Path of War (PFRPG)

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Let slip the hounds of war!

Make martial combat more interesting with the Path of War, a maneuver-based combat system designed and playtested to work side-by-side with all of the standard classes.

Path of War offers new base classes, feats, archetypes, and much more. Want to use the maneuver-based combat system with your standard Pathfinder Roleplaying Game classes like the fighter or rogue? Feats allow you to do just that.

Inside of the pages of Path of War, you will find:

  • Three new base classes - the stalker, warder, and warlord
  • Dozens of new feats for both the new classes and the core classes
  • Thirteen martial disciplines full of dozens of maneuvers
  • Archetypes for the new base classes, as well as two psionic archetypes
  • Six new prestige classes
  • Martial traditions to help you introduce maneuver-based combat to your campaign

Now martial characters get to have fun, too, with the Path of War!

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Cool new martial options!

4/5

I loved the Tome of Battle, and this gave me what I wanted. With a lot of options, this manages to make things fun and has a ton of support for making melee attacks more than just rolling and boring. Totally worth checking out if you want to up your melee game, but it's going to basically screw over anything core, so only use it if the whole group is.


Perfect Resource for Building Different Martial Concepts

5/5

Since so many reviewers have given this an excellent treatment, I'll be brief.

As a GM and rarely a player; I am always looking for ways to provide meaningful options for my players. This resource gives numerous options to martial characters that allow them to fill varying roles in the party without the need for multi-classing.

Each of the three base classes are also provided with archetypes that can help change them in meaningful and sometimes drastic ways. The feats and prestige classes also help other classes get something out of this new resource.

As a last note; in which does not effect my evaluation of the content in the product, just the presentation of it. The book is wonderfully laid out, but I did notice that on at least one occasion a heading for a new section is at the very bottom of a page, and the text for that section is on the next page. This made it difficult to spot the section I was looking for when the headings were on a separate page from the entries. This is a rather small complaint though.


Path of War Review

4/5

This is my second book from the Dreamscarred Press, an I must say it looks as good as the Ultimate Psionics i bought earlier.

I have had generous GMs letting me play these classes in their campains and I must say that I am impressed of how well they feel when I play them.

I have a warlord who feels like a badass daredevil, you have your manuevers and when you have used them you do something crazy (sometimes not that crazy though)to get them back, like tumbling between a badguys legs or stabbing him in the eye. The class itself let martials fill up other roles in the party then just striker. You can buff your teammates, debuff your enemies as if you had spells but you still have the no spell feel of it.

When i comes to the other class I have tried, that is the Warder. As many of you probably know the system is not that friendly on the MMO style of tanking, ther is no way to keep the enemies on you. Well now there is. The Warder ha many abilities that let him give enemies penalties to attack others instead of him. Making him protect his fellow adventurers even if the enemy doesn't attack him. That combined with the defensive manuevers the warder gets through the Iron Tortoise discipline. The warder is not as interesting when it comes to recovering manuevers though, you do it by setting up a combat patrol. While useful it doesn't have the same flare as the warlord in my eyes.

When I comes to feats I think they made a good job making manuevers available for every one and they have some feats that really add to what I have been missing as a player, like Martial Power, a combat expertise/power attack alternative that trades hit bonus for Temp HP.

I have looked at Prestige classes and so far they haven't interested me enough to go for them, for now I am content and really happy where my character is going with just the base classes, but they look interesting enough to get som love more down the road.

Balance-wise though, these classes are stronger then the fighter, but with this book so is the fighter. These martials aren't the hack and slash some paizo martials are. These Martials are way more fun and you feel like a more important part of the party when you play them.


5/5

This is one of those products that has already been discussed to death so I'll focus on my general impressions instead of a deep analysis.

I was not originally sold on the idea of Path of War. Looking at it's predecessor, the Book of 9 Swords, the whole idea seemed too much like Vancian Martials which turned me off from the concept of a system of spells/maneuvers for mundane classes. I was even more put off by the idea of new, more powerful, classes eating up the niche of mundane martial classes.

So what sold me? Nothing actually. I have little experience with GMing these characters and classes so I'm still waiting for options that aren't just a feats for paizo martials to really get in on the action. What sold me on actually purchasing was that the classes are actually pretty fun to play, (I purchased the Stalker separately before buying the whole thing) and there are expansions on the horizon.

There are three classes. The Stalker which while annoyingly gets a ki pool at first level while the monk gets his at 4th is a fun class. Its kind of a ninja with maneuvers. There is the Warder who's most interesting class feature is a built in Combat Patrol effect giving it an aura of tanking. Then there's the Warlord, the most smack happy of the trio who probably has the most proactive means of regaining maneuvers. They are sweet classes although I'm not too in favor of the Stalker getting a Ki pool and maneuvers but it has about the same accuracy of a Rogue so I guess that knocks him down a peg.

We also get some new feats. Some of the feats are pretty game changing, like the generic dex to damage feat. People will take it even if they don't touch the classes or maneuvers in the book.

The maneuver system itself is less cumbersome than I imagined. Sure I was upset that maneuvers are per encounter abilities at their default but the Inquisitor class forced me to define what the beginning and end of combat was so it didn't hurt that much. There are some weird ones that lock you into some skills if you want to dedicate yourself to using it effectively but the maneuvers functioned well enough and didn't feel completely like spells of another name. Also combined with the new classes they aren't all that powerful, especially if you already strive to buff your martials with other third party things, and really especially since they can't really rely on anything that martials use for power. In the end they do more stuff and less damage, or at least that's how I've been building them. Don't hinge on ALL the maneuvers to make logical sense though. You can explain them away in the same way you can explain how a guy can practice martial arts so hard he shoots lasers from his hands so some points aren't for everyone but it's not an awkwardness that can't be overcome with rule of cool.

The prestige classes are, I didn't read them.

