changelings.

Changelings get some good options in this book. They received the treatment given to Aasimar, Tieflings and Skinwalkers, being given ten(!) optional varieties tied closely to the Changeling’s hag mother. Each lists a typical alignment (which is one variety of Neutral or another, except for Waker May, born from Dreamthief hag’s coven-mates, into whom the Dreamthief pours their fiendish soul). These variants also alter the racial ability modifiers of the changeling, though most have at least one or two modifiers in common with the non-speciality Changeling. Finally, the variants are each given a Hag Racial Trait, usefully collected from the various Bestiary entries of Hags, expanding the options from the Advanced Class Guide.

This section is excellent, and my only real disappointment is that Slag May, Annis-born Changelings retain a constitution penalty, the only mar on them making absolutely perfect Bloodragers. Why bloodragers? I’ll get to that, but it's by no means a deal breaker.

The next section covers Covens. Once more, Blood of the Covens does some very useful leg-work in collating information on hags, in this place, the specific spells which a given hag contributes to their coven spellcasting. Additionally, there are a few feats in this section: The shiner here to me is Enhanced Coven. Each changeling with the feat gains an additional 3 coven ‘slots’ per day.

Next up is a fairly long section on Witchcraft. Patrons receive a set of archetypes which left you graft some spells onto your patron spell list, and at the cost of a drawback, you get a bonus hex. The drawbacks by and large are either minor or quite flavourful: the Celestial Agenda wants you to not deceive or threaten people, the Green Whispers patron forbids metal armor and inflicts minor damage in contact with metal and those whose patron is Touched By The Outer Gods are easily confused.

This section also contacts three archetypes for witches, of which my favourite has to be the Hagbound. Hagbound Witches have to take the archetype as their first level, and must continue to take levels in hagbound witch until they can free themselves from the hold a hag has on their souls, slowly transforming them into a Hag, becoming an evil monstrous humanoid with several immunities and hefty spell resistance, unless she can remove the archetype with a miracle before you hit 20th level. The putrefactor gains an honorable mention for being ...thoroughly disgusting, but also an interesting take on a witch with a swarm familiar. The section tops off with three additional patrons, Jynx, Mercy and Rot.

The Witch Religions section provides an overview of the common deities that Witches worship, , and provides the Triadic Priest Cleric archetype, which forms a Triadic bond with exactly two allies, and gains bonuses for working cooperatively with them (I’m strongly considering this archetype if I ever get into a 3 player+GM game in the future)

Next up is a section on curses.slightly over a bag of spells all with the curse descriptor (surprise surprise) and a few feats. The standout feat is the Latent Curse metamagic feat. For a +1 spell level adjustment, you change the target line on a spell to object touched, but the object does not suffer the effect of the spell, oh no, the next creature to touch the object does. I think that this is a legitimately amazing feat with some creative, devious uses.

Hags and the Occult touches on Hagtouched implements and Hag or curse themed archetypes for the Kineticist and Spiritualist as well as a psychic discipline and hag-themed implements for Mediums, and the Arakineticist Archetype. I’m not as familiar as i should be with the occult classes, so I can’t really comment on these.

And then Ritual Magic. I love Ritual magic, and I love these Rituals! Five-Generation Curse is how you get lycanthropic families. Grand Coven lets a coven gain additional members, and gain powerful effects for more members,including wail of the banshee and greater create undead. Invoke the Nemesis is an amazingly thematic spell, I believe it’s a bit let down by being a seventh level ritual that summons a creature with a CR under 4.

Those who hunt is the penultimate section, and probably my favourite in the game, but then I favor martial characters. The Covenbane slayer could easily have been much too niche for consideration in many campaigns, but instead is, in my opinion a viable, strong archetype! The Covenbane slayer gains a supernatural ability to sense spellcasters, hags and creatures with SLAs, as well as recognise creatures disguised magically (“By the prickling of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes...”), Studied target expands to give bonuses against the entire coven after studying a single member, and later expands to include those bound by hive-minds or telepathic bond, an excellent extrapolation of the theme.

The Hagriven Bloodrager is also amazing, gain claws, the ability to sacrifice spell slots for enhancement bonuses to both claws that stack with other enhancement bonuses, and natural armor bonus, and a free floating critical feat, changeable each day. And the art supplied for it on the previous page is excellent. Despite the con penalty on Slag-May/Annis-born Changelings, they’ve risen high on my “Play this concept” list.

The Malice Binder Investigator is perhaps a step down from the un-archetyped Investigator, but contains a slew of interesting abilities, but is perhaps better suited to an NPC than a PC. (But would serve excellently in that role: Wrack is especially cool, and a fantastic way to create tension.

