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5/5

This review is based on a PDF of New Paths Compendium: Expanded Edition, since shipping cost are prohibitive on getting the physical books to Europe, except via local gaming stores, but I would love to have this book on my shelf. It’s absolutely gorgeous and the art is excellent. If not in the same class as Paizo’s books, it’s a lot better than most of 3pp products out there.
There are 12 base classes represented in this book, as well as a number of archetypes for both official Paizo classes and those published in this book. Besides classes section, a section of this book is dedicated to feats and another one for spells.
Classes are mixed bag, to be honest. Spell-less Ranger is the best version of 3.x Ranger class that I have ever seen and pretty much how I envisioned the class. I love the concept of talents and in fact I built very similar class for my houseruled homebrew. In my opinion, SPR is the best developed class in this book and my absolute favorite, but than I’m biased. Ranger was always my favorite class, since 2nd Edition days, when I started playing. Anyway, the only issue I have with this class is the name. I understand the desire to explain the nature of the class simply and in a straightforward fashion, but the name itself is very disruptive to suspension of disbelief and world immersion. Your PC can’t say “I’m a Spell-less Ranger” to a NPC. It sounds jarring. Also, this is default ranger class in Pathfinder version of Midgard, so there aren’t rangers that cast spells. Anyway, I prefer the term Wildlander for this class and that’s the name I use. If we ever see a new take on this class for Pathfinder 2.0 or even Expanded Expanded New Paths, I would really love to see it under a new name. Otherwise, truly the best Pathfinder Ranger there is.
Skin-Changer is pretty much Spell-less Ranger alternate class. It’s done extremely well and I have a player running it and having a great time. It’s pretty much what Paizo’s Shifter should have been.
Mystic Archer is a take on ranged Magus and excellent one at that. Thematically, it fits great into elvish campaigns and the class was pretty much designed with elves in mind. In fact, in the non-expanded previous edition of this book, it was called Elven Archer.
Priest is another great edition to the game, especially to a world like Midgard, that has a lot of influences of real-world folklore, countries and old religions. The class has a feel of the old Cloistered Cleric and it’s much more appropriate for someone playing a servant of Hecate or Odin than a Cleric. I use it a lot for NPCs, especially from places that are on the fringes of civilization.
Theurge is second-best class in this book, in my opinion, of course. As the name suggests to old 3.5 players, this class combines the divine and arcane spell-caster into one complicated but potent package. It really is a great class, especially for the experienced players of spell-casters and my only issue with it is that I feel that it should have been more pronounced that this class is connected with the gods much like the Cleric or Paladin. There’s a tendency for players to play this class as a Wizard who can learn divine spells, which I believe is a mistake, especially for a world with active divine influence, such as Midgard.
Trickster is another class that outshines the class that serves as a base for it, the Rogue. Trickster provides more options to the player, albeit at the cost of slower progression of backstabbing, making up for it with Forte, the class ability that works much as archetypes in 5e work. Picking a Forte defines the class not simply mechanically; it provides a lot of clues for role-playing the character and even helps the Game Master to develop various organizations centered around specific Fortes. Which is what I did for a player of mine. I really recommend Trickster as more diverse and flavorful Rogue.
White Necromancer is the best take on this concept there is in Pathfinder, especially if we take into account an excellent Necrotic Healer archetype. I haven’t seen it in play, but on paper it seems very sound and in fact, I may introduce it into current campaign as a hireling.
I haven’t had any experience with the Spirit Shaman, Savant and Tinkerer classes, but the Savant seems to need a bit more work. Also, I have an issue with the name of the class. I suspect that the author wanted to invoke the Savant class from 3.5 days, but the Savant presented here seems more roguish in nature than scholarly. I feel that the class should be developed a bit more and expanded, and that the name should be changed to something like “Jack”, as in “Jack of All Trades”. In fact, that’s what I plan to do when I have the time, but I’m planning to that for years now, so…
Two “losers” of this book are Battle Scion and Warlock.
Battle Scion is envisioned as an Arcane Paladin/Blaster, and the Warlock as an alternate take on Magus, sort of a Fighter/Witch hybrid class. Battle Scion’s signature ability, Force Blast, is too weak to be effective and the class itself is frankly pretty bland thematically. It needs oomph in both crunch and fluff department and complete rework IMHO. There is a need for a concept like this, but I would suggest for the Battle Scion to be completely scrapped and new class devised from ground zero. And it should be called Arcane Paladin, why not. This even sounds cool, unlike the Spell-like Ranger, and it could scratch Paladin/Sorcerer/Eldritch knight itch. That I would like – and pay – to see.
Warlock is one of the classes added to this book that I was looking forward to the most. But I was disappointed in a way. Simply put, it tries to be too much, but in reality, it’s not enough. It wants to be old-school 3.5 Warlock, it wants to be Pathfinder Magus and manages neither in full. I would suggest reworking it so that the class loses spellcasting totally but gets Witch’s Hex ability and I would add some kind of channeling of Dread Blast ability through the Bonded Weapon.
Now, the feats.
If you play Pathfinder, you should buy this book just for the feats. Scaling Combat Feats are great and I was using something like them before they were presented in the previous edition of this book. New Leadership feats, including Beast Leadership, are excellent take on that problematic feat and Death Feats are treasures unto themselves. Large number of the feats presented here are designed to work with new base classes, but more than half of them are general feats that would work in any Pathfinder campaign.
There’s a number of archetypes in this book, the best one being for Spell-less Ranger and White Necromancer classes, but there are several archetypes for core and base classes published for Paizo. I can’t really fathom why are those included, but the archetypes for the classes presented here and previously published are excluded. Anyway, the archetypes section of this book could be a bit longer.

