Pathfinder Player Companion: Faiths of Balance (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Player Companion: Faiths of Balance (PFRPG)
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Perfect Order, Perfect Chaos

There are those who walk a middle road, the heroes to whom questions of morality come second to some greater goal. It is to these bold individuals that the gods of balance offer their hands. Whether it’s the god of cities and civilization or the guardians of the wild places, the goddess of death or the twisted and insane lord of magic, the neutral gods of Golarion are every bit as active as their righteous or evil counterparts. Often misunderstood, their worshipers run the gambit from enlightened scholars to bloodthirsty paragons of battle, all bound together by the same knowledge: that there are distinctions more important than good versus evil.

Faiths of Balance presents a player-friendly overview of the neutral-aligned religions and faiths of the Pathfinder campaign setting, along with new rules and information to help players customize pious characters in both flavor and mechanics.

    Inside this book, you'll find:
  • Information on each of the major neutral gods and his or her corresponding religion, including what’s expected of adventurers of various classes, ways for the faithful to identify each other, taboos, devotions and ceremonies, church hierarchies, holy texts, religious holidays, and more
  • An overview of the ancient Green Faith, to which many druids still hold
  • New character traits to help represent and cement a character’s background in the church
  • New feats for holy warriors
  • New god-specific spells for a wide variety of spellcasters
  • New magic items designed specifically for members of the faith
  • New religious organizations and military orders, plus a paladin code for the chosen warriors of Abadar, god of cities
  • Details on minor neutral deities, powerful fey entities, and more!

Written by Colin McComb

Each bimonthly 32-page Pathfinder Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-316-3

Note: This product is part of the Pathfinder Player Companion Subscription.

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Solid Introduction to the Neutral Faiths

4/5

Faiths of Balance is a thirty-two page introduction to the major "neutral" faiths in the official Pathfinder campaign setting of Golarion. The eight faiths covered are Abadar, Calistria, Gorum, Gozreh, Irori, Nethys, Pharasma, and (more a philosophy than the deity) the Green Faith. The introduction explains that this book isn't so much about the gods themselves but about their average worshippers. I occasionally found a minor bit here or there that expanded on what we already knew about these faiths from major books like Inner Sea Gods, but for the most part this companion book is better thought of as a readable, capsule summary for players than any attempt to introduce "new" lore into the setting. Still, it's much more reasonable to expect the average player to read a page or two about their new cleric's god in a companion like this than a lengthy treatment in a hardcover book.

The inside front cover depicts the holy symbols of the eight faiths covered in the book along with their alignment, domains, favoured weapons, and centers of worship. The inside back cover reproduces the covert art, sans logo. The interior artwork is generally of a high quality, with the depictions of individual priests of each god a highlight.

The first part of the book is on the faiths. Each of the eight faiths gets a two-page overview that includes a discussion of its goals, identifying symbols and tenets, taboos, how they interact with adventurers and other faiths, how different (core) classes are or are not represented, and two new religion traits for characters who worship that deity to select from. Unfortunately, most of the traits are rather mundane and unimaginative--very much in the "you get a +1 bonus to a skill, and it's a class skill for you" vein (which can be useful, but doesn't exactly spark creativity and distinctive backgrounds). I was originally going to go through each of the eight faiths in this review, but it's probably more useful for me to sum things up by saying the entries are generally well-written and informative. I didn't know, for example, that Nethys rarely pays any attention at all to his worshippers, that Gorum believes that those who surrender on the field of battle should be spared, that Pharasma has some surprising beliefs about abortion, or how well Abadar plays into the old-school D&D idea of advancing civilization and bringing order to the dangerous wilderness. There's also a two-page summary of minor neutral deities in the setting (like my favourite, Groetus, the God of the End Times)--each of these gets a paragraph or two of description and one new trait.

The remainder of the book is a series of two-page entries on topics including religious organisations, feats, magical items, spells, and holidays.

The religious organisations covered are The Companies of the Red Standard (a knightly order sworn to Gorum), The Reborn House (adventuring spellcasters sworn to Nethys who try to right wrongs caused by magic), The Sacred Order of Archivists (scholars of Irori who try to preserve history from destruction), The Sea Dragons (Abadarians who maintain civilised seaways), The Voices of the Spire (militant Pharasmins totally devoted to the destruction of undead), The Wasp Queens (female thieves who worship Calistria), and The Wind Callers (worshippers of Gozreh who work with ship's captains). Although there's only a couple of paragraphs of description for each of these organisations, they're really flavourful and interesting--and I could definitely see entire campaigns premised on every PC being a member of one of these groups. Certainly could be a fun change from the "a bunch of random adventurers meet up" tradition.

