The Fifth Archdaemon

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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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The PDF is a good buy

****( )

I buy all my books via PDF, so I very much appreciate the price point. I hope they continue this trend of blending flavor and crunch from the campaign line into the main line. That way I get the best of both worlds. Thank you, Paizo.

There are reprints in the book, but I don't mind them. First, it's nice to have all this information in one location. Second, they well promulgated the fact that there were reprints. Less chance that way that someone bought this blind and were surprised by the reprints.

Personally, I bought this book because I love when Paizo creates more flavor for their deities. I would have preferred if this book had just been Inner Sea Gods but for fiendish deities. This book lacks things like the deities' sacred colors, priests' roles, spell list alterations, specialized divine servitors. If those were in this book, it would have received a 5 star rating. However, that would be a different book, one that is unlikely to exist because this book fulfills many of that book's functions.

I appreciate that they explain how Exalted et all work with Fiendish Obedience, however they don't give a similar rule for the Divine Paragon Cleric archetype. I would guess that you just bump up when you get the rewards by 2 levels, but then again maybe not.

The best part for me was all the very flavorful boons (most entirely new!!). Most of them made sense with the rules too. One that I was very confused by Evangelist boon for the demon lord of driders. You bite an enemy, inject them with eggs, and the forcibly reincarnate them into a spider with a humanoid head. Cool. Super flavorful. Unfortunately, it doesn't explain what the mechanical effects of that reincarnation are. Do your stats change? I don't know. Can you make webs with your gross, new spider body? Your guess is as good as mine. Despite not making much sense to me in the finer mechanics, it remains rather cool. So even when I'm scratching my head in confusion, I'm still enjoying the reading.


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Bring on the Golarion Specific Content!

****( )

Before I get into the meat of the review, I want to address the two contentious issues: the re-prints and the RPG line.

I don't precisely understand all of the pearl clutching about the reprints. It's not as if the developers didn't manage our expectations before hand. Nobody picked up the book and cried, "Reprints! I have been deceived!!" Which makes me feel that some of the low star reviews are a touch . . . disingenuous. Now, while I think new or substantively revised material is more fun than reprints, I also think that there is some value in collating older content for newer readers.

Secondly, I welcome the fusion of the campaign and core Lines. I buy or receive most of my Pathfinder materials via PDF. Paying ~$10 for a PDF is much better for my pocket book than the normal pricing structure. I want Pathfinder to remain economically viable, but the campaign line books -- besides for Inner Sea Gods (my favorite Pathfinder book ever. Please make more of these. I will buy them. Please take my money.) -- seem a touch anemic in terms of content versus price in comparison to the Core line. Paying ~$10 for ~200+ pages seems a much better idea than paying roughly the same price for far less material.

Now to the review:

I love Channel Energy. Anything that makes Channel Energy a more viable in combat choice wins my full throated approval. I love the feat Purifying Channel. It allows you to injure and slightly debuff an enemy excluded from the healing goodness by Selective Channel. If my current cleric were not a pacifist, I would be begging my GM to let me retrain to get this feat.

Speaking of channeling, I really like the Blossoming Light cleric. Though my approval is slightly more tempered than it is for Purifying Channel. Pathfinder has not yet created the perfect "white mage" archetype. All that is required is to leave the Domains and spell casting alone while removing armor and weapon proficiencies while decreasing BAB. The Blossoming Light cleric would be my favorite cleric archetype of all time if it lost a good save and or took a worse BAB progression instead of losing the Domain spell slots. Despite this disappointment, I still look forwards to some day casting Mass Sun's Disdain and then scouring the wicked with the love of the gods.

Due to my white-mage love, it should be no surprise that I find the Magaambyan arcanist delightful. I appreciate the lore and I like how the prestige class permits a wizard to cast curative and nature themed spells without losing any casting progression. My new substitute for a mystic theurge will definitely be a Pact Wizard with the Healing Patron who trains to become a Magaambyan arcanist. It also makes thematic sense to me since Old-Mage Jatembe looked to otherworldly sources for mystical might.

