Path of Iron (PFRPG) PDF

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Steel yourself!

Forge a new path with Path of Iron, the second Pathfinder Roleplaying Game supplement by Ascension Games! Inside you’ll find several metal-, construct-, and weapon- based options for your favorite base and core classes, along with new base classes, feats, magic items and more!

Path of Iron has several features, including:

  • Three new base classes: the rune-casting archivist, the trap-setting saboteur, and the construct-controlling vanguard.
  • Variants and options for a several existing Pathfinder Roleplaying Game classes, such as the metallurgist alchemist, the arcane marauder magus, or the forgeborn bloodline for bloodragers and sorcerers.
  • Over seventy new feats for characters of all kinds such as Improved Bonded Object and Flanking Specialist, along with over 30 brand new “Technique feats” such as Archon Technique and Titan Technique to give new options to martial characters.
  • One hundred new spells for almost every spell caster, from the simple conjure barricade and piercing shot to the incredible titan’s wrath and field of blades.
  • The rune magic system, where every spell serves to empower the next, complete with over one hundred “runic scripts”, magic items, and archetypes.
  • Several new magic items and weapon and armor properties, such as the morphic weapon property, the commanding tyrant’s decree, or the wondrous amulet of construct control.
Path of Iron is a full-color PDF, 165 pages in length including cover pages, designed and written by Christopher Moore of Ascension Games, LLC.

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An review


The second of Ascension Games' massive crunch-books clocks in at 165 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page inside of front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 1 page KS-thanks, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 158 pages of content, so let's take a look!

This review is based on the electronic 2nd printing-version of the book.

After a brief introduction on the subject matter at hand, we dive pretty much straight into the first base-class, which would be the archivist. Archvists get d6 HD, 2+Int skills per level, 1/2 BAB-progression, good Fort- and Will-saves and receive simple weapon proficiency, but no armor proficiency. As should be evident from the framework, the archivist is a full caster, but not one who utilizes spells - instead, he uses rune magic, a new type of magic introduced herein. An archivist begins play with 3 fundamentals (scaling up to 8 at 12th level) and begins play with 2 scripts - a new script is gained every level, with 5th and every 4 levels thereafter granting an additional bonus script - handily summed up in the class table, just fyi. To learn a given script, an archivist must have an Intelligence score of 10 + the script level and DCs, if applicable, are 10 + script's level + Intelligence modifier. Much like other casters, archivists receive bonus scripts based on high attribute modifiers. As usual, there is a maximum level of the given rune you can learn, determined by class level - this time around, we obviously are looking at full access, i.e. runes of up to 9th level are unlocked.

Okay, before we go into any more details, let's make a not-so-quick-detour, wherein I explain rune magic - makes no sense talking about a full caster sans explaining the casting system used, right? *Takes a deep breath*

So, how does rune magic work? Well, unlike prepared or spontaneous casting usually work, the rune magic user only gets access to the scripts he actually has learned. It should also be noted that the rune magic has a linear-rule - that is, users of this system must know e.g. at least 1 3rd level script to learn a 4th level script. Casting a script requires you to be able to speak, but curiously, neither shields nor armor impedes the casting of a rune's script - basically, the magic has verbal, but no somatic components and is not subject to arcane spell failure. Now here's the interesting thing - much like a spontaneous caster, the rune magic user can cast each script he knows a select number of times per day - but the casts are tied to the respective scripts, not the script-levels. the extra castings granted from high attributes in the governing attribute act as wildcard slots that can be applied to any script on the fly, allowing for some degree of flexibility - basically, while the core scripts are limited, the bonus scripts can be applied as flexible daily uses on the fly. The negation script is used for counterspelling purposes, while generally, the system assumes that scripts cannot be counterspelled by spells and vice versa, with dispel magic being an obvious exemption from the rule - so limited transparency between runes and regular spellcasting is the default assumption.

Scripts have so-called designs, which can be likened to the basic schools of regular magic: Alteration, Creation, Destruction, Invocation, Manipulation, Revelation. Some sport subtypes, descriptors and the like. In case you haven't figured that out, fundamentals are the cantrip-equivalent and can be cast an unlimited amount of times per day - but they do not generate runic charge. What's that, you ask? Well, much like prepared spellcasting, runic magic assumes that the scribe has prepared the bulk of the rune in advance, to only finish it when casting the script. The runes prepared in advance then proceed to become charged with the energy of the script - this is referred to as runic charge. Up until 5th level, the maximum runic charge the scribe can have is 1; starting at 5th level till 10th, the number is 2; 11th level upgrades this to 3 and finally, 17th level to 4. The level of a given script does not affect the number of runic charges gained - 1st level and 9th level scripts all deliver the same +1 runic charge. A given item can hold exactly one runic charge and the charge dissipates after 1 hour out of the scribe's possession as well as when the scribe rests. Runic charges can be identified via Spellcraft and the pdf manages to even cover auras of such charges.

So far, so good - but do we do with these runic charges? Well, here things get interesting: You see, each script has a special paragraph to overload it. When overloading a given script, a scribe expends all accumulated runic charges as part of the casting of the respective script. BAsically, you could liken these to how psionic augments work, but in a more limited fashion - the overloading allows a given script to exceed its usual limit, providing e.g. additional targets, more arcane death to rain upon foes etc. So far, so cool, right? Well, the catch here is one I hinted at before - know how I mentioned the aura of a given charge? Well, turns out that quite a lot of overloading options provided for scripts have additional effects depending on the design (school) of the runic charge. Since the respective scripts are more limited than spells, they tend to provide more flexibility, but let's provide an example, shall we?

