Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the Darklands (PFRPG)

3.80/5 (based on 4 ratings)
Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the Darklands (PFRPG)
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Plumbing the Depths

From the impossible depths of the earth crawl horrible foes, but bold heroes rise to face them. Join these champions' ranks with Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of the Darklands. This chronicle of Golarion's underground realms prepares characters for their descent into the endless night, exploring the distinct regions of the Darklands and offering an array of new character options, including archetypes, feats, magic items, spells, and more. The Darklands may be deadly, but they're not a death sentence for those who are prepared. Make Heroes of the Darklands your guide to surviving the depths.

Inside this book you'll find:

  • New class archetypes, including the stonesinger bard; the spore-laden fungal pilgrim druid; and the blightburner kineticist, who can harness the power of radiation.
  • A host of new alchemical items both beneficial and destructive, as well as magic items that can help explorers survive the dangers of the Darklands.
  • Dozens of new spells, traits, and items suited to exploring the Darklands or created by those who dwell there.

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: 978-1-60125-936-3

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

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3.80/5 (based on 4 ratings)

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Enough good stuff to be worth it.

5/5

It's always better to focus on the best parts of a book rather than what doesn't work well. The best parts are what will get used, after all! This book has enough fun stuff for a five-star rating in my book, although four stars would also be fair.

Fungal Pilgrim what pushed this from four to five stars for me, and I'll admit to some personal bias. First time I've seen a Wild Shape trade that I'd solidly consider. You could get a template on your summons, but modifying your animal companion is the really cool option. Lassie gets to host a brain fungus. At first, it trades movement and dexterity for strength, constitution, a ton of immunities, darkvision, and more natural armor. At tenth level, it now provides you with an unlimited supply of free scaling-DC poison (weak effect, but easy to hide in food and the like), and at fourteenth, it gets a fun poison AoE. As a capstone, it can make make temporary fungal zombie slaves out of weak enemies. Getting the immunities of plant type for yourself is gravy. I know that one review has limited influence, but I'd love to see more creepy fungal stuff!

Blightseeker Alchemist is a great archetype that gets debuffing bombs that stack with bomb modifying discoveries. This is nice design-wise, because it allows for much more flexible and enjoyable battlefield control and debuff builds. It's also a very stackable archetype, so you can mix and match!

Demon-Sworn Witch archetype is an evil-powers-for-(optionally)-good-or-neutral-ends deal, which we really haven't seen much of. Your soul may be toast after you die, but it's not going to screw with your alignment in the meantime to be using shady powers you don't understand. Throwing on some nontlethal damage to ALL hexes is a cool design touch to push towards the darker hexes, but it's low enough that you can still buff or heal allies if you need. Evil-but-subservient familiar that can be (expensively) raised with its internal spellbook intact is also a really nice perk. While it's not one I have a personal interest in, archetypes where you can immediately think of at least two players who'd love them are well worth mentioning.

Beastkin Berserker is a nice complement to Mooncursed Barbarian. It gives you a range of forms rather than focusing on just one, and focuses on the animal form rather than providing a hybrid form. While they each have pros and cons, between the two, players now have better choices.

Psychic Marauder is the last of my stand-out archetypes, and probably ranked second for me. Catches charisma-based up with wisdom-based when it comes to saves, and generates an aura of confusion that isn't always on (if anybody like Psychedelia, but didn't want to be responsible for a bunch of peasant deaths everywhere they go). While there's a non-lawful requirement, the penalties for becoming lawful aren't overly steep, and you can continue using taking levels in the archetype.

Speaking of psychics, Animus Mine is an amazingly fun spell. Booby-trap your own mind. Somebody tries to mess with it, and the mine goes off in their face. (Well, slightly behind their face.) The upgraded version can even protect you from whatever they were trying to do.

There are some good mundane items (like blasting jelly), a fun magical item to bend oozes to your will, and some traits that DO something rather than give numeric skill or caster level bonuses. Additionally, I've skipped over some archetypes for classes I'm not big on, so there may be more options that are worth five stars in your view!

(Grumpy rant time. The book has enough good stuff for five stars, and stuff that didn't live up to my personal expectations formed from half a sentence in the product description shouldn't take away from that.)

Since reviews are looked at for future work, I want to mention the Blightburner archetype for kineticist. I love the class, love the idea of element-specific archetypes, and I want to see more of both! I'm only including this bit because I'd love more kineticist material. But the archetypes should pay more attention to what's fun in the class and what it needs to keep to make it good.

Earth's kinetic defense is really cool for shrugging off damage, and pretty much the only reason I consider it over the more utility-focused elements like aether, water, and air. The archetype trades that away for a completely burn-dependent trivial retaliation damage setup. At minimum to seem about fair, that damage would need to be as high as the DR I just lost.