There are a series of feats for other martials to have up to six levels of maneuvers at the cost of up to six feats. Fair but I don't feel like this exactly helps other martials come up to par in versatility and just converts them to a state that's still less valuable than either not taking maneuvers at all or just taking a maneuver class. That said taking one or two of the feats is worth it for the stances.

I forgot, the Maneuvers are divided into different schools of fighting which is my favorite part of them. Each style is distinct and interesting giving a lot of flavor for what kind of maneuvers you're doing.

Overall I'll give this five stars. I felt awkward about it at the start and I refused to leave normal martials in the dust but I liked my play experiences and it flows pretty well.


An Endzeitgeist.com review

3/5

The final version of the first Path of War book clocks in at 165 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD, 1 page advertisement, leaving us with a massive 160 pages of content, so let's take a look!

A short lesson in history: Back in the 3.X-days, there was one particular book that divided the fans of D&D like few before - the "Tome of Battle", more commonly known as the "Book of 9 Swords", henceforth abbreviated Bo9S. This book took martial characters and provided choices for them - somewhat akin to spellcasting, with the target goal of making them more interesting. And the book at once succeeded and failed spectacularly. Why? Well, first of all, the respective disciplines of martial traditions were not properly balanced among each other. Secondly, the book utilized per-encounter mechanics, which broke in-game immersion and logic in ways most obtrusive. Thirdly, the mechanics, while innovative, utilized a whole array of options that could easily be broken without even trying. It happened by accident once in my game. The mechanic to regain maneuvers of two of the classes was sub-optimal to say the least. So, after some trepidation and a unanimous vote, my group banned the book.

Fast forward to 2013/14 -Dreamscarred Press releases the first supplements of Path of War, the spiritual successor to Bo9S, and after a highly controversial review, actually listens and includes improvements - but how many? Well, let's check this one out!

In case you're not familiar with the basic premise of PoW - the supernatural, extraordinary and spell-like special tricks these classes may execute, their "spells", if you will, would be called maneuvers. Each character has a so-called initiator-level, which, much like a caster-level, influences the power of many of the options herein. Maneuvers are grouped in different categories: Stances offer passive benefits and can be maintained indefinitely - unlike all the other maneuver types, which would be strikes, boosts and counters. The names of these categories are pretty self-explanatory, but for completeness' sake: Boosts provide benefits, buffs if you will. Counters can usually be initiated as immediate actions to react to foes/actions. Strikes would be the active, in your face attacks.

Maneuvers are grouped in different levels, ranging from 1 - 9, and in disciplines, which can be considered schools. Each martial class receives a certain list of available disciplines to choose their maneuvers from and has its own way of replenishing maneuvers.

In my reviews of the constituent pdfs, I have analyzed the respective 3 base classes Stalker, Warlord and Warder in detail, hence I will not go into the finer points here - also to avoid bloating the review further. As short summaries - Stalkers are the maneuver-dual-wield rogue/assassin-style class and quite focused on crit-fishing. Warlords are the fighting commanders that command amidst the troops and Warders would be the dedicated tanks that draw the foe's ire and keep their allies safe while they take the brunt of the foe's wrath.

Stalkers receive ki and have two options for the regaining of maneuvers - 1 maneuver for a standard action, or wis mod, min 2, for a full-round action - neither provokes AoOs, which is good. However, what still irks me on a design point of view - the latter option also allows the stalker to move his base speed AND receive a +4 insight bonus to AC AND add deadly strike as bonus damage to the next attack/maneuver he executes. This would be a significant bonus and imho one that would have been better off as a scaling benefit - i.e. the tying of class level to the AC-bonus granted. Why? Because playtest showed that, especially at low levels, regaining maneuvers can be used to make the stalker a rather great blocker when regaining maneuvers, when a true strategy/decision-making process behind regaining maneuvers could have provided so much more interesting decisions in combat. At higher levels, stalkers may also use ki to exchange readied maneuvers for other maneuvers, but since that one is based on a resource that is finite, I do like it.

Now I mentioned crit-fishing - that's where deadly strikes come in - each time, stalkers score a crit against a target, they deal bonus damage against said target for a limited array of rounds. Weapons with higher crit multipliers receive more deadly strike bonus damage. Ki can also be expended to activate deadly strikes, which renders especially high crit multiplier weapons powerful for the stalkers using them. The issue of stacking deadly strike durations has thankfully been cleaned up - while I'm never going to like the mechanic, it now works as intended and thus has my blessing.

The same goes for combat insight, which would be a passive tree of abilities that allows him to add wis-mod to a variety of rolls, scaling with the level. It is my joy to report that the broken regaining of expended ki that failed the kitten-test in the original stalker has been eliminated - kudos! Now if you're like me and have had some experience with multiple attributes being applied to the same roll, you'll realize that both combat insight and some stalker talents allow for some significant stacking of powers. The same fine-tuning goes with the option to regain ki via maneuvers - a daily limit with a HD-cap prevents abuse. Alas, melee strikes at range and ignoring all AoOs provoked by movement for wis-mod rounds via ki still are nasty. While I'm still not sold on the Stalker, this marks still a significant improvement over the first iteration of the class.

The Warder's regaining of maneuvers does not feature a bonus like the stalker's. Warder's marking, based on dealing damage to the target and thus forcing it to attack the warder at penalty still feels to me like it could use a saving throw - like the grand challenge, which high-level warders can execute to debuff all opponents within 30 feet as marked. It should be noted for posterity's sake that this one still feels rather strong as a free action to me. The saves of the class become rather broken at fourth level - int-mod to ref-saves, and initiative in lieu of dex-mod for ref-saves - this makes their saves better than those of the monk. That being said, I'm very glad the designers have made the extended defense ability actually work. Now one obvious glitch is still here - high-level warders may deflect blows that would reduce them below 0 hp to armor/shield, wrecking the items instead - I generally love this ability, but the lack of a caveat for indestructible items and artifacts is a bit nasty. Oh well, since the ability is resolved via the broken condition, at least the artifact can't be repaired and maintains its condition...I guess. Still, would have preferred the ability to properly specify what happens in such a case. The capstone of the class still doesn't work - "unable to die from hit point damage" still is pretty opaque - I *assume* this translates to still receiving the damage, but simply not dying, correct? But what once the ability elapses? Is a warder below 0 hp staggered? Or does the capstone grant immunity to hp-damage while in effect? The capstone, alas, still is not anywhere near operative.