Alter Form, a level 6 alteration, lasts for 1 min/level and nets you your choice of +4 to eitehr Str, Dex or Con or two enhancements from Lesser Alter Form: These include +2 to Str and Dex and size increase or decrease by one step. The 6th level alter form furthermore grants one of the following: Fly speed 30 ft. with good maneuverability, 60 ft. climb or swim speed, burrow speed 30 ft, +4 natural armor or two of lesser alter form's two additional benefits, which include claws or bite (both not specifying whether they act as primary or secondary), a climb or swim speed, scent or +2 natural AC. Now with overload, thing become even more modular: Alteration runic charge can provide DR 5/adamantine; Creation provides fast healing 5, Destruction adds Improved Critical to natural attacks; Invocation provides energy resistance 20 versus your choice of the classic 4 energy types; Manipulation increases base speed by 30 ft. and revelation provides blindsense 30 ft.; You may also choose the overload effects from lesser alter form and for every 2 runic charges, you may choose +1 ability. And yes, there is an 8th level greater version.

Now here is the interesting part beyond the extended complexity the scripts provide - the book actually manages to properly codify the way how scripts and magic items/spells etc. interact - so yes, while direct counterspelling and the like does not treat the system as transparent with regular magic, magic item and school-based immunity correlations are perfectly codified - yes, including potions, scrolls, wands etc. - rules-wise, this is very tight.

By the way - if the above example was frightening for you: Fret not. There are plenty simpler runes herein - barrier duplicates a modified wall of force, for example, with overload increasing caster level. Banish sends outsiders to their homeplanes, with overloading allowing the scribe to affect more HD. So yes, beyond the delightfully modular ones, there are ample less complex runes for your perusal.

Rune magic has one final peculiarity, which would be engraving: Engraving a script takes 10 minutes as opposed to the usual casting time (or +10 minutes, if casting time is already 10 minutes or longer) - upon completion, the script is treated as maximum runic charge'd for the scribe's level, but does not generate a runic charge of its own, neither does it expend a runic charge you have. And yes, it does expend the use of the script - essentially, you cast longer, but get better results and don't have to waste your runic charges on a script where you don't want to waste them on -since runic charges are a limited resource based on previously cast scripts, this option makes sense, in particular for long-term buffs and the like.

*Exhales* Okay, got that? Great, so let's return to the archivist-class, all right? Starting at first level, the archivist chooses a bloodline-like specialization for a given script design, somewhat akin to school specialization - this unlocks new abilities at 1st level, 2nd and every 6 levels thereafter. The choice also determines the design of archivist bonus scripts granted over the class's progression. Finally, this choice also provides a new function regarding the overloading of scripts, called study synergy.

4th level provides a 1/day swift action runic charge gain and may exchange all runic charge's design for that of another design. The ability can be used +1/day at 4th level, +1/day for every 6 levels thereafter; at 16th level, the archivist gains two runic charges from the use of this ability instead.

Now, regarding study-synergy, one example would be a +1d4/-1d4 surge-like bonus/penalty that is applied to a physical-attribute related action of the recipient of a rune, a radius-based AC-granting barrier or energy resistance. The study abilities include combined benefits of endure elements and a ring of sustenance or granted/forced rerolls - the more powerful abilities obviously being often limited to daily uses. The respective design specializations also determine the capstones granted by the class and yes, there is interaction with Metascript-feats. Applying a metascript feat increases casting time to 1 full-round action, with the exception of Quicken Script, and only one such feat may be added to a given script. Metascript feats have built-in daily limits - you can use them only a limited amount of time per day, though additional uses are unlocked as you progress through the levels - interestingly, not tying the benefits to e.g. archivist levels, but instead to character levels.

The second class contained herein is the saboteur, who gets d8 HD, 6+Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, hand crossbow, net, rapier, sap, shortbow, short sword, all firearms and light armors. The class gets 3/4 BAB-progression and good Ref- and Will-saves and begins play with trapfinding. The defining trait of the saboteur, though, would be the impromptu creation of magical traps with minimal materials - these saboteur traps behave in many ways like spells in trap form; if applicable saboteur level acts as caster level and Intelligence would be the governing attribute for them. Preparing a trap takes 1 minute and, once set, it remains active for 1 day. Traps can be disabled via Disable Device. Saboteurs may thus keep their trap-slots open and unprepared when going out to adventure in the next dungeon - after all preparation is rather quick. The saboteur has an assembly-list that governs spell-trigger items he can use. Traps are "cast" by being set, which is a standard action that provokes AoOs. Traps affect a 5ft- square and may not be stacked upon another or similar magical traps like glyphs. Type-wise, they are codified as Type: Magical, Trigger: Location, Reset: None.

Once set, traps remain functional for 10 minutes per CL; hereafter it falls apart. (15th level upgrades that to 1 hour per level.) A saboteur can't just make one death-ambush after the other, though: A saboteur can have a maximum of Intelligence modifier traps placed at a given time; setting a new trap beyond this limit deactivates the oldest trap. When a trap is triggered, the trap affects first the triggering creature and then the closest creatures nearby, as per the respective parameters. Effects with concentration require line of sight from saboteur to trap to maintain it. Additionally, once per round as a move action, a saboteur can trigger a trap within 30 ft. planted and a placed trap can be disarmed sans check with only a standard action, no check required. Costly material components are expended upon placing the trap. In order to prepare a given trap, the saboteur needs his assembly book - the saboteur begins play with 2 1st level assemblies +Int-mod assemblies, gaining +1 every level and saboteurs may add assemblies as a wizard may add spells to his spellbook. In order to locate a placed trap, the searching target has to beat the DC +10.

Additionally, at first level, the saboteur class receives the marked target ability, which allows the saboteur to mark within line of sight a target as a move action, adding scaling bonuses to atk/dmg, AC or the like - 4 such benefits can be chosen. Once marked, a creature can thereafter not be marked again by the saboteur for 24 hours and the saboteur may dismiss the mark as a swift action. Only one mark can be in effect at a given time, with 9th level providing the option to maintain two marks at once - all of which can be then changed as a swift action. 17th level increases this to three marks, including the option to place two marks on a single target, but at the cost ob not being able to mark another creature while the dual amrk is in place.

