Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the High Court (PFRPG)

3.60/5 (based on 8 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the High Court (PFRPG)
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Discover Your Noble Side!

Adventure is not limited to forbidding dungeons and grimy back alleys; sometimes the greatest risks and rewards are found in the gleaming halls of queens and emperors. Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the High Court presents everything you need to take your escapades into the royal courts and noble houses of Golarion. Learn how to dress and act in high society, gain access to the echelons of political power, and take advantage of the privileges afforded to those who have mastered the arts of courtly intrigue!

Inside this book, you'll find:

  • Archetypes for a variety of classes, such as the court fool bard to the butterfly blade slayer, who performs a noble's dirty work in the shadows.
  • Equipment and magical courtly regalia suitable for any ruler, including thrones that grant great power to whoever earns the right to sit upon them!
  • New traits, feats, and spells for characters who wish to mingle with nobility, as well as new tactics that let a participant of a verbal duel cut her opponent down to size.

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

ISBN-13: 978-1-60125-920-2

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

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Surprisingly Heroic

4/5

This is not a well-titled book. When you think of a book with this title, you think of a middling to mediocre heavily flavor-focused book with at best some fluff archetypes that are kind of forgettable after a week or two. What you don’t expect is a whole host of really cool archetypes, flavorful items and abilities that hold up mechanically, and even new options for verbal duels of all things. Not everything’s a slam dunk of course, there’s a few less interesting or questionable archetypes scattered throughout the book (like the Paladin that trades out a bunch of stuff to basically become a Swashbuckler) but there’s also a bunch of really good archetypes included, like the Fighter archetype that gets Strength-based Combat Reflexes, and the Silksworn Occultist, a great archetype for the class that only gets better as it wears increasing amounts of bling.

Definitely worth a look, especially for someone who wants a character that's regal and wants to show it in style.


Serviceable but Uninspired

3/5

I decided to pick up Heroes of the High Court because a PC I'd been running for a while is a noblewoman and I thought I might find some good material for her in a book designed for PCs involved with royalty and noble intrigue. Alas, my character died this past weekend (aboleths!), but I'll still review this book anyway. As with all entries in the Pathfinder Player Companion line, this is a 32-page full colour book. The inside back cover is a reproduction of the cover, while the inside front cover is a depiction of six different signet rings and possible interpretations they could hold. It's a weird feature, but not necessarily a bad one (at least for people, like me, with zero in the way of artistic ability). The interior is literally divided into about fifteen different two-page long sections, which makes summary a bit of a chore. But if you stick with me, I'll try to move fast.

1. "Introduction/Rules Index": There's a couple of exceedingly-obvious paragraphs of introduction, followed by very short (one paragraph each) descriptions of some of the more prominent noble courts in the official campaign setting of Golarion: the Black Dome (Sothis), Castle Overwatch (Lastwall), the Imperial Palace of Egorian (Cheliax), the Imperial Palace of Oppara (Taldor), the Palace of Fallen Stars (Numeria), Queen Edasseril's Court (Kyonin), and the Umbral Court (Nidal). Each court receives a background trait; most are Social traits, but a couple are Magic or even Combat. Most don't actually have much to do with nobility in particular, and relate more to the culture of the region than anything.

2. "Playing a Noble": This section introduces five new feats (three of which are Story Feats), each of which is themed around being a different type of noble: Aspiring Noble, Enlightened Noble, Noble Impostor, Noble Stipend, and Self-Exiled Noble. Next, there's over a dozen new benefits that can be taken with the Noble Scion feat (from the Inner Sea World Guide book) relating to different regions of Golarion. Most of the benefits are fairly minor.

3. "Court Entertainers": Two new archetypes, one for Bards ("Court Fool") and one for Skalds ("Court Poet"), as well as three new Bardic masterpieces. I really like the Court Fool archetype and it seems like a natural role for a Bard, but the Skald archetype is a bit strange as it involves improving allies' "aesthetic sensibilities" (non-physical attributes).

4. "Royal Defenders": Three new archetypes, one for Fighters ("High Guardian"), one for Gunslingers of all things ("Thronewarden"), and one for Witches ("Witch-Watcher"). Witches also get two new hexes and a new patron choice, Protection. The Gunslinger archetype seems okay to me, the Witch archetype really needs much more flavour (it's very bland conceptually), and the Fighter archetype seems like a really bad choice, as the character loses several bonus combat feats in exchange for getting very specific feats with restrictions on them.

5. "Arcane Retainers": Four new spells, three new Alchemist discoveries, and a new Alchemist archetype ("Royal Alchemist"). The artwork accompanying this archetype is pretty cool, but the archetype itself seems like a very, very complicated way to essentially give allies some modest bonuses against disease and poison. I've noticed a trend in Pathfinder game design of giving various class features "pools" of points that do various different things depending on the number of points spent, and I'm not sure if it's a good one for gameplay.