The Warlord class is perhaps my favorite from the PoW-classes, mainly because I consider the maneuver-replenishment of the warlord the most interesting - it works via gambits, i.e. actions that provide a bonus upon success alongside the replenishment of maneuvers, while imposing minor penalties on a failure. The problem here with the original warlord still exists - while the gambit-system per se is cool, its fine-tuning is badly broken. A warlord charges a foe - if he hits the target with the first attack after the charge, all allies in range receive warlord's + cha-mod to damage for their next attack. It should be noted that the penalty for failing a gambit is only a -2 penalty to all d20-rolls. Conceivably, a warlord with cha 20 could grant his allies a+5 damage boost at first level - without daily limits. Shooting into melee (not hard with precise shot) can penalize the foe via another gambit by cha-mod to AC etc. Remember, that is the type of action used to regain maneuvers. I still consider the system per se damn cool, but the math and risk/reward-ratio behind the maneuver-regaining is wonky at best. Worse, the warlord can still charge kittens to grant allies damage-bonuses against actual foes or shoot kittens to grant them temporary hit points. On the plus-side, bonus-types have been cleared up and now are actually properly codified.

The warlord's presence, gained at 2nd level, is still the equivalent of a level 15 bardic performance, perhaps better. Yeah. Still broken as all hell. For a detailed comparison, please check my warlord-review. It should also be noted that the ambiguities of their effects still are here.

The new skill to identify martial maneuvers still lacks information which, if any non-PoW-classes should receive it as a class skill. Among the feats, thankfully, the utterly broken Defensive Web has died the fiery death it deserved. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for tactical rush, which allows you to 1/encounter move your movement as a swift action. Victorious Recovery still can be kitten'd as well, though these latter two feats still are within the parameters of what can be considered okay. What is not okay would be extended mark - ONE feat, no prereqs, double the duration of all the warder's armiger marks. Yeah. You'd have to be an idiot to NOT take this - it makes it highly unlikely that ANY enemy ever can stand long enough to see the mark go away.

Now I won't be redundant and blabber on about the feats, instead going ahead to the maneuvers themselves, all right? We kick off the maneuvers after an explanation of terminology etc. with a whole new discipline, the evil-alignment exclusive Black Seraph. Based on intimidate, it is an offensive, deadly discipline - that allows you to intimidate kittens to heal yourself as a supernatural ability. Remember, maneuvers can be regained infinitely. This means FREE INFINITE healing as long as any PC or kitten is around. What about negating attacks with intimidate? Doesn't sound so bad? Well, look for items, spells and class features that net bonuses to intimidate. Yeah. Here I'll go on a tangent - the mechanic to use a skill-check versus an attack roll or another skill-check is a 3.X remnant. It was broken back then, it is worse in Pathfinder - less skills, less expensive skill-boost items translate to easier buffed skills. Add to that the mathematical convention of d20-roll versus fixed value instead of 3.X's d20 vs. d20 and we have an assortment of maneuvers herein that simply do not work smoothly in actual play. It's the square-shaped chicken in a vacuum issue and an unnecessary relic of an older system that is only here as a remnant of the proverbial balance ruins on which PoW was built. I really wish the designers had just shrugged off abilities like this instead of re-introducing what never worked well back into PFRPG. Need an example? Veiled Moon is tied to Stealth, now look at the ways you can buff that through the roof. Yeah. One of the more powerful maneuvers of that one switches positions with the target if the creature fails perception versus your stealth. As an immediate action. No save. This is a nigh-guaranteed insta-kill for just about every character, especially casters, who has not maxed out perception AND is buffed to cope with it. Before breaking the skill check with items.

Back to Black Seraph: What about a level 3 boost that nets you a 10-foot movement sans AoOs and adds +2d6 damage "that ignores damage reduction" - I assume, only the bonus damage ignores ALL DR? Why not tie it to specific types of DR? It should be noted that per se, the discipline offers some nice options that combine strikes with debuffs. However, I do not get why none of the strikes receive the [pain]-descriptor - at least the debuff conditions obviously are pain effects and should not apply to those immune to it. This is especially odd since other disciplines like Veiled Moon take quite some care to apply the proper [teleportation] descriptors. Oddly, this oversight also applies to quite a few other disciplines.

The Broken Blade discipline still features a strike based on a fixed acrobatics DC of 15 that allows the initiator to move 10 ft towards or away from a foe sans provoking AoOs and attacking as well with bonus damage - why not use the existing rules to move in threatened squares with a bonus? DC 15 becomes ridiculous rather fast. Worse, more often than not, these mechanics completely ignore already existing ways to produce an effect , producing redundancy and ambiguity of the results of actions that simply wasn't necessary. Why tie the success of a trip executed by a martial artist to a ref-save instead of CMD? No, seriously. Yes, I am aware that this does not break anything. But the devil's in the details - dwarves, for example, no longer receive their stability bonus to this save, falling just as easy, perhaps easier than less stable foes. This is a harmless example, chosen intentionally to illustrate the point - PFRPG as a system features quite an array of tied mechanics and if you ignore an established way to doing things, you necessarily have to take these into account. PoW, unfortunately, often simply does not do this, instead creating its own context and thus leads to more confusion than necessary. Next time the dwarf gets tripped, he's eligible to ask whether his stability bonus does apply...and if not, WHY? And yes, I am aware of spells doing similar things. But spells are not strikes - I will get on that later on.