2nd level nets evasion (13th improved evasion) and the first saboteur trick - basically the talent-array of the class. An additional talent is gained every two levels after the second. When applicable, save DCs are 10 +1/2 class level + int-mod. These saboteur tricks are pretty much brutal: There is, for example, one that makes opponents ALWAYS flat-footed against you in a surprise round and, when hit by the saboteur, they remain so for the first combat round. I *think* this should only apply when the saboteur has the surprise, not when he's surprised - and yes, there are options that allow you to act in a surprise round or even get the regular action contigent. There also would be a crazy prepared trick that almost works perfectly - sporting a sensible recharge mechanic that prevents abuse, it's great, though it lacks the "can't produce unique items"-caveat - you could draw the key to that door/manacles from your backpack, which is something I consider problematic. Now all tricks have issues, though - there is a higher level assassination that requires only one round of study, but does require the enemy to be unaware of the saboteur's intent as a foe. Limited SPs, conversation-based charm/suggestion tricks etc., numerical boosts that interact with marks and temporary regeneration-elimination provide unique options. I particularly enjoyed the means to temporarily split into two at the highest levels, codifying the classic shadow twin-stunt in a concise manner. Using AoOs to parry enemy strikes when said foe is properly marked may not be too elegant, but it does work sans hassle - so if you don't have rules-aesthetic objections to the ability, you won't have an issue with it. Nondetection, becoming trackless, item-destruction or arcana theft can be found - also cool: properly scaling DR-bypassing.

At 3rd level, passive detection of hidden doors and traps is possible. 5th level provides quicker trap disarms and at 19th level, the saboteur may almost instantly disable traps as barely a standard action, with full-round action Open Locks being possible as a swift action! 7th level also nets the saboteur combined arms - this is where the class becomes interesting, as the saboteur can now combined multiple assemblies as one trap. 11th level allows a saboteur to throw a trap up to 20 ft. as part of the standard action of placing it. Alternatively, the saboteur can add the trap to a ranged weapon like a bow, crossbow, etc. - shooting the trap thus takes a full-round action, though at teh cost of decreasing the DC against the trap's effects.

The class provides a massive array of 5 lengthy capstones that allow the class to excel in one of its components - whether it's the mark, easy dismantling of magic, bypassing all kinds of traps or making exceedingly powerful traps, the capstone abilities are worthy. The assembly list is btw. relatively limited, which is ultimately what keeps the saboteur balance-wise in line.

Part II of my review can be found in the product discussion. See you there!



As always, Ascension Games brings its best to the table, and presents us with another hefty tome that not only provides a plethora of options for players and GMs alike, they do so in a way that is at once novel and digestible, giving us options that will appeal to any and every character, old or new, wishing to add a bit of spice to their character. Let's get started...

This book clocks in at 165 pages, and they make the most of it. Right off the bat, the art is top form. What I wasn't happy with, though, was the speed at which the pdf loads from page to page. This might be an issue resolved with an update, but I remember this happening with Path of Shadows. I can understand how such a beautifully made product would take a while to load, but it begs for a printer friendly version is such a change would make it easier to navigate, or at least print out for perusal.

Right off the bat, the different character choices are evocative, well defined, not quite the same as other classes yet easy enough to internalize for play without being a "Pathfinder Expert". This is an excellent method of player option design that grows out rather than up by presenting new and intriguing options rather than ones that are simply improved over older designs.

Almost as though they had known that 5th edition would follow suit, Path of Shadows (much like some Dreamscarred Press classes) has baked in archetypes, on top of more traditional and optional ones. These choices are not merely different or interesting, but they change the entire thematic of the class without diluting its uniqueness.

While it is harder to classify the classes into the traditional paradigms (i.e. healer, damage dealer, control, etc) that is actually a boon. These classes tend to either provide multiple avenues of problem solving without either devaluing other classes or becoming overpowered in the sense that wizards perceived to be.

Using a good portion of established rules in new and ingenious ways, they avoid the problem of making new classes that require new and strange rules to fit into the 100,000 piece jigsaw puzzle that is Pathfinder. There is a sense of seamlessly interlocking with the system and becoming part of its unique math driven ecosystem without seeming stale or rote.

Additional material, while almost required for new classes for Pathfinder, have the same amazing care and attention that do so much for this book. You don't have to pick from the three new class offerings to benefit from this book. There are so many spells, feats, archetypes, magic items that all overflow with the thematic flavor of this book that you may want to run a campaign just from the ideas presented therein. Your current characters can more than benefit from any range of material from this product, and you will likely be flipping through it to absorb as much of it as you can, like I have been. You won't find issue with the mechanics. The people responsible for this book were thorough and precise, I assure you.

My only regret is that I did not have this book for my android character running through the Iron Gods Adventure Path. This material fits so well into that setting and especially for my character concept that it would have been the only book I needed to make my character even more memorable! I may even try to do the AP again using this book; that's how freaking good it is!!

Please, buy this book. I'd rate it 6 stars if I could. For now, 5 stars and the Elven Wizard Seal will have to do.

Addendum: I realized that in my haste, I forgot to address the themes of the book. This book is about runes and iron and metal manipulation. Where you might have once used wall of iron, heat metal, or any number of runs, symbol of glyph spells in the past, this book takes those themes and runs with them. You might find metal manipulation a d constructs interesting, but even if you don't, this book demands that you take a second look, and makes it worth your while.

Seriously though, buy this book. Use magnets, control golems, and scribe mighty runes! You won't regret it.

Path of Iron


Path of Iron Review:

This is my first in depth review, borrowing a similar format from *hat tip* EZG. I happened to enjoy the book that much that it inspired me to do this. Hopefully I do it justice.