The feats section contains a reasonable selection, and (appropriate for a book like this) they're reasonably balanced. This section also contains new "channel foci" (a concept introduced in an earlier book) which allows clerics of particular faiths to use channel energy on a special holy symbol to create a particular effect. For example, Abadarian clerics could channel through small gold-plated scales to influence creatures' attitudes (through Diplomacy) as a swift action instead of the normal rule of a minute's interaction. I like the concept.

The entry on magic items is interesting, as the items can be used by anyone (even non-worshippers), but have an extra effect that only works when used by worshippers of the relevant faith. The clockwork key, for example, leads constructs to avoid attacking its wielder, but a worshipper of Abadar can use it to try to paralyze a construct entirely. (I think this particular item is really cool, but overpowered given its price.) This section also contains a sidebar detailing a code of conduct for Paladins of Abadar.

The spells section isn't clear on whether they can be cast by anyone or only worshippers of the deity they relate to. The only spell that jumps out at me as being particularly interesting is one called early judgment, which shows the target what their fate will be in the afterlife!

The section on holidays provides just a brief description of different special events within the eight faiths--I don't think there was enough room to do this topic justice here.

Overall, Faiths of Balance is a solid, concise introduction to the eight major neutral faiths in the Pathfinder pantheon. It's very surface-level material, so don't expect major revelations or deep analyses. But for what it is, it's good.


Excellent book

5/5

Like the other two books in the "faiths" line this book is very very good, it really brings flavor to a lot of deities who (to me at least) seemed very bland before.
Keep in mind that this book contains information about deities that are neutral on the good-evil axis or nuatral in both the good-evil and law-chaos axis, the deities that are neutral in the law-chaos axis but not on the good-evil axis are covered in the other two books (faiths of purity and faiths of corruption).
Here you will also find the paladin oaths for paladins of Abadar.


4/5

I have reviewed this book over on RPGGeek.com.


Neutrality is harder than it looks...Faiths of Balance

5/5

Along with its sister publications, Faiths of Purity and Faiths of Corruption, this volume is a must have for creating a cleric. Rich in detail, broad in scope, and just frakin' neat. Check my full review: Faiths of Balance


Solid book for followers of neutral deities.

4/5

Faiths of Balance is a solid resource for players that choose to follow a neutral deity. With information on what types of adventurer would follow a deity, what identifies worshipers, how other faiths get along - there is a wealth of information to help a player more accurately portray a follower of any of the neutral deities covered in the book. Coupled with new traits, feats and spells there is plenty to help a player or GM.

See my full review at irontavern.com


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Dark Archive

Cool more books on gods.


Can't wait for this one.

+1

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

I just hope this means Sean has been busy writing three books.

Spoiler:
Or he got a hold of his cohorts from the old FR Faiths and Powers Series. Though that might mean 8 point fonts


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens Subscriber
Matthew Morris wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Even with the teeny fonts, that series is still one of my favorite collections in any RPG ever.


This along with Purity will be amazing, can't wait till the next one comes out for evil and such.


Shinmizu wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
** spoiler omitted **
Even with the teeny fonts, that series is still one of my favorite collections in any RPG ever.

Yes it was good, but also very time consuming. I remember I spent a full month only to read Faith & Avatars. pfff.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Shinmizu wrote:
Matthew Morris wrote:
** spoiler omitted **
Even with the teeny fonts, that series is still one of my favorite collections in any RPG ever.

Sean would have to confirm, but as I remember...

Spoiler:
The reason the font was so small was that the books were limtied to x pages, but there was so much content they didn't want to cut, they kept shrinking the font.

Sovereign Court

Aw, c'mon! What could be more balanced than utter annihilation? What's more pure than the void of uncreation? Rovagug should be in all these books!