For now, let's just say that Path of War does not need these wonky mechanics - there are a vast plethora of examples in this very book that prove that neither the system, nor the respective disciplines needed these relics to work, which renders the maintaining of them all the more puzzling. Golden Lion would be such an example - apart from one single counter (skill vs. atk - see above) the discipline works conspicuously well without these blunders and is generally superior to the White Raven that spawned it. Iron tortoise, which renders shields actually damn cool and useful, utilizes the compared atk-rolls in counters and shield bashes, but that one's at least not as bad as skill vs. atk. The level 6 counter that negates an attack OR nets you DR 20 if you fail your counter-attempt still feels too nasty for me - its bigger brother has been nerfed down to DR 40/ on a failure, but still -even within PoW, that's massive. Where math goes into a corner to cry would be burnished shell - atk + shield bonus versus incoming targeted spell against CASTER-LEVEL Check - if you win, you negate the spell. Weapon Focus (ray)? Pff, wasted that feat, my friend. This one counter neuters all targeted spells utterly. Even within PoW's design paradigm, broken.

Primal Fury can be quoted as an example on how disciplines can work without (many) of the aforementioned relics - only one counter uses the skill-check nonsense. One particular counter deserves special mentioning here as one of my favorites - it allows the initiator to attack a weapon that has hit him - if the weapon is destroyed by the attack, the damage is mitigated. Elegant, cool, works perfectly within the established context of PFRPG-rules - why not utilize mechanics like this one more often?

Why do we instead get strikes that use e.g. sense motive to attack (against AC) AND deal double damage. The issues with Scarlet Throne persist. The second new discipline would be Silver Crane, the good equivalent to the evil Black Seraph. Conversely, Silver Crane's Blessing suffers from the same kitten-test failing infinite healing, with the restriction that practitioners of Silver Crane would require evil infernal kittens with damned souls to maintain their good alignment. If those can be arranged for, they may heal allies as well, though! Yay! Infinite healing for the whole group! -.-

Part II of my review is post 42 of the product discussion.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

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Now available!


Nice things for fighters!


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Congrats, Chris!


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber

Very, very cool. It's neat to see what started as a fan project to extend Bo9S eventually make it to market in this way.

While the martial maneuver system isn't for everyone - in the same sense that the psionic power point system isn't for everyone - this is a great option to have available at the table. Tired and annoyed by mid-to-high-level iterative attacks? This whole thing is designed to get around that by giving martial characters something interesting to do as a rider effect on top of making an attack.

Definitely permitted at my table.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Reviewed! Much love to the Devs and awaiting the softcover and PoW2!

Question
It seems the only change for calculating Saving Throws on a maneuver is a +2 for using a Discipline weapon?
Unless I am mistaken it's sad to see how low the DCs on maneuvers will be for non-Steel Serpent users.

Sovereign Court

Will there be a paper release soon?

President, Jon Brazer Enterprises

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Love this one.

Webstore Gninja Minion

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Cylerist wrote:
Will there be a paper release soon?

*shakes magic 8 ball*

My sources say yes.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Cylerist wrote:
Will there be a paper release soon?

I believe there were a few small edits caught in this .pdf release that are being addressed by Chris and Jeremy before this is sent in to print, with the dead tree edition looming on the near horizon.

Also, reviewed and rated at 4 out of 5. I tried to explain as clearly as possible the reason for that missing star, so hopefully I did a good job elaborating on that.


Wow, we had very similar reasons to rate 4 stars!

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook, Starfinder Society Subscriber

Does this include the supplemental content?

Publisher, Dreamscarred Press

Chris Ballard wrote:
Does this include the supplemental content?

Yes.


eta for print version to hit shelf? 2 months?


This is an odd question, but was the PDF not optimized or anything odd happen with it? It takes about 3 times as long to load and move page to page as does Ultimate Psionics a much larger PDF.

If it makes a difference I was subscribed through DTRPG.

The content is amazing, of course.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Wow, check out Deadly Agility. Looks like Dreamscarred beat Paizo to it!

Publisher, Dreamscarred Press

rainzax wrote:
eta for print version to hit shelf? 2 months?

Proof copy is already on the way from the printer. Should be a few weeks.


Question about the Stalker.

It says under their MANEUVERS, that they gain a +4 insight bonus to AC when using a full-round action to recover maneuvers. It later says in the DODGE BONUS feature they gain their Wisdom bonus to AC as an additional dodge bonus when recovering maneuvers.

I take it the Stalker is meant to get two sets of AC bonuses when using a Full-Round Action to recover? (+4 insight plus dodge bonus from Wisdom?)


Why don't any of the 3 classes have access to the Black Seraph or Silver Crane disciplines?


Barachiel Shina wrote:
Why don't any of the 3 classes have access to the Black Seraph or Silver Crane disciplines?

As the person chiefly responsible for suggesting the current approach, I'd like to answer: we didn't want to make value statements about a class's place on the good/evil axis in alignment. We may end up revisiting how Seraph and Crane are accessed, but at the moment the intended plan is to support them through archetypes and the existing feats/traditions so that they can fill the niches they were made for instead of awkwardly existing inside an otherwise alignment-agnostic discipline list.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

I noticed that the print version of Path of War is listed for sale on Amazon. Any word on when it will be available here and how subscribers can get their discounted copy?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Ssalarn wrote:
I noticed that the print version of Path of War is listed for sale on Amazon. Any word on when it will be available here and how subscribers can get their discounted copy?

Discounted, schmishcounted. Any news on how subscribers can get an artificially over-inflated-priced copy before those discounted guys do? <Grin>

I've got an ever-growing-box-of-doom that Paizo's quaintly calling a "sidecart", and I'm on the prowl for more stuff to shove into it before the LTL (light-truck-load) packaged for Anguish leaves the docks. I'm going to get screwed into paying import duty for sure this shipment, so I might as well cram everything I want in one shipment.