Path of Iron comes in at 165 pages. This includes 2 for Front Cover, 1 Credits, 1 ToC, 2 for Introduction, 1 OGL, 5 for the Index, 1 for Special Thanks, and the Back Cover. That leaves us with 151 pages of content.

I will mention that the art is great and the formatting is very clean and precise.


Part 1: Classes

First off are the classes, starting with the Archivist. This class has a D6, ½ BAB, 2+ Skills, with Good Fort and Will saves. They are also proficient with simple weapons but no armor. The class’s ability to use Rune Magic though is what really makes him shine. Rune Magic is a new system and as such I’ll get into the Rune Magic more specifically later on. At first level the Archivist picks his Study (think favored school) which helps determine what other special abilities he gets and how he can utilize his abilities. He does get an ability that helps with versatility and quickly adapting to circumstances, but it can only be used 1/day until higher levels. Bonus Feats round out the list, but they must be selected from a list with a focus similar to the Wizard’s Bonus Feats.

Next up is the Saboteur, a D8, 6+ Skills, ¾ BAB, with good Reflex and Will Saves. The Saboteur is proficient with all simple plus a few other weapons (including all firearms) and light armor, but not shields. A saboteur is allotted an amount of “spells per day” in the form of traps. These traps can be dispelled with dispel magic, can also be spotted and disabled like traps as well. Intelligence is used as their ‘casting’ stat, and as such you could end up with a large amount of skill points to use. Later on, the Saboteur can deploy these at range, combine traps to make more powerful ones, the traps last longer, and can be set off from range. Another ability of the Saboteur is the Marked Target. This allows the Saboteur to gain a variety of buffs against the target, can be used against any target in sight, but only one can be maintained. At higher levels, more marks can be maintained, the marks can be changed, and near the end of their career, even mark a target with two marks. Every even level the Saboteur gets a Trick with abilities ranging from the boring Assassinate (yeah, I said boring) to Duality, an ability that allows the Saboteur to split in two; though the exact wording prevents gross misuse and a short duration allowed per day. Those were just taken from the first page, of four and a half pages worth of tricks. Just the tricks feature alone allows for a very customizable character.

Last up is the Vanguard, a D8, 4+ Skills, ¾ BAB, with Good Fort and Will Saves. The Vanguard is proficient with all Simple and Martial Weapons, all Firearms, Light and Medium Armor, and Shields (but not Tower Shields). The Vanguard can cast Vanguard spells while wearing Light or Medium Armor and using a shield. The Vanguard is also capable of casting spells up to 6th level. Most notable of all, the Vanguard starts off with a construct companion. The companion functions similarly to the companions gained by many other classes but with their own set of abilities. As the Vanguard gains levels, it can imbue spells much like a contingency into equipment, apply augmentations to their construct, enhance augmentations with resonances a limited amount of times per day, as well as share Teamwork Feats with his companion. All in all this offers a very solid 6th level caster to the roster.

To finish off this section, it wouldn’t be complete unless a section with new FCBs is present. These follow the normal format and types with the forethought to create a Saboteur FCB for Kobolds. Nice attention to detail there.

Part 2: Archetypes

Almost every class gets a bit of a mention in this section. I’ll mention a little bit about each; hopefully enough to spark curiosity in the full read.
Alchemist (Metallurgist): Gains the ability to create salves, a different type of extract that is applied to objects rather than imbibed.
Archivist: Focused Studies are replacement sets of abilities for their Associated Study.
Bloodrager (Forgeborn Bloodline): A bloodline focused on the power of metal magic.
Fighter: Two Archetypes that can be combined (if I noted the prereqs right) into a rather interesting weapon shifting technique (new combat feat type) master.
Inquisitor: Rune Magic with small modifications to other abilities based on the rune design.
Magus: Lotta Archetypes here; Heavy Armored Shield Basher, Heavy Weapon Attacker, Ranged Spellstriker, Dual-Wielding Spellstriker, and lastly a Rune Magic user.
Monk (Zen Marksman): Two words; “Gun Monk”.
Ranger (Entrapper): New combat styles and as well as an archetype to replace spells with Saboteur traps.
Saboteur: A few here; Traps to summon monsters, a demolitions expert, and a dungeon explorer.
Shaman: Metal spirit, access to some new spells, new hexes.
Skald (Ancestral Warrior): This is a fairly heavy archetype that creates a warrior blessed by his ancestors, a special weapon, and a destiny to seize.
Sorcerer (Forgeborn Bloodline): Powers focused on metal.
Vanguard: One archetype focuses on being a more effective battlefield healer, but the other more interesting one replaces the companion with a bonded item that significantly increases their combat abilities. The last is great at transmuting materials, and as his level increases, any type of material.

Part 3: Feats

As far as general feats, there are some nice original feats here from Flanking Specialist to make it easier for allies to flank, to Polearm Expertise which allows the attacking of adjacent foes with a reach weapon.
The real gems in this section are the new feat types.
Metaconstruction Feats apply to traps created by Saboteurs and Entrapper Rangers.
Metascript Feats alter the scripts cast from Rune Magic users (I know… we haven’t gone over that yet in detail, almost there)

Lastly I will mention the Technique Feats. These I find easier to explain by going through one set of feats. Let’s go with the Shinigami set. (All sets are named after iconic monster types)
Shinigami Technique: Focuses on hard hitting scythe attacks. When you kill a creature you can take a swift action to move up to 10 ft. So, we can knock one enemy out and get within full attack range on the next victim. A side benefit of this is that you can take Spring Attack and Whirlwind Attack without meeting the prerequisites but only use it while wielding a scythe and using this technique.
Next is the Shinigami Reap. AoA-less coup de graces and no penalty to Scythe attacks when using Power Attack in conjunction with Whirlwind Attack. Also, one foe outside of your reach by 5 ft. can count as within your reach for this attack. So, now when we down an enemy or finish one off, you can do a short move and be ready for a hopefully, very effective whirlwind attack. To finish this chain off we have Shinigami Pursuit. The movement can now be moved as an immediate action before your next turn, also up to half your speed rather than only 10 feet, as well as without provoking those pesky AoAs. To top it off, you can move up to your speed as part of the full round action to coup de grac or initiate a whirlwind attack. You do provoke AoAs for this movement.

