Pathfinder Player Companion: Melee Tactics Toolbox (PFRPG)

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Pathfinder Player Companion: Melee Tactics Toolbox (PFRPG)
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Look Your Enemies in the Eye!

Get up close and personal with Melee Tactics Toolbox! The new tips, tricks, and tactics in this volume enable your Pathfinder Roleplaying Game character to perform a huge variety of daring deeds in hand-to-hand combat, whether you’re dashing around a foe to flank it by yourself or inspiring allies to hold the line on a castle wall.

Melee Tactics Toolbox is a player-focused manual that makes the most of in-your-face abilities, spells, and weapons, in addition to providing a plethora of new rules options to make you even more formidable in combat. Each Pathfinder Player Companion includes new options and tools for every Pathfinder RPG player. Inside this book, you’ll find:

  • Tips on how best to fight in melee, including suggestions for rules options that can give you an edge, as well as general tactics available to all characters.
  • Dozens of new kinds of magic armor and melee weapons, weapon special abilities, and wondrous items to hinder your foes or protect you from close-combat attackers.
  • Thirty new feats to bolster your staying power in close combat, including combat, style, and teamwork feats.
  • An illustrated guide comparing more than 20 different styles of swords, including the falchion, katana, and urumi.
  • Tons of new spells, equipment, weapons, class archetypes, and character options, including a new bardic masterpiece.
This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can easily be incorporated into any fantasy world.

Written by Paris Crenshaw, Ron Lundeen, and David Schwartz.
Cover Art by Milivoj Ceran.

Each monthly 32-page Pathfinder Player Companion contains several player-focused articles exploring the volume’s theme as well as short articles with innovative new rules for all types of characters, as well as traits to better anchor the player to the campaign.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-732-1

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

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A Real Grab-Bag of Stuff

***( )( )

You don't have to guess what sort of stuff is in the Melee Tactics Toolbox. If you like mixing it up face-to-face, there's a reasonable chance the assortment of feats, equipment, spells, and more will have something that piques your interest. The book also contains some general tips on tactics, useful for newer players to the game. Like most books in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, this is a 32-page, full-colour offering, divided into two-page sections. The interior artwork is really impressive, and I have to particularly call out the great shot of the Iconic Brawler punching out a troll on page 3. You can judge the front cover art yourself. The inside front-cover has capsule descriptions of four fighting schools and war colleges in the Inner Sea region of Golarion: the Aldori Academy, the Crusader War College, the Grand Coliseum, and the Tempering Hall. I thought it was a useful shortcut for coming up with a background for a character. Maybe someday I'll do a "graduate students" campaign where every PC has to be a student at a fighting school, wizard's academy, or bardic college! The inside back cover is a "Combat Options Overview" that has a chart of what type of action various things (like combat maneuvers and combat feats) require, along with basic definitions. I really should print it out for new players. Anyway, now onto the content.

The first five pages are the table of contents, a "For Your Character" page that summarizes what sort of stuff you'll find in the book, a "Rules Index," and a two-page Introduction. I guess this would be useful if I were deciding whether or not to buy the book, but the book is short enough that I would rather have more content than multiple pages describing that content. The Introduction does contain some reasonably good advice for different types of melee encounters, and a useful sidebar that I haven't seen elsewhere summarising the *seventeen* different types of feats in Pathfinder! Okay, maybe those PF2 fans have a point about bloat . . .

"Up Close and Personal" contains some good advice on offensive melee tactics along with suggestions of which feats to take to support various builds. It introduces seven new feats for close-combat, some of which have become pretty common with certain builds, like Artful Dodge and Circling Mongoose. On the whole, the new feats look pretty well-written and fairly powerful.

"On the Defensive" is the flip-side: advice for protecting yourself in melee combat (such as the benefits of different types of armor, whether or not to use a shield, etc.). There are three new feats, with one ("Just out of Reach") something that would come in very useful in certain APs like Rise of the Runelords. There's also a new Cavalier archetype called the Castellan; there aren't a lot of Cavalier archetypes, but this one is really only useful in a very niche sort of campaign centered around fortifying and protecting a castle.