Kineticist also needs accuracy boosters for physical attacks and damage boosters for elemental attacks. The size bonuses to stats help with this, and also (equally importantly) offset some of the burn taken by boosting constitution. The class is pretty tightly balanced, and has few ways to use items to improve itself. The archetype trades those size bonuses out to provide scaling that its kinetic defense probably should have included by default.

Finally, make useful, fun trades. If I'm a radiation kineticist, I want to be able to shoot people with radiation! Apart from the aura mentioned above, the archetype allows me to… touch somebody for one nonlethal damage per minute as long as I keep touching them? Everything else requires radioactive materials to be present, which is at MOST 5% of the time in the <1% of campaigns that have it at all. And the net effect is that I can save burn by hanging out in radioactive areas, and spend burn so that I can hang out in radioactive areas. Super-specific abilities should also include general applications.


Mostly good stuff. Some worthless options.

4/5


Psychics get some love!

5/5

Lots of stuff in this Companion, both mechanical (which is normal) and story (which is a bit more unusual). Of particular interest are the new psychic tricks, notably the Animus Mine (trouble with mind-readers and enchanters? No more) and the Psychic Marauder archetype, first psychic archetype since the class was released.

Of course, plenty of other things, including the Demonsworn Witch (have a demonic pact without being evil) and the Beastkin Barbarian (turn into a Triceratops!). Good stuff all around.


1/5

As someone who does not subscribe to the PC line, as I do not play in person and thus have no use for physical softcover books in my cramped living space, I find this to be another disappointment in a long string of them.

The product page discussion hyped this book, and I bought it under those pretenses. I thought that the Vermin Rider would be useable, oe that the Darklantern wouldn't be absolute garbage which can leave you a drooling vegetable with Self-Inflicted Wis damage as a class feature.

I don't know why I thought that. Vigilante is such a horribly supported class - pretty much all of its archetyped are absolutely awful and its class featured are horribly situational. The Darklantern only compounds that.

The Vermin Rider is just plain awful unless you are a small creature and have the luxury of weighing ~22lbs. None, and I mean none of the allowed Vermin are strong enough to be used as a medium creature mount unless you are basically basically just boned but somehow have strength in the late teens to early 20s. Not even after their 4th level adjustment are they rideable.

It does nothing to adress this, or the fact that Vermin companions are absolutely awful since they have garbage stats on top of the fact that they get no skills, and no feats. You're basically forced to play Human (for Eye for Talent in order to make them useable). Don't pick this arçhetype. Play a Hunter instead where you basically have the same BAB when flanking and 6th level spellcasting.

I am not even going to go into how awful the Kineticist is (you are forced to take the WORST Elemental Defense, for starters) as it is basically a known fact that the Kineticist's first party support is plain awful. This does nothing to impress.

The Beastkin Berserker sounds good on paper, but don't be fooled. If you actually look at the Beastiary your options are basically Dinosaurs. You have only as much time in beast form as rage rounds, and the non-dinosaur options suggested by the fluff are awful. You're basically forced to pick the "best" form 2-3 levels before you can actually use it. What? You care about flavor, or you wanted a full BAB class to have meaningful utility? Too bad, because the archetype "doesn't trade much" for what it gets.

Save your money. Don't buy this disappointing Player's Companion, and maybe next year we will get some content that is better designed.


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Can we get a little more information on the Demon-sworn witch ?

Silver Crusade

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

They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.

It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.


QuidEst wrote:
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.
It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.

Anything about it stand out as hard to re-skin Diabolical instead ?

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
QuidEst wrote:
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.
It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.

Ooooo yeah, I just reread it and noticed all the callouts that would mean you could have a Good aligned one, it's very flavorful and makes me like the archetype a whole lot more.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
nighttree wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.
It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.

Anything about it stand out as hard to re-skin Diabolical instead ?

You'd just need to replace the Quasit with an Imp I guess.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Pawns, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Rysky wrote:
nighttree wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.
It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.

Anything about it stand out as hard to re-skin Diabolical instead ?

You'd just need to replace the Quasit with an Imp I guess.

Yes but thematically—especially the WAY in which you get your Quasit—is not very Infernal.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber
Feros wrote:
Rysky wrote:
nighttree wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.
It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.

Anything about it stand out as hard to re-skin Diabolical instead ?

You'd just need to replace the Quasit with an Imp I guess.
Yes but thematically—especially the WAY in which you get your Quasit—is not very Infernal.

