Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained (OGL)

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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained (OGL)
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Get ready to shake up your game! Within these pages, the designers of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game unleash their wildest ideas, and nothing is safe. From totally revised fundamentals like core classes and monster design to brand-new systems for expanding the way you play, this book offers fresh ideas while still blending with the existing system. With Pathfinder Unchained, you become the game designer!

Pathfinder Unchained is an indispensable companion to the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Core Rulebook. This imaginative tabletop game builds upon more than 15 years of system development and an Open Playtest featuring more than 50,000 gamers to create a cutting-edge RPG experience that brings the all-time best-selling set of fantasy rules into a new era.

Pathfinder Unchained includes:

  • New versions of the barbarian, monk, rogue, and summoner classes, all revised to make them more balanced and easier to play.
  • New skill options for both those who want more skills to fill out their characters' backgrounds and those seeking streamlined systems for speed and simplicity.
  • Changes to how combat works, from a revised action system to an exhaustive list of combat tricks that draw upon your character's stamina.
  • Magic items that power up with you throughout your career—and ways to maintain variety while still letting players choose the "best" magic items.
  • Simplified monster creation rules for making new creatures on the fly.
  • Exotic material components ready to supercharge your spellcasting.
  • New takes on alignment, multiclassing, iterative attacks, wounds, diseases and poisons, and item creation.
  • ... and much, much more!

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-715-4

Other Resources: This product is also available on the following platforms:

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Fantasy Grounds Virtual Tabletop
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Great Optional Toolkit

5/5

Having completed a couple of adventure paths as GM and gearing up for my third, I felt I had enough experience under my belt to see about implementing some of the alternative rules systems from Pathfinder Unchained. The book presents 254 pages of different or additional ways to do things in Pathfinder, and it’s certainly worth a look if you’re planning a new campaign—chances are there’s something for every GM. These aren’t little things like a new feat, but major redesigns of entire classes, monster creation, magic, and more. The only caveat is that the more you stray from the Core rules, the more unresolved issues are likely to arise, so think carefully through the implications of a change and make sure players are willing to buy in to any adjustments. Anyway, there’s a ton of material to discuss, so let’s get to it!

I’m not a big fan of the cover. The golem or animated statue or whatever it is has a crazy narrow waist that really annoys me for some reason, even though I do acknowledge the whirling chains are a nice nod to the book’s title. The introduction (2 pages long) notes that Pathfinder was released seven years earlier (at that point) and that it’s time to offer a workshop full of tools for GMs to select from to update and customise their game. It provides a brief but useful overview of the major new changes, and is worth a skim.

Chapter 1 is “Classes” (36 pages) and contains the most widely adopted changes across the Pathfinder community. The chapter presents new “Unchained” versions of the Barbarian, Monk, Rogue, and Summoner, and even PFS allows them because they are almost unanimously accepted as more playable (and better balanced) revisions. The Unchained Barbarian has simplified calculations for rage duration (though it still lasts too long, in my opinion) and makes it easier to use rage powers. The Unchained Monk has a simplified Flurry of Blows and new ki powers for versatility. The Unchained Rogue gets skill unlocks (discussed later) and important abilities like debilitating injury, weapon finesse, and (eventually) Dex to damage. The Unchained Summoner is frankly a nerf, but a much-needed one; the biggest change is to the eidolon, but it also fixes the Summoner spell list. I’m happy with all the class revisions, and I only wish Paizo got around to making Unchained versions of some of the other problematic classes out there. The chapter also contains a new method to compute BABs and saves to help multiclass characters, but it looks too complicated to me. Finally, there’s a new “staggered advancement” mechanism that sort of allows a character to partially level up as they go instead of doing it all at once when they reach a new XP threshold; I think it’s more effort than its worth.

Chapter 2 is “Skills and Options” (44 pages). It starts with an optional “Background” skills system, which essentially gives each PC a free rank each level to spend on a non-combat oriented skill like Craft, Perform, etc. I tried it once in a previous campaign but found it was rarely used to flesh out a character and was instead just dumped into learning another language or another point in a Knowledge skill. I do like the expanded skill uses for Craft, Perform, and Profession—they’re easy to integrate into a campaign because they essentially give the GM a list of uses and DCs to make those skills more valuable in ordinary gameplay (such as using Craft to determine what culture made an item, for example). Another optional change is a consolidated skill list that cuts the number of skills in a third! This is essentially what Starfinder did, and I’m not a fan at all because it makes for too much homogeneity within a group. Another proposal is “grouped skills” which makes PCs more broadly skilled but less specialised; complicated but interesting. Next, there are alternative Crafting and Profession rules. I like the changes to Crafting (simplifies and details DCs better) but it doesn’t address magical item crafting which, frankly, is the most likely to be used and abused. The changes to Profession are only for running a business. Perhaps most pertinent are the “Skill Unlocks” for Unchained Rogue (or any other PC who takes a particular feat)—these allow a character who has 5, 10, 15, and 20 ranks in a skill to gain a particular ability with that skill. These aren’t game-changers for the most part, but they do speed up their use or remove penalties, and are worth having for the most part. Last, there’s a new way to handle multiclassing; essentially, you give up feats to get the secondary powers of another class. I found it interesting but ultimately unsatisfactory.

