Today on d20 Diaries we’re taking a look at one of the wonderful new products that came out just last month: Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Ancients. We recently picked it up for my husband as a Father’s Day gift, and we couldn’t be happier! Curious what’s inside? Take a peek!
Blood of the Ancients is a thin softcover book that is 32 pages long. As with every book from the Pathfinder Player Companion line, it’s aimed at players. You won’t find secrets and hidden lore in this baby. You’ll find player options. Lots of them. This includes archetypes, feats, traits, spells and gear, as well as other class options like bloodlines, discoveries and so on. And flavour! Plenty of flavour!
So what is Blood of the Ancients, anyway? In short: character options that are tied to the ancient civilization of Golarion. Which ones? A lot! Azlant, Celwynvian, Jistka Imperium, Lirgen, Lung Wa, Ninshabur, Osirion, Sarkoris, Shory, Tar Taargadth, Tekritanin League, Thassilon and Yamasa. See? A lot! Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?
The cover showcases the iconic oracle, Alahazra, and the iconic investigator, Quinn, battling caryatid columns, in some awesome artwork by Setiawan Lie. The inside cover features a map of the Inner Sea with the dates and locations of some of the ancient civilizations mentioned in this book. I say ‘some’ because they’re not all here. Thassilon, Sarkoris, and Tekritanin are not featured on the map but are mentioned in this book. The rest are present, although Lirgen and Yamasa are included as one unit based on their location.
Past the map we come to the introduction. Here you’ll find a rundown of some of the ancient civilizations of Golarion, as well as which books you’ll need to read for further information. This is SUPER handy. I love it. There’s also a handy rules index to help you navigate this book easily.
After this we come to the first character options: the vestige bloodline, which is available for both sorcerers and bloodragers. These are very flavourful, adaptable bloodlines, capable of showing descent from any ancient civilization. Both are pretty cool, but I think I like the bloodrager better. Their final ability allows them to summon a ghostly army from the past. How cool is that? Pretty hard to top.
The next two pages are dedicated to a single feat: ‘ancient tradition.’ This allows people who are so dedicated to embodying their ancient civilization of choice to perform a ritual in order to gain a benefit. At later levels, this also unlocks spell-like abilities that you can use. That’s right, it’s ‘deific obedience‘ for an ancient civilization. Historians rejoice! Now, it should be noted that not every civilization touched on in this book has an entry for this feat. Those that do are Azlant, Jistka Imperium, Lung Wa, Ninshabur, Osirion, Sarkoris, Shory, Tar Targaadth and Thassilon. For those of you trying to figure it out, those not included are Celwynvian, Lirgen, Tekritanin and Yamasa. I particularly enjoyed the Azlant, Lung Wa, and Shory options.
The rest of this book is sorted into individual ancient cultures, with character options for each. Most of the entries are two pages long, with some reaching four pages. Three of the civilizations, (Osirion, Sarkoris, and the Tekritanin League) have less than a page to itself, while Thassilon receives no further character options throughout the book. Those of you hoping to more information on Thassilon will need to turn to some of the many other books in which this culture is featured (particularly the Rise of the Runelords Adventure Path, Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide, Pathfinder Chronicles: Lost Cities of Golarion, and Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Kingdoms).
The first ancient civilization focused on is the ‘Abendego Gulf,’ which is more correctly a region home to two different but intertwined cultures: Lirgen and Yamasa. Both cultures heavily relied on divinations drawn from the movements of celestial bodies. That means astronomy, astrology, and portents were all very important to them. This section offers three new feats all based around astrology, two traits (one each for Lirgen and Yamasa), and three archetypes. The feats were interesting, but quite niche. The traits were both really useful but, as they’re regional traits only available to descendants of Lirgen or Yamasa, they’re not going to see a ton of play. Still, I suggest checking out ‘naturalist’ for survivors, and ‘stargazer’ for intellectuals. ‘Chart caster’ is a mesmerist archetype which lets you enigmatically read your ally’s future with the aid of star charts. It looks quite fun. The ‘lawspeaker’ archetype for clerics lets you sacrifice channel energy uses in order to cast some pretty nifty spells which let you… get to the heart of any matter. And lastly, ‘hinyasi’ is a brawler archetype which revolves around the use of improvised weapons. This one turned out to be my favourite, so I highly recommend you give it a read! For more information on the nations of Lirgen and Yamasa, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Kingdoms.