To conclude, this book is one of the best class books ever published for Pathfinder and it could proudly stand amongst Paizo’s Ultimate line. There is room for improvement of the classes presented here, and there is a need for additional support of these classes with feats, archetypes etc. But you should really have this book in your collection if you play Pathfinder even if you do not play it in Midgard Campaign Setting.
Five stars.


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Nightflier's Review of The Genius Guide to the Talented Ranger

5/5

The latest product in the Talented line by Rogue Genius Games seems to be best so far. The work that Owen Stevens constantly puts out is of outstanding quality and it should be seriously considered by all experience gamers as the basis for Pathfinder upgrade. In a way, it would be quite difficult for potential Pathfinder 2.0 to completely assume RGG’s Talented system, but as time progresses I’ve come to look at RGG Talented line as sort of Pathfinder version of Arcana Unearthed. I seriously recommend that RGG considers putting out there a hard-cover book that combines at least all Talented martial classes, but that is neither here nor there.

I must say that the ranger is my favorite class and it remains one of the most utilized classes in my games. The reason for that is its versatility, excellent fighting ability and skill selection, as well as animal companion that can sometimes make a life and death difference for the smaller parties.

Following the usual pattern of the Talented classes, Talented Ranger keeps certain basic chassis (bab, saving throws, skills, hit dice) of the Ranger class, that can be modified by taking a series of edges and talents, divided in 3 categories. This somewhat narrows down the customization possibilities, since the edges tend to be prerequisites for taking certain talents.

Talents themselves are divided in 3 categories, basically distinguished by level. Basic talents can be taken before 10th level, major talents at 10th level and above and grand talents only as 20th level capstone ability.

I am not a fan of this kind of division, since it makes it harder to find particular talent if you are not sure if it’s basic or major. I would prefer that all talents are listed alphabetically with certain class level stated as prerequisite in the description of each talent. I am also not a fan of edges. I would very much prefer that edges are simply talents, but with some kind of prerequisites.

By the simple virtue of sheer number of edges and talents presented in this product, certain builds and talent trees can make the Talented Ranger a bit overpowered. Game Master should carefully decide which one to allow, since the Talented Ranger can easily overshadow many other classes. This especially comes into play if a character decides to bond with a weapon instead of animal, gaining the ability to improve its weapon as he progresses in levels, which could – combined with the Favorite Enemy talent tree – make the Fighter almost un-needed.

On the other hand, I am very satisfied with the number of talents that improve the animal companion, since they open a whole new range of role-playing opportunities and allow animal companion to transcend the role of simple additional muscle.

The editing is top-notch, as usual for RGG products and I can not recommend it enough.


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