Chapter 3 is “Gameplay” (46 pages) and is a real grab bag of options. The first involves alignment: either making it a bigger part of the game by tracking PCs’ alignment more finely and providing bonuses accordingly, or removing it altogether (which would require a *lot* of GM legwork). Some people like the revised action economy (a version of which was implemented in PF2), which changes the admittedly initially confusing dichotomy of Free/Swift/Immediate/Move/Standard/Full to just “Simple” and “Advanced”. However, I’ve also heard issues with how it handles certain classes. Another proposal is to remove iterative attacks; it looks interesting but too complicated for easy adoption. Next are “stamina points” and “combat tricks”—basically, a pool of points to use for a bonus on an attack or to do certain tricks that improve combat feats; I could certainly see using this. Also tempting is the idea of “wound thresholds”, which means there’s a degradation of fighting ability the more hit points are lost—this would create some new tactical considerations though it would also require some more GM tracking. Last are Starfinder-style disease and poison progression tracks, which make them *much* deadlier (I think they’re too hard to integrate at this stage in Pathfinder, however).

Chapter Four is “Magic” (38 pages). It starts with “Simplified Spellcasting”, in which a spellcaster only prepares spells for their three highest spell levels with all lesser spells grouped in a pool; this provides them even more flexibility, which is anathema to those (like me) unhappy with the caster/martial disparity at higher levels. Next are “Spell Alterations”, and some of these are more my jam: limited magic, wild magic, spell crits and fumbles, and material components have a cost for every spell (old school!). I know a lot of groups use the “Automatic Bonus Progression” rules, which provide a fixed bonus at each level so that the “Big Six” magic item slots can be used for more interesting and flavourful things than just stat boosting gear. Next are magical items that scale; I think one or two of these in a campaign could be really fun (and manageable), though I wouldn’t want to overdo it just because of the complications. Last up is a new way of handling magic item creation that involves the whole party overcoming challenges in order to add unique powers to items; it’s certainly flavourful and worth considering.

Chapter Five is “Monsters” (62 pages). It presents a whole new (and allegedly much faster) way of creating monsters. It’s the method adopted in Starfinder, and is based on arrays and grafts rather than building a creature from the “ground up”. I’m personally not a fan of it (I like knowing monsters follow the same “rules” as everyone else), but I do sympathise with the homebrewers out there who want a faster way to stock a dungeon with custom creations.

And that’s Pathfinder Unchained. If you’ve been playing or GMing for a while and have a good sense of the Core rules, it’s certainly worth a look.


Some of the suggested mechanics are worth the entire price

5/5

Automatic Bonus Progression is enough to justify the entire price of the book. Better versions of the Rogue and Monk, as well as fixes to the summoner and streamlining the barabarian seal the deal. There is a lot of other good stuff in here as well. Well worth it!


Upgraded Mechanics!

5/5

I love the idea of this book, I wish this happened more often. They took what they saw wrong with their game and spent proper time and effort to come up with proper solutions. It's pretty rare for a company to spend this much effort on tweaking things. The new proposed mechanics for combat and skills are unique and great ideas to help customize your groups' gaming experience.
I hope they release more books like this in the future. I've love for more variations for multiclassing, and I'm still waiting for a summoner archetype that removes the class summon monster ability and focuses more on the eidolon.
Highly recommend it, especially for anyone interested in how someone goes about making a gaming system. It provides awesome insights.


Fantastic product

5/5

It's been a while since it took me so long to digest a Pathfinder book, and boy, did Unchained ever keep me digesting. More optional rules than you can shake a stick at, to be implemented in modular or wholesale fashion, to tweak your game to your heart's content, and with top-notch art throughout, to boot. Excellent work by Paizo and one of their finest offerings in a while.

As for the negatives, the only thing I can really point out is that the writing can be somewhat scattershot and unfocused in a couple of reasonably complex sections, which would have benefited greatly from examples or bolded formulae.


Love The Options

5/5

This book is a great addition. Options are optional, and it's great that this book has so many. It really makes customizing a campaign easy. Of you'll like you never use every option, or likely even half of them in a single you play or run, but having them really gives you a great toolbox to use. Some people are finicky about house rules, so having an official batch of "house rules" to choose from is nice for people who prefer to stick to official products. No book is perfect, but being this book isn't really being forced on anyone (of course I suppose none of the supplements are), and that is a giant bag of options that you can pick and choose from to enhance the game, for those who'd like it enhanced, I give this product 5 stars, especially if I am comparing it to the usefulness of the average Pathfinder product.


