Pathfinder Player Companion: Haunted Heroes Handbook (PFRPG)

4.30/5 (based on 6 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Haunted Heroes Handbook (PFRPG)
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Is Your Mind Your Own?

It's one thing to face foes like ravenous beasts, fire-breathing dragons, and marauding monsters, but what about ghosts that can hop from body to body? How do you face a fiend that's using an innocent pawn as a proxy for its evil? Are there ways being haunted could be turned to your advantage? Prepare yourself for the answers to these questions and more as you explore what it's like to be a haunted hero!

Inside this book, you'll find:

  • New archetypes, feats, and traits that build upon your character's past and explore eerie powers gained from being haunted by spirits.
  • Rules for a new category of magic: haunted spells, which operate in ghostly ways to mimic the sinister manifestation of haunts.
  • An exploration of how different faiths of the Inner Sea region and beyond deal with haunts and the influence of the spirit world.

This Pathfinder Player Companion is intended for use with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game and the Pathfinder campaign setting, but can be easily incorporated into any fantasy world.

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-884-7

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

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Evocative Writing, Cool Options

4/5

I'm probably not the natural audience for the Haunted Heroes Handbook, as I've never delved deeply into any of the classes or rules from the Occult Adventures book. Indeed, I bought this book because it has a trait that's perfect for my PFS caveman shaman. But having read this Player Companion cover-to-cover, I'm really impressed with it. It has some great artwork and evocative writing, and a lot of material for the "regular" classes. If I were to play something like a spiritualist or occultist, or to run a more paranormal or horror-themed game, this would be a book I would turn to.

We start off with that great cover, showing the Iconic Spiritualist Estra and her companion Honaire facing off a creepy wave of tortured souls. It sets the mood perfectly. The scene is reproduced as the inside back-cover, while the inside front-cover summarises the "six most common sources of hauntings." In essence, there's a paragraph each on how hauntings could be caused by aberrations, oni, spellcasters, fiends, haunts, and undead. It's necessarily very general.

The core of the 36-page book is separated into separate sections, most two pages long but with a couple of sections that are four pages long.

The first two pages of the book combine a brief introduction, a "Primer on Possession", and an index of rules features in the book. The material on possession is very detailed from a mechanics point of view, explaining how different spells and effects work, how they show up on divinations, what happens if multiple possession attempts are made, etc. It's incredibly useful in a sort "Possession FAQ" sense, offering advanced rules for something that has been in the game for a long time. I'll definitely refer back to it if questions arise in the course of normal gameplay with spells like magic jar, dominate person, etc.

The next section, "Haunted Places" (two pages) includes a brief two-paragraph description and one associated feat with locations on Golarion that have special connections to the spirit world: the Forest of Spirits (in Tian Xia), Galt (home of the bloody Red Revolution), Geb (a nation of undead), Shenmen (a gloomy place overrun by spirits and monsters), and Ustalav (the gothic horror nation). The feat linked to Geb, called "Soulblade", seems particularly useful--it allows the owner to have a fair chance to detect haunts before they manifest, and to attack them with weapons if they do. Overall, I liked the section and thought the material in it was interesting and balanced.

"Breaching the Veil" (two pages) is an unnecessarily opaque title for a section on organisations on Golarion devoted to studying, suppressing, or using the spirit world. There's a paragraph or two and an associated feat for the following groups: Conference Z (an off-shoot of the Aspis Consortium I've never heard of), the Esoteric Order of the Palantine Eye (the stars of the Doomsday Dawn Playtest adventure), the Order of the Pyre (Hellknights!), the Pure Legion (the enforcers of Rahadoum's atheism--I have plans for a PC here), the Rivethun Followers (Dwarven spiritualists), and the Whispering Way (adherents of the lich, Tar-Baphon). I think what I would like added to capsule descriptions of organisations like this is a quick cross-reference or footnote to where more information on them can be found--a paragraph doesn't really do them justice.

