Time to Break Your Chains!

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Over a year ago, I went to talk to Erik about a book idea I had. The pitch was simple: "Let us do a book filled with whatever crazy ideas we have floating around in our heads". He said "no". I said, "Wait though, allow me to explain, our crazy ideas might make the game better." He said "tell me more", and Pathfinder Unchained was born.

This book is just about to be released and it is time for us to give you a good idea of the crazy ideas you will find inside. Pathfinder Unchained is a book full of rules tweaks and alternate systems you can use to mod your game, changing the way it plays. While we suspect that everyone will find their own favorite rules subsystem, just about everyone take a long look through Chapter 1, detailing alternate versions of the barbarian, monk, rogue, and summoner. So to kick off our previews, I've asked designer Mark Seifter to give you some of the juiciest tidbits about the Unchained variant classes!

Barbarian: From a game-balance perspective, the original barbarian serves her role admirably, but her mechanics are math-intensive, forcing you to recalculate numerous values once she enters rage and keep track of a bevy of once per rage abilities. Worst of all, she's the most likely character of all to die in a fight due to the way that ending rage lowers her current hit points. The unchained barbarian keeps the adrenaline-pumping fun of her former self but significantly simplifies the gameplay by adjusting the final mechanics instead of the stats themselves. For example, she gains temporary hit points instead of raising and later decreasing her current and maximum health (woo, no more dying at the end of rage!). Finally, she gains stronger versions of some of the mechanically weakest rage powers like raging climber (now you get an actual Climb speed instead of a small bonus!).


Illustration by Michael J. Penn

Monk: The original monk has many disparate abilities. While these abilities may be useful, they don't always synergize, and they are extremely inflexible. The unchained monk loosens up, gaining ki powers that allow you to customize your monk to fit your vision, whether it be a kung fu genius or wuxia mystic (my favorites are the ones like ki visions that let you gain divination powers that affect the narrative out of combat!). The unchained monk also has a full base attack bonus, an all-new flurry of blows, and some martial arts style strikes that help him reach his true potential (my favorite is flying kick, which lets you perform a leaping kick out to a distance equal to your extra monk movement speed once per flurry—mobile combatant for the win!).

Rogue: The original rogue has plenty of skill points and a damage increase in the form of sneak attack, but she needed a way to rule her own niche, especially with all the other classes that have things like big skill bonuses and accuracy boosts. The unchained rogue has a powerful debilitation ability that dramatically alters her ability to hit or dodge her foe, rogue's edge, which allows her to do unique things with her favorite skills (figure out surface thoughts with Sense Motive, Bluff so well you bypass truth-telling magic, use Disable Device reactively to protect yourself from a triggered trap, and much more!), and a significant boost to some of her rogue talents (For instance, minor magic? Yeah, you get that cantrip at-will). She also gets Weapon Finesse as a bonus feat and the ability to add her Dexterity to weapon damage!

Summoner: The original summoner has plenty of innovative features, but he also lacks focus and theme. As Jason was fond of describing it "You just have this amorphous blob with ten tentacles and two butts." The unchained summoner gains an eidolon that fits among existing outsiders, gaining additional abilities but also focus and theme (and if you want ten tentacles and two butts, we've still got that—go protean all the way my friend!). Some of these outsiders gain some pretty juicy abilities, like the angel's protective aura (that double strength magic circle against evil/lesser globe combo) or constant true seeing. Additionally, he possesses the spell list originally intended for the summoner.

So there you have it. We are confident that some of these classes will find a home at your game table, even if the Eidolon no longer has two butts. Tune in next week when we move on to look at some of the exciting new options in the Skills and Feats chapter!

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer

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Tags: Balazar Barbarians Iconics Michael J. Penn Monks Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Rogues Summoners
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Brother Harsk the Constant wrote:
Jason, I think I love you!

So what are you so afraid of?


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Alanis Morissette wrote:
Brother Harsk the Constant wrote:
Jason, I think I love you!
So what are you so afraid of?

He's afraid that he's not sure of a love there is no cure for.


Rage Powers can be really nice. In some cases like Raging Grappler I've found them to be better than most feats. I'm still not sure why everybody is saying that the Barbarian will get morale typed bonuses to attack and damage though. I mean, maybe Paizo stated that and I just missed it. If so that's disappointing news in terms of Good Hope and a few other buffs, but I wonder how it would interact with the Skald's Inspired Rage song.