6. "Orders of Chivalry": One new archetype for Cavaliers ("Gallant"), one for Paladins ("Virtuous Bravo"), and the introduction of a new category of magic items called Favors. The Gallant really doesn't do much, but the Virtuous Bravo basically adds Swashbuckler class abilities to a Paladin chassis and definitely provides a different feel for a character with them. Favors are one-use only minor magic items given to a character as a reward or token of admiration for services rendered; I like the concept, though most are pretty expensive considering their minor mechanical effects.

7. "Courtly Races": All of the Core Rulebook races get short (two to three paragraph) entries on what their royal courts are like, along with an alternate racial trait. My favourite of the bunch is "Conservative Diplomacy" for dwarves, which says that they treat any roll of 5 or less on a Diplomacy check as a 5, but any roll of 15 or better as a 15. The mechanical effect ties in really well with the flavour explanation and it makes perfect sense.

8. "Courts of the East": This section contains description of noble life in Jalmeray and Katheer (two areas of the campaign setting that don't receive as much coverage as others), which is more useful than the fairly generic description in the previous section. There's also two new feats, a new Oracle archetype ("Inerrant Voice"), and a new Psychic discipline ("Pageantry"). I have to confess to not knowing much about Psychics (apart from a terribly inept attempt to create one), but the Pageantry discipline looks pretty powerful; I will note, however, that the abilities it grants do not seem particularly well-tied to a "pageantry" theme. Function should follow form here, and it doesn't.

9. "Courts of the Dragon Empires": Brief overviews of four Tian royal courts are provided: Minkai, Po Li, Tianjing, and Xa Hoi. There's also four new feats and a new Occultist ritual. Again, I appreciate seeing some options themed around areas of Golarion outside the Inner Sea, even if the options aren't always as well-tied to the flavour as they should be.

10. "Ecclesiastical Courts": This section includes very brief (one paragraph each) introductions to the royal courts of Cheliax, Mendev, Druma, Razmiran, and Nidal, along with five new feats loosely themed to each. I really like the feats in this section: creative and useful. Two new clerical subdomains are also added, "Chivalry" and "Sovereignty."

11. "Invested with Divinity": This entire section is about a major new Monk archetype, the "Invested Regent." Again, the archetype grants a pool of points which which the character can do special things (and this pool is separate than the Monk's Ki pool). There's three new feats, each of which requires the archetype as a prerequisite. The powers granted to a character with the archetype just don't seem to have much to do with the flavour of the concept, and appeared to be a bit randomly chosen to me.

12. "Enemies of Rule": An archetype each for the Slayer ("Butterfly Blade") and Vigilante ("Dragonscale Loyalist") and three new spells for infiltrating and detecting impostors. The archetypes in this section were much better than in the previous section, and it's good to see Vigilantes getting some attention in a book that would seem to be a natural place for them to shine.

13. "Conduct and Decorum": This section introduces some new ways to use existing skills, such as using a Knowledge (nobility) check instead of Sense Motive to determine if someone is feigning noble blood. I like the concept overall, though some of the options seem more complicated than necessary in order to accomplish a relatively rare task. The verbal duel rules from Ultimate Intrigue receive support with four new tactics; I'm a big believer that new rules sub-systems should be supported beyond the book they're introduced in, so I was happy to see this.

14. "Courtly Regalia": Seven new mundane and magical articles of clothing or accessories to make every noble look (and act) their best. My favourite by far is "Phantom Entourage", which does exactly as the name implies--it creates illusory assorted sycophants and hangers-on to make it clear to everyone just how important the (actually unimportant) wearer is. There's also a new Occultist archetype called the "Silksworn." The concept has been quite popular in the Paizo forums, though again I'll cop to not knowing enough about the class to offer an opinion.

15. "Implements of Rule": Several new magic items, including crowns and scepters, as well as a new type of magic items, thrones. Thrones are interesting because they provide benefits to the monarch sitting on them as well as anyone who makes an obeisance (like kneeling or other gesture of allegiance) before it. I could imagine thrones as an excellent way to add some interesting effects to "boss fights" without risking PCs getting their hands on something so powerful that it will upend campaign balance.

So you can see from the summary above that the book is chock-full of new options. Contrary to what one might expect, there's no particular focus on the classes that seem more naturally aligned to courtly settings (like Bards, Paladins, Vigilantes in their social guises, etc.). Instead, this book has a "satisfy everyone with something for everyone" approach. My feelings after reading it are of mild disappointment. There's no heart or style to the book; the writing in each section is functional but pedestrian, and it's never inspiring or passionate about a rarely-touched area of Pathfinder gameplay that deserves better. I know most buyers of these books want as much "crunch" as can possibly be fitted between two covers, but the book suffers for it in terms of cohesiveness and enduring contribution to the game.