Next up? Azlant. This two-page section offers up one archetype: ‘ioun kineticist,’ which is… exactly what it sounds like. Unleash the power of these classic floating gems upon your enemies as an aether kineticist! I loved it! Haha. Seriously. ‘Gem magic’ of all kinds fascinated me as a kid, so I’m thrilled to see something new on that theme. After this there are five faith traits focused on the deities of Ancient Azlant. They were all really cool. I particularly enjoyed ‘fruits of your labor (Jaidi)‘, and ‘planar wayfarer (Onos).‘ For further details on the gods of Azlant you’ll need to pick up Pathfinder Adventure Path 123: The Flooded Cathedral (Ruins of Azlant Book 3 of 6). For further details on Azlant you can check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide and the rest of the Ruins of Azlant Adventure Path (which begins with Book One: The Lost Outpost).
The next section is two pages dedicated to the ways of ancient elves. More specifically, these character options focus on protecting, helping, and sheltering others. The first option is the ‘arcane warden‘ archetype for wizards, which is both awesome and understated. Arcane wardens must be universalists. They have a very useful selection of skills and bonus feat to choose from which is different than your standard wizard, and some nifty unique abilities that replace the standard universalist options. I really recommend giving this archetype a read, and then coming back to it a few minutes later to read it again. I think I would really enjoy making one. After the archetype there are three new spells: ashen path, brightest night, and shared training. Although ashen path is arguably the most useful of these spells, I enjoyed shared training the most. It can allow spellcasters to make good use of teamwork feats, which is certainly quirky. For more information on the way of life for ancient elves, check out Adventure Path 15: The Armageddon Echo (Second Darkness Book 3 of 6).
Leaving the elves behind, we come to four pages on the Jistka Imperium. This treasure trove features a whopping four archetypes, two magical items, two spells and two traits. My favourite options in this section were definitely the ‘antiquarian’ investigator archetype, which replaces their formula book with a collection of religious trinkets, and the ‘Jistkan artificer’ magus archetype which lets you have an awesome golem arm. Yeah! I’m definitely going to play this! As soon as I can think of a wicked character concept that is not a Fullmetal Alchemist rip off…
It’s going to be a blast.
There’s also the ‘Jistkan magistrate‘ archetype for warpriests, and the ‘Poleiheira adherent‘ archetype for wizards. Items include the ‘golem gauntlet‘ and the ‘tablet of arustun,‘ spells include ‘skim’ and ‘summon ship.’ Both of the traits were very cool, but my favourite turned out to be ‘magical aptitude,’ which is a magic trait. For more information of the Jistka Imperium, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Lost Kingdoms.
Up next is Imperial Lung Wa, which also has four pages dedicated to it. Contained within are three archetypes, five feats, three magical items, and three traits. My favourite of the archetypes was the ‘ironbound sword‘ for samurai, which focuses on non-lethal combat. There is also the ‘jinyiwei’ for investigators, which is centred around the divinely guided search for corruption; and the ‘imperial agent’ vigilante archetype. I had a really hard time narrowing down the five feats to only one favourite, so instead, I recommend checking out all three of my top picks which are centred around mundane healing: ‘acupuncture specialist,’ ‘incredible healer,’ and ‘pathologist.’ Read them! The magical items were interesting, but two of them were quite pricey. For traits, be sure to check out the social trait ‘excellent penmanship.’ For more information on Lung Wa, check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Dragon Empires Gazetteer.