Maybe the attack and damage bonuses from Rage will suddenly stack with the Str and Con bonuses from Inspired Rage. Maybe the Str and Con bonuses from Inspired Rage will get changed to attack and damage bonuses too and those will or won't stack with the ones from Rage. Maybe I'll rebuild my retired Diabolist PC as an Unchained Summoner, especially if they added some options which make multiclassing as an eidolon based Summoner a little more viable.

Obviously it is way too late to influence this book, but if something like Boon Companion for eidolons hasn't been added maybe the revamped Summoner will help soften people's stance towards eidolons enough that such a feat could be considered for some upcoming release. There are a lot of character concepts which could be fulfilled with 2-5 levels of multiclassing.


Will a Skald have the ability to use a modified version of the Unchained Barbarian's rage as a part of his raging song?


So what about keeping everything about the base summoner but just switching out the spell lists?

Sovereign Court

Chess Pwn wrote:
Skald is great for Fighters, cavaliers, rangers, slayers, brawlers, maybe rogues, and 3/4 BAB going into melee after their buffs are up. But the Barbarian would be limited to the skald's rage powers so you'd go from like 5+ rage powers at lv10 to 3 rage powers.

Having a Skald about is also of very limited benefit to any of the new dex to damage builds. (Swashbuckler etc.)


Devilkiller wrote:
I'm still not sure why everybody is saying that the Barbarian will get morale typed bonuses to attack and damage though. I mean, maybe Paizo stated that and I just missed it. If so that's disappointing news in terms of Good Hope and a few other buffs, but I wonder how it would interact with the Skald's Inspired Rage song.

We're just trying to guess how they're going to implement the easier rage mechanic. People are guessing that it might be bonus straight to attack and damage, and then guessing morale since it was morale before. Some guessed untyped that increases with 2-handed. we really have no idea for sure how they are doing it.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Skald is great for Fighters, cavaliers, rangers, slayers, brawlers, maybe rogues, and 3/4 BAB going into melee after their buffs are up. But the Barbarian would be limited to the skald's rage powers so you'd go from like 5+ rage powers at lv10 to 3 rage powers.
Having a Skald about is also of very limited benefit to any of the new dex to damage builds. (Swashbuckler etc.)

Yeah. I'll admit that I was a little disappointed that the Skald didn't offer Dex as one of the bonuses, like Urban Barbarian. The recipients should be able to choose between the bonuses, in my opinion.


Charon's Little Helper wrote:
Chess Pwn wrote:
Skald is great for Fighters, cavaliers, rangers, slayers, brawlers, maybe rogues, and 3/4 BAB going into melee after their buffs are up. But the Barbarian would be limited to the skald's rage powers so you'd go from like 5+ rage powers at lv10 to 3 rage powers.
Having a Skald about is also of very limited benefit to any of the new dex to damage builds. (Swashbuckler etc.)

Well it still gives them the rage powers and HP, sure you miss out on some damage, but you could get another 3 AC and pounce and HP/level.


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The NPC wrote:
So what about keeping everything about the base summoner but just switching out the spell lists?

Don't think it'd help. You'd still end up with misbuilt Eidolons or the "missile made of claws" Eidolons, which is a problem. The Summoner needs a huge rework just because of all the things it's got on the table. Casting in light armor, a beefed up Summon Monster as a class feature, a pet that puts most Animal Companions to shame, AND that spell list is a pretty absurd combo.

I'm hoping that the Summoner Unchained isn't going to do that thing where the Eidolon is at best making all the other "pets" in the game feel foolish and at worst making the party's melee guys wonder why they came along. I don't want the Eidolon nerfed into oblivion, mind you, but I'd like for there to be options with the eidolon or a reworking of the synthesist that would allow me to play one without feeling like I'm giving the people in my party who are rolling martial melee classes the middle finger.


Blackwaltzomega wrote:
The NPC wrote:
So what about keeping everything about the base summoner but just switching out the spell lists?

Don't think it'd help. You'd still end up with misbuilt Eidolons or the "missile made of claws" Eidolons, which is a problem. The Summoner needs a huge rework just because of all the things it's got on the table. Casting in light armor, a beefed up Summon Monster as a class feature, a pet that puts most Animal Companions to shame, AND that spell list is a pretty absurd combo.

Wizards and druids are better than summoners, how come they are not getting a rework?