"Mass Melee" contains some advice (again, with specific suggestions for feats and class options) for when the battlefield is crawling with multiple combatants on each side. When I ran homebrew campaigns, I used to love tossing twenty or thirty low-CR mooks on the battlefield, but a few years of playing exclusively APs and PFS have gotten me used to the PCs outnumbering the enemies. This section contains five new feats; I used Harrying Partners (making Aid Another last for an entire round) to good effect for one PC, and I know Phalanx Formation (eliminating soft cover for reach weapons) is really useful for a lot of builds. There's a new bardic masterpiece ("Battle Song of the People's Revolt") that looks pretty great, and a bland Fighter archetype called the "Drill Sergeant" (basically, it gives them the Cavarlier's tactician class feature).

"Unarmed and Dangerous" is really designed for monks and brawlers. It contains six new Style feats (3 for "Cudgeler Style" and 3 for "Kraken Style") and a very brief Bloodrager archetype ("Bloody-Knuckled Rowdy"). I've never gotten into Style feats so I don't really have an opinion, and the Bloodrager archetype pays a heavy price (one fewer spell known per spell level) to get better at unarmed combat.

"Melee in a Pinch" was a clever idea: what to do when you weren't expecting a fight (or, at least, when a fight slides into a situation you're not ready for--like underwater, while grappled, etc.). I know I've taken the "Aquatic Combatant" feat (no penalties on melee attacks underwater, and your weapons do full damage), for example. There are eight more feats in this vein. There's also a "Makeshift Scrapper" archetype for Rogues that are about improvised weapons, and it looks okay but not amazing.

"Anatomy of Melee Weapons" is something very different: poor drawings of several different types of swords and very basic diagrams of the different parts of an axe, mace, and sword. For most of this stuff, Wikipedia and Google Image search would be better.

"Melee Weapons" introduces sixteen new weapons. At this stage in the development of Pathfinder, I'm not really sure they're necessary. The only new one here I've ever seen someone use was the Elven Branched Spear just because it was an elven weapon that had reach and a x3 Crit modifier.

"Tools and Equipment", on the other hand, contained loads of good stuff. An armor truss is almost a must-have for solo adventurers who want to wear heavy armor, while "exemplar weapon salve" allows you to turn that story-based background weapon into a masterwork weapon suitable for enchantment. I would like to scare a player so much that they start regularly using Sunderblock, but it hasn't happened yet.

"Magic Armor" contains a good assortment. Advocate's Armor is really clever (getting hit by a crit has a chance to put a lesser geas on the attacker), an Alchemist's Suit could be great fun (get hit by a crit and automatically apply the effects of one of eight vials stored within it), and my caveman shaman really needs to get the Mammoth Hide armor.

"Magic Weapons" didn't do as much for me. I liked the Diplomat's Traveling Stick and could imagine characters it would be perfect for. One of the weapons, the Pirate's Arm, is just bizarre.

"Armor and Weapon Special Abilities" presents some pretty niche material, but it's an interesting array.

"Wondrous Items" has a mostly unremarkable selection. I do really like the Anchoring Bracers, and would love to see the surprise on a gamer's face when they try to have their character teleport away from a tough battle.

"Melee Spells" finishes the book, containing ten new spells. Most spells are assigned to four or five different classes, but I'd guess magus and bloodrager would get the most out of the selection. Some of the spells are cast by swift actions, which is particularly useful.

Overall, Player Companions like the Melee Tactics Toolbox are just a big grab-bag of stuff. Some of it's great, some of it's dumb, and most is mediocre. Having this book is excellent for something like PFS, as sooner or later you'll almost surely want an option that appears somewhere within these pages. I also think the advice given on melee combat is reasonably useful, even if it's rather concise.


Interesting Read with Un-interesting Options

***( )( )

Basics: This book is all about the aspects of melee combat and on that premise it delivers.