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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

My Giant Slayer game is making use of Consolidated Skills, Background Skills, Stamina, Skill Unlocks, Unchained Rogue, Unchained Barbarian, Unchained Poison/Diseases.

Plenty of cool stuff if you're willing to homebrew some character sheets, and keep an open mind.


It's the same thing, but it has more VMC and it expands it so that you can multiclass even deeper. I would also recommend the Feats of Multiclassing from RGG. It basically gives you a very minor dip into a class or you can continue along the chain and get a little deeper. You can even combine them into an even more unique build.


My Hell's Rebels game is using a lot from this book, including bonus progression. I have a problem with how it's written as it seems to penalize players. normally, any weapon or armor can have a total of +10 magical bonuses to it with no more than +5 of those being enhancement bonuses. the other +5 can be weapon/armor special qualities. however, if using the bonus progression everything is limited to a total of +5. While on the surface this seems ok because you can apply the enhancement bonus via attunement; it's actually a hindrance and a cheat to the players.

Verbatim from the book:

"In this system, magic weapons, armor, and shields never have
enhancement bonuses of their own; those bonuses are granted
only through attunement. Any weapon, armor, or shield
special abilities on attuned items count against a character’s
enhancement bonus from attunement. To determine an
attuned magic item’s enhancement bonus, subtract the cost
of its special ability from the enhancement bonus granted by
attunement. (This applies only to special abilities whose cost
is equivalent to an enhancement bonus, not to those that cost
a f lat amount of gold pieces.) For example, if a character with
a +3 enhancement bonus from weapon attunement wields a
keen scimitar, she subtracts 1 point of her enhancement bonus
(for the cost of keen), leaving her with a +2 keen scimitar. If a
character doesn’t have enough of an enhancement bonus to
afford the special ability (such as a 4th-level character with a
vorpal longsword), she can still use the weapon’s power on its
own, but the weapon gains no enhancement bonus."

Now I understand this seems like it's being done due to cost, this is not legal for society play. so why hurt a players that want to use this system in this manner? it seems like this system is a waste and the only thing you gain from is is not loosing certain slots for magic items to gear people always take; rings or protection, cloaks of resistance, belts of physical stat enhancement, headbands of mental stat enhancement, amulets of natural armor. So players get versatility in 5 magic slots but must give up being able to have a +5 enhancement bonus on an item that already has +5 special bonuses on it. seems really stupid and not very enticing to use. I think you should review and update


You can use your Legendary Gifts from levels 19-22 to increase your Effective Weapon Enhancement from Attunement to +10. Although it does mean you cannot have a +10 weapon until 20th level unless you are a Magus or similar class that an Arcane Pool-like class feature which they can use to stack special abilities onto an Attuned Weapon.

Designer

4 people marked this as a favorite.

Cantriped is correct. However, you also almost certainly want to look at the rules in this blog. They are more accurate to the costs of the original system for weapons and armor with special abilities, but it can be less approachable in the math. If your group is able to understand the math of the system in the blog (which was the original system from the book that we changed because of its complication, not its fidelity), it is likely a good idea to use it.

In all things, remember, Unchained is a toolbox for modding your game; it's all about the idea that the game is most fun when you adjust it to match your group's playstyle!


Regarding the Unchained Summoner:
The general entry for the Biped Base Form lists that it has 2 claw attacks. Is this still true of Eidolons subtypes that do not include the term "claw" in their more specific Base Form entry (such as the Azata, Fey, and Kyton subtypes)?

Designer

2 people marked this as a favorite.

It's the default, but that general default is replaced by the specific evolutions listed by subtype. It's only there in case a later subtype wants to save space and use the default, but it might be more confusing than it's worth.


Thank you for the clarification!
Fortunately for my current Non-PFS Fey-Caller I assumed this would be the case. Although it does put the Fey Eidolon in the unfortunate position of being the only Eidolon Subtype (I know of) with no Natural Attacks or Weapon Proficiencies at 1st level; unless you invest in one of the few Evolutions they can take which grants one.

But I agree the RAW was a little confusing to me.
The subtype specific Base Form section lists claw and slam and other such traits as bonus evolutions, which based upon the descriptions of said evolutions would logically be added to or replaced qualities extant in the more General Base Form entry described later in the class description. The implication was that an eidolon subtype that granted a slam evolution to its biped base form would have replaced one of the two claws it "naturally" had, and an eidolon subtype that granted the claws evolution would have replaced the biped base form's extant claws with two identical claws. But... that didn't seem right given the formatting of the subtypes, so I assumed it was simply a Cut & Paste oversight when Unchaining the class.


