Pacts & Pawns: New Pact Magic Options (PFRPG) PDF

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In addition to presenting the basic Pact Magic rules necessary to use the new content provided this product introduces three new spirits, three new archetypes, five new organizations, and one new feat designed for use with the base Pact Magic rules created by Radiance House.

New Spirits

  • Fortune’s Apostate: Born into a clan of barbarian warriors facing its last days, this maimed warrior subverted the prophecy of a goddess of death. When his soul was sent to its end he was forbidden final rest and thus lingers, eternally restless, promising the power to resist those who claim the license of divinity.
  • Cort Eiding, The Golden Gunman: Eiding was a simple mercenary, who owed too much to too many to leave this earth. To pay his debt, the Golden Gunman literally sells his soul.
  • Ia, The Illuminator: A staggeringly powerful creature from beyond the stars, Ia’s every movement is a destructive force of nature. Alone at the cold and sterile end of the universe, he seeks a vessel on a more lively world; a world like yours.

New Archetypes

  • Haunting Occultist (Occultist Archetype): All occultists can bind spirits for power, but some occultists can use them in a more personal way. A haunting occultist learns the secret of binding spirits to her foes, tormenting them and wearing them down with the sheer weight of their occult might.
  • Legion Occultist (Occultist Archetype): spirits, legion occultists use the powers of effigy to create personal armies, with bound spirits at their head.
  • Soul Armorer (Paladin/Antipaladin Archetype): In lands where the practice of binding spirits is well-known, paladins are frequent foes of the art; the temptation of easy power and the influence of these spirits is something to feared and warded against. But in other cases, paladins take a very different tack, forcibly compelling these spirits with divine might to lend their power in the name of their deity or cause.

Cults and Covens
This chapter adheres to the Prestige Points/Fame rules and describes new secret societies including:

  • The Cthonocracy: The “Rule of Ancients” is a staggeringly old cabal formed under the time-honored motto “He who lives, wins.” To that end, all manner of mundane and supernatural methods were developed to ensure that one outlives his rivals to the last. This cabal has subtly manipulated events for hundreds of years according to the delicate schemes of its oldest and most patient members, so that key members of the cabal will be next in line when a power structure caves.
  • The Cult of Man: Fiercely anti-deistic, the Cult of Man rejects divinity as a distinct concept, holding that the difference between a bound spirit and a patron god is merely a matter of scale. They condemn the arrogance of gods in their self-righteousness. Its members tend to be older, of a learned and scholarly bent, and concerned with personal power (or a personal grudge against the divine) above all else.
  • The Lantern Collective: Known variously as the Silver Lanterns, Lumineers, Day Stars and a host of other names and aliases, it isn’t entirely clear how far the organization’s influence spreads. The Lantern Collective is devoted to the sacred pursuit of knowledge, and the subversion and sabotage of those who conceal that knowledge. It celebrates spirit binding for its ability to join the minds of the past with the minds of the present. Its own clandestine binding secrets, of course, are not included in this sacred calling, leading to not-occasional accusations of hypocrisy. Joining the Collective is not easy; typically it finds one before one finds it.
  • Path of Ia: A frighteningly well-equipped and well-spoken doomsday cult, the Path of Ia holds the firm belief that the fundamental truth of mortal existence exists at the very center of the world, and that all one needs to discover it is to physically split the planet open. To that end, they seek the assistance of their eldritch patron Ia to force open the planet and achieve blissful nirvana in its radiant depths.

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An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

This sourcebook clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page advertisement and 4 pages of combined content taken from Pact Magic Unleashed Vol. II/SRD, leaving us with 33 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Or rather...not so fast. The first 9 pages are devoted to explaining the basic terminology of pact magic/how it works - while surely appreciated by someone out there, explaining the base system again in the expansion feels slightly redundant to me, but I'm not one to complain about that - there's nothing wrong in this approach.