Blood of the Coven closes up with an item section. There’s nothing essential here, but the Pactseeker’s blade is very cool, dealing bonus damage to each of a struck creature’s allies that the creature shares an active spell effect with, and the Battlepot Cauldron, which is a giant spiky pot you can use as a magical heavy mace. Beyond that, you can put up to five potions into the battlepot as a standard action each. When you hit an enemy with the Battlepot, you can free action effect that creature with one of the potions (of your choice) in the pot, very fun, I think! Also, ‘battlepot’ is just a plain fun word.

This wasn’t a book I had any particular excitement for when I first saw it on the release schedule, but I thought I’d take a look, and I was very pleased with what I found. Some very cool archetypes, interesting rituals, a delightfully tricksome metamagic feat. In addition, Paizo has taken an opportunity to enshrine that while hag’s magical nature causes them to bear only female children, these children can express masculine identities or lack clearly defined sexual traits.

Development leads for this book were Crystal Frasier and Jessica Price. John Compton, Eleanor Ferron, Crystal Frasier, Lissa Guillet, Elisa Mader, Adrian Ng, Mark Seifter and Linda Zayas-Palmer are credited as authors. The cover art is by Setiawan Lie, and interior art is by Kent Hamilton, Alyssa McCarthy and Benjamin Widdowson.


Fair is foul, and foul is fair.

*****

As an enthusiast of all things hag-related, I waited with baited breath to acquire this gem.

The new options give a lot of customization to witches, changelings, and coven casters. Pleased to see changeling options for the outsider hags and finally (if not a little brief) new information on hag goddesses.

Interesting to see how different casters and psionics can touch upon the feats, spells, and items. Also pleased to see more classic hag homages, Curse of Dragonflies screams Spirited Away.

All of the Blood supplements have been useful, and Blood of the Coven especially so!


Worth the Wait!

*****

I've been looking forward to this book for months, as our current campaign has a changeling character in it, and we were hoping for more material to work with. Now that it's here I'm blown away by it; I think I can safely say this is my favorite book in the Player Companion line.

This book has great options and information for changelings, hags, and witches in Pathfinder, all in about equal measure. The contributions here go beyond the rule additions however; the book really expands on what we know about hag ecology, the lives of changelings, and the role a patron plays in a witch's spellcasting career. In the case of the patrons, I finally feel like a witch's patron is as active a participant in her character as a cleric's god, which is saying something!

Our game group is going to get a lot out of this book now and in the future. I'd recommend it as a steller expansion on both character options and in-game lore.


Good and left me eager for them to develop things further. . .

****( )

The specific Patrons are the coolest and most fruitful thing about this book. They practically drip with flavor. Mechanically, they offer a boon and a bane. Most of which seem very appropriate. (Though I'm not sure how the Scar Hex relates to Aeons.) It is also neat because it opens up the more Hex hungry Archetypes that I would love to try out, but have heretofore avoided because they have late access to Hexes. I also liked that they worked the Moon patron into so many of the specific patrons. I am all about the Moon. Sadly, the Moon Patron's spells aren't great. So giving additional modularity to a weaker spell list that has such powerful thematic connections to witchcraft is a big win in my book.

To be clear: I think it would be a mistake for this book to be the only place where specific Patrons are developed. They have revolutionized how I have been thinking about witches.

I also very much appreciated that the writers tried to explain what makes witchcraft different from other forms of arcane power. Unfortunately, I think this could have been explained better. The basic idea is that at its core witchcraft is trading for magical favors without the need for inherent or learned power. Cool. But, if that's the case, then why is Intelligence the key stat for witches? Charisma is the stat that determines how gifted one is in the art of the deal. Although that impeded my suspension of disbelief, I can only support and encourage the designers to marry the lore and the mechanics of the game further. Sometimes the magic in Pathfinder doesn't feel magical, and the way they have developed Ritual Magic and witchcraft goes to restore some of the enchantment.

The archetypes are neat for the most part. I don't think the Malice Binder is particularly strong, but the way they make magic feel magically with their sympathetic effects makes me want to play one even if I suspect most Malice Binders are devoured by their more potent enemies. The Triadic Priest is a cleric archetype that doesn't make me sad for clerics, and it doesn't increase their Skill Points per level, so the fact that I still like it is high praise. It really encourages me to explore Teamwork feats.

Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the new rituals. All of them are great and extremely evocative. While I cannot imagine playing in a game where the PCs were using the Grand Coven Ritual, I really, really want to play in that game.

4 Stars. It's a scandal that there are no new Hexes in the book. Furthermore, I wish we could have gotten a few more pages on the specific patrons and the lore/theory of witchcraft. I hope both are explored further in subsequent books. I've been told that reviews are the best way to get things we want in future books. I can only pray that is true.


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