Mechanics: There are some fantastic options mixed in with a lot of poor options that will not fare well. Feats are important choices and most of these feel like they are better suited for an NPC.

Theme: This is where it shines giving you ways to bring melee combat alive if you don't mind toning down the power level or taking niche options. The new weapons inside are my favorite part especially the Orc Skull Ram.

Execution: It was unbalanced but shined in some examples with weapons and combat styles.

Summary: If you know there is content in this book you want your character to use pick it up. Choices can be sub-optimal or niche so diving in to explore may result in a less than stellar experience with this thematic piece.


Decent book, but little that stands out

***( )( )

Read my full review on Of Dice and Pen.

Like Ranged Tactics Toolbox, Melee Tactics Toolbox is primarily a book of character options, this time focusing on mêlée combat. Like its companion, it doesn't actually spend a great deal of time on the tactics of its title, but does have scores of new feats, weapons, magic items, and more. Also like its companion, it seems to be desperately trying to create new things for something that doesn't really need any new things added to it. By itself or in conjunction with Ranged Tactics Toolbox, Melee Tactics Toolbox will likely be a useful resource for players, but in conjunction with the scores of other books out there, it will likely be mostly forgettable. It's not a bad book; it just doesn't really stand out.


Ring Side Report- RPG Review of Pathfinder Player Companion: Melee Tactics Toolb

***( )( )

Originally posted at Throat Punch Games, a new idea everyday!

Product-Pathfinder Player Companion: Melee Tactics Toolbox
System- Pathfinder
Producer- Paizo
Price- $12
TL; DR- a one-feat-book 77%

Basics-Why do it from afar when you can hurt them up close! Melee Tactics Toolbox provides every up close and personal character with several new options ranging from spells, items, feats, class options, and even new archetypes much live every other player companion product.

Mechanics or Crunch-This is a major crunch book for players, but I wasn’t amazed. There are several new options, but nothing here immediately made me want to build a character based around that theme. Some of the new options seem like new expectations just for expansion sake as the archetypes underwhelmed me like the rogue archetype that strips out all the rogue powers that make a rogue a rogue. Nothing here is objectively bad, but it’s not as amazing as I expected. 4/5

Theme or Fluff-This book has a bit of theme, but not as much as I wanted. You get a few bits and pieces but not near as much as the world books the Paizo puts out. It feels light. 3.5/5

Execution- This book has a ton it it, but it feels a bit overstuffed. There are many things in the book, but it feels a bit like things were thrown in because of the melee thing and that was the sole reason that they made the cut. So, things didn’t flow as well as other books. Also, much of the execution was a bit off as there were a few too many walls of text to really draw me into and through the book. But, as a counterpoint, the book does have a nice font, decent layout aside from a few too many text walls, and some nice art. However, as a counterpoint to that, the book still has the standard Paizo price for its splatbooks which is a little high anyway. 4/5

Summary-This is my least favorite Paizo Pathfinder book to date. Overall, it’s not a horrible book, but compared to Paizo’s other products, I wouldn’t suggest you start with this one. Honestly, this is a one-feat-book meaning that you will find exactly one thing from this book that might, sometimes, help you PFS character. And, you will buy it so you can show your PFS GM the feat/spell/item, so you can legally use it in your game. But, truth be told, you can pass this book by and be ok even if you are a greatsword only fighter. Too many options that are not worth the price, little world and character story, and a less than stellar execution make this a book that won’t find its way into many Pathfinder collections. 77%


MMMMM crunchy

*****

Amazing, useful, thematic and clever feats and abilities for those who like it mix it up hand to tentacle with golarions nasties.


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Webstore Gninja Minion

Announced! Cover image and description are not final.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Yay! I love seeing new posts by you! They make me giddy with anticipation.

Lantern Lodge RPG Superstar 2014 Top 4

I'm way excited about this! Been waiting for it to get announced :)

Silver Crusade

Interest Status: Piqued

:)


Oh gosh, YES!

Please paizo give melee combat more cinematic options!