We begin then truly new content herein with a chapter on new spirits, first of which would be the 3rd level hero constellation spirit Cort Eiding, the golden gunman - a notoriously indebted gunman, Cort was a mercenary through and through and thus, the totems the spirit has to ease binding him include high-stakes card games - nice! Now I am not a big fan of ranged combat maneuvers, however, the reduced versatility of them somewhat helps and the cool-down also serves as a balancing tool. Not 100% comfortable, but in the end, an okay option to represent the concept. Constant undetectable alignment may be a bit strong. Buying bonuses for gold is pretty neat, but another ability is somewhat cool, but problematic - Sulphur City Shuffle drops an explosive at the feet of a feinted foe, which can be ignited by fire to explode. Per se, damn cool! However, can the explosives be noticed? Thrown? Moved? Disabled? No idea. Pity, really, for the balance with charges in gold that prevents abuse is pretty nice. Speaking of which: Cort's vestigial companion, the intelligent +2 revolver Last Word and the ability to detect pact spirits as per the new spell are pretty awesome and made me fondly flash back to the Dark Tower.

The 4th level Fiend spirit Arkensang, Fortune's Apostate. Once a barbarian who subverted a prophecy of a goddess of death, this one favors the godless and maimed. Per se flavorful, this one's implication has a vast impact on a given game world. These guys may sever the threads of magic on targets, implying that magic works via threads between the target of a spell and its caster - so what about non-instantaneous effects? Magic items? Accepting this ability has severe implications for the logic by which magic operates AND it is by no means exhaustive enough to work. Which is a pity, for the concept is cool and the added debuff effects for capstone empowered severances sounds like a cool idea. Why not use Spell Sunder as a base-line and instead use this convoluted strands of magic-concept? The wilderness/anti-divine tricks the spirit grants beyond these is pretty nice and one-handing appropriate-sized two-handed weapons also is a rather nice ability per se...but what about abilities that apply to 2-handed weapons and definitely need two hands to execute? Two-handed weapon exclusive feats etc.? Do they still apply?

The third spirit, Ia, the illuminator, a 9th level Dark beyond spirit, allows you to generate difficult terrain AND untyped damage and even sanity-draining fascination. Also rather cool - you leave trails of difficult terrain and receive quite an array of cool tricks - what about damaging e.g. all creatures adjacent to the squares you land in after falling (which does not cause damage to you anymore!)? Two thumbs up for this spirit!

Next up would be new archetypes, e.g. the haunted occultist. These guys receive only 1/2 binder level, but may sick spirits upon targets, who then have to save against the binding check. The more personal components (like true names, blood, etc.) are available, the easier the haunting. The spirits haunting a target confer none of their abilities, but do confer the modifications of behavior upon those that fail their save, making this essentially an offensive use of spirit#s behavior-changing components - pretty...interesting. Why? because Pact Magic is often depicted as stigmatized, which provides sheer endless potential for cool narratives. On the other hand, the spirit's compulsions usually are neitehr crippling, nor particularly effective in properly scourging the foe as opposed to regular curses - an added debuff would probably be appropriate in face of the halved binder level. Now on the cool side, the bonus here would be the option to call upon the vestigial companion to attack and try to kill the haunted target for binder level minutes, which seems pretty limited regarding the ability only delivering the companion within one mile of the target -who is the only one who can see it or is affected by it. This, on the other hand, is simply glorious - though it needs precise rules-codification - does the haunting companion just benefit from invisibility or does it simply not exist for other creatures? Can e.g. blind attacks into its square by non-haunted characters dispatch it? Awesome ability, but needs clarification. At higher levels, the archetype may add further debuffs to the targets of their hauntings. Here, wording is a bit wonky "-1 insight bonus to AC and CMD" are not proper PFRPG-rules-language. At higher levels, the archetype also receives sneak attack and allows you to treat haunted creatures as flanked. The progression is pretty solid and at high levels, the haunting companion can remain manifested for a *long* time. Damn cool, high concept archetype that needs its rough edges polished off and its balance slightly adjusted.