"Gods and Spirits" (two pages) gives brief notes on six faiths with particular links to the spiritual and paranormal, along with a variant domain power for each: Asmodeus, Cayden Cailean (a surprising addition, but the explanation given makes a certain kind of sense), Irori (again, not a deity one would think about first in this context), Naderi (the only non-Core deity in the list, but as the goddess of drowning, suicide, and tragedy, her inclusion makes sense), Pharasma, and Urgathoa. As for those variant domain powers, my sense from reading them is that they're fine, but pretty samey.

"Fraudulent Hauntings" (two pages) is an interesting idea for a section, but I'm just not sure it fits into a game like Pathfinder when there's so much more to worry about than a con artist, and skeptics would seem like the crazy ones. The section gives a brief overview of how and why hoaxes might occur, and then goes on to introduce three new hoaxing tools (like "false ectoplasm") and a new archetype for the Investigator class called the Skeptic. The archetype seems conceptually confused, as part of its abilities are around debunking the paranormal and part of it is around dealing with real hauntings and possessions (like smiting haunts and exorcising spiritual possession).

"Secular Exorcism" (two pages) talks about non-magical ways to deal with spirit possession--things like restraints, talking with spirits, how to drive them out with holy water and intimidation, etc. Again, in a movie like The Exorcist something like this would be useful, but Pathfinder is so chock-full of magic that I just don't see the necessity. There's some non-magical equipment in this section to better spot haunts, but I don't really imagine they'd get much use.

"Ghost-Hunter Archetypes" (two pages) contains the Ectoplasm Master (for Alchemists), the Expulsionist (for Inquisitors), and the Spiritslayer (for Slayers). The one for the Alchemist looks pretty good and fits nicely, while the other two are very niche only. The section lists seven on-theme archetypes from other books, and I appreciate the references.

"Exorcism Rituals" (two pages) introduces four new occult rituals (per the Occult Adventures rules). I've never used rituals in a game, but the ones presented here are really interesting and flavourful (with big penalties for failure!). This is an area of the game I could definitely imagine exploring some day in the right storyline.

"Haunted Backgrounds" (two pages) is a bit of a grab-bag: three new traits, a new Psychic Discipline ("Haunted"), and a new Sorcerer Bloodline ("Possessed"). Everything seems pretty solid and reasonably balanced from my initial read-through.

"Allying with Spirits" (four pages) introduces six more archetypes: the Invoker (for Witches), the Pact Wizard (for Wizards), the Rivethun Spirit Channeler and the Uda Wendo (for Mediums), the Scourge (for Spiritualists), and the Steelbound Fighter (for Fighters). This last one is the one that stuck out to be the most: it allows the character to gain an intelligent weapon which has some really interesting storyline possibilities--the downside is the archetype doesn't really come online until Level 5. As an aside, I'll mention that the artwork on page 21 (reproduced on the back cover) is simply fantastic.

"Haunted Feats" (two pages) introduces nine new feats. Five of the feats have to do with getting a possessed hand that can do various magical things. It's a flavourful concept if you wanted to build a character around it and invest feats accordingly.

"Haunted Spells" (four pages) has nine new spells that are of a whole new type: they create temporary haunts in an area. My favourite is Besmara's grasping depths which is cast in an area of deep water and starts pulling creatures down, down, down until they drown! A lot of the ones here are similarly flavourful. I don't know how often PCs would use these, but I could definitely see them forming the basis for some great scenarios with NPC spellcasters.

"Spirit Tools" (two pages) concludes the book by introducing one new feat and four new magic items. The new feat, "Haunt Scavenger", allows a player to gather the ectoplasmic remants of dispatched haunts and incorporeal undead and use them as the raw materials in crafting magic items. It's a cool idea, but I haven't looked into the magic creation rules to see if it has any realistic viability. The magic items seem cool at first, but they're pretty expensive for what they do.

Overall, I'd rank the Haunted Heroes Handbook as a success. It has some flaws, but most of the material is well-written and fun to imagine becoming part of a game. I wouldn't call it essential, but I'd certainly say it's useful.


Very good

5/5

This book is just a fun read. Cool ideas and flavor are presented throughout, so even if you don't like the Feats / Archetypes in the book, you can still get a lot of solid ideas.


One of the best Player Companion books.