TriOmegaZero wrote:
Sadly, my main barbarian died in a TPK a few weeks back, so I won't be getting much more experience with the class for awhile. He only had one rage power to his name.

Man, I thought you were trolling here with this post until I double checked. I'd though you were Trinam because you two use the same avatar.


CWheezy wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:
The NPC wrote:
So what about keeping everything about the base summoner but just switching out the spell lists?

Don't think it'd help. You'd still end up with misbuilt Eidolons or the "missile made of claws" Eidolons, which is a problem. The Summoner needs a huge rework just because of all the things it's got on the table. Casting in light armor, a beefed up Summon Monster as a class feature, a pet that puts most Animal Companions to shame, AND that spell list is a pretty absurd combo.

Wizards and druids are better than summoners, how come they are not getting a rework?

Because the Wizard and Druid class themselves are weak. The spells they possess though...

Fixing the Wizard/Shaman/Witch/Arcanist or the Cleric/Duid/Oracle etc requires fixing all of the spells in the game, not fixing the classes. Since the 'Spells' chapter of the CRB is something like 1/3 of the entire book, and spells in other books take up similarly large percentages, fixing the spells in the game is not an option without a complete re-write of the system.

Note: Wildshape is based entirely on the polymorph spells. So because polymorph spells are strong, Wildshape is also strong.


Admittedly, I would buy Unchained Arcana if they ever sold it.


Whats really that great about the druids spell list? Buffing the critter seems to be the way to go for most of their likely career.


CWheezy wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:
The NPC wrote:
So what about keeping everything about the base summoner but just switching out the spell lists?

Don't think it'd help. You'd still end up with misbuilt Eidolons or the "missile made of claws" Eidolons, which is a problem. The Summoner needs a huge rework just because of all the things it's got on the table. Casting in light armor, a beefed up Summon Monster as a class feature, a pet that puts most Animal Companions to shame, AND that spell list is a pretty absurd combo.

Wizards and druids are better than summoners, how come they are not getting a rework?

Because the power of those classes is in the spells, not the class abilities, and they don't have as high a floor as the eidolon/summoner combo does.


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Or maybe bacause Wiz/druid are good at their own shtick, while summoner is good at everyone else shtick. Sometimes is just a matter of everyone having is cozy little corner of space to call home.


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I really don't think the summoner is good at everyone's else's shtick, any more than a druid is. The druid can put out damage, has battlefield control, it can scout better than most classes. With traits it can probably be passable face also.


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Druids make some of the best assassins.

Wildshape into Earth elemental
Earth Glide to your target
stake them out till they sleep
coup de grace

No spells extended!

First thing I do to major castles/temples in my games is make them magically impossible to Earth Glide or Meld into.


It's not just a matter of what you do, but to how you do it Wraithstrike. Both barbarian and slayer are good at dealing damage, but are you really going to argue that they have the same shtick?
Druid are master of trasforming into giant tirannosaurus and eating you while barbarian charge you with a big axe, and that's good enaugh of a difference for each having his own fans. The problem with the summoner is that he is going to rend you with claws AND charge you with a big axe at the same time. While casting of couse, let's not forget that.


Wizards aee more powerful thab Summoners... But not nearly as easy to optimize. In order to use a Wizard's full potential, the player needs a lot of system mastery... The Summoner, OTOH, can be made OP by simply picking obvious choice. The class pretty much force-feeds powerful options to you.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber
Gorbacz wrote:


Well, having worked in finances for 11 years you surely do know that authorisations on bank accounts don't last forever. The usual expiry date is 7 days. So, consider this scenario:

April 7th: Paizo authorises your acc and gives you access to your PDFs.
April 14th: Auth expires.
April 16th: Paizo comes around to sending your order (since it's on the bottom of the stack) and charges your card, but the money isn't there any more.

Sigh.

The only possible scenario you've listed which would override an authorisation is a court order (the bailiff thing) which I hadn't considered because I try to not be financially incompetent. But of course Paizo have to take the least risk, because there's plenty of incompetent people out there. Fair enough I suppose.

And sorry for derailing the thread a bit and well done those who didn't try to explain the minutiae of fund transfers to someone who used to do it for a living.


Lemmy wrote:
Wizards aee more powerful thab Summoners... But not nearly as easy to optimize. In order to use a Wizard's full potential, the player needs a lot of system mastery... The Summoner, OTOH, can be made OP by simply picking obvious choice. The class pretty much force-feeds powerful options to you.