Intriguing new archetypes and items

5/5

I ordered this right as I saw it available. My current character is a noble, so thought it would be useful for her for some different flavor. I wasn't wrong, but was also pleasantly surprised by the various archetypes, items, and spells available.

The archetypes, as with others in the same vein, don't completely replace a class'so abilities, but rather give them noble (or anti-noble) flare. Some even change classes a fair bit (dex paladin??), but that's par the course for archetypes.

Additional excitement came to be when I read into the info for verbal duels; so much can be done with that, adding a new dynamic to game play.

The items are interesting without being overpowered or too situational- not everything needs to be a Legendary Sword of Legend. In particular, I love the item that gives a character it's own illusory hangers-on... could donly both useful and hilarious things with that!

All in all I like it, and am looking forward to using some of these items and rules in game soon.


A few noble gems among the common riff raff

3/5

Do you want a lot of rules and options to help run a campaign set in royal courts and other elite social environments? Buy Ultimate Intrigue!

But this book is ok, too. You'll find many archetypes and feats that are of the usual quality (forgettable but not offensively bad) and a few well polished diamonds.

My favorites:

1. A bardic masterpiece that replicates the Commune spell
2. The Protective Luck hex makes enemies roll twice and take the worst when attacking an ally
3. A paladin archetype that gives lots of swashbuckler abilities at reasonable cost
4. A strong level 4 occult ritual that can serve as a daily party buff
5. A monk archetype that lets you swap feats for SLAs or advanced feats (w/o preqs) fueled by a new (Cha based) pool of energy separate from your ki, it's also well supported by feats, a case can be made for treating this as a standard archetype you need to justify not taking
6. The Perceive Betrayal spell, which is great for bodyguard or intrigue situations
7. New skill options for existing social skills, much better than the UI "here's a feat to do something you were obviously capable of by default before we published this" approach
8. The Silksworn Occultist. Easily the best 6th level caster when it comes to actual spell casting and SLAs, 9th level casters would be jealous if they weren't, you know, 9th level casters. But for breath and effectiveness in using the abilities and spell levels it does have it's really, really good.
9. The Chastising Baton, a magical rod. Adds +1 DC to all compulsion spells, and sickens the target for 1 round if they make their save. Only 5,000 gp and a new must have for serious Mesmerists, Psychics, and Enchanters.

My biggest disappointment is the Pageantry Discipline for Psychics. It has promise, but makes a big, easily avoided mistake in the spell list that overlooks a well known OA errata, and the first discipline ability by possible intent is basically useless, but as actually written is too powerful. Better editing would have made this a good addition, but I don't see how it can be saved without a comprehensive FAQ that a Player's Companion won't get. Maybe PFS clarifications can at least fix the bonus spell list error.


2/5


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It would have been nice to see the vigilante on the cover of this book.


Looks like the art is already the final version of the cover.

Dark Archive

We shall know more about this next monday.


Is it next Monday yet?


No, it is just this Friday;)


Dragon78 wrote:
No, it is just this Friday;)

Damn, was hoping for more content hints, Pychic Anthology has gotten all the hints, haven't seen much on this one


6 people marked this as a favorite.
Haldelar Baxter wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
No, it is just this Friday;)
Damn, was hoping for more content hints, Pychic Anthology has gotten all the hints, haven't seen much on this one

Trust me, there's a ton of stuff in here I can't wait to talk about. Including what might be one of my favorite magic items yet, and some archetypes I'm dying to play. ^_^

Paizo Employee Developer

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Isabelle Lee wrote:
Haldelar Baxter wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
No, it is just this Friday;)
Damn, was hoping for more content hints, Pychic Anthology has gotten all the hints, haven't seen much on this one
Trust me, there's a ton of stuff in here I can't wait to talk about. Including what might be one of my favorite magic items yet, and some archetypes I'm dying to play. ^_^

Such is the life of the freelancer.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Isabelle Lee wrote:
Haldelar Baxter wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
No, it is just this Friday;)
Damn, was hoping for more content hints, Pychic Anthology has gotten all the hints, haven't seen much on this one
Trust me, there's a ton of stuff in here I can't wait to talk about. Including what might be one of my favorite magic items yet, and some archetypes I'm dying to play. ^_^

Looking forward to it

"the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh… brew that is tru- The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh, eh, brew that is true. Eh. The chestle with the pal- eh, eh, palace with the…"


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Haldelar Baxter wrote:
Isabelle Lee wrote:
Haldelar Baxter wrote:
Dragon78 wrote:
No, it is just this Friday;)
Damn, was hoping for more content hints, Pychic Anthology has gotten all the hints, haven't seen much on this one
Trust me, there's a ton of stuff in here I can't wait to talk about. Including what might be one of my favorite magic items yet, and some archetypes I'm dying to play. ^_^

Looking forward to it

"the pellet with the poison is in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh… brew that is tru- The pellet with the poison’s in the vessel with the pestle, the chalice from the palace has the true that is brew. Eh, eh, brew that is true. Eh. The chestle with the pal- eh, eh, palace with the…"

"Never mind. Someone dropped the vessel with the pestle. It's been replaced by a flagon with a dragon."