That was just one of twelve chains. Want to wield oversized weapons, Titan Technique. Want to bash with tower shields, reduce their penalties, and defend with them better, Archon Technique. Hopefully that explains how they work better than referencing pre-existing feat types.

Part 4: Spells

Like any good supplement, more spells are added to the pile. The metal descriptor has been added to some spells as well as a list of previous spells that it should be added to. Here are some of the notable additions:

Titan’s Wrath – Colossal greatsword plummets point first into the ground, damaging enemies, creating difficult terrain, and possibly knocking people prone and covered with debris. Yes… you can try and pull the sword from the ground; with a DC 60 Strength check.

Destructive Shatter – More powerful shatter that, when it destroys an object or crystalline creature, it explodes violently dealing damage to nearby creatures.

Chain Gang – Limits motion between creatures that fail reflex saves by preventing them from moving farther apart from each other than when they failed the save.

Full Salvo-Conjures multiple muskets that immediately fire at a nearby target, each musket gets one shot and they benefit from feats that apply to firearms like Weapon Focus and Clustered Shots.

Part 5: Rune Magic

First off, only characters that have the Rune Magic class feature learn runic magic, a rune spell is referred to as a “script” and those that employ them are called “scribes”. A scribe’s class level determines how many scripts a scribe can learn, what kind he can learn, and how often each day he can employ each of his known scripts. The scribe must have the requisite ability score to use the script and in order to learn a script the scribe must know at least one script from every level below that. The scribe may learn a particular script more than once which nets him an additional set of castings each day.

All scripts require a scribe to speak (similar to a verbal component). Scripts do not require a somatic component, and as such armor and shields do not interfere with scripts. You are required to concentrate to cast a script.

The biggest change with this system and you may have noticed some odd wording before and a distinct lack of ‘scripts per day’. Well, a scribe does not have spell slots like a normal caster. Instead he may cast each script that he has learned a certain number of times per day based upon his class level. For example, a 5th level archivist can cast each 1st level script twice per day and each 2nd and 3rd level script once per day. Like other casters, scribes do receive bonus scripts based on a high ability score, but the bonus castings are not given to each script, but must be split among them in whatever order they desire. It should be noted that scripts follow most of the same rules as spells for countering, but without the use of feats or specific scripts/spells, they cannot be used to counter the other type.
There are different designs of scripts, similar to schools of spells with subdesigns when appropriate. Alteration changes the physical form. Creation is used to create, repair, or even heal. Destruction harnesses energy to destroy people, objects, or even suppress magic. Invocation utilizes the forces of nature, and in some cases creates simulacra of animals and plants. Manipulation can alter time, gravity, the cosmic forces of alignment, and even teleportation. Revelation deals with the matters of the mind, detection, scrying, and thought.

Regardless of what type of script used, they are some things they have in common. All scripts require the scribe to speak in a strong voice. When he casts a runic script, his words are given form in the shape of runes that appear on his belongings. A silence spell or a gag ruins this as well deafness imposes a 20% chance of failure.

Alright, still with me after all that. Let us all take a second to gather our thoughts, because Rune Magic isn’t done yet. *Deep breath* Alright, the next little quirk of rune casting, and a great addition to the complexity of the system is Overloading. Each script has a section that lists Overload effects. In order to Overload a runic script, the scribe must have a Runic Charge. When you cast a script, a rune of the corresponding design appears on a piece of equipment; but no piece of equipment can hold more than one rune and if the piece of equipment leaves the scribes possession, it is not available to be used. A script that is overloaded as well as Fundamentals does not generate runic charges.

Another great extra is engraving. Engraving takes 10 minutes, or an additional 10 minutes if it is already 10 minutes or longer, and the process takes up all of the scribe’s attention. When the engraving is finished, the scribe overloads the desired script with the maximum amount of runic charges possible based on his level. This does not consume the runic charges the scribe may already have. This is great for those utility abilities that you need to use when time is not an issue. The best part, metascript feats may be applied, except for Quicken Script.

Part 6: Magic Items

I will not go into too much detail here, I need leave something out. Suffice to say that new items and special abilities were added to augment the new classes and systems.

That’s it for me. Hope you enjoyed the read.

Now available! Path of Iron is the second book of the "Path" series by Ascension Games, focused on construct-, metal-, and weapon-based options. With archetypes, spells, feats, magic items, new classes, and more, there's something for every player at your table!

Path of Shadows was 5+ Stars and one of my favorite 3PP books of all time. The Path of Iron Playtest PDF, even though I didn't peruse it as much as I wanted to, looked truly inspiring and brilliantly written.

So yeah, I'll be picking this book up. I'm especially stoked about the spells in PoI. While all of Path of Shadows was awesome ... the spells were my favorite part due to predominance of wizards and sorcerors in my 2 Pathfinder tabletop groups.

So there are two forgeborn bloodlines in this book, 1 for sorcerer and 1 for ranger?

christos gurd wrote:
So there are two forgeborn bloodlines in this book, 1 for sorcerer and 1 for ranger?

Bloodrager and sorcerer, yes. They thematically have similar ideas and have a bit of ability overlap (such as resistance to critical hits and sneak attacks, and some skill with object destruction) but have a good number of differences in their use.

Sort of feels like Arcana Defender (weapon & shield), Arcane Marauder (two-handed), Eldritch Eye (ranged), and Mystic Dervish (dual wield) magus archetypes should be able to use their magus level as their fighter level when qualifying for combat feats related to their combat style ala the skirnir.