*nods*


Rysky wrote:
QuidEst wrote:
Rysky wrote:
They make an additional pact with a demonic entity that corrupts her connection with her Patron, all their Hexes cause Damage to their target, and they get a Quasit.
It's very accessible for non-evil characters, and goes out of its way to avoid singing your alignment. The Abyss isn't picky about the star your soul arrives in.
Ooooo yeah, I just reread it and noticed all the callouts that would mean you could have a Good aligned one, it's very flavorful and makes me like the archetype a whole lot more.

I am suddenly interested in this book.


One problem I find with this product.

The alchemical items do not have Craft DCs. Can we please get some for us alchemists who craft them?


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I'd love to know more about that new Psychic Archtype :0
It's about time they got some more Archtypes.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Porkcow001 wrote:

I'd love to know more about that new Psychic Archtype :0

It's about time they got some more Archtypes.

I'm itching to see that as well :P


Verzen wrote:
Michelle A.J. wrote:
Verzen wrote:

Hmm... Okay soooo I'm a biologist and I am just now reading the pilgrim druid archetype.

They must select plants for their domain.

Fungus are not closely related to plants.

They are more related to animals than to plants.

My apologies for misrepresenting fungus. But I am not a biologist, and most if not all fungal creatures in pathfinder are of the plant type, so that's what I went with.
No offense intended. Just pointing something out. =)

Next you'll start spoutting nonsense about matter being composed of more than four basic elements!

Contributor

*raises hand* Is sonic an element?

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Michelle A.J. wrote:
*raises hand* Is sonic an element?

LASER!

Who'd have sonic? :)


Pathfinder Companion, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Thurston Hillman wrote:
Michelle A.J. wrote:
*raises hand* Is sonic an element?

LASER!

Who'd have sonic? :)

Elemental plane of lasers does sound fun, but need the laser template to add to things so we can have laser unicorns, laser tigers, laser bears, and laser dragons.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I'm pretty sure the fifth element is Aether.

Or metal, or maybe heart.


I love the fear Aural Insight. It gives blind sense for a turn as a move action. I just wish it did not have such heavy prerequisites.


Okay so I bought my copy of the PDF, but here is my question: With the Beastkin Berserker, do you have to select specific animals at each increment? Or if you pick say, a hawk, you can use it at any of the sizes for beast shape X?

I have been looking through things, and there is a frighteningly slim amount of actual beasts that have Medium/Large/Huge forms; the ones that do are just templated one or two times, commonly with the Advanced and Giant simple templates.

And since "Triceratops" and "Badger" are called out as the example of how specific your option is, it seems that you have to pick a specific kind of animal, and not say (Snakes) or (Birds) or (Wolves)?

If that is the case, then you are basically forced to choose your next size increment form 2-3 levels before you can actually shape-shift into it, and you can't establish any kind of common theme without a lot of legwork.

I want to hope that this can't possibly be how this is supposed to work.

Community & Digital Content Director

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Removed a couple posts. Folks, let's keep our product discussion threads surrounding the specific product they're attached to. Thanks!


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber
StygianRose wrote:

Okay so I bought my copy of the PDF, but here is my question: With the Beastkin Berserker, do you have to select specific animals at each increment? Or if you pick say, a hawk, you can use it at any of the sizes for beast shape X?

I have been looking through things, and there is a frighteningly slim amount of actual beasts that have Medium/Large/Huge forms; the ones that do are just templated one or two times, commonly with the Advanced and Giant simple templates.

And since "Triceratops" and "Badger" are called out as the example of how specific your option is, it seems that you have to pick a specific kind of animal, and not say (Snakes) or (Birds) or (Wolves)?

If that is the case, then you are basically forced to choose your next size increment form 2-3 levels before you can actually shape-shift into it, and you can't establish any kind of common theme without a lot of legwork.

I want to hope that this can't possibly be how this is supposed to work.

We already have a single-animal-themed scale-the-size shapeshifting barbarian (mooncursed archetype). Getting a better beast shape also improves the abilities you get, so you could choose to pick a larger size later if you don't think it's worth it to pick it early. But no, you do not scale the animal's size, nor do you pick an animal category. You're not trading out a whole bunch for the ability, after all.


So got my copy this morning....some of the flavor information about the different regions is certainly interesting.

But I found most of the mechanics to be "Meh"....very little of what I had hoped for came to pass.

I think the Psychic archetype is about the only thing that is of any real interest to me.


Ok, I’m blind and I might have just missed it, but did they put crafting DC’s somewhere for the new alchemical items? I don’t see them anywhere, and I think last months alchemical items didn’t have DC’s for them either. I hope I’m just missing something and this isn’t the new way of doing things.

Dark Archive

Valantrix1 wrote:
Ok, I’m blind and I might have just missed it, but did they put crafting DC’s somewhere for the new alchemical items? I don’t see them anywhere, and I think last months alchemical items didn’t have DC’s for them either. I hope I’m just missing something and this isn’t the new way of doing things.