5/5

This book is fantastic. It covers things ranging from common requests (more skill points as a feat) handled in an interesting way (limited duration per day, but you can pick the skill daily- great for low-skill characters) to didn't-know-you-needed-it stuff (a possessed hand?) with amazing execution (great one-handed/TWF support, chaining into not being out of the fight just because you failed that save-or-suck). On top of that, this includes some great feats for martials sick of not being able to contribute against haunts and having trouble with incorporeal foes. There's also a cool Sorcerer bloodline, a bunch of neat feats, and some cool archetypes.


Sweet Blasphemy, Sand Mantas galore! Talk about your prehistoric pigeons.

5/5

This book allows me to build D, as in Vampire Hunter D. This alone makes it worth the asking price, despite the fact that Paizo once again missed the opportunity to print a Paladin of Jesus Christ archetype. Oh well, maybe they'll fit him in the upcoming Blood of Beasts.


2/5

I didn't care for the book, but it's really hard to place a finger on just why. Part of it is I just didn't think it did a great job of including options for a lot of classes to take on Horror or Haunted elements. Some, like Spirit Ally sound really cool, but become available so late game it's questionably even worth it, just to get a sort of limited version of a Spirit pet/Haunted Curse without having to take or dip those classes. If this would have been a level 1 option that upgraded or grew stronger, this would have been amazing. But having to wait until 8th level just makes it feel like a wasted potential option.

I didn't care for the Haunt Spells, partially because they seem to be there to both steal a lot of the character's that focus on or are strong against Haunts thunder or just seem very odd mechanically.

Part of this might be related to my disappointment with both Horror Adventures (lack of player material and poor mechanics like Sanity) and also Occult Adventures awkwardly cramming in themes and mechanics that just don't work well in the preexisting setting and material, and Haunted Heroes sort of ramps that up. While Haunted Heroes does offer a lot of Archetypes, it just felt like they ignored some of the classes that actually needed them for ones that didn't. I also found the religions chosen, (and the options given to them specifically) very curious. So many of them seemed out of place, and then the unique options to replace a given Domain power, while cool, also felt like a huge missed opportunity to make those things options that other's could take and make a lot more sense in doing so. For instance, Irori followers get a supeup Channel to Harm Undead Haunts ability, but Iomedae, Sarenrae, and even Pharasma don't (despite it actually making sense for them to and Irori not).

The Possessed Hand chain is very interesting and fun, and generally open to everyone, but it's also very odd. Does Channel Energy/Alignment Channel kill it permanently?

Spirit Ridden and Channel Spirit I think would have been much better off as, similar to Spirit Ally, (or even better upgrades for Spirit Ally) options for all characters to be able to dip into getting a spirit-like pet, but instead it is kind of a lackluster séance thing that realistically takes a character 3 hours per day to prep between spells (if a spellcaster) and then an hour long séance for each.

This was not really a good book for all the lacking player content from Horror Heroes, but instead seems to follow in the same footsteps in a lot of ways. There are some good options in here, but in my opinion too much of it is arbitrarily limited to make sure only some classes take options or that the flavor, it's stronger point is not really that supported by it's crunch.

I liked the art overall, and particularly LOVED that it didn't focus on the annoying icons often.


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Announced! Product image and description subject to change.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Somewhat interested.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hmm!!! I wonder if this will have some new spiritualist archetypes... :)

Dark Archive

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Sounds like a book for some medium love.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

That and some spiritualist I hope Decius.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I hope there's some Ghostwalk type stuff.


The Player Companion series has been on fire as of late!


DM_aka_Dudemeister wrote:
I hope there's some Ghostwalk type stuff.

I'll settle for more spiritualist myself.

Silver Crusade

Color me intrigued


That is not dead which... aw, heck, you know this one.

Dark Archive

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Thomas Seitz wrote:
That and some spiritualist I hope Decius.

I'd be cool with that, too! I can see a new oracle curse as well.

Liberty's Edge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Ever since I read Children of Dune, I have always wanted robust game mechanics that reflect characters possessed by one or several entities. I really hope we can find something here (maybe a template or a line of feats) that does this for any character, rather than only things available to specific classes.