I'll love this book in any event, but I'll love it even more if we get tips on how to play members of races like half-orcs and tieflings as members of high society. Mostly because I still love the idea of a half-orc king gnawing on his beef bone as he sits in high court while the nobles all try not to faint.


*makes eyes about the possibility of a Court Fool*


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Just got my shipping notice for this.

-Skeld


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

What are the new Archetypes?

what are the magical courtly regalia?


Care to post the list of archetypes and their associated classes?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
psychie wrote:
Care to post the list of archetypes and their associated classes?

Spoiler:

Butterfly Blade - Slayer
Court Fool - Bard
Court Poet - Skald
Dragonscale Loyalist - Vigilante
Gallant - Cavalier
High Guardian - Fighter
Inerrant Voice - Oracle
Invested Regent - Monk
Royal Alchemist - Alchemist
Silksworn - Occultist
Thronewarden - Gunslinger
Virtuous Bravo - Paladin
Witch-Watcher - Witch

zergtitan wrote:
what are the magical courtly regalia?

Spoiler:

Choker of Body Alteration
Headband of Social Competence
Phantom Entourage

-Skeld


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Phantom Entourage sounds interesting


What's the Psychic discipline(s) in this called, what does it in general terms do as far as discipline abilities?


Plausible Pseudonym wrote:
What's the Psychic discipline(s) in this called, what does it in general terms do as far as discipline abilities?

Spoiler:

The Discipline is Pageantry. It has to do with being ritualistic and fancy.

-Skeld


What are the witch and paladin archetypes like?


Skeld,

Any chance you could give an over-view of spells in this book?

What about info the paladin archetype, generally speaking I mean.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber
Ixos wrote:
What are the witch and paladin archetypes like?

The Witch-Watcher accepts diminished spellcasting in exchange for the ability to grant special buffs to a single ally chosen each day.

The Virtuous Bravo gains Swashbuckler-like abilities.


David,

So he can basically dance if he wants to? ;)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Spell sections have headings of "Bolstering" and "Infiltration", with most of the spells being of the divination school.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I don't know what a Silksworn Occultist is like, but that sure is an evocative name.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

For a Silksworn Occultist, fancy clothes replace implements.


David,

So nothing enchantment, illusion, or even necromancy huh?


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

Very nice. Love this book so far.

My favorite is the new Monk Archetype (and Unchained Monk Archetype), the Invested Regent.

Having the ability to use a decent selection of spells as supernatural abilities on a separate resource (not Ki pool) adds a lot of options to the class.

Also, the resource is CHA dependent, so it goes really well with the Scaled Fist Archetype.


David knott 242 wrote:

For a Silksworn Occultist, fancy clothes replace implements.

That sounds fun!


What is the court fool like?

What is the royal alchemist like?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Court Fool has abilities based on Acrobatics and Bluff. The flavor is what you would expect.

The Royal Alchemist specializes in making antidotes rather than poisons.

Grand Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Dragon78 wrote:
What is the court fool like?

He's a very silly fellow.

-Skeld


Skeld, PDF Prophet wrote:
psychie wrote:
Care to post the list of archetypes and their associated classes?

** spoiler omitted **

zergtitan wrote:
what are the magical courtly regalia?

** spoiler omitted **

-Skeld

Think you could show some details about the new vigilante archetype?


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

The Dragonscale Loyalist Vigilante works for the king-regent of Brevoy, infiltrating one of its noble houses to root out traitors against him. His weapon of choice is the Aldori dueling sword.


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Delightful wrote:
Think you could show some details about the new vigilante archetype?

One of mine! ^_^

Dragonscale loyalist:
The Dragonscale loyalist serves the king-regent of Brevoy, infiltrating the courts of the nation and its Great Houses to flush out plots against the Surtovas.

They have to have noble social identities, so no taking "commoner" social talents. They get proficiency with the Aldori dueling sword, among other things. In addition, they get a selection of abilities depending on which Great House they're trained to infiltrate.

If that sounds interesting to you, definitely check out the Adventurer's Guide as well - a lot of the stuff for Aldori swordlords is compatible with this archetype.

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