We return to the Inner Sea with a two-page entry on Ninshabur, a nation known for battling the Spawn of Ravagug. Yeah. Wouldn’t have wanted to mess with those guys… This entry offers us a new legendary marshal spirit for mediums to make use of. It also has two new rituals, ‘spiritual investment‘ for combatting the incorporeal, and the incredibly powerful ‘seal.’ But, my favourite part of the entry was the slayer archetype, ‘spawn slayer.’ These daring fellows specialize in combats waged against one, big, powerful enemy. Badass. For more information on Ninshabur check out Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Mythic Realms.
Up next is the Shory. This is one of my favourite ancient civilizations from Golarion. Considering they’re a nation who lived in flying cities, who can blame me? But, that also means I have pretty high expectations. I want to be blown away! (Pun intended). To start with, it features my favourite art in the book. Go ahead and check out that windblown mage! She looks rocking!
The Shory section features three fun archetypes, only one of which is a spellcaster, which is a nice surprise. ‘Aeromancer’ is an arcanist archetype that focuses not only on air magic, but also on cold, electricity and sonic spells. In addition to being able to increase the effectiveness of such spells, they also learn two snazzy arcanist exploits, one of which allows you to use air walk and wind wall on yourself, and the other which lets you make cones of hurricane force winds. I think I’d enjoy this one! ‘Aerochemist’ is an short alchemist archetype whose mutagen can make them buoyant (and at higher levels can make them fly, or walk on air) and who specialize in attacking from above. Lastly, we have a fighter archetype called the ‘aerial assaulter‘ who focuses on attacking from higher ground. This is particularly effective for characters capable of flight. Coupled with the four new aerial feats in this section, you could have a lot of fun with this archetype. Of those feats, ‘turbulent takeoff‘ and ‘aerial roll‘ turned out to be my favourites. There’s also three spells in this section (check out ‘symbol of storms‘), and four traits. Spellcasters should take a peek at the magic trait ‘aeromantic affinity‘, while those interested in flight should give the combat trait ‘natural flier‘ a read. For more information on the Shory civilization, check out Pathfinder Adventure Path 83: The Slave Trenches of Hakotep (Mummy’s Mask Book 5 of 6).
From the lofty heights of the skies, we head down to the ground, with two pages on Tar Taargadth. These dwarves come bearing a new fighting style called ‘Skyseeker’ which focuses on defeating opponents bigger than yourself. There’s also three new magical items, two traits and a bard archetype. For items, definitely check out the ‘figurine of the wondrous forge‘ which is a must have for any mobile smiths. Very cool! As for traits, both are awesome, but I’d recommend ‘Tar Taargadth trained.’ ‘Dwarven scholar‘ is an interesting combat-focused bard archetype that gains some extra proficiencies, bonus combat feats, and can grant your combat feats to your allies. Plus? It runs off of Wisdom instead of Charisma. Very cool! Fort more information on Tar Taargadth check out the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide.
The last two pages in the book offer us a few more character options, from three different cultures. Ancient Osirion gives us two new paladin codes, one for followers of Osiris, and one for followers of Wadjet. For more information on Ancient Osirion be sure to read Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Osirion, Legacy of Pharoahs. Sarkoris provides us with three new bardic performances that focus around the telling of epic tales! I’d recommend ‘The Tragedy of False Hope‘ which renders your opponents flat footed. For more information on Sarkoris, pick up Pathfinder Campaign Settings: Lost Kingdoms. Lastly, The Tekritanin League gives us one final archetype: ‘Tekritanin Arbiter’ is an investigator archetype which makes you an expert in the use of language and diplomacy. For more information on the Tekritanin League, check out the Pathfinder Campaign Setting: Inner Sea World Guide.
And that’s it. We’ve reached the end of Pathfinder Player Companion: Blood of the Ancients. Hopefully, this article has helped you decide if this is a book you want to invest in. I know we’re happy with it. In the end, my favourite options turned out to be the ‘ioun kineticist,’ ‘arcane warden,’ and ‘Jistkan artificer’ archetypes, the healing feats from Lung Wa, and the flying feats from Shory.
Already have a copy of this book? Let us know your favourites! We’d love to hear from you.
Until next time,