*still rather has more stuff for spiritualist...*


Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Though I highly doubt it could fit in a player companion, this would be a great place to have the Harrowed Medium. But even if not, the whole "bargain for power" (especially when that bargain involves having to relinquish control to some other force or personality) is one of my favorite fantasy tropes.


Brew,

That might happen, since I think they want to give OA classes a little more support. Maybe. I could be wrong.


I hope there is something for my witch who talks to her dead twin sister and others of her family who were murdered by pirates.

If so than my interest is THIS HIGH!!!!

If not...have to wait for more info...


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Hmm, hard to tell what this is really going to involve...it's a potentially interesting subject matter, that's for sure. Might be more appropriate for Horror Adventures, but that part about resurrection and being haunted makes me imagine some sort of optional risk table for raise dead and similar spells that gives a chance of having you become haunted because you weren't pulled back from death alone, either having a ghost chained to you, or even partially possessing you with both fighting for possession of the body.

One thing I would personally like would be an option for the Unchained Summoner to have a somewhat ghostly eidolon...specifically, I'm remembering the Ultimate Campaign background generator, which had the following as an option for summoners...

Spoiler:
Raising Gone Wrong: You lost someone important to you. Through means, luck, or simple pity, you had the chance to raise that person from the dead, but something went wrong with the spell and the raising did not occur… at least not as planned. Your lost friend or kin's soul bonded with a powerful outsider on the other side of the veil and returned to you as your eidolon. Possessed of some of the memories and experiences of the life you spent together, your companion feels a stronger devotion than even most others of its kind. You gain access to the Loyalty across Lifetimes faith trait.

I've always loved that concept, but it doesn't work very well with the Unchained Summoner, in my opinion, so an eidolon type that represents this would be great for me, though I may be the only one...especially now that the spiritualist is around...but still.


Meh... until I get more information on this topic and what's exactly in here, I'm not doing cartwheels just yet. It has possibilities though.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm sure there will be at least 1 Archetype that has let a powerful entity possess their body(maybe a demon or a particularly powerful spirit), gaining a bunch of great powers linked to that entity but at the cost of needing to struggle with the force for control over their body. After all, these entities are going to have some very clear drives to certain things(like a demon might be drawn towards evil acts, a spirit might be drawn to things important in that spirits past life etc), some of which you will want to resist for good reasons(like not wanting to kill an innocent, or get caught and thrown in jail).

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Oooo... yes please more Spiritualist, Phantom (and Id Rager), and Medium related stuff please and thank you.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Curse you! I can barely afford my living expenses and you throw more and more at me that I must have!


Hopeful for more Phantoms, like others here.


I would be surprised if there wasn't anything in this book for the medium, spiritualist, and shaman.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

All I want is for my mid-to-high level full caster to be able to dramatically fry somebody's puny first-level Protection from Evil spell when attempting to possess them without just being neutral.


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
QuidEst wrote:
All I want is for my mid-to-high level full caster to be able to dramatically fry somebody's puny first-level Protection from Evil spell when attempting to possess them without just being neutral.

Since possession often replaces magic jar, it's possible that a GM would allow you to use Penetrating Possession (from Demons Revisited) with possession and similar spells.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Luthorne wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
All I want is for my mid-to-high level full caster to be able to dramatically fry somebody's puny first-level Protection from Evil spell when attempting to possess them without just being neutral.
Since possession often replaces magic jar, it's possible that a GM would allow you to use Penetrating Possession (from Demons Revisited) with possession and similar spells.

Sadly, that's five more charisma than I'm likely to ever have on the character.


Pathfinder Companion Subscriber

I agree with the hopes for love for the Spiritualist, Medium, and Shaman. I think there's some good potential with this book, but I'd like to see more of what might be included.

Some possible ideas:
- Ghost hunting Alchemist, Rangers, and Hunters
- Investigator talents that are spirit based.
- Ghost/Ancestor Trained Monks and/or Magus (There was a build in the Book of Nine Swords that involved the notion of your ancestors training you. This could easily be converted to a haunted concept.)
- Maybe a "ghost-touched" race? An ethereal tied race +2 Dex and Wis -2 Con, that can "flicker" (blink). Heh... that would be cool.

