The final chapter of the Doomsday Dawn playtest adventure is here, "When the Stars Go Dark." Your heroes have spent the better part of a decade researching and struggling against the forces of Night Heralds. As the ancient countdown clocks race to their final moments, do your heroes have the courage and skill to save Golarion from a nightmarish fate?
While there's still much to be learned from the playtest, this final segment takes us up through the highest levels of play, wrapping up the "scripted" component. If you haven't completed your run through the previous parts, you still have until the end of the year to play and tell us what you think. Once you've wrapped up "When the Stars Go Dark," make sure to go to the following surveys and give us your feedback on Part 7 of Doomsday Dawn!
Gigantic Update 1.6
The final chapter of Doomsday Dawn brings with it the final planned update for the Pathfinder Playtest, Update 1.6, and it's a big one! Now, this doesn't mean it's the last time we're going to tell you about changes and updates—far from it—it just means that this is the last chance we have to make an official update and ensure that all of you can access and use the updated rules in your playtest games.
Update 1.6 focuses on a variety of classes, in particular addressing some of the systematic class-related topics you've shown us throughout the playtest so far. This isn't the end of the story for any of these classes, but they're the next step along the way, with some useful tweaks and additions we'd like you to test. There's a lot, so I'll give a brief overview class by class.
First off, we've implemented some of the alchemist changes originally seen in the Resonance Test, so the alchemist now can use infused reagents to create alchemical items for free each day. Also, many of you said that you wanted more versatility in building an alchemist who might focus on alchemical items other than bombs, so we've given the alchemist several fields of research specialization, as many players suggested. All the bomb improvement class features have been moved to the new bomber research field, and if you want to be better with mutagens, or healing items, or poisons instead, there are research fields for those, too! Your research field grants you a variety of benefits, including eventually being able to use Quick Alchemy for free on select low-level alchemical items from your specialty!
We've heard you say that the barbarian's rage is weirdly predictable and static, so we're trying out our most experimental change of all: after each round, you roll an increasingly harder flat check to stay in rage (don't worry, it starts at 0, so you always get at least 2 rounds of rage). Let us know whether this helps give rage the feel of a more uncontrollable and emotional event rather than a predictable ebb and flow!
Thanks to some extremely good dialogue on the forums about confusion with bardic muses and their associated feats, we've revamped the way these are constructed. Now, each muse's feats are limited to that muse, but we've added a new feat to let you keep all the flexibility you had before. Taking the Multifarious Muse feat lets you gain a 1st-level feat from a different muse than the one you started with, and qualifies you to take that muse's feats in the future. In essence, this keeps all the benefits of the old system without any of the confusion of the prerequisites; plus, it's even more flexible if more 1st-level feats come out for any of the muses later.
There's only really one feature for one class that you've all told us time and again is too much: clerics get too many uses of channel energy. We've reduced that, but rather than leave clerics hanging, we've instituted a change to somatic components such that you can now perform them even with your hands full. This mainly benefits two-handed clerics and weapon-and-shield clerics (as well as those types of paladins), who now don't need to take feats specifically to avoid this issue.
We've increased goodberry healing as well as animal companion Armor Class opportunities (especially if you don't want to use a lot of barding). But the biggest change for druid is a major revamp of the wild order. Once again, this took a lot of data from you all; those of you who participated in forum threads about the wild order will see that many of those ideas made it into this revamp.
Fighter is one of the classes that you've been saying is in the best shape, but that doesn't mean there aren't changes to be made. As a start of an examination on opens, we've separated stances from opens. While you can still use only one stance per round, stances are no longer opens, which means that you can stance up and follow it with an open. This change also helps monks, though they have fewer opens.
Speaking of monks, at your suggestion, we've increased the power of ki strike, but we've also opened up other avenues into gaining a ki pool. Want some huge mobility and defense rather than an offensive boost? Try Ki Rush!
This is a biggie. The numbers are in, and you've made it clear that we should change the name of this class so that it can handle champions of deities of all alignments, and have said that you want the lawful good version to keep the name "paladin." We haven't changed the class name just yet, but I want to make it very clear to everyone who wants the "paladin" name to remain on lawful good that this is only temporary for the purpose of making the update manageable—we're not going to make you all go through your playtest books and change the name of the class every time it comes up; we'll handle that for you in the final book! The basic deal is that we've left the lawful good option—the defender—and also added the redeemer and the liberator, who swap out the last two edicts from each of their codes for some particularly neutral good and chaotic good edicts (instead of the lawful good edicts to obey authority and act honorably). Each version keeps lay on hands, but the three variants have different reactions, with the lawful good defender retaining Retributive Strike. Speaking of which, we've revamped Retributive Strike, allowing you to protect your ally within 15 feet even if you can't reach them, and we've added a 1st-level class feat to let you use Step or ranged weapons to counterattack on behalf of an ally within that range. There's a bunch more feats supporting the new paladin versions too. Lastly, everyone now gets the lay on hands upgrade that was in Hospice Knight for free, so that feat is no longer with us.
Everyone's presented significant analysis on the pros and cons of Hunt Target toward various play styles, so we've made some changes to give you more flexibility, while also making Hunt Target less complicated at its baseline. Essentially, you choose what kind of ranger you want to be, either making a flurry of attacks at your target, making fewer but more damaging attacks against the target, or gaining advantages on a huge number of skills against the target. Also, you can use Hunt Target in exploration mode while tracking the target and have it ready ahead of time!
You've responded extremely positively to the three choices for rogue's technique, so much so that we feel comfortable expanding them out. Now each rogue's technique has a few technique-specific feats!
We've added the diabolic bloodline into the mix for all your infernal needs. Additionally, we're expanding the role of the sorcerer's 10th level feats (which currently include only the 10th-level bloodline power feat) by adding a feat that makes all your bloodline spells spontaneously heightened all the time.
Wizard is an enigma, ranked high for power among the classes but the only spellcaster ranked as uninteresting; the other four spellcasters top the chart of most interesting, followed by alchemist, while the wizard is several classes down. We've decided to double down on the wizard's role as the consummate flexible prepared spellcaster, basically, the character who can think ahead and turn their ability to prepare and adjust for the situation into a major strength. How? Well for starters, everyone has been loving the Quick Preparation feat, to such an extent that we decided to just give it to wizards for free! Secondly, at higher levels, we're adding some preparation flexibility across your spell levels, allowing you to pull tricks like using up two of your 5th-level spell slots to prepare a 7th-level spell.
So what do you think? Let us know how these new adjustments have been playing out as you finish off Doomsday Dawn and save Golarion, or as you run any other playtest games. The playtest will still be open through the end of the year, so don't worry if you haven't been keeping pace. See you Thursday for the Twitch stream of "When the Stars Go Dark!"