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Pathfinder Society Scenario #9-09: Beyond the Halflight Path PDFPaizo Inc.
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I'm glad I can run it again because it was a blastKitsuneWarlock —
I ran it with a party of 5 using many of the "difficult" options, despite having an unoptimized party (Including a core Rogue, core Monk and a disguise-focused Vigilante). The party was able to breeze through the investigation, but the colorful cast and open-endedness of the rumors allowed for some great roleplay opportunity that really let me customize the experience on the fly for each of my players and their play styles. They used the map and their brains to great advantage in the dungeon. I will admit this is a biased review; I have a wonderful group, and playing it during Hanukkah with 75% of our encounters involving monsters from Jewish Qabbalism really made me appreciate the customability of the module. It was a challenge, for sure. In fact, one of my players said it was one of the best games they'd played in recent memory!
As a GM, you have to pick the route that most appeals to your style of roleplay. There are lots of options here to play enemies you don't commonly get to encounter in Pathfinder Society. And, at least in my prepared story route, there is an unmistakeably creepy vibe that really resonates with the players exploring the wonderful location of Kaer Maga.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #8-25: Unleashing the Untouchable (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Makes me use the Word EpicKitsuneWarlock —
In every sense of the word, this module was Epic. It goes without spoiler tags that this is the capstone of an entire season, and from start to finish it feels like one. The use of items, names and locations from across the season all helps bring this home.
The first combat gives us an opportunity to test our meddle against foes that shouldn't pose a challenge if it wasn't for their tactics, which helped the immersion of the module. We are stronger than your average enemy, but there are still enemies willing to fight to the death serving their Goddess. And the mechanic used in the encounter helps answer the question: "But what about the low CR mooks?" while still making defeating those enemies a resource-draining challenge.
The second uses monsters and environmental mechanics I've personally used to scare players, but never thought I'd see in a module first hand. There was a real threat of death here, and at the same time we were able to use think-outside-of-the-box tactics to overcome some very powerful enemies.
The less-combat-heavy encounter was a bit of a morality test for some of our characters, which is always appreciated. The use of this kind of an "enemy" is threatening and always puts even high-level players on guard (for good reason).
The last encounter is something I will always remember. I was on the edge of my seat until the very end, and honestly found myself calculating how much it'd cost to resurrect the character (if it was even possible). Even with almost a dozen buffs on each of our PCs from the first round of combat, we found ourselves struggling to take out an enemy that was a serious and dreadfully scary threat.
And the rewards were just as satisfying.
Give this module a try, especially if you played any of the elemental adventures in Season 8. It makes for a satisfying, thrilling and dare I say, "epic" conclusion to the 8th Season of Pathfinder Society!
Pathfinder Player Companion: Paths of the Righteous (PFRPG)Paizo Inc.
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Prestige Classes Done RightKitsuneWarlock —
TLDR: This is an excellent book that provides a number of balanced, versatile, thematic and well designed Prestige Classes that can be well used by fans of any base class published. The new options presented demonstrate the best use of Prestige Classes in Pathfinder to date.
Now for the detailed review.
I hope it doesn't come off as dramatic to say this Player's Companion lanced isn't just a collection of thematic, balanced and versatile prestige classes, but may just be a turning point for the game itself. The Prestige Classes offered are versatile enough to work with a number of base classes without overpowering the base-class only options. They are thematically appropriate but at the same time don't pidgeonhole you into one or two narrow predefined options. The classes here certainly can be used by players that don't want to have to delve into half a dozen books to figure out the best way to play them, but at the same time they use under-appreciate mechanics and the potential for combining the roles of other base classes. Tying the Prestige classes to established lore helps create characters already established in the setting. And using deities and factions like this secures their positions in a way that is less obstructive to GMs than “special requirement” classes. The best part is how the classes are largely untied to any base classes, allowing for maximum versatility and character adaptability.
The holy symbols in the inside cover and description of each deity will be a literal godsend to those who aren't as familiar with Golarion lore. The Prestigious Feats are incredibly helpful in giving prestige shy players a reason to take the more flavorful prestige classes of this and prior books without worrying so much about losing their favored class bonuses or spellcaster levels. The rest of the book is divided very cleanly by prestige class/deity, and I will separate my review as such.
Ashavic Dancer class seems limited in that almost every class feature mentions undead or haunts. But don't let its Bardic theme mislead you: This class is perfectly accessible by any caster and tailor made for an Oracle or Sorcerer who wants extra tools against the undead without sacrificing more than one level of spellcasting. Reading the class features as though they were merely a Mystery or Bloodline makes it a far more appealing class, even if it's narrow-use. The feat is oozing with flavor, even if it's not the most powerful in the book.
