Heroes of Golarion

Hello adventurers! Today we’re taking a peek between the covers of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion! This delightful softcover book from Paizo Inc. is packed with new character options from all around Golarion, sorted by location. The regions covered include Arcadia, Avistan, the Crown of the World, Casmaron, Iblydos, Garund, and Tian Xia. It also contains a lot of new options for occult-themed mythic heroes.

Heroes of Golarion - Nathanael James
Illustrated by Nathanael James. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

When I heard about Heroes of Golarion I was very excited. It immediately made it onto my (way too long) ‘wishlist.’ Why? For starters, this is the second-last Pathfinder Player Companion being released for Pathfinder First Edition –– a fact both sad and exciting! Second, I love the topic. I adore thematic character options, so seeing new archetypes, feats, traits, and so on from a ton of different regions is always enjoyable for me. But, it’s not so niche that I’ll have trouble getting to use the options inside. Third? Mythic rules! Now, I know not everyone is a fan of mythic rules. I like them, but even then, I don’t use them often. That said, I adore the occult classes. And you know what they’re lacking? Awesome mythic options! Sure, you could make something work with the current options, but it’s not going to be as great as it would be if you were a different class. And honestly? Of the mythic characters I’ve interacted with as a GM and a player, half of them are occult classes. Yeah. Poor things! Haha. So seeing some awesome mythic options for occult classes is pretty amazing. I’m thrilled it’s happening before Pathfinder First Edition comes to an end. And finally? Controversy! There are two sorcerer bloodlines in this book that I had already heard plenty about. I’ve heard people condemning them, and I’ve heard people praising them. Why? They both give the sorcerer the ability to use healing magic (or healing abilities). Now, I knew I would not be in the ‘sky-is-falling’/’it’s-broken’ group. I’m a pretty laid back player, and no, I don’t think letting a sorcerer get some ways to heal or healing spells is going to break my beloved game. But, I was curious to see how it was handled. Also? Pathfinder Second Edition has sorcerers that can heal. I like that these bloodlines act as a thematic bridge between First and Second Edition sorcerers. So how did I like the bloodlines? We’ll get to that in time! For now, let’s start at the beginning…

heroes-of-golarion-cover.jpgPathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion is a soft cover book that is 32 pages in length. As a book in the Player Companion line, it’s aimed at players, which means that you won’t find a ton of world lore or secrets inside. Instead you’ll find character options –– things like archetypes, feats, traits, spells, and more. Heroes of Golarion was developed by Eleanor Ferron and Luis Loza. Contributing authors include Saif Ansari, Alexander Augunas, Mara Lynn Butler, Michelle Jones, Avi Kool, and Alex Riggs. The cover features dramatic art by Setiawan Lie which depicts a cleric of Kazutal and a cloaked adventurer armed with both magic and blade, combatting a tzitzimitl –– an incredibly powerful undead from Bestiary 3. Interior artists include Nathanael James, Craig Maher, and Marcel Mercado.

Casmaron - Wyrwood
A wyrwood.

The front inside cover features a glimpse at some thematic documents from Golarion, including a recipe, travel documents, and other paperwork. All these documents are layered across each other, though, so you can’t read the full text on any. They’re intended for flavour, not player handouts or anything. Although interesting, it’s not useful.

After this is the table of contents, the rules index, and the introduction which contains a brief summary on Golarion, its continents, and other major regions. Each summary is a paragraph long and lists information on the region, it’s nations, and most common peoples.

Moving on from the introduction we come to our first region: Arcadia! This section contains two pages of new character options, and two pages on wyrwoods (which are most commonly found in Arcadia). Arcadian character options include four gun feats (all of which are useful), three jaguar-themed slayer talents intended for worshippers of the goddess Kazutal, and two legendary spirits for mediums from Valenhall (Adril, the Would-Be King, a Champion, and Father of Legends, a Marshal). Wyrwood options include two alternate race traits (check out experimental body), favoured class options, and eight new feats (my favourites were lifecrafting  and sword’s shadow).

Avistan - Unicorn Sorcerer
A unicorn bloodline sorcerer.

Up next are four pages of character options from Avistan and the Crown of the World. This section contains one archetype for bards, Speaker of the Palatine Eye. There’s some new options for mesmerists themed around exploring subterranean locations, including two new feats (I love them both), three new tricks, and three new bold stares. There’s five hilarious (and awesome!) feats for heroic goblins. I particularly enjoyed mental derail and piercing chant. Finally, there’s the frost shaman spirit, which is one of my very favourite character options in this book, and the unicorn bloodline. Yup! A sorcerer bloodline that grants you healing magic for your bloodline spells, and lets you heal a target of some hp whenever you cast a spell as your bloodline arcana! It’s amazing! Although some players argue it’s too powerful, or makes other healers less important, I think it’s going to be great fun. Plus, I love the theme! Who doesn’t like unicorns?