Yeah, Wizards have got the power. Although any kind of summoning spell, animal companion or cohort shifts the power level of an adventuring party considerably.

From memory, the original complaint about the Summoner class came from James Jacobs and it had to do with thematic elements (or lack of).

I don't think Pathfinder Unchained is going to be a nerfing book. It is just going to improve the Barbarian, Monk, Rogue and Summoner classes.

And I think Paizo is trying to avoid past mistakes (like seen in the ACG), where they take on too much, too many new ACG classes caused a loss of focus.


Insain Dragoon wrote:

Druids make some of the best assassins.

Wildshape into Earth elemental
Earth Glide to your target
stake them out till they sleep
coup de grace

No spells extended!

First thing I do to major castles/temples in my games is make them magically impossible to Earth Glide or Meld into.

You didn't use any spell slots, but you certainly used a spell. Wildshape is most of the Polymorph spells duct taped together into a package with different durations that doesn't use slots (and has some different mechanics with Dispel, etc.), but the whole "as Elemental Body" bit is pretty blatant.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
Tels wrote:
TriOmegaZero wrote:
Sadly, my main barbarian died in a TPK a few weeks back, so I won't be getting much more experience with the class for awhile. He only had one rage power to his name.
Man, I thought you were trolling here with this post until I double checked. I'd though you were Trinam because you two use the same avatar.

Oh yeah, I know what you mean. Duplicate avatars are a pitfall to watch for.


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Dekalinder wrote:

It's not just a matter of what you do, but to how you do it Wraithstrike. Both barbarian and slayer are good at dealing damage, but are you really going to argue that they have the same shtick?

Druid are master of trasforming into giant tirannosaurus and eating you while barbarian charge you with a big axe, and that's good enaugh of a difference for each having his own fans. The problem with the summoner is that he is going to rend you with claws AND charge you with a big axe at the same time. While casting of couse, let's not forget that.

If we are being that specific then the summoner is not really stepping on everyone's toes then. He is doing his thing in a different way than the other classes.


At least the Druid has to choose between being a full caster and a martial powerhouse each turn. The Summoner's absurd action economy is what really makes him uniquely stupid.


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CWheezy wrote:
Blackwaltzomega wrote:
The NPC wrote:
So what about keeping everything about the base summoner but just switching out the spell lists?

Don't think it'd help. You'd still end up with misbuilt Eidolons or the "missile made of claws" Eidolons, which is a problem. The Summoner needs a huge rework just because of all the things it's got on the table. Casting in light armor, a beefed up Summon Monster as a class feature, a pet that puts most Animal Companions to shame, AND that spell list is a pretty absurd combo.

Wizards and druids are better than summoners, how come they are not getting a rework?

One, I imagine because once you do that you might as well rework every class, and two because it's not quite that simple.

The Wizard's about as bare-bones as you get for class features, but the reason he's so ridiculously overpowered is that he's got the best and fastest access to the Wizard Spell List, which is "Solve Any Problem The GM can Reasonably Be Expected To Throw At You And Then Some: The Magic System's Greatest Hits." You can't bring the wizard down without completely rewriting a TON of spells.

The Druid is also generally speaking more powerful than the summoner, but you're less likely to end up with inappropriately built animal companions than eidolons and the Druid's summon-spamming is nowhere near as powerful as the Summoner's Summon Monster class feature. A lot of the Druid's strength comes from polymorphing being really strong and divine magic having a functionally limitless spell book to prepare from more than the druid's class features, and while animal companions are strong, they're pretty much never going to be as powerful as eidolons.

The Druid and Wizard and Cleric are probably the three strongest classes in the game, played with the appropriate system mastery, but their optimization floor isn't as high as the summoner's and while they all CAN summon minions that make the party's melee fighters feel superfluous after a while, the Summoner is the one DESIGNED to do this by default. His Eidolon is AT BEST better than any animal companion in the game; at WORST, it can dwarf entire party members in terms of effectiveness, and it's a bad element of class design when someone's CLASS FEATURE can be stronger than another player.

I'm hoping the unchained summoner keeps some of the neat evolutions and stuff but makes for a character that plays more nicely with the rest of the team. It's harder to restrain the summoner to play well with the rest of the party than it is with his superiors in the full-casting spectrum just because the Cleric, Druid, and Wizard all have options to build to support their team while the Summoner is inherently biased towards bringing his OWN team with him.