The Legion Occultist does not bind spirits to her own body, instead binding them into effigies of either straw and mud (later also ice, wood, stone and iron); 4 basic shapes are provided and while the effigies are constructs, but are treated as animal companions for progression purposes, with binder level = effective druid level. Spirit personalities influence the effigies and going against a spirit's wishes damages the effigy. Constellation Aspect has a slight wording glitch, with the text having the potential to be misread to apply all constellation aspects to all effigies, when they instead should only receive their respective constellation aspect. Problem here - do the effigies have to be commanded as if an animal companion? If so, a list of tricks they have would be nice, as well as information on whether the archetype can teach effigies possessed by the same spirit over and over tricks.

The final archetype, the soul armorer paladin/antipaladin archetype, receives diminished spellcasting and never suffers from the effects of bad pacts. Good pacts allow for the use of major granted abilities, but only against the favored enemy of the spirit. Falling from grace, if applicable, renders the pact immediately poor. Soul armorers may smite the enemies of their bound spirits. There is some confusion regarding the effective binder level here - while it is obvious that the class was intended to count as binder level -3, that conflicts with binding at first level and the 5th level ability that makes class levels count as occultist levels for angel or fiend constellation spirits respectively, make this more palpable. Clarification on effective binder levels here would help.

The second part of the pdf presents rules for cults and covens - including generic awards, prestige and statblocks containing information on obeisance, service period, initiation tests and excommunication criteria - fame + prestige point mechanics help streamline them into PFRPG. Kudos! From the Cthonocracy cthulhoid kingmakers to the anti-deist Cult of Man to the enlightened Lantern Collective and Ia's exceedingly well-spoken doomsday cult to the Hall of righteous pain, the cults are all cool and the feat supplementing membership in a cult is also solid.

The pdf closes with some previews of Pact Magic Unbound 2.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are pretty good on a formal level, not always perfect on a rules level. Layout adheres to a relatively printer-friendly full-color two-column standard and the pdf comes with full bookmarks. The pdf comes fully bookmarked and the pdf provides hyperlinks.

Michael Massey delivers a nice expansion to pact magic - while it does contain less content than one would expect from the page-count, I won't hold that against the pdf. Why? Because the ideas are pretty awesome. The spirits and archetypes are high-concept, one and all, and surprisingly, author Michael Massey manages to deliver quite a few complex rules-tricks one rarely sees among the repertoire of new authors. That being said, the crunch does suffer from some unpleasant rough edges and ambiguities that need to be taken care of. And honestly, I'd usually probably come down harder on this pdf than I did in the review, but the ideas herein are, more often than not, inspiring. Now if you are not interested in the cults herein, the pdf loses some of its appeal - they are pretty awesome and should fit pretty seamlessly with most worlds, especially with settings à la Vathak and Ravenloft/darker campaigns - I loved these.

So fluff and idea-wise, we have a winner here, though the complex crunch does have some issues, and not all of them minor. Now if you're, as a DM, comfortable with making rules-decisions of the slightly more complex variety, then go for this neat supplement. If you want your crunch polished to a gleam, you may want to take a very careful look before allowing this book. So is this good? It is high-concept. Its execution may not be perfect, but it *is* an inspiring read and the content herein does make for a compelling assortment of material, for cool narrative potential - while e.g. the haunting oracle's terminology is sometimes mixed up, while the soul armorer sometimes still is called "paladin", the general concepts are just nice and daring. Conceptually, this could have been a 5 star killer file with a good developer, but as much as I like the content, the flaws are there - hence, I cannot go higher than 3 stars with this one. Still - kudos to the author and congratulations for a solid job for a newcomer!

Endzeitgeist out.


Fun Options

5/5

I recenty got a package in the mail. In it was a copy of Pact Magic Unbound: Vol. 2. I was excited to see some new material for a pact magic but also excited that some new support popped up on my radar from d20pfsrd.com publishing.

The pdf spends quite a few pages giving a crash course in Pact Magic. It’s potentially useless information as I probably would not get this product without Pact Magic Unbound. I guess if anyone gets this product on accident they have more of an idea of what’s going on.

Chapter One gives us three new spirits. I can see myself using them as the flavor is very interesting and the powers are fun and work well with the flavor. You’re essentially channeling the spirit of a trickster gunman (complete with a magic intelligent gun), a spellsundering Barbarian, and an unholy abomination from the stars.

