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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4.30/5 (based on 6 ratings)

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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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I looked at the Haunted psychic discipline again, it was even more disappointing the second time.


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Pathfinder Starfinder Society Subscriber
Rysky wrote:

The 1/day quick draw kinda mitigates that a bit, or if you're using a two-hander, release-look-grab.

But yeah Handsight is more preferable to Magi and Swashbucklers.

Hmm, would wearing a hand puppet be considered occupying the hand? I would have way too much fun with that.

*sticks puppet above barrier*

"... what do you mean if you had a bladder my arm would be soaked right now?!?!"

Man, I would love to be in a game with you, Rysky.

In terms of handpuppetry and being able to see with the hand, the solution would seem to be obvious.

Cut an eyehole in the puppet's torso. Make the puppet a teddybear themed one.

"Carebear stare!"


Congrats to whoever at Paizo wrote this. Almost all of the mechanical options in this book are balanced, useful, and interesting. The sole glaring exception being Pack Wizard that goes onto a spell "no not even then" pile of overpowered things.


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As the writer of two pages... thank you. ^_^


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Isabelle is a great writer! ;)

Also Pact Pact Wizard needs fixing. IE change the other one something like "Familiar binder" or something...


I really like the ectoplasm master archetype for the alchemist. I think this would be super fun to play. Although it may be a little overpowered because it doesn't give up very much.

Also, I think that adding all of the necromancy sorcerer/wizard spells (6th level and lower) to the alchemist list could cause some confusion.

Here is what I mean:

As the rules state, the alchemist extracts "always only only affects the drinking alchemist.'

I think that this was considered when putting together the alchemist formulae list, but adding all the necromancy spell can cause a problem.

Does Blindness/Deafness cause the alchemist to be blind or deaf? Well that's no good.

Would Halt Undead only affect the alchemist, if the alchemist is undead, or the undead around the alchemist?

What would Animate Dead do? Since it only affects the alchemist, probably nothing.

I think a list of necromancy formulae that work with the structure of the alchemist should have been made and added to the archetype.

Anyone agree? Did I miss something within the rules of the archetype?


Don Hastily wrote:

I really like the ectoplasm master archetype for the alchemist. I think this would be super fun to play. Although it may be a little overpowered because it doesn't give up very much.

Also, I think that adding all of the necromancy sorcerer/wizard spells (6th level and lower) to the alchemist list could cause some confusion.

Here is what I mean:

As the rules state, the alchemist extracts "always only only affects the drinking alchemist.'

I think that this was considered when putting together the alchemist formulae list, but adding all the necromancy spell can cause a problem.

Does Blindness/Deafness cause the alchemist to be blind or deaf? Well that's no good.

Would Halt Undead only affect the alchemist, if the alchemist is undead, or the undead around the alchemist?

What would Animate Dead do? Since it only affects the alchemist, probably nothing.

I think a list of necromancy formulae that work with the structure of the alchemist should have been made and added to the archetype.

Anyone agree? Did I miss something within the rules of the archetype?

It doesn't give up much because, as you've noted, it doesn't get much that's useful. The broad addition of spells makes it a good option for Touch Injection builds, though!

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

Picking up the discovery that allows for you to use your extracts on others could go quite a ways to making the extracts more helpful.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
QuidEst wrote:
Don Hastily wrote:

I really like the ectoplasm master archetype for the alchemist. I think this would be super fun to play. Although it may be a little overpowered because it doesn't give up very much.

Also, I think that adding all of the necromancy sorcerer/wizard spells (6th level and lower) to the alchemist list could cause some confusion.

Here is what I mean:

As the rules state, the alchemist extracts "always only only affects the drinking alchemist.'

I think that this was considered when putting together the alchemist formulae list, but adding all the necromancy spell can cause a problem.

Does Blindness/Deafness cause the alchemist to be blind or deaf? Well that's no good.

Would Halt Undead only affect the alchemist, if the alchemist is undead, or the undead around the alchemist?

What would Animate Dead do? Since it only affects the alchemist, probably nothing.

I think a list of necromancy formulae that work with the structure of the alchemist should have been made and added to the archetype.

Anyone agree? Did I miss something within the rules of the archetype?

It doesn't give up much because, as you've noted, it doesn't get much that's useful. The broad addition of spells makes it a good option for Touch Injection builds, though!

Yeah. that makes sense, since you can then inject your enemy with an extract of blindness/deafness. Halt undead can be used to combat undead foes. and animate dead seems like it could be cool for doing a dark bend alchemy reanimation of a corpse to serve your needs.

Community & Digital Content Director

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Removed a derailing series of posts about a specific option in this book. Folks, if you want to get into the specifics of an option presented in this product, it's best taken to a new thread. Additionally, it's generally more helpful when critiques are presented constructively for both the creators and the person providing the commentary.

EDIT: Removed a thread of responses to this post also, if you have further comments to add to a moderator post, you can take this to our Website Feedback forum, so as to not derail a given thread.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Chris Lambertz wrote:
Removed a derailing series of posts about a specific option in this book. Folks, if you want to get into the specifics of an option presented in this product, it's best taken to a new thread. Additionally, it's generally more helpful when critiques are presented constructively for both the creators and the person providing the commentary.

A critical review would seem an appropriate response, as well.


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

One of the archetypes in this book inspired a surprising archetype for me.

A Steelbound Fighter with a Bladed Scarf as his chosen weapon could be used (at low levels) to play a character like Linus from Peanuts.

Of course, that all ends at 5th level when his "blanket" becomes intelligent.


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Linus' blanket became intelligent when the bacteria evolved far enough.


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That explains the mold speaker from LoF.


A question about Hand's Detachment. The feat specifies that the hand acts like the Crawling Hand creature except it isn't Undead.

So, what does that MEAN for the poor thing? What is it's type? I would assume it's the same type that you are, so an elf's detached hand would be a Humanoid (elf) and an aasimar's would be Outsider (native), but a case could also be made for it being a Magical Beast. Next, does it still retain Undead Immunities despite not being undead? What is its new Constitution Score, since it isn't Undead and thus needs one? Would the CON score be your own (since it's your hand), would it be the same as its Charisma score, or would it be a flat 10?

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