Welcome back to d20 Diaries!
Today we’re going to be taking a look at one of the wonderful new Pathfinder books I purchased: Blood of the Beast!
Blood of the Beast is a Pathfinder Player Companion compatible with the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. This means it’s a thin, soft-cover book with plenty of new options intended for players creating characters. More specifically, this volume focuses on some of the anthropomorphic (‘animal-people’) races of Golarion.
The races detailed in Blood of the Beast include catfolk, grippli, kitsune, nagaji, ratfolk, tengu and vanara. Although each of these races was originally introduced in Pathfinder’s Advanced Race Guide, Blood of the Beast introduces further information about each race, as well as new favoured class options, archetypes, feats and spells. Most of these options are compatible with other races, which means this book will give you a lot more bang for your buck than expected. Each race contains four pages worth of information, making the entire book 32 pages long.
Blood of the Beast opens with a map of the Inner Sea showcasing the areas that each of the featured races are most commonly found. This was surprisingly enlightening. Although I expected grippli to be found in the Mwangi Expanse, tengu to be found in the Shackles, and Nagaji to be found in Jalmeray, many of the other race’s territories were unexpected. Especially when it came to ratfolk!
Following this is the Introduction, which gives us a new trait for each of the races, as well as a reference list for easily finding the options in this book by type (archetypes, feats, and other options). I liked most of the traits, although some are considerably less useful than others. Although the catfolk trait, Adherent of Ancient Osirion, is really cool, my favourite turned out to be the grippli trait, Jungle Native, turned out to be my favourite. In addition to making survival a class skill, this trait also grants you a +1 trait bonus on saving throws against disease and poison, and a +1 trait bonus on initiative checks made in jungle terrain! This is one solid Region trait!
After the Introduction we dive right into the races! Up first was the Catfolk! Although I know plenty of people who love catfolk, they’ve never been my cup of tea. Probably because my sister-in-law plays only catfolk, so they’re a pretty common sight around my game table. That being said, catfolk are cool, so I was excited to see what this chapter had to offer! Catfolk options in this book include nine favoured class options, three archetypes, three feats, a vigilante course (for use with the wildsoul vigilante archetype from Ultimate Intrigue), and three spells. Although I expected the Senedipity Shaman archetype to be my favourite catfolk option, it turns out I was most impressed with the Prowler At World’s End, an archetype for bloodrager. Based on the premise that “ancient catfolk legends claim their kind was created to protect the world from the sinister forces that exist at the world’s fringes,” these bloodragers commune with powerful predatory nature spirits who take on the forms of lions, cheetahs, and leopards. This allows the bloodrager to use the medium’s spirit and spirit surge abilities. At later levels these bloodragers can also assume the forms of these great cats while bloodraging, and can cast spells while transformed this way. Honestly, I’ve never been particularly interested in being a medium, since it’s the most complicated class I’ve ever read, but this archetype really makes me want to give this medium-inspired Prowler At World’s End a try! Other highlights of the catfolk chapter are the Graceful Athlete feat, and the Curse of Befouled Fortune spell.
The second featured race in this book are Gripplis. Grippli are small frog people who live in jungles. These colourful little fellows are a quirky race, but I’ve never personally played one. My son does, and he loves it, but frogs aren’t really my thing. That being said, the options presented for grippli are my favourite in the entire book! Next time I have a chance, I’m definitely making a grippli. There’s nine favoured class options in this chapter, three archetypes, two feats and three spells. All three of these archetypes are awesome! Fiend Keeper is a medium archetype that allows you to contain evil spirits within yourself and, through your good deeds, cleanse the spirit until it is no longer evil. Done through the generations, it is an honour to be a fiend keeper among grippli tribes. Warpainter is a skald archetype which allows you to ceremonially paint your allies faces in order to imbue them with your magical songs. Later, spells and rage powers can also be imbued into your allies with this ability. However, my favourite grippli archetype is the Poison Darter! This ranger archetype allows you to concoct debilitating poisons which get better over time, grants you poison use, and allows you to take some rogue talents or alchemist discoveries in place of a combat style. It also grants you sneak attack–when attacking with a blowgun! Cool! As for other options, I really enjoyed the Cunning Killer feat, and the Batrachian Surge spell.
Up next is Kitsune. For the record, kitsune are my favourite non-core race in Pathfinder, so I expected to be irrationally in love with this chapter. Which is why I was so surprised that the previous chapter on grippli turned out to be my favourite! That being said, kitsune didn’t disappoint. This chapter contains four alternate race traits, nine favoured class options, three advanced versatile performances, one archetype, three feats, two spells, three vigilante social talents and three vigilante talents. To start with, each of the four alernate race traits are very cool. Keen Kitsune lets you shift around the kitsune bonus ability score from Charisma to Intelligence. Multilingual shakes up the kitsune starting languages and allows you to choose any languages you want with a high intelligence score. Skilled gives kitsune an extra skill point every level. My favourite, Superior Shapeshifter, gives you the feat fox shape which allows you to take on the form of a normal fox, in addition to the form of a specific humanoid via change shape. Among their favoured class options is another neat option which can be taken by kitsune of any class, that allows them to gain the Magical Tail feat every six times it’s taken. I’m a big fan of that feat, so I’m thrilled to see this option surface! In a similar vein, the sorcerer archetype Nine-Tailed Heir lets the kitsune gain the Magical Tail feat four times through the course of its 20 levels, in exchange for the bloodline spells known. If you’re a fan of that feat, like me, you might finally get to be a kitsune with the whole nine tails! Though not overpowered, it’s more than a fair trade. Martial Performance turned out to be my favourite Advanced Versatile Performance option available, while the feats Shapechanging Savage and Startling Shapechange really tickled my fancy. Coupled with the shape changing themed feats found in the Pathfinder Player Companion: Dragon Empires Primer, they get even better! If you’re into the Vigilante class, be sure to check out the Obscurity, Brutal Maneuver and Deceitful Trick talents.