Just some random thoughts.

Shadow Lodge

Hopefully they stay away from Occult Adventures for a while. I could see this being pretty cool for the Cleric, Paladin, and Witch, though.


If Horror Adventures introduces new classes, it could be stuff for them. Even if there are no new classes, this book may still be based around the Horror Adventures book.


To be fair, I hope this book will contain something nice for the Medium class. Perhaps an archetype to help simplify the class (like...rather than picking from a multitude of different spirits each day...this medium archetype offers players the chance to pick a single legendary spirit for life). Now granted, this would require a lot of changes to the medium class, but I think it would be neat. I'd probably call it 'Reborn Hero' or something.


I just want more love for spiritualists myself, Dusky.


Duskblade wrote:
To be fair, I hope this book will contain something nice for the Medium class. Perhaps an archetype to help simplify the class (like...rather than picking from a multitude of different spirits each day...this medium archetype offers players the chance to pick a single legendary spirit for life). Now granted, this would require a lot of changes to the medium class, but I think it would be neat. I'd probably call it 'Reborn Hero' or something.

There's already the Relic Channeler which goes down to one set of choices per spirit until you loose an item, I don't see much reason to go even more restrictive. Not that I would mind medium love,plan on playing one in Strange Aeons.

As an aside I had an idea for a vigilante archetype that got one medium spirit for life. I call it The Legacy.

Owner - Gator Games & Hobby

Hoping fiercely for an option for Mediums to let them swap spirits mid adventure. Not mid combat, but with down time roughly equivalent to wizards swapping in new spells.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Cwethan wrote:
Hoping fiercely for an option for Mediums to let them swap spirits mid adventure. Not mid combat, but with down time roughly equivalent to wizards swapping in new spells.

Wizards swap in new spells after a night's rest, which is also what it takes for Mediums to change spirits. Wizards can leave slots unprepared if that's what you're referring to, but Medium probably doesn't want to walk around without class features.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Cwethan wrote:
Hoping fiercely for an option for Mediums to let them swap spirits mid adventure. Not mid combat, but with down time roughly equivalent to wizards swapping in new spells.

The Spirit Dancer archetype can access all six spirits over the course of the day, but he has very limited access to any powers at all (as he must expend rounds of "spirit dance" to access the powers of any spirit), has to wait a minute after accessing one spirit to access another, and must make all of his spirit choices (such as archmage and hierophant spells known) at the beginning of the day during his seance.

I could see somebody coming up with a "Second Seance" feat that allows a standard medium to perform his seance a second time during the day to access a second spirit, at the cost of transferring his existing influence plus one to the new spirit.

Grand Lodge

I look forward to this product!


I presume this ties in somewhat with Horror Adventures?


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Here's hoping we'll get a cool divine-based undead slaying prestige class.


I'll settle for more spiritualist loving myself Berselius.


That would be cool. :D


Berselius wrote:
That would be cool. :D

That's what I said!


I know. I'm feeding off the knowledge of your brain. :D


Great another Illithid that sneaks up on me when I'm sleeping. :p ;)


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Yesss...your thoughts betray you....your feelings for them are strong...especially...
...
...
...Pamela Anderson IN A SLAVE BIKINI?

(five minutes later)

Emperor:...are you SURE that's what he was thinking about?

Me: I'M TELLING YOU! THAT'S ALL THAT'S IN THERE!


*is glad he had that bottle of whatever rotgut Robert J Schwalb had in his basement*

Community & Digital Content Director

1 person marked this as a favorite.

Updated with final product image and description!


Meh. I liked the other cover better. Still like the updating info though.

Dark Archive

Don't like the cover and the info is very vague.

I'll have to wait until it is in shops.


I like the cover but the info is only mildly interesting. I will wait on this one.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Doesn't look like it'll have the PC-cast possession goodies I was hoping for, but this'll be right up the alley for some of my players. Got a Haunted Spiritualist NPC that could really use this stuff too!

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