Heroes of Golarion - Psomeira - Nathanael James
Psomeira, a legendary spirit from Iblydos. Illustrated by Nathanael James. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc.

Leaving behind Avistan we get to Casmaron. Here you’ll find two pages of character options from Casmaron, followed by another four pages of character options from Iblydos, an island in Casmaron. Casmaron character options include holy beast, a shifter archetype that focuses on combatting outsiders, and plague eater, a spiritualist archetype that is haunted by the restless dead killed by plague. Although I adore the plague eater, it’s very tightly focused on resisting and healing diseases, so I’m not sure how much use I’d actually get out of it. Other options include the peafowl shifter aspect, and four Vudrani phrenic amplifications for psychics. Iblydos character options include an oracle curse called god-meddled which can be either a help or a hinderance, two new legendary spirits for mediums (Kelksimides the Hierophant and Psomeira the Champion), and a lot of witch hexes and grand hexes that I loved. Beast’s gift, combat hypnosis, swine, and animal servant are all among my favourites. There’s also priest of the fallen, a spiritualist archetype that channels the phantoms of various hero-gods, and the medusa bloodrager bloodline that I really enjoyed.

Heroes of Golarion - BeastSpeaker- Marcel Mercado
A Tekritanin Beast Speaker. Illustrated by Marcel Mercado. Art courtesy of Paizo Inc. 

Up next? Six pages on Garund! Here you’ll find new gun options and ammunition for characters from Alkenstar, an investigator archetype called the Holomog demolitionist that focuses on destroying your surroundings and creating difficult terrain, eight new vigilante talents, six new arcanist exploits that focus on primal magic, and five new shifter aspects (elephant, giant wasp, horse, lion, and snapping turtle). There’s also the sphinx bloodrager bloodline, which I enjoyed, and two feats that allow characters to gain an intelligent magical beast as an animal companion. Along with these feats are five options for magical beast companions: basilisk, behir, bulette, death worm, and sun falcon. Tough decision, but I like the basilisk and sun falcon best.

With that we reach our final destination: Tian Xia. Here you’ll find four pages of character options, two of which are dedicated to new kineticist options! Of the new kineticist wild talents, eleven are utility wild talents, and only four are infusions (three substance and one form). These options are themed around clockworks, toxins, wind, and amplifying your race’s natural abilities. Although plenty of them are cool it’s the bolt form infusion and the various clockwork utility wild talents that I liked the best. But, there’s more than just kineticist options in Tian Xia. In these four pages you’ll also find a wide variety of alchemist discoveries themed around calligraphy and drawing with specially prepared magical inks. My favourite is living pigments, which lets the creatures you draw come to life! There’s also the spirit eater, a medium archetype, and the phoenix sorcerer bloodline! This thematic bloodline lets you do all sorts of cool things, like surround yourself in fire, grow wings of flame, and even come back to life! Perhaps its niftiest ability is it’s bloodline arcana, which allows your fire spells to heal your targets instead of harming them. Of course, these purifying flames don’t heal as well as they could burn…  I love it!

Although that’s the end of our whirlwind tour of Golarion, that’s not the end of this book. Heroes of Golarion wraps up with one page of rules for occult mythic characters, and three pages of new mythic path abilities. These path abilities are all useful to, or themed around, the various occult classes and abilities. Although many are specific to a certain mythic path, some are universal, and can be chosen by characters following any mythic path. Although there are plenty of cool options for all the occult classes, it’s the mythic abilities intended for kineticists that I like best.

And that’s it! The end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Heroes of Golarion! This book is packed full of cool new character options from around Golarion. In the end, it’s the frost shaman spirit, medusa bloodrager bloodline, and the phoenix and unicorn sorcerer bloodlines that I enjoyed the most. They’re all definitely going to see use in my house! And honestly? I don’t see why some players were worried over the sorcerer bloodlines. They’re going to be great fun.

But, even more than the character options, it’s the new mythic path abilities and supplementary rules that made this book worth the money for me. Although brief, these new options allow occult characters to make use of mythic paths as effectively as the other character classes can––an incredibly important addition to Pathfinder First Edition, that I’m relieved got to see print before Second Edition rolls around and it’s too late.