TheDisgaean wrote:
Sort of feels like Arcana Defender (weapon & shield), Arcane Marauder (two-handed), Eldritch Eye (ranged), and Mystic Dervish (dual wield) magus archetypes should be able to use their magus level as their fighter level when qualifying for combat feats related to their combat style ala the skirnir.

Maybe. I feel the archetypes are in a good place balance-wise, and they still get the normal fighter training that a magus gets. Your feedback is welcome though, and if the lots of players make similar suggestions I'll be sure to look into updating it in the future.

Seginus wrote:
TheDisgaean wrote:
Sort of feels like Arcana Defender (weapon & shield), Arcane Marauder (two-handed), Eldritch Eye (ranged), and Mystic Dervish (dual wield) magus archetypes should be able to use their magus level as their fighter level when qualifying for combat feats related to their combat style ala the skirnir.
Maybe. I feel the archetypes are in a good place balance-wise, and they still get the normal fighter training that a magus gets. Your feedback is welcome though, and if the lots of players make similar suggestions I'll be sure to look into updating it in the future.

It just feels like the knight part of the class' magic knight concept is underused here. It's bad enough vanilla magi don't get it until level 10. Honestly, that ability should be at level 2.

Just wanted to say thanks for the wonderful content and I hope the review I posted does it justice. Took me quite a bit to get through all of it and understand the new casting system entirely, very well done.

Sovereign Court

Review posted.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

Is there / will there be a print option for this book?

Ssalarn wrote:
Is there / will there be a print option for this book?

There is a Print-On-Demand version on DriveThruRPG; at the moment I don't have the resources for a more typical printing run.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

Seginus wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
Is there / will there be a print option for this book?
There is a Print-On-Demand version on DriveThruRPG; at the moment I don't have the resources for a more typical printing run.

I'm going to DriveThruRPG and I'm only seeing the .pdf option, no POD.

Ssalarn wrote:
Seginus wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
Is there / will there be a print option for this book?
There is a Print-On-Demand version on DriveThruRPG; at the moment I don't have the resources for a more typical printing run.
I'm going to DriveThruRPG and I'm only seeing the .pdf option, no POD.

I actually just updated the printer files for a 2nd printing, so at the moment the POD is unavailable. It should be back in a week or two.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

Seginus wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
Seginus wrote:
Ssalarn wrote:
Is there / will there be a print option for this book?
There is a Print-On-Demand version on DriveThruRPG; at the moment I don't have the resources for a more typical printing run.
I'm going to DriveThruRPG and I'm only seeing the .pdf option, no POD.
I actually just updated the printer files for a 2nd printing, so at the moment the POD is unavailable. It should be back in a week or two.

Okay, I'll check back then. Thank you for your response!

Part II of my review:

The third class in this book would be the vanguard, who receives d8 HD, 4+Int skills, proficiency with simple and martial weapons and firearms as well as light armor, medium armor and shields and may cast spells in light and medium armor sans incurring spell failure. Vanguards are prepared spellcasters that gain access to spells up to 6th level, drawing exclusively from his own spell-list. Vanguards' spellcasting-governing attribute is Charisma and the class gets 3/4 BAB-progression as well as good Fort- And Will-save progression.

The class begins play with a construct companion pet that gains 3/4 HD- and BAB-progression, 1/4 saving throw progression, up to 30 skill points, up to 8 feats and up to a +8 primary ability bonus, +4 secondary ability bonus - these are determined by the respective base forms chosen, of which 3 are available - combat, eldritch and scouting form. Construct companions are not immune to mind-affecting effects and they have an Int-score. Pieces of equipment cna be integrated into the construct companion, which is, rules-wise, a pretty impressive display of rules-language craftsmanship - and no, no quick switching available. The construct gets a link and share spells. 3rd level and every 3 levels thereafter provide a bonus feat and 2nd level provides 1/2 class level to Craft, Disable Device and Knowledge (engineering) as well as to Spellcraft checks made to identify magic items.

1st level also provides the first 2 augmentations - one of which is mending touch, which allows the construct companion not to be a really bad drain on resources. The second can be freely chosen; 4th level and every 3 levels thereafter provide an additional augmentation. However, these augments connect with another mechanic: Resonance. Causing a resonance is a standard action that does not provoke an AoO and the effect of a given resonance depends on the augmentation. Only one resonance may be in effect at a given time. a vanguard can create a resonance 1/2 class level + Cha-mod times per day. The action required for activation improves to move action at 7th levelm swift action at 13th level. If the companion is destroyed, a vanguard can still use a resonance at twice the cost, unless it requires tandem activation by both vanguard and construct companion.

2nd level also allows the vanguard to imbue a contingency-type of effect in his weapon or that of his construct or in himself or his construct. These effects are limited in what can be imbued, but still are pretty powerful. This ability is further upgraded at 11th level and 17th level. 3rd level provides teamwork feats to the companion. 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter add +1 spell poached from the sorc/wiz spell list and 8th level allows the vanguard to chance an augmentation chosen via 8 hours of work, though the prerequisites must align; i.e. not replacements of inferior with superior augmentations. 14th level provides exceedingly fast item construction. As a capstone, he gets an all-day augmentation - whenever he uses resonance with it, he also gets battlemind link with his companion for Cha-mod rounds.

Augmentations pretty much look like feats - they have prerequisites (usually levels, attributes and previously gained augmentations and can range in type from Ex to Sp. They include attribute bonuses, integrated bags of holding, more spells, added weapon properties and the like, with solid daily limits balancing the more powerful tricks. Resonance-entries for the augmentations are pretty diverse - AoE abundant ammunition, swapping of places, granting an ally a form of movement...there is diversity and tactics here. Suffice to say, all three classes do receive favored class options that extend partially to the more popular planetouched races aasimar and tiefling, with the saboteur also getting FCOs for drow and kobolds.