The Brewkeeper reminds me of how much fun Cayden Cailean characters can be. Making your own potions and enhancing them with Metamagic gives you a slew of options, whether your an alchemist or otherwise. Being able to use your own caster level when you drink or administer a Potion is the hidden gem of this class, but using the Brew Point system to enhance your extracts and bombs is where you will have your fun. The Two-Weapon Drunkard feat feels like the same feat we've seen at least once before for Cayden Cailean, but being able to use any old Tankard as a Divine Focus has its uses.
I didn't realize how cool Ragathiel was until I read the Crimson Templar. This fire-oriented divine-inspired anti-outsider assassin class just oozes flavor. Between the devastating holy fire, the burning wings and the divine obedience, the class is going to make a lot of melee character look and feel incredible. Mechanically, it's a full base attack bonus class with bonus feats and sneak attack dice. Essentially a divine Slayer. And whether its a vital strike or dual-wielding bastard sword build, you'll find yourself easily doing over 150 damage with only 5 levels in the Prestige Class. Shield of Wings is a really cool spell, effectively giving Clerics/Paladins of the deity a single spell-slot for both flight and fire resistance. It's nice to see the extra option, given both aren't always usable in every scenario...but you're often in trouble if you don't have them.
Mechanical Trivia? The class also confirms that you can take the Divine Obedience feat and not necessarily the Celestial Obedience feat for Ragathiel, opening up some new character options in other books. It also is a little disappointing that by RAW it's Fiendish Study class feature doesn't function on the spell-like abilities the class grants it via Divine Obedience.
The Darechaser was one of the most exciting classes in the book. It fits absolutely perfectly for a deity of Kurgess, and who doesn't love adding extra rolls to your d20? While the Daring Exploit feat clearly makes it ideal for a Sleuth or Swashbuckler, the class will work for any martial character and give you that thrill of adding to so many difference checks that you'll really feel like you're playing the exact kind of boisterous daredevil the class was intended to be! A total win for flavorful mechanics.
Dawnflower Anchorite gives you all the warm fuzzies of the goddess of the Sun in a highly versatile package. The Focused Class Feature Credence lets you advance a number of pre-existing base class features as you level, not only giving you way to continue progressing as any of the three-fourth base attack bonuses casters in Pathfinder, but even blend the two becoming a hybrid-class all of its own stacking, for example, Sacred Weapon and Bardic Performance. Of course your Spells per Day will still be stuck to only one class, but its still an option. The Solar Invocation ability will provide a fantastic party buff, and being an almost full spellcaster with three-fourths base attack bonus means the class can be applied to any number of base classes. The Flame Blade Dervish feat is a fantastic buff to Sarenrae's favorite spell.
Devoted Muse is my absolute favorite class in this book. Feint is probably the least touched upon feature in the combat section of the Core Rulebook, and this book has completely blown me away with a class that provides full martial characters with a new and exciting versatile combat option. Being able to debuff enemies with your feint and continue progressing in swashbuckler talents gives you this far less feat intensive pseudo Dirty Trick vibe. And Bladed Brush gives Swashbucklers, devoted muse or otherwise, the option use a Glaive as a Finesse and One-Handed weapon! That being said, the class can be deceptively trickier than the similar Vexing Devil archetype due to the vague nature of Feinting, with numerous Feinting feats not necessarily functioning with Artistic Flourish due to the nature of the feature replacing the Dex to AC bonus. Furthermore, the Deeds ability inadvertently works with Gunslinger better than Swashbuckler...but maybe that was intentional?
Heritor Knight is touted as both one of the most powerful and flavorful classes in the book, and I'm beginning to see why. The effects all look very narrow-use when you first read it, and I suspect that and the prerequisite feats are a good argument for its balance. Most of the effects are keyed against certain tactics that can make it a pain for melee characters, such as swallow hole, flight and incorporeality. But where it really gets nasty is at level 6, when it not only get Vital Strike and Improved Strike as bonus feats, but can use Improved/Greater Vital Strike as a Standard Action, allowing it to combine with a number of other class features and feats. The fact the class advances your fighter's weapon training and feat prerequisites is fabulous. Strike True looks pretty fun for Vital Strike builds, but usually you'll want to move around and its already a feat intensive build.
The Hinterlander is one of two classes I'm excited about. It'd be great in an Adventure Path that is all about defending a specific settlement, but most adventurers move around too much to use most of its class abilities. Defended Hearth can also be something of a game breaker, letting you know if there are any “unnatural” presences in your town without having to actually go out and investigate. Getting Imbue Arrow like an Arcane Archer is really powerful for a class with bonus feats and almost full spell-caster progression. The feat Erastil's Blessing looks good for Rangers who will want to focus on their spells, but absolutely fantastic for Zen Archers or bow-wielding Clerics.