Speaking of which, I want a pony.

Webstore Gninja Minion

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Anguish wrote:
Speaking of which, I want a pony.

Done.

Shadow Lodge

Huzzah!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Speaking of which, I want a pony.
Done.

You're a horrible person.

To reward that, I just bought some. Yeah. That's right. More load on the server. I hope you're happy. <Grin>

Shipping & Handling $75.29
32 items. Estimated package weight: 18 lbs.

I saved... something like $300 between all the orders that have been merged into this monster box.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Print/PDF bundle available for preorder. If you purchased in the Work-In-Progress PDF, you'll receive $10 off the print edition.


Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Print/PDF bundle available for preorder. If you purchased in the Work-In-Progress PDF, you'll receive $10 off the print edition.

*ka-ching*!

Edit: the final PDF is identical to what we got in the work-in-progress-product, correct?


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Print/PDF bundle available for preorder. If you purchased in the Work-In-Progress PDF, you'll receive $10 off the print edition.

Sold. Thank you.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Zaister wrote:
The final PDF is identical to what we got in the work-in-progress-product, correct?

That is my understanding, yes.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Got my print copy pre-ordered and am excited to get it in my hands! The Warder has been one of my personal favorites since his playtest first premiered and I may just need to celebrate the new addition to my gaming shelf with a new character and a new game...


Does the $10 off happen automatically or do we have to tell someone?

Webstore Gninja Minion

Malwing wrote:

Does the $10 off happen automatically or do we have to tell someone?

Should happen if you purchased the Work-In-Progress PDF.

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Malwing wrote:

Does the $10 off happen automatically or do we have to tell someone?

I had the Work in Progress .pdf and the price of the print edition is automatically marked down from $24.99 to $14.99 for me, so it looks like it's working.


Will it be going to the DSP site soon? I purchase all my DSP material through that site.

Publisher, Dreamscarred Press

Insain Dragoon wrote:
Will it be going to the DSP site soon? I purchase all my DSP material through that site.

Yes. Should be up in the next few days.


Liz Courts wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Speaking of which, I want a pony.
Done.

What about This Pony?

Paizo Employee Organized Play Developer

Changing Man wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:
Anguish wrote:
Speaking of which, I want a pony.
Done.
What about This Pony?

I man enough to admit that I own both the .pdf and print version of that particular pony, and the fact that my finacee' wanted it was pretty much just a happy excuse so I could play a Guru Ghost Pony.

To bring it back on topic, in that same game we had a Clockwork Pony Warder, which was weirdly awesome. So yeah, DSP + PonyFinder = way cooler than most of your friends will ever acknowledge.


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Ssalarn wrote:

I man enough to admit that I own both the .pdf and print version of that particular pony, and the fact that my finacee' wanted it was pretty much just a happy excuse so I could play a Guru Ghost Pony.

To bring it back on topic, in that same game we had a Clockwork Pony Warder, which was weirdly awesome. So yeah, DSP + PonyFinder = way cooler than most of your friends will ever acknowledge.

I actually have the 1st edition, 1st printing of that particular book (which means I needed to print out the errata sheet to stick in the back). One of the benefits of discovering it on KS. Incidentally, I'll be getting the HC of the Griffons book, too.

I had a Leatherwing Stalker all ready to go for one game (flight at 1st level! Yeah! Stealthy death from above! Hit and run!). But then after I talked with some of the other players and the GM I discovered a lack of support magics and stuff to deal with the copious amounts of undead we'd be facing, so I opted for a Unicorn White Necromancer instead. Once I get White Necromancy, I'm planning on multiclassing and adding levels in Kineticist.

Webstore Gninja Minion

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Color print editions now available for preorder!


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Liz Courts wrote:
Color print editions now available for preorder!

Thank you. And by "you" I mean to indicate the plural usage of said pronoun. In my cart. I'll pull the trigger in a day or two. Woot!


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Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Anguish wrote:
Liz Courts wrote:
Color print editions now available for preorder!
Thank you. And by "you" I mean to indicate the plural usage of said pronoun. In my cart. I'll pull the trigger in a day or two. Woot!

Never mind. My money is where my mouth is. Ordered.


My print copy just arrived and I have to say that, even in black and white, this is a sharp looking book. I was worried that the art and layout wouldn't translate well to b&w but my worries were unfounded. I find that Storn Cook's grayscale artwork in particular is pleasantly reminiscent of Larry Elmore's pen, ink, and wash illustrations from the old D&D box sets.

Good job!


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Part II of my review

On the plus-side, counters to shed negative conditions, for example, make sense to me - so kudos there! Steel Serpent still suffers from a discrepancy between poison fluff vs. poison rules, but I can live with that. Generally, Steel Serpent, Solar Wind and Thrashing Dragon exist and what I complained about in previous reviews mostly still holds true. Veiled Moon's counters still make evasion and even mettle go home to cry - stealth in lieu of saves etc.

Now this review is already long, so let's go through those archetypes on fast forward, shall we? The judges ambiguities have been cleared up; Final judgment has been moved to level 15, where it actually works. Divine Abolishment's targeted greater dispel strikes are still quite powerful, too much for me personally, but still: Kudos for cleaning this guy up! The Soul Hunter now has a kitten-caveat of nothing below 1/2 HD...but why not tie it to the soul hunter's level? This way, I'll have to take an advanced kitten with me; Still does not work. The Dervish Defender now need to actually dual-wield to use the two-weapon defense, which is neat. On a flavor-side weird would be that the archetype still does not receive the improved/greater TWF-feats for a massive hidden attribute/feat tax. Granted, this is a cosmetic gripe, but still - if the high-level ability mentions "mastery of TWF", you'd expect the archetype to know the feats. The ranged Hawkguard Warder has been cleaned of a wording issue and both Sworn protector and Zweihänder Sentinel are okay. Bannerman and Steelfist Commando for the Warlord are okay. The defensively-minded Vanguard Commander with his option to break the immediate action-limit a limited amount of times per day still feels a bit too strong for my tastes.