The book also covers an array of archetypes: Metallurgist alchemists apply salves, a specialized extract, to objects. Bloodragers may select the forgeborn bloodline to become construct-y/particularly adept at destroying items, while the sorceror-version is themed around crafting/object manipulation and defensive tricks. Blade Shifter fighters can supernaturally alter weapons (cool idea!) and benefit from the fluidity of their weapon. Technique masters utilize the new technique feats and may have multiple ones active. Inquisitor runebinders are interesting - a complex archetype utilizing Wis-governed runes, with special judgments tied to runic charge, offering a unique playing experience. The Arcane Defender and Marauder magus-archetypes are pretty much BLAND - diminished spellcasting defense/offense specialists - boring and pretty much filler the book didn't need. The Eldritch Eye is more interesting - basically, a ranged magus with the option to learn to use arcana as grit, quicker reloads, etc. The Mystic dervish is basically the two-handed magus and, once again, okay, if not really exciting The Rune Knight is more interesting, being, bingo, the rune-using magus, with unique rune strike and arcane pool-powered runic charges. The Zen marksman is a power-gamer's wet dream regarding dipping - combining monk with gunslinger, you get all the great saves and may flurry with firearms, even though they're ranged...and yes, this includes free action reload while flurrying...though at the cost of continuously increasing misfire rates for each shot. Let me state this load and clearly - craftsmanship-wise, there is nothing to complain about here - but the fact that you get firearm-flurry including free action reloads at first level is ridiculous. For a 1-level dip, a gunslinger gets a LOT out of this archetype - too much. Spreading this ability over the levels would have made much more sense. Not getting near my game.

Rangers get 5 new, very well-crafted combat styles with firearms, polearm, quarterstaff, spear and unarmed as well as the entrapper archetype, which would be the saboteur/ranger crossover. Shamans may elect to go metal shaman in a well-crafted, rather cool option and skalds may become ancestral warriors, gaining an ancestral weapon that increases in potency over the levels...yeah, you've seen that trope before.

Obviously, the new classes are not forgotten either: Vanguards electing to become arcane menders can heal via their construct's mending touch and may only imbue protective and healing spells, while getting limited spells from the cleric's list - cool! The Steelbound Warden gets weapon, armor or shield as bonded object and basically replaces his companion with this object - the pet-less vanguard, if you will. Nice! The transmuter replaces his imbuing with the means of changing the basic composition of objects. Archivists perhaps are the most versatile regarding additional options here: They may choose from 12 focused studies, which can be considered to be minor modifications of their chosen study - whether it's animal companions, magic disruption or controlling gravity - there are a bunch of useful and well-presented options here.

The Saboteur may elect to become an ambush specialist or a demolitionist - these guys can convert their regular traps in bomb-like charges that scale as 1d6 per 2 class levels +1d6 per trap slot level converted. This damage thus eclipses that of the comparable alchemist bomb class feature by trap level and additionally, the charges damage is not halved versus objects AND bypasses hardness depending on the level. It should be noted that this explosion cannot be avoided by guys with evasion and the like since the save is Fortitude-based. While the alchemist has superiority regarding customization of bombs, the sheer damage output, combo potential and options to create truly devastating death traps means that this guy will only see action in my most high-powered of games, even though I like its concept. The ruin raider gets an on-the fly versatile intuition bonus, can learn movement rates/sight-types and learn symbol spells.

Okay, I already dabbled in feats, so let's make the remainder of this review quick, shall we? Beyond the aforementioned metascript feats, we receive an array of metaconstruction feats, which basically constitute metamagic for traps. These work pretty much as you'd expect, increasing level, needing to be built-in upon preparing the traps, etc. - but seeing how quickly you can prepare traps, they are significantly more useful than their much maligned regular brethren. The next new feat-class provided are technique feats, which usually are named after outsiders. These feats are activated as a swift action, whereupon you enter the associated stance; tricks and benefits of a specific feat only apply while in this stance and follow-up effects similarly only work while in the associated technique: When in Angel Technique's stance, you get the benefits from that stance but can't use the abilities granted from Protean Technique's stance and its follow-up feats. Sounds familiar? Yeah, this is basically a huge array of [Style]-feats by another name, with one crucial difference - they are specifically intended for use with WEAPONS and do not work when unarmed.

Changing techniques is a swift action. The feats per se are powerful, if situational: Asura Motion, for example, provides bonus damage when striking multiple targets in one round - per additional foe hit in a given round, +2d6, up to +4d6. Annoyingly, the feat fails to specify damage type, which means that the bonus damage is the almighty unmitigated untyped damage. In this chapter, you can find a couple of these hiccups in the author's otherwise mostly flawless rules-language - while mostly negligible à la "Creatures do not get an attack roll benefit...", it's still something I noticed. that being said, there also are pretty awesome tricks like whip-grapple synergy with instant draw to an adjacent square, harder to heal bleed damage and there also is a take on the standard action-TWF-attack. Over all, the feats are interesting, though not as polished as the majority of this book. And yes, the pdf specifies the interaction of Technique and Style feats: In short - no dice. Overall, this chapter's technique feats generally impressed me and represent certainly a rather cool variant of style feats that can (and should) be expanded further - kudos!

The chapter on spells, finally, introduces the meta-descriptor alongside a metric ton of new spells, some of which interact, obviously, with class features of the new classes herein, whereas others extend the options of more vanilla classes. Temporarily liquefying objects (sans harming them), ranger level 3 spells to perform a full-BAB attack versus each foe in reach...interesting. Armor-manipulation, scattering objects, symbols of locking - there are a lot cool ideas here! Finally, there are special abilities for weapons and armor as well as an arsenal of magic items for your perusal, several of which, once again, interact with class features introduced herein, with rune magic items and lavishly-depicted unique weaponry, metascript rods and talismans of power (pearls of power for scripts) complementing the book's content.