The Rose Warden was the first class I used from this book. Mechanically, its a sort of advanced Pathfinder Field Agent, giving you Talents and Sneak Attack dice. But it does it so much better that I won't be surprised if more Milanites suddenly show up at your local Lodge. Shoring up Will Saves is absolutely something rogues have needed from the beginning, not that this class is tied exclusively to Rogues. Unchained Rogues will also appreciate being able to take “Chained” Talents with this class, in addition to its Synergies with the popular Scout Archetype (being able to charge through crowds/difficult terrain). The thorn-themed talents are really neat, but I was a little disappointed when I realized you can't actually add sneak attack dice to Chaos Hammer or Holy Smite. Thematically, the class oozes rose petals and rebellion, an excellent addition for Hell's Rebels or any Urban Campaign where you don't mind ruffling a few feathers. The Magic Item is quite nice too, especially if you have high Charisma. Its a little annoying that the class features of the Rose Warden keys off Intelligence but its Magic Item keys off Charisma, but I can understand why. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Oracles and Sorcerers pick up an Everbloom Thorn.
The Rune Guard is a fascinating addition to the book I wasn't expecting. A “good Thassilonian Rune mage” that uses the original Virtues of Soralyon to buff its allies by sacrificing spell-slots. It's a pretty solid class if you want some new ways to help your friends, and the Charity Rune will allow some killer combinations depending on who else is in your party. Want to see a Rogue get Sneak Attack on their Ray? Spiffy.
The Sacred Sentinel is the least exciting class in the book, able to defend a certain number of allies a day by fighting defensively. It progresses Lay on Hands, Animal Companions, Familiars and Divine/Arcane Bond all the way through, but doesn't get spellcaster levels (instead opting for a full base attack bonus). It's kind of neat dedicating yourself to defending your Animal Companion or Familiar, and I can think of a number of Amusing Paladin/Druid or just straight Druid builds that will undoubtedly become powerful accessory items for their friends. Its just not the kind of class that appeals to me.
Now the Scar Seeker is a bit more flashy. Full Base Attack Bonus, half-casting progression, smite and lay on hands gives the worshiper of Vildeis a paladin feel, despite having no paladin-only prerequisites. Its abilities that require them to get hurt in order to activate, including powering up their weapon or exploding in healing and/or damage when they are brought to zero hit-points. It provides a nice “good aligned” variant to classes like the Pain Taster that are usually keyed to Evil aligned gods like Zon-Kuthon. The Smite Evil Magic feat looks like an absolute blast, and I can't wait to see a Paladin slice an ongoing spell-effect in half with their deities favored weapon.
The Sphere Singer is another example of how the Prestige Classes in this book reference other base classes (granting Bardic Music) without outright requiring you to take the class. It's a lovely little Prestige Class, right on target for a Desnic Gish looking to fly across the battlefield with a Starknife. The biggest aha moment here was the Versatile Performance class feature letting you retrain ranks in associated skills at no cost: An absolutely brilliant design move. The Guided Star feat is going to make a lot of Desnan Clerics very happy.
The Stargazer class has the most potential for a multiclass caster, improving spellcasting, channel, hexes, domains, mysteries, and familiars. The Arcana are flavorful, useful and flashy, and the fact its a ¾ Base Attack Bonus prestige class with full casting and no feat requirements makes it another versatile class. The Aurora Patron is going to be a top choice for witches regardless of Deity, both for the awe inspiring nature and flavor potential of the Aurora itself, and access to the powerful Color Spray spell.
In short, the book not only clarifies some rules, gives us fourteen wonderful prestige classes and a number of cool feats, spells and magic items, but could actually represent a turning point in Prestige Class design that makes me absolutely excited for the Adventurer's Guide coming out this Spring! Each class somehow retains a distinct playing style while not absolutely stapling itself to a base class, making them feel less like puzzles and more like tools you can use to express your character. The expanded lore for these deities is refreshing, especially with the focus on these “chosen followers”. And while I focus on this book largely as a player, it's an excellent tool for a GM who wants to fill their temple with distinct NPCs.
Overall the book is an amazing addition to the Player's Companion line and one I highly recommend.
Pathfinder Society Scenario #3-08: Among the Gods (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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Wouldn't Recommend, But Not Entirely AwfulKitsuneWarlock —
Pathfinder Society Scenario #7–99: Through Maelstrom Rift (PFRPG) PDFPaizo Inc.
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GM's and Players be prepared...For Fun!KitsuneWarlock —
This scenario can be taxing on both players and GMs, but it can be equally rewarding. If your table wants to drive through it as fast as possible, it will not be fun. The sandbox like qualities of the first half of the scenario requires the players to be willing to get into the spirits of their characters, and the GM must be willing to improvise. Fortunately, the scenarios length is such that there is adequate time for roleplay and the players should be encouraged to explore this strange world and all its wonderful creatures. The GM should do some extra homework prepping for the adventure in the strange new plane, but most of all should be ready to let the players spend some time getting a feel for their characters.
The second encounter was extremely difficult to prep. Even the most experienced GMs at Gencon were running from table to table asking one another how they planned on doing it. I saw velocity charts and additional rules handouts and numerous other aids, and I wish the module would have given some optional tips to GMs, or even a photo of how the table was set up during testing.