Shadow Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Interesting


I will await to see what it includes. I'm interested tho.


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Cool, although it would annoy me a bit if more than 4 pages comprise of spells. I feel this a good opportunity for spell-less classes to good unique options.


christos gurd wrote:
Cool, although it would annoy me a bit if more than 4 pages comprise of spells.

I feel the same. I hope the options are for everyone, and spells are restricted just to certain classes.


I wonder if they'll have some sort of modification to the cleave line of feats that allow for multiple whirlwind attacks, etc.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

If none of those new spells are for the Bloodrager, I will be very put-out.

But I'll still buy this.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

I will passing on this one and the ranged tool box one as well.


Mildly interested in this one.

Don't think it is my cup of tea, but I am certain it will be a great product.

Liberty's Edge

I really hope this will allow some option to reduce or negate the soft cover penalty for reach weapons.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

Any spells in this should really be focussed on the Bloodrager, Magus and Alchemist.

Although I'll definitely be getting this one..


Apocryphile wrote:

Any spells in this should really be focussed on the Bloodrager, Magus and Alchemist.

Although I'll definitely be getting this one..

Why not Bard?


I am curious what they are going to put in this. The way I see it the three branches of Melee combat are THF, TWF, and Grapple. Maybe we will get a Jouster Swashbuckler archetype?

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

Here's hoping for more touch spells for the magus?


Perhaps, but I am never sure how much the narrowness of the Magus Spell lists in term of touch spells is intentional. After all close combat and spellblending are included as arcana for a reason.


David Neilson wrote:
I am curious what they are going to put in this. The way I see it the three branches of Melee combat are THF, TWF, and Grapple. Maybe we will get a Jouster Swashbuckler archetype?

Don't forget Sword and Board (similar to TWF but different enough to be its own beast) and reach weapon.


I would have loved to see a Magus that can wield weapons in 2 hands and still do spell combat etc. That would be a great archetype.


Honestly I remember them, but I see Sword and Board as well as Reach as more subschools of TWF and THF, respectively. Arguably grapple might better be conceived as a subschool of combat maneuvers however.

I honestly do not think they will ever do a THF with still doing spell combat without a severe penalty. I have not played it, but I honestly think you can probably be fairly solid with a magus using a THF style build. You just need to focus on casting spells with more charges than shocking grasp.

Also it should be pointed out that still arcana and still metamagic let you mix in a style going for a big single hit. Which given this is a 3/4 Bab class is a somewhat viable option until level eight or so.

That said I would like some more stuff for the Magus, but honestly they have a really good tool kit already. Maybe, maybe an arcana or archetype that lets you open up some of the brawler options would be interesting, especially if it retained spell recall.

Also maybe a little clarification on the swashbuckling arcana.

RPG Superstar Season 9 Top 16

David Neilson wrote:

Honestly I remember them, but I see Sword and Board as well as Reach as more subschools of TWF and THF, respectively. Arguably grapple might better be conceived as a subschool of combat maneuvers however.

I honestly do not think they will ever do a THF with still doing spell combat without a severe penalty. I have not played it, but I honestly think you can probably be fairly solid with a magus using a THF style build. You just need to focus on casting spells with more charges than shocking grasp.

Also it should be pointed out that still arcana and still metamagic let you mix in a style going for a big single hit. Which given this is a 3/4 Bab class is a somewhat viable option until level eight or so.

That said I would like some more stuff for the Magus, but honestly they have a really good tool kit already. Maybe, maybe an arcana or archetype that lets you open up some of the brawler options would be interesting, especially if it retained spell recall.

Also maybe a little clarification on the swashbuckling arcana.

I agree that THF magus is doable. However, people generally just want more options to encourage builds other than the boring scimitar business. I've seen GMs ban the magus class, not because they think it's overpowered, but because they're so sick of every magus having the same build.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

A defensive-counterattack non-twf sword and board is missing in the game.