It should be noted that the artists get proper recognition with all pieces individually credited and that the feat-section for example, sports a full-blown table for handy reference. Finally, the book has an excessive, well-crafted index that makes handling it rather comfortable.


Editing and formatting, in spite of my nitpickery, can be considered excellent on both formal and rules-language levels - there are almost no glitches herein, which is a significant feat for a crunch book of this size. Layout adheres to Ascension games clean, elegant 2-column full-color standard and the book sports copious amount of beautiful full-color artwork that manages to mostly retain a unified style, which is pretty awesome to see. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience. I can't comment on the print version, since I do not own it.

Christopher Moore's Path of Iron is a truly impressive, massive book of balls to the wall CRUNCH. The most significant and defining characteristic when describing his unique design-style is probably that this book feels like a Paizo-book. It's design-aesthetics, rules-language, presentation - the whole shebang not only looks like a Paizo-crunch book, it feels like one. The class design paradigms are very close to what you'd see in Paizo material and the precision, even in complex rules-interactions, can simply not be denied. This is, craftsmanship-wise, rather excellent, in spite of the few minor hiccups. (And yes, there are plenty of those in Paizo books as well - depending on the book, more than herein.)

So, what about the artistry? Well, I did write in my review of Path of Shadows that Christopher Moore's design was pretty conservative and it still is - however, when he lets loose, he goes full out: The Rune Magic's modularity with the escalation bar-type runic charge reads nice on paper, but it plays friggin' amazing. It adds a completely new tactical dimension to playing a caster and frankly, is just capital letters fun and by far my favorite component of the pdf, in spite of e.g. the wording of the alter form scripts I quoted being a bit confusing upon first reading: Establishing primary and secondary abilities as nomenclature would have made them clearer, but that's just me being a rules-language snob - they work, and that is what counts.

The saboteur, on the other side, imho suffers a bit from having his traps basically being relegated to a limited selection of delayed spells - the framework is great, the rules-language is precise and no, this will not influence my review, but personally, I was a bit disappointed to see the traps of the class being just another version of spells. That might be me and the class is a cool playing experience, particularly with the new spells herein that add a whole roster of tactical tricks, but still - I found myself wishing the class had actually unique traps. Perhaps I was just too excited about the concept, but for now, that niche will be continued to be filled by Drop Dead Studios' Vauntguard in my games.

Of all the classes, I was least excited about the vanguard - having reviewed too many pet-robot/summoner-ish classes already, I was not expecting to really like this one: By axing the whole evolutions-bit and replacing them with augmentations, by introducing the rather rewarding concept of resonance, I couldn't really help spite of my prejudices, I ended up enjoying the class.

As for the supplemental material - in the vast majority of cases, it is interesting, excellent even. At the same time, however, there do exist components within the pages of this book that are OP or could have used a whack with the nerf-bat - and this is not me speaking about design-aesthetic preferences. That being said, these hiccups are few and far how to rate this? See, this is where my job gets hard, so let me way lyrical for a second:

If path of iron was personified as a golem of iron standing in front of you, it would be polished to a dazzling shine that stuns you at first glance - only at close inspection you'll notice a few unpleasant pieces of rust and make a mental note to yourself that this and that component would require a bit of sanding off. The golem works and does its job smart and admirably and the creator has added some cool protocols and functionality you never saw before and you love them, but once in a while, it emits a grating creak. That's pretty much this book to me - a great offering, mostly refined to perfection, with some minor flaws that stand out more due to the book's otherwise impeccable presentation. So how do I rate this? I've thought long and hard and compared this with similar big crunch books I picked apart and ultimately decided on a final verdict based on the sheer amount of great material versus the slightly tarnished bits. Hence, my final verdict will be 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5 for the purpose of this platform.

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

Endzeitgeist out.

Thanks for the review! While I don't entirely agree with all of your counts of "OP" (I do admit that demolitionist is a bit over-tuned for breaking stuff), I am glad you found the book overall enjoyable.

Paizo Employee Design Manager

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Just got a chance to do my first game using Path of Iron. I played a Vanguard, and used the Ironborn race (slayer ability package) from Rite Publishing's "In the Company of Monsters". I had this idea in my head of playing the class as a pair of complimentary construct men, so I had my Vanguard Ricochet, and his construct companion Harding. It ended up being really fun. I had Ricochet take cure light wounds and alter weapon, so he could serve has a ranged support character. He carried a combination of crossbow bolts and various firearm ammunitions, and would use alter weapon to transform his heavy crossbow into a double-barreled musket for 10 minutes a day. Harding had the default mending touch augment, and the weapon empowerment augment, and fought with an integrated greatsword. The resonance abilities ended up being really useful, helping fill out Ricochet's ranged support role. My biggest issue was that during the whole period my crossbow was altered, I kept finding other things I could do they were equally useful to blasting with my gun, like buffing our secondary melee heavy party (in addition to Harding, we had a Monk, UnC Rogue, and Inquisitor) to expedite fights, or healing Harding. +1 to attack and damage doesn't seem like much, but it makes a surprising difference at 1st level when you can add it onto the whole group, and despite in combat healing generally being considered less effective, keeping Harding going when he's tangling with aberrations and moss trolls was a demanding task. I'm looking forward to the next few levels, as imbuements and teamwork feats come online. I've actually already got some plans for combining a few teamwork feats with imbuing fireball spells into Harding for an insanely awesome explosive charge that he should be able to do with relatively little risk.

While I haven't really felt inspired to do anything with the Archivist or Saboteur, the Vanguard alone has been more than interesting and entertaining enough to fully justify picking up this book. I'm hoping I'll be able to get a good long run out of Ricochet and Harding.

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