I think it was also mentioned that the summoner as we see it, was sent out with the wrong class spell list. Hopefully the one they intended to send out is in this book.


So, next week is here, where is our update on skills and feats?
*staaaareee*


You got to wait till the last minute of the day ;)

Paizo Employee Designer

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Dekalinder wrote:

So, next week is here, where is our update on skills and feats?

*staaaareee*

Why it's right here of course!


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Mark Seifter wrote:
Dekalinder wrote:

So, next week is here, where is our update on skills and feats?

*staaaareee*
Why it's right here of course!

MMmmmmmmmm..... Doughnuts, I mean Variant Multiclassing! Shiny!! Now I want the book more than before!


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*Reads blog* You Magnificent Bastard I'll read your book!


Arachnofiend wrote:
At least the Druid has to choose between being a full caster and a martial powerhouse each turn. The Summoner's absurd action economy is what really makes him uniquely stupid.

Depends on whether I've buffed the pet before kicking in the door or after. The dragonstyle pounceraptor of death with strongjaw and animal growth on it can be its own martial powerhouse, with either a casting druid or another pounceraptor of death next to it.


BigNorseWolf wrote:
Arachnofiend wrote:
At least the Druid has to choose between being a full caster and a martial powerhouse each turn. The Summoner's absurd action economy is what really makes him uniquely stupid.
Depends on whether I've buffed the pet before kicking in the door or after. The dragonstyle pounceraptor of death with strongjaw and animal growth on it can be its own martial powerhouse, with either a casting druid or another pounceraptor of death next to it.

And the summoner's eidolon is a dragonstyle poucething of death with the effects of those buffs without needing the spells used, and probably more attacks.

Community Manager

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The NPC wrote:
*Reads blog* You Magnificent Bastard I'll read your book!

Someone's a fan of "Patton." :D


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Liz Courts wrote:
The NPC wrote:
*Reads blog* You Magnificent Bastard I'll read your book!
Someone's a fan of "Patton." :D

Or Linkara.


wraithstrike wrote:


Because the power of those classes is in the spells, not the class abilities, and they don't have as high a floor as the eidolon/summoner combo does.

Since when are spells not a class feature???


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
CWheezy wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


Because the power of those classes is in the spells, not the class abilities, and they don't have as high a floor as the eidolon/summoner combo does.
Since when are spells not a class feature???

You didn't get the memo?

;)


CWheezy wrote:
wraithstrike wrote:


Because the power of those classes is in the spells, not the class abilities, and they don't have as high a floor as the eidolon/summoner combo does.
Since when are spells not a class feature???

Let me put it this way the "other class features/abilities", and redoing the entire spell list and/or the casting mechanic is probably more trouble than it is worth.


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Question: is there a monk ability that lets my character do a hadoken?


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Ventnor wrote:
Question: is there a monk ability that lets my character do a hadoken?

I've always flavored the Scorching Ray Quingong ability as a Kamehamehadoken type thing. But I hope so. Something more direct.


Ventnor wrote:
Question: is there a monk ability that lets my character do a hadoken?

Know Direction did an interview just yesterday and exactly this came up, and I believe Stephen said yes. Although he made it sound like a higher level ability.


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Ventnor wrote:
Question: is there a monk ability that lets my character do a hadoken?

That reminds me they had something like this in 3.5 in PHB 2. I forgot the name of the feat. It will be nice to see how Pathfinder does it.


I saw that Know Direction interview and am really liking the sound of the alternate rules for action during a round...three attacks at level one!!!


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wraithstrike wrote:
Ventnor wrote:
Question: is there a monk ability that lets my character do a hadoken?
That reminds me they had something like this in 3.5 in PHB 2. I forgot the name of the feat. It will be nice to see how Pathfinder does it.

It was a feat called Ki Blast; for two Stunning Fist attempts you could do 3d6 plus your Wis mod as a force effect.


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Ki Shout can be taken as a Ki power. Single target, level x d6 damage, Sonic.


Rynjin wrote:
Ki Shout can be taken as a Ki power. Single target, level x d6 damage, Sonic.

Never got high enough with my Monk, but I always liked the idea of swift action cold ice strike combined with flurry of blows.


Funny i always thought it was the ki arrow power on q-gong

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