The other chapter I cannot recommend highly enough is the Rivethun. The prestige class is great. It lets you make your spirit familiar to be much more combat relevant. The Geminate Invoker seems an interesting way to make a slightly more durable Barbarian. However, I do not know how crippling the loss of the Str. buff is. I also liked the Spirit Beacon feat tree. It seems flavorful. I wish its prerequisites were less intensive, but I understand for flavor reasons why those prerequisites exist. However, if you are looking for feats that have a strong combat effect this feat tree may not be for you. However, I can see Spirit Rebuke having some strong combat effect in its very narrow niche. A surprise possession could wreck an unprepared party.


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Please, sir, may I have some more?

****( )

I want to add my voice to the other positive reviews. Inner Sea Gods is also my favorite book that Paizo has published. ISF is a good book, but it is not as great as ISG. That may be due to constraints of length or other factors to which I am not privy.

I'm writing this review because I have read that these reviews help the developers know what to develop. I would very much like to see the deities and their cults receive more attention and more detail, so here we go.

The Good:

The lore this book contains is, without a doubt, the best part. If you don't care about the origins and motivations of deities and those who follow them, buy a different book. ISF, got me excited about deities like Besmara who I never before found interesting, while also giving me rich details about deities I already found interesting. Her section made me want to be a pirate. I think that's the highest praise that I can give as a consumer. The author(s?) of that section painted a vivid enough picture that a new perspective became compelling.

The Bad:

Some of the Obediences could have been better fleshed out. The best Obediences give you at least two options on how to appease your god: one needs to be something you don't need other people or specific locations. Some of these did not. Nobody wants their divine powers turned off because they couldn't find find someone to whom they could brag or whom they could bully.

Some of the Boons evoked the "who would want that?" (which may be a failure of my imagination and not the design) or "why is that so bad?" (Seriously, Mahathallah has better illusionists than Sivanah. Does that seem right to anyone?) Also, if you give a boon that effects Channel Energy, then let Exalted levels stack with Cleric levels for that ability. Let Sarenrae's exalted boon be your guide. If you don't, them you make that boon suck for your Exalted and unlikely to ever come up if you go straight cleric given how late access boons are without the appropriate prestige classes.

However many of the other Boons were good. (Besmara lets her evangelists summon sea monsters she has bullied and even coerce people themselves with her divine charisma. How cool is that?)

Some alignment appropriate deities did not have paladin or anti-paladin codes. Ghaulander is CE and is a god of disease. There is no doubt in my mind that he has anti-paladins and that they have specific beliefs. One of my favorite parts of ISG was the alternate paladin codes. Paladins have codes tailored to their patron makes so much sense, and makes them much more fun to play. You guys struck gold with that innovation. Keep mining it.

There were some editing and grammar errors, but it only confused or annoyed me a couple of times. It's only a minor complaint.

The Odd:

Achaeckek is now a full god (with 5 Domains) rather than a demigod. It seems a bad call on the pantheon's part to let him get bigger than a demigod. He is an assassin after all. :-p

What Improvements I Would Like:

ISG was so great because it gave feats and spells specific to each religion. This book could have greatly benefitted from such additions along with the missing Heralds. I know some of these gods got feats in ISG, but I want more. I understand that there might have been space constraints. I would have paid more. If this book had been ISG Volume 2, I would be giving it 5 stars, and want to give it 6. Seriously, I would be grateful to have the honor of giving you $10 more.

TL;DNR?

Consumers: buy this book for the excellent lore, but temper your expectations: many of the boons are either not as cool or not as thematic as they were in ISG.

Developers: please make more books in this vein, but more in the style of ISG. ISG seemed to sell well. You guys have a market here. Please exploit it and take our money. It's not like you don't have more gods to detail.