Now as new content, we receive two archetypes that allow psionic characters to wilder in PoW's systems - one for the psychic warrior, one for the soulknife. The Psychic Warrior Pathwalker learns up to 13 maneuvers, 7 readied, 4 stances, of up to 6th level. Each discipline receives its own psychic warrior path and...oh boy. Expend psionic focus for full attack at the end of a charge - yep, that would be free pounce. Urgh. Balancing between the respective paths is...strange, to say the least. The War Soul Soulknife receives the same amount of maneuvers and trades psychic strike and the 10th level blade skill for them. Interestingly, they have a mechanic to regain maneuvers upon the defeat of foes that actually manages, via HD and int-cap, to defeat the bag o' kitten issue - nice. The new blade skills provide the necessary mind blade customization. The option to throw mind blades and combine it with maneuvers, though, needs a heavy whack with the nerf-bat, analogue to the maneuvers that allow you to do this.

We also receive the awakened blade PrC - 10 levels, d10, 4+Int skills per level, full initiator level progression, new maneuvers known at every even level, additional maneuvers readied at 3rd, 6th and 9th level, +1 stance at 3rd and 8th level, 8/10th manifester progression and full BAB-progression, 1/2 will-progression. They also receive an omni-buff-focus, may expend the psionic focus to use an additional counter per round and at 6th level, any semblance of balance that could be achieved via action economy shambles away and whimpers, as psionic focus and maneuver regeneration become tied to another. Worse, by expending a readied action and the focus, these guys may grant themselves standard or move actions to be used as part of the counter, allowing them to add a strike, a cast, movement - you name it - to the game. This is essentially taking the one limitation of counters and throws it out the window. The capstone makes the powerful super-stance of the PrC effectively permanent. Urgh.

Okay, quick run of the PrCs - have they been repaired or are they still on the level of the supplemental content pdf? Battle Templar: Reach of the divine nerfed down to powerful, but okay - kudos!!! The same cannot be said for martial healing, which STILL nets the Battle Templar and his allies INFINITE HEALING. At this point I ragequit this PrC and move on to the next. The bladecaster's bonus damage is still untyped, the stance still broken, though a tad bit less so than before. The Dragon Fury is still nice, still fails the kitten-test. Mage Hunters have been somewhat streamlined, but still receives what boils down to evasion for all 3 saves. The capstone, which eliminates the option to cast defensively, is the other nail in the coffin for this class - Knowledge (Martial) DC 21 to realize it before hand? Nice, only casters don't get the skill as class skill, rendering that one just unfair. At least the infinite heal exploit is gone...it's now only infinite temporary hit points. The Umbral Blade would be my shining light (ironically) at the end of this PrC-tunnel - this one has been salvaged and is the one PrC I can't find it in me to complain about - indeed, the PrC serves as a nice example what can be done with the PoW-system -scaling class-specific NON-BROKEN stances, cool imagery. Two thumbs up -were the whole book like this, I'd be singing a whole different tune!

We close this pdf with 6 organizations, so-called martial traditions, to include in your game and advice for creating and adapting these traditions. I generally liked these, though I would have loved organization/fame-rules for them.

Conclusion:
Editing and formatting are good, though not perfect -I noticed a couple of typo-level/italicization glitches. Layout adheres to Dreamscarred Press' two-column full-color standard and the pdf comes with an additional, backgroundless, more printer-friendly version. Artwork ranges from original full color to b/w stock and does not adhere to a uniform style. The pdf comes fully bookmarked in both versions for your convenience. Production-value-wise, there is nothing to complain here.

Lead designers Chris Bennett and Andreas Rönnqvist with codesigners Jade Ripley and Sabrina Bennett have managed to write the worst emotional roller-coaster ride of my "reviewer-career." Alternation between cheers and resigned face palms to this extent has never been so frequent in a series. But how does the final book fare?

Path of War is better than the Book of 9 Swords. It is more refined, less jumbled together. Alas, it also chooses to inherit some of the worst traits of its predecessor and reintroduces them to PFRPG, when the base system purposefully got rid of them.

The explicit design intention of Path of War is to bring martials up to casters in power-level, to "give fighters nice things." I applaud that. I want that. Only problem is, PoW overshoots the target it set itself. Before you start booing and hissing, let me elaborate. We all have been there - wizards get the fireball and suddenly can clear whole groups of enemies while the fighter diddles his thumbs. DMs have seen this since the beginning of our hobby, through all iterations. When did this become a problem? Well, as soon as player-entitlement started to set in - suddenly, players started whining if they couldn't rest after every 2nd encounter to regain their nova-capacity and in a strange quirk f fate, DMs everywhere didn't tell them to plan better, to conserve their resources, but rather obliged. Thus, the 5-minute adventure day was born and with it, fighters and martials grumbled even louder. Now PoW does bring up the new martial classes up to the damage potential of casters - this is correct and should silence the whining on that front. So everyone's happy, right?

The problem is: Spells are not Maneuvers. Maneuvers are an infinite resource, whereas spells are a finite resource. Spellcasters can be bled of their resources...fast. And then they are the crappy, fragile dudes and ladies that can't do jack. The strategy of resource-conservation falls right of the edge with maneuvers - arcane pool, ki pool, rage rounds - all pales before these tricks, not necessarily by potential, but by the sheer fact that unlike all resources against which I can compare these, maneuvers are infinite. Yes, they have less AoE-oomph than spells, but their power-gain still is not limited in any way. This fundamentally changes the power-dynamics not only between classes, but of the whole game. Non-martial melee classes and their interaction with PoW receive next to no consideration apart from a paltry feat-tree, when especially the introduction of one PoW-class into a regular group quite probably will invalidate them. The high-AC fighter will never, ever even come close to the warder, the rogue (even talented + rogue glory-update) will pale terribly before the stalker and a paladin's smite turn ridiculous fast when compared to the tricks a warlord can pull off.