Not overly sure the game needs more options (rules) to slow it down but if we can get past the

move 5ft do lots of damage
move 10ft do a lot less damage

that plagues the melee fighter, then that will be interesting


Well arguably the defensive counterattack is sort of the point of the Swashbuckler. I am curious at the statement about all Magus having the same build, I know of several variations on theme you can do. Immediately the temptation is very much to go for finesse and crit range. However even a strength Magus is going to want to pump up their critical range.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

We need something like this:

Devastating Charge
PreReq: +6 BAB
Benefit: Double your weapon's base damage dice on a charge.

Improved Devastating Charge
PreReq: +12 BAB
Benefit: Triple your weapon's base damage dice on a charge.

Coordinated Assault:
PreReq: two weapon fighting.
Benefit: When wielding two weapons, you may attack with both weapons when making a standard attack or charge attack.


More two-handed, sword&board, and charging type feats I hope to see.

And more feats for combat that utilizes skills (A feat for Climbing big monsters please!?)

Dark Archive

Paizo Publishing, LLC wrote:
"Featuring tons of never-before-seen rules options..."

So FINALLY we'll get non-swashbuckler finesse love??? That would be really nice.

Anyway, I'll gladly jump in to see what new cool stuff is inside this Companion.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Love for a falchion wielding Orc swashbuckler would be nice please.

Shadow Lodge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Apocryphile wrote:

Any spells in this should really be focussed on the Bloodrager, Magus and Alchemist.

Although I'll definitely be getting this one..

Bloodrager, Cleric, Warpriest.

Shadow Lodge

Honestly, I'm hoping for Weapon Fighting Style Feat Chains, and specifically NOT MONK Weapon Fighting Feat Chains.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd love to see some sort of advanced rogue or slayer talent open up the base level mutagen ability to those classes. Maybe sacrifice several talents to gain mutagen increases as an archetype or something.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'd like to see some new options for martials to do things in combat, really just new actions, ones that are viable even in the face of BAB 11+ full-attacks.

Webstore Gninja Minion

Product image and description updated to final.


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

YES!!! :)


Yes please I am ready!


Oh dammit I saw falchion, melee styles, and feats and I just dropped a brick. Why must it be so far away though.
I really want to see some sort of fighting style for a two handed melee weapon user, some sort of duelist who can fight effectively with a falchion, greataxe, or greatsword.
Not just this one handed or unarmed garbage anymore.


Yesssssss. Looking forward to this. The Ranged Tactics Toolbox was kinda neat (minus the brokenness of the Silver Nocking Point and the Tuned Bowstring), but I've been hoping for more melee love.

First the Giant Hunter's Guide brought us the oversized-weapon-wielding Titan Fighter Archetype, and now this! It's a good day for face-smashers!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion Subscriber

Cool, can't wait for those new feats and magic items. It is nice that we are getting some tactics as well. I like the cover art.


I love that Sajan got on both the melee and ranged tactics toolbox covers.


Bring the monk love!


If this is even half as useful as the ranged tactics toolbox turned out, then February is going to be a LONG month.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

March is a loooong way away...

Dark Archive

I know the book is most likely already done but I am just going to throw out some thing id like to see...

Weapon-Like spells ... like Flame blade and produce flame

Feats to make shield work better on the defense instead of secondary attacks

Weapon finesse with a quarter staff


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Since they started the new skill uses (like in Giant Hunter's Handbook) FINALLY, maybe we will see new skill uses in this book.

Like climbing atop larger foes and attacking!

I hope a ruling is in here for that.


The guide to the 20 different kinds of swords sounds like it's going to make the book worth buying all by itself. I'm hoping we get some stats for blades like the estoc.

Paizo Employee Modules Overlord

4 people marked this as a favorite.

I did, in fact, include the estoc.


Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
I did, in fact, include the estoc.

Was your involvement in this book similar to the Dirty Fighting book coming soon?


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Owen K. C. Stephens wrote:
I did, in fact, include the estoc.

Good news, and thanks. I do seem to recall you also mentioning it in one of the old Super Genius PDFs, I'm eager to see the 'canon' version of that blade.

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