Nagaji are up next in Blood of the Beasts, which is very exciting. For some reason I’ve been hooked on these guys since their brief introduction in the Advanced Race Guide, and their links to the Naga’s of Kaer Maga, which (thanks to Pathfinder Chronicles: City of Strangers), is my favourite city in all of Golarion. The nagaji article featured eight favoured class options, two naga bloodlines (one for bloodrager and one for sorcerer), two feats, one archetype, three mesmerist tricks and a whopping five spells. Both of the Naga bloodlines turned out to be interesting, although I liked the sorcerer one slightly more. With the ability to turn invisible, increased effectiveness with charm abilities, and the ability to cast spells with somatic components even when your hands are full by gyrating your body like a snake, this bloodline sounds like a blast! The First Mother’s Fang cavalier archetype allows you to ride a large constrictor snake and allows you to become a master of martial and politic pursuits. Personally, I think it’s the mesmerist abilities that are the coolest part of the nagaji entry. Be sure to check out the feat Venemous Stare, and the trick Break Stupor. For spells, be sure to check out Greater Hypnotism, and all of the Naga Shape spells!
If you’ve read the article on my blog ‘Vermin, vermin, everywhere…‘ you’ll know that vermin are not my favourite thing. So, it should come as no surprise to you that ratfolk are not at the top of my list for races I was excited for in this book. Still, with an open mind I delved into the ratfolk chapter. And was more than pleasantly surprised! This chapter contains ten favoured class options, three archetypes, five feats, and a psychic discipline. Like the much beloved grippli chapter, I thoroughly enjoyed every one of the ratfolk archetypes. Opportunist is an awesome fighter archetype that makes you a master at using bombs, alchemical weapons and dirty tricks. Swarm Monger is a druid archetype that lets you influence vermin, turn your companion and eventually yourself into a swarm. Finally, my personal favourite, the Scavenger archetype for investigators lets you make clockwork gadgets instead of extracts, allows you to enhance, hinder or repair mechanical devices, and even craft constructs. To read about a Scavenger in action, check out my character Nix in my blog post ‘Iron Gods: Character Focus: Haji and Nix,’ or read about her continuing adventures in the Iron Gods Adventure Path starting with ‘Iron Gods: Part One: Into the Weeping Pond.’ For feats, be sure to check out Cooperative Swarmer and Underfoot. Lastly, be sure to check out the Warp psychic discipline which allows your ratfolk to sense the weak points in reality, and open portals through which they can manipulate objects, teleport, and turn aside blows. For a bit of awesome flavour, listen to the last line of text describing the warp discipline: “Ancient practitioners […] even claimed that the art once allowed ratfolk to guide great caravans to the stars.” That’s right. Now you know why the ysoki are found on nearly every planet in the Starfinder’s Pact Worlds. Awesome!
With only two races left to explore, we’ve come to the chapter on tengu. Much like ratfolk, although a lot of people love tengu, I’ve never really been one of them. Despite this, I was excited for reading about tengu and hoped that I’d find something I’d love. This chapter has ten favoured class options, three archetypes, two feats and three spells. Although I was most excited to read about the Jinx Witch archetype for witches, it’s the Courser swashbuckler archetype that really excited me. This archetype takes the already nimble swashbuckler and ramps it up a notch, focusing on speed, agile maneuvers, spring attacks, and some cool deeds including the ability to run along walls, and leap incredible distances. Got a character who’s a big old liar? Be sure to check out the feats Empty Threats and Lovable Scoundrel. As for spells, check out fumblestep.
Last up? Vanara! These wonderfully fun monkey-people come with two alternate racial traits, twelve favoured class options, five feats, one archetype, some fighter advanced weapon training options, one unchained summoner eidolon subtype, and a bevy of unchained monk options. Now, I love Vanara, but I have to say this chapter was less useful than the others for one reason: nearly all of the options in this chapter requires you to own other supplementary books that many of us don’t own. While this is expected with Pathfinder’s many, many books in print, to have three quarters of the chapter require these books is unfortunate. All five of the feats offered for vanara are meditation feats, rules for which you’ll need to check out Pathfinder Player Companion: Faiths & Philosophies. Fighter Advanced Weapon Training options are found in Pathfinder Player Companion: Weapon Master’s Handbook (but it looks like enough details are presented in this volume for you to get by without it),. Lastly, all of the monk and summoner options require you to make unchained characters with the rules found within Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Pathfinder Unchained. To those of us who don’t own these supplementary books, that leaves only the alternate racial traits, favoured class options, and the archetype usable. On the plus side, the Fortune-Finder archetype for rangers is pretty cool. These expert explorers adapt themselves to fight against any enemy in any terrain, and can traverse any terrain, even magically impeding ones, without difficulty.
And that’s it! We’re at the end of Blood of the Beast! Overall, I really liked this little supplement book. If you’re a player with interest in any of the more bestial races of Golarion, I highly suggest you pick it up!
Until next time,