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

I've added the author credit to the product description. (The image is still a mockup.)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber

So, here's my concern: these 7 gods have (all?) had writeups in other sources. I know off the top of my head that Abadar, Gorum, Gozreh and I think, Pharasma have been in APs. Those were pretty extensive articles, so it makes me wonder: is this just a collection of those articles with a little bit of crunch thrown in for the players? Or... is there some further exploration of the setting (major temples, cities favorable to neutral deities, relationships to factions and organizations, etc.) that moves each god's story along?

Note: I'm not a habitual complainer. I like what I've read so far, and that's why I'm a subscriber. I'm just bringing up these concerns in the hopes that it's not too late to get those involved to consider the perspective of long-time readers.

Dark Archive

My understand is this will be new stuff. Focusing on the church and faith of each god and less on the god's themselves. I might be wrong but that was my understanding of what these books are about.

Contributor

Dark_Mistress wrote:
My understand is this will be new stuff. Focusing on the church and faith of each god and less on the god's themselves. I might be wrong but that was my understanding of what these books are about.

Correct.

An excerpt from the outline:

how the church can tie into your background (Cayden has a lot of orphanages, etc.)
worshiper’s outlook
iconography, sacred animals, sacred plants, etc. (think 1st ed Deities & Demigods tables)
sayings
temple: what’s the main temple/best-known temple/mecca/pilgrimage site for your church?
clothing
taboos
ways to identify yourself (tattoos, jewelry, secret handshakes, genuflection)
why worship this deity?
why be an adventurer?
Your goals in life
Atoning and making penance
Interaction with other faiths
perspective for all 11 (18?) classes--why be a barbarian who worships this deity, or a fighter, etc., when you don't get spells
what races usually worship him
in what countries is he popular?
a character trait for each deity (like the regional traits)
Where you can find more info on this deity

BTW Pharasma doesn't yet have a god writeup in an AP. I know this because I haven't written it yet. ;)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:
BTW Pharasma doesn't yet have a god writeup in an AP. I know this because I haven't written it yet. ;)

I hope the good news is that I won't have to wait another six and a half APs before I get my greedy hands on it. ;)

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber
Sean K Reynolds wrote:

An excerpt from the outline:

how the church can tie into your background (Cayden has a lot of orphanages, etc.)
worshiper’s outlook
iconography, sacred animals, sacred plants, etc. (think 1st ed Deities & Demigods tables)
sayings
...

Very cool. Thanks for the info!

Quote:
BTW Pharasma doesn't yet have a god writeup in an AP. I know this because I haven't written it yet. ;)

Yeah, I wasn't certain about that one... I know I've seen some details, but I wasn't sure where. Must have been what I read in the original setting book.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

ajs wrote:
...is this just a collection of those articles with a little bit of crunch thrown in for the players?...

No matter how unusual the subject of a Pathfinder Player Companion may seem, they always have a set formula (with the Combat, Faith, Magic, and Social sections), so using them to reprint articles like the ones you're talking about really wouldn't make any sense.

Contributor

ajs wrote:

So, here's my concern: these 7 gods have (all?) had writeups in other sources. I know off the top of my head that Abadar, Gorum, Gozreh and I think, Pharasma have been in APs. Those were pretty extensive articles, so it makes me wonder: is this just a collection of those articles with a little bit of crunch thrown in for the players? Or... is there some further exploration of the setting (major temples, cities favorable to neutral deities, relationships to factions and organizations, etc.) that moves each god's story along?

Note: I'm not a habitual complainer. I like what I've read so far, and that's why I'm a subscriber. I'm just bringing up these concerns in the hopes that it's not too late to get those involved to consider the perspective of long-time readers.

I totally understand your concern, and more to the point, Paizo does too. When I was writing up the Faiths of Purity book, Sean made clear to me that the book was not to be a rewrite of the major faiths, and in fact, I was allowed perhaps 7% of the article to summarize the god quickly. The rest of the god-article was primarily what it meant to worship a god, who was most likely to do so, what various classes thought of the god, and how to identify other worshipers.

While I did use the extensive articles as reference material for the gods and their churches, this book is focused on the average worshiper. Essentially, to use a real-world analogy, this would be a book talking about the Catholic experience and how it relates to the church, rather than a book detailing the doctrinal points of the faith and how the cardinals relate to the Pope.

Contributor

Oh, wait. I don't need to be coy about this; I see I'm announced as writing it. Well then, yes, this is not a book about the religion, but rather how the religion is practiced. And right now I'm writing about Nethys.