Those of you that participate in the Pathfinder Society Organized Play community will be happy to know that Heroes of Golarion is already sanctioned for use, with nearly all of the content in this player companion legal for PFS play! For more information, check out the Additional Resources on Paizo’s website. (And yes, for those of you excited or worried, both sorcerer bloodlines are legal for play. It’s going to be great!).

Thanks for checking out d20diaries! I hope that taking a peek at what’s inside this Player’s Companion helped you decide if this is the right book for you. There’s plenty  of great books out there (and I know I’m not the only one who can’t afford them all!).

Shop smart!

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Playtest Scenario #4: Frozen Oath

Pathfinder Playtest RulebookToday we’re going to look at the brand new Pathfinder PLAYTEST Society Scenario and tell you what we thought. Currently, there are four of them available as a free download on Paizo’s website: three that were released back in August, and one that was released a short time ago. (For more information on the first three scenarios check out this previous blog post. Each scenario is replayable. You may create your own characters for the intended tier (either created as level one for a tier one scenario, created as level five for a tier five scenario, or created as level ten for a tier ten scenario). Unlike regular Pathfinder Society Scenarios, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach higher levels for the Playtest. If you don’t want to make your own characters, you can also head over to Paizo’s website and download the Pregenerated Pathfinder Playtest characters for the three low level scenarios. For this new scenario, which is tier ten, there are no pregenerated characters. You’ll need to make your own. All you’ll need to run these four scenarios (other than your characters) is the Pathfinder Playtest Rulebook, the most recent update document which, at the time of posting this, is version 1.3, and the scenarios themselves. Each scenario is intended for groups of FOUR players (unlike regular PFS Scenarios which are intended for six) although each contains easy ways to scale up encounters for larger groups. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. Once you’re done playing or GMing any one of these scenarios, be sure to head over to Paizo’s website and fill out a survey about your experiences. This will be used by the Paizo team to make the Pathfinder Playtest the best that it can be.

So, without further ado, let’s get started!

Pathfinder Playtest 4 Frozen OathPathfinder Playtest Society Scenario #4: Frozen Oath is a Tier 10 adventure written by Ron Lundeen. As previously mentioned, you do not need to earn enough XP to reach level ten. Instead, you need only create your characters at level ten. The majority of this scenario takes place in Urjuk near the Crown of the World. It’s a harsh land of ice and snow, claimed by frost and taiga giants. The adventure begins in Turvik, a settlement in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings, then moves quickly to the Path of Aganhei, and finally to Dvalinheim, a giant temple. For more information on the Crown of the World check out Pathfinder Adventure Path 51: The Hungry Storm (Jade Regent Book 3 of 6). For more information on the Lands of the Linnorm Kings check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lands of the Linnorm Kings. This scenario utilizes Pathfinder Flip Mat: Basic Terrain Multi-PackPathfinder: Flip Mat: Tech Dungeon, and a custom map of Dvalinheim.

ogthup tom ventre
Ogthup by Tom Ventre.

This scenario begins in a meeting in Turvik with the delightful Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen and his husky Mahki. Bjersig is a deaf half-orc well trained in reading lips who made another recent appearance in Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-03: Death on the Ice. He’s an awesome VC and I was thrilled to find that he had his own art this time around. Bjersig informs the party that he recently deployed a team of goblin trial-pathfinders on a scouting mission to a giant temple called Dvalinheim. They returned with an object of interest — a few tiles taken from the site which show the giant temple has a connection to the Tian representation of Desna. Believing that this temple could be a site built by the founder of the Path of Aganhei he’s dispatching the PCs to investigate further. He even gives the group a map drawn by one of the goblins. So… yeah. It’s totally accurate (not). Chances are the first thing the group will do is visit the goblin artist to ask her what the heck the map means. Which leads us to our second awesome NPC: Ogthup the goblin. Honestly, chatting with this quirky (and wonderfully drawn) goblin was my favourite part of the scenario. From there the PCs set out to follow Ogthup’s directions to the temple. There’s a few battles along the way, but the bulk of this scenario takes place in Dvalinheim itself. There the group will have to explore the temple, deal with more than a few angry frost giants, and… well let’s leave that part a secret for now. Haha. I particularly enjoyed the monster statistics in this scenario. Many of the creatures have special reactions, and interesting attack forms that make them feel really unique. My personal favourite was the disperse ability of the air elemental. Overall, I thought this was a fun scenario with engaging (but minor) NPCs and interesting opponents. I give it four out of five stars.

Definitely worth a free download!

I hope you enjoyed taking a look at this playtest scenario. If you have a chance to play it, I’d love to hear what you thought!

All the best,

Jessica

 

Pathfinder Society: Season Ten starts with a BANG!