If you ever get around to an Errata for Pathfinder Unchained, that might be a point worthy of an extra line of clarification regarding. You might even be able to save page space by simply removing the "Attacks" section from each of the General Base Form entries.


What's going on with the Improved Feint combat trick?

As it stands, that combat trick is only useful for a character who normally wouldn't be able to qualify for the Improved Feint feat.

The rest of that combat trick description basically lets a character use the feat but only if he pays stamina points for the privilege.

What's the benefit for a character who already has Improved Feint, and therefore can already feint as a move action? It looks like there is some missing (or misplaced) text here.

Sovereign Court

Bellona wrote:

What's going on with the Improved Feint combat trick?

As it stands, that combat trick is only useful for a character who normally wouldn't be able to qualify for the Improved Feint feat.

The rest of that combat trick description basically lets a character use the feat but only if he pays stamina points for the privilege.

What's the benefit for a character who already has Improved Feint, and therefore can already feint as a move action? It looks like there is some missing (or misplaced) text here.

So, you don’t need int13 and combat expertise.


Isn't that a chicken/egg situation? One can't choose the Improved Feint combat trick unless one already has the Improved Feint feat. If one already has the feat, then one has the qualifications for the feat (Int 13), so the first part of the combat trick text is irrelevant.

Combat Stamina (Pathfinder Unchained p. 112-113) wrote:

Special:

Since you have a stamina pool, you can spend your stamina points to use any combat tricks associated with combat feats you possess.

Unless you're suggesting a really corner case where a character takes the feat but cannot use it because he doesn't fulfill the pre-requisites, and then makes use of the matching combat trick in order to ignore those pre-requisites and be able to use the feat?

More to the point, the Improved Feint feat allows the user to feint as a move action. The matching Improved Feint combat trick allows the user to feint as a move action. There is no point to the combat trick for someone who already has the feat, and that sounds like it goes against the design philosophy of combat tricks.

All of which is why I was wondering if there is some missing text.


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

Considering it’s a 5 stamina point effect, I suspect the word “move” should actually be “swift”. Worth a thread in Rules Questions and some FAQ clicks.

Edit: or FAQ-click this post.


Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Bellona wrote:

Isn't that a chicken/egg situation? One can't choose the Improved Feint combat trick unless one already has the Improved Feint feat. If one already has the feat, then one has the qualifications for the feat (Int 13), so the first part of the combat trick text is irrelevant.

Combat Stamina (Pathfinder Unchained p. 112-113) wrote:

Special:

Since you have a stamina pool, you can spend your stamina points to use any combat tricks associated with combat feats you possess.

Unless you're suggesting a really corner case where a character takes the feat but cannot use it because he doesn't fulfill the pre-requisites, and then makes use of the matching combat trick in order to ignore those pre-requisites and be able to use the feat?

More to the point, the Improved Feint feat allows the user to feint as a move action. The matching Improved Feint combat trick allows the user to feint as a move action. There is no point to the combat trick for someone who already has the feat, and that sounds like it goes against the design philosophy of combat tricks.

All of which is why I was wondering if there is some missing text.

If you take Combat Stamina before you take Combat Expertise, then you qualify for the latter feat even without Int 13+. That is the only interpretation that can possibly work for this feat combination.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber

So I was looking at the Alternate Profession Rules, and I cannot seem to find any benefit to having more than the minimum number of Employees once you have a Medium or Large size business. It seems that all they do is provide a penalty once you hit a certain point, is there something missing that got cut?

Grand Lodge

Does anyone know why the price scaling for the sacred avenger scaling item is so off? Reading it, it honestly seems like it's actually a scaled version of the holy avenger, which is 120,630 gold and costs 60,630 gold, but the sacred avenger says its base price is 4800 gp (which is a lie, it shouldn't cost more than 4,315 because that's what a normal +1 cold iron longsword costs and this is only masterwork to a non-paladin so it should actually be even cheaper). It could be a nonmythic version of the sacred avenger from Mythic Adventures, but even that doesn't make sense because then the base should still be a +3 cold iron longsword while in the hands of a paladin it's a +5 holy defiant longsword and the SR is granted to everyone within 10 feet. So it can't really be that despite it sharing the same name.

So if you break it down, the cost for the scaled sacred avenger is listed at 64,500 making the market price somewhere in around 128,685. What exactly is the PC paying for that's worth them losing 30% of their wealth for the entirely of level 17 when a regular holy avenger is 8,055 gp less and it's holy? Even a standard +5 holy cold iron longsword without the SR and greater dispel is 100,315 gp. I'm very curious.

I think this is definitely a big math issue and someone in post didn't ask to see the work. Math 101: always show the work.

Maybe it's because of the new spell math for scaling items, and it somehow breaks down terribly, but as I said, a regular holy avenger is cheaper and has more stuff.


Am I right in thinking this book has been left out of the pocket edition printings?

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