Review: Pathfinder Advanced Players Guide

The newest big news from Paizo is the release of the Advanced Players Guide for their Pathfinder roleplaying game, which you should buy from your FLGS. Don’t have a friendly local game store? Buy it here: the best game store just about anywhere.

Since I’ve already told you to buy it you might guess my review is going to be positive. Like everything Paizo has been doing lately this is a high quality product. The art is awesome, the layout is superb, and the content is top notch.

A staple of D&D systems is supplements with options for players to customize their characters. Every edition of the game has had a slew of such books. The quality has generally been highly variable. Most books have one or two neat new ideas in them, and a bunch of weird crappy ideas that no one ever uses. I have shelves full of past “Complete Warriors” and “Players Handbook 14’s” which have seen very little use in campaigns I’ve run.

This is the first such supplement I’ve ever purchased in which practically every page has a juicy new idea that I can immediately visualize being used in a game by one of my players in the immediate future. The feats are not retreads of things already contained in the main book. Nor are they so obtuse as to be useless for most characters. There are literally dozens of solid, intriguing feats that could be used by a wide variety of characters. The spells and equipment are similarly spot on.

But where the book really adds interest are the 6 new core classes: Alchemist, Cavalier, Inquisitor, Oracle, Summoner, and Witch. All of these classes, with perhaps the exception of the Witch, are completely original and fill niches none of the other core classes do. Upon first read I had ideas for an Alchemist, a Cavalier, and a Summoner character I would really enjoy playing. We have an Oracle in our current campaign and it fits seamlessly.

My favorite thing in the book is the Prestige Class “Master Chymist”. Designed to be a route for Alchemist characters to develop it is a wonderful riff on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The Master Chymist functions as an alchemist preparing extracts, tossing bombs, and whipping up magical potions to boost his allies most of the time. But this alchemist has imbibed a few too many of his own mutagenic concoctions. Several times a day he mutates into his alter ego, a bestial humanoid with a different name, and personality and goals – and supernatural abilities. When you build your Master Chymist you must design the two separate personalities (required to have differing alignments) and choose the particular mutations of your alter ego, which may be animal traits or magical resistances, strength, speed, sharp teeth or claws and such.

I already plan to create the pompous and calculating Lawful Evil Dr. Finias – investigator of the bizarre and macabre, and unscrupulous purveyor of hazardous chemicals; and his uncouthe mutagenic alter-ego “Moog” – Chaotic Good party animal and super-cuddly defender of people who feed him sweets.

2 thoughts on “Review: Pathfinder Advanced Players Guide

  1. This is actually an intimidating aspect of working on a module and an entire setting for Pathfinder – the things Paizo puts out are incredibly good and really hard to imagine living up to. We've gotten good responses from a person who runs the D20 PF SRD site, though, which is a good sign, and we've found guidelines for things like creating new races on the PF forums.

    Still, though, hard to imagine how we'd be in the same neighborhood as any of the PF modules, much less books.

    I was also an immediate Alchemist fan – it's kind of what I wanted from the Artificer but didn't quite get, since they skewed too far toward Cleric-for-Warforged. But tossing improvised alchemical bombs on my enemies and swilling down mutagens? Yes.

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  2. Yeah, the Artificer was a cool idea that in practice didn't quite work out. The Alchemist has a similar vibe, but with a much sleeker system and some flat-out hilarious twists. I have already converted some of the NPC's baddies in the campaign to Alchemists, just so I can toss bombs at the characters and do my best mad scientist laugh.

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