Chapter Two gives some new archetypes. The first one is hilarious, an occultist that forces spirits on others granting the bad pact effects but none of the powers. The later abilities mostly revolve around making the target of a successful forced binding miserable. Oddly enough this makes the Occultist feel more witchy than the Witch base class. Then there’s the Legion Occultist, an Occultist that seems to be honing in on the Summoner’s flavor. Basically the Occultist binds spirits into creatures made of various material. Then there’s the Soul Armorer, a Paladin(and Antipaladin!!!) archetype that smites whatever the bound spirit does not like.

Chapter Three introduces a subsystem similar to schools of magic or war colleges in the Magic/Combat of the Inner Sea Campaign Setting books. Your milage depends on whether or not you use War Colleges and Magic Schools mechanics in your games.

At the end there is some bonus content advertising Pact Magic Unbound Vol. 2, which I just got in the mail so I won’t discuss here. What I will discuss is that I saw this trend on a previous d20pfsrd product and it seems appropriate considering that d20pfsrd.com is a, er, Pathfinder SRD. Now if only I got sneak peaks at cool things I have NOT already bought.

So would I play with it?
Despite the pages of redundant information and information that I may or may not use, the new Archetypes and Spirits really sell this for me making up for the actual page count with strong crunch. By my count this pdf has extended into Barbarian, Gunslinger, Summoner, and Witch flavor, making Occultist even more versatile without losing it’s own flavor. As a bonus the Paladin/Antipaladin archetype looks really fun. The most important part is that the options in this pdf make me dream of ways to play with them.

So would I allow it at my table?
As far as I can tell there aren’t any errors that make it hard to play RAW. It also supports something I already own without stepping on toes. There is nothing that would wreck my games or would be hard to deal with as a GM. As a player the Organizaton information is not something I want to see when there could be more archetypes, but as a GM I see more tools for use.

5/5, I’m going to use this.


Webstore Gninja Minion

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The Exchange

WOOT! This one's may I say PACKED with awesome-sauce! Well, I *think* it is but I'll let you all be the judge of that!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Unfortunately my budget forces me to wait for this one, but pre-emptive kudos for expanding on good third party classes.

Contributor

2 people marked this as a favorite.

For all those interested, John, the publisher, reached out to me and asked both Dario and myself for our thoughts on this product. I even gave a bunch of design feedback on the spirits and archetypes. (Though I don't know what suggestions were used.)

My thoughts? It's neat. Check it out and support Pact Magic!

Dark Archive

Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Adventure, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It's sitting in my sidecart waiting for my next pay day.


Can a haunting occultist bind a spirit to herself and haunt a target with that same spirit?


Evil Midnight Lurker wrote:
Can a haunting occultist bind a spirit to herself and haunt a target with that same spirit?

As far as I can tell, nothing says that you can't. Personally I think it makes more sense to haunt someone with a spirit you've already bound so if I were GM I'd allow it.

Liberty's Edge

@ Malwing: I designed haunting with a spirit to be "metaphysically" the same as binding a spirit, which is why it counts towards the number of spirits you are binding for the purposes of your Bind Additional Spirits class feature. Therefore, you can't haunt and bind with a spirit at the same time, unless you can also bind a spirit twice (and using your Grim Companion to hit your opponent with the same MGA every three rounds isn't playing nice).

Hope that clears everything up.


My question should have been phrased more like "can you have separate instances of the same spirit in a 'bind slot' and a 'haunt slot,'" since you can't normally double up and bind one spirit twice.

Liberty's Edge

Right, so, there's no distinction between the bind slots/haunt slots in the Contract Additional Spirits class feature. Treat it exactly the same as the Bind Additional Spirits feature; the spirit is still bound BY you, just not TO you, so it counts as being in one of your bind slots, and prevents you from binding the same spirit to yourself.


All right, thanks :)


Reviewed first on endzeitgeist.com, then submitted to Nerdtrek and GMS magazine and posted here, on OBS and d20pfsrd.com's shop.

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