So is PoW balanced? Not in the traditional sense of PFRPG. If you had issues with psionics or pact magic or similar subsystems - well, this one amps the power-curve up far beyond these. Whereas usually, it requires a degree of system-mastery and tricks to produce strong, very powerful characters, the PoW-classes already have an above-average competence built into their relatively linear frameworks, even before maneuver selection.

Now this sounds awfully negative when it shouldn't - PoW's classes do many things right and offer interesting mechanics and some damn cool ideas. While personally, I don't like the stalker's crit-fishing, the warder and warlord make for interesting options. The maneuvers are stylish and breathe an aesthetic of anime martial arts and over the top fighting styles you may enjoy.

PoW is, to me, more divisive even than even the Book of 9 Swords - on the one hand, I consider the balance within the frame of PoW okay, on the other, I don't think it works well with its casting brethren or any other class. So I went ahead and tested. And know what? All of my above assertions proved to be valid... and my martial PCs had no more to do than before in any situation that was NOT a battle. Granted, their attacks were more diverse, mobility increased, foes melted like butter in the sun - but beyond combat, when spellcasters cranked out the utility and research/investigation tools...they still encountered lulls where twiddled their thumbs and grumbled about limited skills/non-combat tricks.

PoW enforces a certain playstyle that is implicit, but unfortunately, not explicit in the rules - very high fantasy. Rogues, monks, fighters, cavaliers and potentially (depending very much on your take of them, how many resources you allow, etc.) even potentially rangers, paladins and inquisitors have imho no place in a campaign with Path of War. They are utterly outclassed unless the PoW-class is in the hands of a novice and the regular martial class in the hands of an experienced player. If a campaign is on a Dragon Ball level of power (and that is NOT meant as chiding or belittling, so put away the torches and pitchforks!), Path of War will be just what the doctor ordered. Many of the abilities herein just ooze rule of cool and should provide a lot of entertainment and "did you see what I just did"-moments - I absolutely understand why PoW has fans. A part of me belongs to that camp. DMs should take heed to ensure that the casters are not overshadowed completely, though. As a DM, to enjoy PoW, you have to have no issue with the infinite maneuver regaining and the inability to bleed your PCs dry. If you are okay with that and are looking for truly high fantasy, this may just be what you want. If comet-throwing, dragon-solo high fantasy is what you're going for, then Path of War will fit the bill perfectly.

Now if you are an old-school player, enjoy the challenge of 15-point-buy and less over the top fantasy, if you like your fantasy low (or rare magic) and gritty, then avoid this like the plague -this is very much anime-style fantasy, not "A Song of Fire and Ice." or Conan

So far, both playstyles do not help finding a final verdict, though. So on to the mechanical execution - and again, things become difficult for me, though less so than I feared. On the one hand, quite a few of the very worst examples of broken %&/ have been eliminated and fixed - the content herein is superior to the one on the WiP-versions in every way. However, it has not been universally fixed - especially among the interaction with other systems like spellcasting and psionics, the horrible ways to utterly break the system can still be found. While the majority of the content herein is streamlined, aforementioned 3.X-relics taint quite a few maneuvers and if I can enhance particular attack-negating counters with massive bonuses beyond what any buffs to regular attacks would render possible, we have issues. An adept of veiled moon plus invisibility (+20/+40 to stealth...), +5 to perception for 2,5K...the buffing options of skills are simply too much, too easily gained for my tastes. Still, these, I could still chalk up to "increased power-level."

Worse, there are options for infinite healing. Multiple ones. These constitute the ultimate in design sins for me - they render all WBL-assumptions utterly ad absurdum and break in-game logic harder than a dragon crashing into a wall of force midflight. Another, though comparably minor thing the playtest did show would be that the disciplines not necessarily are balanced perfectly among themselves. While not in the realm of "useless vs. imba", damage + condition-dispersal was not always on one power-level.

"So steh' ich hier, ich armer Tor - und bin so klug als wie zuvor." I love PoW, it's ideas, some of its mechanics...more so than many, many pdfs I've read. I also loathe it for what it fails by a margin to deliver. With a tighter balancing, proper advice for non-initiator classes, a little bit of fine-tuning of classes and maneuvers, a cleaning up of relics, utility-options beyond combat and perhaps (sacrilege!) an alternate rule for maneuvers that are expended and remain expended until rest, like spells, this could have been the martial arts book everybody, me included, always wanted.

Only you, dear reader, can decide in which camp you're situated - cool or crap, it's, more than with any other book I've reviewed, a matter of perspective. One half of me want to smash this to pieces as it constitutes the worst power creep I've seen in ages with 1 star, while another parts just loves it to death and wants to slap 5 stars + seal of approval on it. In the end, I do consider multiple infinite healing tricks and options that are way too powerful even within PoW's context 2 strikes against the book, but not enough to condemn it utterly. Had this no issues beyond the relics and outclassing old martial classes, I think I would have gone 4 stars with it.

In the end, I urge fans of high fantasy that want to dive headfirst into this to check it out; I also advise fans of low (or even medium) fantasy to steer clear and avoid this like the plague. I urge any DM to carefully consider allowing this book. Read EVERYTHING very carefully and ban the broken pieces. My final verdict will clock in at a very close, borderline 3 stars - the pieces that are good, are too good to dismiss.

Over 5K words in this review alone...so many hours. I'll put the book aside for now. Unfortunately, it won't make its way into my regular game, but I may one day pick it up again for crazy one-shots, until I have some time on my hand to rebuild this from the ground up to be balanced with barbarians, paladins etc.

Thank you for reading this 10-page monstrosity of a review, whether you agree with me or not, I hope I have given an adequate impression of the series and provided enough information for you to decide whether his is for you or not.