Nope, unfortunately not.

And you are right about last month´s missing Craft DC´s too, Valantrix1.

The last five Players companions have been badly edited imo (always a problem with so many different people working on a book).

Let´s hope decembers Potions and Poisons won´t be the same. ;-)

Paizo Employee Pathfinder Society Lead Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Valantrix1 wrote:
Ok, I’m blind and I might have just missed it, but did they put crafting DC’s somewhere for the new alchemical items? I don’t see them anywhere, and I think last months alchemical items didn’t have DC’s for them either. I hope I’m just missing something and this isn’t the new way of doing things.

Linda and I noticed that for this book (and as I recall, a few others), and we've added some Craft DCs to the Campaign Clarifications document. The latest version should be appearing on the website any day now.


John Compton wrote:
Valantrix1 wrote:
Ok, I’m blind and I might have just missed it, but did they put crafting DC’s somewhere for the new alchemical items? I don’t see them anywhere, and I think last months alchemical items didn’t have DC’s for them either. I hope I’m just missing something and this isn’t the new way of doing things.
Linda and I noticed that for this book (and as I recall, a few others), and we've added some Craft DCs to the Campaign Clarifications document. The latest version should be appearing on the website any day now.

Thank you John, that will be very helpful.


No stuff for kobolds. How very sad.

Munavri stuff gives me a raise of the eyebrows, given that they... aren't really largely intended to be a PC race.


PannicAtack wrote:

No stuff for kobolds. How very sad.

Munavri stuff gives me a raise of the eyebrows, given that they... aren't really largely intended to be a PC race.

I feel the same way about the lack of stuff....or even mention of the Caligni/Darkfolk.....very disappointing....


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nighttree wrote:
Porkcow001 wrote:

I'd love to know more about that new Psychic Archtype :0

It's about time they got some more Archtypes.
I'm itching to see that as well :P

The new psychic archetype is called the Psychic Marauder, and its story is that contact with an alien consciousness has made you... odd. You lose some phrenic amplifications and the mind-reading stuff inherent to psychics in return for an aura that drives enemies mad and an increasing resistance to confusion and insanity effects.


Still, first skimthrough is interesting. That vigilante archetype is really cool, and there's certainly a lot of magic items. Will need to give a further look.


I see the Psychic archetype didn't pass muster for PFS, so I'm going to skip this book and wait for it online.


I have a question about the 'Sense Metals and Minerals' feat; just how may published adventures and APs has Paizo done where this would be a good feat to take? I'm not asking to complain, I really would like to know.

Seeing some official ideas on how to handle PCs making a mining claim w0uld also be helpful.

Silver Crusade

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

I'm thinking Second Darkness, Serpent's Skull, Giantslayer, Ironfang Invasion, and possibly Kingmaker as well.


Rysky wrote:
I'm thinking Second Darkness, Serpent's Skull, Giantslayer, Ironfang Invasion, and possibly Kingmaker as well.

I knew about Kingmaker, thanks, but where do you get a chance to get some mining in during Second Darkness or Serpent's Skull?

I do admit that a part of me would like to see someone do a fantasy equivalent of the California Gold Rush, though it'd very likely be difficult to pull off.

Sovereign Court

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Eric Hinkle wrote:

I knew about Kingmaker, thanks, but where do you get a chance to get some mining in during Second Darkness or Serpent's Skull?

I do admit that a part of me would like to see someone do a fantasy equivalent of the California Gold Rush, though it'd very likely be difficult to pull off.

Book 2 of Second Darkness is literally that. ^_^

Second Darkness:
...except with space alien parasite monsters. Good times.

Dark Archive

Kalindlara wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

I knew about Kingmaker, thanks, but where do you get a chance to get some mining in during Second Darkness or Serpent's Skull?

I do admit that a part of me would like to see someone do a fantasy equivalent of the California Gold Rush, though it'd very likely be difficult to pull off.

Book 2 of Second Darkness is literally that. ^_^

** spoiler omitted **

I love books 1-4, those are awesome!

Book 2 also laid out the groundwork for Starfinder. I'm looking forward to see the Akata again in Dead Suns book 1. :-)


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Kalindlara wrote:
Eric Hinkle wrote:

I knew about Kingmaker, thanks, but where do you get a chance to get some mining in during Second Darkness or Serpent's Skull?

I do admit that a part of me would like to see someone do a fantasy equivalent of the California Gold Rush, though it'd very likely be difficult to pull off.

Book 2 of Second Darkness is literally that. ^_^

** spoiler omitted **

*Facepalms* I'd forgotten, and I actually own that book too. Thanks for the reminder.

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