In case you haven’t heard: Season Ten is here! And let me tell you, it starts STRONG!

Today we’re going to take a look at THREE of the most recent Pathfinder Society Scenarios that are currently available for purchase, and let you know we thought. Although you’ll find references to events in each that I liked or disliked, and comments about specific characters, these scenarios are not explored in detail. It’s not my intention to spoil the events in these scenarios, or give summaries and full reviews, but to share my opinions and provide recommendations. That said, if you want to avoid even minor spoilers then I recommend clicking on a different article. Whether you intend to use them in home games of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, sanctioned scenarios for use with the Pathfinder Society Organized Play, or just want to read a nifty new adventure, we’ve got you covered! So let’s get cracking!

Oathbreakers Die Pathfinder Season 10 - 01Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die is a Tier 1-5 adventure written by Nicholas Wasko. (Winner of Paizo’s RPG Superstar Season 9, and author of the wonderful Pathfinder Module: Seers of the Drowned City). It takes place in Daggermark, a city in the River Kingdoms where the Assassin’s Guild holds incredible power. (Don’t tick off your neighbours in this town…). This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, and the NPC Codex (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Core Rulebook, this scenario includes content from Ultimate Equipment and the Advanced Player’s Guide. It utilizes the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Seedy Tavern, Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Thieves Guild, and Pathfinder Map Pack: Slum Quarter Alleys. To help keep up tension (and prevent your PCs from knowing when they might get attacked) I highly recommend using maps for even non-combat areas. You’ll find the previously mentioned Pathfinder Map Pack: Slum Quarter Alleys great help in this regard. I also recommend using Pathfinder Flip-Mat Classics: Pub Crawl and Pathfinder Map Pack – Village Sites if you have either of them.

oathbreakers die-bosk
Venture Captain Bosk from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die.

Scenario #10-01: Oathbreakers Die has an awesome, spectacular, WONDERFUL opening that really flips the player’s expectations on its head. You chat with your companions on the trip and arrive in Daggermark to meet your Venture-Captain Istivil Bosk (who’s been around since Season 0’s Scenario #17: Perils of the Pirate Pact). Once it gets started, this mission involves tracking down assassins and solving a murder investigation. Due to the nature on these sorts of scenarios I won’t say much on its content. This scenario features a lot of fun NPCs to interact with including suspects, contacts, fellow agents, and even enemies. If you happen to have any characters kicking around who’ve played Scenario #17: Perils of the Pirate Pact I recommend sending them on this mission. It’s one of the few (perhaps only? I’ll have to check) scenarios that Istivil Bosk appears in (although canny GMs may have worked him into the Silverhex Chronicles, which is a free download and great fun). This scenario has great GM references which will be very helpful for running this scenario. The battles are interesting and complex but I think the truly great part of this scenario is the feeling of urgency which should settle over your PCs at some point. It was really well done. The other nice thing about this scenario is that your actions have direct repercussions. Your players may not realize it at first, but their behaviour in this scenario with decide the fate of the Pathfinder Society in Daggermark, the fate of at least one other agent, and the fate of the Dryblade House Pathfinder Lodge. Overall I thought this scenario was really well written and fast-paced. It’s one of my favourite tier 1-5 scenarios. I give it five out of five stars.

For more information on Daggermark and the River Kingdoms you can check out Pathfinder Chronicles: Guide to the River Kingdoms, or the Inner Sea World Guide.

Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants is a Tier 3-7 adventure written by Sean McGowan. It begins in Eleder, the capital of Sargava, and moves into the wild savannahs of the Mwangi Expanse, right up to the territory of the Mzali people. This scenario features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 5, and Bestiary 6 (although all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario). In addition to the Core Rulebook, it utilizes content from the Advanced Class Guide, Advanced Player’s Guide, Game Mastery Guide, and — most especially — Occult Adventures, and Ultimate Intrigue. It makes use of Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Cavernous Lair , Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Hill Country, Pathfinder Map Pack: Camps & Shelters, and a few custom maps.

bones of biting ants-shewhodevours
She Who Devours from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-02: Bones of Biting Ants.