I remain yours truly,

Endzeitgeist out.

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


So is it just me or does it look like Black Seraph discipline would make a reasonable Akuma (street fighter) style of martial artist?


Excellent review End and echoes a lot of my own thoughts very closely. There is so much that is cool in there and useful but I can't bring myself just to let everything from the book fly in my games, especially the parts about skill negate counters, infinite healing, amongst others.


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I disagree with a few things being too strong, but I'd think twice before allowing certain combos in the game.

The majority of the book, particularly the classes, archetypes, feats, and traditions are near perfect.


Endzeitgeist my problem with your critique is that wizards generally make Pathfinder Core poorly suited for an old school play style. The Black Company's magic rules or forward porting the more inconvenient parts of magic from OD&D are needed for that.


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Also in my personal experiences a Barbarian "broke" the game far more than the Warlord ever did.

A well played Barbarian, Slayer, Bloodrager, or Paladin is more than capable at keeping up with PoW classes. Of course those Paizo classes are higher on the power scale than most of Paizo's martials, such as the Fighter, Ranger, Brawler, Swash, and Cavalier.

If you compare PoW to Paizo's worst then of course you will find them broken. Sacred Fist Warpriests, Zen Archers, Beast Totem Barbs, Bloodragers, Slayers, 2 handed Paladins are the kind of measuring stick that should be used.


hey folks. i am considering purchasing this product, but am interested in other viewpoints before i shell out the cash for the hardcover and vet it into my game.

Endzeitgeist made some very solid critiques about three things in particular that stuck out to me, and I wanted to hear others weigh in on the dialogue.

Spoiler:

1) One-sidedness of Skills vs Attacks/Saves/AC mechanic

Of all the metrics, skill checks are far and ahead the easiest to increase with limited investment. Thus, the critique that this type of mechanic too quickly escalates into a removal of risk/chance is valid, especially considering that skills are unique in that they have no "1" auto-fail built-in.

Aside from pointing out the hypocrisy of this claim as concerns other PF mechanics (Snake Style, etc), and aside from claiming that action economy mitigates the potential problem (because I agree to an extent), is there another viewpoint that speaks to this?

What might be a good homebrew solution to reel this in? disallowing bonuses to skill checks outside of ranks, ability score mods, race and feats, and aid?...

2) Lack of real tactical/logistical opportunity cost in maneuver recovery

At the tactical level, Stalker gains an impressive +4 AC, Warlord suffers only a -2 to all rolls on a failed gambit, Warder's mark bypasses a saving throw entirely. At the logistical level, theoretically infinite recovery begetting virtual abolition of the battle of attrition.

I feel both lenses warrant additional explanation.

What might be a good homebrew solution to reel this in? Increasing the tactical penalties (lowering/removing the AC bonus, increasing the failed gambit penalty, imposing a save for the mark)? Limiting daily number of recoveries to initiator bonus per day, or going hourly?

3) Discontinuity with existing mechanics (like CMB/CMD)

This one I am the least clear on. A few were mentioned within the review, like a tripping effect that bypasses CMD (vs trip) and is instead opposed by Reflex, but I was wondering if there were more instances in which the new mechanics side-stepped the CRB mechanics or mechanical norms (ex. infinite healing).


...

cheers!

edit: i'm not trying to be "fighty" - i am curious what others' (preferably hands-on) experiences with the material is, and how that reconciles with the viewpoints expressed by Endzeitgeist's review.


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Most of the infinite healing isn't actually infinite as it's limited to during combat (fast healing during a 4 round combat isn't a big deal)

The CMB and CMD mechanic by paizo is such an absolute mess and bypassing it is a huge improvement.

The oppurtunity cost for Stalkers is taking a full round action with your thumb up your butt. For Warlords there isn't much. Not as familiar with Warders. Why do you find that an oppurtunity cost be required? It should be noted that you cannot use a recovered maneuver until next turn.

As for skill checks, I don't beleieve most of them use class features or enhancement bonuses to increase them. Also it allows a player a good shot at actually countering some crazy enemy attack bonuses.

I have some hands on experience DMing with a varied party incliding a Barb, Warlord, Gunslinger (unoptimized), Alchemist, and Druid. Also this Sunday I'll be DMing the Harrowing Module. I'll report back later with experience.


For you Rainzax
1. A good homebrew solution to the skill bonus cap is to make it so that magical items don't help your skill bonus for these maneuvers. Class features, racial traits, feats, stat bonuses, and skill points should still affect them. As you already said, action economy also helps prevent this from being abused. For instance, a Warlord cannot recover a maneuver next turn if he counters. This is because the counter is an immediate action, and his recovery mechanic uses up swift actions.

2. The stalker gains +4 AC by taking a full round action to recover maneuvers.
The Warder spends a full-round action to recover maneuvers that makes him act as if he had the Combat Patrol feat.
The warlord uses swift action to make "bets" that he can succeed at some sort of task. These tasks are always more difficult than "I bet I can hit that." They are more like "I bet I can succeed on a charge attack, or make this next saving throw, or succeed on an acrobatics check against a dude's CMD to move through a threatened square."

All of these are useful, but I don't think they can break the game. and they definitely have tactical penalties on their own. The Warlord's recovery mechanic is 100% incompatible with his recovery mechanic, so that it is a good limiting factor. Warder and Stalker's recoveries are defensive in nature, so that's their limiter.

Even so you cannot use a recovered maneuver until next turn. A Warder/Stalker cannot use the same counter every round. At most every other round.

3. Some maneuvers and disciplines try to avoid using the CMD/CMB system while others add to it. For instance, Broken Blade (very monk-like) tries to help the player be better with CMB and actively lets the player make combat maneuvers. Golden Lion on the other hand has maneuvers that are "reflex save or be knocked prone."

I personally do not find this to be a problem, since after a certain CR, it becomes impossible to use the CMB system in the player's favor except against other medium humanoids.

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