Sunday, August 14, 2011

Weekend Review - Advanced Player's Guide

Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide Review

This is a review of the Advanced Player’s Guide for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, as published by Paizo, under the OGL.

First Glance: When you page through the book you’ll first run across race options, from the pyromaniac gnome to the chain fighting half-orc. Next you come across the new classes, The Alchemist, Summoner, Oracle, Inquisitor, Witch and Cavalier; filing in some missing spaces in the class line-up. Next you come across the Core class options, the introduction of archetypes, and pretty much that’s where my personal first glance stopped, as I became fully engrossed in the options.

Main Review:

Chapter 1: Races

This chapter deals with races, each racial entry is broken into adventurers, alternate racial traits and favored class options. The adventurer’s section describes how each race fits into the different classes. Alternate Racial traits, give more options, by allowing a player to swap out different abilities.

Chapter 2: Class Options

This is pure perfection, to me anyway; of course it’s based on some of the work in the complete guides from 3.5, as they were the original options that swapped out class abilities for new focused class abilities. But, somehow Paizo does it so much better, fully capturing the essence of the different classes. Effectively an archetype works in such a way as to replace certain class abilities, for example, a fighter archetype, The Crossbowman, gives up the standard armor and weapon training lines to gain abilities which make him deadly with a crossbow, eventually getting the ability to make trip or bulrush attacks with the crossbow, or shooting through a target on a critical. One of the things archetypes have allowed is for classes such as the paladin and ranger to drop spell-use; the skirmisher ranger archetype replaces spell use with ranger tricks, which are similar to rogue talents.

This book provides so many options that you can easily play a multitude of ideas. The additional classes are some of my personal favorites, I have a Battle Oracle that’s a monster in combat, and an inquisitor that is one of my all time favorite classes, especially as I’m working on making her a dazzling display master. I have a dwarven monk, using both the Hungry Ghost and Monk of the Sacred Mountain archetype, which replaces most of the standard monk abilities, for a very fun alternate monk.

Aside from archetypes, lots of new options are presented. Barbarians get almost 50 new rage powers to choose from. For clerics, 66 subdomains have been introduced; for example the rage subdomain can be chosen instead of the destruction domain, allowing the cleric to rage at level 8 and even get rage powers at 12 and 16. Rangers have five new combat styles introduced, crossbow, mounted, natural weapon, two-handed, and weapon & shield, a much desired array of combat styles that were asked for during Beta testing. Rogues gain 20 new talent choices plus 12 new advanced talents. Sorcerers get 10 new bloodlines to choose from, including serpentine and shadow. Wizards get some love with the elemental schools, earth, air, fire and water. They also receive the new ‘focused arcane’ schools, the teleportation focused school allows the shift ability in lieu of the acid dart power. The Antipaladin makes its triumphant return to the game with the new Antipaladin alternate class.

Chapter 3: New feats.

With dozens and dozens of new feats, I’m only going to say, that some of the new feats close gaps in what you could normally do in combat. In addition, race feats are introduced; feats such as Razor Tusk or Racial Heritage.

Chapter 4: Equipment

New weapons, armor, alchemical creations are always nice.

Chapter 5: Spells

Almost 50 pages of news spells.

Chapter 6: Prestige Classes

Adds the following prestige classes: Battle Herald, Holy Vindicator, Horizon Walker, Master Chymist, Master Spy, Nature Warden, Rage Prophet, and the Stalwart Defender.

Chapter 7: Magic Items

Always fun in a book.

Chapter 8: New Rules

Combat maneuvers; 4 new combat maneuvers are introduced which are definitely gap fills. The age old Dirty Trick maneuver, such as sand in the face, is introduced, it was missing and needed. Drag, which was most assuredly over looked. Reposition, grab your opponent and move him against the wall. And the steal maneuver, snatch something off your opponent, oops, were you looking for that heal potion. Pathfinder introduces its own Hero Point system. Including hero point related feats and spells, and magic items. Traits are given their Pathfinder update in this volume, including updating the campaign traits from Rise of the Runelords AP.

Artwork: Epic! The artwork as always is littered with the iconics, making the entire book feel cohesive to the system. The artwork at the beginning of each chapter is dynamic, typical of Wayne Reynolds artwork. Each of the new classes receives its own WAR artwork.

Replay Value: The archetype options alone in the Advanced Player’s Guide provide so many combinations, that you could play hundreds of games and never play the exact same character. Even if you’re someone who enjoys a particular concept, reusing the name and vision of your character, you could play a dozen or more times, with slight modifications, using the same character.

Comprehension Level: There’s a lot of variation in this book, a good comprehension of the core rules is required before venturing into APG territory.

Game Mastering: This supplement adds a lot of complexity to an already complex game, make sure you review the material before allowing players to take options from this book. However, it’s fun to have more options as a game master as well.

Price Tag: The Advanced Player’s Guide will cost you $39.99, however, Paizo has a nice price point for their PDFs and that is only $9.99.

Value: For me, it’s well worth the money. I love complex characters and not necessarily optimized characters, this lets me have more and more options.

Overall Rating: EPIC! The amount of freedom you gain as a player is amazing, and generally it’s all very well balanced, not a case of any particular class becoming the flavor of the month.

Note: family rating is based upon the Core rules.