This adventure is different. It begins when Venture-Captain Finze Bellaugh tasks the PCs with escorting a traumatized Pathfinder agent to the site of his previously failed mission many years ago. They need to get there, retrieve the artifacts he left behind, and lift the curse that was placed upon him. Then they need to get home. That’s the mission. But, at it’s heart, that’s not the point of this mission at all. The point is to help the agent, Stuinvolk Hundrakson, confront his past and get some closure. You need to help him heal and that’s not something that can be accomplished in a single mission. You won’t make Stuinvolk ‘better.’ But you can aid him on his road to recovery. Stuinvolk is a very complicated character. He was handled with such exceptional care in this scenario, which is just spectacular. But, he’s not the easiest to portray. GMs will need to be very attentive to ensure that he doesn’t become a cliché. In addition to roleplaying, the interactions with Stuinvolk make use of the influence system from Ultimate Intrigue, but all the necessary rules are contained within this scenario. It also did an excellent job of allowing for various occult skill unlocks (awesome!).

That said, this mission’s not all about making Stuinvolk feel better. There’s still all the battles, social encounters, and environmental hazards you can expect in a typical scenario packed into this one. You’ll have to deal with heat and natural hazards. You’ll be passing by Mzali territory, so you’ll have to be wary of being spotted or ambushed. And the relics won’t be easy to obtain. The battles were great fun. Particularly against a certain recurring night-time visitor. There’s some very interesting social encounters that can determine whether you make your targets allies or enemies. I particularly enjoyed the interactions with Bujune. Overall, I was really impressed with this scenario. That said, it’s not for everyone. This isn’t the kind of scenario I’d play with my kids, for example. I flip-flopped a bit on deciding whether to rate it four or five stars. In the end, I’m giving it four out of five stars. But, if you’re a player or GM who particularly likes social encounters, or getting to know your NPCs, I’d bump it up to five out of five.

For more information on Sargava and the Mwangi Expanse check out Pathfinder Companion: Sargava, the Lost ColonyPathfinder Chronicles: Heart of the Jungle, or the Inner Sea World Guide.

Death on the Ice Pathfider Season 10 - 02Scenario #10-03: Death of the Ice is a Tier 5-9 adventure written by Scott D. Young. It begins in Iceferry in the Lands of the Linnorm Kings and quickly moves to the Crown of the World. It features creatures from Pathfinder Roleplaying Game: Bestiary, Bestiary 2, Bestiary 3, Bestiary 5 and the NPC Codex (although almost all of the necessary stat blocks are included within the scenario, there is one from the NPC Codex not included. It is for a non-combatant and you are incredibly unlikely to need it). In addition to the Core Rulebook, it utilizes content from the Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat, Ultimate Magic, and Pathfinder Player Companion: People of the North. It makes use of the Pathfinder Flip-Mat: Winter Forest, Pathfinder: Map Pack: Frozen Sites, and a custom map.

20180718-Svala
Svala Ice-Rider, from Pathfinder Society Scenario #10-03: Death on the Ice

This adventure tasks the PCs with getting some advice from a local tribe of Erutaki and relaying it to Svala Ice-Rider, a Pathfinder of Varki descent who is running an archaeological dig further north. If you’ve got any characters from the region, or who are built for cold environments now is your chance to bring them out to play. There are also lot of animals in this scenario, and a lot of travelling, so druids and rangers are likely to get to show off a bit more than they normally would. There’s wonderfully streamlined rules for the weather and travel that that I think will work really well.  This scenario features Venture-Captain Bjersig Torrsen, a deaf Ulfen half-orc who I thought was wonderful. And his delightful husky Mahki, of course. This scenario had a LOT of fun NPCs to interact with, including the citizens of Aaminiut, your guide Tikasak, Captain Brynhild Redaxe and the crew of the Rimedrake, Svala Ice-Rider and her pet snow owl Kuokei, and even some potential allies and enemies of a more monstrous nature. Some of the battles in this scenario can be avoided by clever characters, which might make it a little light on the combat for some groups. That said, the final battle is both complex and very climatic, so it will balance out nicely, I think. This scenario makes great use of one of my very favourite monsters, the qallupilluk, so I obviously think it’s amazing.  Haha. (The qallupiluit is based on an Inuit story and was the antagonist in one of my favourite picture books as a child: A Promise is a Promise by Canadian author Robert Munsch (Okay, okay, he was born American, but we adopted him a long time ago. Haha)). While we’re on the topic of my biases, it should also be noted that the Erutaki are one of my favourite ethnicities in the world of Golarion, so I’m thrilled to see them in print once again! I thought this scenario handled the very long journey your PCs are destined to undertake very well. Near the end you have more than one route you can take which will change how the final encounter plays out, which I thought was wonderful. Overall, I adored this scenario. I give it five out of five stars.

For more information on the Crown of the World check out Jade Regent: Book 3: The Hungry Storm.

And that’s it! Three very different, awesome scenarios from a variety of tiers. I think they nailed every one! (Way to set the bar high this season!)

I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

Jessica

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