Dark Archive

Colin McComb wrote:
Oh, wait. I don't need to be coy about this; I see I'm announced as writing it. Well then, yes, this is not a book about the religion, but rather how the religion is practiced. And right now I'm writing about Nethys.

Clerics of Nethys demand better treatment! Clerics (and other priests, and occasionally even *monks*) of the other nineteen big gods, and even some losers like Hanspur the Water Rat, get some neat perks, like this spell or that added to their spell list. Even some mere demon lords get something funky, like the ability to use Animal Domain spells on mindless vermin.

Clerics of Nethys get a *restriction* on casting Imbue with Spell Ability. Boo!

All this, and favored weapon - quarterstaff! :)

[Technically, I'm against any clergy getting these sorts of perks, as it was a messy business back in 1st and 2nd edition, and led to nonsense like spells that only followers of a single god could cast, which, IMO, is a pretty dubious use of wordcount, but since it's already a done deal, I'm all for Nethys getting some love, too!]

Contributor

You'll see some improved options for Nethys in his writeup in an upcoming Pathfinder AP volume. :)

Contributor

Set wrote:
Colin McComb wrote:
Oh, wait. I don't need to be coy about this; I see I'm announced as writing it. Well then, yes, this is not a book about the religion, but rather how the religion is practiced. And right now I'm writing about Nethys.

Clerics of Nethys demand better treatment! Clerics (and other priests, and occasionally even *monks*) of the other nineteen big gods, and even some losers like Hanspur the Water Rat, get some neat perks, like this spell or that added to their spell list. Even some mere demon lords get something funky, like the ability to use Animal Domain spells on mindless vermin.

Clerics of Nethys get a *restriction* on casting Imbue with Spell Ability. Boo!

All this, and favored weapon - quarterstaff! :)

[Technically, I'm against any clergy getting these sorts of perks, as it was a messy business back in 1st and 2nd edition, and led to nonsense like spells that only followers of a single god could cast, which, IMO, is a pretty dubious use of wordcount, but since it's already a done deal, I'm all for Nethys getting some love, too!]

Well, Sean will kill me if I focus on clerics here, but I CAN guarantee you two new traits for the lover of all things Nethys. Oh. And what's the adjective for Nethys, anyway? Nethyian? Nethysian? Nethystics?

Also, Sean is going to send over his extended writeup for Pharasma to me any day now (note to Sean: HINT HINT), so that material will be getting integrated as well.

I should probably get off the messageboards and direct this energy to actual writing.

Contributor

Update: The faiths are done. Now it's onto the "short articles with innovative new rules for social, magic, religious, and combat-focused characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign."

Except that the traits are folded into the faiths directly. At least in the version I'll be turning over. Who knows what magic lurks in the dark heart of Paizo?

Contributor

This project is Sean's problem now. I'm moving on to other, secretive projects that will hopefully get a rousing welcome when given their own messageboard topic. :)

Dark Archive

Colin McComb wrote:
This project is Sean's problem now. I'm moving on to other, secretive projects that will hopefully get a rousing welcome when given their own messageboard topic. :)

Thats just mean.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Colin McComb wrote:
This project is Sean's problem now. I'm moving on to other, secretive projects that will hopefully get a rousing welcome when given their own messageboard topic. :)

The only thing stopping you from creating those messageboard topics on your own is a silly piece of paper.


What? Ol' SKR took you off the case just because you didn't know the adj. for "Nethys-related"? Harsh.

Contributor

Colin McComb wrote:
This project is Sean's problem now. I'm moving on to other, secretive projects that will hopefully get a rousing welcome when given their own messageboard topic. :)

Unless I send your manuscript back for revisions, mister I-finished-writing-early....

Contributor

Sean K Reynolds wrote:
Colin McComb wrote:
This project is Sean's problem now. I'm moving on to other, secretive projects that will hopefully get a rousing welcome when given their own messageboard topic. :)
Unless I send your manuscript back for revisions, mister I-finished-writing-early....

Yeah, but what the chances of th-... wait a second, let me check my mail.

Nooooooooooooooooooo


I'm looking forward to this one to see just what gets said about the faith of Calistria. Though Gorum and Abadar also have some of my interest.


