If classes are the main chassis of a character, skills and feats are its nuts and bolts. When they let us designers loose in Pathfinder Unchained, it's only natural that we wanted to play around with how the nuts and bolts attach, and even try changing the shapes of those nuts and bolts entirely! In Chapters 2 and 3 of Pathfinder Unchained, there are not only several daring subsystems that play with feats, there so many different options for restructuring skills that it's easy to lose yourself in all the possibilities. I've gathered some of the coolest tidbits from all those options to share with you today!
Starting with skills, the three major skills options each serve a different goal.
I Need More Skills to Flesh Out My Character
The background skills variant separates out certain skills as background skills as opposed to adventuring skills. It also adds some new background skills to the game, such as Lore, a very specific version of the Knowledge skill. To round it out, everyone gains 2 extra skill points to spend on background skills, no matter your class!
There Are Too Many Skills
The consolidated skills variant serves a somewhat opposite goal, combining current skill functionality into only 12 skills.
Assigning Skill Points Can Be Tough
The grouped skills variant makes it easier to assign skills, speeding up the level-up process. It also gives characters a middle tier of skills that they are pretty good at, rather than most characters having mostly max ranks, 1 rank, or no ranks.
As cool as the skill sections are, the sections involving feats are the showstoppers of today's blog!
Have you ever wanted to multiclass your character for flavor reasons—maybe pick up some bardic performances and versatile performance to represent the time you unexpectedly spent studying music one adventure—but then you realized that your character would be pretty significantly handicapped by taking those two levels in bard? It happens all the time, and it requires you to sacrifice something whichever choice you take. With the variant multiclassing option, you can choose a secondary class and trade out half your feats (3rd, 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th) to instead gain a progression of special abilities based on which class you pick. Want to be a fighter who dabbles in divination magic such that he always acts on the surprise round or vexes his foes with hexes? You're covered. Want to be a druid who specializes in taking out dragons as her favored enemy or flies into a rage when the natural world is in danger? You've got that too. With variant multiclassing, you can open more combinations than ever before, without delaying your access to your main class's cool new features!
The stamina system offers new powers for every combat feat in the RPG line. Yes, you read that right: it specifically lists every combat feat in the whole line and then grants each feat new powers. Right from the start, the system offers options for you to just give the system to fighters or to give it to all martial characters, depending on your preference. Stamina is a new resource that allows martial characters to boost themselves and use their feats in new and exciting ways. It regenerates relatively quickly between battles, allowing you to enjoy an entirely new mindset to your daily exploration; a party of stamina-users benefits from hit and run guerilla tactics, emphasizing the value of mobility, stealth, and timing (as opposed to the mindset of "buff, buff, buff, speed through!"). Stamina lets you boost your effectiveness or change the rules of the feat in your favor. These special stamina powers are called combat tricks. While I'm sure that the ways to use stamina to boost your effectiveness will be quite popular (like Critical Focus, where under certain conditions, you can increase your critical multiplier, potentially multiple times if you roll high enough), I'm a fan of the combat tricks that let you retroactively apply an effect (like declare a Stunning Fist after you already know your attack connected), and my absolute favorites are the ones that let you trick your opponent through devious tactical play. For instance, the Combat Style Master combat trick allows you to spend stamina to switch your styles as an off-turn free action. So you can lure people into attacking you and then suddenly be in Snake Style before they can even call off the attack! In the same vein, I also really enjoy the combat tricks that let you use your powers when you normally couldn't, since that has two cool psychological effects: not only can it present great "gotcha" moments, but once your enemy knows you can, say, spend stamina to take a second attack of opportunity against them from the same opportunity, it changes the way they view your threat, and it might allow you to control their actions without even spending your stamina!
Tune in next time to learn more about magic—specifically, the new scaling magic items in Pathfinder Unchained that grow with your character!