As long as Gozreh isn't constantly back and forth male female adverbs, I'll be okay. [See "Racing to Ruin"]. If I were Editor-in-Cheif, I'd've killed Sean over that atrocity.

Liberty's Edge

Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
GreatKhanArtist wrote:
As long as Gozreh isn't constantly back and forth male female adverbs, I'll be okay. [See "Racing to Ruin"]. If I were Editor-in-Cheif, I'd've killed Sean over that atrocity.

I loved that, that was purposely to help show Gozreh duel nature.

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

:)!!!

I'd like to see the paladin code for Abadar and Iroi, but I'd really, really like to see (and hope) that there are anti-paladin codes for Gorum and Calistria (can't let the goodguys have all the fun)!


Yeah, I'm also intrested in Paladin codes for Abadar. Unfortunately, by then, we'll probably finish Council of Thieves where I'm playing Paladin of Abadar, but still would like to see them at least... I think James mentioned in Faiths of Purity topic that only LG, NG and LN gods can have paladins, does that mean we will see paladin codes for Abadar paladins?

Sovereign Court

he and she are not adverbs, they are pronouns.

Gozreh does not have a duel-nature, Gozreh has a DUAL-nature.

Contributor

Toadkiller Dog wrote:
Yeah, I'm also intrested in Paladin codes for Abadar. Unfortunately, by then, we'll probably finish Council of Thieves where I'm playing Paladin of Abadar, but still would like to see them at least... I think James mentioned in Faiths of Purity topic that only LG, NG and LN gods can have paladins, does that mean we will see paladin codes for Abadar paladins?

Yes. :)


mental note, check out book....
Calistria.......

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

The product image and description have been updated to match the final product.

Dark Archive

Nice to see more of the APG Iconics getting cover time. :)


Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

These covers have been stunning lately. I really hope this is the direction you guys continue to go in.


Nice cover art.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Card Game, Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

I just glanced through the new faiths book and I am very happy to have something to give to my players when they ask about a god that is tailored for them. And I like the information contained in the book. I cannot wait for this one to be released.


OK, possible dumb question...does this book address the lack of a Neutral and/or Balance domain?

Dark Archive

Spiral_Ninja wrote:
OK, possible dumb question...does this book address the lack of a Neutral and/or Balance domain?

Ooh, I pray for such a thing to never exist! It's enough of a chore picking non-extremist dieties for my clerics, so that I don't have to deal with almost half of Domain choices being Chaos, Good, Evil or Law (which, granted, don't suck quite as hard as they did in 3.0, but they still aren't exactly sexy or distinctive).

Logically, there should probably be such a thing, but I sure don't want to see it!

Every diety with a N alignment component would have to lose a Domain to make room for the new 'Neutral' Domain, and that would make me sad.


Who did the covers for this and Humans of Golarion? Because they are both fantastic, and I typically don't like the darker more more realistic look, but they are phenomenal covers.

Silver Crusade

That cover.

LOVE.

(go fig that the only divine iconic supporting a neutral deity is still good aligned ;) )


vagrant-poet wrote:
Who did the covers for this and Humans of Golarion? Because they are both fantastic, and I typically don't like the darker more more realistic look, but they are phenomenal covers.

Lucas Graciano did the artwork for Humans of Golarion.

COVER ART

Liberty's Edge

"New religious organizations and military orders, plus a paladin code for the chosen warriors of Abadar, god of cities"

So does that mean were not getting a Paladin code fro Iori? He is LN, so he can have Paladins.


Pathfinder Adventure Subscriber

He could. But I can't say he sounds like a paladin-attracting deity to me. Which of course can change once we get a more detailed write-up.

Liberty's Edge

I've had a notion of a Monk/Paladin of Iori for a while now. I would hate that a code for his Paladins isn't in the book.

Paizo Employee Chief Technical Officer

Heine Stick wrote:
vagrant-poet wrote:
Who did the covers for this and Humans of Golarion? Because they are both fantastic, and I typically don't like the darker more more realistic look, but they are phenomenal covers.

Lucas Graciano did the artwork for Humans of Golarion.

COVER ART

Faiths of Balance is his cover as well.

Dark Archive Bella Sara Charter Superscriber

1 person marked this as a favorite.

I have no strong feelings about this product, one way or the other. All I know is my gut says "maybe." But I hope it answers some important questions.

What makes a good man go neutral? Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?

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